The Acorn is an info bulletin produced by our friends at Winter Oak, which we are sharing on this site. The Anarchist Action Network is not responsible for the content.
In this issue:
- Delight as Lancashire rejects fracking bids
- Forget the lifeless Left – we want revolution!
- Sold out to the industry – GMB union backs fracking
- Marching for a Nicer Kind of Capitalism
- Sabotage attack on airport firm
- Anti-industrial rebellion in China
- Anti-industrial rebellion at the Vatican
A significant battle in the war against fracking was won by campaigners in northern England on Monday June 29.
Lancashire County Council rejected the second of two applications from Cuadrilla for large-scale fracking in the county in a decision that shocked the fracking business mafia.
Cuadrilla had hoped to drill four wells and undertake exploratory fracking for shale gas at Little Plumpton on the Fylde.
Share prices for fracking firms plummeted after the historic decision – it is now clearer than ever that there is a deep-seated and determined opposition across England to the frackers’ environmentally disastrous plans.
Greenpeace described Monday’s outcome as “a Waterloo for the fracking industry”.
John Williams of Poyry Management Consulting told the Daily Telegraph: “This decision is a serious setback for shale gas in the UK and many must be wondering if it can ever reach production phase”.
Although the planning committee had already turned down Cuadrilla’s proposal for Roseacre Farm between Preston and Blackpool, it had looked as if councillors might be bullied into approving the Preston New Road scheme.
They were given controversial legal advice suggesting it would be against the law to turn it down and reported feeling under intense pressure.
But in the end they voted against their officers’ recommendation to accept the bid and they also rejected a Cuadrilla application for seismic monitoring because “the cumulative effect of the proposal would lead to the industrialisation of the countryside and adversely affect the landscape character”.
Notably, two of the three councillors who voted in favour of fracking were representing the Labour Party – mirroring the support for the ecocidal fracking industry from the “left-wing” and Labour-affiliated GMB union (see below). Draw your own conclusions…
We live at a moment when the future not just of the human race, but of the planet is at risk.
The cancer of industrial capitalism, with its secondary tumours of militarism, imperialism and repression, is choking us all to death.
We need to rise up and cast off this disease, get off our knees and rediscover our collective inner strength and health.
But where is that inspiration going to come from? What is the banner behind which we can gather in order to wage philosophical and practical war on the system that is killing us all?
For the last couple of centuries the answer has been assumed to have something to do with the Left – the idea of a loose but nevertheless coherent body of thought and practice which stands in opposition to capitalism and its world.
But increasingly that answer is looking to be the wrong one and the lifeless Left is showing itself to be another aspect of the capitalist system, rather than something that challenges its existence.
As the leftists of the UK trade union movement sell out to the fracking industry (see below) and their reformist-left comrades in the UK “anti-austerity” movement continue their glorious struggle for a Nicer Kind of Capitalism (see here), a yawning void is appearing at the spot where there ought to be a resistance movement against the whole capitalist system.
The wretched failure of the Left to oppose industrial capitalism is so complete that by comparison the Roman Catholic Church is now looking positively radical (see here)!
We need to break out of the reformist strait jacket that “left-wing” thinking has put us in. We need to throw off the blinkers of its restrictions and inhibitions and look clearly and boldly into the eyes of the industrial-militarist-capitalist beast before thrusting a stake through its putrid heart.
The sickening pro-fracking stance of a British trade union is a useful reminder of how the “Left” has historically failed to fight industrial capitalism.
While people power in Lancashire was persuading the council to throw out fracking applications, the GMB was busy cosying up to the industry.
The GMB is a “general” trade union in the UK, affiliated to the TUC and the Labour Party and boasting more than 631,000 members.
As it proudly declares on its own website, its Northern Region recently had the bright idea of getting a briefing on the fracking issue. And who did these “leftists” ask? Frack Off perhaps? Friends of the Earth? Nope – they went straight to the Chemical Industry Association, the leading national trade association for the chemical and chemistry-using industries in the United Kingdom.
As a result of this briefing, on June 18 2015, the GMB concluded: “Given the fragility of the oil and gas sector due to price pressures, diversification through shale gas could well become a key employer within the energy sector.”
Billy Coates, GMB Northern Regional Secretary added: “The strategic importance of fracking within the UK’s balanced energy mix must not be ignored. Along with nuclear, renewables, green coal, oil and gas, fracking could be absolutely essential to achieving near self -sufficiency which will benefit domestic and business need.”
“Business need”? What sort of language is that for a trade union to adopt?
And this is not a one-off. It follows a statement from the GMB Congress on June 8 2015 which says that “while there are important considerations, the economic, indigenous energy and employment benefits cannot be ignored”.
The union has even done a deal with UKOOG, the front group representing the fracking industry in the UK.
It is shamelessly buying in to the whole fracking circus, admitting: “GMB has welcomed UKOOG’s development of the National College for Onshore Oil and Gas. As part of this agreement, GMB will have a seat on the Operation and Advisory Council of the National College.”
Here we have the heart of the problem that has afflicted the “Left” since back in the 19th century. At heart, it is not actually against the capitalist system, it just has certain minor quibbles with the way it is run.
But, of course, these left-capitalists are in denial about all this. They refuse to admit that industrialism and capitalism are essentially the same thing – that you cannot pretend to be against an economic system and yet wholeheartedly support the physical infrastructure that enables that system to maintain and expand its control.
They are also apparently incapable of seeing through the capitalist lie that there is something inherently good about “jobs” and are happy to fight for the “right” of their members to spend their lives as slaves to the global industrial greed-monster.
Even worse is the hypocrisy surrounding this, which echoes the hypocrisy of the ruling elite with their oxymoronic “sustainable development”.
The GMB, like others on the industrial left, seem to think they can claim to be “green” at the same time as cheerfully oiling the very machineries that are killing the planet.
It is with no apparent sense of irony that the pro-fracking union boasts on its website: “GMB is recognised both nationally and regionally as being the leading trade union on health, safety and environmental issues.”
The anti-fracking movement will hopefully ensure that from now on the GMB is instead recognised as a corrupt and cowardly collaborator with the business mafia which is destroying our planet for its own profit.
There were several good things about the anti-austerity march in London on Saturday June 20. One of these was the sheer numbers of people out on the streets – 250,000 according to the highest estimate.
Also encouraging were the visibility of the privacy bloc (handing out free masks), the high-profile presence of Class War and other anarchists, the use of flares and the bonfire of placards at Parliament Square.
There was also the breakaway wildcat march that crossed Waterloo Bridge and led to an impromptu blockading of the Elephant and Castle traffic system, as van loads of riot cops moved in.
But there were some depressing aspects to the day as well. The official event was always going to be an authorised “A to B” march, but this one at time felt more stage-managed than ever, not least because of the pre-arranged invisibility of police along the route (they were all hiding round the corner or mingling in disguise).
There was also something basically wrong about marching from the Bank of England instead of on it. The aim of the event was therefore not to lay siege to a symbol of capitalism but to get to Parliament Square and listen to Russell “#lovethepolice” Brand.
And, of course, this was not a very radical collection of citizens, for all their good intent. Many of these were the kind of people who kid themselves that salvation might come from Jeremy Corbyn or wind turbines.
A lot of them are against neither the state (which they don’t want to be “cut”) nor even capitalism – just the worst excesses that they see incarnated by “The Tories”.
What do they want? A Nicer Kind of Capitalism! When do they want it? When the police say it’s OK!
A million euros of damage was caused in a sabotage attack on a business involved in the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport project.
Ten vehicles were destroyed in the fire at Eurovia’s premises near Limoges in central France, apparently started deliberately through placing bottles full of petrol on their wheels.
Eurovia is part of Vinci, a notorious international company heavily involved in all kinds of insidious capitalist infrastructure projects, notably motorways and prisons.
Most famously, it is Public Enemy Number One of the ZAD protest camp which for many years has been protecting woodland near Nantes targeted for a new and unwanted airport.
But Vinci has also attracted criticism for its involvement in the equally unnecessary Bexhill-Hastings Link Road in Sussex and the motorway threatening the Khimki Forest in Russia, where opposition was met with brutal oppression.
A local industrial-leftist was on hand to condemn the Limoges sabotage. Philippe Loiraud, of the CGT trade union, told media that his biggest worry was (yes, you’ve guessed it…) jobs: “It’s disgraceful to go after a company because it’s the employees who will pay the cost.”
Massive resistance to industrialism continues to spread across China, as thousands of people take to the streets in anger.
On the evening of Thursday June 25, some 5,000 people marched through Shanghai to oppose the building of a new chemical factory in the suburb of Jinshui.
The protests had been going on all week and included a non-stop picket of the Jinshui District Government building.
The factory in question would be manufacturing PX (paraxylene), a flammable chemical used in polyester and plastics manufacturing and a major contributor to air pollution, especially the deadly particulate PM2.5.
“The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.
“Economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain.”
These are the views not of an anti-capitalist “extremist” but of the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis.
In a hard-hitting anti-industrial statement, worth reading in full if you can stomach the religious bits, he announces the Vatican’s policy of “integral ecology”.
The church seems particularly to want to influence policies over climate change and has already invited Naomi Klein on board.
The language of the Pope’s statement is interesting – he refers to the rather pagan notion of Mother Earth, adding: “We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth; our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.
“Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it”.
The Pope is very clear throughout that he is not only addressing his Christian flock, but “every person living on this planet”.
He says: “Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity”.
Importantly, Pope Francis rejects the argument, much favoured by the industrial left, that technology can be used to repair the devastation it has caused.
He writes: “We must be grateful for the praiseworthy efforts being made by scientists and engineers dedicated to finding solutions to man-made problems. But a sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly.”
The Pope (pictured above) also acknowledges that any action to combat the destruction of the planet by industry is always blocked by the business mafia who have control over our society: “There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.”
“The alliance between the economy and technology ends up sidelining anything unrelated to its immediate interests.
“Consequently the most one can expect is superficial rhetoric, sporadic acts of philanthropy and perfunctory expressions of concern for the environment, whereas any genuine attempt by groups within society to introduce change is viewed as a nuisance based on romantic illusions or an obstacle to be circumvented.”
He attacks the very notion of infinite economic “growth” at the heart of the capitalist system: “It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit”.
Pope Francis also brings a social dimension into the equation, saying this cannot be separated from environmental issues, and notably takes a vague swipe at the idea of private property, a bulwark of the current system.
He argues: “The Christian tradition has never recognized the right to private property as absolute or inviolable, and has stressed the social purpose of all forms of private property” and adds that “the natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone”.
Whatever one’s opinions of the Catholic Church, its own nefarious history and its reactionary position on many other issues, it is surely a cause for encouragement when the leader of a religion boasting 1.2 billion members comes out so strongly in favour against the lie of “growth” and the whole industrial capitalist system.
More to the point, why isn’t the “Left” saying all this?
Disabled protesters put their anti-austerity comrades to shame by trying to storm the House of Commons chamber during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday June 24. They were protesting against the government’s decision to end the Independent Living Fund. There are videos here and here.
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Climate vs Capitalism is the title of a free workshop being staged at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, on Wednesday July 15. It is being run by the Corporate Watch workers’ co-op and hosted by Sussex Anarchists. “We want to be clear that we are coming from a certain political perspective: anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian, and that certain things will not be up for discussion. How can we avoid falling into the traps of green jobs, green growth, or green capitalism? How can we stop a radical climate movement being co-opted by those that seeking to reform rather than replace existing political and economic systems? How can we break the stranglehold of capitalist realism on our political imaginations? Capitalist realism is the idea that there is no alternative to capitalism”. All welcome.
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A day of “creative action” against an Israeli drone factory is being staged near Walsall in the UK on Monday July 6. The date is the anniversary of last summer’s assault on Gaza, which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians in the latest brutal chapter in Israel’s ongoing occupation and colonisation. The massacre was carried out using drones manufactured by Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. In response, activists occupied Elbit’s factory in Shenstone, causing its operations to grind to a halt and costing Elbit over £100,000. Another Elbit occupation was staged in Kent in February. Now groups and campaigners from across the UK are going back to Elbit’s factory in Shenstone to demand that the UK stops arming Israel. More info at https://www.blockthefactory.org
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The reality behind much so-called journalism has been helpfully revealed by a bizarre TV interview with a Sunday Times journalist. In what campaign group Media Lens is calling “a laugh-out-loud, four-minute interview on CNN that should be shown to journalism students from now until the end of eternity”, alleged journalist Tom Harper tried to reply to questions about “his” scoop on how Edward Snowden’s leaked files were putting British spies at risk. The whole story had clearly been planted in the Murdoch title by the British intelligence services. At one point Harper even helpfully admitted: “We just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government”.
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The politics of technology are the focus of a gathering in Derbyshire, England, from July 9 to 12 2015. Breaking the Frame 2 has been organised by Corporate Watch, Luddites200 and others. Workshops will focus on the technology politics of food, the workplace, privacy/policing, gender, energy, health, militarism, mining and infrastructure.
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Terrorism and cyber security were among the issues being discussed in secret by the neoliberal elite at the 2015 Bilderberg summit in Austria, held immediately following and just 16 miles south of the G7 summit. The situation in Greece was also on the agenda, according to the BBC. Commented Charlie Skelton in his Guardian blog: “When it comes to transparency, this year’s Bilderberg summit fails in every way imaginable. Three prime ministers, two foreign ministers, one president, no press conference. No public oversight. Just a bunch of senior policymakers locked away for three days with some incredibly powerful corporate lobbyists, discussing subjects intimately related to public policy. Subjects such as ‘globalisation’ and ‘current economic issues’, which in practical terms mean the giant trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).”
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Twentieth century anarchist George Woodcock is the focus of the latest issue of Anarchist Studies magazine. Vol 23 No 1 also includes reviews of Paul Cudenec’s The Anarchist Revelation, published by Winter Oak (“well -researched and written in a lively style… highly readable and engaging”) and the excellent Managing Democracy, Managing Dissent, edited by Rebecca Fisher of Corporate Watch.
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Acorn quote: “In a word, we reject all legislation – privileged, licensed, official and legal – and all authority, and influence, even though they may emanate from universal suffrage, for we are convinced that it can turn only to the advantage of a dominant minority of exploiters against the interests of the vast majority in subjection to them. It is in this sense that we are really Anarchists”. Michael (Mikael) Bakunin, The Knouto-Germanic Empire and the Social Revolution.
(For many more like this, see the Winter Oak quotes for the day blog)
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