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:
- Ethnic cleansing – bloody new chapter in Turkey’s war on Kurds
- Resisting the psychology of terror
- Exposed: fake left-wingers who hate the alternative media
- How capitalist “progress” crushes cultures
- Industrial capitalism causes cancer
“Ethnic cleansing is being committed against our people. What is being done here is a massacre. The Turkish state is attacking civilians with heavy arms as if it was confronting the military force of another state.”
This is the warning from Ferhat Encü, a deputy from the People’s Democratic Party in Turkey, in response to the current horrific escalation of the Turkish state’s war on the Kurdish people and its desire for freedom.
The latest assault on the Kurds is being reported in mainstream media as involving the slaughter of more than a hundred people – and the real figure is likely to be a lot worse.
A full-frontal assault has been launched on the Kurdish populations within Turkey’s borders, aimed at stamping out the latest uprising which has seen people in many Kurdish cities declare their autonomy from the state and arm themselves to defend their neighbourhoods against the police and army.
New curfews have been announced in the cities of Cizîr (Cizre in Turkish), Nusaybin and Silopi in the last week and civilians have been killed in all three of these cities.
A new online report from Corporate Watch focuses on the Kurdish city of Amed (Diyarbakır in Turkish), one of those currently under attack by Turkish state forces.
Amed is situated within the borders of Turkey and its residents are locked in a decades-long struggle for self determination.
In November, people erected barricades in the neighbourhood of Sur, part of Amed’s historic old town, to protect their autonomy and prevent the Turkish police and army from entering.
Since then six consecutive curfews have been imposed in the city and police and military have attacked densely populated residential neighbourhoods with heavy weaponry.
Reports Corporate Watch: “On Monday 14 December, Şiyar Salman and Şerdıl Cengiz were killed by the police in Sur. Earlier that day a strike had been called in Amed in solidarity with the people of Sur and a mass march aimed at reaching the besieged neighbourhood had been attacked with water cannons and tear gas by the police.
“A journalist from the JINHA women’s news agency was detained during the demonstration. In retaliation, the armed wing of the PKK (the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, which previously advocated an independent Kurdish state and now supports democratic autonomy in Kurdistan) attacked a military convoy in Amed district, killing six Special Operations officers and destroying armoured vehicles. On 16 December state forces shelled houses in Sur, wounding seven people.
“Kurdish Media has reported that Turkish police have used Ford vehicles to blockade the neighbourhoods where the killings took place (for more info on Ford’s dealings with the Turkish police click here).”
The courage shown by the Kurds in their resistance to the corporate-backed power of the Turkish state is inspiring, as is their optimistic spirit of defiance.
Insists Encü: “It will be our people that triumphs… Turkish state gangs will be expelled from Silopi, Cizre and all Kurdistan territory in the same way ISIS has been pushed out of Kobanê!”
Available in both French and English, it looks at the effect of 9/11 on anti-capitalist dissidents across the Atlantic 14 years ago and compares this with what is happening, and may happen, in France today.
A key section relates to the psychological impact of the Twin Towers attacks, and the ensuing hysteria, on the activist scene.
It reminds us that the events of September 11 took place at a moment when the USA, and indeed Europe, was facing a huge and apparently unstoppable wave of protest: “2001 was a peak in the anti-globalization movement. It was right after Seattle and in July there was Genoa”.
Coincidentally, the same atmosphere of rebellion had been growing in France before the Paris attacks, as we pointed out in Acorn 18.
The effect of 9/11 on the US protest movement was disastrous: “Immediately after the attacks of September 11, social movements of all kinds froze up around the United States. Radicals were afraid that the authorities would take advantage of the opportunity to mop them up.
“Participants in the so-called anti-globalization movement, accustomed to seeing themselves portrayed on television as the primary opponents of the status quo, weren’t prepared to be pushed out of the headlines by a bigger, badder enemy. Momentum gave way to demoralization and malaise”.
The 9/11 effect was undoubtedly also felt in the UK at the time. Initially, the critical attitude to America often implicit in the anti-globalisation movement suddenly came across as inappropriate in a new “reality” in which the USA played victim. But the overall energy did not so much drop as re-channel itself into an anti-war movement opposing the militarist face of the US-led capitalist system.
However, the UK did have its own terrorist outrage and, coincidentally, this also occurred at an inconvenient time for the anti-capitalist movement.
It is a matter of some notoriety that when news of the 7/7 bombings spread around the Stirling campsite for the anti-G8 mobilisation in Scotland in 2005, a certain clique of “activists” called for the protests to be abandoned in respect for the victims.
This was vigorously opposed by many there, particularly the Irish contingent and other internationals, but was nevertheless somehow imposed.
In retrospect, the fact that police spy Mark Kennedy/Stone was among the organisers explains a lot about this manoeuvre. But what about all the others who went along with him?
Their spineless compliance with the state’s line on “terrorism” revealed a deep weakness at the core of the anti-capitalist movement – some activists just weren’t essentially opposed to the ruling system and could still be psychologically manipulated into conformity in the event of an “emergency”.
It is important to realise that the system will always use the shock of terrorism as a psychological weapon with which to bludgeon the population into obedience.
We can see how this worked with regards to the COP21 in Paris. Yes, there were very real and physical repressive measures taken against anti-COP activists which hindered the mobilisation (see Acorn 18), but these do not necessarily account for all the no-shows, all the lowered levels of energy.
There is a worrying naivety amongst even supposedly-sussed activists with regard to the industrial capitalist system and its agenda, which too easily allows a fiery message of resistance to be reduced to a tepid request for reform.
What can you say about a “radical” UK environmental activist overheard reporting enthusiastically that there was apparently “good news” from the COP21 summit? What might that be? That the rulers of the industrial world and their corporate sponsors were going to dismantle capitalism, perhaps?
How can you protest against the whole COP21 charade and imagine that the phoney “solution” will even involve the slightest hint of a halt to airport-building, road-building and fracking, let alone the salvation of the planet?
The industrial-military-financial complex no more deserves our support in its staging of fake greenwashing summits than it does in its fake “war on terrorism”.
How many times are we going to fall for its tricks and lies?
The content of the Crimethinc/Lundimatin conversation ties in very nicely with the subject of a recent anarchist blogpost, which asks what the activist reaction in the UK would be to a “state of emergency” like that imposed in France.
It would perhaps be useful if UK dissidents gave this question some thought ahead of any such occurrence and resolved not to lose sight of the following key points:
* Our opposition to the industrial capitalist system is deep and long-term. It is not going to be modified by any particular events, no matter how shocking.
* The victims of terrorist attacks are always human beings – not nations, states or the politicians who claim to represent them. The UK state will not be a victim of any terrorist attack but will hold full responsibility by virtue of its policies and actions.
* The state may have the short-term physical power to round up opponents, ban protests, close down websites and so on, but it does not have the long-term ability to hold down the whole population against its will. The first barrier to resistance is always psychological and we will not allow ourselves to be intimidated into silence, or into a dilution of our anti-capitalist convictions, by a climate of fear created by the authorities. Instead, any attempt to crush our movements will only deepen our resolve and fuel our revolt.
“Resilience” is a word often used by the state as it encourages people to rally round its flag, but it is maybe one that should be appropriated by its opponents.
We need resilience in the face of the constant physical repression doled out by the system, resilience in the face of its lies and propaganda and, today more than ever, resilience in the face of the psychological bludgeon of “anti-terrorism” with which it would beat us into silence and submission.
NOTE 1: Since the last issue of The Acorn, repression in post-shock France has spiralled and we have been translating into English some key accounts, which can be found on our Resources page. There is this account of a brutal and apparently premeditated police attack on a protest in Nantes, this report of Muslim homes being raided by sneering, racist police and this account of martial law in France, together with a defiant statement in response.
NOTE 2: There seems to be a growing scepticism (in the alternative media at least) about the bogeyman of “terrorism” and its use to justify US/NATO imperialism and repression. For instance, this interesting article by Vanessa Beeley on the recent massacre of Shiite Muslims by Nigerian troops draws poses some broader parapolitical questions, asking: “Grey Wolves, FSA, ISIS, DAESH, Al Qaeda, Khorasan, AQAP, Jabhat al Nusra and Boko Haram, are they all nothing more than trade names, successfully managed brand images, logos and IDs all emanating from the US/NATO, Israel and Gulf State holders of the patent on terror and their associated marketing agents and concept creators?” This report on 21st Century Wire website joins the dots between various “gangs and counter gangs” using similar techniques in different parts of the world. Additionally, Umberto Eco’s latest novel, Numero Zero, also involves the non-fictional story of NATO false flag terrorism in Europe and includes a useful synopsis of the must-see BBC documentary on Operation Gladio.
With the ever-more apparent domination of mainstream media by the corporate elite, the existence of an alternative media is a source of hope and inspiration for many.
You would imagine that anybody terming themselves “left-wing” would welcome its existence with open arms, even if obviously not embracing every single site that falls under that wide description.
However, this does not seem to be the case for a certain James Bloodworth, a “left-wing” journalist and the former editor of the political blog Left Foot Forward.
According to Bloodworth , the alternative media are in fact often serving “sinister agendas”.
It is clear from the article he wrote on the subject on the Little Atoms website, that what Bloodworth hates most is any sort of criticism of the USA.
He complains that, in the “pernicious” reporting of non-corporate media, “should America or a government allied to America commit an egregious violation of human rights, that crime will be blown out of all proportion”.
And the same specific sensitivity lay behind his attack on Jeremy Corbyn in the International Business Times earlier this year, when he wrote: “The truth is that, however much a Corbyn-led Labour party might claim to be standing up for the most vulnerable, it will always and everywhere be willing to sacrifice the very people it ought to stick up for – the world’s democrats, secularists, Jews, gays and women – on the ideological alter [sic] of anti-Americanism.”
An in-depth article by Nafeez Ahmed on the Media Reform website questions the perplexing political line taken by the supposedly left-wing Bloodworth.
Ahmed points out that Bloodworth can hardly term himself a “progressive” as a search of the archives shows him routinely promoting the wonders of drone strikes and military intervention in Pakistan and Afghanistan; calling for more war in Iraq; and in Syria and endorsing fracking regardless of its environmental consequences.
And he points out Bloodworth’s links to the late Professor Norman Geras, whose pseudo-left 2006 Euston Manifesto declared, in Ahmed’s words, that the “left” should “define itself in opposition to ‘anti-imperialism’ and criticisms of neoconservative warmongers in the US”.
We are left, then, with the suspicion that there is a network of journalists and academics actively working to steer the “Left” away from any criticism of the USA and the capitalist system it dominates.
If we want to know what an anti-anti-imperialist “Left” might lead to, we need only look at the “Antideutsch” movement in Germany, with its support for Israeli Apartheid and American imperialism.
And if we are wondering who might be behind such ideological manipulation, we might find a historical clue in seeing who was behind the creation of the Index on Censorship and many other political and “cultural” initiatives – a Cold War organisation called Congress for Cultural Freedom which has long been revealed to have been a front for the CIA.
“At its height, the CCF had offices in thirty-five countries, employed dozens of personnel, published over twenty prestige magazines, held art exhibitions, owned a news and features service, organized high-profile international conferences, and rewarded musicians and artists with prizes and public performances”, records Wikipedia.
Any analysis which involves anything smacking of “conspiracy” is almost taboo in certain radical circles, for some reason. But scornfully muttering the words “conspiracy theory” does not magically stop real conspiracies from existing…
It is a fact that the US government has spent millions of dollars on trying to promote pro-American viewpoints around the world, not least in a supposedly “left-wing” context – and we should be wary of being swayed by this sophisticated ideological propaganda.
Ten years ago, The Porkbolter (a now-defunct local anarchist newsletter in Worthing, West Sussex) published a critical report on the journalist Andrew Mueller, which can still be read online.
The similarities with Bloodworth are remarkable. Here is another supposedly funky “left-wing” journalist whose actual output features sneering attacks on various enemies of the capitalist system, from Israeli nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu to UK leftist politician George Galloway.
Like Bloodworth, Mueller is especially protective of the reputation of the USA, complaining for instance about “puerile anti-American bleating” at an anti-war meeting.
Coincidentally, his work also includes a gushing article endorsing the activities of a rather dodgy Albanian political movement called Mjaft!, which received support and funding from the UK and US governments.
Also coincidentally, the very same Andrew Mueller is today among the contributors to Little Atoms, the state-funded website on which Bloodworth launched his scathing attack on the perniciously anti-American alternative media.
The links between the spread of capitalist “progress” and the destruction of minority languages and culture are explored in a newly-translated article from an anarchist review in France.
“We talk to the horse in Breton and to the tractor in French” explains one small farmer in Brittany, illuminating the exposing the full-spectrum domination of a system that can tolerate no other way of being, of thinking, of speaking, than its own.
The piece was originally published in a magazine jointly published by Offensive – trimestriel d’offensive libertaire et sociale and Courant alternatif – mensuel anarchiste-communiste.
The author, Gildas, explains how the French language conquered the countryside of Brittany as part of the triumph of industrial and consumer society: “In the end the Breton-speakers walked away from a language which blocked social ascent. Speaking Breton meant you were still a worker, a peasant, a seafarer. Speaking French meant you could be mobile, move up the ladder, upgrade yourself socially and economically”.
The Marxist Left had never had much interesting in protecting traditional rural culture, being “mesmerised by development, workers and the factory”, but in the 1970s there emerged a new kind of Left that did understand its significance and didn’t write off the struggle for the Breton language as inherently right-wing or even Fascist.
“People rediscovered their language, they rediscovered their land and they criticised ‘progress’, which had done so much damage”.
The economic “growth” and “progress” offered by industrial capitalism look very much like the growth and progress of a cancerous tumour within our planetary organism.
And industrial capitalism is itself the cause of the epidemic of cancer affecting the human species, a recent report has confirmed.
The wide-ranging US survey showed cancer rates are rising in poorer countries, as industrial “civilization” is imposed on them, while screening and preventative measures have halted the increase in the wealthier heartlands.
Another study has revealed that “avoidable factors such as toxic chemicals and radiation” – effects of industrial-capitalist civilization – lie behind cancer.
Dr David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center said: “It is both tragic and unconscionable that risk factors for cancer and other chronic diseases are being actively exported by wealthy countries to developing countries. We are exporting causes, and thus cases, of cancer. Profit is being prioritized over human lives. Knowing this, and continuing in that vein, is all to our shame”.
Meanwhile, official figures are now suggesting that the big rise in life expectancy seen in the past few decades may be easing off.
Longevity may well have peaked with a generation which grew up in a healthier environment and also benefited from better medical facilities, while later generations have been exposed to a lifetime of cancer-inducing toxicity which will stop them living to a ripe old age.
* One of the many deceptions inflicted on the public by the pharmaceutical industry has been exposed by the Australian federal court, which ordered the drug giant Reckitt Benckiser to stop selling identical products marketed as specific Nurofen varieties for back pain, period pain, migraine pain and tension headaches. The profiteering corporation was selling the fake “specialist” remedies at twice the usual price.
A call has gone out to support UK anarchist prisoner Pete Simpson. Bristol Anarchist Black Cross report that Pete was remanded on the 17th December 2015. “He is awaiting trial for ‘violent disorder’ after being attacked & arrested by police at an anti-cuts mayday demonstration in Cardiff, South Wales. He is on trial with another co-defendant in January 2016. Pete has spent the last several months with an electronic tag, his freedom severely restricted, and a change of bail address led to the court remanding him to prison.” Please write to Pete at: Peter Simpson A6060CF, HMP CARDIFF, Knox Rd, Cardiff, WALES, CF24 0UG
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Young people who question the government or media may be “extremists”, UK authorities have declared, as the full-scale Orwellisation of our society continues apace. The leaflet, handed to parents in London, says the danger signs of so-called radicalisation include “showing a mistrust of mainstream media reports and belief in conspiracy theories” and “appearing angry about government policies, especially foreign policy”. Numbed slack-jawed conformists gawping apathetically at the TV set are, presumably, the ideal non-extremist citizens of tomorrow.
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Anarchism in Greece is the subject of an interesting report on the Aljazeera website. The article takes a closer look at “a new generation of Greek anarchists who, after years of recession and austerity, have lost all faith in the government, and even in the state itself”. The article explores the growing social element to the anarchist struggle, but stresses that there is still a battle to be fought on the streets, quoting one activist as saying “The revolution will not come with flowers. They need to see that we have the power to create but also to destroy. Again and again.”
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If you’re looking for a plausible inside witness to the duplicity behind US imperialism (“the war on terror”), you could do worse than the former Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO. In this revealing video, General Wesley Clark dishes the dirt on long-term US plans to attack and destroy the governments of a string of states, including Iraq, Libya, Syria… and Iran. Meanwhile, this major piece by Nafeez Ahmed explains how Western involvement in Syria is set to benefit US, British, French and Israeli energy interests.
* * *
News of government plans for a new bypass through countryside to the north of Chichester, revealed in Acorn 18, has set alarm bells ringing in the city. A website and petition have been set up to counter the threat and “hundreds of angry residents” have opposed the A27 proposal. Local opponents have correctly identified the thinking behind the building of the new bypass (as opposed to the previously-favoured upgrading of the current route) as being all about “opening up” new countryside for profitable development. The Chichester Deserves Better site states: “Build a new bypass and Chichester loses all control over properly planned development. No longer will the city be able to grow in a planned, organic way. Instead, everything will be built in the lung of land closed in by the bypass. And not because it’s needed, but because it’s there. Build a bypass, and you’re also opening up the entire area to new industrial estates, shopping centres, housing estates”. Experienced anti-road campaigners have rightly warned, though, against short-sighted support for the southern A27 option: “Of course any style of road north of the city to cope with such an event is out of the question, but so is anything that increases traffic on the present southern ring road. A unified opposition and a no road here campaign is more likely to win the battle against the relentless increase traffic and the pollution that shortens our lives and that of the planet”.
* * *
This video shows a protest this month at a shareholders’ meeting and press conference of the world’s biggest ore producer, Vale, which was held at the Mayfair Hotel, London. A month earlier, on November 5, two tailings dams burst in the state of Minas Gerais in the south-east of Brazil. The dams were managed by Samarco, a joint venture between Vale, and the Anglo-Australian mining giant, BHP Billiton. An environmental disaster was unleashed as 60 million cubic metres of toxic slurry flattened five settlements and filled the River Doce floodplain. Twenty three people were killed, 600 displaced, and a quarter of a million left without clean water.
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A new novel exploring art, anarchism and reality has been published by Orage Press. In Search of Experience is written by Dr Michael Paraskos, an expert on the works of the 20th century English anarchist Herbert Read, and is partly based on the diaries of his father Stass Paraskos, who was famously prosecuted by the British state in the 1960s for his “obscene” paintings. The book is reviewed here by Paul Cudenec.
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Acorn quote: “Presented with a universal duty to defend public order, everyone is invited to inform, to grovel, to fear: for the first time in history cowardice becomes a sublime quality, fear is always justified and the only kind of ‘courage’ which escapes scorn is that of approving and supporting all the abuse and infamy of the state”.
Gianfranco Sanguinetti, On Terrorism and the State
(For many more like this, see the Winter Oak quotes for the day blog)
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