Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Insurrection sweeps the Balkans

Insurrection against the corrupt global neoliberal system is spreading across the Balkans.

In Sofia, Bulgaria, protesters sick of the regime have laid siege to parliament and managed to trap 100 MPs and ministers inside for more than eight hours.

As ever, the authorities turned to violence to restore their control, and sent in cops to attack the public and rescue the hated politicians. 

Bosnians have also been taking to the streets in recent months amidst growing discontent.

Greece has been battling neoliberal tyranny for years now and the Turkish people have this year woken up to the reality of the global despotism which enslaves humanity in the interests of profit for the few.

The reaction of the system is only ever to notch up levels of repression. In the UK, for instance, a new law is being planned to give police the power to clear areas of people they “reasonably suspect” are engaged in conduct that contributes to “ members of the public in the locality being harassed, alarmed or distressed”.

Explains SchNEWS: "A dispersal order can be issued by any officer of the rank of Inspector or above and lasts for a period of 48 hours. It allows the police to specify how and when people must disperse.

"To not disperse will of course be an arrestable offence with a potential three months' imprisonment attached. The new laws will also give the cops the power to seize items used in the conduct of 'anti-social behaviour' as well as taking those aged under 16 to 'a place of safety'."

Neoliberal capitalists anywhere in the world will not surrender their power and wealth voluntarily - we are all going to have to "disperse" it for them.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Rioting erupts in Paris suburbs

TWO nights of rioting have rocked a suburb of Paris, after youths decided they had had enough of police oppression.

Cars and bins were torched and fireworks launched at police, who attacked locals with tear gas and "flashball" rubber bullets, leaving a 14 year old boy blinded in one eye.

In a dramatic incident at 1.30 on Sunday morning, a grey Renault Clio car drove up to the Trappes police station, heavily protected by police cars.

Instead of stopping, it smashed into barriers, prompting a helicopter chase which ended with a battle between 50 rioters and 150 CRS riot police.

The fighting in Trappes was sparked by a police search of a woman wearing a traditional Muslim veil, but one man told one TV report they were generally fed up with "being treated like dogs" by the cops.

On Saturday night, the action spread to nearby Elancourt and Guyancourt.


Thursday, 4 July 2013

Free Kostas Sakkas!

A global solidarity campaign is underway to support Greek anarchist prisoner Kostas Sakkas who has been on hunger strike since June 4.

Kostas was arrested in December 2010, one of the earliest in a wave of arrests targeting the “Conspiracy of Cells of Fire”.

Both Kostas and the CCF deny he was ever a member, and Kostas has separately taken responsibility for his political activity as an anarchist.

Held ever since, his initial pre-trial detention maximum expired eighteen months later, in the summer of 2012 - yet it was extended by another year, to June 2013.

At that time, a court of appeals in Athens ordered the extension of Kostas’ detention by another six months, now solidly stepping outside the boundaries that the legal apparatus had set for its own self.

On June 4, Kostas went on a hunger strike in protest and this has prompted a wave of support.

More than 6,000 people joined  a solidarity demonstration on June 29 which began in Monastiraki and crossed through most of central Athens.

A moto-solidarity action is being staged in Athens on Friday July 5. For updates see From the Greek Streets.

US empire is collapsing


Hopeful signs are emerging that we are witnessing the beginning of the end of US global hegemony.

Recent events may superficially seem to show the power and reach of the American state, as European countries buckled to trans-Atlantic pressure over Evo Morales’ flight back to Bolivia.

And in Egypt suspicions still remain that, while the second revolution has got rid of one US-backed president, the Americans will ensure they are on equally good terms with his successor.

But the moment that an empire shows itself to be at its most powerful is also a moment at which inevitable decline and collapse are underway.

Power and influence work best when they are invisible. The moment their workings are exposed, they become less effective.

This was demonstrated by the US reaction to whistleblower Edward Snowden, who revealed to the world the extent of his employers’ spying activities. His actions haven’t stopped the spying, but the US position has been seriously weakened by the heightened public awareness.

The same applies to the way the USA has clearly pulled international strings to try and trap Snowden. This is the sort of influence it has always exerted - but in the background, away from all scrutiny. For its power to be laid bare in this way is a step towards it crumbling away entirely.

It hasn’t happened yet, of course, and there is very real danger that the wounded animal will lash out at an increasingly hostile world with a war on Syria and Iran.

But the cracks in US domination will surely spread out from Latin America, where Unasur nations are holding an emergency meeting to discuss the aggression against Morales’ jet.

As the global uprising against its hated neoliberal system spreads like wildfire, it is only a matter of time before we see the fall of the US empire.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Cairo: "We want the downfall of the System!"


“We want the downfall of the System!”

That was the message from radicals on the streets of Cairo this week as the Morsi regime tottered towards today's collapse.

From Istanbul to Rio de Janeiro, from Santiago to Manama, the battle against neoliberalism is one and the same.

Nobody expects it to be easily won – there will always be yet another phoney saviour lined up in the political wings to ensure it’s “business as usual” in the corridors of power.

But the numbers and the anger on the streets all over the world in the last few weeks will have had the elite shaking in their boots in fear of what is to come. People power on this scale is something they can neither control nor ignore, as Morsi found out to his cost.

In an online statement this week, some “Comrades from Cairo” outlined how the neoliberal agenda is the common factor among the regimes currently facing popular uprisings.

They explained: “In Egypt, the Brotherhood only adds a religious veneer to the process, while the logic of a localized neo-liberalism crushes the people.

“In Turkey a strategy of aggressive private-sector growth, likewise translates into authoritarian rule, the same logic of police brutality as the primary weapon to oppress opposition and any attempts to envision alternatives.

“In Brazil a government rooted in a revolutionary legitimacy has proven that its past is only a mask it wears while it partners with the same capitalist order in exploiting people and nature alike.

“These recent struggles share in the fight of much older constant battles of the Kurds and the indigenous peoples of Latin America. For decades, the Turkish and Brazilian governments have tried but failed to wipe out these movements’ struggle for life.

“Their resistance to state repression was the precursor to the new wave of protests that have spread across Turkey and Brazil. We see an urgency in recognizing the depth in each other’s struggles and seek out forms of rebellion to spread into new spaces, neighborhoods and communities.

“Our struggles share a potential to oppose the global regime of nation states. In crisis as in prosperity, the state — in Egypt under the rule of Mubarak, the Military Junta or the Muslim Brotherhood — continues to dispossess and disenfranchise in order to preserve and expand the wealth and privilege of those in power.

“None of us are fighting in isolation. We face common enemies from Bahrain, Brazil and Bosnia, Chile, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Kurdistan, Tunisia, Sudan, the Western Sahara and Egypt. And the list goes on.

“Everywhere they call us thugs, vandals, looters and terrorists. We are fighting more than economic exploitation, naked police violence or an illegitimate legal system. It is not rights or reformed citizenship that we fight for.

“We oppose the nation-state as a centralized tool of repression, that enables a local elite to suck the life out of us and global powers to retain their dominion over our everyday lives.

“The two work in unison with bullets and broadcasts and everything in between. We are not advocating to unify or equate our various battles, but it is the same structure of authority and power that we have to fight, dismantle, and bring down. Together, our struggle is stronger.

“We want the downfall of the System.”

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Total opposition - interview with anarchist writer Paul Cudenec

In this written interview with The Vast Minority,  writer Paul Cudenec calls for anarchists to unite in "total opposition" to the global capitalist system. He says he is trying to unearth the primal force behind the philosophy and argues that anarchism has the potential to become a new "religion" for the current age.
Q: Your book The Anarchist Revelation is very much focused around presenting an anarchist spirituality. Why?

That’s the question I hopefully go some way to answering over the course of some 150 pages! In short, there are two separate, and yet interwoven, strands. Firstly there is the individual question – how can an alienated individual such as an anarchist, who is sane enough to find the contemporary capitalist world insane, carry on living in that world? Involvement in the anarchist struggle is part of the answer, but you also need something more than that, some greater perspective to fall back on in times of doubt or isolation.

I think anarchism, historically, has always offered a depth of vision that can sustain and propel an individual through adversity but, if we start to regard anarchism not as a life-philosophy but as a narrowly defined social movement, we will lose contact with that vital force. 

Secondly, there’s the spiritual depth of the anarchist movement as a whole. To me, it stands opposed to the modern materialist mindset at a fundamental level. It’s not just that we reject all those assumptions about the legitimacy of authority, property or privilege, but we also reject the blinkered and one-dimensional thinking of the current age. 

Anarchy is lateral thinking, creative thinking, poetic thinking in many ways, and in that it has a lot in common with something like Sufism, the esoteric strand of Islam. It’s not stuck on the one level - like Marxism is, for example. And I think we need to reconnect to that imaginative and fluid side of anarchist thought.

Q: But there’s a difference between the vitality or fluidity of a philosophy and this idea of “spirituality”. Why does that come in? Why does it have to come in?

Spirituality for me is all about using the parts of our mind that are left to wither away in a purely materialist society, where nothing it considered valid unless it can be “empirically” proven to be so. These are the powers we need to reignite, on both an individual and collective level.

Q: But what about the religious aspect to “spirituality” that you do evoke in your book? Are you suggesting that these unused parts of our mind are something to do with a supernatural element?

Not supernatural, no. But my definition of what is natural, and real, would go a lot further than what’s generally understood by that. As far as religion goes, the only religion I’m promoting is anarchism. OK, maybe it’s not quite a religion at the moment, but I think it has the potential to be, if it doesn’t cut itself off from the less materialist aspects of its philosophy that take it up in that direction.

Q: So what kind of religion would anarchism be? A religion with no god?

There doesn’t have to be a “god”, in the sense in which it’s normally meant in the West. It’s all about an holistic vision, understanding that on every level of existence everything is interconnected and ultimately part of the one entity. On a human level, this is already the anarchist position – mutual aid, co-operation, solidarity and so on. On a planetary level this is the environmentalist position – the Gaia idea of a living Earth. On a cosmic level, this becomes a Buddhist or Taoist idea of the ultimate unity. 

I think that anarchism naturally embraces the holistic approach on the other levels, as well, thus expanding itself into a complete vision of life, rather than remaining merely a social or economic programme spiced up with a confrontational attitude.

Q: Is this a bad thing, then, a “confrontational attitude”? Should anarchists be adopting the quietism of Eastern mystics?

Not at all. A confrontational attitude is essential for anarchism. I think we need to be more confrontational, in fact, in contexts other than street battles with the police or fascists. We need to be more confrontational in our refusal of the moral claims of the state, by stating clearly that we don’t accept that they have the right to rule us, to jail us, to control us in any way. Of course, we recognise the reality that they can do so, in the same way that a large man with a knife has the physical ability to rob me in the street, but we should make it clear that we don’t buy into their lie that there is any moral legitimacy behind this. 

We also need to be more confrontational in attacking the limits that are placed around possible futures. Although it’s often a tactically good idea to work with reformist campaigns, if only to help stem the tide of increasing capitalist domination, we should never stop talking about the completely different society that is our vision and inspiration. It doesn’t matter if people can’t grasp that this could ever happen, that they are conditioned by society to think that such a future is not only undesirable but also impossible. 

We have to keep our black flag flying so that the vision stays alive, at least on an abstract level, and it’s there for people to turn to one day when they finally realise that the only alternative is going to be a future of slavery and misery for the vast majority of humanity. What we need to reclaim is the total opposition to the current system that was historically offered by anarchism. There’s such a strength in that. 

Also, by the way, there’s nothing necessarily quietist or pacifist about faiths like Buddhism – take the Tibetan monks in their struggle against Chinese occupation, for a start. Many religions are used by authorities to promote obedience and submission, and Buddhism is no exception, but that doesn’t reflect on its innate qualities or its potential as an aid to human liberation.

Q: Total opposition? That sounds quite full-on!

In the context in which I just used it, I meant total opposition in a philosophical sense – attacking the current death-system at its roots, rather than focusing on trimming it back here and there. But I do think that’s what we need, at every level. Otherwise nothing will change, all possibilities of improvement will remain blocked and the future will be like this, only a thousand times worse.

Q: There’s a strong environmental current running through your work. Would you describe yourself as an eco-anarchist?

I have done, yes, though I’m tending now to focus on just being an anarchist, which I think is enough. For a start, I can’t see that anything other than anarchism – and the total opposition that it involves – is going to save the planet. The system is not going to reform itself or voluntarily concede any power or control. I also don’t feel there’s a need for any of us to qualify our anarchism with adjectives. 

I’ve been playing around with the notion of an Anarchy Threshold, this being the “finishing tape” that all anarchists are aiming at, the point at which humankind can said to be liberated. The idea is that we don’t really have to argue about what happens after that, because, as anarchists, we’re saying that the people around at the time (whenever it actually happens!) will decide that, by their actions and views, among themselves. 

So it doesn’t matter if my vision of a better future is one without factories, while my comrade sees the need for a continuation of some form of industrialism. Neither of us will be in a position to decide that. As anarchists we’re not about imposing our views on others anyway, even if we could do so. So it’s purely theoretical – our only input is in putting forward our own visions of how life could be. If we have faith in a free humanity, we will have faith in the future it will create for itself in an anarchist society. Personally, I can’t see that a post-capitalist world would be industrial in any way, because industrialism is capitalism. 

The capitalists are right when they say that without the profit incentive, we wouldn’t have what they call “progress” – it’s the forces of money and power, feeding off each other, that have spawned the industrial hell in which we are all forced to live today and the moment that there is no more capitalism there will be no raison d’être for factories, oil refineries, nuclear power stations, shopping malls and so on. 

I don’t have to argue too much with other anarchists about what a future anarchist society would look like, though. Firstly, because it’s not my call – or theirs. Secondly, because I know, in my own heart, that an anarchist society would not be an industrial one. It will all unfold in due course. And in the meantime, before the Anarchy Threshold has been reached, our only aim should be to work towards that point with a diversity of tactics and a respect for each others’ personal visions.

Q: Isn’t that a bit naïve, to think that anarchists could all work together happily ever after?

It’s not naïve to think we should all work together – or at least not snipe at each other. If we can’t, then perhaps that’s something to do with the egos of individuals concerned (not just inflated egos, but fragile ones as well) – and that is something that can be addressed by an individual spiritual approach that is a microcosm of our social struggle, as I describe in the book. It’s about rediscovering our strength and clarity, both individually and collectively.

Q: The language in your book can be quite academic at times – do you feel that this can create a barrier to people understanding what you’re saying and limit the numbers who are going to read your message?

Firstly, I’m not a professional academic and I try to make my meaning clear to readers. It’s difficult, though, to express complex ideas without using the short cut of a certain vocabulary – otherwise the end result would be both long-winded and a little patronising. 

Secondly, when you’re quoting writers like Herbert Marcuse or Karl Jaspers it would be strange if the surrounding text was in a completely different register – the flow wouldn’t be there. Thirdly, part of theme of The Anarchist Revelation is the lowering of the intellectual level and the denial by the narrow positivist mindset of people’s ability to think clearly and profoundly. Dumbing-down the language in which that sort of argument is expressed seems to me like something of an own goal! 

It’s not just a question of vocabulary, but also the way ideas are expressed. Everything doesn’t always have to be compressed into soundbites. I do take on board the criticism to a certain extent, though, and I would like to work on ways of communicating these ideas in a way that they can be more readily absorbed.

Q: Finally, your book draws on the work of a whole range of writers, many of whom are not anarchists. How would you respond to criticism that you risk diluting the anarchist message and confusing it with unrelated strands of thought. Is this some kind of “post-anarchism” that you’re serving up?

No, it’s not “post-anarchism”. If anything, I’m trying to unearth an “Ur-anarchism”, a primal force behind the philosophy, hence my foray into the worlds of hermeticism, alchemy, Sufism and Taoism. 

I think it’s a mistake to imagine that anarchism is, or should be, some kind of self-contained bubble of consciously-limited political analysis. It’s not airtight, but porous. Anarchism influences the world around it and it is, in turn, influenced by that world. The fact that an idea is expressed by a particular individual does not make it “their” idea anyway; it’s all drawn from the common cultural resource of humanity. 

So if a writer expresses something that seems valid and interesting to me, I don’t have to agree with everything else they ever wrote or did in order for me to make use of it in my work and acknowledge where I read it. To me, it’s actually exciting to find anarchist ideas bubbling up in unexpected places, as it makes it clear that our vision is not as peripheral as the thought-authorities would like to make out. 

Anarchism is the political label we give to a massive underground river of suppressed thinking that is flowing under the streets of our materialist capitalist civilization, waiting to rise up and sweep away its factories, prisons and city halls. Ultimately, it’s the life-force itself and as such it’s unstoppable.

Paul Cudenec’s new book The Anarchist Revelation is published by Winter Oak Press. For more information see and