Guards come and laugh at me through the bars of my cell.

“You’re the English, right?”, they ask me. “What are you doing here?”

“You tell me,” I say, for the hundredth time. But they just laugh, and wander off.

I am the only Westerner in a detention centre full of thousands of refugees. I am also the only inmate waiting to be deported to the UK - though of course, I am pretty much the only person here who would not do anything for a one-way plane ticket to London. In a similar irony, the Greek police who run the facility make it very plain they do not want any of my fellow inmates (Afghans, Iranians, Pakistanis, North Africans) in their country. And yet it is the same police force which violently arrested them and prevented them leaving.

Earlier this year, while on holiday in Greece, I was detained at the Italian border, arrested, thrown into the Greek detention and migration system for two months, and informed I was banned from the Schengen Zone for the next ten years. Though I still haven’t been provided with any documentation about the ban, it appears likely that I am being targeted as a result of my reporting and media advocacy from North and East Syria (NES), the democratic, women-led, autonomous region built around Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), which the Turkish government is hell-bent on destroying. Chillingly, it seems the autocratic Turkish government now has the power to impose a unilateral ban from Europe on a British citizen, professional journalist and media activist like myself.

My two months in detention were just a brief taste of what many refugees, political activists and journalists from the Middle East and beyond must spend a lifetime enduring. My case provided a window into the violence, squalor and farce of day-to-day life in the EU’s detention-deportation machine. But it also illustrates the complicity of European states and the Erdoğan regime in suppressing journalistic freedom, political dissent, and democratic movements.

Inside the Greek migrant detention system
While travelling from Greece to Italy with a friend earlier this year, I was met off the ferry at the Italian border by a group of armed, balaclava-clad police. I was banned from the Schengen Zone for ten years, they told me, at the request of the German government. Thus began my whirlwind tour of the Greek migrant detention system. The port where I was arrested, Ancona, lies on a popular route for people without papers trying to travel through Greece on to Western Europe, and so the Greek police simply dealt with me as they would deal with any irregular migrant pushed back from Italy by the Italian police.

I was variously detained in Patras police station, the notorious Migrant Pre-Removal Detention Center at Korinthos which was condemned by the Committee to Prevent Torture, and another Pre-Removal Center in Petrorali, Athens. Conditions were as you might expect. The police station in Patras only has small holding cells, but I spent a week here sleeping on the bare stone. Others were held in the same conditions for a month or more. For days at a time I was locked in my cell and not allowed to mix with other inmates, passing the time squashing cockroaches and playing chess with myself on a contraband paper set. Most of my fellow inmates were cut and bruised from the beatings they’d received upon arrest, trying to smuggle themselves onto ferries at the port. On one occasion, the police violently beat a petty drug dealer on the floor outside my cell.

One day then I and a group of my new friends – Afghan migrants – were handcuffed and bundled into a windowless van. To keep us quiet, the police implied we were soon to be released, but instead we found ourselves issued with new prison numbers and lined up along the wall at Korinthos, a massive, police-run prison facility officially known as a ‘Pre-Removal Detention Center’. This name, we soon learned, was a farce, since there were virtually no ‘removals’ (deportations) taking place due to the coronavirus crisis.

Officially, people here should have exhausted all possible legal routes to remain in the EU, or else voluntarily accepted deportation. In practice, they are held for six to eighteen months or even more before suddenly being released – sometimes with the assistance of the shadowy lawyers who circle the centre like vultures demanding huge cash payments for unclear forms of ‘assistance’, sometimes seemingly at random. People are interviewed about their asylum cases, but these days everyone is being rejected, regardless of the validity of their case. Some people are released, re-arrested days later, and placed back in the detention centre for another undetermined spell.

In Korinthos, as elsewhere, the system is totally opaque. All NGOs are banned from entering. Particularly Kafkaeseque is the way some guards will tell you whatever you want to hear, some will say they know nothing, and some will tell you to fuck off, with added racist abuse, where applicable: but they are all simply trying to make their own lives easier. It is is impossible to know how your case is going, where you will be sent next, when your interview will be, whether the lawyers (who never actually visit their clients in the detention facility, only occasionally shouting at them through the barbed wire) really can speed up your release. The conditions are squalid, with frequent water outages, and up to forty men sharing each cell.

The result is desperation. In the cell where I stayed, one Kurdish refugee had recently killed himself in desperation, hanging himself with two phone chargers woven together. The lights are kept burning 24 hours a day, and yet when the residents need a doctor or the water runs dry, no-one comes. I see one long-term inmate climb up the prison building and threaten to throw himself off just to get access to a dentist. Another slashed himself all over with a razor after being consistently denied access to the doctor for his agonising kidney problems. There are hunger strikes, fights, clashes with the guards with stones and burning mattresses. For the final two weeks I am transferred to a higher-security facility in Petrorali, Athens, where we once again spend most of the time in isolation. Here, more troubled inmates kept in isolation thrash against the bars, screaming, cursing, begging, fighting.

The body of a Kurdish asylum seeker who committed suicide being removed from Korinthos, sparking protests

Rumours fly through the bars as frequently as the cigarettes and tea-bags passed around via cardboard chutes. Transfers occur in windowless vans. On arrival at a new facility, we are stripped and cavity searched and have our blood taken and are given injections, but not told what the injection is for, fostering a dangerous paranoia among the migrant population. When I arrive at Petrorali the medical staff tell me, laughing, that I have somehow contracted multiple forms of hepatitis: that I will never be able to have children: and that there is nothing to be done about this. They send me back to my cell, untreated. It is only after many weeks of worry later, back in England, that my doctor tells me I have nothing to worry about, and what the Greek tests in fact picked up were my vaccinations against the disease. Whether this was done through malice or oversight, I don’t know.

I see much comradeship and joy, too. In Patras a brace of Hells’ Angels being held on drug charges make the migrants and I laugh by breaking wind, share the festal food brought in by their wives for orthodox Easter, advise the young Afghans on how to handle the guards. In Korinthos we organise language classes, legal training ahead of the migrants’ admissability interviews, work-out sessions where we leg-press the fattest guy in the cell, a clandestine livestream where we relay conditions in the prison to the outside world. We play ludo, chess, football, run out into the yard in the rain and belly-flop on the flooded concrete. I write poetry on the cell wall, Blake, Milton: The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven. We laugh a lot, debate politics and religion, comfort one another as best we can.

When I am woken at dawn for the last time and put on a plane back to the UK, my overriding emotion is guilt that I cannot bring all my new friends and comrades with me. But it is all I can do to dish out my last remaining cigarettes before I am handcuffed, and swept away.

Fires burning in Korinthos during protests following the death of a Kurdish inmate

A cause worth defending
Six months later, back in the UK, I am still trying to get my hands on any official paperwork to explain exactly what has happened. Since I have never had anything to do with the German authorities, and given Germany’s strong trade ties and strategic relationship with Turkey, it appears likely Turkey asked Germany to issue the ban. This was done via an opaque institution known as the Schengen Information System, which has “been the target of sustained criticism by academics, EU bodies and civil rights organisations” since its inception.

But why should the Turkish government care so deeply about a British journalist on holiday in Greece?

You will have seen the world-famous images of ‘Kurdish women fighting ISIS’ broadcast around the world, as Kurdish-led forces spent years pushing back ISIS from strongholds like Raqqa before totally eradicating their caliphate in March 2019 – as the main partner force of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, led by the US but including the UK, Germany, and almost all Schengen Zone member states. You will probably also have seen footage from the two Turkish invasions of the region, including the October 2019 assault greenlit by Donald Trump. Turkish warplanes and tanks backed radical militias including scores of former ISIS members to take over swathes of NES, looting, raping, pillaging and murdering as they conduct forcible ethnic cleansing against the region’s Kurdish, Yezidi and Christian minorities.

But beyond the frontlines, the political project in NES has endured. Several million people now live in a system of direct, grassroots democracy, with guaranteed female participation and women’s leadership at all levels of political and civil life. The project is not flawless, but in a region beset by war, poverty and a total breakdown of infrastructure, NES continues to guarantee remarkably high standards of human rights, rule of law, and due process. The three years I spent living and working in NES were an education in both utopic thinking and practical action, as I witnessed refugees coming together around cooperative farming projects to beat the Turkish-imposed embargo on the region, and the women of Raqqa taking control of their own autonomous council in defiance of ISIS’ continued presence. The revolution is very much alive.

You may also be aware that a number of Westerners have travelled out to join the ‘Rojava revolution’. At first, many joined the military struggle against ISIS, with scores sacrificing their lives in the process. But these days, the majority of Western volunteers work in the burgeoning civil sphere, in women’s work, health, education – or, in my case, media.

I am a professional journalist, and during my time in Syria I filed reports for top international news sources like VICE, the Independent, and the New Statesman, as well as hosting a documentary series for a Kurdish TV channel. But my main role was as a co-founder of the region's top independent news source, Rojava Information Center (RIC). As RIC, we worked with all the world's top media companies and human rights organizations, including the BBC, ITV, Sky, CNN, Fox, Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations, the US Government, and many more, to help them cover the situation on the ground.

Our raison d’etre was connecting these news sources with people on the ground, to help them understand the reality of NES, without propaganda. I never sought to hide my presence in Syria, or what I was doing there. On the contrary, I was proud to lend my voice to both advocate for and criticise a political project I wanted the international community to recognise, understand, and engage with.

Political repression
Working in Kurdistan as a journalist is enough to incur political repression from Turkey. Turkey is the world’s number one jailer of journalists, has the highest incarceration rate in Europe, and in recent years has dismissed or detained over 160,000 judges, teachers, civil servants and politicians, particularly targeting Kurdish politicians and members of the pro-Kurdish and pro-democratic party HDP. Turkey’s actions reach far beyond Turkey and the regions it invades and occupies in Syria and Iraq, with Turkish intelligence going so far as to assassinate three female Kurdish activists in Paris in 2013, while fascist ‘Grey Wolves’ paramilitaries linked to Erdoğan’s AKP party regularly carry out violent attacks in Europe.

But the EU must turn a blind eye to these abuses, because it relies on Turkey to host millions of refugees who would otherwise travel into Europe. Turkey uses these refugees as leverage to threaten Europe, even while its invasions of NES and military interventions in Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh and elsewhere force hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes in the face of ethnic cleansing. Absurdly, even Kurdish refugees in the EU must prove that Turkey is not safe for them, with almost all applications being rejected – if Turkey was shown to be unsafe, after all, that would mean the EU admitting it was refouling migrants into life-threatening danger, in defiance of international law.

The issue is not Turkey alone. EU and Western governments regularly target, harass and detain their own nationals for lending support to the democratic project in NES or the Kurdish rights movement. Volunteers who fought against ISIS have been charged and jailed in Denmark, Australia, Italy, Spain, France and my own home country, the UK. Danes and Australians can be jailed simply for setting foot in NES – something the UK has threatened, but never enacted.

Fighting for women’s rights, democracy and freedom should not be a crime. But as my case illustrates, this repression is not limited to combatants. In the UK, even members of ecological delegations have been detained under terror laws and prevent from travelling to the region. Facing intense, targeted police harassment, unable to find work as a result, feeling isolated and alone, several former volunteers have killed themselves. At least one other British volunteer in NES has been handed the same ten-year ban from the Schengen Zone as myself, and we suspect other peaceful activists have also been listed on the SIS.

Turkish pressure therefore contributes to Western governments’ own desire to stop the spread of the decentralised, transformative vision of society put forward by NES. (Turkey, of course, knows they incur much more negative press when their bombs kill British or European citizens than when they are simply wiping out Kurdish and Arab locals – one reason why continued Western engagement in NES is so important.)

Erdoğan is able to use the millions of Syrian now resident in Turkey to tacitly or openly threaten Europe with another influx of refugees if they do not acceed to his demands. The UK is particularly close to Turkey as a key trading partner, the more so post-Brexit, and accordingly takes a much harder line against NES than, say, France or the USA, both of whom have welcomed NES’ political leaders to the White House and the Champs Elysee. Notably, in the UK, repressive moves have come in response to high-level meetings between Turkey and the UK, in particular when arrests targeted not only former volunteers in NES but even their family members in the days following Erdoğan’s 2019 visit to London.

The same shared interests lie behind my own, relatively brief, detention. The political movement in NES resists borders and the violence inherent in the capitalist nation-state. These ideas are anathema to Erdoğan, but they also constitutes a challenge to the EU border regime. Little wonder, then, that Turkey and the EU work together to stifle legitimate journalism and political advocacy.

The author working on the ground in Rojava (North and East Syria) as a journalist and media activist

Outside the law
As the British novelty act in the Greek detention center, I was of course spared the racism, the violence, and the worst of the uncertainty. I knew it would only be so long before I was back in the UK, where, though I had to sit through a ‘Schedule 7’ interview on my return, the police assured me that I have no charges to face and have done nothing wrong in the eyes of the law. It is an immense frustration to be summarily banned from Europe, but then I FaceTime with friends still detained in Korinthos or playing the dangerous ‘game’ trying to jump onto lorries at Patras ferry port, and I remember how incredibly free I am.

The effect of repression against Western volunteers, activists and journalists who have worked in NES is to place us, temporarily, outside the normal protections afforded to UK or EU citizens. Millions of civilians in NES, like millions of migrants in Europe, exist in this vacuum as their constant condition. Turkey feels it has impunity to rape, murder, bomb and ethnically cleanse in NES, which remains unrecognised by any government or international organisation, despite its leading role in defeating ISIS. The Greek police can beat, humiliate and dehumanise the migrants in Patras, Korinthos or Petrorali as much as they please, knowing no lawyers or NGOs are able to enter the detention centres to monitor their behaviour.

The inmates of the Greek migrant detention system and the free people of NES are both victims of the same system, which sacrifices peoples’ lives in the name of bilateral trade agreements, arms sales, and ethno-nationalist state politics. But this is precisely why I, and other international supporters of the political movement in NES, have chosen to make our voices heard, even in the face of imprisonment and police repression. This is why I hope my ban will be overturned, and that I can continue my peaceful journalism and advocacy in support of this vital cause.

The vision being promoted in NES, of local, decentralised, grassroots democracy, is the only way to resolve not only the Syrian conflict but also a global crisis occasioned by capitalist extraction overseen by neo-imperialist states. Only in this way can we provide people with what they want most - a safe home they have no need to flee.

Matt Broomfield
Matt is a journalist, organiser and co-founder of the Rojava Information Center, the top news and research organisation in North and East Syria

(Originally published on Deportation Monitoring Aegean)

Murray Boookchin (14/1/1921 – 30/7/2006) was an American communalist, political philosopher, trade-union organizer and educator. A pioneer in the environmental movement, Bookchin formulated and developed the theory of social ecology and urban planning, within anarchist, libertarian socialist and ecological thought. He was the author of two dozen books covering topics in politics, philosophy, history, urban affairs and social ecology.

Murray Bookchin, over his lengthy period of writing managed to create within social ecology, a discourse that challenged the dominant pre-existing modes of humanity’s role within society. Social ecology offers a political strategy, anthropological and historical investigation whilst also at times criticizing utopian ideas of social order (Tokar et al, 2008). Social ecology is best seen as a complete accumulation of the human endeavour; for one to deal with external determinations within one’s own settings, validified and justified against one’s own level of scrutiny in context of one’s surroundings and relationships to others within the natural environment. At a primary level, social ecology tackles the political, social and cultural roots of modern ecological issues by critiquing traditional environmental policies and practices and encourages activists to uptake radical, community-centered approaches (Bookchin, 2009). The fundamental crux was that ecological issues need to be analyzed and acted upon as social issues rather than the dominant narratives of conventional environmental science (Bookchin, 2009). The holistic nature of such conventional ecological science was deemed to be failing, as is evident today through global warming and climate change and where social ecology implores the analyzation of systemic roots of environmental crisis it also challenges the existing institutions accountable for maintaining the status quo (Bookchin, 2009). This fundamental shift in the approach to dealing with agency within one’s own environment highlights Bookchin’s influences from Hegel (Bookchin, 1995). Bookchin outlined this approach in The Philosophy of Social Ecology: Essays on Dialectical Naturalism, highlighting that the system should be validated against nature itself and not through unjust institutions that are maintaining dominant narratives and controlling discourse (Bookchin, 1995). This is not to suggest that Bookchin was a Hegelian, but his left-wing up bringing will have shaped some of his understanding of the natural order and he himself spoke on occasions of his grounding in traditional Marxism, as well as other left-wing historical writers (Murray Bookchin Explains Anarchism, 2011).

Bookchin’s critical outlook into the deeper intrinsic nature of the evolution of relationships that exist between society and non-human nature was radical. Anarcho-communist and liberal societies for the most part have seen nature and its domination as a sense of achievement within their own propagation (Mazurski, 1991, Koch, 2011). Today the same environmental harm is often viewed as a regrettable but compulsory consequence to the subjective needs of capitalism and expanding civilization. This coupled with the current neoliberal late-stage capitalist approach only increases the social and environmental harm observable in day to day society, both nationally and globally. Bookchin however, in The Ecology of Freedom, (1982) highlights that the domination of nature as he saw it was a myth predominantly perpetuated by social elites within the most primitive and earliest hierarchal societies, to dominate the natural world in attempt to show strength, and that it is not a historical necessity. This reshaping of the traditional understanding of society is important as it no longer justifies rampant expansion or the more grotesque forms of civilization’s expansion such as colonialism and imperialism on the basis of necessity. Bookchin indicates that historical organic societies were based on core principles such as unity-in-diversity, interdependence, usufruct, complementarity and the irreducible principle that society is responsible for meeting its members most basic needs (Bookchin, 1982). A key indication of radical change is Bookchin’s inclusion of ‘complementarity’, meaning that the traditional sense of equals is oppressive of one inequality and that instead, a shift towards creating communities that can compensate for disparities in ability amongst its cohabitants was needed. Bookchin affirmed his rich catalogue of anthropological study by asserting that these radical ideas were not new creations of a utopian dreamer but historically accurate representations of foundationary tenets of a justifiable successful society (Bookchin, 1982). Furthermore, Bookchin indicates that a true liberatory protest movement must include a challenge to hierarchy in general, and not just its hierarchies’ manifestations of oppression such as gender and class inequalities, demonstrating a move away and separation from his childhood traditional Marxist beliefs (Bookchin, 1982, Murray Bookchin Explains Anarchism, 2011).

Bookchin’s obsession into the study of hierarchies and hierarchical domination within the realms of social evolution and humanity’s relationship with nature led to his understanding of the relationship between human consciousness and natural evolution. As previously mentioned, his work on dialectical naturalism featured the study of classic philosophers such as Aristotle and contemporary dialectical philosophers such as Hegel. Bookchin’s ideas of dialectical naturalism are highly complex and are a sharp change away from traditional explanations of dialectics. Bookchin emphasizes the capabilities of humans acting outside of the evolution of social and natural phenomena and upheld human creativity and its uniqueness within the universe, whilst also attributing its inherent and emergence from first nature, meaning the world as it was before human influence and damage to the natural environment (Bookchin, 1995). This view instead, shifts nature away from being a necessity-built robot and places deep emphasis on the view that nature was always striving to achieve its own underlying potential for creativity, freedom and universal consciousness (Bookchin, 1995). This is what grounds Bookchin in such passionate writing, his deep understanding of the fabric of reality and how hierarchical domination distorts natures very own expression of itself. This view sees that the current understanding of human history and the so-called logic of evolution within the social sphere is in conflict with nature itself, such exploitative organisation of infinite chaos only chastises the very essence of life in its own expression (Bookchin, 1995). This lead Bookchin to suggest that nature itself could be studied to form objective principles as to how best organizing social ethics and ideas. Principle such as cohabitation and mutual aid can be viewed within nature (Bookchin, 1995, Kropotkin, 2017).

This in depth look into life, existence, natural dialectics and social ecology accumulated into a political approach from Bookchin, endeavouring to radically alter the hierarchical problems of life by organizing them into libertarian municipalism. Bookchin’s approach to libertarian municipalism is what this study would recommend for a radical overturn of society. The fundamental conflicts between communities and the state that society is constantly experiencing (Cetin, 2020, Jetten,2020) as well as historical examples from ancient Athens to New England are systemic fluctuations, due to the lack of control citizens have over their own political and economic decision making (Bookchin, 1974, Tokar, 2008). Libertarian municipalism would see assemblies being central to the decision-making processes, with representatives in city councils and wider county councils becoming mandated through their own local assemblies and only have the power to carry out the organized wishes of the localized collective assembly (Bookchin, 1974). Importantly, Bookchin’s libertarian municipalism would organise society via confederations with community members working together within confederations to attempt to highlight unjustified current community institutions, constantly attempting to undermine the institutions to advance on inaccuracies of justice via what are known as counterinstitutions and is something as Anarcho-Communists we could draw form (Bookchin, 1992). This mode of political organisation highlights more faith in the citizens themselves and doesn’t place governance in the hands of unjust, top-down hierarchical social institutions, but rather places emphasis on educating the citizens themselves on principles such as freedom, universalism, altruism, cooperation and public service which further empowers all within society to develop their own autonomy within the collective (Bookchin, 1992). The brash, exploitative, narrowly limited scope of the capitalist market would be found unjust and replaced by a moral economy, meaning political and economic relationships would be guided by ethics such as mutualism in a bid for genuine reciprocity (Bookchin, 1986).

Libertarian municipalism creates a political strategy within a wider framework of social ecology’s reconstructive view of nature and humanity’s place within it, as anarchists we can learn from some of the lesson Bookchin’s framework offers. The political framework setup around true direct democracy is communities with institutions structured to justify the existence of pre-existing institutions, which constantly achieve the ultimate, most just and verifiable political society and modes of organisation. Murray Bookchin is foremost one of the most influential thinkers in his depth of understanding of human behaviour, humanity’s place in the natural order and the very dialectical reality of nature itself. His works need to be studied and analysed in attempt to incapsulate their teachings into a formable revolutionary starter pack, able to bestow onto communities around the world to challenge unjust hierarchies, capitalism and the current exploitation of billions of people under the remit of neoliberal ideology. An ideology which can now be shown to be ill thought, and not as rich in depth as the aforementioned modes of social ecology and dialectical naturalism.

Anarchism is rooted in the upheaval of the domination of nature created by the self-serving capitalist elite. Anarchism is a green discipline and is focused on harms against, humans, non-human animals, harms against the environment and newer fields of study within the discipline are interested in harms in space. Both individuals and powerful corporations commit these offenses daily in a regulatory fashion however, green anarchism is primarily concerned with the actions of powerful corporations (ie, military operations, global corporations, and governments), as these have the power to change their destructive behaviour and not the employees and or citizens (Professor Rob White on Green Criminology, University of Tasmania, 2019). Furthermore, Professor Rob White (2019) puts forward his point in a recent video, highlighting how green criminology is a personal exercise, the planet is ours, it is our children’s planet, it is our family pet’s planet, it is the vast mountains and the small brooks, this isn’t just intellectual theoretical academic jargon, it is a strict discipline concerned with the prior knowledge of consequence. Scientists can now highlight what will go wrong with the planet and give a rough indication to at what time things will go wrong, this is no longer something to brush off, it is something very fucking real, threating nearly all of humanity (Harvey, 2021, Carrington 2019, IPCC Special Report, 2019). As anarchists and decent fucking human beings, it is our job to educate, inspire and encourage the fight back against this current Tory government and the capitalist elite they serve. Too long have the many been exploited at the corrupt blood covered hand of the elite, reclaim the power, it begins with you!

“To speak of ‘limits to growth’ under a capitalistic market economy is as meaningless as to speak of limits of warfare under a warrior society. The moral pieties, that are voiced today by many well-meaning environmentalists, are as naive as the moral pieties of multinationals are manipulative. Capitalism can no more be ‘persuaded’ to limit growth than a human being can be ‘persuaded’ to stop breathing. Attempts to ‘green’ capitalism, to make it ‘ecological’, are doomed by the very nature of the system as a system of endless growth” (Bookchin, 1989) .

Relate, Resist, Rebel

Josh Bannister

Published 2021/11/23

REFERENCES

Bookchin, M (1974). The Limits of the City. New York: Harper and Row.

Bookchin, M (1982). The Ecology of Freedom. Cheshire : Cheshire Books.

Bookchin, M (1986). “Market Economy or Moral Economy,” in The Modern Crisis . Philadelphia: New Society Publishers.

Bookchin, M (1989). The Third Revolution: Popular Movements in the Revolutionary Era. 2nd ed. London: Cassell.

Bookchin, Murray (1989). Remaking Society: Pathways to a Green Future. .: South End Press. ..

Bookchin, M (1995). The Philosophy of Social Ecology. 2nd ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Bookchin, M. (1964). Ecology and Revolutionary Thought. Available: http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_archives/bookchin/ecologyandrev.html. Last accessed 15/07/2021.

Bookchin, M. (2009). Social Ecology versus Deep Ecology: A Challenge for the Ecology Movement by Murray Bookchin.

Carrington, D. (2019). Climate crisis: 11,000 scientists warn of ‘untold suffering’. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/05/climate-crisis-11000-scientists-warn-of-untold-suffering.

Cetin, B, Turhaner, E, Karusagi, P and Calin, D. (2020). Black Lives Matter Movement- A Comprehensive Study on Institutionalized Racism, Sexism and Its Approach Towards Intersectionality. Available: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341909716_Black_Lives_Matter_Movement_A_Comprehensive_Study_on_Institutionalized_Racism_Sexism_and_Its_Approach_Towards_Intersectionality

Harvey, F. (2021). World’s climate scientists to issue stark warning over global heating threat. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/aug/08/worlds-climate-scientists-to-issue-stark-warning-over-global-heating-threat.

IPPC. (2019). Global warming of 1.5°C. Available: https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2019/06/SR15_Full_Report_High_Res.pdf. Last accessed 12/08/2021.

Koch, M (2011). CAPITALISM AND CLIMATE CHANGE. THEORETICAL DISCUSSION, HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT AND POLICY RESPONSES. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

Kropotkin , P (2017). Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution. 2nd ed. United States: Martino Fine Books. l.

Mazurski, K. (1991). Communism and the Environment . Available: http://www.ansibl.com/mazurski.eu/krm/files/Communism_and_the_Environment.pdf. Last accessed 18/07/2021.

Tokar, B. (2008). On Bookchin's Social Ecology and its Contributions to Social Movements. Capitalism Nature Socialism, 19(1), pp.51-66.

www.youtube.com. (n.d.). Murray Bookchin Explains Anarchism. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwp3CQVzzak

www.youtube.com. (n.d.). Professor Rob White on green criminology | University of Tasmania. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14DZPm2t0K0

Confronting the State on its Own Terms, Dr DaN McKee attempts an ethical proof of anarchism as the only viable political project even by the metrics imposed by some of the most ardent defenders of the state.

Originating from McKee’s doctoral thesis, Authentic Democracy is, in essence, an attempt to provide an ethical grounding for anarchist politics without the jargon – to present an easy-to-read, accessible answer for one of the many questions that anarchists often find themselves having to answer: how can anarchists provide any moral justification for their ideas? After all, conventional wisdom would have it that at least we know that capitalism raises the floor and makes life better for the people, at least in general. Don’t we?

Taking this question seriously and anticipating this response, McKee’s response is a simple one. He attempts to answer the question – and in doing so, he underlines a serious ethical claim: that the role of the political is to provide a better life for the people. Beginning with discussions on exactly what is meant by ‘people’ and ‘better’, McKee attempts to pull the question apart before constructing a framework in which he concludes that not only is anarchism capable of providing this better life, but more importantly, it is the only political outlook which can do so satisfactorily.

McKee’s primary success in the writing of this text, re-worked from a piece of lofty academic writing, is the rendering of it easy. Beginning the book with a statement of intent outlining the desire to make it readable and remove the dense phraseology that existed to satisfy the philosophers at the academy who had been at least partially against the project in the first place, it is clear that McKee deserves great praise: if the intent of the book was to provide a readable text, he was successful. Reading briskly and with a conversational tone that weaves its way through the topic, McKee’s style and control of pace is one of the centrally impressive texts in this style that I have ever read.

The risk that is taken in doing this – in removing the more academic language from the text – is that the levels of nuance and specificity such language was often invented to provide comes into question. The major challenge in the text, therefore, is the preservation of a rigorous and powerful argument without the trappings of a specific academic discourse.

To an extent, McKee accomplishes this well: when asking what the book is attempting to do and whether it succeeds on its own terms, it is difficult to argue anything other than that it does. However, there are a number of axiomatic assumptions to which McKee falls prey – though he is far from the only one. The primary assumption McKee proceeds under is the assumption that legitimacy matters as a political concept. This assumption is one famously put forward by Noam Chomsky in a number of different forms across several decades, and is equally famously an assumption rejected by large sections of the anarchists with which it has come face to face. By far the largest difficulty that I have with Authentic Democracy is this initial framing of the discussion which places the text on somewhat questionable grounds to many.

The second largest concern, though not nearly so significant as the first, is the attempt to conflate anarchism with democracy – indeed, McKee argues that anarchism is the only system under which we could even begin to truly think about democracy in a legitimate sense. Making this titular assumption is a natural one for many people, particularly those who come from a background in the syndicalist tradition or any form of anarchism which relates more directly to the ultra-liberal framing put forward by Chomsky and others, but it is one that comes in stark opposition of many of the more contemporary branches of anarchist thought. The refusal of democracy, regarding it as an arcane and artificial form of engagement that can only result in alienation, is a common perspective within the world of insurrectionary anarchism and post-anarchist thought, and it is interesting to see McKee zig here where the contemporary discourse often zags. While discussions as to whether or not this is a wise idea might be interesting, it’s also noteworthy that this mode of common-sense discussion is paramount for McKee’s project: to make this discourse accessible without becoming too embroiled in the depths of debate. Here, again, McKee is successful, as a willingness to engage with the text on his terms yields fruitful results despite the potential for debate over specific terms.

Due to this contrast between the framing of McKee’s work and post-anarchist fields, there is, therefore, an interesting parallel between McKee’s text and another (though much less accessibly written) text from the 1990s: Todd May’s The Political Philosophy of Post-Structuralist Anarchism. This densely written text is one in which May finds himself embarking on a similar project: how, in the face of the last half-century of critical thought, do we ground anarchism as an ethical project? What is most interesting in McKee’s text, and a sign of his skilful navigation of the subject, is how close the conclusions drawn match those of May’s despite an almost entirely different pathway towards them. Whereas May reaches his conclusions via engagement with Derrida, Deleuze, Lyotard and Foucault – giant figures in the continental philosophy of the 20th Century – McKee begins his analysis with figures of anglophone philosophy, tracing the roots of the state and its authority to Hobbes and Locke, before proceeding through Nozick and Rawls. Further than this, McKee’s premise rests upon an acceptance of the idea of a social contract in some form. For McKee, this contract

A further interesting, though unexpected, strength of Authentic Democracy is the willingness McKee shows to engage with economics as a practice. While there is much debate about the place of economics in an anarchist worldview, it cannot be disputed that it is a vital element of discussion regarding capitalist and statist political perspectives and must be addressed by any serious thinker of these things, if only to dismiss the field. McKee does not dismiss it, and by engaging with the economic concerns of the state immediately after detailing some of the roots and effects of ideological social assumptions, McKee directly implies the marriage between the two which so heavily impacts much of modern life. Taking a swift route from the East India Company through to the IMF and David Harvey and Noam Chomsky, McKee effortlessly elucidates the uneasy tension between economic and political power and highlights the failure of representative democracy to reconcile the roiling conflicts inherent to such a system. For many readers who are not familiar with generations of left wing writing, Authentic Democracy is a brilliant introduction to some of these nuances, and McKee’s willingness to engage seriously with thinkers from a broad spectrum of political thought – from the aforementioned Rawls and Nozick, to the engagements with Gramsci, Marx, and Proudhon – will serve as a wonderful starting point for further investigation.

Finally, revisiting his descriptions of leaving the University to become a school teacher, McKee transitions into a discussion of the educational system under capitalism. Rapidly sketching an outline of education, particularly British education, as being a system that seems designed to produce incurious and fearful individuals that cringe under the watchful eye of a superior, McKee condenses many of the critiques of capitalist education into an impressively brief discussion that takes direct aim at the ‘conform and obey’ model of schooling. While this is perhaps the briefest section in the book, it is clear that it is also an avenue of criticism about which the author is particularly passionate, as the strength and clarity of the argument here reaches a level of almost irrefutable bluntness which is difficult to oppose in any real sense.

Summarising these previous discussions, McKee closes the book with a return to his original claim: that it is only anarchism which can satisfactorily fulfil this concept of providing a ‘better’ life to ‘the people’. While there are a number of semantic issues that can be taken with McKee’s lines of argument – some of which have been delineated earlier in this review – the simplicity with which he presents his conclusions is striking in tone. Despite not wholly rebutting those who would be critical from the start of concepts such as democracy, it is also clear that this is not McKee’s task in this book: he is willing to let those conversations take place elsewhere. The primary drive of Authentic Democracy is to confront the statist on their own terms: what claim does the state make in justification for itself, and from how many angles can we demonstrate that even on the state’s own terms, traditional notions of anarchism is a superior approach to the traditional notion of the state. In this, it is clear that McKee is successful – any further discussion, it is clear, is to be had from the position that the state is defunct as a concept. Post-anarchists and anarcho-communists can dialogue about the specifics, the frameworks, and the concepts – and these are certainly conversations that are vital to have, with far-ranging consequences – but there is no longer any need for us to spend time entertaining the notion of the state, which dies so piteously when subjected to even the most routine inspection of its own position.

Jay Fraser

Jay is a writer from Lincolnshire in the UK. He is currently completing an MA in English Literature and has written for Organise!, Strukturriss, and Lumpen Journal among many other places. Find him on Twitter @JayFraser1 if you are so inclined.

Authentic Democracy is published by and the publisher Tippermuir Books: and is availabe though independant retailers such as AK Press.

For more information about McKee and the book (including a postscript on how Covid-19 does/doesn’t affect the argument in the book), visit everythingdanmckee.com/authentic-democracy

The AUKUS partnership announced on 16 September is a big step towards war against China. The centrepiece of its first initiative is the announcement by the Australian Government that it will buy eight nuclear submarines from the United States or the United Kingdom. The reactions to this announcement are almost as significant as the purchase of the submarines themselves.

Australian military procurement since the end of the Vietnam War has been an ongoing debacle, marked by indecision, late changes of direction, huge cost overruns and major delivery delays. These factors have been a permanent embarrassment to successive Australian governments and generations of military brass, but they are not solely the product of simple incompetence. They also result from Australian imperialism’s dilemma: being a European outpost on the edge of Asia and being a developed economy with rapidly growing Asian economies for neighbours. Australia’s relative decline means it faces an increasing contradiction between its ambitions and its capacity. Attempting to maximise its capacity via military procurement is extremely risky and is resulting in a decrease in the Australian military’s strategic autonomy. The submarine decision is a major step in that process.

By deciding to purchase these submarines, the Government has given up pretending that Australia “doesn’t have to choose between its history and its geography”. It has decisively opted to stand with the United States against a rising China and to do so in an ostentatiously aggressive way. The submarines have a mission which is so obvious to the security establishment that military pundits were describing it openly on the day of the announcement. They are to hang around in straits and channels between islands in what is called the first island chain, a series of large and small islands that separates the South China Sea and the East China Sea from the Pacific Ocean. There, they will help bottle up the Chinese navy and prevent it having free access to the open ocean. The Pacific Ocean is to remain an American lake and Australia has volunteered to help.

However, keeping China in this subordinate position is easier said than done. For over four decades, it has been developing with extraordinary speed. Though it has slowed somewhat in the last few years, its growth is still vastly stronger than that of the US or any other developed country. Its GDP is projected to overtake the US around 2030, give or take a few years depending on whose crystal ball is consulted. The US has seen off previous challenges to its dominance, with its would-be rivals stalling at about two thirds of US per capita GDP.

China, though, is a different kettle of fish. Its population is four times that of the US, so even if its development stalls at half the US GDP per capita, it will still be double the US GDP in aggregate. The US military advantage over China and its global dominance more generally would become completely unsustainable by then, if not well before. Continued US dominance requires China’s development to be halted – either by economic strangulation or, failing that, by war. Indeed, a recent issue of The Diplomat, an elite magazine for the Asia Pacific region, said:

It is probably worth thinking about how and what the the United States might do in order to reduce Chinese economic growth, including aggressive decoupling and the stringent use of financial and technology sanctions.”

The United States and its closest allies (there are none closer than Australia) are attempting to undermine China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which is a project by the Chinese so-called “Communist” Party to take China’s development to the next level and reorient the economy of the region around it. In addition, the US is increasingly using intellectual property laws to prevent China acquiring technology, trying to prevent China exporting its technology to other countries and waging a trade war against China’s exports (something Trump started and Biden hasn’t dropped). Australia is somewhat conflicted in this project, since it sells so much iron ore and other minerals to China, but this hasn’t prevented it participating in the US campaign. Australia has been especially active in trying to keep the Belt and Road Initiative out of the South Pacific.

However, China’s economic strangulation is far from assured. The relative decline of US power in the last half century means that China may still maintain a superior growth path to the US through economic relations with other developing countries, primarily in Asia but also in Africa and even Latin America. US economic warfare may, in fact, backfire and put the US rather than China into the slow lane.

And this is where things get really dangerous. Nobody wants a nuclear war, but nobody wanted World War I either. That war occurred even though the great imperialist powers didn’t want it because they wanted something else even less – having their vital national interests subordinated to another power. War with China would occur the same way. The greatest danger is the Thucydides Trap, the temptation for the US to launch a war on China before China becomes too powerful to wage war against.

This, then, is what is driving the AUKUS partnership. It is an attempt to keep China militarily subordinate, even to the extent that it is surrounded by US military bases and cannot sail its navy into the Pacific Ocean without US permission. Australia already plays a vital role by being a vociferous US ally in the region and, even more importantly, being the site for the US spy base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs. This base is essential to the US military satellite system, since without it there would be a large blind spot in its global surveillance. The role of the Australian submarine purchase is to maintain Australia’s leverage in the anti-China campaign. Australian capitalists still want to export to China and also want to preserve Australian imperialist interests in the South Pacific.

The submarine purchase, though, is proving to have unintended consequences. The decision to acquire nuclear submarines with US technology required dumping a $90 billion contract to buy conventional submarines from France. The duplicity of the Australian Government, particularly that of Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton and Marise Payne, has outraged the French Government at a particularly unfortunate time. With the imminent retirement of Angela Merkel, the senior political leader in the European Union will be the French President, Emmanuel Macron. The Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement, which has been under negotiation for a couple of years, was expected to be concluded very soon. It looks to be an early casualty. More significant is the attitude of France in particular, but the EU generally, towards co-operation with the US over China policy. If France is going to be shafted by its erstwhile allies in the Pacific, it’s a lot less likely to see things Uncle Sam’s way when the US President wants a common front against China.

Even more important still, especially for Australian imperialism, is reaction in the Asia Pacific. The media constantly refer to unnamed countries which support the submarine acquisition and the US anti-China campaign. Two states which might conceivably approve are Japan and Vietnam, neither of which would be keen to advertise the fact. Meanwhile, both Malaysia and Indonesia have publicly expressed concern. Neither are particularly fond of China, but they definitely don’t want a regional arms race. And an arms race is what they will get, since Beijing won’t be taking the submarine announcement lying down.

While it is possible that the Australian Government under Scott Morrison has simply blundered into this situation (much of his Cabinet, including Morrison himself, have failed upward), the same cannot be said of the United States. Joe Biden is an old foreign policy hand and came to office promising to rebuild US relationships after the chaos and unpredictability of the Trump years. The US has made a conscious choice in how it addresses relations with China. Instead of building a broad alliance to push back against poor behaviour by China, it has put together a narrow one (reminiscent of the “Coalition of the Willing” in 2003) to stake out an aggressive military posture. This is not an accident. The US and China are on a path to war and AUKUS is a big step towards launching it.

China is entitled to become a developed country and its population is entitled to the standard of living which comes with that. The US attempt to strangle its economic development and keep it a poor country is a crime against humanity and the barely hidden threat of nuclear war is an even bigger one. Over the next few years, we can expect a strong media campaign in the US, UK and Australia concerning a multitude of complaints against China. Some of these (notably its treatment of the Uighurs in Xinjiang, the Tibetans and the people of Hong Kong) will be real crimes by the Chinese so-called “Communist” Party. Regardless of whether Beijing’s crimes are real or imagined, though, the motivation for the complaints will be the same. They will be attempting to solidify public opinion behind the anti-China policy and the path to war.

In Australia, the public opinion campaign will have one certain result. There will be a massive increase in racism directed at people of Chinese background or appearance. Anti-Chinese racism has been officially frowned on by Australian governments for about three decades. They have preferred to use Aboriginal people, Muslims and, lately, Africans as their lightning rods for social discontent. Developing confrontation with China will change that. Chinese migrants, their children and even people of Chinese extraction whose family have been here for generations will be seen as a potential fifth column. They will be subject to random violence and abuse in the street, suffer discrimination justified by patriotic reasoning and receive unceasing demands to demonstrate their loyalty to Australia and their hostility to Beijing. It won’t be pretty.

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group calls on the labour movement in Australia to oppose the AUKUS partnership and its anti-China campaign. The nuclear submarine purchase underlines our established position: not a person, not a penny for the imperialist Australian military! We have no illusions in the Chinese so-called “Communist” Party. It is a gang of corrupt bureaucrats whose Stalinism is so degenerate that it celebrates Chinese billionaires. There are more US dollar millionaires in Beijing’s National People’s Congress than there are in the US Congress. Our opposition to AUKUS instead derives from our opposition to our own ruling class.

Against the AUKUS partnership and the looming threat of war against China, the MACG raises the banner of international working class solidarity. We are opposed to all governments worldwide, but our task is to overthrow the capitalist class here in Australia. Our aim is for a workers’ revolution which sweeps the world, toppling all ruling classes without distinction. This revolution will abolish imperialism by abolishing the nation state. In its place will flower a global community, organised on the basis of consistent federalism and practicing libertarian communism. Now, that’s something to fight for.

DOWN WITH AUKUS!

DOWN WITH ANZUS!

CLOSE PINE GAP

MACG - Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group

This statement from the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group about the announcement of the AUKUS partnership. Released 26 September 2021.Originally Published : https://melbacg.wordpress.com/2021/09/26/aukus-a-big-step-toward-war

Late last month a family of five died when their boat sank trying to cross the Channel. Bruno L had met them just weeks before, while passing out aid, and writes here about a family full of love, and a toddler full of joy, and a loss that should not have happened.

Artin, little man.

Only 15 months old. We met you two weeks ago. You were alone, poking in the fire in the middle of the forest, little crocs at your feet and a life jacket on. It cut right into our hearts. This is not what a toddler’s life in 2020 should look like. You are too young for the fire, too small for a life jacket. 

We soon saw the rest of the family. We shared out some blankets and you were so proud of those boots you got, too big, but for you they were beautiful. We returned to the cars, to the showers we were trying out and a little later we saw you again … Your vest was put away and you walked straight to us, strangers to you. Your family: brother, sister, mum and dad followed rather timidly. 

We promised you shoes and a football for your brother. You kept on smiling and adventurously, fearlessly, climbed our empty shared van. I picked you up and put you back on the ground but you climbed back up, tirelessly naughty. Several times in a row. You walked away from me looking back to see if I followed. I play-chased you across the ground with small hard steps and you ran away beaming, occasionally looking back to your mama. 

I asked her if I could take a picture of you and I could. “Wave, Artin,” she said proudly, and you immediately waved back. Little did I know then that that photo would mean so much to me now.

I was still thinking about you when I got home. The love for you that came from your mum and dad. The security you received from them in these appalling, inhumane circumstances. It felt so strange. How they were looking for a better life for you in this chaos. How your brother Armin and sister Anita were clearly more marked by the situation than you, little Artin. You who walked through life so happily in your oversized boots. You who experienced everything that we found abnormal and poignant as quite normal, you knew nothing else. 

Sleeping in a discarded Quechua tent, wandering around in the forest, washing yourself with the green water from the pond, waking up with ten armed officers around your tent who take or destroy everything and then hope for a new blanket from a volunteer who comes by. Joining hundreds of men for food in a long line. I mean little man, I wondered how that ignorance of the “normal” made you hop through life more happily than your timid 12-year-old sister.

A few days later, at home, we read a short message on a French site that a group of refugees were being rescued from the high seas. “Coincidentally” they also found a dead man washed ashore on the beach, probably from another boat. A two-year-old child was taken to a hospital. I thought back to you. Imagined that that was you and how your parents would fare.

And then yesterday the message came that family with three children had died during a failed crossing. And for a moment we thought: oh no, hopefully not you.

You push it away and try to move on. But it won’t go away. And the more reports we received, how painfully clear it became … two parents, brother and sister have died and been found, a child of 15 months has been missing. In the meantime we received confirmation …

Little Artin … your life jacket failed to save you. Did you still have it? Was it taken from you in an evacuation or did you wear it proudly and was the cold water, the high waves fatal to you? Did “our” North Sea, the sea in which our children play and swim, become a seaman’s grave for you little captain of the rickety boat? Were those last kilometers of your journey of more than 7,000 km really too much?

Blankets, soup, tents will not help today. There’s nothing we can do for you anymore. Except giving the anonymous little guy a face. So that more people know that none of this should be. So that my small, short friendship with you was not in vain and this little anonymous figure from the statistics gets a face. And a name:

ARTIN


This article is an edited machine translation of a piece from Allemaal Mensen. The photo of Artin was taken on October 17th. It was originally publish on Freedom:freedomnews.org.uk/2020/11/01/artin-little-man-i-remember-you/

You can find more information about this tradgic loss here : www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-54717137

Just this past September 11th, two Zapatista authorities of the Junta de Buen Gobierno, the Good Government Council of Patria Nueva of Caracol 10 (Ocosingo), José Antonio Sánchez Juárez and Sebastián Núñez Perez, were kidnapped. They disappeared for 8 days. They also were robbed of their communication radio and 6 thousand pesos in cash. 

It was no minor incident. The provocation was evident. That day, La Extemporánea, the Zapatista airborne delegation of 177 people of Mayan descent was in Mexico City, to embark on its expedition to Europe.

The kidnapping was perpetrated by the Regional Organization of Coffee Growers of Ocosingo (ORCAO), a paramilitary organization responsible for numerous aggressions against the Zapatista support bases in the last 20 years.

On August 22nd, 2020 members of ORCAO looted and burned the New Dawning of the Rainbow cooperative trade center, one of hundreds of provocations over decades.

The first of these took place the 28th of October of 2001, when members of the group arrived in the community of Cuxuljá to paint over the mural of the Nuevo Amanecer del Arco Iris  (New Dawn of the Rainbow) trading center created by several autonomous municipalities in rebellion, set it on fire, and threatened and beat those who were there. Since then, and under different pretexts, the aggressions against the rebel support bases has not ceased. 

Cuxuljá means “living water” in the Tseltal language. It makes up part of the municipality of Ocosingo. Some 500 people live there. For them the water is sacred. It used to be called Pozo el Encanto (Enchanted Well). The well is part of the identity of its inhabitants (https://bit.ly/2WhONlG).

In December of 2000, the EZLN demanded of the government of Vincente Fox three signs in order to renew the peace dialogues: compliance with the Accords of San Andrés1, liberation of the Zapatista political prisoners, and the withdrawal of troops and closure of seven Army posts, of the 259 that it had in the conflict zone at the time. 

One of those sites was Cuxuljá, on the highway which connects San Cristóbal and Ocosingo. The military presence in the community was not incidental. The town is part of a corridor of great geopolitical relevance. It is a key communication point for eight autonomous municipalities and a complex social network. So, when the soldiers abandoned it, the government replaced them with a counterinsurgency with a civilian and indigenous face — the ORCAO.

At that same time, according to the warnings of three autonomous municipalities in October 2001, the Army admitted three members of the community who, armed and in uniform, tried to kill the children of Zapatista authorities, and gave out marijuana seeds for planting. “To this denunciation –they pointed out— we add the hostilities from soldiers, and Public Safety and Federal Way officers  against our new store that we are building in our place that belongs to us at the post that was vacated by the federal Army in Cuxuljá.”

ORCAO was formed in 1987, from the work of the Catholic church, with 12 communities of Sibacjá. It expanded with the invasions of estates close to Ocosingo, and in towns in the municipalities of Chilón, Oxchuc, Huixtán, y Altamirano. In part, it is a product of the Indigenous Congress in San Cristóbal in 1974 and of the mobilizations against the defunct Mexican Institute of Coffee (Inmecafé) for better prices for coffee, more collection centers and more supports, in which the Unión de Uniónes (Union of Unions) was formed. It fought also against agrarian backwardness and was opposed to the reforms of Constitutional Article 272. It participated in 1992 in the days of commemoration of 500 years of indigenous, black and popular resistance, and reclaimed indigenous self-determination. At one time, it joined the Emiliano Zapata National Indigenous Campesino Alliance (ANCIEZ). It was, until its expulsion in 2015, a member of UNORCA3 (https://bit.ly/3goUvWS).

A section of the famous mural of Taniperlas, destroyed by the military raid on Autonomous Municipality Ricardo Flores Magón, on April 11, 1998. This section depicts a women’s assembly from which a symbolic dove flies.

The municipality of Ocosingo was incorporated in 1921. It is the largest in Chiapas. In July of 1999, as part of the counterinsurgency policy of Croquetas, Roberto Albores Guillén, was broken up to make two new municipalities — Marqués de Comillas and Benemérito de las Americas. 

The state, and especially its jungle regions, was militarized. So much so, that Juan Vázquez, one of the leaders of the ORCAO, now dedicated to business, before being co-opted by the government, denounced that Chipas was dressed in green… because of the number of soldiers deployed there. In spite of this, on December 19th, 1994, the EZLN broke the military siege and established 38 autonomous municipalities in rebellion, nine in Ocosingo.

On April 11th of 1998, when the federal and state government launched a violent military-police operative in Taniperlas against the autonomous municipality Ricardo Flores Magón, one of the objectives of which was to destroy a beautiful mural that has been replicated in hundreds of different countries, ORCAO let it happen.

The artist Checho Váldez describes the symbolism of the famous mural of Taniperlas

Equipped with a military structure, weapons and uniforms the association promptly forgot its origins and transformed itself into a paramilitary style force against Zapatismo. Its leaders became municipal, state and federal officials during the governments of Pablo Salazar and Juan Sabines. Juan Vázquez was first named Secretary of Rural Development and later Secretary for Reconciliation, and Nicolás López (now dead), director of the Coordinating Center of the National Indigenist Institute in Ocosingo. For more than two decades he has received millions in governmental resources for a multitude of projects, including cattle ranches, a motor for the parceling out of common land. 

The political decomposition of the organization has gone hand in hand with the personal decline of its leaders. With the passage of time and various internal crises, leaders like José Sánchez and Tomás Santis Gómez, even more violent than those before them, and at the service of a variety of interests, took control of the association, which became fragmented. Its shock force adapts to the interests of the highest bidder. Their support of the Green Party in Ocosingo has paid considerable dividends.

In Chiapas, there is not a series of isolated intercommunity conflicts, but rather the crisis of a regional system of domination. ORCAO is one more piece of this system, one of its paramilitary arms. That crisis puts the state, as the Zapatistas warn, on the brink of civil war.

Luís Hernández Navarro

This article was published in La Jornada on September 28th, 2021. https://www.jornada.com.mx/2021/09/28/opinion/020a1pol This English interpretation has been re-published by Schools for Chiapas. https://schoolsforchiapas.org/orcao-the-paramilitary-arm.

“The first person who, having enclosed a plot of land, took it into his head to say this is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the true founder of civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared, had someone pulled up the stakes or filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: ‘Do not listen to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one!’ -Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Migrants from poor countries are the first line of attack for retrenching governments and economies in a time of crisis. With limited rights and no visibility, migrants are often the first workers to lose their jobs when the recession bites; the first to be targeted by increased repression and new surveillance technologies; the first to be blamed and scapegoated for capitalism’s crises; and the first to be dispensed with when their labour is no longer needed.

In Chiapas the Mexican National Guard is currently harassing a migrant caravan of some 3000 on behalf of the USA who demands they are stopped before they are “forced” to deploy their border agents to beat up children again.In the Channel, we’ve had a summer of utterly contempable actions from Border Force putting the lives of the vunerable at great risk, In the Mediterranean, the rescue Ship “Sea Eye 4” recently saved some 800 people across a handful of operations over the past few days and on the Belarus-Poland border migrants are trapped between two militant and hostile border forces and they are dying.

“From the respectful Kurdish people to the European Union,
the United Nations, the international community of the world, human rights organizations, religious organs, newspaper and media channels (all over the world)

Please help us, save us….
We the immigrants in Poland want to migrate to other European countries and we don’t want to come back to our country because, freedom and bread, all the primary things of our lives have been abused and oppressed in every way…

We request from you to support us and help us to reach our destination.

The respected ones.
We have babies six months old with us, children of all ages, women and old men all hungry and thirsty. Please, we can’t handle all the pain and suffering on the border of Poland

Please please help us.
Despite the Polish troops, they got around 6000 police and soldiers to stop us from entering Germany through Poland’s territory. No matter how they fight us we are in a very bad situation

Please we are tired, we are tired..
Despite the fact that the Polish police and soldiers are pouring poisonous gas on us from the land and sky, we are all burnt because of it… They give us bad words, they give us false accusations and unrighteousness. Please come to our rescue..

Please please please save us …..
Immigrants on the border of Poland”

(Mildly edited for readability by Organise!)

This was the call shared on social medias the following day.

Shortly after, news crews got hold of bits of footage, it shows Belarussian soldiers escorting the migrants down to the border, the migrants are then accosted by a militant border force from Poland.

Neither government cares, Belarus is threatening Russian intervention while Poland is backed up by the EU as the EC president, Ursula von der Leyen, pledges more support .

“The Poles have reacted correctly so far,” Horst Seehofer, the German interior minister, told Bild. “We need the structural security of borders. We have to publicly support the Poles! ….[They] are doing a very important service for the whole of Europe.”

For them it’s a game with the Russians, for the migrants it is the lives of their families. A proxy war of petty politics.

These people need material aid now. There have been numerous deaths leading up to this and that’s before winter hits. The British response has been to send army engineers to see if they can improve the border fence.

Please check what means of donation are up after publication., lives depend on this solidarity, check with local migrant solidarity and anarchist aid projects as they will know what is happening and how you can provide support.

The AF donated £300 to local comrades who are on the ground supporting, If you would like to donate via our local contacts give us a nudge and we can sort that out. £300 is no where near enough. The moment we find a public and validated frundraiser we will share that.

When you read this, COP26 will have finished.
The 500 or so fossil fuel industry lobbyists (the biggest delegation by far) will have concluded their business. The 400 or so private jets which were flown into Glasgow to discuss matters of climate, will have flown back home carrying the future of green capitalism and eco-colonialism.

The performative dance to keep the population trapped in sophistry, idle and placated, will be done. They billed COP26 as our last best hope for environmental stability. It failed.

One of the larger themes was Carbon Offsetting, let’s all get behind it they say.Well, You can’t offset hypocrisy, never mind that there is not enough space on the Earth to offset the carbon we are putting out. It would take more than five times the size of India to do so. Planting a “Green Belt”, whether it’s across Africa or the Pennies, doesn’t negate the Carbon being pumped out elsewhere, It’s simply not how it works. Even if all this planting happens in the green belts and across former farm fields the world over, this is new growth we’re talking about, it's not old growth, it's not a forest. It is in fact little more than cash crop, agroforestry and timber. The bio-diversity of these spaces is nothing by comparison. They say they want to end deforestation by 2030, well nearly 70% of wildlife has been lost since 1970, how much more are we going to lose in the next 8 years (and more) as the bastards drain every last bit of profit out of ancient woodlands and jungle that they can? Funny thing is, we have more trees now than we did forty years ago, a 2016 study illustrated this, but it has done little to alter the impact of expanding industries and growth capitalism, they mask their destruction behind being green, well fuck, you can't plant rows of trees which you'll chop down in a few years and say you're replacing ancient woodland. These caprious governments are one moment telling us that our forested areas are vital to the survival of the planet and the next signing agreements for further exploitation. Don't worry tho, we're all it it together.

I can't get over the fact they had the sheer audacity to podium Jeff Bezos. This despite the 465 million pounds of plastic packaging waste churned out by Amazon each year, you know the mega corporation with the carbon footprint larger than most countries. This privileged platform which could have been given to any of a number of climate scientists was instead given to Jeff despite just a few weeks earlier he was blasting off for a outrageously polluting 10 minute jaunt in space. Jeff spoke about being aware of our impact, despite taking a helicopter 120 miles followed by a private jet for 2000 miles to arrive at COP26 to give a speech. Jeff wants you to recycle, turn the temperature down, and consider limiting your carbon footprint like a good eco-minded prole. He’s Pledged $2 billion to a land restoration project in Africa. Amazon's revenue in 2020 grew 38% to $386 billion. Philanthropy from our great capitalist saviours as they throttle the life out of us. We are drowing ourselves for convenience, subjugating ourselves to economic tryanny out of a desperate fear that we might not be able to have packages arrive within 24 hours if the hippies win.

Oh and let’s not forget the fucking Malthusians from Population Matters and similar. They’re fixated on the idea that there are just too many dark skinned people on the planet. They want to use the injection of progressive values to gently encourage women to have smaller families and get educated to ensure they don’t doom us all with over population. Which I suppose sounds great until you think for two seconds and realise it’s a thin veneer over eco-fascism and 14 words. Their choice of language never quite getting to “population control” and “this is fucking eugenics with an environmental face lift”. No it doesn’t matter that the planet already over produces food to the tune of some 50% more than required. It doesn’t matter that serious famine is a collective choice, one which we make consistently due to political apathy and economic greed.

The planet is not overpopulated.
The profiteers are misusing it’s resources.

The global north, despite having a much smaller population account for the vast majority of carbon and pollution in general. The average carbon footprint of someone in Britain is 50x that of someone in Malawi and the average for someone in the USA is 3x ours. Even when you include the manufacturing industries of China or the garment industries in India... but like... who the hell you think they are producing that for? This is before we remember that in actuality the climate issue is also a class issue and even here in our delightful MEDCs, the truth of the matter is that the top 10% dwarf the rest of population for the tonnes of CO2 per capita, the top 1%, yeah you guessed it.
All those luxury jets really add up.

This idea that it’s you, the working class who can do something about it was a popular one this year, well it is a near omnipresent factor of life these past few years sure, but they’ve really been at it these past few weeks. It’s not like the oligarchs are ignorant of this disparity, heck the Financial Times is quite comfortable chirping on about it and yet The One Show won’t fucking shut up about whatever pat on the back project some school is doing or how you can take some tiny pointless step towards being less the horrible polluting bastard that you are. Look, they say, if everyone chipped in, we’d save the planet by X-Mas. It’s a sweet delusion, but that’s all it is.

There is only one solution to the cascade apocalypse before us and that is a rennaissance of revolutionary ideas, for the working classes to step out of consumerist suicide, collectivise their work places, localise their productivity and say no more to these ivory towered barons and the cretins in parliament still suckling on the rotten teat of an empire long since fallen.

Green Capitalism will not save you.
Only you can do that. Let go of your fear and take action.

COP26 tho, the pact is failure after failure. Heck they utterly failed to scrap the military exemption from carbon targets. Armed forces are not even required to count their carbon emissions and they are not included in countries’ emission reduction targets. This makes the targets nonsensical. The absolute limit of the climate change projections is an increase of 1.5 degrees. This is the absolute, we’ve already got too far, millions are going to die but if it get’s higher than this, we are going to see a grand collapse, limit that must be met.. The best they could promise was a 1.8 degree increase and let’s face it we all know that is twaddle, as consistantly the agreements laid before to equal applause have failed time and time again.

As I went through the agreement, picking out what I could from the obfuscated language my screen pinged with a notification from a friend, It’s a a promotional piece from an oil giant made for COP26 where they wax lyrical about how they are investing in green, however they need the profits from their ongoing and newly staked out fossil fuel operations in order to do this. It simply doesn’t make economic sense to save the planet from the murderous grasp of the fossil fuel industry, and let’s not forget, much of the early data that really consolidated our fears about the imminent threat came from research these companies did themselves. Decades ago. Capitalism by it’s very nature will continue to throttle the planet for ever ounce of profit until the death toll starts to harm the bottom line. This is what the nice man who appeared all reasonable and personable on the screen said. There is simply no other way to interpret it. They say it very clearly, it’s not a conspiracy or requiring years of peer review. We are fucked, millions will die, but come on, what about the share holders? COP26 stands before us and lays itself open and overt.They arn't even bothering to deny it anymore. The parody of environmentalism which is green capitalism will be the saccharine mantra as we suffocate and behind the scenes green colonialism, the tendrils of western states, continue to slither in and infiltrate distant lands. We have to win the trade war with China right?

Don’t worry tho, they managed to put together a mealy mouthed agreement to “phase out” the use of coal and a promise to stop deforestation...in eight years. It's ok. Promise. Coal will be phased out because it’s less profitable and new capitalist ventures are being put in to replace it. Bojo is acting like it’s a victory, that its the “beginning of the end of climate change”. He then flew home. I think it's vital that we remember those who don’t get to go home and forget about it until next year.

The indigenous comrades who came from around the world to find solidarity on the streets and in the kindness of Glasgow’s people. They’re deeply frustrated with the facade of interest, the speech making and apathetic ears. The hope that just one of these powerful leaders would show genuine interest in saving their homes from the industrial binge, all but snubbed out. They are on the front line, have been for decades, dying in distant parts of the world, unheard. Well that’s changed now. From West Papuans to the Waorani people, from Wallmapu to the Wet’suwet’en territories, the building might of indigenous communities are finding solidarity in each other. They will not be placated. For them this is not academic, or some future they don’t need to worry about yet.

The waters are here, the forests are gone.
There is no more time, it is already too late.

Ofcourse civil society stands with them and XR rebels shed tears for their pain, as both attempt to change the course of the avalanche with passive protests and political whispers, both hoping that a petition to the bastards killing the planet might some how be accepted. Alongside this tho there is this tremendous wave of solidarity and rage coming from the young rebels who flooded the streets. Across the country they are furious with righteous indignation and anger at the elders that have been failing them. Several comrades make a point of telling me how fantastically bad ass they were up in Glasgow, as one said “We were angry about student loans, they are angry about the death of the planet. They understand what it means and serious in a way we never were”. They don’t care to wax lyrical, they have a dark shadow looming and they are appalled that we have let this beast rise before them. More love to them. I hope they let COP26 radicalise them. I hope they take the rage they already have burning and let that grow exponentially. No more A-B marches, no more committees and endless discourse. No more rambling opinion pieces in Anarchist rags or griping into social media oubliettes. COP28 is in the fucking UAE. Green capital isn't going to save you.

We keep us safe.
We need a revolutionary renaissance and it seems that we’ll be getting one, so listen to the youth. They want us all to take to this task together, whatever your politics, whatever your age, where ever you may live. Let the rage of the youth take hold of you oncemore.

The waters are here, the forests are gone.
There is no more time, it is already too late.
We have to save the planet, by any means necessary.

Peter Ó Máille

(Edited. This was wrote and posted before a morning cup of tea and editing passes ;p)