Posts Tagged ‘Civil Disobedience’

Here and No Further – Stop Digging, Keep It In The Ground!

A three minute film:

The Rhineland’s lignite mines and coal plants in Germany are Europe’s biggest source of CO2 emissions and home to the world’s largest coal digger – the Bagger 288.

The rapid expansion of coal mines and plants is causing health problems due to high pollution rates and the destruction of local villages, forests and farmland.
That’s why this summer the Rhineland will be the target of a mass act of civil disobedience in the lead-up to the Paris climate negotiations.

On the weekend of 14-16 August, grassroots groups are calling on people from all over Germany and other parts of Europe to stand together to stop the world’s largest coal diggers in their tracks.

The mass action is being called “Ende Gelände” — which translates literally as ‘Here and no further”.

Ende Gelände will make a powerful call to keep Europe’s coal in the ground, in the face of increasingly dangerous climate change.

The paradox of the superego:
the more you obey what the Other demands of you, the guiltier you are.

The song “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” by the Manic Street Preachers, takes its name from the stark warning of a Republican Ministry of Propaganda poster during the Spanish Civil War, displaying a photograph of a young child killed by the Nationalists under a sky of bombers. It’s essence illustrating the paradox of the superego.

standard Catalogue number Art.IWM PST 8661 Production date 1936 Place made Spain Subject period Second World War Materials medium: lithograph support: paper Dimensions Support: Height 670 mm Support: Width 494 mm Mount: Height 670 mm Mount: Width 495 mm Frame: Height 448 mm Frame: Width 325 mm Frame: Depth 20 mm Alternative Names object category: Poster Creator: Augusto [attributed] (artist) Ministerio de Propaganda (publisher/sponsor) Category posters All Rights Reserved except for Fair Dealing exceptions otherwise permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, as amended and revised.

For if you are willing to tolerate what successive governments and regimes force upon you; from ideological austerity, atrocious policies attacking the Independent Living Allowance of just 18,000 of the most severely disabled in the UK to swingeing local authority cuts such as the removal of hot meal services for our elderly or removal of 7 out of 11 leisure centres in the Rhymney valley CCBC area, or imposition of car parking charges on the sick and disabled at our country parks.


Happy Bastille Day! Vive la republique!


At The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, N.Y., May 2015, Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges spoke for over an hour about how his new book, “Wages of Rebellion,” differs from his previous works, including, the public loss of faith in the political process and the revolutionary potential bubbling beneath the surface of American life.





What it takes to Rebel


We are passive in front of our electronic hallucinations

Movements of Mass Civil Disobedience

Cornell West

Noam Chomsky

Susan Sontag

Mechanisms of coercion and violence

Paramilitarised police

It struck me that all the aspects of “inverted totalitarianism” (which Hedges highlights and defines early on) can in fact be seen today in the European Union, where the financial industry has in fact made the sovereign governments of member nations subservient to their whim and have even begun to implement what is essentially “inverted socialism” by means of austerity to weaken governments and social programs and then strengthening these same financial industries with bail-outs. (SOCIALISM/ANARCHISM for the Richest, Austerity for Everyone Else!).

The EU is to inverted totalitarianism is to what the USSR is to true totalitarianism, except in the EU we are seeing true socialism applied but to corporations and a kind of “let them eat cake” feudalism to the population.

It’s like the corporate world had been waging a war with the population, which it in fact had been doing, due to the population starting the war by adopting democratic values.

The population then lost the war and is now being punished with a kind of “Treaty of Versailles” where they must pay reparations to the corporate state, just as the Wiemar Republic did after World War 1.

just so you know… the Wales Office is at Caspian Point, Cardiff Bay.
It’s Westminster’s outpost in Cardiff. 

Essentially a Tory office in Wales.

It’s a modern yet rather unremarkable looking building (basically a big red-ish cube with turquois windows at the top and a relatively flat roof.)

You’d never notice it unless you knew about it.

The Wales Office used to be very noticeable at Plas Glyndwr in the civic centre but moved around 2011, probably to get away from anti-Tory protests in the city centre.
Now it’s out of the way, hidden in the office district of Cardiff Bay.

Be a shame if someone was to paint “cunts” or something like that on it… so don’t go there ok?

Coal, Capitalism, John D. Rockefeller Jr., and the massacre of Two hundred Miners, Women and Children.
Today is the 101st Anniversary of America’s own “Chartist” type atrocity – The LUDLOW MASSACRE.

Woodie Guthrie – The Ludlow Massacre

The early 1900s were a time of great social upheaval in our country. During the years leading up to the Ludlow Massacre, miners all around the country looking to make a better life for themselves and their families set up picket lines, organized massive parades and rallies, and even took up arms. Some died.

Coal Country, Colorado

100 years ago, the Rocky Mountains were the source of a vast supply of coal. At its peak, it employed 16,000 people and accounted for 10% of all employed workers in the state of Colorado. It was dangerous work; in just 1913 alone, the mines claimed the lives of over 100 people. There were laws in place that were supposed to protect workers, but largely, management ignored those, which led to Colorado having double the on-the-job fatality rate of any other mining state.

It was a time of company towns, when all real estate, housing, doctors, and grocery stores were owned by the coal companies themselves, which led to the suppression of dissent as well as overinflated prices and an extreme dependence on the coal companies for everything that made life livable. In some of these, workers couldn’t even leave town, and armed guards made sure they didn’t. Also, if any miner or his family began to air grievances, they might find themselves evicted and run out of town.

Union Parade, Trinidad, Colorado, 1913

The Union

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) had been organizing for many years in the area, and this particular company, Colorado Fuel and Iron, was one of the biggest in the West — and was owned by the Rockefeller family, notoriously anti-union.

Put all this together, and it was a powder keg.

The Ludlow Colony before the massacre, 1914

Strikers, Ludlow Tent Colony, 1914


When a strike was called in 1913, the coal company evicted all the miners from their company homes, and they moved to tent villages on leased land set up by the UMWA. Company-hired guards (aka “goons”) and members of the Colorado National Guard would drive by the tent villages and randomly shoot into the tents, leading the strikers to dig holes under their tents and the wooden beams that supported them.

Why did the union call for a strike? The workers wanted:

  1. Recognition of the union as bargaining agent,
  2. An increase in tonnage rates (equivalent to a 10% wage increase),
  3. Enforcement of the eight-hour work day,
  4. Payment for “dead work” that usually wasn’t compensated, such as laying coal car tracks,
  5. The job known as “Weight-checkmen” to be elected by workers. This was to keep company weightmen honest so the workers got paid for their true work,
  6. The right to use any store rather than just the company store, and choose their own houses and doctors,
  7. Strict enforcement of Colorado’s laws, especially mine safety laws.

The “Death Special,” an improvised armored car (with machine gun) built by the coal company’s private security

Cavalry charge on striker women in nearby Trinidad

Militia and private detectives or mine guards, Ludlow

The Powder Keg Explodes

The attacks from the goons continued, as did the battles between scabs (strikebreakers) and the miners. It culminated in an attack on April 20, 1914, by company goons and Colorado National Guard soldiers who kidnapped and later killed the main camp leader and some of his fellow miners, and then set the tents in the main camp ablaze with kerosene. As they were engulfed, people inside the tents tried to flee the inferno; many were shot down as they tried to escape. Some also died in the dugouts below the burning tents. In the first photograph below, two women and 11 children died in the fire directly above them. A day that started off with Orthodox Easter celebrations for the families became known as the Ludlow Massacre.

The “Death Pit”

Rear view of ruins of tent colony

Funeral procession for Louis Tikas, leader of Greek strikers

The 10-Day War

The miners, fresh off the murders of their friends and family members, tried to get President Woodrow Wilson to put a stop to the madness, but he deferred to the governor, who was pretty much in the pocket of the mine companies.

So the miners and those at other tent colonies quickly armed themselves, knowing that many other confrontations were coming. And they went to the mines that were being operated by scabs and forced many of them to close, sometimes setting fire to the buildings. After 10 days of pitched battle and at least 50 dead, the president finally sent in the National Guard, which promptly disarmed both sides.

Union Victory

While close to 200 people died over the course of about 18 months before and after the battles at Ludlow and the union ultimately lost the election, the Ludlow Massacre brought a congressional investigation that led to the beginnings of child-labor laws and an eight-hour workday, among other things.

But it also brought national attention to the plight of these miners and their families, and it showed the resilience and strength that union people could display when they remained united, even in the face of extreme corporate and government violence. Historian Howard Zinn called it “the culminating act of perhaps the most violent struggle between corporate power and laboring men in American history.” And the primary mine owner, John D. Rockefeller Jr., received a lot of negative attention and blame for what happened here.

The UMWA is still a solid union today, and there is a monument in Colorado to those who died in the Ludlow Massacre.

The famous Irish backbone has been ripped out and replaced with a spineless bunch of suckers in thrall to the Bank$ters that THEY bailed out with th€2.7 billion it gave Permanent TSB!

When a Tory Manifesto pushes a policy such as Right To Buy housing association rental homes, I always ask myself what’s in it for their City Financier overlords.
The signpost is currently happening in Republic of Ireland where Permanent TSB Bank has hiked up it’s variable rate mortgage interest to 4.5% despite the European average being 2.9% and the cost of the Bank Borrowing Rate being between 0% – 0.5%
This bank was bailed out by the Irish Government – even though it should not have been as loans were made in bad faith, thus, the Bank’s own fault – to the tune of €2.7 billion.

The Tory push for right to buy is intended to get more people indebted to the Bank$ters. It’s fuck all to with Aspirational economics. It’s an attempt to start another Ponzy scheme!

In this racket, fairness is not an option

The Permanent TSB mortgage scandal is just part of the same dodge as Irish Water, writes Gene Kerrigan

Last week, the airwaves were full of reports of Permanent TSB mortgage holders pleading with bankers to be fair.

Get real, folks. The penny should surely have dropped by now. This, after all, is 2015. Since 2008, we’ve been watching billions of euro being transferred from us to a small minority of empty-eyed money-men.
Let’s stop pretending that fairness is an option.
There are two sides to this: the takers and those who get taken. Variable mortgage holders are being taken.

They’ve found their role in life – which is to be suckers.
In fact, it’s official government policy that they be treated as suckers.

Accept it gracefully, folks, and stop whining. Allow yourself to be fleeced by the bankers. Or, do something about it.
The variable-rate mortgage scandal is right up there with the Irish Water scandal, as one of those stories that will make the jaws of future generations hit the floor.
Like all the best stings, it’s simple. It affects 300,000 variable-mortgage holders, plus their families. And they’re being fleeced by a number of banks, including Permanent TSB.

These days, money is cheap. With the right connections, you can borrow for as little as 0.05pc.
Across Europe, the average mortgage rate is 2.09pc. Good times, you might think.
But the bankers here are charging approximately 4.5pc on a variable mortgage.
Why? Because they can.
Permanent TSB is losing money, and the bankers want it to be profitable, so it can be sold. At that stage, all sorts of empty-eyed money-men will reap bonuses and the Government might get back some of the €2.7 billion it gave Permanent TSB.
So, they forcibly extract whatever rate of interest they think they can get away with. And in their back pockets, there’s the implied threat of repossessing people’s homes.
It’s a breathtakingly simple sting – one that we might christen the Bonnie and Clyde technique. You have money, we want it, we take it.
This is using a position of strength to unfairly reap unwarranted profits from a helpless element of the market. The mortgage price being charged doesn’t relate to costs or hazards – it relates only to the capital needs of the bankers.
Isn’t there a law against this kind of thing? Probably not – given the beliefs of the people who make the laws.
Like most of us, I grew up believing that the government is a kind of independent referee, answerable to the electorate, arbitrating fairly between the competing interests of various sections of society.
Anyone still believing such fairy tales got a jolt in late 2008, when the politicians immediately agreed to whatever the bankers requested – to the potential limit of about €400bn.
Since then, whether within the EU or at home, the demands of the bankers have overridden the interests of the rest of us. Blindly, €64bn was given to bankers.
And if the bankers decide they need another 10 or 20 billion, can anyone doubt it will be provided to them (after the general election)?
And the hole in the public finances will be patched up, using more charges and spending cuts.
Some think that the Government should ensure fair play to mortgage holders – after all, it “owns” Permanent TSB. And it “owns” AIB and it “owns” 14pc of Bank of Ireland.
Surely it could, if it wanted, stop this deeply unfair practice?
It could, but it doesn’t. Because (a) it agrees with what’s being done; and (b) its “ownership” of the banks is not really ownership.
The Government provides whatever amount of public money a bank demands. And, as in any commercial transaction, it must receive what’s called “consideration” in return. So, it is given token “ownership” of the bank, in order to make the transaction legal.
But such is the deference of politicians to bankers that they make a virtue of ignoring how the banks are run. Oh, they proudly announce, we wouldn’t dream of interfering in commercial matters.
Even when – as in the variable mortgage racket – the unfairness is blatantly obvious.
This shameless protection of the bankers has nothing to do with old-fashioned corruption, where the bankers are cronies or relatives of the politicians. It has nothing to do with an exchange of brown envelopes.
This is ideology – an element in the version of right-wing politics that has dominated us since the 1980s.
This says: the financial sector is central to society and must be protected as though it was a precious child. Do this and the markets will prosper and things will get better for all.
This, by now, is so ingrained in the minds of our leaders that it’s taken to be not so much an element of right-wing principles as a natural law.
Like gravity.
There has been clear evidence from 2008 that the financial sector was a glorified casino, run by people who don’t understand banking and who despise common businesses. They understand only profit and bonuses.
Not to worry, the ideology is deeply entrenched and the banks will continue to receive the protection of the politicians.
What’s happening to the variable-mortgage customers is merely an extra element in the array of charges, levies, cuts and other money-extracting techniques employed to transfer wealth to the empty-eyed among us.
One of the most ambitious projects was Irish Water.
Some may consider Irish Water to be the worst company ever set up anywhere, at any time, by anyone, for any purpose.
It’s as though Irish Water managed to corner the market on ham-fisted eejits programmed to make a balls of whatever task they are given.
This is not true. There’s no evidence of innate stupidity among Irish Water’s staff, many of whom manage to dress themselves on a daily basis.
The problem with Irish Water is that Enda Kenny and Phil Hogan tried to do too much at once.
They wanted a cash cow that would provide a healthy revenue stream, to replenish the depleted state coffers.
Second, the company was to amass a substantial database, based around PPS numbers, which would be a lucrative asset when it comes time to privatise the water supply.
Third, it had to be an off-the-books operation, so the Government could pretend it was keeping inside the deficit rules.
And – as an afterthought – it had to fix the leaks that are losing 49pc of the treated water. No private company would buy Irish Water until the leaks are fixed at public expense.
And, needless to say, this project has inevitably provided a healthy revenue stream to the usual consultants, advisors and managers.
And it worked, up to a point. In the process a lot of the usual geniuses made large dollops of money, There’s a nice logo and all the trappings of a utility.
Try as it might, however, this multifaceted operation couldn’t pass itself off as a water utility with a mission to fix the leaks.
It became an assault on our credulity, as well as a raid on our pockets.
So, large numbers of people refused to play the game. The Government cut the charges, to seek to entice some dissenters into signing up – after which the charges will soar.
As the bills arrive, the jury is out on what happens next.
The variable-mortgage suckers plead for fairness. It won’t work. They could try a mortgage boycott, but if there are too few they’ll be hammered mercilessly. If there are many, the bankers might well flinch at an uppity customer base – it sends a chill through investors.
Meanwhile, maintaining its reputation for screwing up every single thing they try to do, Irish Water have sent out a bill to a man they knew was dead.
We know they knew he was dead because when they addressed the bill they carefully typed (RIP) after his name.
Truly, future generations will marvel at what we have wrought??

Max Keiser:

How to Block a Surveillance Camera: A DIY Art Tutorial from Ai Weiwei


A wine opener usage George Orwell would approve of.

“When things get tough,” Neil Gaiman advised on in his fantastic commencement address on the creative life“this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician — make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor — make good art. IRS on your trail — make good art. Cat exploded — make good art.” One could easily extrapolate, “Big Brother on your ass — make good art.” Amidst recent outcries against the present-day surveillance state we live in, what else is there to do but make good art? Cue in celebrated Chinese artist, provocateur, and human rights championAi Weiwei. From Do It: The Compendium (public library) — the fantastic collection of famous artists’ wide-ranging instructionals for art anyone can make based on 20 years of legendary curator and provocateur Hans Ulrich Obrist’s project of the same title, which also gave us David Lynch’s tutorial on how to make a Ricky Board — comes this antiauthoritarian creative project from Ai Weiwei, a DIY way to stick it — spray it, rather — to Big Brother:

CCTV SPRAY How to make a spray device to block a surveillance camera: Do you feel uncomfortable, confused, disgusted, or even irate because of a surveillance camera fixed at the wrong place? To block its view, spray-painting would be the best choice. It is highly accessible, inexpensive, and effective. Moreover, it is a perfect gesture in presenting street culture. It is difficult to spray on a surveillance camera at a high place directly by hand. Instead of carrying a ladder on the streets, it is more practical to make an adjustable, easy-to-carry, and low-cost spray device. It is best to use materials easily found from daily life to create this tool.

He goes on to list the materials needed — a spray bottle, a wine bottle opener, a bike bottle cage, a bike brake bar, a screw, and a stick — with the instruction to “choose materials that are as practical and reliable as possible” and are also “cheap and easy to obtain.” He then moves on to the step-by-step “Production Procedure”:

First find a long stick of suitable height. Considering portability, a collapsible tree pruner is recommended. Then select a stable frame that can secure a bottle or a can. For example, a bottle cage for bicycles would be a good fit. After that, find a trigger and fix it at the top of the stick. A wine bottle opener is a good choice, because its flexible lever structure can reduce the force and distance needed to press the spray nozzle. We also need a linkage device to control the wine bottle opener at the top. A bicycle brake bar is an excellent choice. Finally, prepare screws and nylon ropes as needed.

Under “Usage,” he instructs:

First fix the wine bottle opener at the top of the tree pruner (a.01). Then set the spray can into the bottle cage. Make sure the handle of the bottle opener is affixed to the right position, where it gives easiest nozzle control. Use screws to secure the bottle cage (a.02). Fix the brake bar at the other end of the tree pruner (a.03). Secure the spray paint can and use a nylon rope to fasten the flexible shaft (a.04). Adjust the height of the stick. Then connect the handle of the bottle opener to the shaft of the brake (a.05–a.06). The homemade adjustable spray device is now complete.

Complement this exercise in creative civic disobedience with BBC’s excellent Ai Weiwei: Without Fear or Favour. Do It: The Compendium is superb in its entirety, brimming with similar irreverent gems by some of the world’s most acclaimed contemporary artists. Sample it here.

See also my ongoing blog “Subversives in Art”