The new French resistance

Something very important is happening in France at the moment.

The immediate catalyst for this historical turning-point has been the murder, by gendarmes, of a young environmental protester, Rémi Fraisse, near Albi on October 26.

The 21 year old, studying at nearby Toulouse, was supporting a campaign to stop a dam being built in a local valley. This dam, at Sivens near Le Testet, was only ever designed to help local agri-business and had been pushed through by local representatives of the ruling Socialist Party.

Unsurprisingly, the pros and cons of the scheme were suddenly exposed to the full spotlight of national publicity once the news eventually got out that Rémi was dead and that he had indeed been killed by a sound-grenade fired into his back at point blank range by the military-run police.

Some of the massive media attention has been diverted on to the usual party-political level of internal criticism and a deepening gulf between different groupings on the Left.

But it has also forced into the French public consciousness in a big way the fact that there is serious resistance being mounted against industrial capitalism. This has long been apparent with the Notre Dame des Landes ZAD (zone à défendre) against the proposed new airport for Nantes, but with Brittany in a general state of rebellion this was perhaps dismissed as an exception.

Now attention has been drawn to the fact that these kinds of battles are being fought all over the country, many of them going unreported in the corporate national media.

These protests are reminiscent of the wave of anti-roads protests in the UK in the 1990s. Traditional local opposition has successfully merged with a more radical approach, to the extent that a diversity of tactics does not prevent a unity of purpose.

Much was made by right-wing media of the fact that Rémi was killed during or after a full-on night-time attack on the dam building site by mostly masked-up comrades, in which molotovs were apparently thrown at the cops – this had followed a 7,000-strong protest march that afternoon.

But the manner in which he was killed has exposed the far greater violence deployed by the authorities in their policing – campaigners have reported weeks of constant physical intimidation by gendarmes, long before protesters finally tried to fight back.

And, of course, the violence of the police is just an echo of the violence against nature of the dam project itself, of the violence inherent in the entire ecocidal industrial system.

The astonishing thing is that people saying this, and calling for increased resistance, have actually been given a voice in the mainstream media, on the wave of public shock at Rémi’s death. 

No doubt this will only be a temporary blip and the usual propaganda will be restored as soon as possible, but in many ways that will be too late. The can of worms has been opened. The public now knows that there are thousands of people – many of them very young – across France who consider themselves at war with the industrial machine,  all its political parties, its hired uniformed thugs, its lies and assumptions.

If France is ahead of the UK in this respect it is perhaps because there is a lot more countryside here – France has about the same population as the UK, but is twice the size. People dropping out of the rat race tend to flood into cheaper remote rural areas in a way that is not possible in England, where land prices ensure the countryside is often the preserve of the rich. 

Many of those fleeing to the countryside are aiming to escape modern industrial life rather than combat it. But once they get there, they inevitably come across the latest local tentacle of the global greed-monster destroying our planet. And they stand and fight. When, as ever, the capitalist system treats them like criminals for daring to dissent, they are radicalised. And they increase their resistance, deepen their solidarity with others.

It is significant that it is the so-called Left that is in power, both locally and nationally. Because what is happening has very little to do with outdated notions of Right versus Left, in which all are agreed on the need for “economic growth”, for “progress” and for “jobs”.

The opponents of the dam are in favour of  “décroissance” (“de-growth”), of “anti-productivisme” – a philosophy which flows easily into the decentralism and anti-capitalism of specifically anarchist currents.

This is the war which is already being fought all over the world, but can only become clearer and more intense as time goes on. It’s humanity against the machine, nature against profit, the life-force against the industrial death-sentence.

The murder of one of our comrades by henchmen of the capitalist system (in France this time, but it happens everywhere) confirms again in a sickening way that this war is real and their intentions are ruthlessly lethal. 


We must take this knowledge on board, gain a clear and uncluttered overview of what is happening and communicate this understanding to others, so that we can mobilise all that is good and strong in humanity to ensure that the foul forces of darkness do not prevail. The stakes could hardly be higher.

Imprisoned by assumptions

Assumptions are the highest walls of the prison in which the human spirit is currently confined.

The most pernicious assumption of all is that industrial capitalism is the only possible form that human society can take: the path of history could only have ever taken us to this point and the path of the future can only ever take us further still in the same direction.

To suggest that things could have been any different is regarded as absurd. The very fact that our society is how it is today is taken as irrevocable proof that it could never have turned out any other way. This is nonsense, of course – a ridiculous, circular, self-justifying argument.

Just because I missed my bus this morning, does not mean that I could only ever have missed my bus. It does not mean that if I had set my alarm clock properly I couldn’t have caught it. It doesn’t stop me from saying that I wish I had managed to catch the bus or from deciding to take precautions to ensure that I don’t miss it again tomorrow.

Bound up with this assumption of the “inevitability” of industrial civilization comes the assumption of its “inevitable” continuation. This is even more obviously ill-founded. The future can be whatever we, collectively, want it to be.

So where do these assumptions come from? Although propaganda is all-pervasive in contemporary society, assumptions function on a deeper, almost invisible level. They are built into the structure of our thinking as much as into the specific contents.

As such, they are not necessarily propagated in a consciously deliberate manner. It is quite likely that most of those who maintain them in the public mind are unaware of what they are doing, are themselves held in the same mental trap.

These delusions – for this is what they are – are an aspect of the system itself. Without them it would not exist. They are part of the process by which it has come into being and remained in being. The delusions, the assumptions, create the system as much as the other way round.

They are very hard to counter, containing as they do a sort of in-built defence mechanism against any challenge to their validity.

The same assumption that says that history is just something that inevitably happened – in a retrospectively pre-determined way! – also prevents us from seeing that this is an assumption. It presents itself as an undeniable truth. You can’t challenge an undeniable truth. You don’t even consider whether or not it is an “undeniable truth” – you just accept its message as undeniably true, without even seeing that there is a message there, without registering that there is any subjectivity at all in what it is proposing. I suppose that’s what an assumption is: it’s something that never even gets thought about, it just sits there as the basis of something’s thinking. It is the canvas on which people’s opinions are painted.

So how do you reach down far enough to be able to challenge an assumption? How can you even show people that there is an assumption there, when their closed mindset is working on the assumption that there is no assumption – just historical reality that is absolutely undeniable?

You can hammer away at the outer shell of all these layers of delusion for as long as you like, without making a dent. You can shout at people until you’re blue in the face but if what you’re saying makes no sense to them, because it does not relate to what they have come to believe is reality, they will just assume you are mad.

We dissidents need to find creative ways of worming past people’s defences, bypassing the mental barriers erected against anything that challenges the framework on which they have built their understanding of the world.

Subverting, undermining and then demolishing these prison-walls of assumption is perhaps the most crucial and urgent task that lies before us if we are to pull our species back from the brink of self-destruction.

Save the Cévennes!

Resistance is growing to a threat facing one of the most important expanses of forest in western Europe.

German energy firm E.ON has signed a 20-year contract with the French authorities to ravage the stunning countryside of the Cévennes in order to provide biomass for its newly-converted power station at Gardanne, near Marseille.

It has got its greedy eyes on between 800,000 and a million tonnes of wood a year to keep the turbines of private profit turning.

The fact that much of the targeted area in the south of France is in a national park is of little interest either to E.ON or to its governmental collaborators, who are subsiding the firm’s ecocidal profiteering to the tune of 1.4 billion euros.

Of course, the whole thing is being wrapped up in green tinsel and presented as some kind of “sustainable management” project, particularly of the extensive local chestnut forests.

But any comforting images of hardy lumberjacks patiently thinning out the trees on the verdant mountain slopes are very far from the mark.

Instead, E.ON’s collaborators will be launching a full-scale industrial attack on the forests, using massive machinery to clear-cut vast swathes of trees from what is currently a landscape of remarkable beauty.

The “innovative” means it has it mind to penetrate the often-inaccessible areas include giant forestry “spiders” and mobile bridges to get across inconveniently-placed mountain rivers.

The usual excuse of “creating employment” falls a little flat when it only takes a few people to operate these machines. Predictably, though, the workerist “left” in the form of the CGT union has decided to support the whole madness on the basis of protecting a few dozen jobs back at the power station – as ever, actual opposition to the industrial capitalist system is out of the question.

With most levels of authority, including the Cévennes National Park, having bought into the project, it has been left to locals and environmentalist campaigners to take up the struggle. 

The radical Cévennes newsletter Bogues reported that a resounding and unanimous “no” to E.ON’s disastrous plans has emerged from “all the different meetings attended by residents, elected representatives and forestry professionals which have been held on this subject in our valleys”.

E.ON itself has noted the “initial negative perception of our project” – arrogantly assuming with the use of the word “initial” that people will eventually swallow its greenwash propaganda.

While the third biggest energy supply firm in the world is trying to pass itself off as a supporter of “sustainable energy”, its past tells a different story. In 2008 the group was the second worst CO2 polluter in Europe. In 2009 it was also famously on the receiving end of the second biggest fine in the entire history of the EU (533 million euros) for illegally trying to stitch up the distribution of Russian gas in France and Germany with GDF.

E.ON is putting it about that it will be mainly using green waste and bits of wood that can’t be used elsewhere. But in truth, the trees it cuts down will account for 80% of the biomass that it consumes. (This process is itself wasteful – its 33% efficiency means two out of three trees will essentially be burnt to heat up the atmosphere rather than produce electricity).

To start with, half of the timber will come from abroad, where other forests will be rased to keep the money-making fires of Gardanne alight. The other half will come from the local regions of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Rhône-Alpes and Languedoc-Roussillon.

By 2025, all of the wood is planned to be cut down from the forests of southern France, with E.ON particularly targeting areas of the Cévennes in the southern part of Lozère, to the north of Alès, and around Le Vigan, Quissac and Anduze.

There are countless environmental dangers involved in the scheme, of course – such as soil erosion in the newly clear-cut areas and chemical pollution of earth and water. With no replanting plans announced, spaces left by felled chestnut trees will naturally be refilled by maritime pines, the local pioneer species, leading to acidified soil and greater risks from forest fires.

Roads will have to be built and widened to take all the heavy traffic. And campaigners warn that in the wake of the industrial clearances will come monoculture plantations, genetically modified trees and increasing domination of forestry resources by big business, leaving little room for local initiatives.

There is more to a forest than a potential source of fuel. It is part of nature, part of the eco-system which keeps us alive and part of the culture of the area. If the profusion of chestnuts, “poor man’s bread”, in the forests of the Cévennes symbolises the enduring potential to survive outside the industrial civilisation, the intrusion here of capitalism’s war-machinery is symbolic of the scale of the threat facing our autonomy and our planet.

Pascal Menon, a local woodcutter opposing the scheme, told Nature et Progrès magazine that there was a deeper cause for the threat than simply financial gain. “There’s something more serious there, a notion of anti-nature which comes from the fact that we’ve cut ourselves off from our own so-called ‘wild’ feelings. We need to find a different basis for our relationship with the forest.”

Every battle like this, anywhere in the world, forms part of one big war – that of humanity, nature and life against capitalism, greed and death.

The people of the Cévennes have a long and proud history of standing up against injustice imposed from outside, whether in the form of the Camisard guerrillas who defied the French state and the Catholic Church 300 years ago, or the Maquisards who maintained armed resistance to fascism throughout the Vichy regime and German occupation.

We can be sure that they will put up a spirited fight on the ground against E.ON and its co-conspirators. With a little help from the outside, such as through a broader international campaign against the German energy firm, they might even hold them off, leaving open the possibility of an eventual victory in the bigger war for our collective future.

Bogues newsletter has a website at http://bogues.noblogs.org and can be contacted via bogues@riseup.net

The SOS Fôret Cévennes Collective (with its slogan “The forest is our future”) has a website at http://www.sosforetcevennes.org and can be contacted at contact@sosforetcevennes.org

There is an online petition at https://www.sauvonslaforet.org/petitions/959/e-on-veut-bruler-les-forets-francaises-a-gardanne

Civilization is another word for capitalism

“Apart from the desire to produce beautiful things, the leading passion of my life has been and is hatred of modern civilization”.

These were the words of William Morris, written in 1894, two years before he died at the age of 62.

It is worth nothing that they were expressed within an article entitled “How I Became a Socialist”. Where today are the socialists who speak of their “hatred of modern civilization” – a civilization which is now considerably more modern and more deserving of our hatred than that which Morris knew?

Where indeed are the anarchists who would say the same thing?

It is a source of constant puzzlement to me that the idea of being against modern civilization has become separated from the notion of being an anarchist and regarded by many as a kind of cultish fringe point of view, to be sneered at with the same misplaced sense of superiority as that displayed by those who dismiss anarchism itself from the viewpoint of social conventionality.

After all, the civilization we live in is an entirely capitalist civilization. How can one be anti-capitalist and yet somehow draw the line at opposing the civilization that has been shaped in its image?

Obviously there are degrees of badness in a society and I understand how one can prefer one specific form of civilized society over another. For instance, as an opponent of capitalist exploitation, I would probably prefer a factory to be part of a nationalised industry than a corporate one. As an anti-statist, I would rather it was run by a workers’ co-operative. Ultimately, however, I would rather it didn’t exist at all.

Why do factories come into being in the first place? Because they are somehow an improvement on small-scale craft production? Because they are the most efficient means of producing large numbers of goods badly needed by our society?

No, of course not. They are all about maximising profit and about manufacturing products that can be sold to people, rather than those which are needed by people.

Why would an anarchist (or indeed socialist) society feel the need to have factories? Why would anyone want to go and work in one? The only reason people currently do so is to keep themselves and their families alive and maybe, in more fortunate parts of the world, in some sort of basic state of comfort.

In a future socialist or anarchist society, where wealth was held in common and wage-slavery abolished, this need would no longer exist, so who would volunteer to work even one short shift a week in a factory producing items not actually needed by the community and which were only ever churned out in the first place to make someone rich?

I’m not even going to start talking about environmental issues here, even though they’re of the utmost importance, because the argument stands without them. If you are not a capitalist, our civilization is simply not a good thing. Everything it introduced, it introduced to make money.

Railway lines weren’t built to allow people to visit their friends or take nice day trips into the countryside, but to facilitate the exploitation of the land, to bring raw resources and food to the factories and cities, to transport workers to their place of exploitation and so on.

Washing machines weren’t invented to make life easier, but to make money and, at the same time, to help deliver up to the capitalist work/slavery system a section of the population it had previously been unable to directly exploit.

For me, an instinctive hatred of this civilization – of capitalism in a real, tangible and indeed inescapable form – has always fuelled and directed my political rebellion.

I’m sure William Morris would have questioned with me the authenticity of a so-called anti-capitalism which can see nothing fundamentally wrong with capitalism.

Tear gas, police spies and the lie of democracy

When the police start firing tear gas and rubber bullets at you for having the audacity to protest in the streets, you know you’re not living in a democracy.

The current rulers of both Turkey and Brazil were sold to the people as outsiders – an Islamic moralist and a former Marxist freedom fighter.

But Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Dilma Rousseff are both from the same mould as Tony Blair, who fooled so many people in the UK back in 1997, or Barack Obama, who delighted liberals all across the world when he first became President of the USA in 2009.

They are nothing but frontpeople for the same deadly neoliberal system that has the world’s population and environment in its toxic grip.

Once in power, the pretence cannot be maintained and, if challenged by dissent, the local franchise of the global capitalist system will always react in the same way – with repression of one kind or another.

It will hardly come as a surprise to most anarchists that the UK state has been developing a method of total surveillance of electronic communication passing through the country.

But the details provided by a report in The Guardian on Saturday, thanks to courageous whistleblower Edward Snowden, are certainly welcome.

Perhaps more people will wake up to the reality that the state is not a benign entity, protecting the population from “terrorism” and crime, but a hostile organisation that regards its own subjects as a threat to the interests it really represents.

Behind the official language used to justify the surveillance, we see that these interests are, as you’d expect, its own monopoly on power (“national security”) and the unimpeded continuation of the capitalist system which it imposes on us (“economic wellbeing”).

When Special Branch police officers openly argue that protest is covered by the definition of terrorism in the 2001 legislation, you don’t have to be a genius to understand the intent behind these insidious systems of control.

The aim of the British state is to ensure we never reach the point here where it has to resort to using tear gas and rubber bullets on the mainland, that its totally ruthless determination to maintain the stranglehold of the ruling elite is never exposed as such, that the illusion of government by consent remains intact.

Coincidentally, the same issue of The Guardian also includes a report on police spies in the protest movement, ahead of the publication of a new book, Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police.

It reveals that Special Branch conman Bob Lambert not only infiltrated London Greenpeace (and sexually and emotionally exploited female activists), but also co-wrote the leaflet that led to the McLibel court battle.

Although the affair ended up as a great moral victory for Dave Morris and Helen Steel, and a PR disaster for McDonald’s, it is fair to assume that this was not the intention of the police spy.

Instead, he was presumably acting as an agent provocateur, aiming to serve up an easy target for the corporate lawyers and thus deterring other campaigners from criticising McDonald’s.

This is a key element to the story of state’s infiltration of groups who dare to challenge the state-capital mafia which is sometimes overlooked – they’re not just “spying”, watching what’s going on, but taking a pro-active role in steering activists in directions favoured by the state.

Another example of this is revealed in a recent book published by Corporate Watch, Managing Dissent: Capitalism, Democracy and the Organisation of Consent. Tom Anderson notes there that the presence of undercover officers “can help the police to shape and mould the activities of groups that they have infiltrated” and “undermine and disrupt political activity which challenges the system”.

The British state is a powerful and sophisticated creature. Who knows in what other ways its infiltrators have, and no doubt continue to, undermine efforts to combat capitalism? What has so far been revealed may only be the most obvious tip of the iceberg.

Anarchists should be careful not to fall into the trap of accepting reformist liberal framing of these issues – for instance, despite the quality of its news coverage here, The Guardian’s editorial piece still trotted out the usual warning about what could happen if the total surveillance system fell into “the wrong hands”.

The hands of an ultra-powerful group of secretive, corrupt, power-hungry, warmongering sociopaths who are happy to destroy the planet we live on for their short-term material greed, perhaps?

We need to counter that line by saying loudly and clearly that we are already living in that plutofascist society and that the tear gas, surveillance and police spies are all just part of the prison they have built around us.

We need to say loudly and clearly that as anarchists we reject all of that, in its entirety, and aren’t just calling for some adjustments here and there.

We need to say loudly and clearly that we refuse to be confined by the mindset that cannot see any other possibilities than the sick capitalist society in which are imprisoned, that we refuse to play their game by their rules, that we don’t even accept the language in which they talk to us or their most basic assumptions about the legitimacy of land ownership, of authority, of their judicial system and the force by which they impose it on us.

This, as I argue in The Anarchist Revelation, is the first step to doing something about it. Our vision – of an entirely different future from the one with which we’ve been presented – has to be voiced before it can be heard. After it has been heard it can be shared and dreamed. And after it has been dreamed it can be turned into reality.

As Dave Morris told The Guardian on Saturday: “All over the world police and secret agents infiltrate opposition movements in order to protect the rich and powerful but as we have seen in so many countries recently people power and the pursuit of truth and justice is unstoppable.”

State violence and the power of anarchy

On Sunday June 9 I was calmly discussing anarchism and spirituality with a group of comrades at the Stop G8 convergence centre at 40 Beak Street, London.

Two days later the place was being invaded by a brutal army of uniformed state thugs, determined to extinguish any small glimmer of resistance in the heart of Babylon.

Later, hundreds more of these violent mercenaries attacked anyone who dared to take to the streets in a spirit of defiance against the system that is choking humanity to death.

Then, some 24 hours after that, I was part of a small group walking to join the anti-militarist protest outside arms dealer BAE off Lower Regent Street.

Just as we were about to cross the road and reach fellow protesters, we were dragged back and surrounded by a gang of extremely hostile police, who tried to prevent us from taking part in the demonstration for no other reason than they had decided we were there “to cause trouble”.

It was only the arrival of a cluster of press photographers and a legal observer that deterred them from their actions.

Before the week of action, I had already been detained and interrogated for three hours under so-called “anti-terrorist” legislation for daring to leave the country to talk to like-minded folk in Europe.

Is this really where we have got to in the UK, where the authorities’ response to “unauthorised” protest is reminiscent of that of the late unlamented Soviet Union?

The claim that we live in a “democracy” is looking more and more laughable. With the game of elections safely stitched up, all other ways of expressing opposition to capitalism (as opposed to support for variations on capitalism) are being rapidly closed down.

Free spaces are raided, protests smashed, dissent criminalised. Debate online, even on Indymedia, is increasingly flooded by trolls, many of whom have been shown to work for the state.

The widely publicised presence of infiltrators and agents provocateurs within the anarchist movement has created an atmosphere of paranoia, where it is difficult for people to trust existing fellow activists, let alone reach out to newcomers.

People are increasingly scared to stick their heads above the parapet, fearing the loss of their job, reputation or liberty.

Meanwhile the state works full-time, with all the vast resources at its disposal, to tell the story its way, to pretend that there is general enthusiasm for its agenda and uncomplaining love for its system, that the real threats to the exploited population are even-more-exploited immigrants or the unemployed.

We seem to be edging ever closer to the nightmare of total control, in which the free spirit of humankind is suffocated to the point where it is almost killed.

How do we fight back? Some years ago, I wrote some short stories set in a dystopian future where the only way people could resist was with small acts of individual defiance, such as standing up for yourself at work, evading totalitarian surveillance or breaking the law by refusing to vote.

The other day, anarchist Ian Bone came up with an idea for autonomous individual resistance, which he calls a “bamn”, explaining: “A BAMN! is a confrontational act. There is no hierarchy of BAMNS! There is no such thing as an insignificant BAMN!” A commenter on his website wrote of “random acts with a common goal”.

This is certainly to be encouraged, but it can’t be all that we do. Anarchists certainly shouldn’t give up on mass organising and showing ourselves in the streets. Although the Stop G8 protests didn’t go as planned, media coverage ensured they sent a mighty message out to the world – that there is a resistance to capitalism out there, that there are people with the courage to stand up to the despotism of 21st century plutofascism.

Anarchists have always participated in a range of social and environmental struggles, on local, national and global levels, and that remains excellent practice. However, I do think it’s also important for us to come together and voice our anarchism loud and clear as often as possible.

Anarchism is such a strong position to take. We deny the legitimacy of the state itself, along with all its apparatus, including the judicial system (and you can acknowledge its physical ability to imprison or restrict you while refusing to recognise that it has the right to do so).

We deny the legitimacy of land ownership, the key theft that turned us from free denizens of the planet to serfs of those who robbed us. We deny the legitimacy of nations and borders. We refuse to compromise with calls for reforms or adjustments and hold out for our dream of a totally free future.

Differences over how we might best reach the point of anarchy are not important, when the common aim is unique and clear – and, in any case, diversity of tactics is a good approach.

Differences in our visions of how we might live after that are irrelevant, given that all anarchists must believe that those decisions will be taken at the time, by those who find themselves in that happy position.

We may be few, but our message is more powerful than we sometimes realise. Let’s make sure it is heard!

Fighting capitalism on every level

There is a certain current of anarchist thinking that is very particular about the way we perceive and define capitalism.

It takes special affront at propaganda that identifies capitalism with specific institutions or events, such as banks or the latest G8 summit. Capitalism, this current points out, is a matrix of economic and social relationships and not simply this or that building or group of people.

There is obviously some truth in this analysis and it would be dangerously superficial to focus exclusively on the public faces of capitalism without attempting any analysis of what it is, where it comes from and how it might be defeated rather than merely symbolically challenged.

However, this criticism – usually aimed at attempts to organise populist mass street action – is fundamentally flawed and wilfully ignores the fact that capitalism exists on many different levels and should therefore also be countered on many different levels.

In its most disembodied form, “capitalism” is nothing but a word, consisting of the shape of the letters that spell it out. Next, in order of descent towards the tangible, it is an abstract definition which would exist even if there were no capitalist societies anywhere on the planet (as was once the case and surely will be again!).

This is one of the levels that these particular critics tend to refer to, along with the next one down, which is the capitalist system actually in place, as it is in our times, with all the complexities it involves.

Clearly an important part of any anti-capitalist struggle will be the analysis and description of capitalism, in theory and in practice, and the discussion of alternatives – this is not something that would be disputed by anyone.

But capitalism also exists on less abstract levels of reality. It manifests itself in the real world in the shape of real companies which have real headquarters and are run by real people.

It also manifests itself in the form of the politicians who maintain its hegemony, and most noticeably when these politicians, heads of various capitalist states, come together publicly to present a common front at the various summits that are essentially propaganda initiatives on behalf of the status quo.

Opposing these manifestations of capitalism does not necessarily mean one has no understanding of the less tangible forms that capitalism takes, or that one mistakes buildings or men in suits for the phenomenon that we term capitalism.

Instead, protesters in the City of London or outside a G8 summit are choosing to counter capitalism on the levels at which it becomes obviously visible, deploying their own symbolism of protest and dissent against its equivalent symbols of power and control.

The same multi-layered reality applies to any political ideology or system. Fascism, for example, is also a word in the dictionary. It is also a political theory of sorts (though a rather incoherent one) and it has been, historically, a real form of social organisation and control.

Fascism was never exactly the same thing as the German or Italian governments in the 1930s, but it manifested itself, in a less pure and more worldly form, in those governments.

Fascism as a concept is not the same as the actual existing Golden Dawn party in Greece or the EDL or BNP in the UK, but it manifests itself in those organisations.

Would any anarchist ever argue that there is no point in protesting outside the HQ of one of these fascistic parties, or in mobilising against their marches or rallies, on the basis that fascism is a system rather than a building or an event? Is there any anarchist who would not understand that we have to be present on the same levels as fascism is present, in order to oppose it in whatever form it appears?

Again, if we lost track of the bigger picture and fixated on specific individuals or groups without understanding the context in which they arose, there would be ground for criticism, but this is not an inevitable by-product of choosing to challenge fascism in a specific manifestation.

Likewise, mobilising against bankers or G8 summits under the banner of anti-capitalism does not inevitably involve any lack of understanding of what capitalism is nor, indeed, preclude involvement in the struggle against capitalism on other levels, whether more abstract or more pragmatic.

The kind of analysis that is forever positing an “either/or” scenario (and of course insisting that its particular approach is the correct one!) does nothing to further the cause of anarchism.

Ours must be a holistic approach, operating simultaneously in microcosm and macrocosm, understanding that just as capitalism manifests in both abstract and tangible forms, so must we.
“We are everywhere” has a broader application than the merely geographic.