A translation in English of the article “une suggestion”, appearing on the latest avis de temepetes
June 15, 2018by actforfreedom
Chatter makes one blind. It blows up the last bridges that still remain between thought and action. By dint of drowning in rivers of words, of chasing one’s tail, of ending up saying nothing, by dint of enthusiastically participating to the surge of empty words, even the most simple things end up becoming huge puzzles on the same level as the origin of the world and the meaning of life.
Let’s take as an example a mine in Ariège, in the south of France, which the state and an exploiter want to re-open. Not any mine, that would be too simple: no, a mine of tungsten, that metal coveted by the weapons and aeronautics industry. A metal whose deposits are rather rare and whose price on the market just keeps rising. A much harder metal than lead, thus a much sought-after component of ammunitions and penetration bombs. The fact that the exploitation of a tungsten mine, just as any other mine, implies a destruction of the surrounding territory, an increase of pollution that favours the development of terrible diseases and a calculated health deterioration of the minors, is more than obvious. This is in spite of the abundant doses of greenwashed newspeak promoting “green technology”, “clean nuclear power”, “sustainable development” and other “intelligent objects” which can be listed off by its promoters.
This mine, closed in 1986 after thirty years of use, is a mine which constitutes a hardened strategic interest for France and its defense industry. After the announcement of the reopening, an inundation of chatter, of citizenist opposition, of legal proceedings and of “public debates” could have been capable of extinguishing and containing any ambition of revolt or of direct and uncompromised reaction. Luckily it was not so. In the night of the 25th and 26th of April 2018, some unknown individuals took the situation into their own hands, setting fire to the restructured buildings of the tungsten mine of Salau, located in Couflens in the region of Ariège.
Two separate fires destroyed a building with technical and laboratory facilities and a second building. The means were simple: after having broken with a bat the walls on the backside of the laboratory, the anonymous individuals introduced a few tires, placing them under a tank of 1000 litres of combustible oil. No need for anything else: the tank exploded, taking with it the entire technical building. In the second building, the flames seemed to have more difficulty to propagate, though still making significant damages to the structure. There, a clear, direct and unambiguous act: destroying what destroys us. To attack where devastation, war and oppression are produced.
Perhaps there are those who will say that one should also talk about the ongoing opposition in the region, sparked by this possible reopening. There have been demonstrations, blockades, along with political interpellations and legal procedures. But let’s just say it bluntly, enough with the chitchat: the anarchist proposal cannot consist of participating in demonstrations “to mark our disagreement”, nor of symbolic blockades “to attract attention”, or in anything else not tied to a tension towards direct action and self-organization. To this end an entire rainbow of political colours is already in place, there is no need for anarchists to play on this ground. What we propose is different, and has nothing to do with a democratic logic or is it based on consensus: direct attack, with the means that each one deems opportune. Not to prove anything to anyone, nor to add a more radical voice to a too gregarious protest, but because we believe that the only real way to contrast this world of oppression and exploitation, is to try to destroy it. Both through action, by striking its structures and its men, and through thought, by corroding the ideologies that legitimize power and the mentality of obedience and submission which uphold it.
Perhaps others again will say that one should speak, stats in hand, of the devastations provoked by a tungsten mine, of how many kilos are needed to build a missile, or, why not, of the demonstration that followed this act of sabotage. This gathering took place through the streets of Saint-Girons, the “capital” of Couserans, the region where the deposit is found. A demonstration of 500 people, who answered to the call-out by the CGT and the Federation of Hunters (whose local president is the owner of the terrain) in favour of the use of tungsten and for employment in the region, despite it being for the war industry and at the price of theirs and the region’s health. What to do when faced with such demonstrators, with similar servants of power? Not everyone was a political representative, nor part of the local bourgeoisie. There were present also proletarians, farmers, poor people. Like a mirror of the factories of death, who do not operate only thanks to engineers but also thanks to the decent exploited worker, perhaps even proud of their job and of their expertise. Individual responsibility cannot stop at “class” lines. Those who produce war, should expect war to be declared to them.
Lastly, and looking a bit further, where would the tungsten of the war industry come from, since the mine of Salau was closed in 1986? Although the biggest producers on a global level are China and Russia, there are anyways important deposits also in Europe. Portugal produces more or less 700 tons of tungsten a year, extracted from the mines of Panasqueira near the city of Covilhã (centre of the country), Austria puts on the market a similar quantity, arriving from the deposits in Mittersill, in the region of Salzburg. Spain produces 500 tons a year in the open-pit mine of Barruecopardo, in the province of Salamanca. The production coming from other countries is more modest, like Norway, where there is Målviken, in Nordland, and like England where work is underway since 2014 to reopen Drakelands Mines, the tungsten open-pit mine in the Devon region.
Let’s remember that tungsten is part of the family of “rare metals”, along with graphite, cobalt, indium, platinum or the rare-earth elements. Their exploitation is usually extremely polluting,(China is the biggest producer of these “rare metals”, sacrificing for the sake of their extraction, the health of tens of thousands of human beings, and transforming the territories in completely toxic wastelands). No modern device could be produced without these metals, be it cell phones transistors, windmills or missiles. In order to counterbalance the dependency on the supply of precious metals (more than 90% of the imports are originally from China), many European companies have launched themselves in the recycling of rare metals, extracting them from obsolete devices through other extremely toxic chemical processes. Since a few years though, more players are favourable to a full-time exploitation of the rare metal resources on the European territory. In 2013 the project EURARE, financed as part of the European research program Horizon 2020, re-launched their reconnaissance operations and last year presented their public report. This is the prelude of possible new mining structures opening in Sweden, Greece, Finland and Spain, and to a lesser extent in Germany, Norway, Italy, Austria, Hungary and Portugal.
It is thus difficult to underestimate last April’s arson in Couflens: not only does it offer a perfect suggestion to the enemies of this world and to the struggles that could take shape against new mining projects, but it is also an effective attack against an important pillar of the production of technological domination, which has a crucial need of all these rare metals.
Elsewhere last month, at least two other attacks against resource extraction facilities took place. In Kouaoua (New Caledonia) the belt system of the SLN mine was once again anonymously set ablaze (it is the third time in less than a year), paralyzing the nickel industry. One third of the world’s deposits of this metal are found on this island of the pacific colonized by the French state. The belt system – a conveyor belt of about 10 kilometres in length – is essential to move the minerals from the mountain to the port. Elsewhere, in Bauges (Savoy, France) it was “humans like moths in the night” to claim the fire attack against the quarry of Vicat, the third producer of cement in France. An electricity transformation station, the main building, the control room, the computers of an excavator and other construction machines went up in smoke. “The cement that pours out of every pore of this society is depriving us of life, feelings, substance. The forests managed in an eco-sustainable way look like mass graves” can be read in their text, which concludes by saying: “This is only a beacon of fire in the depths of the woods, it is only a glimmer, but it helps us to move in the darkness, even at the cost of occasionally burning our wings”. An act that in a direct way put an end to the toxic activities on which State and Capital are based on. Simply.
Control becomes more tight, struggles can appear more desperate, the more or less radical street protests seem to open very few subversive horizons, but one thing remains sure and certain: to act is always possible. With a bit of creativity, determination, some effort to look beyond the surface, some basic knowledge. In small groups and through direct action. To hit and destroy everything that perpetuates this world of authority.
Enough with the legal chatter and the political hesitations. Forward, for anarchy and with freedom in our hearts!