30 Jun 2006

Greens condemn health privatisation

Good stuff here from Stuart Jeffery the Greens health speaker



NEWS: Green Party in England & Wales

The Green Party has expressed amazement at the latest step towards NHS Incorporated as the Department of Health bungled the release of an advert to tender for private comapnies to take over the commissioning role of Primary Care Trusts, giving them control over £64 billion.

Stuart Jeffery, health spokesperson for the Green Party said, "The scale of the privatisation of the NHS is simply staggering. This is happening at every level of the organisation and presents a real and present danger to the health care in this country. The loss of commissioning to private companies would give them unparalled access to profits which would be at the expense of clinical care. People are suffering and dying because of the fragmentation and privatisation of our NHS. This must stop."

He concludes, "It comes as no surprise that the government want to extend privatisation to Primary Care Trusts, but the scale of the proposals is amazing. The impact on the equity of provision and on the costs of services will be disastrous."

ENDS

Green Party Press Office
020 7561 0282
http://www.greenparty.org.uk

Published and promoted by Jim Killock for the Green Party, both at
1a Waterlow Road, London N19 5NJ.

STOP ISRAELI WAR CRIMES - SUPPORT PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS

The Green Party USA has been advocating a boycott of Israel, today at least support this vigil.


STOP ISRAELI WAR CRIMES - SUPPORT PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS
>
> Vigil in Parliament Square Friday 30 th June 2006 5:30 - 7pm.
>
> The Israeli government have amassed troops on the outskirts of Gaza and
> are
> moving into Rafah, threatening invasion to rescue one Israeli soldier
> taken
> hostage on Sunday 25th June.
>
> There are currently 300 Palestinian children (under 18's) and 100
> Palestinian women being held hostages in Israeli prisons. They are among
> over 9,000 Palestinians being held, many of whom are in administrative
> detention - i.e. without trial or charges. However Israeli leader Ehud
> Olmert says negotiations 'are not on the agenda'.
>
> The Israeli army have killed 50 Palestinians since the beginning of this
> month. Any invasion will inevitably lead to many more Palestinians
> casualties. Since last night the Israeli army has destroyed the
> electricity
> supplies of over half of the Gaza Strip and is tightening its closure and
> strangulation of the area, thus committing an illegal act of collective
> punishment on the Palestinian Population. The situation is sure to get
> worse as Israeli tanks move into densely populated civilian areas, that
> have already suffered heavily from several months of daily shelling and
> closures.
>
> The PSC is calling for a vigil against Israeli War Crimes and in support
> of
> Palestinian Human Rights this Friday (30th June) from 5:30 to 7pm in
> Parliament Square. We call on all supporters of Palestine to make their
> presence known in this current emergency.
>
> We would also like to ask you to please contact you MPs and ask them to
> protest at the attack on Gaza, to ask questions in Parliament and to the
> Foreign Office. The FO can be contacted directly too, as the actions of
> the
> Israeli State contravene International Law and the UK must stop these war
> crimes from happening.
>
> For your MP:
> http://www.upmystreet.com/commons/l/
> and: 0207 219 3000
>
> Foreign and Commonwealth Office
> King Charles Street London SW1A 2AH
> Tel: 020 7008 1500
> Fax: 020 7008 2144
>
> ******************************************
> ********************************************************
>
> IMPORTANT: PLEASE FORWARD THIS WIDELY!!
>
> SIGN THE PETITION ONLINE NOW:
> http://www.palestinecampaign.org/petition.asp
>
> Stop starving the Palestinians!
>
> To the Prime Minister, 10 Downing Street:
>
> We note that the decision of the European Union and the United States to
> withhold funding to the Palestinian Authority together with the Israeli
> government's regular closure of trade routes in and out of Gaza gravely
> threatens the health and well-being of the Palestinian people. Poverty and
> malnutrition have increased, and Palestinians have died as a result of a
> blockade on medical supplies. We note that this decision was taken
> following the elections in Palestine which were declared free and fair by
> international observers. The Palestinian people are being punished for
> exercising their democratic right to choose their own representatives. We
> oppose this act of collective punishment against the already impoverished
> Palestinian people in contravention of international human rights
> conventions. We call upon the government to :
>
> * Demand the immediate reinstatement of all funding, as well as for the
> return of the withheld revenues collected by the Israeli government which
> belong to the Palestinian people.
> * Recognise Palestinian democracy.
> * Ensure Israel abides by international law, including a complete
> withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
>
> http://www.palestinecampaign.org/petition.asp
>
> Sign the Online Petition Now!! And Please Forward it Widely!
>
> ******************************************
> EDM 2041- SUSPENSION OF EU AID TO PALESTINE
>
> EDM 2041 on the suspension of aid to Palestine has 90 signatures. Please
> make sure you circulate the information and get your MP to sign it. Please
> visit this website to find out if your MP has signed EDM 2041:
>
http://edmi.parliament.uk/edmi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=30539%09%09%09%09%09%09%09&SESSION=875
>
> Corbyn, Jeremy
>
> That this House notes the decision of the European Union to withhold
> funding to the Palestinian Authority; recognises that this decision,
> together with both the Israeli government's regular closure of trade
> routes
> in and out of Gaza, and similar funding decisions taken by the United
> States, Japanese and Canadian governments gravely threatens the health and
> well-being of the Palestinian people, and quite possibly the jobs of
> approximately 150,000 Palestinian employees who have in total an estimated
> seven dependants per employee; expresses its opposition to this act of
> collective punishment against the already impoverished Palestinian people
> in contravention of international human rights conventions; and calls upon
> Her Majesty's Government to work with EU and national governments for the
> immediate reinstatement of funding, as well as for the return of the
> withheld revenues collected by the Israeli government which belong to the
> Palestinian people.
>
> ********************************************
> For a full list of events, news and protests about Palestine in the UK
> please visit:
>
> www.palestinecampaign.org
>
> ******************************************
>
> Palestine Solidarity Campaign
> info@palestinecampaign.org
> www.palestinecampaign.org
> Tel: 020 7700 6192
>
>
>
>

28 Jun 2006

Off with their heads

Well may be not, he says in a green non violent way but lets get rid of our head of state, democracy is a sham if we have these characters who claimed to be descended from the norse gods in charge, I live in Windsor (and was a republican election candidate in 2005) so I say, Elizabeth let your people go....the monarchy enclosed the state in Saxon times, lets get back to democracy and while you are about it, can have the Windsor Great Park back as well.

Queen's finances not transparent

Republic calls for greater accountability

London – 28 June 2006

Human rights campaigner and long-time republican Peter Tatchell today
called for "greater transparency and accountability concerning the
Queen's wealth and taxation."

Mr Tatchell was one of a group of members of Republic (the Campaign
for an elected Head of State) who protested outside Buckingham Palace
this morning at 11am, as the announcement was made on the Queen's
finances.

"The number one argument for a republic is that monarchy is
incompatible with democracy. An unelected Head of State is an affront
to democratic values.

"The mysteries of the Royal finances are symptomatic of the monarchy's
lack of openess and accountability.

"The Queen’s personal wealth is shrouded in secrecy. There is little
disclosure. We don’t know how much she is worth and on how much of her
wealth she pays tax.

"The public is not permitted to know the rate of tax she pays because
it is the subject of a private agreement, made with John Major's
government in 1992. Under this agreement, the Queen is allowed to pay
whatever level of tax she deems to be appropriate. No other person is
given these privileged exemptions from the standard tax rules.

"We are not allowed to know whether she is paying tax on all of her
wealth or only part of it.

"Until we get full transparency concerning the Queen's finances, there
will always be doubt as to whether her contribution to the exchequer
is fair and above board," he said.

A green peer to peer bank?

Credit and banking are a big deal, the way that most aspects of life are turned into financial instruments is of course very very dangerous. The Yangtse dolphins are becoming extinct because of your pension! Pensions are based largely on shares and other financial instruments, thus if share values grow we have cash in old age. This means that environmental and social considerations come second or fourth compared to the growth of financial value. We obviously need an economy that disarms finance and halts financialisation…its all gambling, you may lose your shirt, gain a suit or kill the planet.

Banking is a big issue, currency cranks point correctly to the fact that banks create money but simply printing lots of money at the level of the ‘community’ might not act as an alternative, it might fuel inflation cos money creation is about confidence.

Green party policies are aimed at promoting small scale community banks, building societies and credit unions are mutual non profit providers of cash.

Monetary policy
EC660 In a Green society the informal sector will eventually gain in significance so that formal transactions and money generally will have a lesser role than at present. There is however no reason why a financial system cannot be made to work in the interests of the community. Practical decentralisation of banking and monetary policy will therefore be linked with a programme of political devolution.
EC661 The emphasis in monetary policy will be to control and redirect the creation of money towards socially and environmentally sound areas of the economy, and away from unsustainable and consumption-driven areas.
EC662 The current banking system enables commercial banks and financial institutions to exert an unacceptably large influence on the economy as a whole. These commercial banking institutions work to a purely commercial agenda in which the desirability of making loans is assessed only in terms of its financial viability to the lenders.
EC663 The banking system should be largely brought under democratic control, preferably at a local level. This will allow the process to work in the best interests of the community as a whole, rather than principally in the interests of commercial banks and their shareholders.
EC664 The Bank of England will continue to be the institution for the regulation of the national currency and the setting of base interest rates. However, it will not focus on narrow economic indicators such as the rate of inflation, but instead will take a broader view on the impact of its decisions on the economy as a whole. Final decisions on the setting of base interest rates will be made by a democratically accountable committee made up of representatives selected from the different regions of the country.
EC665 In order to help bring about the democratisation of the banking system, and in pursuit of our policies to support the growth of local economies, a network of local Community Banks will be established. These will be democratically accountable non-profit-making trusts, which will be able to provide low-cost finance both at district and regional levels. Any operating surplus arising from these Community Banks will be reinvested in their local communities. Community Banks will be empowered to create credit in the same way that commercial banks currently do, and will be given favourable conditions for doing so by the central bank. They will also be able to create their own local currencies, to operate alongside the national currency, where this is supported by the local community.
EC666 In order to bring about a more socially equitable society, it is important that poorer citizens have access to affordable credit, which can give them an opportunity to increase their basic living standards. Alongside Community Banks, measures to help facilitate this will include the promotion and support of credit unions and micro-credit schemes in which small groups of people cooperate to provide guaranteed small loans to each other.


I bank with smile the internet arm of the cooperative bank (part of the socialist cooperative formed by the Rochdale pioneers in the 1830s) but it still operates within the market and while more ethical than the nasty high street banks, still invests in things which are environmentally damaging and socially unjust. The Ecology Building Society and Tridos bank are green banking alternatives.

An open source banking alternative is ZOPA, which puts lenders and borrowers together and cuts out the profit bank element. http://www.zopa.com/ZopaWeb/

Zopa is a peer to peer financial institution, a kind of napster bank, although it does not give out free money…be interesting to see whether it grows, I guess it has the potential to be very big. In the US zopa is know as prosper, here are some green party banking policies not out their radical but in the right direction and practical



Monetary policy
EC660 In a Green society the informal sector will eventually gain in significance so that formal transactions and money generally will have a lesser role than at present. There is however no reason why a financial system cannot be made to work in the interests of the community. Practical decentralisation of banking and monetary policy will therefore be linked with a programme of political devolution.
EC661 The emphasis in monetary policy will be to control and redirect the creation of money towards socially and environmentally sound areas of the economy, and away from unsustainable and consumption-driven areas.
EC662 The current banking system enables commercial banks and financial institutions to exert an unacceptably large influence on the economy as a whole. These commercial banking institutions work to a purely commercial agenda in which the desirability of making loans is assessed only in terms of its financial viability to the lenders.
EC663 The banking system should be largely brought under democratic control, preferably at a local level. This will allow the process to work in the best interests of the community as a whole, rather than principally in the interests of commercial banks and their shareholders.
EC664 The Bank of England will continue to be the institution for the regulation of the national currency and the setting of base interest rates. However, it will not focus on narrow economic indicators such as the rate of inflation, but instead will take a broader view on the impact of its decisions on the economy as a whole. Final decisions on the setting of base interest rates will be made by a democratically accountable committee made up of representatives selected from the different regions of the country.
EC665 In order to help bring about the democratisation of the banking system, and in pursuit of our policies to support the growth of local economies, a network of local Community Banks will be established. These will be democratically accountable non-profit-making trusts, which will be able to provide low-cost finance both at district and regional levels. Any operating surplus arising from these Community Banks will be reinvested in their local communities. Community Banks will be empowered to create credit in the same way that commercial banks currently do, and will be given favourable conditions for doing so by the central bank. They will also be able to create their own local currencies, to operate alongside the national currency, where this is supported by the local community.
EC666 In order to bring about a more socially equitable society, it is important that poorer citizens have access to affordable credit, which can give them an opportunity to increase their basic living standards. Alongside Community Banks, measures to help facilitate this will include the promotion and support of credit unions and micro-credit schemes in which small groups of people cooperate to provide guaranteed small loans to each other.

27 Jun 2006

Walmart whale killers

Hope you are all organising some solidarity for the ASDA depot workers, this is from Corporate Watch's big report on their Walmart owners, who amongst other things in 2002 bought a big stake in the Japanese supermarket chain who sell whale products.

Have also pasted in this interesting report from Socialist Worker (I am not a fan of their politics but this is good reportage) about the industrial action latest news on action

Supporting whale slaughter

In 2002, Wal-Mart purchased a 37% stake in Seiyu, Ltd., one of Japan's leading supermarket chains. Seiyu, Ltd. is a major distributor of whale, dolphin and porpoise (cetacean) products. Wal-Mart and Seiyu are intimately connected through corporate governance. Five of Wal-Mart’s key executives sit on the Seiyu Board of Directors, including the President and Executive Vice President of Wal-Mart's International Division.

Seiyu Ltd is one of the companies currently under international pressure from groups such as Greenpeace and the Environmental Investigation Agency to stop selling cetacean meat in their stores. The animals are killed barbarically and often illegally. The Japanese government has an alleged 'scientific whaling' policy; however, almost all the carcasses from this so-called research miraculously end up on supermarket shelves.

For more detailed info on this see the Corporate Watch Tesco profile, also Greenpeace and EIA websites which have lots of facts around the issue of whaling and some campaign ideas.88

1 July 2006 | issue 2007


Socialist Worker 2007, 1 July 2006 (www.socialistworker.co.uk)
http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/article.php?article_id=9147

News

Workers ready to take on Asda
Simon Basketter

Thousands of workers are in a battle for union rights with the world’s largest retailer. The dispute pits a multinational firm against low paid workers and their union. The workers deserve the backing of everyone who is sick of the domination of food supply by huge corporations.

The workers – members of the GMB union – were set to to hold a five day strike from Friday at the delivery depots of the supermarket Asda.

The company is using the anti-union laws to attempt to hold off the action. As Socialist Worker went to press, the supermarket was due to apply for an injunction to stop workers from walking out on Friday, claiming that there were irregularities in the strike vote.

The GMB sent out 5,347 ballot papers, with 57 per cent of its members taking part in the voting. They backed strikes by 2,209 to 771, while action short of a strike was supported by 2,483 votes to 487.

Asda’s case is that allegedly there are 160 people who were wrongly included in or excluded from the ballot. Even if this were true, it could not have affected the result of the vote.

During the ballot for action, shop stewards accused Asda of bullying tactics. These included putting CDs in drivers’ cabs urging them to vote against the strike, making lorry drivers go for interviews with senior management to persuade them not to strike and writing to workers’ families warning them against strike action.

One shop steward was briefly suspended by the company for flying an England flag with “vote yes” written on it.

The strike is due to affect 20 distribution depots including Bedford, Chepstow, Dartford, Didcot, Erith, Falkirk, Grangemouth, Ince George in Wigan, Lymedale in Staffordshire, Lutterworth in Leicestershire, Portbury in Bristol, Skelmersdale, Teesport, ADC Wigan, Wakefield and Washington.

Paul Kenny, the GMB’s general secretary, said, “GMB members in the 20 Asda distribution depots have spoken. They have voted by three to one to take strike action despite all of the company’s attempts to dissuade or intimidate them to vote no. GMB members have been subjected to unprecedented interference and propaganda by Asda.

“GMB members tell us that the company is gearing up and may illegally attempt to use agency labour to do our members’ jobs.

“Doing this during an official trade dispute is illegal. Any attempt by outside agencies to interfere or undermine this lawful industrial action by GMB members will be responded to with full vigour.”

Workers believe the company, owned by the US company Wal-Mart, will seek to break the strike. Asda told the Guardian the company had been recruiting a significant number of staff but attributed this to an upsurge in trading brought on by the World Cup and the sunny weather.

Asda plans to bus staff into work during the strike, claiming to the Sunday Times that it is in an effort to protect the identity of those who cross picket lines.

The union is calling for the establishment of proper national bargaining structures between the company and the GMB covering pay, conditions and union facilities in all 20 Asda distribution depots.

The workers are also campaigning for outstanding bonus payments from 2005 and fighting against higher workloads for depot staff.

At the current 1,100 pick rate each worker shifts between two and 10 tonnes of product each day – about the weight of five cars. Asda has attempted to increase this to 1,400 each day.

After the five day strike workers will then begin a ban on overtime and a work to rule aimed at stopping the company’s attempts to recover from the walkout.

GMB Swindon organiser Kevin Brandstatter was at the shop stewards meeting that called the strike. He said, “It was a very, very determined meeting. The shop stewards voted unanimously.

“Asda don’t have much room for fresh and frozen produce. The strike is for five days so people will notice they haven’t got much food in.”

One Washington Asda depot worker said, “Taking five days action is not something the shop stewards have taken lightly. They feel very strongly about this. Asda say they are a family, caring company, but I haven’t seen that side.”


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Wal-Mart’s record
Asda is owned by Wal-Mart, the infamous US multinational. Wal-Mart is the largest US private sector employer with more than 1.3 million workers.

Wal-Mart is the world’s largest retailer, and made profits of £5.5 billion in 2004. It has kept unions out of stores in the US.

Last year in Canada, when workers at one outlet successfully formed a union, Wal-Mart closed the store.

Lee Scott, the Wal-Mart president, got $17.5 million in 2004, while four of the ten richest people in the world come from the Walton family, heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune.

The US National Labour Committee found workers for Wal-Mart suppliers in China’s Guangdong province working 130 hours per week for an average of 16.5 cents an hour.

In 2004 year the US retail group paid $77,000 to settle charges of 24 child labour violations in the US. The same year an internal audit found 1,370 similar problems and in 2000 it paid $206,650 to resolve similar charges.

The GMB union sponsors over 100 Labour MPs, yet the government upholds the anti?union laws that Asda’s bosses are trying to use to stop the strike.

In February Asda was fined £850,000 at an employment tribunal. Asda had brought the PR company Portland into its depot in Washington, Tyne and Wear, to draw up anti-GMB leaflets before a ballot on union rights.

Staff were sent literature described in the tribunal judgement as “very hostile to trade unions and highly disparaging of the collective bargaining process”.

Portland was founded by Tim Allan, a former New Labour spin doctor who worked for Tony Blair for six years in the 1990s, including a year as Alistair Campbell’s deputy in Downing Street.

The tribunal found the supermarket chain guilty of promising 340 distribution staff a 10 percent pay rise if they agreed to give up the collective bargaining right negotiated by their union. This action is illegal under 1992 labour relations law.

© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original and leave this notice in place.

original here!

26 Jun 2006

Greenspeak tomorrow in Brighton

SPADE TO SPOON: LOCALISING OUR FOOD SYSTEM

‘ Exploring the elements of food production....How and where our food is grown, how it is delivered to our shops, schools, hospitals and work canteens, what we eat and where the waste generated by the food system ends up.’

Tuesday 4th July 2006 - Terraces Bar & Grill, Marine Parade (close to Sea Life Centre), Brighton
7.15 pm £Donation
... ... ...



Speakers

· Claire Devereux of Brighton & Hove Food Partnership
· Miles Denyer of Hankham Organics
· Erica Adler, Cookery Development Worker, Brighton and Hove City Primary Care Trust

Greenspeak is a monthly event that aims to encourage debate and inspire change and positive action. It is a sociable non-smoking evening with food and drinks available. Speakers give their time freely and the event is put together by volunteers. We ask for donations on the night to help cover costs. www.greenspeak-brighton.org.uk

Greenspeak will be taking its summer holiday in August. We'll be back on Tuesday 12th September.

thanks....see you there?


Martin & Kat x

07891 571739 / 07958 964810

Details of events: www.greenspeak-brighton.org.uk / www.brightonandhovegreenparty.org.uk

You may also want to check out the excellent Cafe Scientifique, also at Terraces Bar & Grill, 3rd Tuesday of every month. www.cafe-scientifique-brighton.org.uk

Any ideas for future topics? Know any good speakers? Feedback? Want to put up some posters? Want to get involved? Want to unsubscribe? Let us know - martin@greenspeak-brighton.org.uk
Organised in association with the Brighton & Hove Green Party www.brightonandhovegreenparty.org.uk

Greening the NHS

The Green Party of England and Wales has excellent health policies, based on a holistic approach showing that social justice and sound environment create health.

this is from the Manifesto for a Sustainable sociey

H100 Health is the condition in which individuals and communities achieve their full physical, intellectual, social and spiritual potential. Health for individuals is only possible in the context of a healthy environment and society. The healthy society is one which guarantees a safe and clean environment; material security for all its citizens; good work; adequate housing; a balanced and unpolluted diet and clean water; appropriate education; a safe transport system; accessible and sensitive public services; equality of opportunity; a secure present and hope for the future. All Green Party policies are designed to promote the health of individuals, communities and society.

GPEW of course opposes the creeping marketization of the National Health Service.


A forgotten reason for the crisis in the NHS is the massive drugs bill, fuelled by private pharmaceutical companies that use patents to maintain a monopoly. This is a scandal that is ignored by the media.

The Guardian at least today has a good piece on the dangers of these companies, love to see the 'Pro Test' people have a go at the excesses of the big pharm companies, they to me seem like a very good example of where capitalism is disfunctional both to bunnies and human beings.see Drug firms a danger to health - report




£33 billion on marketing drugs! Ecosocialist health care is an alternative, again Cuba is great with a more effecient health service than capitalist nations

Global Snapshots: Cuba - a triumph of public healththis is from Student British medical journal

Global Snapshots: Cuba - a triumph of public health
The James Bond film Die Another Day once again brought the eminence of Cuba's healthcare system into the spotlight. The prestigious fictional Cuban clinic featured in the film is depicted as executing groundbreaking gene therapy. Fiction, yes, but just how close is this to the truth? Cuba, many believe, has accomplished mission impossible. Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, its prime financier, and the stringent restrictions of a US embargo, Cuba has triumphed: While Cuba's primary health care lacks equipment that British general practitioners take for granted and spends a fraction of the UK budget on health, it has health indicators equal to those of Europe.1

Obviously, there is more to Cuba's health than cigars. The constitution guarantees free medical treatment and preventive care, including prescriptions and vaccines.2 According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-governmental organisation that evaluated Cuba's healthcare system in 2000-1, Cuba is a shining example of the power of public health to transform the health of an entire country by a commitment to prevention and by careful management of its medical resources.3

But Cuba's health struggles are not all a success. Many medicines--even those once produced by the country's prestigious pharmaceutical industry--are almost unobtainable because their components are on the US embargo list.2 The system of quarantining HIV positive and AIDS patients has also sacrificed human rights in the guise of public good. Before 1993, the government isolated patients infected with HIV, allowing them to leave sanatoriums only with escorts.4



AP/JOSE GOITIA
Now Mécdecins Sans Frontiéres has joined forces with the government to implement a new policy promoting public awareness, availability, access to condoms, and treatment with essential drugs. The cooperation of the government with international aid agencies regarding AIDS arose when healthcare workers realised that Cuba cannot afford to quarantine everyone infected with HIV.4 Despite these advances in social recognition only slightly more than half of the people infected can get the drugs they need, and of those who do, many get them from friends and relatives from other countries.3

Cuban expenditure on health, as a percentage of gross domestic product, is higher than any country in the hemisphere except for Canada and 34% higher than the United States.5 Cuba's health policy has been characterised as a dual policy of equity and priority for vulnerable groups.6 Although the country's health policy is less than faultless, important lessons remain to be learned. Despite tremendous scarcity, the country has managed to achieve enviable health indicators through a focus on primary health care. Perhaps necessity is the mother of invention after all.



Charlotte Chamberlain, medical student intercalating in international health, University College London
Email: email


studentBMJ 2003;11:131-174 May ISSN 0966-6494


London Library and Information Development Unit. Meeting healthcare librarians in Cuba. www.londonlinks.ac.uk/rliu/northcirc/issue25/cuba.htm (accessed 8 Apr 2003).
Roberts D. The US attack on Cuban health. www.coha.org/opeds/cuba_healthcare.htm (accessed 9 Apr 2003).
Essif M. Health care in Cuba. Kaiser Family Foundation, 21 April-2 May 2001. www.kff.org/docs/fellowships/essifcubareport.html (accessed 7 Apr 2003).
Darling J. New day for AIDS policy in Cuba. The nation which has quarantined people with HIV, is now allowing an international group to design a public health campaign to prevent virus spread. Los Angeles Times July 24, 1997. http://www.aegis.com/news/lt/1997/lt970706.html (accessed 9 Apr 2003).
Kirkpatrick AF. The US attack on Cuban health. CMAJ 1997;157:281-4.
Garfied R, Santana S. The impact of the economic crisis and the US embargo on health in Cuba. Am J Public Health 1997;87:15-9.

25 Jun 2006

Whose Common Future

This has been posted on the Green Left list, join the Green Party and get involved with us!

By clicking on the title above you can read the whole of Whose Common Future....its essential, please take the time....


I wanted to flag up Whose Common Future for a couple of reasons. First, there is a distinct body of ecosocialist literature with I think very important ideas, simply being against injustice or for the environment is not enough. WCF is a good look at what is wrong with both the market and the state, suggesting an economic alternative to both....a lot of literature from progressives tends to look to small scale markets, or reject the WAshington consensus for Keynesian reforms or speak for a bit more state intervention....we need instead to defend, extend and deepen the commons.

Second, while WCF has to my mind the essentials of ecosocialism, it is pretty user friendly for getting these ideas over to non socialists and of course, for getting non green socialist thinking.

Third, I am trying to respond to Lawrie's request for holiday reading! We should be trying to get good stuff into libraries (I have an interest here as an author!)


WCF is a green response to the Rio conference, suggesting decentralised commons as the solution to ecological ills, it pulls together justice, self management, equality, etc.

It was originally a special issue of the Ecologist vol.22, no.4 July/August 1992 and was republished by Earthscan....it is sophisticated but easy to read, fairly short and has lots of nice photos....a good introduction to ideas.

Incidentally I was turned on to ecosocialism (in 1981) by Andre Gorz 'Ecology as Politics', Rudolf Bahro 'Socialism and Survival'....although both are a bit suspect Bahro moved into mysticism and the Bagwam Shree Rajsneesh (the guy with 30 rolls royces) and Gorz famously wrote 'Farewell to the Working Class' which I still see as a bit premature.

There was a lot of very good literature produced by SERA the socialist environment and resources association before they got captured by new labour, (incidentally Nick Hildyard of Cornerhouse who edited WCF split with the Ecologist over Teddy Goldsmiths right wing Malthusian views)

I especially remember 'Ecology and Socialism' by the great literary critic and academic Raymond Williams.....

Bookchin, although on a personal level a very sectarian and grumpy guy, has written a lot of essential stuff. He doesn't like socialists, Green Parties (who contest elections above the muncipal level), pagans....or as far as I can see non Bookchinites

Here is my stuff from Babylon on commons

Defend, extend, deepen the commons
However, while state provision can be humanised and markets tamed by the social, the more fundamental task requires that both the state and the market are rolled back. The commons provides an important alternative to both. The anti-capitalist slogan above all others should be ‘defend, extend, and deepen the commons’.
The commons is important because it provides a way of regulating activity without the state or the market. The market, despite the assumptions of some anti-capitalists like David Korten, is icenine with a tendency to constantly expand. It is built on enclosure. The state, even at its best, tends to separate society from self-government. The commons has throughout history been the dominant form of regulation providing an alternative almost universally ignored by economists who are reluctant to admit that substitutes to the market and the state even exist. Within the commons, scarcity, if it exists, is usually managed and resources conserved through stinting systems arranged by users.
The commons works best by consensus and does not, unlike market based exchange systems, depend upon constant growth. It provides shared access to important resources so that human needs can be met with potential equity. Anti-capitalist globalisation could be labelled, positively as the movement for the commons. Where anti-capitalists lose, the neo-liberals will constantly advance. Their demands are unlimited because capitalism to survive needs constant commodification. Capitalism seeks to extend commodification, the movement resists by conserving the commons. In South America and South Africa grassroots protest seeks to prevent water being privatised. In cyberspace downloaders, hackers and open source designers seek to maintain free access. Greens and subsistence ecofeminists preserve communal land from private corporations.
Yesterday’s satire will describe tomorrow’s struggle:
Say we wake up one morning and discover we’ll be getting a new bill each month for air. The Bush administration has decided to privatize the air; corporations will now own it and charge for its use.

Lawrence Lindsey, the White House economics advisor, hails the move as a ‘potent stimulus’ and a big boost for the GDP. Alan Greenspan offers assurances than any inflationary effects will be minor. The rest of us, meanwhile, would feel stunned, and violated in a way that would be hard to express. Pay for air? What gives them the right to do that? The air is ours, isn’t it? But what exactly would we mean by that?

The question is not fantasy. In recent decades, the market has been penetrating into realms previously thought off-limits. It is claiming every inch of physical and psychological space, from the outer reaches of the solar system to the most intimate interiors of daily experience. Billboards in the heavens, pharmaceutical manipulation of thoughts and moods - through genetic engineering, corporations even are claiming ownership to the genetic code of life itself. If life, then why not the air that sustains life. (Rowe 2002).
Some commons like demand little or no regulation, merely preservation from such corporate assaults, however there are numerous well documented accounts of commons regimes, where regulation occurs through local bargaining and shared use. In Canada the Ojibway Nation of Ontario still harvest wild rice from Wabigoon Lake using commons principles:
Violations of harvest allocations by machine harvesters are dealt with at community meetings: a recent case resulted in one machine harvester being denied harvest rights for the rest of one season. For each canoe harvest area, the community agrees upon ‘a field boss’ whose responsibilities are to regulate the harvest cycle according to custom, and to arbitrate in any disputes. Where harvesting rules are breached, the offender may be ‘grounded’, one person in a recent harvest being told to ‘relearn the Indian way by sitting on the shore and watching’. (Ecologist 1993: 127)
The Ecologist claims that while the commons has an old fashioned feel for many of us in Europe and North America it is a reality for the ‘vast majority of humanity’ (Ecologist 1992: 127). Ninety percent of inshore fisheries are regulated by commons. Depletion is a product of high tech hoovering by unregulated Japanese and European fleets keen to increase profit rather than more local abuse (Ecologist 1992: 127). In Maine, lobster fisheries have long been preserved by the commons, in Finland, many forests are communally regulated and in Switzerland, grazing is controlled by commoners to prevent ‘tragedy’ through over exploitation:
[in] Torbel in Switzerland, a village of some 600 people […] grazing lands, forests, ‘waste’ lands, irrigation systems and paths and roads connecting privately and communally owned property are all managed as commons. […] Under a regulation which dates back to 1517, which applies to many other Swiss mountain villages, no one can send more cows to the communal grazing areas than they can feed during the winter, a rule that is still enforced with a system of fines. (Ecologist 1992: 128)
The importance of the commons is noted, as we have seen by greens, autonomists, anarchists and many Marxists from Marx onwards. There is no space here to examine the encyclopaedic variety and success of commons regimes but work by scholars such as Ostrom (1991) can provide the basis for deepening the commons. The best anarchist experiments from the Spanish civil war to contemporary squatting are based on the reinvention of the commons. There has been a long war against the commons. The earliest poems of Robin Hood, long before the inclusion of Maid Marion and Friar Tuck, show a yeoman resisting enclosure. Where I live in the Windsor Forest, the British Royal Family privatised the land for hunting. E.P. Thompson in Whigs and Hunters recorded how ‘the blacks’ who darkened their faces before ‘poaching’ game and resisting the royals, fought gun battles in Winkfield and Wokingham parishes (Thompson 1977). A few miles away at St Georges Hill, the Diggers briefly established a communal farm in 1649 (Brockway 1980). Wherever you live there will, if you dig deep enough, have been a struggle between commoners and the monopolising state or market for control.
A review written with the late Walt Sheasby puts these struggles in context:
Communes formed more or less briefly under the maverick Wyclifite John Ball in Kent, England, in 1381-82; the Hussite Jan Zizka in Tabor, Bohemia, in 1420-24; the
Anabaptists Thomas Muenzer of Muelhausen, Thuringia, in 1524-25, Jacob Hutter in Moravia in 1526-36, Bernard Rothmann in Muenster in 1533-35; and the Quaker layman Gerard Winstanley of the Diggers in Surrey, England, in 1649. A recurrent theme in various European locales over hundreds of years was the attempt to reclaim the 'commons.'

The Taborite communism that sprang up briefly in Bohemia in the 1420s proclaimed: 'As in the city of Tabor there is no ‘mine’ and no ‘yours’ but all is in common, the like it shall be everywhere and nobody shall have a special property, and those who have such property commits a mortal sin.' The Hutterites likewise proclaimed, 'Private property is the enemy of love.' John Ball supposedly preached that 'Things cannot go well in England, nor ever will, until everything shall be in common' (Wall and Sheasby 2002: 160)
While we should be cautious about the balance between religious and political radicalism such accounts provide important evidence of an everlasting struggle. In the third millennium hackers and open source coders strive to conserve the cyber commons. From land reform to anti-privatisation campaigns, commons can be preserved or restored. Some of Naomi Klein’s best insights come from her identification of how corporations have invaded public space, for example, saturating the environment with bill boards and using schools to sell fast food.

24 Jun 2006

third camp ecosocialism

well on to lazy blog...its hot here, hotter still where my friend Pablo has mailed from (see below)...do look at his Venezuela blog...very informative.


neither islamphobia nor Salifism but the sufis ....most muslims globally and UK are sufis Barelwi, on the whole sufism is I think a 'good thing' traditionally tolerant, green, based on sheikhs, saints and some impressive culture, particularly music, the ex boxer Muhammed Ali is ofcourse a sufi and via sufism interested in zen.

The SWP/IS used to say, when the soviet union existed and Islam was for them at least not an issue, 'neither Washington nor Moscow'.....third campism, does not really leave a camp to support, now a socialist ecological world is not what we have, there will be a break, a revolution if you like, the world that we want is different to the one we have, it isn't about a few reforms.


Nonetheless there are some actually existing third camps to support, Venezuela is one...there environmental ills, the coal mines in the North, pollution from oil, the gold mines, the fact that Venezuelan's love cars...nonetheless there is a green push, Chavez is one leader who says remarkably that an oil based economy is ecologically wrong and looks to an economy without it, the agriculture organic programme is good, there is a push to reduce car dependency. The forestry mission is encouraging...good article on CIA trying to topple Chavez in July's Red Pepper...

Cuba as well, the Alea films have opened my eyes to the fact that there is intelligent criticism from within the revolution, unfortunately I have never seen much of this from the likes of the SWP and most Lenninist groups over here....Cuba out of necessity has pushed along way towards an eco economy.

The Green Party of England and Wales, way more democratic and participatory than Cuba or really any other political entity I can think off, can we fault the sterling work of Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert, for trade unionist, asylum seekers, on gay rights, climate change, progressive islam, animal rights...we are very very lucky to have them, can you name a more progressive politician in the UK, well Alan Simpson, MP is very inspiring but is on the fringes of labour, our women MEPs provide leadership in a party without happily a leader.





Hi Pablo,

I will put this on my blog...life is good, tropical weather, planted more chillis and peppers with my sons and went for a walk in the woods, always fun because they are private property of Queen Elizabeth, met Chavez when he spoke in London, he spoke wonderfully ofcourse for three hours.

Have helped set up a socialist group Green Left in the Green Party (it has over half of the Party Exec including the Party Chair as supporters).

I will flag up your blog, I guess you are still on your island...how are things in Venezuela...Cesar is over soon, so I am keen to catch up with him.

Are you in UK any time....did you get your Phd I guess you did?

yours for ecosocialismo o muerte,

Derek


>From: "Pablo Navarrete"
>To: wallddd hotmail.com
>Subject: article on new environment 'mision'
>Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2006 20:22:20 -0400
>
>Hi Derek
>
>Hope all is well. I thought you might be interested in this:
>
>*Misión Arbol: Reforesting Venezuela*
>http://redpepper.blogs.com/venezuela/2006/06/misin_arbol_ref.html#more
>
>Regards
>
>Pablo

23 Jun 2006

Greens support Asda walmart strike

'GMB MEMBERS IN ASDA WAL-MART TO STRIKE FOR 5 DAYS FROM JUNE 30TH TO 4TH JULY (INDEPENDENCE DAY)
Members of the GMB have called a strike at ASDA wallmart distribution depots, the Green Left and the Green Party Trade Union Group are supporting them. In a green society environmentally friendly healthy food would be produced and distributed by a patchwork of small farmers, permaculture, mutuals and cooperatives. This is the second recent industrial action we have supported, university lecturers action was my recent taste of union action, thanks for the support Green Party of England and Wales.

'GMB Shop Stewards National Council agree programme of industrial action including an initial period of 5 consecutive days strike to be followed by comprehensive further industrial action

GMB Shop Stewards National Council meeting in Manchester today agreed a comprehensive programme of industrial action in Asda Wal-Mart's 20 distribution depots to secure their objectives. From 00.01 Friday 30th June until 23.59 Tuesday 4th July (Independence Day) there will be a complete withdrawal of labour by all GMB members in all Asda Wal-Mart depots. This will be followed by a further comprehensive programme of industrial action.' from GMB

Supermarkets commit a range of ills, Walmart is a good example, they make huge profits by pushing down costs...typically they reject unions and many of their US workers are in receipt of social benefits, they have massive power to cut the payments that are made to farmers...in the US they have driven out mom and pop stores. There is a great review of a recent detailed book on them in the


LRB.
Lanchester notes in the article
'Wal-Mart is, it almost goes without saying, fanatically anti-union. As one union organiser says in the film, it is ‘one of the most anti, if not the most aggressively anti-union company in the entire history of the United States’ – which is really saying something. The company goes to all the usual lengths to try and keep unions out of its stores: one favourite tactic is, the instant union activity begins in a store, immediately announcing a freeze on all pay rises, saying, ‘we can’t give anyone in this store a pay rise because we can’t be seen to be giving in to bribery.’ Just as unadmirable, but slightly harder to understand, is the alleged institutional bias against women that has caused the company to be the subject of the huge class-action lawsuit mentioned above. It is characteristic of Wal-Mart that, having been made the subject of the lawsuit, the corporation is tackling it in the most aggressive way possible, by arguing that the class-action suit violates its legal rights. Specifically, Wal-Mart claims that the suit violates its right to argue every single case on its specific merits; it says it should have the right to contest every lawsuit separately on a store-by-store basis. This would, obviously, overturn the principle on which class-action lawsuits are built. This won’t succeed in the Ninth Circuit of the US federal court system, but Wal-Mart are very clearly heading for the Supreme Court, with its shiny new ultra-conservative bias. A ruling in favour of Wal-Mart would effectively make all corporations immune from class-action lawsuits. Watch this space.'

The Waltons are perhaps the richest family on the planet, rich on the work of their workers and producers, surprisingly perhaps their is evidence that they lower the living standards of areas where they are strongest.

Have a look at the GMB ASDA workers website for solidarity ideas. www.gmbinasda.unionweb.co.uk

One day no Asda Walmart...but for today lets support their workers

In 2005 according to Forbes the Walton family who own Asda Walmart had a net worth of $80 billion, the richest family in the world, equal to approx 400 million of the world's inhabitants!



Three families – Bill Gates, the Sultan of Brunei and the Walton family (which owns US retail chain Wal-Mart) – have a combined wealth of $135 billion. This equals the annual income of 600 million people living in the world’s poorest countries.

New Internationalist

No. 6 Christy Walton
Net worth $15.7 billion (new)
Source: Retailing, Wal-Mart inheritance
Inherited
Age: 50
Marital status: widowed, one child
Hometown: Jackson, Wyo.
Education:
Widow of John Walton, Wal-Mart heir who died when his ultralight aircraft crashed in late June. Vietnam vet was director of company, focused on improving education system, helped more than 67,000 children attend private schools through Children's Scholarship Fund. Wal-Mart stake believed to be inherited by wife, Christy, and son, Luke. Fortune created by Sam Walton (d. 1992), J.C. Penney clerk who opened first discount store in Rogers, Ark. 1962. Took Wal-Mart public 1970. Spectacular growth since, but stock down 15% this year on shrinking profits. Wal-Mart still world's largest retailer: more than 5,100 stores serving 138 million customers per week. Sales: $285 billion. Family controls 40% of Wal-Mart. Rob serves as chairman; his other siblings not active in company. Christy Walton profile

No. 6 Jim Walton
Net worth $15.7 billion (down)
Source: Retailing, Wal-Mart
Inherited
Age: 57
Marital status: married, four children
Hometown: Bentonville, Ark.
Education:
Son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton mourning loss of brother son, John, who died when his ultralight aircraft crashed in late June. Fortune created by Sam Walton (d. 1992), J.C. Penney clerk who opened first discount store in Rogers, Ark. 1962. Took Wal-Mart public 1970. Spectacular growth since, but stock down 15% this year on shrinking profits. Wal-Mart still world's largest retailer: more than 5,100 stores serving 138 million customers per week. Sales: $285 billion. Family controls 40% of Wal-Mart. Brother Rob serves as chairman; other siblings not active in company. Philanthropic giving through the Walton Family Foundation. Jim C. Walton profile

No. 8 S. Robson Walton
Net worth $15.6 billion (down)
Source: Retailing, Wal-Mart
Inherited
Age: 61
Marital status: divorced, three children, one divorce
Hometown: Bentonville, Ark.
Education: University of Arkansas, Bachelor of Arts / Science; Columbia University, Doctor of Jurisprudence
Brother of John Walton, who died when his ultralight aircraft crashed in late June. Fortune created by Sam Walton (d. 1992), J.C. Penney clerk who opened first discount store in Rogers, Ark. 1962. Took Wal-Mart public 1970. Spectacular growth since, but stock down 15% this year on shrinking profits. Wal-Mart still world's largest retailer: more than 5,100 stores serving 138 million customers per week. Sales: $285 billion. Family controls 40% of Wal-Mart. Rob serves as chairman; other siblings not active in company. Philanthropic giving through the Walton Family Foundation.Eldest son of Sam Walton (d. 1992), legendary merchant who opened first discount store in Rogers, Ark. in 1962. Took Wal-Mart public 1970; explosive growth. Wal-Mart now world's largest retailer, with more than 5,000 stores. Serves as Wal-Mart chairman. Retail giant now selling softer side after barrage of criticism over poor worker benefits, strong-arming suppliers. Family donates via Walton Family Foundation. S. Robson Walton profile

No. 9 Alice Walton
Net worth $15.5 billion (down)
Source: Retailing, Wal-Mart
Inherited
Age: 56
Marital status: divorced, two divorces
Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas
Education: Trinity University of San Antonio, Bachelor of Arts / Science
Sister of John Walton, who died when his ultralight aircraft crashed in late June. Fortune created by father Sam Walton (d. 1992), J.C. Penney clerk who opened first discount store in Rogers, Ark. 1962. Took Wal-Mart public 1970. Spectacular growth since, but stock down 15% this year on shrinking profits. Wal-Mart still world's largest retailer: more than 5,100 stores serving 138 million customers per week. Sales: $285 billion. Family controls 40% of Wal-Mart. Brother Rob serves as chairman; other siblings not active in company. Philanthropic giving through the Walton Family Foundation. Alice L. Walton profile

No. 10 Helen Walton
Net worth $15.4 billion (down)
Source: Retailing, Wal-Mart
Inherited
Age: 86
Marital status: widowed, four children
Hometown: Bentonville, Ark.
Education: University of Oklahoma, Bachelor of Arts / Science
Mother of John Walton, who died when his ultralight aircraft crashed in late June. Fortune created by husband Sam Walton (d. 1992), J.C. Penney clerk who opened first discount store in Rogers, Ark. 1962. Took Wal-Mart public 1970. Spectacular growth since, but stock down 15% this year on shrinking profits. Wal-Mart still world's largest retailer: more than 5,100 stores serving 138 million customers per week. Sales: $285 billion. Family controls 40% of Wal-Mart. Son Rob serves as chairman; other children not active in company. Philanthropic giving through the Walton Family Foundation.

see forbes rich list 2005!

22 Jun 2006

Greens in Norwich

Went to Norwich on tuesday and spoke to members of the local party who have 13 councillors, I think this makes them the largest green party councillor group in the country, 2 county, 1 parish, 9 city (well that's 12 but I am in the ball park), my talk on anti-capitalist economics was very well received.

Looked at why capitalism needs constant growth and why constant economic growth wrecks the environment.

flagged up the alienation of modern economics, that we human beings are tools for the economy, when economics should be a tool for us.

Outlined three principles of anti-capitalist economics

1) distinction between use values and exchange values

2) open source/anti-enclosure

3) creativity.

lot of local green left supporters including the philosophy lecturer and local councillor Rupert Read, who we stayed with.

Encouraging that the Party is picking up votes from Labour in at least Wensum ward which is good, given that working class labour support has been going to far right in some places.

Planning to rewrite my winning local election guide to help get more Greens elected and hopefully I will be talking to more local greens about the green left.

19 Jun 2006

Guantanamera (1995)

well off line, you know, children, work and dodgy pcs...off to talk to Norwich Green Party tomorrow tuesday 6pm in the city hall about three principles of anti-capitalist economics.

Watch and enjoyed Guantanamera (1995) last week Tomás Gutiérrez Alea last film,

Alea is the Cuban film director, famous for 'Death of a bureaucrat' 'strawberries and Chocolate' first gay themed Cuban film, consistently good and an antidote to Hollywood (don't they make rubbish films...I suppose a good dose of piracy will eventually cut them down to size).

As well as being very good entertainment, Alea is politically important, supportative of the Cuban revolution but very critical of its failings...he is very much an advocate of a creative, open source socialism and attacks the worst excess of bureaucratic method and statism...now interesting that criticism is tolerated even encouraged in Cuba, different to soviet union and may be even present USA!


“…cinema provides an active and mobilizing element, which stimulates participation in the revolutionary process. Then, it is not sufficient to have a moralizing cinema based on harangue and exhortation. We need a cinema that promotes and develops a critical attitude. But how to criticize and at the same time strengthen the reality in which we are immersed?” quote from Alea on wikipedia.

16 Jun 2006

Babylon and beyond

Well it's hay fever....so my article on Cuban cinema will have to wait, here is a review of Babylon to give you an idea to inspire you to order it for your library or buy it from Pluto Press.

yours

Derek



Canadian Journal of Sociology Online January-February 2006
Derek Wall.
Babylon and Beyond: The Economics of Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Globalist and Radical Green Movements.
Pluto Press, 2005, 232 pp.
$US 22.95 paper (0745323901), $US 80.00 hardcover (074532391X)

This book fits nicely within a developing literature on socio-political currents opposing globalized capitalism; indeed, it provides a useful guide to the field, cutting across the boundaries of disciplines and political ideologies in a wide-ranging survey of perspectives. Within his purview Wall includes the anti-capitalist capitalists — lapsed organic intellectuals of global capital such as Joseph Stiglitz and George Soros — whose alternatives amount to a bid to salvage market society via global Keynesianism, but the focus is on approaches emanating from without and from below. He canvasses the critiques of rampant corporate power offered by Naomi Klein, David Korten and others; the Marxist analysis of exploitation, capital accumulation, imperialism and recent globalization; the autonomist analysis of Empire and Multitude; the small-is-beautiful vision of green localism; and the more comprehensive ecosocialist project, to which Wall seems most sympathetic. There is even discussion of Major Douglas's 'social credit' alternative to domination by the banks, deftly joined to more recent ventures into monetary reform such as the Paris-based Association for the Taxation of Transactions and for Aid to Citizens (ATTAC) — advocates of the Tobin Tax on speculative financial transactions.

Wall addresses these various anti-capitalist currents in terms of three implicit thematics: the sociological, the theoretical and the practical, with an emphasis on the latter two. He offers accounts of the various elements of anti-capitalist movement activism that have provided social bases for alternative economics. He presents, in some depth, the theoretical critiques of capitalism that have issued from intellectuals (Marx, Keynes, Polanyi, Schumacher, Kovel, Foster, etc.) and from the movements themselves. He considers actual economic proposals for alternative arrangements, institutions and practices — ranging from state-centred reforms through community-centred initiatives (such as Local Exchange Trading Systems) to revolutionary transformation. Wall's treatment of this panoply of viewpoints and strategies is clear, fair, and occasionally humorous. A major strength lies in the serious treatment given to the radical green critique of globalism and the (eco)socialist critique of capital accumulation as an unsustainable and inequitable process. A prominent member of the Green Party, U.K., Wall has no axe to grind against either of these positions, and readers are invited to consider the virtues of each.

This is not to say that Babylon and Beyond lacks a critical edge regarding its subject. Three antinomies, introduced in the first chapter, help structure the subsequent discussion. Is globalization a ruse — a conspiracy promulgated by neo-liberal elites to legitimate corporate rule; or can the cold, detached concepts of political economy shed light on its actualities? Is economic growth sustainable in principle, or must modernist productivism give way to a green "primitivism"? Can the global economic system be reformed incrementally, or are the problems so severe as to demand sudden, even violent transformation? Wall sees some value in each polarity, but cautions against over-investment in any one of them. The conclusion takes stock and points ahead, noting that anti-capitalist protest can only take us so far. Ultimately, "solid, liveable alternatives to neo-liberal globalisation" are a political necessity (p. 172). The strategic image of the amphibian — "half in the dirty water of the present but seeking to move onto a new, unexplored territory" (p. 178) — figures heavily in Wall's final assessment of anti-capitalist alternatives. These include rolling back both market and bureaucratic state; fostering localism where ecologically appropriate but resisting the romantic regression to the pre-industrial; re-embedding markets in society (via cooperatives, innovative participatory mechanisms for popular decision-making and the like); defending anti-capitalist states, such as Venezuela and Cuba, which now promote decentralized eco-socialist economics; and reclaiming/protecting the commons, both physical and cybernetic, from capitalist enclosure.

This book is an engaging and rewarding read. In itself, it breaks no new ground, but offers a highly informative overview and an appealing political vision at the intersection of ecological and socialist thought. It would be an effective core text in courses on environmental sociology or political economy and a useful ancillary text in courses on social movements.

William K. Carroll

Sociology, University of Victoria

Email
William Carroll's book, Remaking Media: The Struggle to Democratize Public Communication (co-authored with Robert A. Hackett) will be published by Routledge in May, 2006. Carroll's current research program, "Mapping Global Corporate Power: A Network Analysis of Elite Social Organization, 1996-2006," is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. His book Corporate Power in a Globalizing World: A Study in Elite Social Organization was reviewed in CJS Online in 2004.

http://www.cjsonline.ca/reviews/babylon.html
January 2006
© Canadian Journal of Sociology Online

14 Jun 2006

Brighton to Guantanamo

Great meeting in Brighton yesterday, Miriam Kennet and I spoke on green economics to Greenspeak..by great I mean the audience (and Miriam, she is a force of nature, works really hard and has a big academic and networking project with the Green economics institute)! 50 people turned up to hear us when they could have watched Brazil vs Croatia for the world cup, lots of people spoke and made intelligent and critical comments. The message that much of conventional economics is a myth was heard loud and clear.

Kat and Martin from Greenspeak deserve thanks, Greens across the world please follow this example...controversial speakers and debates, a central bar venue, good publicity....we have to have dialogue and education as well as winning elections.

Well lots of speaking engagements over the last couple of weeks...falling off a bit now for summer but I will be in Norwich to talk to the Green Party next tuesday night at 7pm....or you can watch England play.

here is a bit of Jean Lambert's work...she is great as well.



NEWS RELEASE
From The Office Of Jean Lambert, London's Green MEP

13th June 2006

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DEMANDS US ADMINISTRATION CLOSE GUANTANAMO BAY

The European Parliament today confirmed that they did not see the recent suicides at Guantanamo Bay as a PR exercise but was a cause for grave concern and demanded that the US Administration close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility immediately.

Speaking after the Parliament’s overwhelming vote to pass the resolution Green Euro MP Jean Lambert, who was named top MEP for her work on Justice and Human Rights at the end of last year, said she now hoped to see serious action from the US to close the centre.

Jean commented: “The o­ngoing illegal imprisonment of those in Guantanamo Bay and the revelations of the CIA Extraordinary Rendition Flights in the United States clearly demonstrates that the US is failing to uphold human rights or international law. The EU should now take a tougher stance o­n its relations with the US over such issues.

“I am pleased the resolution was passed today condemning all forms of torture and ill-treatment. We now insist that every prisoner is treated in accordance with international humanitarian law and, if charged, tried without delay in a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial court of law or international tribunal.

“It has been four years since the first transfer to Guantanamo bay – and that’s four years too long. It’s time to end the torture, fear and uncertainty and release those that can not be charged.”

ENDS

For more information please contact:
Morwenna Holland, Media Officer
tel: 020 7407 6280 or 07813149812
email: media@jeanlambertmep.org.uk
www.jeanlambertmep.org.uk

Notes to editors:

Jean Lambert: In October 2005 Jean was named MEP 2005 for Justice and Human Rights. Jean was first elected Green Party Member of the European Parliament for London in the 1999 European elections. She was re-elected in 2004. She is one of nine MEPs representing London and one of two UK Green representatives in the European Parliament.

--
Morwenna Holland
Media and Public Relations Officer

Office of Jean Lambert MEP - London's Green MEP
Suite 58, The Hop Exchange
24 Southwark Street
London, SE1 1TY

Tel: 00 44 (0)20 7407 6280
Fax: 00 44 (0)20 7234 0183

Email: media@jeanlambertmep.org.uk Web: www.jeanlambertmep.org.uk

12 Jun 2006

verbal narcotic

You can see why they are so keen to kill Mumia when they read his column, he makes the average US president and not just Bush appear inarticulate, MOVE supporters have been killed in the US pretty much at the drop of a hat, remember MOVE have championed green causes, support their right to survive.


JUST IN THE NAME OF 'DEMOCRACY'
================================
[Col. Writ. 6/3/06] Copyright '06 Mumia Abu-Jamal


The word 'democracy' is a kind of verbal narcotic.

To mention it is to daze us; to dull us; to lull us into peaceful slumber.

That's why the Bush Regime, perhaps the least democratic of governments in generations, calls the Iraq invasion and occupation a 'war for democracy.' It is ironic that a government that is profoundly autocratic, that relies on elite authoritarianism, secrecy, wireless wiretaps, secret prisons and torture, can claim to be fighting for something that is becoming so rare in the U.S. (ahem -- democracy).

But, don't trip; this ain't a Bush thing. Writer and historian, Michael Parenti in his book, *Super Patriotism* (San Francisco: City Light Books, 2004), tells us that democracy has been wiped out in a host of countries -- *by the U.S.!* Parenti writes:

"US leaders have long professed a dedication to democracy, yet over the last half century they have devoted themselves to overthrowing democratic governments in Guatemala, Guyana, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Syria, Indonesia (under Sukarno), Greece (twice), Argentina (twice), Haiti (twice), Bolivia, Jamaica, Yugoslavia, and other countries. These governments were all guilty of pursuing policies that occasionally favored the poorer elements and infringed upon the affluent. In most instances, the US-sponsored coups were accompanied by widespread killings of democratic activists.

"US leaders have supported covert actions, sanctions, or proxy mercenary wars against revolutionary governments in Cuba, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Iraq (with the CIA ushering in Saddam Hussein's reign of repression), Portugal, South Yemen, Nicaragua, Cambodia, East Timor, Western Sahara, and elsewhere.

"US interventions and destabilization campaigns have been directed against other populist nationalistic governments, including Egypt, Lebanon, Peru, Iran, Syria, Zaire, Venezuela, the Fiji Islands, and Afghanistan (*before* the Soviets ever went into the country).

"And since World War II, direct US military invasions or aerial attacks or both have been perpetrated against Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, North Korea, Yugoslavia, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Libya, Somalia, and Iraq (twice). There is no 'rogue state,' 'axis of evil,' or communist country that has a comparable record of such criminal aggression against other nations." [pp. 133-34)

The point? The next time you hear about a 'war to bring democracy' -- question it.

Decades ago, a US Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, gave the quintessential recipe for American military adventures abroad. Speaking during the Eisenhower years, Dulles said, "In order to bring a nation to support the burdens of maintaining great military establishments, it is necessary to create an emotional state akin to war psychology." Dulles added, "*There must be the portrayal of external menace*." To do this, Dulles explained, one must depict one's own country as the shining hero, while portraying the adversary as the embodiment of all evil.

We have, all of us, seen this recipe cooked all of our lives, all around the world, and on every continent. It works, because people allow it to work. Yet, while Dulles explains how such a thing happens, he doesn't explain why.

Years ago, an American president was explaining why the Vietnam War was necessary. This man said:

"Now let us assume that we lost Indochina, the tin and tungsten that we so greatly value from that area would cease coming. So when the United States votes $400 million to help that war, we are not voting a give-away program. We are voting for the cheapest way that we can prevent the occurrence of something that would be of a most terrible significance to the United States of America, our security, our power and ability to get certain things we need from the riches of the Indo-Chinese territory and from Southeast Asia." [p. 67]**

These words were spoken by Dwight D. Eisenhower. Now, why is that remarkable? Isn't it merely the case of an American president talking turkey? These words were spoken in 1953 -- *eleven years before the U.S. entered the Vietnam War!*

Why are wars fought? For 'democracy' -- or for profit? Think about this the next time you hear a plea for your patriotism.

Just say, "No."

Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal

**["Source: Carmichael, Stokely. *Stokely Speaks: Black Power Back to Pan-Africanism*. (New York: Vintage, 1971), p. 67. The author was giving an anti-war speech to students at Morgan State College, Baltimore, Md., Jan. 28, 1967. He cited as his source a book entitled *Vietnam, Vietnam* by Felix Green.]

[Mr. Jamal's recent book features a chapter on the
remarkable women who helped build and defend
the Black Panther Party: *WE WANT FREEDOM:
A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South
End Press (http://www.southendpress.org); Ph.
#1-800-533-8478.]
===============================

"When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is
just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die.
And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about
justice." - Mumia Abu-Jamal

MUMIA'S COLUMNS NEED TO BE PUBLISHED AS BROADLY
AS POSSIBLE TO INSPIRE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT AND
HELP CALL ATTENTION TO HIS CASE.

The campaign to kill Mumia is in full swing and we need you to
**please** contact as many publications and information outlets as
you possibly can to run Mumia's commentaries (on-line and
**especially off-line**)!! The only requirements are that you run
them *unedited*, with every word including copyright information
intact, and send a copy of the publication to Mumia and/or ICFFMAJ.
THANK YOU!!!

Keep updated by reading ACTION ALERTS!!
at http://www.mumia.org, http://www.onamove.com/ and their links.
========================================

To download Mp3's of Mumia's commentaries visit
http://www.prisonradio.org or http://www.fsrn.org
==============================================>

The Power of Truth is Final -- Free Mumia!

PLEASE CONTACT:
International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ
P.O. Box 19709
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180
E-mail - icffmaj@aol.com
AND OFFER YOUR SERVICES!

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:
Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
SCI-Greene
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370

WE WHO BELIEVE IN FREEDOM CAN *NOT* REST!!

Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa

Subscribe: mumiacolumns-subscribe@topica.com
Read: http://topica.com/lists/mumiacolumns/read
Subscribe ICFFMAJ email updates list by e-mailing
icffmaj@aol.com!

Deportation horror

One night several years ago Elizabeth was abducted from her home in Uganda, bundled into a car, and taken to a so-called 'Safe House' - an unofficial
Ugandan prison where torture is regularly practised. She was held
for 5 months, during which time she was repeatedly raped, whipped and
beaten. She eventually managed to escape, and fled to the UK in 2004
where she claimed asylum.

Last week a medical assessment reported that, as a result of the
repeated rape and torture, she is suffering from severe health
problems, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and recommended
that she should be sectioned.

Tonight, Sunday, 11th June, despite protests to the Chief Executive
of British Airways, Willie Walsh, she is believed to have been
deported on flight BA063
at 19:25 from Terminal Four to Uganda. Her friends fear that this deportation
will have fatal consequences for her.

It is inconceivable that someone who has sought protection and asylum in this country from rape and torture and who is in such a vulnerable situation, with mental health problems etc, can be deported before her legal team are even allowed to present her defence.It is also incredible that no account has been taken of her sexuality (Elizabeth is lesbian) and that she is sent back to a country where that sexuality is not accepted. Despite the opposition of many groups (including Workers Liberty, the Green Party of England & Wales's LGBT Group and her local MP) no account was taken of her situation by either the Home Office or BA, who are compliant with her deportation. It is an appalling comment on human rights and international standards of justice in this country.

Dr Joseph Healy
LGBT Group International Officer (Green Party of England & Wales)

11 Jun 2006

Murder at Haditha

THE CONTINUING AMERICAN MASSACRE
====================================
[Col. Writ. 6/2/06] Copyright '06 Mumia Abu-Jamal


In the last few days the name Haditha has emerged as a place of death, carnage, mass murder, and of the latest American massacre.

The news that U.S. soldiers went into the Sunni town and, after attacked by i.e.d.s (improvised explosive devices), proceeded to slaughter several dozen men, women, and children -- all of whom were unarmed Iraqi civilians -- is going around the world at the speed of light.

The Haditha Massacre happened over 6 months ago (in late November, 2005) and the Army's response is -- sensitivity training.

We have come a long way from the days of the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, where U.S. Army troops slaughtered hundreds of defenseless villagers; old men, women, babies -- even animals.

Instead of hundreds, it's now dozens.

That's a kind of progress, isn't it?

And yet, massacres have a way of clarifying things; of showing us the naked, deadly truths that we all seem to ignore when immersed in the fog of war.

My Lai revealed that the U.S. didn't go to Vietnam to "save" them from communism; they went to force them to their knees, to bow to their new colonial masters. Americans went because the French were exhausted after their losses at a place called Diem Binh Phu, and wanted to replace them.

Haditha, although smaller in scale, is also a clarity bursting through fog; the U.S. didn't go to Iraq to "liberate" them from a brutal dictatorship. They came to install their own dictator -- one who answered to them.

But, to be honest, the entire war was a massacre. According to the British medical journal, *The Lancet*, some 100,000 Iraqis were killed by U.S. bombing and military action. *The Lancet*'s estimate is thought to be quite conservative.

What unites these two wars, despite the distance of time and space, is the central theme of race. Vietnamese, called "gooks" by American soldiers, were seen as less than human. Iraqis, as Arabs, are seen as "wogs" by the British, and "sand niggers" by Americans.

Haditha, for all of its horror, pain, and loss, is but the tip of the iceberg. The U.S. occupation is an act of violence, that draws on the hated history of colonialism.

Since the Iraq invasion, we have seen disaster after disaster after disaster. Haditha is but an echo of Abu Ghraib, both gifts of the same sadistic Santa Claus, whose bag is filled to the brim, with poison.


Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal

[Mr. Jamal's recent book features a chapter on the
remarkable women who helped build and defend
the Black Panther Party: *WE WANT FREEDOM:
A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South
End Press (http://www.southendpress.org); Ph.
#1-800-533-8478.]

===============================

"When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is
just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die.
And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about
justice." - Mumia Abu-Jamal

MUMIA'S COLUMNS NEED TO BE PUBLISHED AS BROADLY
AS POSSIBLE TO INSPIRE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT AND
HELP CALL ATTENTION TO HIS CASE.

The campaign to kill Mumia is in full swing and we need you to
**please** contact as many publications and information outlets as
you possibly can to run Mumia's commentaries (on-line and
**especially off-line**)!! The only requirements are that you run
them *unedited*, with every word including copyright information
intact, and send a copy of the publication to Mumia and/or ICFFMAJ.
THANK YOU!!!

Keep updated by reading ACTION ALERTS!!
at http://www.mumia.org, http://www.onamove.com/ and their links.
========================================

To download Mp3's of Mumia's commentaries visit
http://www.prisonradio.org or http://www.fsrn.org
==============================================>

The Power of Truth is Final -- Free Mumia!

PLEASE CONTACT:
International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ
P.O. Box 19709
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180
E-mail - icffmaj@aol.com
AND OFFER YOUR SERVICES!

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:
Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
SCI-Greene
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370

WE WHO BELIEVE IN FREEDOM CAN *NOT* REST!!

Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa

Subscribe: mumiacolumns-subscribe@topica.com
Read: http://topica.com/lists/mumiacolumns/read
Subscribe ICFFMAJ email updates list by e-mailing
icffmaj@aol.com!

Don't let Bush's henchmen kill Mumia

Mumia is once again under threat of execution, please help the campaign to save him from execution in Philadelphia.

thanks,

Derek



YOUR SUPPORT IS URGENTLY NEEDED!!!

via icffmaj@aol.com

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal !

The State of Pennsylvania has recently filed its appeal seeking to reinstate the order to execute Mumia. If their appeal is upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has pledged to sign the third warrant for Mumia's execution. Barring the unlikely intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court, Mumia will have 90 days to live!

Pennsylvania authorities are dead set on winning. They, along with the Fraternal Order of Police, are campaigning to bring the matter to national attention.

The Fraternal Order of Police and their collaborators in the media and among politicians have been on the rampage since the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that there were two issues Mumia could appeal on that might lead to a new trial. These forces insist that Mumia should have no right to appeal. They attack all those who support Mumia's innocence or even his right to a new trial.

The naming of a street after Mumia in Saint Denis, France has only fueled their rage. The new street, leading to the largest sports stadium in Europe, the Nelson Mandela Stadium, has been formally named Rue Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Two U.S. Congresspeople from Pennsylvania are introducing federal legislation to demand that the city of St Denis reverse its decision to name a major street after Mumia. House Resolution 407, which embodies these demands, was supported unanimously by the City Council of Philadelphia.

The U.S. legislation, House Resolution 407, proposes to sanction St. Denis or call for a U.S. boycott of the city, should the St Denis Mayor and City Council refuse to reverse their vote. Both have refused to do so.

Philadelphia newspapers are joining the reactionary chorus damning the St Denis decision. See:
http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/news/columnists/stu_bykofsky/14662075.htm

http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/opinion/local2/region/14614527.htm

Mumia's racist detractors know full well that a final decision is coming, one that could lead to Mumia's execution or to a new trial and his freedom.

To repond to the vicious attacks on Mumia in the Philly media (see above, etc.), write to the following:

The Philadelphia Inquirer
P.O. Box 8263
Philadelphia, Pa. 19101

Stu Bykofsky, Columnist
stubyko@phillynews.com
Readers' Editor Jodie Chester
jchester@phillynews.com
Editorial Copy Chief Oscar Miller
omiller@phillnews.com

Philadelphia Daily News
P.O. Box 7788
Philadelphia, PA 19101
City Editor Gar Joseph
josephg@phillynews.com
Assistant City Editor Barbara Laker
lakerb@phillynews.com
Frank Burgos
burgosf@phillynews.com


For more info, see:
http://www.mumia.org/freedom.now/
http://www.freemumia.org/
http://www.freemumia.com/

p.s.
In October 2003, Mumia Abu-Jamal was awarded the status of honorary citizen of Paris. The mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, said in a press release that the award was meant to be a reminder of the continuing fight against the death penalty, which was abolished in France in 1981. Additionally, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the NAACP, the National Lawyers Guild, the Japanese Diet, the European Parliament, as well as several national U.S. trade union federations (ILWU, AFSCME, SEIU, the national postal union), the 1.8 million member California Labor Federation AFL-CIO, and the Episcopal Church of the United States of America all maintain that Mumia's original trial was not conducted in a fair and impartial manner, and demand either a new trial or Mumia's immediate release.

Free Mumia!
Free all Political Prisoners!
Ona MOVE!
__._,_.___

10 Jun 2006

Trotsky?


Writing about Trotsky is risky, Tony Blair loves not only Cliff Richards, George Bush and nuclear power but has claimed to be a fan of Deutscher's biography. I guess there are a minority of Greens who believe that ecosocialists like me belong to some kind of 'sect', writing about Trotsky will also fuel David Icke conspiracy links between me and the Bilderbergs but here goes, these are my thoughts on Trotsky, a version of this went into red pepper.

I think perhaps lamely that while he was an advance on Stalin, he was far from grassroots democratic....I am unaware of anything environmental from his pen, Marx and Engels were great generally on ecology and even Lenin supported wildlife parks, Trotsky I may be wrong but I don't think he was even the slightest shade of green





The Prophet Armed, The Prophet Unarmed, The Prophet Outcast. Isaac Deutscher 2004 (1963) Verso. London.

I must admit that I have been fascinated by Marxism for twenty years but never read more than a line of Trotsky. I will read anything by Marx, I even have volume forty two of Marx Engels Collected Work in my bathroom. Marx was sharply interested in ecology, philosophy, history, economics and refreshingly rude to opponents. His shopping lists reveal the mysterious world of the late Victorian off license. Trotsky, well one thinks of 57 varieties of paper sellers, dry as dust meetings and tyrannical micro political sects, deformed workers states, Tony Cliff, paper sellers, ever more ornate and complex political ‘lines‘. Trotsky architect of the Russian Revolution, leader of the Red Army, founder of the Fourth International, crusader against first Czars and then Stalin seems almost forgotten today. Yet after Lenin he was probably the most important socialist leader and thinker of the 20th century. Deutscher's three volume biography which has recently been reissued by Verso should be read both because any attempt to promote radical social change will come up against the issues faced by Trotsky and because it’s a brilliant read, more like a novel than a political biography.
Deutscher keeps the pace up right up to the end when a slippery Stalinist agent kills Trotsky, exiled in Mexico, with an ice axe.
His skull smashed, his face gored, Trotsky jumped up, hurled at the murderer whatever object was at hand, books, inkpots, even the Dictaphone, and then threw himself at him […] During those moments a furious struggle went on in the study, Trotsky’s last struggle. He fought it like a tiger. He grappled with the murderer, bit his hand, and wrenched the ice-axe from him. The murderer was so confounded that he did not strike another blow and did not use pistol or dagger
Back on page 36 of volume one, its 1900 forty years before his violent death and the twenty one year old revolutionary has just married Alexandra Sokolovskaya his slightly older socialist feminist mentor in a Moscow prison. Soon they are exiled to Siberia, travelling with a bizarre religious sect of self-castrating gnostics who normally only make a walk in appearance in the most poorly of researched books by Dan Brown or David Icke:
The Bronsteins were sent down the Lena river on a large barge, which was crowded with Skoptsy, dressed in white clothes, chanting prayers, and dancing wildly. The Bronsteins were ordered to disembark in the village of Ust-Kut, which during the gold rush on the Lena had served as a base for east Siberian settlers. The gold-diggers had by now moved further east and north, and Ust-Kut was a god-forsaken place with about a hundred peasant huts, dirty and plagued by vermin and mosquitoes. The inhabitants, sick with unfulfilled dreams of wealth, were madly addicted to vodka. Here the Bronsteins stayed for a time, during which he studied Das Kapital, ‘brushing the cockroaches off the pages’ of Karl Marx. Later they obtained permission to move to another place, 150 miles further east, where he worked as book-keeper for an illiterate millionaire peasant-merchant. His employer conducted business over a vast area and was the uncrowned ruler of its Tunguz inhabitants. Bronstein watched this huge capitalist enterprise growing on virgin Siberian soil - he would cite it in the future as an illustration of that combination of backwardness and capitalist development which was characteristic of Russia
For me this blend of vivid storytelling plus strong theoretical content makes Deutscher’s three volumes an unputdownable winner. I am not alone on this point, Graham Greene wrote when originally published that it was ‘the most exciting reading of the year…Surely this must be counted among the greatest biographies in the English language’. The jacket covers list similar plaudits from Mike Davies, Sheila Rowbotham and A.J.P. Taylor . Isaac Deutscher was both sympathetic and critical of Trotsky. A member of the Polish Communist Party, he left because of his horror at the abuses of Stalinism but believed that Trotsky while a heroic figure was also flawed. Ironically if Deutscher had remained a member of the Polish Party he would have almost certainly been killed when Stalin invited their leadership to Moscow so he could execute them.
Born Lev Bronstein in 1879, Trotsky was the son unusually of a Jewish Ukrainian farmers. Russia was in turmoil, the serfs had only recently been liberated, the mass of the population lived in dire poverty and the Narodiks, anarchists romantically attached to rural socialism, were carrying out terrorist spectaculars culminating in the killing of Czar Alexander in 1881 with a bomb beneath his coach. In this teenage years Trotsky was drawn into the revolutionary movement and became a Marxist. A menshivik he rejected ‘orthadox’ Marxism, the Narodnik Social Revolutionaries and, at first, Lenin’s Bolshevism. The SRs believed that revolution was possible without industrial development and could be based on the peasant communism of the traditional Mir or collective village, a perspective discussed incidentally by Karl Marx. The ‘orthadox’ Marxists such as Kautsky believed that communism was impossible without industrialisation and an initial bourgeois revolution by the Russian middle class. To vulgarise a complex contribution Lenin believed that a class of revolutionaries could give history a shove and stressed the growth of the working class in Moscow. Trotsky combined three radical theoretical insights of combined and uneven development, soviet democracy and permanent revolution.
By combined and uneven development Trotsky meant that islands of advanced capitalism within the backward Russian countryside could provided the basis for a transition to communism. Marx broadly argued that capitalist development was a necessary precondition for communism because it provided a basis for prosperity rather than shared poverty as well as creating a working class who would make the revolution. For Trotsky it was unnecessary given pockets of capitalism to either argue for a return to peasant communism or to wait for a future middle class revolution, the struggle for liberation could begin immediately. This conclusion was consistent with Lenin’s approach but Trotsky feared that the Lenninist Party of professional revolutionaries could led to ‘substitutionism’. Prophetically he argued that the central committee would be a substitute for the working class and the central committee would eventually give way to a dictatorial leader.
Trotsky was inspired by the 1905 revolution and the growth of soviets, workers councils that directly and democratically fought for socialism. The power of the revolution might need to be channelled by a Party but for Trotsky it came from ordinary people. However to achieve a communist society in a largely undeveloped society like Russia, he borrowed Parvus’s concept of permanent revolution, which stated that continous struggle would be necessary to achieve social transformation.
The twists and turns of the story are not easily summarised but Trotsky was reconciled with Lenin, he acted as the strategist for the revolution, energised the Red Army and with the storming of the winter palace in 1917, the Soviet state was born. Trotsky’s finest hours came with the war against the white forces when more than fifth teen countries invaded the Soviet Union to back up the Czarists. His bleakest came with his order to fire on the Kronstadt sailors, anarchist rebels who weeks before had been his close allies.
The weary descent into Stalinism is chronicled in volume two. The death of Lenin and the difficulties of achieving socialism without an expected revolution in more industrialised countries like Germany, piled the pressure on Trotsky. In an almost impossible situation, mistakes were made and the Bolshevik party fossilised. After a relatively pluralist start, opposition political parties were banned, internal party factions were shut down and the ability of ordinary people to input into the system stagnated. The tension in Trotsky and Lenin’s political thought is between ‘socialism from below’ and leadership. The correct combination is almost impossible to achieve, after all the transition to a non capitalist society is unlikely to be achieved without careful planning and preparation, yet the act of planning, ‘leadership’ can rob the masses of their ability to make revolution and build an alternative. Trotsky liberated Russian by catalysing the energies of the Soviets but signed his death warrant by disarming the grassroots who were gradually demobilised and unable to resist Stalin.
Trotsky was a fighter, a theorist, a literary figure, his legacy in opposing Stalin has been to provide some notion that socialism is not just a form of tyranny but a path to liberation. Trotsky’s tale is both an inspiration and a warning to those who seek a world beyond capitalism. Those who make half a revolution, it is said dig their own graves. The question of ecology is missing from Trotsky’s work, recent research by John Bellamy Foster has shown the green roots of Marx’s theory and Lenin, perhaps surprisingly, was very keen on wildlife conservation. Trotsky, in contrast, was a productivist above all, keen to dam rivers and grind down mountains. The most relevent outgrowth of Marx’s legacy, given the ecological and social pathologies of capitalism, are today to be found in Cuba rather than among the political descendents of Trotsky. Castro and to some extent Chavaz in Venzuela have began to build a socialism which deals with ecological issues, contests alienation and by strengthening the grassroots has the potential to endure and become democratic. So read Deutscher but fight Bush’s threat to actually existing revolutionary alternatives rather than join a sect or even a mass movement of tabloid sellers.

Derek Wall, teaches , a long standing ecosocialist, he is a member of the Green Party , his latest book Babylon and Beyond, on the economics of anti-capitalism will be published in October 2005.