31 Oct 2008

Disappointing result in Kentish Town

Disappointing result in Kentish Town

Unfortunately the Green result was a bit of a disappointment despite all the hard work supporters put in. The Lib Dems held the ward and Labour managed to push back into second place.


More from Jim here.

Very tough with first past the post to win elections as Greens, 20% is still credible but we need to look at how we could do better especially in the light of the economic recession...

Election 'Sí, se puede'


Obama, I am a sceptic who backs the great Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney but 'yes we can' means something in El Salvador:

El Salvador: ‘Central America is changing’

Federico Fuentes Green Left Weekly
25 October 2008


“Its not only South America that is changing, but also Central America”, Margarita Lopez, a deputy in the El Salvadorian National Assembly and political commission member of the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), told Green Left Weekly.

“With Nicaragua and Honduras’s incorporation into [the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), the solidarity-trading bloc promoted by Cuba and Venezuela], we are seeing a totally different context to what existed before in Central America”, Lopez said.

This changing scenario helps explain the large lead in the polls for the FMLN and their presidential candidate, Mauricio Funes, with the January municipal and legislative elections and March presidential elections approaching.

Funes has an almost 15% lead over his rival from the governing right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance party (Arena).

While Arena has been in power since 1989, growing discontent over rising fuel and food prices, skyrocketing violence, and economic woes resulting from neoliberal policies like the Central American Free Trade Agreement on the economy, has resulted in many turning to the FMLN as a vehicle for progressive change.

Lopez explained that the FMLN’s election platform unites the “long list of demands” that the social movements of the country “have been raising for 19 years and that have never been taken into consideration by previous governments”.

“We are focusing on social aspects: pensions, minimum wage, against the elimination of subsidies on electricity, for the elimination of Value Added Tax on basic goods, medicine, the elimination of costs incurred for education, an integral fiscal reform so that those who have more pay more and those that have less pay less.”

Explaining the need for more social investment, Lopez said that hospitals in El Salvador today have no resources: “If you get sick you have to buy the string to be stitched up or buy gloves for the doctor to operate, even though [the Arena government] claims its has invested several million in the area of health.”

Another crucial issue for the FMLN is agriculture. “The neoliberal model demanded the elimination of funding for agriculture and support for [free trade agreements] where products for consumption came from the US, eliminating the production of basic grain in El Salvador.”

As a result of these policies, there are more than 640,000 hectares underutilised in El Salvador — despite the world food crisis.

“How is it possible that we have a food crisis and yet we have not been able to give to farmers the possibility to help us turn this situation around?”

Asked whether an FMLN government would join ALBA, Lopez responded that “given the right time, we will begin to raise the issue of joining ALBA”. FMLN-controlled municipal councils have signed numerous agreements with ALBA countries “that have saved us approximately $1.5 million in diesel consumption via agreements with [Venezuelan state-owned oil company] PDVSA, agreements with Nicaragua to provide fertiliser to help agricultural production and cooperatives.

“We have 800 students studying medicine in Venezuela, and 5000 El Salvadorians have had free [eye] operations via Mission Miracle.”

Lopez added that the issue of ALBA had been constantly used “against us in the campaign” and was a large part of the reason why the FMLN had not raised it as an issue in the campaign.

“But we are clear on where we are going.”

Despite these attacks, and US intervention against the FMLN during the campaign, Lopez explained that “due to the work we are doing day to day, through the ‘Caravans of Hope’ that we are organising, we are counteracting the anti-FMLN campaign”.

“Regardless, we are conscious that they will use all the resources they can to avoid an FMLN victory, which would change the conditions of the country and, of course, be part of all this change occurring in the South.”

Sending a message to friends and supporters in Australia, Lopez stated “that we all need to be on our toes not only on election day but from now”.

Crucial to this would be ensuring the presence of observers on the day of the election to guarantee transparency.

Lopez finished off by saying everyone should be confident that “starting from June 1, we will have a new government that will govern in favour of and for the benefit of the people of El Salvador”.

Satan meets the robbers




You know the story. In a certain cave in the fictional territory of Ilmorg, there is a competition organized by Satan to choose the seven cleverest thieves and robbers, that is those who steal from the people, not in terms of a few dollars for food, but literally in terms of billions of dollars for the sheer pleasure of accumulation. What each of the thieves has to do is perform stories of his career of theft and robbery before the fictional audience. (Thiong'o 1998, p.124)

Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, Penpoints, Gunpoints and Dreams, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998)

Just finished reading Ngugi Wa Thiong'o's wonderful book.

I am really not sure if I will have time to review it properly, Ngugi's is one of the stars of African literature, he celebrates Africa's cultural traditions, he has been strong defender of movements like the Kenyan Mau Mau who fought for liberation.

He looks at how art is used to maintain political order, making the novelist and the poet fighters against unjust regimes.

He is a strong critic of both neo-colonialism and dictatorial regimes, so he was exiled from Kenya for 22 years.

Do look at his work, the Penpoints is a powerful political document, certainly a call for social justice, against enclosure, he works with the spirit of Bakhtin and Marx but stresses African civilisation(s) as a source of inspiration.

His novels and plays are excellent too.

While Ngugi was in Britain for the launch and promotion of Devil on the Cross, he learned about the Moi regime’s plot to eliminate him on his return, or as coded, give a red carpet welcome on arrival at Jomo Kenyatta Airport. This forced him into exile, first in Britain (1982 –1989), and then the U.S. after (1989-2002), during which time, the Moi dictatorship hounded him trying, unsuccessfully, to get him expelled from London and from other countries he visited. In 1986, at a conference in Harare, an assassination squad outside his hotel in Harare was thwarted by the Zimbwean security. His next Gikuyu novel, Matigari, was published in 1986. Thinking that the novel’s main character was a real living person, Dictator Moi issued an arrest warrant for his arrest but on learning that the character was fictional, he had the novel “arrested;” instead. Undercover police went to all the bookshops in the country and the Publishers warehouse and took the novel away. So, between 1986 and 1996, Matigari could not be sold in Kenyan bookshops. The dictatorship also had all Ngugi’s books removed from all educational institutions.


More from his biography here

Castro 'back the WWF not the IMF'


Great to see a nice report of the Green Party conference Cuba solidarity fringe in the latest Cuba Solidarity magazine and of course Roberto Perez was a great success. I am speaking at the Latin America 2008 Conference on 6th December at Congress House and looking forward to the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution next year.

Any how this is good from Fidel, I know I get flack from some of you from posting him but I generally agree with him and feel that he produces very nice blog posts, his vision is the opposite of the traditional productivist approach of grind down mountains, destroy rivers and general fuck up nature one found in much 20th century socialism.

any way see what you think....



THE WORST CHOICE

Today, I read that the US Federal Reserve had opened a new line of credit for the Central Banks of Mexico, Brazil, South Korea and Singapore.

The same report claimed that similar credits have been issued to the Central Banks of Australia, Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and the European Central Bank.

Based on these agreements, the Central Banks shall receive funds in exchange for hard currency reserves from these countries which have sustained considerable losses due to the trade and financial crisis.

This way the economic power of the US currency is asserted, a privilege granted at Bretton Woods.

The International Monetary Fund, which is the same people under a different name, has announced the release of high sums of money to its clients in Eastern Europe. Hungary will be receiving the equivalent of $20 billion euros; a large part of these are dollars coming from the United States. The machines keep minting bills and the IMF keeps granting its unfair loans.

On the other hand, the World Wild Fund stated in Geneva yesterday that at the present spending rate, by 2030 humanity will need the resources of two planets to keep up its life style.

The WWF is a serious institution. There is no need to be a University graduate of Mathematics, Economics or Political Sciences to understand what this means. It’s the worst choice. The developed capitalism hopes to continue plundering the world as if the world could still stand it.


Fidel Castro Ruz
October 30, 2008
8:05 p.m.

30 Oct 2008

PM ambushed on civil liberties by Peter Tatchell

Nice post from Peter....Gordon Brown would put many of us in cages given the opportunity...

Gordon Brown heckled at Taking Liberties exhibition

London – 30 October 2008

Prime Minister Gordon Brown was heckled as he finished his speech
opening a new exhibition at the British Library last night (29 October
2008).

The new exhibition is entitled: Taking Liberties - The Struggle for
Britain's Freedoms and Rights.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell took a few liberties of his
own, confronting Gordon Brown with the question:

"Prime Minister, having seen this exhibition, can you tell us what you
have learned about the preservation of liberty, given that the Labour
government has done more to undermine civil liberties than any
government since World War Two?"

"Gordon Brown ducked his head down and shuffled his feet, declining to
reply," said Mr Tatchell.

"He was caught out, embarrassed and speechless. I am surprised that he
did not even attempt to defend the government's record."

As the Prime Minister prepared to leave the exhibition Mr Tatchell
challenged him again; this time about what he called the "framing" of
two London-based Balochistan human rights campaigners, Hyrbyair Marri
and Faiz Baluch.

See details below.

"They are on trial in London on charges of terrorism concocted by the
agents of the former Pakistani dictator, Pervez Musharraf," said Mr
Tatchell.

"How can Gordon Brown talk about defending liberty when his government
supported the Musharraf dictatorship and is now colluding with false
charges against Baloch activists who are defenders of democracy and
human rights?

"The Prime Minister's speech praised the British tradition liberty but
Labour's policies are undermining it. The extension of detention
without charge to 28 days, restrictions on the right to protest near
parliament, increased interception of phone calls and emails and
planned IDs cards are all symptoms of ever greater state surveillance
and snooping. Labour is expanding the powers of the state at the
expense of the rights of the citizen," said Mr Tatchell.

Further information: Peter Tatchell 020 7403 1790

London terror trial – Defendants framed

Human rights activists on terrorism charges

UK colludes with Musharraf's agents

London UK – 30 October 2008

Two London-based human rights campaigners will stand trial on
terrorism charges, starting next Monday 3 November at Woolwich Crown
Court in London, before Mr Justice Henriques.

"This trial will expose high level collusion between the British
government and the agents of the former Pakistani dictator, Pervez
Musharraf," according to human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who
is a personal friend and political ally of the two defendants.

"These men were framed by the Musharraf regime, to silence their
highly effective campaigning against Pakistani human rights abuses in
Balochistan," added Mr Tatchell.

"The British government was blackmailed into arresting them.
Musharraf's agents issued an ultimatum to the UK authorities: arrest
these men or we will halt all cooperation in the war on terror. The
Labour government caved in to these demands from Musharraf's
dictatorship. It decided these men were expendable for the so-called
greater good of anti-terrorist cooperation with the Pakistani regime,"
said Mr Tatchell.

The defendants are Hyrbyair Marri and Faiz Baluch. They are accused of
preparing acts of terrorism abroad – charges they strenuously deny.
Both men have been law-abiding citizens. They fled to Britain to
escape persecution by the military coup leader and tyrant, General
Pervez Musharraf.

Mr Marri is represented by Jim Nichol of TV Edwards Taylor Nichol
solicitors (020 7272 8336) and Mr Baluch is represented by Gareth
Peirce of Birnberg Peirce solicitors (020 7911 0166).

Mr Marri is a former MP and government minister in the regional
assembly of Balochistan – a previously independent state, which was
invaded and annexed by Pakistan in 1948, and which has ever since been
under Pakistani military occupation.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Human Rights Commission
of Pakistan and the Asian Human Rights Commission have documented and
condemned severe and widespread human rights abuses by the Pakistani
armed forces in Balochistan – abuses that amount to war crimes and
crimes against humanity, including the indiscriminate bombing of
civilian areas and the systemic use of torture.

Mr Marri's father, Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, a renowned Baloch national
leader, attended Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953, along with
other world dignitaries, as a guest of the British government.

His uncle is Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, the UN Special Representative to
Sudan and the former Pakistan Ambassador to the United States, and his
wife is the great grand daughter of the first Prime Minister of Iraq
(1920-1922), Abdul Rahman al Gillani.

Mr Marri and Mr Baluch, were arrested by police in London last
December. Mr Marri spent four months in Belmarsh high security prison,
and Mr Baluch eight months.

"The police and security agencies in the UK have pursued these terror
charges based on evidence provided to them by Musharraf's dictatorship
– a dictatorship that the arrested men campaigned against," said Mr
Tatchell.

"Our government has ignored the fact that Musharraf's henchmen in the
Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI, are notorious for framing
political opponents, especially Baloch nationalists.

"Marri and Baluch have been set up by Musharraf's agents because of
their highly effective exposure of Pakistan's war crimes and crimes
against humanity in annexed Balochistan.

"This belief has been reinforced by the acting Interior Minister of
the new democratic government of Pakistan, Rehman Malik. He recently
announced that terror charges against Mr Marri in Pakistan have been
dropped; stating that the case against him had been politically
motivated. This discredits the whole basis on which Marri and Baluch
have been charged in London.

"Marri's and Baluch's arrest came just a few months after Musharraf
demanded that the British government arrest Baloch activists in
London. In exchange, Musharraf offered to hand over Rashid Rauf,
implying that action against the Baloch activists was a precondition
for surrendering Rauf to the UK. Rauf is wanted in this country in
connection with the 2006 Islamist terror plot involving liquid
explosives on trans-Atlantic airliners, which resulted in the
conviction of three men in London in September. He is also sought in
connection with a murder in the UK.

"The arrest in London of Marri and Baluch took place two weeks after
Pakistani government agents assassinated Marri's brother, Balach
Marri, a prominent Baloch nationalist leader.

"Prior to Marri's arrest, Musharraf's regime made repeated
representations to the UK government that he was wanted on terrorism
charges in Pakistan - charges that have now been dropped by the
Pakistani authorities.

"Soon after Musharraf met Gordon Brown at Downing Street in January
this year, he held a press conference for Pakistani journalists where
he allegedly denounced Marri as a terrorist and praised the British
government and police for cooperating with his regime.

"Claims of connivance are credible. For nine years, the UK's Labour
government supported Musharraf's dictatorship politically,
economically and militarily, despite him having overthrown Pakistan's
democratically-elected government in 1999. Labour even sold him the
military equipment that his army uses to kill innocent Baloch people.

"Marri is an unlikely terrorist. He is a former Balochistan MP
(1997-2002), and was the Minster for Construction and Works in the
provincial assembly in 1997-1998. He fled to Britain in 2000, fearing
arrest, torture and possible assassination by Musharraf's men.

"One of his brothers is Mehran Baluch. He is the Baloch Representative
to the UN Human Rights Council. He was the subject of an attempted
extradition plot last year by Musharraf's regime, on trumped up
charges.

"The arrest of Marri - together with the murder of one brother and the
attempt to frame another brother - looks like a systematic attempt to
target his family and crush three leading voices of Baloch dissent.

"A former British Protectorate, Balochistan secured its independence
in 1947, alongside India and Pakistan, but was invaded and forcibly
annexed by Pakistan in 1948. The Baloch people did not vote for
incorporation. They were never given a choice. Ever since, Balochistan
has been under military occupation by Islamabad. Baloch demands for a
referendum on self-rule have been rejected. Democratically elected
Baloch leaders who have refused to kow-tow to Pakistan's subjugation
have been arrested, jailed and murdered.

"The Asian Human Rights Commission reports that Pakistani army raids
have resulted in 3,000 Baloch people dead, 200,000 displaced and 4,000
arrested. Thousands more have simply disappeared," said Mr Tatchell.

Further information:

Peter Tatchell – 020 7403 1790

ENDS

--
NOTE: Please do not reply via this automated email system.

If you want to respond to this email, or at any time to contact Peter,
please email him at his NEW email address - peter@petertatchell.net

Peter Tatchell is the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East
www.greenoxford.com/peter and www.petertatchell.net

PETER TATCHELL HUMAN RIGHTS FUND

Donations are requested to help Peter Tatchell's campaigns promoting
human rights, democracy and global justice. Peter is unpaid and
receives no grants. He depends on donations from friends and
supporters.

Please make cheques payable to: "Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund".

Send to: PTHRF, PO Box 35253, London E1 4YF

To download a donation form or a standing order mandate, go to
Donations at: www.tatchellrightsfund.org

For information about Peter Tatchell's campaigns: www.petertatchell.net

Marxist economics: The utter basics


Marx's work was unfinished and nobody can point to a page of Das Kapital for exact information on the present crisis. I do think Marx's analysis that capitalism is exploitative, yet paradoxically leads to economic expansion, that capitalism is innately crisis ridden...is all a vital antidote to the conventional economic analysis. This is from Babylon and Beyond, my Pluto book that looks at different anti-capitalist forms of economics. I am very open to have my ideas shredded by both trolls and the more informative but getting a bit of discussion on Marxist economics going seems essential to me.

Incidentally my book looks at ecosocialism in more detail, Marx's views on ecology, Caroline Lucas/Mike Woodin on globalisation, Hardt and Negri and even Major Douglas...the stuff below is very sketcy but hopefully provides a start, even if it is disgusted of Hackney commenting on the vulgarity of my account of the exploitation of labour power according to the man with the big beard.

Marx is pretty entertaining to read, very rude and but with a touch of literature but starting with Das Kapital is usually a bit much...so have a look at some guide books first from people like Ben Fine or Rius.

Virtually all of Marx and Engels, lots of other writers from the left including that Peruvian genius Mariategui are on Marxist Internet Archive



History is the history of class struggle declare Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto, later arguing that capitalists exploit the labour power of workers. A worker produces ten mopeds or DVD players in a day and the capitalist takes seven of these. We have, according to simplify a little, a system of economic theft. Workers can go on strike and use various means to achieve a ‘fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work’, but will always be exploited in a capitalist system because the capitalist will take some of what they produce and control how they work:
People overwhelmingly prefer to cling to precarious conditions as farmers, fishers, hunters and the like rather than sell their human capacities to a buyer. It is only when there is literally no other way to survive - when, in short, all other economic options have been taken away from them - that people reluctantly accept a life as wage-labourers. (McNally 2002: 65).
Individuals have to be forced to work for capitalists by separating them from their own means of production. If people have their own land to grow food or their own tools to produce goods, they will be reluctant to work for the capitalist. We have to be forced to work through violent processes that generally involve taking away communal land and other shared resources. This process is discussed in more detail in the next chapter and has been noted by the subsistence greens examined in chapter four.
Goods (and services) have both use value and exchange value. Use value is determined by the usefulness of a product, yet capitalists are not primarily motivated by use. Instead, they seek to increase exchange value. Exchange value is the amount of money (or goods/services) a product can be exchanged for. The market is based on 'inherently unequal relations of exchange between large property owners and those who are propertyless. If the latter risk hunger and deprivation in the event that they cannot find a buyer for their labour, they are at a structural disadvantage' (McNally 2002: 61). Capitalists are compelled to maximise profit by exploiting labour power to multiple exchange values. Workers can be made to work harder or longer. Exchange values have to be ‘realised’ by selling goods and services so ‘use’ values cannot be entirely ignored, since consumers will be unwilling to buy useless objects. However, capitalism puts enormous energy into marketing, to make us find the ‘useless’ ‘useful’ in order to keep consumption levels up. The problem of how ‘use’ relates to ‘exchange’ is examined in chapter eight.
The surplus value which capitalists extract from workers in exchange for wages is the basis of profit and such profit is extracted from the workers. Profit is reinvested in capital i.e. machines and other means of production to raise productivity. Capitalists may or may not be 'bad' people but are forced by competition to increase profit levels by exploiting workers. This is because a company that does not invest in the most efficient machinery will find that its costs tend to be higher than rival firms. A firm must invest in order to survive turning money into capital and back again into money. The lazy or humane capitalist fails in the race and is put out of business, 'A benevolent capitalist who paid his workers wages that broadly corresponded to the amount of value they created would soon find himself (sic) out of business' (Callinicos 2003: 37).
The capitalist firm must keep on growing or it will die because it will be overtaken by other businesses. While competition is unlikely to be eliminated, the advantage given by economies of scale mean that smaller companies are likely to be replaced by larger. The development of global markets and the emergence of giant multinationals, which Schumacher condemns, are clearly explained by Marxist analysis:
Constant efforts to cut costs are forced on capitalists by competition, the primary driving force in capitalism. Any new method of production which reduces costs (a technical improvement, or an 'improvement' in labour discipline) will bring extra profits to those who introduce it quickly, before the general price level has been forced down. Once it is generally adopted, competition forces prices down in line with costs, wiping out any remaining high cost producers. Marx assumed (in general rightly) that large scale-production is more efficient than small-scale. Competition, therefore forces capitalists to accumulate and reinvest as much as possible in order to produce on a large scale. Marx called growth through reinvestment of profits, concentration of capital. Bigger firms will be better able to survive, especially in slumps, and will be able to buy out smaller firms. The growth of the scale of production by amalgamation of capitals is called centralization of capital. (Brewer 1990: 33)
Although Marx, like most economists of his day, thought in terms of private ownership by entrepreneurs, public ownership by shareowners will encourage even a monopoly to keep growing. Shareholders will demand high share values and/or higher dividends and will dump firms that do not grow. Marx, as Callinicos notes, provides a structural theory of accumulation, capitalists exploit the creativity of workers, skim off profits and reinvest in new capital not because they believe in a particular set of values, as David Korten and many Greens suggest, but just to survive in business (Callinicos 2003: 37).
Economics is a field of conflict with workers fighting to improve pay and conditions and firms attempting to maximise profit. Technological, cultural and social changes are the only constants of capitalism. Capitalism is like a bicycle. A bicycle tends to fall over if one ceases peddling; capitalism tends to collapse if it fails to grow. Although it might be said that capitalism demands, unlike a bicycle, that we peddle faster and faster forever and ever. It can be distinguished from other forms of society 'by dynamism and by instability' (Callinicos 2003: 37). Thus capitalism is crisis ridden. Marx argued that labour power is the source of exchange value and profit. Machines gradually replace workers and as the proportion of labour in the production process falls, so, other things being equal, does profit. In Marx’s analysis if all value comes from labour, if less labour is used to produce goods, less value will be generated when such goods are sold. While this may seem a little obscure, simple supply and demand analysis gives us the same result. As workers are replaced by machines over supply pushes up the quantity of goods produced and leads to falling profit. Crisis is not fatal, at least, not immediately. Marx identified a whole host of processes from selling more goods (small profit margins multiplied by greater sales maintain profit) to exploiting workers more intensively, which tend to conserve the capitalist 'mode of production'. While Marx, in several passages, stated that crises would intensify, careful study of his work suggests that this is not necessarily the case (Desai 2004).
Marxists have long argued as to the exact nature of the tendency for profit to fall and the crisis identified by Marx (Went 2000: 65). Many Marxists have argued for an underconsumptionist view, suggesting that consumption will fail to keep up with production, leading to falling prices, negative profits and killer slumps. Others stress over accumulation, noting that supply will rise too fast to sustain profit. These two views are essentially one. Other contradictions include the possible mismatch between different ‘departments’ (more or less 'consumption' and 'investment' in machinery) of the economy, thus capital may increase faster than demand for goods and services again feeding into slump. Autonomist Marxists stress the essential conflict between workers, who want to hold on to more of their labour power and capitalists who wish to steal it away (Cleaver 2000). For ecosocialists the basic contradiction between use values and exchange values is the mother of all other contradictions and crises (Kovel 2002).
As capitalism develops, ways around contradictions tend to be found but they tend to lead to new contradictions. For example, the growth of vast financial markets producing credit, which horrify social creditors, allow consumption to expand to maintain profitable demand. Accelerating debt expands consumption and allows exchange values to be realized. The mismatches in the economy can be bridged by borrowing (Harvey 1999) however this leads to new contradictions. While the problems of capitalism cannot be blamed on the banks, debt creation certainly leads to new problems.
Contradictions and conflicts, whether class based, environmental or economic, to the extent that can be separated, lead to change. Marx argued that capitalism by massively increasing the means of production and forging working class opposition tends to create communism. Marxist politics tries to activate these tendencies. Ultimately, accelerating change may lead to a communist society, where the market is replaced by conscious human planning. Abstract economic ‘laws’ and the ‘needs’ of an elite are replaced by a society based on human need. This process is a revolution both because it is likely to demand violent change and because it leads to a break between one kind of society and another. Capitalism in its search for profits is the force that promotes globalisation but will mutate into communism.
Marx drew upon a rich heritage of thought, which is often forgotten by anti-capitalist activists today. Hegel, Kant and Spinoza inform his thought. From Feuerbach he gained the notion of 'fetishism’, a process where we give something invented by the human imagination, artificial but effective power over us. Gods and goddesses invented by human beings rule over us. Objects are given sexual power and return to shape our desires. Commodities, goods we make, are given energy and become our masters. Capitalism is a process of 'fetishism' where by an economic system constructed collectively by the actions of millions of human beings, comes to dominate human beings (Kolakowski 1988: 276). Desai notes how Marx's 'training in Hegelian philosophy equipped him [to deal with economic questions] at a level of depth and generality which was totally alien to the British way of doing political economy. He used the method of immanent criticism. This meant mastering the classical political economy completely, accepting its logic but then proposing a better political economy as a critique from within which to point up and resolve the internal contradictions' (Desai 2004: 55). Hegel specifically equipped Marx with the dialectic. The dialectic comes from the Greeks and is akin to dialogue, the interplay between two forces that transforms both...like conversation or cooking or sex.
Reality is a process of constant revolution. Identity is relational; we have identity in relation to that which is different. Change occurs when relationships are rearranged. Phenomenon is a product of self-contradiction and such contradiction leads to change. Contradiction is all; Marx characteristically notes the contradiction between 'progress' and exploitation. Concepts enslave workers, machines crush their individuality in the pursuit of surplus value:

all means for the development of production undergo a dialectical inversion so that they become means of domination and exploitation of the producers; they distort the worker into a fragment of a man, they degrade him to the level of an appendage of a machine, they destroy the actual content of his labour by turning it into a torment; they alienate from him the intellectual potentialities of the labour process in the same proportion as science is incorporated in it as an independent power; they deform the conditions under which he works, subject him during the labour process to a despotism the more hateful for its meanness; they transform his life-time into working-time, and drag his wife and child beneath the wheels of the juggernaut of capital. (Marx 1979: 799)

Please support EDM to stop Gary McKinnon's extradition

See below an email from Gary's mum asking people to contact there MP's about informing and asking for your own MP's support of Early Day motion (EDM)that was today set to be put down in Parliament by shadow justice minister David Burrowes MP.

(thanks to Colin Revell for this)

Hello,

Janis here, Gary's mum.

I'm writing to ask you to please, please do everything you can to urge your MP to sign the (EDM)
Early Day Motion that has been tabled by my son Gary McKinnon's MP David Burrowes, re-the proposed extradition of my son Gary to the United States.

If all MP's could please sign this EDM as soon as possible and to everyone else, please, please urge your MP to sign this Early Day Motion for Gary and we can hopefully get the current one sided extradition treaty back into the House of Commons for Debate and amendment to ensure that U.K citizens will not be extradited to the United States until assurances have been given that Gary and others like him will be allowed to serve their sentence in the U.K if convicted in the U.S.

My son Gary has Aspergers Syndrome. He is a kind and gentle person who admitted to infiltrating computers six and a half years ago while searching for evidence of UFO's and Free energy Technology.

Gary also left cheeky notes on the American government computers telling them that their security was awful. Gary also left messages in the form of a Cyber Peace Protest.

At that time Gary believed in the conspiracy theory that 9/11 was an inside job and he left a message saying that he believed "it was no accident that there was a stand down after 9/11".

There is no doubt that Gary was a fool for trespassing in military computers and for leaving cheeky notes but Gary is naive and immature for his age and was going through deep depression at the time. Gary was simply looking for answers.

People with Aspergers Syndrome have obsessions and Gary's obsession was with computers and he has learned a bitter lesson.
Our family have had a six and a half year sentence of fear at the prospect of our gentle son ending up in a high security prison in the U.S where stun guns are used and the safety of inmates is often compromised by the behaviour of some extremely violent inmates.

Please ask your MP to sign this EDM, as this extradition treaty is unfair in that it is totally one sided.
America can request the extradition of any U.K citizen on the strength of an allegation alone which is presented as fact; whereas if the U.K wish to extradite an American citizen we must present actual evidence.
U.K citizens should be given equal rights and our own government should be fighting on behalf of U.K citizens to ensure that we have equal rights.

We are currently the only country in the world that will extradite its own citizens to America without evidence having to be provided.

Please help us to save Gary and others like him, by having this one sided extradition treaty debated and amended by ensuring that your MP is fully aware of all the facts and will sign the Early Day Motion in order that U.K citizens are given the same consideration as Americans, Israelis and others across the world.

We were told by our government several years ago that "Forum" was to be introduced as an amendment to the Police and Justice bill and this would have a positive bearing on the extradition treaty with America, as account would be taken of where the crime took place either in whole or in part and this could prevent many unnecessary extraditions to the U.S.A and more U.K citizens could be tried here in their own country.


We are extremely concerned about the welfare of our son Gary and all help will be very greatly appreciated.

Many Thanks & Very Best Wishes

Janis (Gary's Mum)

Thanks for your continued support.

Yours,

Colin Revell, NeuroDiversity and Autism Action Group (NAAG)

29 Oct 2008

David Tennant quits Doctor Who



Well hot news from the BBC, probably to keep us off of thinking about the Andrew Sachs crisis, must admit I am a Tom Baker fan, the last few seasons have been good but at its best Dr Who was essential.

With it's ecological parables it was certainly a bit of popular culture that produced some green political thinking.
'

UNIT is called in after a miner from the Welsh village of Llanfairfach is found dead, his skin glowing bright green. Jo joins forces with a local environmental group, led by Professor Clifford Jones, while the Doctor investigates the nearby plant of a company called Global Chemicals.

They discover that the mine workings are full of giant maggots and green slime - both lethal to touch - that have been produced by chemical waste pumped from the Global plant.

Stevens, the director of Global, has been taken over by the BOSS - Bimorphic Organisational Systems Supervisor - a computer with a will of its own.

The BOSS plans to seize power by linking itself to every other major computer in the world,'

More here

Barry Letts who produced it was a reader of The Ecologist.

I wonder whether Russell Brand will be the new face of Gallifrey....

Greenpeace occupy Kingsnorth



chilly night but apparently Greenpeace are occupying Kingsnorth...real action on climate change, despite the rhetoric of the climate bill I suspect it will be a long time coming.

Actually investing in renewables, changing planning permission so we can all generate a bit of clean power, halting airport expansion, challenging car culture and giving us proper public transport...its not going to happen without us making a lot more noise.

Black Panthers in Brixton on Monday!


Dear Friend,

It is my honour to invite you to the historical meeting taking place on Monday 3rd November at the Karibu Centre.

Join us for a memorable evening in the heart of Brixton, to listen first hand to the stories of former Black Panthers from the US and the
UK, and to view an exhibition of Black Panther's original artwork and photographs.

Monday 3 November 2008, 7.00 pm
Karibu Education Centre (formerly the Abeng Centre)
7 Gresham Road
London SW9
Underground: Brixton Station
http://rememberolivemorris.wordpress.com/

With special guests:

EMORY DOUGLAS - Former Minister of Culture of the Black Panthers
Party; Black Panther/Black Liberation artist and designer of the Black
Panther newspaper

BILLY X JENNINGS - Head of the US Black Panther Alumni

NEIL KENLOCK – Official photographer of the Brixton Black Panther
Movement, and founder of Choice FM

ELAINE HOLNESS – Director of the Karibu Education Centre, originally
founded as the Abeng Centre by the Rev. Tony Ottey in the 1970s to
offer supplementary schooling and youth services to local children.

KODWO ESHUN - Writer and theorist, acclaimed author of More Brilliant
than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction, and co-founder of The
Otolith Group. Currently working on a photo essay about representation
of Black Panthers in film.

CLARENCE THOMPSON – One of the founding fathers of the 1965 Race
Relations Act and renowned dramatic poet.

The event will pay homage to the memory of Olive Morris, a
Brixton-based Black Panther and women's rights activist, who died
tragically young leaving behind a remarkable legacy.

Tickets: £10 at the door / £ 7 advance sales / £ 5 under 18s
This event is a fundraiser for the Remembering Olive Collective and
the Panther Alumni projects in the U.S. and the entry fee includes
refreshments.

Direct sales and bookings

Black Cultural Archives - 0207 582 8516 (lines open 10am-6pm)
1 Othello Close, London SE11 4RE (Underground: Kennington)
Email: info@bcaheritage.org.uk

Direct sales only (office hours)

Gasworks - 020 7091 1636
155 Vauxhall Street, London SE11 5RH (Underground: Oval)

Lambeth Women's Project – 07951 998 414
166A Stockwell Road, London SW9 9TQ (Underground: Brixton / Stockwell)

*N.B The seating at this event is limited. Please book in advance to
avoid disappointment.

WHEN CORRUPTION APPEARS: REFLECTIONS THROUGH THE QUR' AN

FASAD - WHEN CORRUPTION APPEARS: REFLECTIONS THROUGH THE QUR' AN

Date: Sunday 9th November 2008
Time: 2.15pm to 4.45pm
Venue: London Mennonite Centre (Just off Archway Road), 14 Shepherds Hill, London, N6 5AQ. Nearest Tube: Highgate (Northern line): 5 mins walk: (Take the Archway Road exit). Map: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&q=+N6+5AQ&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&resnum=1&ct=title

At this month's forum, we will reflect on the following verse from the Qur' an:

'Corruption has appeared in the land and the sea on account of what the hands of men have wrought, that He may make them taste a part of that which they have done, so that they may return.' (Qur' an: 30:41).

We will consider, for instance, what forms such 'corruption' might take 'in the land and the sea' as referred to in the verse. Our discussions will include both potential 'environmental' interpretations, as well as those that may not be considered as such. In addition, we will ask ourselves what it means 'to return', reflecting on this with respect to both an inner and outer process, and whether outwardly this can be expressed in only one, or in numerous possible ways. Please bring copy of the Qur' an (with translation +/- commentary) if you have one.

We will also hear feedback from the main Fast for the Planet event (and consider realistic ways to develop the process), as well as a Faith and Climate gathering in Liverpool, organised by Faiths4Change and where LINE was represented. Also, although LINE was not formally represented at a recent gathering at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Aldermaston, we will hear feedback from anyone who did attend.

No charge and open to all. Donations welcome.

Website: http://www.lineonweb.org.uk; Tel: 0845 456 3960 (local rate)

Real green politics in German

The German Greens famously moved from being the most radical ecological political party in the world to one of the most conservative.

Capitalism is locura...it is ecologically unsustainable, yet questioning ever increasing economic growth is hardly popular for ambitious political leaders, Green Party are in danger of being sucked into the system rather than seeking to subvert.

In Latin America there is some modest progress towards ecological sanity with even some governments acknowledging the importance of ecological realities and of course the indigenous are not taking the threats to our collective existence lightly.

In Europe things are far less advanced for the green movement, so I was encouraged to come across a website and email address for ecosocialists in Germany, if you live in Germany or Austria or know people who do, please get in touch.

Bruno Kern who has helped established the ecosocialist initiave can be contacted via:
Initiative Ökosozialismus

C/o Bruno Kern, Mombacher Straße 75 A, 55122 Mainz, Tel.: 06131/236461,
E-Mail: info@oekosozialismus.net

http://www.oekosozialismus.net/en_oekosoz_en_rz.pdf is a short manifesto which challenges the view that growth is environmentally sustainable,

An alternative to economic and environmental catastrophe

• Introduce a permanent global ban on short-selling of stock and shares
• Ban on trade in derivatives
• Ban all speculation on staple food commodities
• Cancel the debt of all developing countries – debt is mounting as the crisis causes the value of Southern currencies to fall
• Phase out the World Bank, IMF, and WTO
• Phase out the US dollar as the international reserve currency
• Establish a people’s inquiry into the mechanisms necessary for a just international monetary system
• Ensure aid transfers do not fall as a result of the crisis
• Abolish tied aid
• Abolish neoliberal aid conditionalities
• Phase out the paradigm of export-led development, and refocus sustainable development on production for the local and regional market
• Introduce incentives for products produced for sale closest to the local market
• Cancel all negotiations for bilateral free trade and economic partnership agreements
• Promote regional economic co-operation arrangements, such as UNASUR, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), the Trade Treaty of the Peoples and others, that encourage genuine development and an end to poverty

More here!

28 Oct 2008

OUR RELIGION - LIFE





MOVE organisation beliefs below...'Everything that lives is holy' as the prophet who saw angels in the trees in Peckham used to say!


MOVE: Belief and Practice
The MOVE Organization is a family of strong, serious, deeply committed revolutionaries founded by a wise, perceptive, strategically minded Black man named JOHN AFRICA. The principle of our belief is explained in a collection of writings we call "The Guidelines," authored by JOHN AFRICA. To honor our beloved Founder, and acknowledge the wisdom and strength He has given us, we say "LONG LIVE JOHN AFRICA!"

OUR RELIGION - LIFE
JOHN AFRICA taught us that Life is the priority. Nothing is more important or as important as Life, the force that keeps us alive. All life comes from one source, from God, MOM NATURE, MOMA. Each individual life is dependent on every other life, and all life has a purpose, so all living beings, things that move, are equally important, whether they are human beings, dogs, birds, fish, trees, ants, weeds, rivers, wind or rain. To stay healthy and strong, life must have clean air , clear water and pure food. If derived of these things, life will cycle to the next level, or as the system says, "die."

NATURAL LAW
We believe in Natural Law, the government of self. Man-made laws are not really laws, because they don't apply equally to everyone and they contain exceptions and loopholes. Man-made laws are constantly being amended or repealed. Natural Law stays the same and always has. Man's laws require police, sheriffs, armies, and courts to enforce them, and lawyers to explain them. True law is self explanatory and self enforcing. In the undisturbed jungles, oceans, and deserts of the world, there are no courtrooms or jails. The animals and plants don't need them. No living being has to consult a law book to be able to know if they have to cough, sneeze, or urinate. Natural Law says that when you see something getting too close to your eye, you will blink, whether you are a German Shepherd or a Supreme Court Justice.

SELF DEFENSE
All living things instinctively defend themselves. This is a God-given right of all life. If a man goes into a bear's cave, he violates and threatens the bear's place of security. The bear will defend his home by instinctively fighting off the man and eliminating him. The bear is not wrong, because self defense is right.

RIGHT AND WRONG
The fact that something is legal under the system's laws, doesn't make it right. Slavery was legal. Killing Native Americans and stealing their land was all done legally. JOHN AFRICA taught us that what is right applies equally, across the board. If something is right, it's right for all of life, with no separations.

THE SYSTEM
We don't believe in this reform world system - the government, the military, industry and big business. They have historically abused, raped and bartered life for the sake of money. These rulers and policy makers don't care who they kill, enslave, cripple, poison or disease in their quest for money. They have made material wealth a priority over life. Marvels of science and technological so-called advancements all stem from the system's greed for money and disrespect for life. But a person who is suffocating or drowning doesn't call out for diamonds, gold, or wads of money. The person will do all in their power for a breath of air, because air is a necessity and money is worthless. Over the last century, industry has raped the earth of countless tons of minerals, bled billions or gallons of oil from the ground, and enslaved millions of people to manufacture cars, trucks, planes and trains that further pollute the air with their use. And because of the billions of dollars in profits to be made, the system will favor artificial transportation over the legs and feet Mama gave us to walk and run with. Big business and industry are responsible for the mass production and mass marketing of cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs, which are used to extract further profits from people while keeping them sick and addicted. Politicians are put in place to legalize, endorse, and protect industry and big business, therefore we don't believe in politics at all.

MOVE'S WORK
MOVE's work is revolution. JOHN AFRICA's revolution, a revolution to stop man's system from imposing on life, to stop industry from poisoning the air, water, and soil and to put an end to the enslavement of all life. Our work is to show people how rotten and enslaving this system is and that the system is the cause of homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, alcoholism, racism, domestic abuse, AIDS, crime, war, all the problems of the world. We are working to demonstrate that people not only can fight this system, they must fight they system if they ever want to free themselves from endless suffering and oppression.

BEING A REVOLUTIONARY
Revolution starts with the individual. It starts with a person making a personal commitment to do what's right. You can't turn someone into a revolutionary by making them chant slogans or wave guns. To understand revolution, you must be sound. Revolution is not imposed upon another, it is kindled within them. A person can talk about revolution, but if they are still worshiping money, or putting drugs into their body, or beating their mate, they obviously haven't committed themselves to doing what's right. Revolution is not a philosophy, it is an activity.

PERSECUTION
We are a deeply religious organization. We know that the current political system resents our clean, righteous example and wants to stop us from exposing their corruption even if they have to kill us. Just as Jesus was labeled a radical and persecuted to death by politicians of his day for what he said, we know how threatening our message is to those in power and why they come down so hard on us. We expect it and we are prepared for it.

THE DURATION OF THE STRUGGLE
We don't measure our success with reference to a calendar. As long as we do what's right, the only way things can turn out is right, regardless of time. We are not anxious or impatient and we will not compromise our principle for quick, temporary results. We don't necessarily expect to see a dramatic change in this system in our lifetime or our children's lifetime. We know that many hundreds of years of degeneration and imposition will take many hundreds of years to correct, but the initial turning of the tide has to start somewhere. JOHN AFRICA began that process through the MOVE Organization. LONG LIVE JOHN AFRICA!

LEADERS
Our organization was founded by JOHN AFRICA, however, he is not our leader. JOHN AFRICA has equipped each of us with the wisdom, strength, and understanding to lead ourselves. Using the strategy of JOHN AFRICA, we know we can't fail. Everything that happens to us happens a certain way, because it's supposed to.

LIVING AS A REVOLUTIONARY FAMILY
All committed MOVE members take the last name "Africa" out of reverence for our Founder JOHN AFRICA, and to show that we are a family, a unified body moving in one direction. We have Black, White, Puerto Rican members from upper and lower class backgrounds, both college and street (mis)educated. While we do not heed the system's legal institution of marriage, we do adhere to the natural law that requires one male and one female to mate and produce new life. We are monogamous. JOHN AFRICA taught us that childbearing is a natural, instinctive function of a mother and requires no drugs or hospital stays.

OUR CHILDREN
We dearly love our children. We protect them and watch over them so they will become healthier and stronger than we ourselves. We are all one family and all the adults help to look after the kids. We don't punish them through beatings or physical abuse. If they do something wrong, the whole family takes part in giving them direction and showing them what's right. We don't send them off to school for the system's brainwashing and indoctrination. We stay close to our children and they stay close to us.

APPEARANCE
Our hair is left the way nature intended, uncombed and uncut. Though we don't favor using the system's chemicals, cosmetics, and disposable conveniences, we do spend a good deal of time keeping ourselves and our surroundings clean and tidy. We dress functionally, in clothing that doesn't interfere with our active lives.

RAW FOOD AND DISTORTION
The diet of JOHN AFRICA gave us consists of fresh raw food. We always keep plenty of wholesome raw food on hand and eat whenever our bodies tell us to, not according to artificial meal-time standards. We make sure no one around us goes hungry, because we know that good food is an essential requirement of life. We acknowledge that some of us were raised on the system's food, or "distortion"- as we call it. Doing the work we do can also put us under a lot of pressure when parent and child or husband and wife are separated by the system's oppression. So it is not uncommon to see some of use eating cooked food on occasion. However, you will never see a committed MOVE member use drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol. The hundreds of miles that the system has placed between us and some of our brothers and sisters in distant prisons has also forced us to use cars to maintain the close contact our family is used to. But we look forward to the day when we can live together the way we want to, without a ness for air-polluting technology.

CARING FOR LIFE
To keep ourselves healthy and strong, we rely on plenty of exercise as well as good hard physical labor. Scrubbing floors, sweeping walks, and running dogs are daily tasks. Maintaining the hundreds of pounds of food we keep stocked is a big job, too. We have seeds for the birds, nuts for the squirrels, raw meat for the dogs and cats, and fruits and vegetables for the people. We love all life. It is tremendously upsetting for us to see someone mistreat an animal and we will take immediate action to stop anyone from beating a dog, throwing stones at birds, or causing similar impositions on innocent life.

THE NAME MOVE
The word MOVE is not an acronym. It means exactly what it says: MOVE, work, generate, be active. Everything that's alive moves. If it didn't, it would be stagnant, dead. Movement is the principle of Life, and because MOVE's belief is Life, our Founder, JOHN AFRICA, gave us the name "MOVE." When we greet each other, we say "ON THE MOVE!"

"THE POWER OF TRUTH IS FINAL"
-JOHN AFRICA

SOCIALISM, for SOME

[col. writ. 10/22/08] (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal


Stimulus package. Bailouts. Banking rescues.

It has been generations since we've witnessed scenes such as these.

Government officials spin like jacks, as they proclaim a policy one day, only to renounce it the next. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rushes up and spirals downward in a matter of minutes, visual, measurable reminders of the volatility in the markets.

Money is dumped into failing financial houses, failing banks, and private companies, in an attempt to 'prime the pump', we are told.

Companies that have been icons for over a century, fade away like dew in the morning sun.

And this ain't just national; it's global.

A year ago, British banking giant, Northern Rock, fell into a crisis. For months the government sought to persuade private investors to take a bite; but there were no takers. In February, the institution was nationalized, and the government pumped in £87 billion to keep it afloat. The bank was salvaged, but thousands of its employees were fired.

The Northern Rock debacle, coupled with the $700 billion bailout has set off alarm bells among the investor class. One billionaire investor, Jim Rogers, was quoted thus: "America is more communist than China is right now. You can see that this is welfare of the rich, it is socialism for the rich -- it's just bailing out financial institutions. this is madness, this is insanity, they have more than doubled the American national debt in one weekend for a bunch of crooks and incompetents. I'm not quite sure why I or anybody else should be paying for them."*

What makes it even more surreal is how politicians hurl charges at other politicians of "socialist!" Ignored is the socialism accorded to the wealthy bankers and houses of high finance.

Of course, this isn't anything like real socialism at all.

For the working class, the working poor, and millions in the middle, this economic crisis is a terrifying portent of things to come. They know that hard times will only get harder.

They wish they had some of the 'socialism' that has been lavished on the rich.

--(c) '08 maj

[*Palmer, Steve, "Capitalist Crisis -USA: Goodbye Wall Street," Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (Oct. - Nov. 2008/London), p.3 ]

27 Oct 2008

Growth is madness!



'We thus have any interesting problem, economic growth is unsustainable for a variety of reasons, however it is inherent in a modern capitalist economy. Providing alternatives to capitalism is no easy task but it is necessary. I suspect that ultimately it is easier to change the economic system than basic ecological realities, however most commentators reverse my approach', concludes Derek Wall.

The New Scientist have recently run a special issue attacking economic growth, its based on the Sustainable Development Commission's project on 'Rethinking Prosperity', here is the section from my report to the SDC, which argues that economic growth is vital to the present economic system...this in my view means we need a different economic system. Rebooting the economy with some Keynesian cash injection, does not overcome the fact that a system that requires ever increasing economic growth is disfunctional. You can read my think piece here

John Bellamy Foster compares globalised contemporary capitalism to a treadmill:

First, built into this global system, and constituting its central rationale, is the increasing accumulation of wealth by a relatively small section of the population at the top of the social pyramid.

Second, there is a long-term movement of workers away from self-employment and into wage jobs that are contingent on the continual expansion of production.

Third, the competitive struggle between businesses necessitates on pain of extinction of the allocation of accumulated wealth to new, revolutionary technologies that serve to expand production.

Fourth, wants are manufactured in a manner that creates
an insatiable hunger for more.

Fifth, government becomes increasingly responsible for promoting
national economic development, while ensuring some degree of 'social security' for a least a portion of
its citizens.

Sixth, the dominant means of communication and education are part of the treadmill,
serving to reinforce its priorities and values.
[…] Everyone, or nearly everyone, is part of this treadmill and is unable or unwilling to get off.

Investors and managers are driven by the need to accumulate wealth and to expand the scale of their operations in order to prosper within a globally competitive milieu. For the vast majority the commitment to the treadmill is more limited and indirect: they simply need to obtain jobs at livable wages. But to retain those jobs and to maintain a given standard of living in these circumstances it is
necessary, like the Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass, to run faster and faster in order to stay in the same place. (Foster 2002: 44-45)

While rising welfare can be decoupled from economic growth, there are a number of reasons why a modern capitalist economy requires constant economic expansion. Corporations are owned by share holders. While shares have increasingly been bought and sold for speculative motives, shareholders generally demand dividends. Dividends are a share of profit and floated corporations have a legal
requirement to maximize them. A race for profit is built into the economic system. More growth is required to make profit.

Marx famously argued that firms tend to replace workers with capital. To over simplify a complex argument, such capital investment leads to an over all decline in profit which fuels the search for
expansion so as to restore profitability. Whatever one thinks of Marx’s approach to value, the core assumptions are clear and difficult to refute. Companies must invest in the most up-to-date and efficient technology. If they fail to do so, they will be out competed by more efficient rivals and forced to close. However increased production tends to lead to over supply (Marx would argue a decline in the
proportion of living labour which he sees as the source of exchange value), depressing price and profit.

To maintain profit, sales need to be expanded and/or efficiencies increased. A firm that fails to maintain profit will be unable to invest in new innovation and thus will be wiped out. Marx’s assumption that capitalism is dynamic, unstable and highly productive remains true today.

On the right the neo-Austrian economist Schumpeter has argued that with the rise of monopoly or oligopolistic markets, despite reduced competition, growth is still functional. He developed the concept of ‘creative destruction’, firms gain monopoly power and thus profit through patents. When patents are legally exhausted, profits collapse and new products must be patented. The biro pen is a classic
textbook example, when a patented monopoly product the biro sold for many dollars, when the patent period ceased the price tumbled to a few cents. Again, production must be expanded in the long run, despite monopoly profits in the short run which might be based on constrained supply. Supply siders like Marxists see capitalism as dynamic and growth orientated (1).

If we ignore the legal requirement for profit, and my thumb nail sketch reading of Marx and Schumpeter‘s assumptions, other reasons suggest that economic growth as a means of maintaining profit is vital. We live in a credit based economy where ever more esoteric financial instruments dominate economic activity. To pay back interest, growth must be used to maintain payments. Debt provides the means and the motive for economic expansion.

So while it is possible, in theory, to increase prosperity without economic growth, the present structures of global capitalism require infinite economic growth. Capitalism is like a bicycle if one stops peddling, it falls over.

We can go deeper still. In a market economy we do not directly produce goods because they are useful to us. We produce goods that we exchange for money that we can then use to exchange for other goods. This seems a sensible and convenient arrangement. However, we constantly have to sell if we are to buy. This means that we have to persuade others to buy our goods if are to survive. A mismatch often develops between the usefulness of goods and their value from exchange. We thus
have to sell goods that previously had no use to maintain our ability to buy goods and services. This tendency has a tendency to get out of hand.

Producing for use is not a priority at all. If you buy a book, for example, instead of borrowing it from the library this increases exchange value, but it would be better ecologically and socially to provide books, children’s toys, tools, etc via libraries because this would circulate use values more widely.
Anything that increases exchange values is encouraged in our society because it allows the market economy to function, this however means that use values are largely ignored or achieved through duplication and waste.

The drive for economic growth has become the goal of society with a variety of distorting consequences which tend to reduce welfare:

In 1992 alone U.S. business spent perhaps $1 trillion on marketing, simply convincing people to consume more and more goods. This exceeded by about $600 billion the amount spent on education-- public and private--at all levels. Under these circumstances we can expect people to grow up with their heads full of information about saleable commodities, and empty of knowledge about human history,
morality, culture, science, and the environment. What is most valued in such a society is the latest style,the most expensive clothing, the finest car. Hence, it is not surprising that more than 93 percent of teenage girls questioned in a survey conducted in the late 1980s indicated that their favorite leisure activity was to go shopping. (Foster 2002: 46-47)

Capitalism of course selects those who are most aggressive and inspired at increasing profit:
The Chairman of the board will always tell you that he spends his every waking hour laboring so that people will get the best possible products at the cheapest possible price and work in the best possible conditions. But it is an institutional fact, independent of who the chairman of the board is, that he'd better be trying to maximize profit and market share, and if he doesn't do that, he's not going to be
chairman of the board any more. If he were ever to succumb to the delusions that he expresses, he'd be out. (Foster 2002: 48)

Every member of a capitalist firm could be replaced by another and the system would still maintain its trajectory. Capitalists may be good or bad, the distinction is pointless, the workings of capitalism require constant growth.
Individuals in firms who decide that there is a kinder, gentler way of doing things or who have priorities other than profit trying to produce what is most ecological or useful, for example, either fail to rise to the top or are replaced: ’People who are genuinely forthcoming and disinterestedly helpful do not become managers of large capitalist firms. The tender-hearted are pushed off far down the ladder
on which one ascends to such positions of power. For capital shapes as well as selects the kinds of people who create these events’. (Kovel 2002: 38)

We thus have any interesting problem, economic growth is unsustainable for a variety of reasons, however it is inherent in a modern capitalist economy. Providing alternatives to capitalism is no easy task but it is necessary. I suspect that ultimately it is easier to change the economic system than basic ecological realities, however most commentators reverse my approach.

Ken Livingstone launches eight point policy to help London meet the recession



Ken Livingstone launches eight point policy to help London meet the recession



Ken Livingstone today launched eight key policy points to help London meet the effects of the recession. The full text of Ken Livingstone’s statement is as follows.





Eight point policy to help London meet the recession

By Ken Livingstone

27 October 2008



London has entered its first recession for fifteen years. Londoners know the value of their house is falling, their spending is squeezed, and an increasing number are worried about their job security. In this situation the Mayor of London should put forward clear policies which, in areas where he has power, can best help London meet the effects of this recession. I have set out here eight key measures that should be immediately introduced by a Mayor of London. All flow from a clear choice of priorities – that the Mayor must protect the economic development of London, promote social justice and therefore help those who are being most hit by this crisis, and protect the environment.

1. January's above-inflation fares increase can and should be scrapped by returning to taxing polluters

Fares policy on the buses and underground has to be re-prioritised to help ordinary Londoners, instead of the Mayor’s policy of protecting drivers of gas guzzlers. The cancellation of the £25-a-day CO2 congestion charge on the most gas guzzling cars should be reversed – raising up to £50 million a year.

The 'oil for expertise' deal with Venezuela must be reintroduced – gaining London over £20 million a year at current exchange rates.

These measures together will raise over £60 million a year and allow the proposed above inflation fare increase in January to be scrapped and single bus fares kept down to 90p instead of being raised to £1.

The further new wasteful transport proposals should similarly be abandoned. The plan to squander £13 million a year by replacing bendy buses on routes 38, 507 and 521 with ordinary single and double-deckers should be stopped. The costings for these routes show that the pledge to replace all four hundred bendy buses in London would cost Londoners £60 million a year even with existing types of buses, and this should be abandoned. Even worse, the proposal to introduce a 'new Routemaster', with open platforms and conductors has been shown by independent transport consultants to cost over £100 million a year and should be scrapped.

Further financial costs will be imposed on ordinary fare-paying Londoners if the Western Extension of the congestion charging zone is abolished. TfL have stated that abolition would lose London's transport system around £70 million a year. Even the Evening Standard, which calls for the abolition of the Western Extension, and underestimates the losses from abolition, admits it will lose £14 million a year. The Western Extension of the congestion charging zone must stay not only to reduce congestion but to raise revenue to keep fares down.

These measures will save Londoners over £60 million a year in the short term and will eventually save Londoners them around £200 million a year compared to implementation of Boris Johnson's transport plans. This will permit not only the abandonment of January's above-inflation fare increase but allow fares to be held down by the maximum amount in the coming years.


2. Reverse the cuts in Visit London's budget and allocate a £5 million a year boost in the next two years to promote London's visitor economy

In a recession London's £15 billion a year visitor and tourism economy is going to be hit. But the decline in the pound's exchange rate means that it is going to be more possible to attract tourists to London - boosting restaurants, theatres and many other London visitor attractions. Experience shows the effectiveness of tourism-marketing campaigns.

Exactly the wrong course is now being taken through severely cutting the budget of Visit London, London's tourism agency and other budgets for the promotion of London.

The cuts already made must be reversed and for the next two years, the likely length of the recession, a temporary extra grant of £5 million a year should be given to Visit London for marketing the city. This will help aid London's hard pressed visitor economy and pay for itself many times over.


3. Abandon the damaging new restrictive planning regime in London

It is going to be difficult to keep up investment in London during the recession. Yet it is vital that as much private sector construction as possible goes ahead. The new restrictive planning regime emerging from City Hall, based on the model favoured by Westminster City Council under Sir Simon Milton, should be reversed. West End retailers and responsible developers should be told they will get strong support for new development. A planning regime must be introduced in the West End and along the route of Crossrail to ensure that London gets the most from the economic opportunities it offers.


4. Speed up the house building programme and support the call for nationalisation of the necessary parts of the construction industry to carry out a large scale government house building programme

The number of new homes being built – including affordable homes – has very steeply and rapidly declined. In such circumstances the public sector must take a more active role. The Mayor should use all the new powers acquired for housing construction and join the call of Jon Cruddas and other MPs that, if necessary, parts of the construction industry should be nationalised to allow a large scale programme of affordable homes to be undertaken. The policy that 50 per cent of new housing should be affordable housing should be reintroduced - in a recession it will be housing for those on ordinary incomes and the low paid that will be scrapped by developers. The abandonment of the 50 per cent affordable housing policy will therefore be deeply damaging to Londoners. Policies to ensure a strong supply of rented affordable accommodation must be retained.

5. Press on with the big infrastructure projects and reorganize City Hall’s business and transport functions

Any opportunity for London to come through this economic crisis in the best shape possible is in significant part due to the big spending on infrastructure projects that were won during the last two Mayoral terms, such as the Olympics, Crossrail and the Mayor's new housing powers. These investment programmes act counter-cyclically to maintain economic activity and generate tens of thousands of jobs. This contrasts with the Tories’ “small government” approach would never have secured Crossrail. The attempt by discredited monetarists to advise the government against this approach should be roundly rejected by the Mayor and the major investment projects should be defended.

Chaos in the new administration is getting in the way of those who can actually run things in London. The professionalism of many managers in London government, whose skills are vital in a downturn, does not allow them to speak out publicly but the chaos that reigns in the Mayoralty is well-known to close observers of City Hall. It is of particular concern that in two key areas during a recsession – transport and business – the mayor’s office has put forward no proposals for how to deal with the economic situation. This is bad for London. The mayor needs to reorganise how his office is dealing with transport and business as a matter of urgency.

6. Put the focus of the Olympics back on economic development

The most important reason for seeking to win the Olympic Games was to carry out large scale economic development in east London. This perspective has been eroded by the new administration whose actions have effectively counterposed this objective to a pure emphasis on sport. Even more so in a recession the focus in the Olympics must be put back onto large scale economic regeneration and marketing London internationally - and London government must conduct itself accordingly.

7. Reverse the cut backs in regeneration spending by the LDA and halt the risk to its government funding

The London Development Agency should not be funneling its funds into projects that are already being financed by the boroughs, allowing them to cut their own spending. This means that economic regeneration funding in London will fall by several hundred million pounds a year – exactly the reverse of what is required in a recession. Furthermore this misuse of government funding by the LDA, not using the money for its intended purposes of expanding regeneration spending, threatens to lead to the LDA's funds being severely reduced by the government in the medium term. This must stop and LDA funds must be used for their proper purpose of expanding economic regeneration in London.

8. Strengthen London's presence in the key new emerging markets

The weight of the rapidly growing emerging market economies, above all India and China, is going to increase sharply in this recession and they will emerge from it fastest. London must strengthen the relations which it has established with these economies and the Mayor's proposal to cut London's presence in them by scaling back London's offices there must be abandoned.




In a recession far more than economic measures are required. Experience shows that there will be a tendency for crime, or the threat of crime, to increase. The threat of racist attacks will increase, as will the danger of domestic violence against women. The planned reductions in real police spending must therefore be stopped and the cuts in the programmes against racism, and against domestic violence and other threats to women, must be reversed. Measures of environmental protection must continue.

But the eight points above are vital to be included in any programme to tackle the effects of the recession in London and they should be implemented at once.



ENDS


Notes to editors - What Boris Johnson has been doing

* Boris Johnson has failed to lead the city in the biggest economic challenge it has faced for a decade and a half, claiming that the seriousness of the economic situation is exaggerated: 'There is a great deal of alarm and the whole thing is very much gloomier than it need necessarily be.'



* Liberal Democrat London Assembly leader Mike Tuffrey has said: "I've not seen or heard a word from the Mayor as to how London should respond."'



* In his Daily Telegraph column on 23 September the Mayor wrote: 'Every Lefty from Alex Salmond to Gordon Brown [who] is queuing up to kick the "spivs and speculators", who are apparently the authors of ... the destruction of immeasurable wealth across Britain and the world... the Prime Minister thought fit to announce that the "City must clean up its act".’ The Evening Standard reported that the Mayor ‘risked angering thousands of Londoners struggling to cope during the economic crisis by defending wealthy bankers’. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard-mayor/article-23558942-details/Boris:+Stop+neo-socialist+whingeing+about+City+bankers+and+house+prices/article.do



* Boris Johnson has retained as head of his international business advisory council the head of the firm WPP, despite the fact that this company has now left London to go into tax exile. Bob Diamond, who Boris Johnson declared would head his Mayor's Fund, has departed for the US.

26 Oct 2008

Electrify the rails


Not only did 'Thatcha' promote war, increase the gap between rich and poor and maim the UK economy with deregulation and a system based on dubious finance capital rather than manufacturing, she did her best to assault our railways...now we need to say goodbye to all things Thatcher (and Blair), electrifying the railways is part of this process according to ASLEF leader Keith Norman Darrel mailed this to me, originally on the Compass site, I am a compass sceptic but good to see them promoting this.


Getting on track: it's electrification or bust says Keith Norman



In 1979 British Rail proposed electrifying 250 miles of track every year. A
programme that was cancelled by Margaret Thatcher. Almost thirty years
later, faced with volatile oil prices, environmental concerns and a general
deterioration in passenger satisfaction, there is a growing consensus, that
electrification of the railways is not only desirable but necessary.

Only last year a government white paper, Delivering a Sustainable Railway,
apparently rejected network-wide electrification so it was something of a
surprise when earlier this year, the then Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly
seemed to recant, saying that she ‘can see great potential for a rolling
programme of electrification'. Whether Kelly's successor, Geoff Hoon, feels
the same remains to be seen but the benefits certainly outweigh the
predicted difficulties; the cost of electrification, train performance
issues and the current lack of radio-based cab signalling.

Electric trains are not only cheaper to operate than diesels, they cost less
to maintain, emit between 20-35 per cent less carbon, and zero emissions at
the point of use, improving air quality along the route, and offer greater
capacity and enhanced passenger comfort. Of course ASLEF can not ignore the
health, safety and comfort benefits to its members that are inherent to
operating an electrified train.

So why does Britain lag so far behind many of our European neighbours when
it comes to electrification of our railways?

The main obstacle is the perceived cost of electric traction. Any programme
as ambitious in scope as the electrification of the rail network will
obviously not come cheap. And there is inevitable reluctance among operators
who hold rail franchises for just seven years to commit to long term
spending plans. Put bluntly, electrification is simply not on Network Rail's
agenda because there is no profit to be made.

To fund a change as fundamental as that which saw diesel replace steam will
require public investment on a massive scale. Estimates put the cost of
installing the required infrastructure of wires and posts at around £400,000
for every kilometre of track. (some estimates are considerably higher).
However even these compare with the price of building new motorway links at
a cost of more than £15m per kilometre. A figure that not begin to take into
account the massive environmental cost of road building.

This will need unwavering commitment from successive governments in order to
succeed. However research published last year indicates a positive Benefit
Cost Ratio for full electrification of many lines including the Great
Western Mainline from Maidenhead which is to be electrified as part of
Crossrail. Meanwhile Transport Scotland is currently committed to a plan
which will see a major expansion of the electrified part of the network by
2016. This will include the track which connects Edinburgh to Glasgow via
Falkirk, one of the busiest routes in Scotland. There are hopes that
expanded electrification in Scotland will replicate the success of England's
last major railway electrification project which was completed in Yorkshire
in the mid-nineties after it was initially begun by British Rail. In some
parts of Yorkshire electric trains now carry 75 per cent of commuters and
passenger numbers have increased by 19 per cent year on year since
electrification.

Another reason for the government's reluctance to commit to expanded
electrification is that, despite the non-sustainability of a rail network
dependent on oil there are concerns about how the additional electricity
needed will be generated. The government is bent on pursuing a ‘more
ambitious' nuclear programme. ASLEF strongly supports alternatives such as
‘clean coal' or renewable energy.

Even without the long-term savings, fewer moving parts means less
maintenance, fewer vibrations mean longer operational lives, and enhanced
passenger comfort means increased revenue, if we are ever to end our
dependence on a finite supply of oil there really is no other choice. Its
electrification or bust.

Sign the
electrification petition.



Keith Norman is General Secretary of ASLEF

Caroline condemns lack of bank control


Caroline has criticised Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling's £50bn bank bailout.

She said the government was offering public funds to banking giants without demanding any public control in return.

The preference shares the Treasury will receive in the deal confer no voting rights, said Green leader Caroline Lucas MEP.

Caroline, who is also the Green parliamentary candidate for Brighton Pavilion constituency, argues that taxpayers should not be expected to provide a cash bailout without receiving in return the voting power to alter those banking practices that are the cause of the crisis.

Caroline is a co-author of the Green New Deal[1], a programme to solve the 'triple crunch' of financial crisis, peak oil and climate change.

Amongst other recommendations, it outlines a vision for green infrastructure projects such as mass home insulation or renewable energy, funded through local or central government bonds (or 'green gilts') which would create a secure investment for pension funds and individual savers.

Caroline said: "If we're going to be asked to bail out the banks, we want something for our money.

"We want to know that the banks are going to be run responsibly from now on, and that means, as part owners of these banks, we want our fair share of the votes on the board.

"It's a basic principle: no taxation without representation.

"Instead, Alistair Darling is giving away our £50bn but not asking for any voting rights. He seems to think we can trust the same corporate bosses that got us into this mess to get us out again - paid for with our money.

"I'm not so trusting. I believe ordinary people, who have been landed with the bill, should be represented in the boardrooms.

"We should use those votes to cut the excessive bonus rewards to failing executives, clamp down on predatory, irresponsible lending practices, and to demerge the mega-banks into smaller, more accountable firms so that this can never happen again.

"We can't let the banks go back to business as usual, as if nothing had happened.

"We need a Green New Deal to solve not just the financial crisis, but our resource and environmental problems too.

"By creating cast-iron government bonds as a secure home for pension funds and personal savings, and investing that money in green-collar work such as renewable energy or mass transit, we could end the financial panic.

"We could generate jobs, revitalise money flows, loosen ties to unreliable oil markets and cut carbon emissions."

The Convention of The Left: 29th November recall event


Convention of The Left - November 29th Recall Conference - Capitalism Isnt Working

The Convention of The Left brought together the left across labour, socialist, communist, green organisations and those in none. In 5 days of countering the official security-bound (non)event next door, we did well to meet our threefold aims: protest at Labour's warmongering and privatisation, presenting an alternative of people not profit, and proposing ways of working together in unity for The Left as a whole. Our agreed Statement of Intent envisages local left forums that can support practical campaigns and co-ordinate local action, as well as continuing the spirit of genuine debate started by the Convention.

There were criticisms: "a sinking ship" (before we had even set sail!), "a talking shop" (whats wrong with talking?), and, perhaps most critically, that we failed to set up "the one" (or "an other"?) new left party. Of course, many of us might want this to take place; but the Convention recognised that it will take time, we have to build confidence and develop trust, and it is better to start by doing so through unity in practical action rather than planting a flag and saying "we" are the true party already.

I am really pleased how so many people have praised the Convention, not least for its style and process, participatory discussion with (sometimes spontaneous) decision-making by those attending, no top-down platforms in an event called and organised by rank and file activists working together in the Manchester area. These comments have been echoed in the weeks since in emails and letters received by the organisers; thanks to all those for your kind words.

Even more, I am pleased that initiatives for unity are continuing. We cannot honestly pretend that our crystal-ball gazing enabled us to predict holding the Convention at such a timely moment as the crisis of capitalism; the oncoming misery of millions simply delivered us a silver lining in this respect. But in parallel to, contributing to, and arising from the Convention have come several important developments that we should all be supporting.
- The Trade Union Co-ordinating Group, announced at the TUC, will take forward left unity in and across the unions.
- The Campaign Against Fuel Poverty, launched at the Question Time event at the end of the week, has already given local groups the ability to campaign on the streets, not just for windfall taxes but public ownership.
- Agreement is growing on uniting our various "Charters" (CPB, LRC, Public Services not Private Profit, for example); we must seek widespread support for an alternative economic strategy that does not let the government force the poor to pay for the crisis and that does not allow the recession to become an excuse to scapegoat migrants and increase racism.
- Further Conventions of The Left have been proposed, for both the Labour Conference and TUC in Brighton next year.
- Most immediately, there will be a "Recall Event" of the Convention on November 29th in Manchester, under the broad title "Capitalism isnt working, what is our alternative"; and progress on all these practical proposals can be reported and hopefully taken further.

At this point, I would like to thank all those who helped make the Convention so effective. Among these, John McDonnell and the Labour Representation Committee, together with Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn, gave generous and unstinting support to its development from the start and to many of the sessions during the week; Robert Griffiths of the Communist Party of Britain and John Haylett of the Morning Star encouraged and gave excellent promotion throughout; Matt Wrack, Mark Serwotka, Pat Sikorski and Gregor Gall ensured the left trade union input; Clive Searle and the Manchester Respect party created and sustained the publicity and website; while Lindsey German, Martin Empson, Amy Leather (SWP), Derek Wall, Chris Hyland, Steve Durrant (Green Party) and Colin Fox, Frances Curran, Pam Currie (SSP) contributed personally and organisationally to give the full flavour of the left, both politically and geographically. And all the local activists involved for the year beforehand, too numerous to mention, and though un-named here, you know who you are and the value of the unseen organisation that you contributed.

The Recall Event takes place in Manchester on November 29th to take the vital process of left unity further forward. Some comrades will admittedly be mutually exchanging, between the SSP's Red-Green conference in Edinburgh and ourselves on the same day; but everyone should be attending one or other of these events.

Capitalism isnt working; we must make sure that we are building the socialist alternative!

John Nicholson
Convenor of the Organising Group, Convention of The Left/ Left Debate, Manchester 2008