28 Feb 2009

ECOLOGISM, ENVIRONMENTALISM & ISLAM

LINE (London Islamic Network for the Environment) Monthly Forums invites you to:

ECOLOGISM, ENVIRONMENTALISM & ISLAM

Date: Sunday 8th March 2009
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).

Within this month's LINE forum, we will touch on 'ecologism', which centres on the necessity of "radical changes in our relationship" with the world. We will contrast this with 'environmentalism', described as a "managerial approach to environmental problems". To facilitate our understanding, together we will look at selected pieces of text from Andrew Dobson's book, 'Green Political Thought'. We will then consider what we have read in the light of relevant Islamic themes.

We will also hear feedback of experiences from 6 billion ways, will have a slot for 'Resource Cycle' and we will also prepare for the upcoming 2nd main 'Fast for the Planet' event on Sun March 22nd.

No charge and open to all - simply turn up for the start time. Donations welcome.

More info:
LINE (London Islamic Network for the Environment) : www.lineonweb.org.uk ; Tel. 0845 456 3960 (local rate)

27 Feb 2009

Israeli war resistor Tamar Katz tours Britain


Just seen this...great, great, the Shministim are one of the great hopes in the Middle East!

You could probably put more than a rizla paper between my politics and that of the AWL who seem to be organising this event, well lets just say it looks like a very important speaking tour and I would urge all Green Party members to get to a meeting if possible!

The Shministim speak: Israeli student jailed for refusing to serve in army tours Britain, 5-14 March 2009

Following massive demonstrations and a wave of student occupations against Israel’s war in Gaza, British activists will be hosting a speaker tour with Tamar Katz, one of the Shministim, Israeli high school students jailed for refusing to fight in the occupied Palestinian territories. She is being brought over by Workers’ Liberty students, but the meetings are being hosted by a variety of organisations.

Tamar, 19, was jailed three times, for a total of 51 days at the end of 2008, for refusing to take part in military service. She explained why:

“I refuse to enlist in the Israeli military on conscientious grounds. I am not willing to become part of an occupying army, that has been an invader of foreign lands for decades, which perpetuates a racist regime of robbery in these lands, tyrannizes civilians and makes life difficult for millions under a false pretext of security.

“I oppose the anti-Palestinian policy of attrition and the oppression, not because I prefer the Palestinian society to the Israeli one, but out of an understanding that this policy has led us down a dead-end road politically and to immorality, forced especially on soldiers stationed in the Occupied Territories. I am not willing to become one of those holding the gun pointed indiscriminately at Palestinian civilians, and I do not believe that such actions could bring any change except ever more antagonism and violence in our region.”

This is an excellent opportunity for student and trade union activists who opposed the war in Gaza to learn more about the ‘other Israel’ – Israeli anti-war activists, students and workers who desperately need our support and solidarity.

Tamar will be speaking at universities across the UK, as well as to some trade union meetings, including the rail union RMT’s London Transport Region, which is sponsoring the tour.

Provisional dates (more information and links to events asap):

7pm, Thursday 5 March – LONDON
Meeting and reception hosted by RMT London Transport Region and Finsbury Park RMT
The Twelve Pins pub, 263 Seven Sisters Rd, London N4 2DE (next to Finsbury Park tube)
For more information email janine.booth@btopenworld.com

Lunchtime, Friday 6 March - BRIGHTON
Sussex University – email Koos kc69@sussex.ac.uk

7pm, Friday 6 March - LONDON
“International Solidarity for Women’s Liberation” – meeting to celebrate International Women’s Day hosted by Feminist Fightback, Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq and others
Room 3a, University of London Union, Malet Street
Email rebecca.galbraith@yahoo.co.uk
For Facebook event see here.

11.30am, Saturday 6 March - NEWCASTLE
RMT Women's Conference, Grand Station Hotel Email janine.booth@btopenworld.com

Lunchtime, Monday 9 March – MANCHESTER
Manchester University – email hazel.kent@student.manchester.ac.uk

6pm, Monday 9 March – BRADFORD
Bradford University, hosted by University of Bradford Union – email Lloyd l.c.russell-moyle@bradford.ac.uk

Evening, Tuesday 10 March - CAMBRIDGE
Cambridge University, hosted by Workers’ Liberty – email Patrick phar2@cam.ac.uk

Lunchtime, Wednesday 11 March – NOTTINGHAM
Nottingham University, hosted by Nottingham Student Peace Movement - email Adam ldyaae@nottingham.ac.uk

Evening, Wednesday 11 March – SHEFFIELD
Sheffield University, hosted by Workers’ Liberty – email Daniel skillz_999@hotmail.com

6.30pm, Thursday 12 March - EDINBURGH
Edinburgh University – email darcyleigh@gmail.com

Time tbc, Friday 13 march – LONDON
LSE – email michaeldeas@gmail.com

For more information about the tour in general, email Heather Shaw at centre_stage_red@yahoo.co.uk or ring 07969 597 251
For more about the Shministim, visit www.december18th.org

Tatchell: don't discipline Green candidate over nuclear power

just spotted this from the Oxford Mail, I am speaking next week in Oxford at the Radical Forum by the way


Tatchell: don't discipline Green candidate over nuclear power

6:25pm Friday 27th February 2009

By Andrew Ffrench »


Green Party campaigner Peter Tatchell has called for fellow party member Chris Goodall to be spared disciplinary action by the party after backing nuclear power.

Mr Goodall, prospective parliamentary candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon, was one of four leading environmentalists this week to back nuclear power, as a means of getting rid of coal-fired power stations, such as Didcot.

The statement angered party leader Caroline Lucas, because the Greens have an anti-nuclear manifesto, and said she would take the matter further, through the party’s regional council.

Local members could de-select Mr Goodall.

Mark Lynas, from Wolvercote, the author of Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, was also among the renegades.

But Mr Tatchell, himself the Green prospective parliamentary candidate for Oxford East, said Mr Goodall should not be forced to stand down.

He said: “I have been campaigning against nuclear power now for nearly 30 years because it’s expensive and potentially a very serious danger to human health.

“In terms of the nuclear option, I think Chris Goodall and Mark Lynas are mistaken in thinking that nuclear power will give us a quick fix to tackle global warming.

“I don’t agree with Chris or Mark, but I defend their right to discuss this issue and I don’t think Chris should be censured or disciplined.

“As a Green Party candidate, he has a duty to promote anti-nuclear policies, but if he wants to promote his own personal perspective that should be respected as well. He should not go into an election on a pro-nuclear platform.”

Mr Lynas said it would be an “enormous mistake” to discipline Mr Goodall because it would turn him into a political martyr, and make the party look “Stalinist”.

He said: “There is a very harmonious atmosphere within the Green Party in Oxford at the moment as far as I can tell.”

Mr Tatchell said the cost of decommissioning 20 of Britain’s nuclear plant would be £73bn.

“The money should instead be put into renewables – wind, wave, and solar energy,” he added.

Mr Goodall said he had received a letter from Ms Lucas regarding the issue.

He added: “I got a letter from Caroline pointing out quite rightly that I should have consulted the Green Party before saying what I did, and I accept that criticism.

“There is nothing else in the letter to say that she wants to take the matter any further.

“In reply, I shall say that if I am going to talk about this issue again publicly, I shall flag it up with the Greens first.”

26 Feb 2009

Crime, Crime, more crimes for the future from the Labour government


Why does Mandelson want to see the Post Office in private hands? So more crimes can be committed.

Saw this on

wonderful 21st manifesto blog....

Bertholt Brecht asked the question: “What is the robbing of a bank compared to the founding of a bank?”


Q. What are banks for ?
A. To make money.
Q. For the customers ?
A. For the banks.
Q. Why doesn’t bank advertising mention this ?
A. It would not be in good taste. But it is mentioned by implication in references to reserves of £249,000,000 or thereabouts. That is the money they have made.

Q. Out of the customers ?
A. I suppose so.
Q. They also mention Assets of £500,000,000 or thereabouts. Have they made that too ?
A. Not exactly. That is the money they use to make money.
Q. I see. And they keep it in a safe somewhere ?
A. Not at all. They lend it to customers.
Q. Then they haven’t got it ?
A. No.
Q. Then how is it an Asset ?
A. They maintain that it would be if they got it back.
Q. But they must have some money in a safe somewhere ?
A. Yes, usually £500,000,000 or thereabouts. This is called Liabilities.
Q. But if they’ve got it, how can they be liable for it ?
A. Because it isn’t theirs.
Q. Then why do they have it ?
A. It has been lent to them by customers.
Q. You mean customers lend banks money ?
A. In effect. They put money into their accounts, so it is really lent to the banks.
Q. And what do the banks do with it ?
A. Lend it to other customers.
Q. But you=2 0said that money they lend to other people was Assets ?
A. Yes.
Q. Then Assets and Liabilities are the same thing ?
A. You can’t really say that.
Q. But you just said it. If I put £100 into my account the bank is liable to have to pay it back, so it’s Liabilities. But they go and lend it to someone else, and he is liable to have to pay it back, so it’s Assets. It’s the same £100, isn’t it ?

A. Yes, but……
Q. Then it cancels out. It means, doesn’t it, that banks haven’t really any money at all ?
A. Theoretically……
Q. Never mind theoretically. And if they haven’t any money where do they get their reserves of £249,000 ,000 or thereabouts ?

A. I told you. That is the money they have made.
Q. How ?
A. Well, when they lend your £100 to someone they charge him interest.
Q. How much ?
A. It depends on the Bank Rate. Say five and a-half percent. That’s their profit.
Q. Why isn’t it my profit ? Isn’t it my money ?
A. It’s the theory of banking practice that…..
Q. When I lend them my £100 why don’t I charge them interest ?
A. You do.
Q. You don’t say. How much ?
A. It depends on the Bank Rate. Say half a percent.
Q. Grasping of me, rather ?
A. But that’s only if you’re not going to draw the money out again.
Q. But of course, I’m going to draw it out again. If I hadn’t wanted to draw it out again, I could have buried it in the garden, couldn’t I ?

A. They wouldn’t like you to draw it out again.
Q. Why not ? If I keep it there you say it is a Liability. Wouldn’t they be glad if I reduced their Liabilities by removing it ?

A. No. Because if you remove it they can’t lend it to anyone else.
Q. But if I wanted to remove it they’d have to let me ?
A. Certainly.
Q. But suppose they’ve already lent it to another customer ?
A. Then they’ll have to let you have someone else’s money.
Q. But suppose he wants his too…. And they’ve let me have it ?
A. You’re being purposely obtuse.
Q. I think I’m being acute. What if everyone wanted their money at once ?
A. It’s the theory of banking practice that they never would.
Q. So what banks bank on is not having to meet their commitments ?
A. I wouldn’t say that.
Q. Naturally. Well if there’s nothing else you th ink you can tell me….?
A. Quite so. Now you can go off and open up a bank account.
Q. Just one last question ?
A. Of course.
Q. Wouldn’t I do better to go off and open up a bank ?



From Punch Magazine, 1957

Inheriting an Empire



[col. writ. 2/21/09] (c) '09 Mumia Abu-Jamal


Of all the myriad things to inherit, perhaps the worst is an empire, for such a transmission brings with it the duty of defense, which, in time, invariably becomes defending the indefensible.

For empires are constructed of crimes, and similarly so maintained.

They are birthed in invasion, nursed on occupation and raised on the cruel gruel of repression, torture and brutality.

That is their intrinsic nature as shown by the abundant examples of history. This was shown best by Rome, which ravaged the then-known world to enrich the 'eternal city'. Nations were invaded, their nobles either slain or enslaved, puppets were installed, and the natural resources extracted to feed the ever-hungry maw of Rome.

For millions of Blacks, the Obama election has sparked a new way of thinking and speaking of an America that has, heretofore, been a subject of considerable ambivalence. For perhaps the first time in U.S. history (certainly since Reconstruction), millions speak of the U.S. as "we", instead of "they."

This may well be a turning point in American history.

But is the American Empire "ours" simply because a Black man is the nation's chief executive?

Did we vote it into being, or did we merely inherit it?

Most who voted for Obama certainly didn't vote for the Iraq War, one of the most overt imperial projects in modern U.S. history. They supported a quick and decisive end of the war - not its continuation nor its expansion.

Indeed, of all Americans, Blacks opposed the war the most vehemently, according to national polls.

Perhaps it was the deep memory of national oppression that made it so unseemly to support such an oppressive occupation against the Iraqi people; perhaps it was the clumsiness of the government's lies used to 'sell' the invasion.

But empires begotten by violence and exploitation are poisonous things that damage both sides of this deadly duo.

The British Empire toiled for generations to conquer and exploit over 1/2 of Africa, most of Asia and two-thirds of the Americas. But all of that crumbled when the nation was almost broken under the weight of the Germans, and she was too weak to hold her colonies. Indeed America, as the strongest to emerge from the war, inherited much of Britain's loss, as well as other European powers.

It inherited the Vietnam War when the French could no longer sustain it, and paid a heavy price of death and defeat.

Empires shouldn't be inherited lightly, like knick-knacks from an elderly grandma.

This is especially so in democracies, where the people allegedly determine public policy, for what public policy could be more dire than imperial war?

--(c) '09 maj

Give us our daily bread


guest entry from Andy of Green Left


Comrades

I was shaken out of my daily weary procession to wage-slavery this morning by a slap around the face from a demonstration of the cold, calculating and callous nature of capitalism.

In the concourse of Charing Cross Station, loaves of Warburtons bread were being handed out to commuters. These were being distributed in over-sized plastic carrier bags emblazoned with Warburton's branding (when I arrived at work I found one of these loaves in the staff kitchen with a couple of motorway services-style sachets of butter and jam so I assume that these delights were also contained within). As I witnessed these bags being dutifully taken possession of by well-fed commuters I was immediately filled with no small amount of rage and disgust.

This spectacle of sham redistribution at a time when: 1000s of workers are daily dispossessed of their employment and join the millions who face a daily struggle to make ends meet; millions of vulnerable citizens caught in the fuel poverty trap face the stark choice of 'heating or eating'; globally food shortages resulting from climate change and imperialist exploitation of land and water supplies are leading to starvation, unrest and potential conflict.

This seemingly charitable facade of corporate goodwill thinly masks the ultimate commodification and fetishisation of our food supplies. As the price of food rises, and millions of people struggle for the means of subsistence, this bread was being utilised as a mere marketing tool, an instrument for recapitalisation and reproduction, and fulfillment of the function of profit generation in the competitive atmosphere of the capitalist marketplace.

I wonder how many of those well-nourished commuters (by the way I have no reason - or comparative data - to question either way how relatively nutritious Warburtons bread is) even paused to consider whether they actually needed this extra loaf, or wondered how it is that whilst the price of their food basket rises that a food manufacturer finds ample to simply give away. I wonder if they even paused to consider that maybe there were people who could have a far greater need of this handout. I wonder if they stopped to consider that they were being manipulated by a shallow marketing ploy. I wonder how their laissez-faire attitude will be tempered a few years down the line should the current crises escalates to mass food shortages and they are queuing for food under supervision of armed police or militia. Food for thought.

And those plastic carrier bags were very over-sized.

Out of curiosity I visited the Warburtons website - I'm not proud of it but I was hungry for information. http://www.warburtons.co.uk/
They are described as 'family bakers'. Hmm, OK. A link takes me to 'Our seed to crumb story', a page stamped with a snap of one of their execs and a carefully crafted quote:

"WE GO TO GREAT LENGTHS to deliver the freshest, best tasting and highest quality products. unlike most bakers, we don't simply buy flour. Instead we have hundreds of farmers growing our own wheat. We work with experts who are the best in their field [sic], our partners, to ensure consistent quality without compromise every step of the way, from seed to crumb."

For me this asks more questions than it answers, but is just another example of what could be described as 'foodwash'. No mention of the sustainability of the farming practices, no mention of the relationship of the arrangements between the farmers and the bosses or the degree of exploitation in their relationship. No mention where this food is grown, except further down the page it states UK and....Canada! Indeed, it is an international family. In fact, it is this very sort of advertising newspeak which recently prompted Tony Juniper to salivate enthusiastically over the marketing strategy of McDonalds. You can also buy warburtons 'merchandise' on the site, by the way. No re-usable shopping bags interestingly enough.

If anyone was not convinced how crucial the ownership of land and food production is to capitalist hegemony then maybe they should take a moment to stop and think about the above points. It is why food growing programmes are so critical to the struggle to overthrow the capitalist yoke. It is why we should take so much inspiration from the example set by Cuba. And it is why maybe we should take to task the comments made by a prominent Green Party spokesperson and PPC about the virtues of capitalist food manufacturers and their sham facade of self-regulation. They are the problem, but they will not provide the solution.

Hasta la victoria siempre
Andy

25 Feb 2009

Green Party member says sleeping with Fianna Fail is largely unsatisfactory


My criticism of the Irish Green Party (motorway building friends of Ireland's most corrupt political party)...has been taken up by one of their own members of parliament in Dublin.

The coalition with Fianna Fail is damaging Green politics right across Europe...please stand up for ecology, social justice and peace by getting out of the coalition.

The TD's comments are a little more radical than my thoughts though:

In an expletive-laden interview in Hot Press, the Dublin Mid West TD comments on the price of power and his own doubts about the Coalition arrangement. He describes it in terms of the Greens lying “bollix naked” and being “screwed” by Fianna Fáil.

He also says party leader John Gormley “would cut your throat if it means doing the right thing”.

Mr Gogarty (40) asserts that by going into Coalition or, as he puts it, getting into bed with another party, the Greens had prostituted itself.

In the same vein, he continues: “We are lying there bollix naked next to Fianna Fáil. We have been screwed by them a few times, but we are hoping we can roll them around to get what we want, over the longer terms.”


I think these comments are a bit too frank even for me but at least there are no plans to introduce nuclear power in Ireland, having said that the banking bailout is bankrupting the country and the weekend saw huge protests against the government. So I guess they could not afford it if they wanted it.

In December activists occupied his office to protest against education cuts:

Over 20 students from UCD have occupied the office of Paul Gogarty Green Party TD for Dublin Mid-West and Spokesperson on Education in Lucan Village. This is in protest at the increase in college registration fees to €1500 per year and the possible full re-introduction of fees.

The occupation is organised by the campaigning group, Free Education for Everyone (FEE), and is part of a national day of protest across the country against fees organised by FEE. Protests are also planned in Cork and Galway today.


The alternative to FF who have long been dogged by scandal and corruption is another centre right party Fianna Gael....however Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams is calling for a SF, Labour, Green Party coalition which would be more radical.

In turn Sinn Fein rule in the North with Ian Paisley's DUP has been more than a little controversial.

The Irish people will speak, perhaps more subtly than Mr Gogarty, and change will be inevitable.

Over 110,000 people demonstrated against the present coalition, a huge number for a country with just a couple of million citizens.

Come and quiz me about nuclear power in Oxford

Very nice to have the invite, I will be speaking on the saturday evening March 7th


OXFORD RADICAL FORUM 2009

[Please circulate widely]




http://oxfordradicalforum.wordpress.com/





:: OXFORD RADICAL FORUM – 2009 ::

:: WADHAM COLLEGE, OXFORD ::

:: 6 – 8 MARCH ::





The second Oxford Radical Forum will be taking place from Friday to Saturday, 6 - 8 March, 2009, in Wadham College, Oxford. Building on the success of last year’s conference, and a conviction in the continued necessity of leftist theory and politics, the weekend will see some of the brightest and most engaged people from the radical left coming to Oxford in order to contribute towards the reconstruction of an alternative, critical politics – a politics that stands for a real transformation of society in favour of social justice and equality and against war and poverty. We invite you all to join and participate in open and challenging discussions in talks, debates and seminars on war and imperialism, women’s liberation, the economic crisis, socialism and ecology and many other issues, with some of the key thinkers and activists of our day.



Bookstalls and daily socials (including a dinner and a clubnight) over the weekend, making the event a unique opportunity to bring together not just the left in Oxford (and beyond!) but also all those who are interested in seriously discussing profound political questions in an open and critical atmosphere.


The Forum will be centred around Wadham College’s ‘Ho Chi Minh Quad’ from Friday afternoon until Sunday evening. All talks and debates will be free of charge and no registration is necessary, though for more information do not hesitate to contact us at oxfordradicalforum@googlemail.com.



Sessions include:



:: Alex Callinicos on global imperialism today, and the forces that are resisting it.



:: Deborah Cameron on the myths of ‘Mars and Venus’.



:: Eyal Weizman on Israel’s architecture of occupation.



:: Alberto Tosacano: The Communist Hypothesis: Reflection on Recent Radical Philosophy.



:: Sarah Lamble on the threat of Titan Prisons and homophobic oppression.



:: Robert Wade, Costas Lapavitsas, Chris Harman and Alfredo Saad-Filho debate the economic crisis.



:: Views on gender and relationships as portrayed in contemporary popular cinema - a feminist perspective.



:: Derek Wall on the necessary relationship between ecology and socialism.



:: The Student Occupations: panel discussion with participants reviewing the recent wave of student occupations, and the

new potentialities that now exist.



A confirmed timetable will be out within the next few days.
With all best wishes from the Organising Committee of the OXFORD RADICAL FORUM - we hope to see as many of you as possible at Wadham College, 6 - 8 March.

My summer of carbon rage

thanks Kevin...don't forget Jerry Hicks or the Lucha Indigena.



The iniquities of emissions trading will bring thousands of protesters to the climate camp in the City of London

Kevin Smith. Weds 25th Feb 2009

In Monday's Guardian, Julian Glover drew parallels between carbon trading and the notoriously corrupt practice of the Medieval church in selling pardons. He concluded by calling for “a modern Martin Luther to nail a shaming truth to industry's door: Europe's whizz-bang carbon market is turning sub-prime.”

Good news: The Camp for Climate Action intends to bring the failure of carbon markets centre-stage this year. On the 1st of April thousands will set up camp in the City of London outside the European Climate Exchange – the biggest trading platform for the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

It may seem like a strange place to set up camp, as there is no field nor obvious target like a dirty power station or a proposed runway. Yet, for the past two years thousands of people have camped against new carbon-intensive developments, like the proposed coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth, and Heathrow’s Runway 3, and each time have been confronted by government and industry stating that these developments are justified because carbon-emissions permits will be bought by the companies.

Is the EU trading scheme so bad? Phase 1 of the scheme gave away the right to pollute for free. Bingo! The biggest polluters then made billions in windfall profits. Phase 2 and in the wake of market meltdown, the price of carbon is again at rock-bottom. The EU scheme is providing all manner of opportunities to pollute and make money, which is why companies from e.on to BP to BAA are all supporters. As a mechanism to reduce emissions it has been an out and out failure.

Carbon markets have been aggressively promoted as a solution to climate change, because of its compatibility with the market-obsessed economic agenda of recent decades. In short, include a price on the climate change impacts from emitting carbon, and the market will solve the problem. Yet the financial crisis has shown that markets can, and do, get it spectacularly wrong. Of course, on climate, if markets fail nature will not bail us out.

The Climate Camp’s plans to target the carbon markets on the 1st of April were among those protests that were described in today’s Guardian by Superintendent David Hartshorn as kick-starting a “summer of rage”. Let’s hope so, as climate change is a serious threat to our future and people are right to feel enraged that governments are failing to address the crisis. We do need to reduce emissions and carbon markets are not achieving this.

Of course, Superintendent Hartshorn does not mean this, he is using the recession-provoked threat of social-unrest to justify increasingly draconian policing of protest in the UK.

This has been exemplified by the attacks on the Climate Camp over the years. In 2007 our Heathrow protest apparently required some £7 million of policing and surveillance. Anti-terror laws were used against us, until it was picked up by the media and exposed. In 2008, our Kingsnorth protest required an almost £6 million operation and violent incursions by riot police. The home office told parliament that 70 officers had been injured while dealing with the protesters. This was a lie. The real number was zero. The home office apologised for misleading parliament. Yet, we know of no police investigation to find out who lied to Vernon Coaker, Home Office minister.

And 2009? We will see what happens. But on past evidence it is fair to conclude that the police will misrepresent those who protest about climate change on April 1st. Superintendent Hartshorn’s comments are yet more evidence, as former Head of MI5 Stella Rimmington puts it, that people in the UK are made to feel that “live in fear and under a police state”. The April 1st protest in the square mile will be about carbon markets, and it seems democracy itself.

24 Feb 2009

Correa ends oils exploration in Yasuni National Park

Well puta madre, I would not have thought it, Correa is not between you and me my favourite Latin American leader and he has been in conflict with the indigenous on some issues but not drilling for oil is not drilling for oil.

glad to have had this from Albert! It's another victory for the indigenous, they not nuclear power are a solution to climate change...ditto working class green activists like the excellent Jerry Hicks



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 24, 2009

Media Contacts:
Joseph Mutti: 415-487-9600 x 23


Ecuador Decree Keeps Oil Companies at Bay

President Indefinitely Extends Historic Rainforest Protection Proposal

Quito, Ecuador, Feb 24 (AW)--The President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, recently signed a decree that breathed new life into the country’s pioneer proposal to keep its largest oil field permanently underground in one of the most pristine areas of rainforest in the world.

The Yasuni-ITT initiative, named for Yasuni National Park and the respective Ishpingo, Tampococha, and Tiputini oil reserves that lie underneath, was first launched in June 2007 and seeks international financial support to offset the country’s forgone oil revenues.

Calling the agreement an "emblematic project" of the environmental policies of his government, Correa had originally set a one-year deadline to come up with the funds. However, after several extensions and a new financial model that hopes to use carbon credits to obtain needed funds, the decree is the latest signal that the proposal may just work.

Yasuni National Park is a UNESCO designated World Biosphere Reserve, renown for its high levels of biodiversity and endemic species. The Park is also home to two indigenous groups living in voluntary isolation.

The extension will now keep oil corporations at bay in the second largest area of untapped oil that remains in Ecuador, while the government seeks to raise funds by issuing carbon emission bonds in the European Trading System, obtaining donations from the public and private sector, and via debt cancellation. Oil exploitation in the geologically and geographically challenging ITT block has become less economically viable due to the current price of crude and unfavorable economic outlook.

"This is a great step in both the battle to save Yasuni and to move Ecuador towards a new post-petroleum development model," said Esperanza Martinez of Accion Ecologica, which has been leading the civil society campaign in support of the proposal. "While we believe that ALL of Yasuni National Park should be off limits to oil drilling and that the proposal should consider financial options other than emissions trading, we welcome this development and hope it leads to the permanent protection of what is really the lifeblood of the Amazon."

The decree was also welcomed by Amazon Watch as an important advance in preventing another human and environmental disaster of the magnitude Texaco (now Chevron) left in its wake after drilling in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest. The oil company now faces an historic $27 billion sentence in an Ecuadorian court for its environmental contamination.

"The Yasuni National Park is an area of thriving, primary rainforest that protects a unique diversity of indigenous communities, animals and plants for the entire planet", said Atossa Soltani, Amazon Watch Executive Director, “This is an important signal from the Correa administration that it is committed to the proposal. It bolsters the proposal’s credibility and inspires confidence with the international community—two things that were lacking and previously hurting the proposal’s chances at success.”
#

Open Source Anti-Capitalism


Open Source Anti-Capitalism
Sarah Grey


Sarah Grey is a freelance writer and activist based in Philadelphia. Her writings on food, food politics, and ecosocialism can be found at her blog, TheRealPotato.com, as well as in International Socialist Review and the forthcoming Grid Magazine.


Nice review from Sarah Grey, well I think I am more generous in the book to Marx than she suggest but hey a review is a review is a review...and who should carp when a reviewer is positive...the big change for me in my thinking is going to see Chavez and Roberto Perez...both of whom have made me think.

I am not an autonomist (I don't think)! any how...

Sarah Grey blogs here by the way.

The essential Monthly Review is here.



Reviewed: Derek Wall, Babylon and Beyond: The Economics of Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Globalist and Radical Green Movements (London: Pluto Press, 2005), 236 pages, paperback, $26.95.

For decades we’ve been told that “there is no alternative” to global capitalism—that trust in the market was the only way to bring progress and end poverty, despite the clear absence of an actual end to poverty. The global financial crisis of 2008 has undermined the rhetoric of inevitability, as even its most prominent practitioners begin to question the logic of neoliberalism. A Washington Post editorial titled “The End of American Capitalism?” quotes the Nobel Prize–winning former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz as saying: “People around the world once admired us for our economy, and we told them if you wanted to be like us, here’s what you have to do—hand over power to the market. The point now is that no one has respect for that kind of model anymore given this crisis. And of course it raises questions about our credibility. Everyone feels they are suffering now because of us” (October 10, 2008).

Those of us who opposed capitalist globalization before the Washington Post was entertaining such criticism have been arguing for many years that it is fundamentally unstable—as well as pointing out that neoliberalism has never worked for the majority of people on the planet. But after so many decades of marginalization, socialists, anarchists, and other critics of the system formerly derided as “flat-earthers” are finding surreal surprises in the daily news, as even Alan Greenspan begins to question the validity of neoliberal economics.

Economist and UK Green Party leader Derek Wall attempts to find common ground between the many strands of leftist movements in his 2005 book Babylon and Beyond: The Economics of Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Globalist and Radical Green Movements. In a sweeping survey that covers a broad swath of the left, from Stiglitz to Vandana Shiva to Hardt and Negri, Wall examines the politics of anti-capitalism and attempts to sort out each approach, describing “the anti-capitalist movement” as “an amalgam of different schools of thought with different forms of analysis and varied demands. The aim of this volume is to unpick the intellectual knots in the protest network, to show how anti-capitalist ideas have developed” (3).

This is a huge amount of ground to cover for a fairly small book, and the results are uneven. It’s not always clear whether forces like anti-corporatists, monetary reformists, Marxists, green localists, anarchists, autonomists, and ecosocialists in fact comprise one movement, and whether that movement is anti-capitalist, anti-globalist, or for that matter anti-imperialist. Wall does not clearly define his terms for the reader, and this muddles the terrain of the debate somewhat. The book is organized by school of thought, moving from capitalists who question the Washington Consensus from the inside (such as Stiglitz and George Soros) toward schools of thought closer to Wall’s own, which appears to be an eclectic blend of autonomism, ecosocialism, and Rastafarianism.

Wall’s exposition of each intellectual current varies dramatically. His explanation of ecosocialism is clearly heartfelt and well understood, and relies largely on quotes from prominent ecosocialists Joel Kovel and John Bellamy Foster to relay ideas about the meeting of green and red. Unlike many of the ecosocialists he looks to, Wall views ecosocialism as distinct from Marxism, arguing that “environmental concern seems to be on a tick list of modern socialist virtues but rarely goes very deep” (164). He explains the contradiction between use value and exchange value as being at the heart of ecosocialist thought; by relying solely on exchange value, capitalism forces us constantly to buy and sell and therefore propagates constant expansion. An ecosocialist system would concentrate on the use value of goods, or how people actually use them—producing durable, non-polluting goods and nutritious food for human need rather than for profit. He argues, along with Kovel, for a “radical materialism” that “values what is physically present rather than viewing consumption, production and distribution as goals in themselves” (168). He also ties environmental degradation to the degradation of workers, using Foster’s analogy of the expansion of capital as a giant treadmill, noting that “the market must be broken not only because it kills the planet, but also because it kills those of us who work a little every day” (164).

The chapter on Marxism is contradictory as well. Wall clearly admires Marx as a historical figure, but his account suffers as he attempts to cover the politics of Marx himself, the main historical currents of Marxism, and the politics of the many small Marxist groups in existence today. A wham-bam five-page explanation of “the utter basics” of Marxist economics would prove dismally confusing for anyone not already versed in the topic; sentences like “a worker makes, say, ten mopeds in a day and the capitalist takes seven of these” do little to clarify the idea of the exploitation of labor (106). Do the workers get to take the other three mopeds home?

Wall also argues multiple times, throughout the book, that Marx was, and by extension Marxists are, in favor of unfettered capitalist economic growth, writing that “capitalism in its search for profits is the force that promotes globalization but will mutate into communism” (109) and describing the Marxism promoted by “many, but not all, Marxists” as promoting “a productivist politics that celebrates the expansion of the economy” (122). Leaping from Marx’s claim that capitalism has developed technology and created the conditions that make a surplus possible, he argues that “despite the prophecy of many Marxists, the promotion of hyperglobalization seems unlikely to flip society neatly into a socialist order. While there are contradictions inherent in capitalism, it is not a system based on clockwork that will strike twelve and chime in revolution” (177).

This caricature of the Marxist idea that the capitalist system “produces its own gravediggers” is flawed because it fails to take the actual gravediggers into account—Wall’s analysis of Marxism glaringly omits the working class as an agent of change. Marx argued that the ever-expanding growth upon which the entire capitalist system relies created certain factors that would in turn create the possibility of its own downfall. Industrialization, for example, forces peasants to leave the privacy of their farms to seek work in factories in the cities, where they are able for the first time to view themselves as a working class with common interests and to organize themselves. Furthermore, the technological advances spurred by capitalists facilitate economic growth, but also produce labor-saving devices, life-saving medical technology, and agricultural advances that could feed the world—the sorts of advances that, if shared and used for the common good, would allow a future socialist world to share the wealth, rather than the poverty.

None of this, in Marx’s view, makes that socialist future in any way inevitable or automatic. What he argued in The Communist Manifesto was that class struggle is inevitable, but its result is not decided; that through the course of history “oppressor and oppressed stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.” Whether or not the ecological and economic crises we are seeing today constitute that “common ruin” is up for debate.

The key idea to which Wall returns again and again throughout the book is the concept of the commons. He argues that the critical activity of corporate globalization, just as with the first waves of privatization and industrialization about which Marx wrote, is the enclosure of the commons. The notion of the “commons” comes from the commonly used pasture and farmland in pre-capitalist England, which was enclosed for private profit. Wall quotes Vandana Shiva’s succinct explanation that “the World Bank is basically taking away the resources of the people, putting it in the hands of global capital, destroying the livehoods [sic] of people in the name of efficiency and forcing destitution on millions and billions of people” (82). By privatizing the land, food supply, and water, even the stories, cultures, and ideas of people are turned into saleable commodities. Capitalism forces people to participate in markets by depriving them of any alternatives. Wall argues that the ideas of taking back the commons can bind together the disparate strands of anti-capitalist thought.

While state provision can be humanized 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’… Anti-capitalist globalization could be labeled positively as the movement for the commons. (183–84)

Of course, the definition of the commons has changed somewhat since the time of Marx; it now includes not only land and physical resources, but also ideas, creative work, and of course the Internet, arguably where the greatest battle over the commons is now taking place. Wall enthusiastically endorses the principle of open source software as an engine for development, one that emphasizes use value over exchange value:

Open source is an excellent example of how something that does not directly increase GNP can fuel real prosperity: for example, it provides citizens and governments in developing countries with free access to vital computer software… Open source encourages users to add their own touches, focusing attention on the quality of the product. It is a stunning example of how both the market and the state can be bypassed by cooperative creativity. The barrier between user and provider is eroded; a direct agreement between society members is maintained… Marx would have been a Firefox user. (188–89)

Wall’s analysis of the commons as the locus for anti-capitalist thought is intriguing and demands further development; in many ways the book would be more successful if it had concentrated more fully on this theory and how it interacts with various schools of anti-capitalist thought. Where Wall does succeed, though, is in the book’s sheer enthusiasm. As free-market orthodoxy falters and the left moves into what may well become a long-overdue resurgence, his message is one of hope. Although the book was written before the current economic crisis burst into full view, it contributes to the discussion now opening up about the legitimacy of capitalist economics at a time when a growing number of people are searching for alternatives. There are alternatives to capitalism; there are new ideas that go beyond the sectarian divisions of the old left; and it is the creativity, ingenuity, and hope of ordinary people that will change the world.

23 Feb 2009

Green Left 'Nuclear energy is a red herring'






An article entitled "Nuclear Power? Yes please.." appeared in the Independent newspaper on 23 February, 2009. It states that "four of the country's leading environmentalists" advocate nuclear power as a solution to climate change.

The vast majority of the green movement remain staunchly opposed to nuclear power.

FIrstly, it will take more than a decade for these plants to come on stream, which removes one plank of their argument about nuclear power stations to be ready in time to deal with climate change. Renewables are quicker to build.

Secondly, the large companies ready to profit from this bonanza historically ask for huge government subsidies. Were the renewable energy sector to be subsidised on the same scale, the unit cost of the new technologies would plummet.

Thirdly, very few jobs are created in giant nuclear plants, a central concern today as we stare at the abyss of an economic depression.

Fourthly, nuclear power will generate around 8% of our energy needs despite all the projected capital expenditure.

Instead, we propose the immediate implementation of energy efficiency projects up and down the country. We can save many times more energy than that generated by Nuclear. Moreover, we can put tens of thousands of people back into jobs by retooling houses and businesses.

Finally, we should be subsidising UK technology companies to use their talents for solar, wind and tidal energy. We are already falling behind Germany, Denmark and even Portugal in the introduction of renewables.

Instead of the red herring of nuclear energy, the green movement calls for investment in modern, robust, renewable energy.

22 Feb 2009

Jerry Hicks update 'desperate people resort to desperate measures'


We have, as all of us hoped succeeded in generating the debate and discussion about our union and what it does well, what it does badly and most importantly what it should be doing in these accute times of crisis. So from that point of view we have already won.


I think this paragraph sees it, what ever the result Jerry has raised internal union democracy, the tough fight for jobs during recession and even questions of ecology...however he might even win which would be even better....here is his update


From Jerry Hicks: At the end of the first week, a quick update on the campaign so far to date.

I have had an amazing response from around the country with so many fantastic people helping me whilst visitng workplaces, attending and speaking at meetings, leafleting and joining various demonstrations. So far I have aslo managed to find a bed/settee for the night/s when stopping over!.

But for all the miles and work that I have done I know that many people having been doing 10 times that amount and I would like to thank everyone for the enormous effort that is going into our campaign.

The web site visits have gone through the roof with lots of offers of help, messages of support and details of stuff being done.

We have, as all of us hoped succeeded in generating the debate and discussion about our union and what it does well, what it does badly and most importantly what it should be doing in these accute times of crisis. So from that point of view we have already won.

However there are, as we predicted twists and turns and we did say 'expect the unexpected'. When the ballot papers were issued included with them was a statement from the NEC accusing me of some inaccuracies in my election address.

I have never officially been informed of the decision that was taken to do that nor given the right of reply and I may be forced to complain in due course. I can say that it appears to be backfiring on who ever was behind this move. I have also answered all the points on my web site www.jerryhicks4gs. All I can say on this matter is 'desperate people resort to desperate measures'.

If there is anything that I can do to assist you in any way do not hesitate to contact me, I am away from hame alot lately and will be for the next coupleof weeks , whilst emails get forwarded there can be a delay so telephone is a better way to get hold of me right now on 078 178 279 12

There is in my view no clear front runner in this election but I am aware that the difference in the things that we are saying and doing especiaaly in our election address when compared to those addresses of the other candidates is having a very positive impact.

There is absolutely all to play for and everything to be gained by doing what we do best and that is getting our message / materials / leaflets out to the memberhip so they can make an informed choice.

We have not got the union machine to do that or big money behind us but we have got determined supporters.

'Keep on keeping on' Jerry Hicks.

21 Feb 2009

The banana massacre is now a biofuel killing spree


In October 2008 Ualberto Hoyos, a Colombian citizens was shot through the head and killed by para militaries. Was this part of a drug feud? Was Mr Hoyos a sympathiser of left wing guerrillas? No, he was killed as a consequence of EU policies aimed at protecting the environment.

In Colombia, there are numerous cases of right wing paramilitaries being used to remove local people from land used to produce palm oil. The European Union are strongly encouraging Colombia to produce more palm oil, despite human rights abuse and environmental damage. The EU is promoting a free trade agreement with Colombia. EU plans to produce 10% of fuel from biofuel will increase demand for Colombian palm oil and with it accelerate human rights abuse.

"The paramilitaries are not subtle when it comes to taking land," said Dominic Nutt of Christian Aid, in an interview with The Times of London. "They simply visit a community and tell landowners, 'If you don't sell to us, we will negotiate with your widow.'"

Farmers Who Refuse to Sell to Biofuel Interests Pay with Their Lives
Some farmers who have refused to sell or surrender their land have been murdered. There are also stories of paramilitaries cutting off the arms of illiterate peasants and using fingerprints from the severed hands to create fraudulent documents that transfer land ownership.

The Afro-Colombians, communities who live an ecological lifestyle, descended from African slaves brought to Latin America, are especially threatened by EU demands for biofuels.

More here

An important but risky victory for Venezuela and for socialism


Good guy Greg, I had the pleasure of meeting him when he was over in London last year, his analysis is always worth reading.

Had this from Calvin and Noah and friends excellent 21st Century Socialism site

by Gregory Wilpert / February 18th 2009


The ten percentage point victory (55-45%) that President Chávez and his movement achieved on Sunday, February 15, 2009, in favor of amending Venezuela's constitution so that Chávez may run for president again in 2012, represents a very important victory for the effort to create socialism in this oil producing Latin American nation. However, Chávez and his supporters ought to recognize that this victory comes with a certain degree of risk because it increases the Bolivarian movement's dependency on its charismatic leader.

In other words, even though Chávez is the best guarantor for socialism and progressive social change in Venezuela today, his movement's dependency on him was strengthened by the referendum victory, which is an Achilles heel for the movement.

But before we can examine the consequences and meaning of this particular electoral result for Venezuela and for the socialist project, it makes sense to first briefly go over the reasoning behind eliminating term limits in general and in the specific case of Venezuela.

In general: term limits - good or bad?

Opinions on term limits are as varied as opinions about politics go. Also, this is one of the few issues that does not fall neatly along the left-right political divide. For example, sometimes it is progressives who advocate term limits because of the ridiculous obstacles challengers face against incumbents, particularly in elections for the U.S. Congress and U.S. state legislatures where incumbents enjoy massive fundraising advantages against challengers. In this case, so the argument goes, the lack of term limits for members elected representatives entrenches the status quo and makes progressive change extremely difficult. It is well known, for example, that historically 97% of incumbents win their re-election bids in the United States and a vast majority of those running are incumbents.

The most famous term limit, though, is the two-term limit on the U.S. presidency, which was implemented by Republicans in 1951 because they sought to prevent another more than two-term presidency such as Franklin Roosevelt's.

In other words, the arguments in favor of term limits cut both ways. On the one hand it is said that not having term limits makes needed change more difficult because of the power that long-time office holders amass. On the other hand, term limits can also be seen as an obstacle to long-term needed political change because it forces a change of leadership at a time when the leader's project might not be ready for such change (along the lines of, "You don't switch horses in the middle of the race"). Also, some add the argument that it is more democratic to allow citizens decide if they want a long-serving representative to continue to serve, rather than to force them out via an artificially determined time limit.

In the case of Venezuela, Chávez supporters generally argue that since the Bolivarian Revolution represents a long-term project, and since Chávez is the best leader for seeing this project to its conclusion, he ought to be able to hold office for more than two presidential terms. Already when Chávez was first elected in 1998, he argued it would take about 20 years to complete the Bolivarian Revolution, which is why he favored a seven-year term in office for the president (as used to be the case for France), with at least one re-election possibility, when the 1999 constitution was drafted. Constitutional Assembly members, though, convinced Chávez to accept a six-year presidency with one single opportunity for re-election.

Unfortunately, the recent debate about term limits in Venezuela was generally quite distorted. Rather than discussing the pros and cons of allowing people to run for office repeatedly, the opposition tried to make people believe that the amendment proposal was really about whether Chávez should be "president for life" and that holding this constitutional amendment vote somehow violated Venezuela's constitution. [1] Meanwhile, Chávez supporters presented the issue as one that was merely about "expanding citizens' right to choose" whomever they want for an office, without the restriction a two-term limit imposes. Supporters of the proposal practically never addressed the underlying issue that holding office for several terms in a row could lead to the accumulation of power and the unfair and illegal use of one's office to get reelected.

Indeed, unfair advantage is enjoyed on both sides in the Venezuelan conflict. Media owners and the wealthy face few restrictions in campaigning and the government has been known to make use of some of its advantages to compensate (an accusation, though, that the opposition massively exaggerated).

If the opposition had managed to focus on the real issue, supporters of the amendment would have been forced to address this issue and Venezuela would have enjoyed a more serious debate about the pros and cons of term limits. The ultimate result could have included better legislation to protect against using one's office for re-election and better legislation to protect against the advantages that wealth and private media ownership convey when running for office on behalf of the wealthy.

In specific: eliminating the two-term limit for Chávez

Leaving aside the more general arguments for and against term limits, why eliminate the two-term limit for President Chávez? The main reason for this is that the Bolivarian project needs Chávez in order to continue and to be carried to its completion. First, he is the only undisputed leader who has so far proven to be able to unite an otherwise notoriously fractious coalition of Venezuela's progressive and radical left forces.

Second, not enough time has passed for the Chávez government to implement its vision of 21st Century socialism (also known as Bolivarian Socialism and as Socialist Democracy). While ten years in office might seem like a long time, the Chávez government's program did not get off to a good start because of the vehement and often violent opposition it faced. Also, it was not really until late 2005, once the opposition in Venezuela had been soundly defeated, [2] that Chávez fully embraced socialism and anti-capitalism. So, in effect, the Bolivarian Socialist project has only been pursued in earnest from 2006 to 2008 - a mere full three years until now.

In addition, even though Chávez has a mandate for building 21st century socialism because he won the presidency with 63% of the vote in December 2006 on a platform of establishing 21st century socialism, in December 2007 the project suffered an important setback when Chávez narrowly lost the constitutional reform referendum, which was supposed to provide the constitutional groundwork for the socialist project. To a large extent this defeat was self-inflicted, in that it was a confusing proposal, the campaign was poorly conducted, and many voters felt that too many issues remained unresolved for whose resolution a constitutional reform was not necessary. Nonetheless, Chávez has appealed to the Venezuelan people that he needs more time and a majority of the Venezuelan people has now agreed to give him this time.

What the victory means

Given the importance of Chávez for leading the Bolivarian project to its conclusion, the February 15 victory is extremely important for Venezuela and for creating a real progressive alternative to capitalist democracy as usual. As the sociologist Max Weber pointed out about 100 years ago, there are times when charismatic leaders are necessary to break through the ossified social institutions in order to create something new. In other words, according to Weber, charismatic authority is often the only way that old institutions can be transformed. Examples of this type of charismatic leadership would be Lenin, Mao, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or Nelson Mandela. This is not to say that Chávez is on a par with these leaders in every respect, but he probably is with respect to his ability to lead and inspire. And such leadership should not be wasted if a people democratically decide that the cost of losing such leadership far outweighs the possible benefit of maintaining term limits.

The recent referendum victory becomes all the more important if we consider that the world is currently in a process of entering its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression 80 years ago. Back then people were desperate for an alternative to capitalism and there is no reason to believe that a similar development will not take place this time around. Viable alternatives to capitalism, whether under the heading of 21st Century socialism or some other name, will become more important than ever. For better or worse, Chávez has become one of the few leaders in today's world to forge a path in the direction of this alternative.

However, while this might be true on a global scale, Chávez's electoral success bears some inherent risks for the Bolivarian movement. That is, it is precisely the dependency of the Bolivarian movement on Chávez that is simultaneously its greatest strength and one of its greatest weaknesses. This dependency is a strength in the sense previously mentioned, that Chávez unites what would otherwise be a very fractious movement. But it is also a weakness because such dependency makes the movement somewhat fragile. First, if anything were to happen to Chávez, the movement would probably fall apart into its component parts in no time. Second, given this fragility, questioning the leader is quite difficult because criticism rapidly threatens to undermine the movement's stability and main strength. As a result, debate within the movement tends to be possible as long as it does not question the leader's decisions or opinions. This, in turn, makes movement self-criticism difficult and makes the potential for errors all the greater.

Tasks for the next period

One of the first tasks for the Bolivarian movement thus is that it must continue to develop the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) so that the Bolivarian movement becomes less dependent on Chávez and more stable and more open to wide-ranging debate. This means, first of all, developing alternate leaders and strengthening party structures so that the whole party is more movement-driven and less leader-dependent. The recent referendum victory has expanded the time-horizon for this task because without the elimination of the two-term limit this development would have had to happen within the next four years. Expanding this time horizon, though, carries the risk that the task of strengthening the party and decreasing the dependency on Chávez is postponed until Chávez loses a presidential election or a recall referendum or is otherwise removed from fulfilling his office (via assassination, perhaps).

Second, as Chávez himself recognized during his victory speech, his government must take the fight against insecurity and the high crime rate far more seriously. In a recent interview with CNN Chávez said that one of the reasons he has not pursued the reduction of crime with stronger police measures is because he believes that crime is primarily caused by inequality and poverty and that reducing these ought to reduce crime. While it is an established fact that poverty and crime correlate very highly, it is also true that all available statistics indicate that reducing poverty in Venezuela has not meant a reduction of crime. Rather, that crime increased in tandem with the decrease in poverty and inequality. In other words, the government needs to complement poverty reduction with other measures in order to reduce crime. Along with the fight against crime also belongs the general fight against corruption and increasing the state's efficiency and effectiveness.

Third, as some opposition critics have noted, [3] the real test of Chávez's economic policies is yet to come, when the price of oil is declining at a time when he cannot argue that the opposition caused the economic problems (as was the case during the oil industry shutdown 2002/2003). That is, the government will have to find ways to strengthen its efforts to create social justice in a time of fewer (oil revenue derived) resources. This would probably either mean going into debt so as to stave off a recession and/or taxing the country's rich far more heavily.

Finally, the fourth outstanding task for the next period is the deepening of participatory democracy against the resistance of chavismo's mid-level managers: the ministries, mayors, and governors. If popular power, as the system of direct democratic communal councils is often known, is the heart of Bolivarian Socialist democracy, then this will be the true testing ground for the viability of an alternative to capitalist democracy. So far, the communal councils have achieved much, but only in their own localities of 200-400 families. The real challenge, which Chávez has repeatedly announced, but which has yet to happen, is to bring these structures to a higher level, to the municipalities and perhaps even to state and national level. However, as many have observed, this is going to be difficult because few mayors and governors are willing to let go of their power.

If Chávez and his movement manage to tackle these four tasks in the next two to four years, then the future of Bolivarian Socialism will be bright indeed. Even though Chávez won this referendum, the next period is going to be quite short because if these tasks are not tackled successfully before the end of 2010, then Chávez faces the real possibility of losing his two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, or perhaps even his 50% majority, which would be a devastating blow. [4]

If things should go very wrong, such as if the economy were to crash for some reason (this does not seem likely, but cannot be discounted), then Chávez could even face a recall referendum in 2010. Should he weather these hurdles, though, the next real test will be the presidential election in late 2012.

In other words, even though the victory in the constitutional amendment referendum bought Chávez and his movement more time to complete the Bolivarian Socialist revolution, Chávez must deliver significant change in a relatively short amount of time if this project is to succeed in the long term. And even though the referendum has strengthened Chávez's hand in order to make these changes, it has also- paradoxically- potentially weakened the Bolivarian movement.



[1] This argument made very little sense, but was based on the fact that the 2007 constitutional reform referendum already included the proposal to eliminate the two-term limit on the presidency and was voted down and the constitution prohibits voting on the same reform proposal twice in the same legislative period. However, Venezuela's constitution is very clear in distinguishing between a constitutional reform and a constitutional amendment, which is not subject to the same restriction as the reform.

[2] The opposition was defeated militarily with the failure of the coup attempt of 2002, economically in the oil industry shutdown of 2003, and politically with the recall referendum of 2004 and the national assembly elections of 2005

[3] See, "Is Hugo Chavez Ready for the Coming Fall?" by Francisco Toro, Huffington Post January 29, 2009

[4] While many say that Venezuela is a very presidentialist system, most are not aware that the National Assembly is quite powerful. Not only does it approve of the budget, but it can also initiate impeachment proceedings against most government officials, it appoints the members of the electoral, judicial, and prosecutorial branches of government, and it can block any of the president's legislative initiatives (the only reason Chávez could periodically legislate by decree is because the AN allowed him to do so).

Morning Strike suspended


I did a European candidates election debate yesterday, which was great fun, especially Douglas Hurd's poor chairing but rather entertaining comments...and I ran into some people I knew from one of Oxfordshire's peace groups.

They told me they found the Morning Star essential, a daily newspaper covering the peace movement.

Its a daily radical newspaper that gives coverage to all on the progressive left. I have disagreements with it but it gives a variety of voices space, much more pluaralist than most political newspapers.

So I have dismayed by the recent strike. I think that the staff deserve to be paid more but I appreciate that most political newspapers pay nothing at all!

Any way glad to learn from today's Press Gazette that the strike has been suspended and both sides are going to be talking.


More on this here



By the way I have column with the Morning Star and no I don't get paid.

20 Feb 2009

Derek Simpson fights for jobs: well his own

Latest on http://www.dearunite.com election special (don't forget to
use your vote)

30 mentions in one magazine - almost one per page
Fighting for Jobs (his own and about 5 others)

A member has written to us:
"I wonder if any of you can spot a recurring theme in the latest issue
of 'United', the Unite Spring newsletter which arrived, entirely
coincidentally, in the middle of the balloting period for the Unite
Joint General Secretary post?

Front Cover - an heroic photograph of Joint General Secretary Derek
Simpson with a megaphone
Page 2 - a 'With You In The Dark Days' column by Joint General
Secretary Simpson, accompanied by a photograph, plus photograph of
Simpson with the Prime Minister underneath.
Page 5 - Two photographs of Joint General Secretary Simpson, one with
the Prime Minister, another looking attentive. Three articles on this
page, all of which include quotes from Simpson
Page 7 - Another photograph of Joint General Secretary Simpson with
the Prime Minister
Page 11 - Joint General Secretary Simpson quoted in an article
Page 12 - Joint General Secretary Simpson quoted in an article
Page 15 - a photograph of Joint General Secretary Simpson with the
Prime Minister
Page 16 - Joint General Secretary Simpson quoted in an article
Page 20 - Joint General Secretary Simpson quoted in an article
Page 21 - Joint General Secretary Simpson quoted in an article
Page 22 - Joint General Secretary Simpson quoted in an article
Page 24 - Joint General Secretary Simpson quoted in an article
Page 27 - Photo of Joint General Secretary Simpson
Page 28 - Joint General Secretary Simpson quoted in an article
Page 29 - Joint General Secretary Simpson quoted in an article
Page 30 - Joint General Secretary Simpson quoted in an article
Page 32 - Joint General Secretary Simpson quoted in an article
Page 38 - Joint General Secretary Simpson quoted in an article
Page 45 - Seven letters, six of which speak for or have positive
mentions of Joint General Secretary Simpson."


This tactic will be familiar to members who remember General secretary
Roger Lyons, or who live in any undemocratic Central African
republic.
[Unite] Fighting for Jobs
Posted by www.rogerlyons.com on 20th February 2009

Heathrow demo report back


A message from Jean Lambert who spoke at the Heathrow demo last night -
Derek also spoke later and included an appeal for Amicus members to vote for
Jerry Hicks. It was mainly GL people who were on the demo. The counter demo,
which consisted of about 30 people, later walked in front of our demo
carrying placards with Revolutionary Communist Party written at the base.
This, of course, encouraged some of the spokespersons from Campaign Against
Climate Change to have a go at 'strange Marxists'.

One Greenpeace speaker who went to challenge the counter demo said that he
was saddened to see that they were mainly young people. When he had
challenged them on the science of climate change, one of them had replied:
"We will not be dictated to by scientists." This gives you an idea of the
level of intellectual debate behind their group.

Congrats to Romayne et al for organising a strong presence.

Joseph

Nice to see Romayne's photo in the Daily Star!

http://www.dailystar.co.uk/latestnews/view/70200/Downing-Street-demo-over-ru
nway/



A good and enthusiastic Green Party presence. Thank you to all involved
in doing the banners etc.

Jean

The counter demonstators were from a group that evolved from the Revolutionary Communist Party, who went from being a splinter from the RCG to a virulently pro-free market libertarian group...an odd evolution indeed.

19 Feb 2009

Joel Kovel sacked from Bard College

Just saw this, totally shocking

18.2.09
Joel Kovel fired from Bard College for anti-Zionism
STATEMENT OF JOEL KOVEL REGARDING HIS TERMINATION BY BARD COLLEGE

Introduction

In January, 1988, I was appointed to the Alger Hiss Chair of Social Studies at Bard College. As this was a Presidential appointment outside the tenure system, I have served under a series of contracts. The last of these was half-time (one semester on, one off, with half salary and full benefits year-round), effective from July 1, 2004, to June 30, 2009. On February 7 I received a letter from Michèle Dominy, Dean of the College, informing me that my contract would not be renewed this July 1 and that I would be moved to emeritus status as of that day. She wrote that this decision was made by President Botstein, Executive Vice-President Papadimitriou and herself, in consultation with members of the Faculty Senate.

This document argues that this termination of service is prejudicial and motivated neither by intellectual nor pedagogic considerations, but by political values, principally stemming from differences between myself and the Bard administration on the issue of Zionism. There is of course much more to my years at Bard than this, including another controversial subject, my work on ecosocialism (The Enemy of Nature). However, the evidence shows a pattern of conflict over Zionism only too reminiscent of innumerable instances in this country in which critics of Israel have been made to pay, often with their careers, for speaking out. In this instance the process culminated in a deeply flawed evaluation process which was used to justify my termination from the faculty.

A brief chronology

• 2002. This was the first year I spoke out nationally about Zionism. In October, my article, "Zionism's Bad Conscience," appeared in Tikkun. Three or four weeks later, I was called into President Leon Botstein's office, to be told my Hiss Chair was being taken away. Botstein said that he had nothing to do with the decision, then gratuitously added that it had not been made because of what I had just published about Zionism, and hastened to tell me that his views were diametrically opposed to mine.

• 2003. In January I published a second article in Tikkun, "'Left-Anti-Semitism' and the Special Status of Israel," which argued for a One-State solution to the dilemmas posed by Zionism. A few weeks later, I received a phone call at home from Dean Dominy, who suggested, on behalf of Executive Vice-President Dimitri Papadimitriou, that perhaps it was time for me to retire from Bard. I declined. The result of this was an evaluation of my work and the inception, in 2004, of the current half-time contract as "Distinguished Professor."

• 2006. I finished a draft of Overcoming Zionism. In January, while I was on a Fellowship in South Africa, President Botstein conducted a concert on campus of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, which he has directed since 2003. In a stunning departure from traditional concert practice, this began with the playing of the national anthems of the United States and Israel, after each of which the audience rose. Except for a handful of protestors, the event went unnoticed. I regarded it, however, as paradigmatic of the "special relationship" between the United States and Israel, one that has conduced to war in Iraq and massive human rights violations in Israel/Palestine. In December, I organized a public lecture at Bard (with Mazin Qumsiyeh) to call attention to this problem. Only one faculty person attended; the rest were students and community people; and the issue was never taken up on campus.

• 2007. Overcoming Zionism was now on the market, arguing for a One-State solution (and sharply criticizing, among others, Martin Peretz for a scurrilous op-ed piece against Rachel Corrie in the Los Angeles Times. Peretz is an official in AIPAC's foreign policy think-tank, and at the time a Bard Trustee—though this latter fact was not pointed out in the book). In August, Overcoming Zionism was attacked by a watchdog Zionist group, StandWithUs/Michigan, which succeeded in pressuring the book's United States distributor, the University of Michigan Press, to remove it from circulation. An extraordinary outpouring of support (650 letters to U of M) succeeded in reversing this frank episode of book-burning. I was disturbed, however, by the fact that, with the exception of two non-tenure track faculty, there was no support from Bard in response to this egregious violation of the speech rights of a professor. When I asked President Botstein in an email why this was so, he replied that he felt I was doing quite well at taking care of myself. This was irrelevant to the obligation of a college to protect its faculty from violation of their rights of free expression—all the more so, a college such as Bard with a carefully honed reputation as a bastion of academic freedom, and which indeed defines such freedom in its Faculty Handbook as a "right . . . to search for truth and understanding without interference and to disseminate his [sic] findings without intimidation."

• 2008. Despite some reservations by the faculty, I was able to teach a course on Zionism. In my view, and that of most of the students, it was carried off successfully. Concurrently with this, another evaluation of my work at Bard was underway. Unlike previous evaluations, in 1996 and 2003, this was unenthusiastic. It was cited by Dean Dominy as instrumental in the decision to let me go.

Irregularities in the Evaluation Process

The evaluation committee included Professor Bruce Chilton, along with Professors Mark Lambert and Kyle Gann. Professor Chilton is a member of the Social Studies division, a distinguished theologian, and the campus' Protestant chaplain. He is also active in Zionist circles, as chair of the Episcopal–Jewish Relations Committee in the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and a member of the Executive Committee of Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East. In this capacity he campaigns vigorously against Protestant efforts to promote divestment and sanctions against the State of Israel. Professor Chilton is particularly antagonistic to the Palestinian liberation theology movement, Sabeel, and its leader, Rev. Naim Ateek, also an Episcopal. This places him on the other side of the divide from myself, who attended a Sabeel Conference in Birmingham, MI, in October, 2008, as an invited speaker, where I met Rev. Ateek, and expressed admiration for his position. It should also be observed that Professor Chilton was active this past January in supporting Israeli aggression in Gaza. He may be heard on a national radio program on WABC, "Religion on the Line," (January 11, 2009) arguing from the Doctrine of Just War and claiming that it is anti-Semitic to criticize Israel for human rights violations—this despite the fact that large numbers of Jews have been in the forefront of protesting Israeli crimes in Gaza.

Of course, Professor Chilton has the right to his opinion as an academic and a citizen. Nonetheless, the presence of such a voice on the committee whose conclusion was instrumental in the decision to remove me from the Bard faculty is highly dubious. Most definitely, Professor Chilton should have recused himself from this position. His failure to do so, combined with the fact that the decision as a whole was made in context of adversity between myself and the Bard administration, renders the process of my termination invalid as an instance of what the College's Faculty Handbook calls a procedure "designed to evaluate each faculty member fairly and in good faith."

I still strove to make my future at Bard the subject of reasonable negotiation. However, my efforts in this direction were rudely denied by Dean Dominy's curt and dismissive letter (at the urging, according to her, of Vice-President Papadimitriou), which plainly asserted that there was nothing to talk over and that I was being handed a fait accompli. In view of this I considered myself left with no other option than the release of this document.

On the responsibility of intellectuals

Bard has effectively crafted for itself an image as a bastion of progressive thought. Its efforts were crowned with being anointed in 2005 by the Princeton Review as the second-most progressive college in the United States, the journal adding that Bard "puts the 'liberal' in 'liberal arts.'" But "liberal" thought evidently has its limits; and my work against Zionism has encountered these.

A fundamental principle of mine is that the educator must criticize the injustices of the world, whether or not this involves him or her in conflict with the powers that be. The systematic failure of the academy to do so plays no small role in the perpetuation of injustice and state violence. In no sphere of political action does this principle apply more vigorously than with the question of Zionism; and in no country is this issue more strategically important than in the United States, given the fact that United States support is necessary for Israel's behavior. The worse this behavior, the more strenuous must be the suppression of criticism. I take the view, then, that Israeli human rights abuses are deeply engrained in a culture of impunity granted chiefly, though not exclusively, in the United States—which culture arises from suppression of debate and open inquiry within those institutions, such as colleges, whose social role it is to enlighten the public. Therefore, if the world stands outraged at Israeli aggression in Gaza, it should also be outraged at institutions in the United States that grant Israel impunity. In my view, Bard College is one such institution. It has suppressed critical engagement with Israel and Zionism, and therefore has enabled abuses such as have occurred and are occurring in Gaza. This notion is of course, not just descriptive of a place like Bard. It is also the context within which the critic of such a place and the Zionist ideology it enables becomes marginalized, and then removed.

For further information: www.codz.org; Joel Kovel, "Overcoming Impunity," The Link Jan-March 2009 (www.ameu.org).

To write the Bard administration:

President Leon Botstein president@bard.edu
Executive Vice-President Dimitri Papadimitriou dpapadimitrou@bard.edu

'Ecosocialist for 500 years'

Just had this...hoping to get Hugo over to the UK in 2010....

At the recent Ecosocialist International Network meeting in Brazil, there was considerable discussion about whether the word “ecosocialism” should be used in Latin America. Concerned that translation difficulties may have contributed to some misunderstandings, the Peruvian indigenous peasant leader Hugo Blanco sent this message to clarify his views.

Comrades:

At the meeting, in Belem, I explained the resistance from the indigenous population to the word ‘socialism’, but neither I nor anyone there proposed to change the name. Until now, this is the best word.

We understand that ‘ecosocialism’ is a new idea for the urban population. This is not the case for indigenous people of the Americas (I don’t know about another indigenous groups, but I believe that it is similar in other continents) who have been struggling for ecosocialism for more than 500 years. Ignoring these remarks will show that your eurocentric belief system continues to be central in your understanding, a deficiency that revolutionary people must surpass

I understand that ecosocialism is new among the urban population, but this is not true for many indigenous people. The continental rise up of the indigenous people movement is due to the intensification of neoliberal attacks to two basic pillars of our culture:

1. our collectivism (which is another word to design socialism); and
2. our love for nature, the Mother Earth (which is another form to express the ecology).

The indigenous struggle in defense of those principles, for more than 5 centuries, is not rhetoric; it has produced partial victory but also lost thousands of lives through massacres.

An Indigenous People framework does not leave out anyone, for instance the First International Meeting Against Neoliberalism organized by Chiapas Indigenous People, before the First World Social Forum, a meeting “For Humanity, Against Neoliberalism’ included more that 70 countries.

In the World Social Forum, for the first time there was an organized Indigenous People’s participation. Thanks to that, we were able to include an accord to celebrate on October 12, the International Day on Defense of the Mother Land, in opposition to October 1492, when “America discovered capitalism,” as the Uruguayan Eduardo Galiano argues.

As fast as urban ecosocialists understand the indigenous people’s frame, it will be better for our closeness and coordination with the indigenous people of this continent, which I repeat, have been struggling for 5 centuries for ecosocialist principles.

In solidarity,
Hugo Blanco

Rationale for the Indigenous People’s uneasiness with the word socialism:

Uneasiness, in the Peruvian context, is due to the guerrilla Shining Path (SP) that called itself ‘socialists’ while killing peasants accusing them as traitors or spies when they didn’t support SP struggle. At the same time, the government used the cover up - of being members of SP - to kill, jail, torture and disappeared peasants, particularly their leaders. This war - between SP, Movimiento Revolutionario Tupac Amaru - against the Peruvian state lasted 20 years, and took closer to 70,000 Peruvians lives, most of them Indigenous people.

In Colombia, Indigenous people are between three fires - the army, the paramilitary, and the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia). In the beginning, when the FARC occupied indigenous people’s territories, they were governed by FARC members with the exclusion of the local population, that is why when the government took over these lands they didn’t resist. The FARC has been calling itself ‘socialists’. It is now, when the FARC have been weakened that the indigenous people’s mobilization has been strengthened.

In Chile, the government of Bachelet has been called a ‘socialist’ government; instead she is using Pinochet’s methods against Mapuche indigenous people defending their ecology.

In Ecuador, Correa calls his government ‘Socialism of the XXI Century’. Indigenous people support the government, but struggle against it when it allows mining corporations to destroy nature and their land without their consent as is stipulated by the 169 OIT Covenant.

I am explaining the malaise of the indigenous people who have been struggling for centuries for the same principles that ecosocialists are proposing, but I am not suggesting to change the name. The name is the best for the urban population.

However, let me give you my opinion on the urban ecosocialists attitude regarding the indigenous movement?

I can see how deep is the eurocentric belief system in the urban revolutionary movement.

Because of it, the idea that these principles are exhibited for the first time is spread. They are blind to the long struggle of the indigenous people in this continent for the ecosocialist principles; and they are also unable to see the existence of an ecosocialist government that already exists in Chiapas, on the margins of Mexico.

I believe that if the urban ecosocialist movement is able to understand these realities, it would get closer to those who are building ecosocialism through actions, instead of declarations. Urban ecosocialists can make known, among the less versed urban population, the daily struggles of the indigenous people and also organize solidarity activities with them.

Despite of what I say, I agreed with the document that I signed. I am interested in the development of our movement. As I am immersed in the indigenous struggle I can bridge this movement between indigenous people and the urban ecosocialists. Our struggle is the same. Each side needs to overcome its prejudices in order to support a world government that will save humanity from an imminent ecological disaster that will end with our species in less than a century.

Hugo Blanco

Hugo Blanco was a central figure in the peasant uprisings in Cuzco, Peru, in the 1960s, and remains active in those struggles today. He publishes the newspaper Lucha Indigena.

Unite Election - Dirty Tricks and Lies

When radicals look like winning...it usually gets dirty


Latest on http://www.dearunite.com :
Read the full text by following the link above. The plain text below omits graphs, supporting documents and links.

Unite Election - Dirty Tricks and Lies
In an incredible and quite likely illegal move the union's executive have circulated a 'correction' to the election address of candidate Jerry Hicks.
Unlike the blatant electioneering at members' expense which was Simpson's letter to all members last week (estimated cost £250,000), this document was actually included with the ballot papers. Because of this we believe it constitutes an amendment to Hick's election address and an extension to Simpson's, both of which are illegal. If so it would represent a serious cock-up by the union's legal department and may result in a re-run of the election.
To add insult to injury, the Executive statement is untrue and misleading according to the union's own Annual Returns. The statement says "Mr Simpson's salary is currently under £100.000". But according to the last available figures compiled by the union, his basic salary in 2007 was £105,217 and the total cost of his remuneration, including his car and housing benefit was a whopping £194,252. The only possible explanation would be if Simpson has taken a pay cut in his election year, maybe that was his justification for a 17% pay increase in 2007.
We've asked Simpson about this and received no comment.
The Daily Mirror have come out in support of Simpson. This is not at all connected to the fact that the union pays the paper to host the column "The Rights Stuff", written by Unite Legal Director Georgina Hirsch.
Meanwhile Coyne's paper, The Times, has been whinging about Simpson's £250K mailing to all members last week. This is despite being under legal threat from Simpson, although they have published one grovelling apology so far.
[dearunite.com] Simpson's remuneration
[Unite Executive] 'Correction'
[The Times] Apology
www.dearunite.com

18 Feb 2009

Kentucky Fried ecopolitics disagrees with my digestion


Green politics (and socialism) should not be about Kentucky fried, Fox TV (with the exception of the Simpsons), ethical McDonalds or animal abuse.

Very pleased to have this guest post from Alison Banville....by the way looking for a guest post on Friends of the Earth and their arranged marriage with Murdoch (any volunteers out there?)....I know the bride managed to escape but not being a member of Friends of the Earth I would love to know more about this episode.


Any way enough of my late night witterings...on to some comment and quotes from Alison.


Yes, it's very sad that people cannot see that justice extends to all who are weak and powerless. Mr. Newman also misunderstands nature profoundly and misses a most important fact - the carnivorous animals have no choice but to kill or die; we have no such imperative upon which our survival depends. We can reflect on our actions and their effect on other life. What use our superior brain and the evolution of our consciousness if we don't use them? We so conveniently scurry back over the gulf we have created between ourselves and 'lesser' creation when our debased pleasure demands a sacrifice - one minute refined and the next a savage - we can't have it both ways.

'I have myself been the unwilling witness of an otter hunt, and a more sickening spectacle it is difficult to conceive. That any man or woman, much less any Christian, could be possessed of so much cruelty and cowardice, and could derive pleasure from such a pitiful scene of hopeless suffering, filled me with unutterable disgust.'
Stephen Coleridge (1854-1936)

'Who can dispute the inhumanity of the sport of hunting - of pursuing a poor, defenceless creature for mere amusement, til it becomes exhausted by terror and fatigue, and then of causing it to be torn to pieces by a pack of dogs? From what kind of instruction can men, and even women, imbibe such principles as these? How is it possible that they can justify it? And what can their pleasure in it consist of? Is it not solely in the agony they produce to the animal? They will pretend that it is not and try to make us believe so too - that it is merely the pursuit. But what is the object of their pursuit? Is there any other than to torment and destroy?'
Lewis Gompertz (1779-1861)

'Every tree near our house had a name of its own and a special identity. this was the beginning of my love for natural things, for earth and sky, for fields and woods, for trees and grass and flowers, and my sense of kinship with birds and animals, and all inarticulate creatures. The things I feared were not in the sky, but in the nature and touch of humanity. The cruelty of children, the blindness of the unpitiful, these were my terrors.

This rage at seeing the black dog hunted and abused - I have never forgotten it - contained every anger, every revolt I had ever felt in my life; the way I felt whenever I had seen people or animals hurt for the pleasure or profit of others. I hated the things they believed in, the things they so charmingly pretended. I hated the sanctimonious piety that let people hurt helpless creatures. I hated the prayers and the hymns, the fountains and the red images that coloured their drab music, the fountains filled with blood, the sacrifice of the lamb - there is never a time when God or man, or the god invented by man, requires a libation of cruelty.'
Ellen Glasgow (1874-1945)

'Who can dispute the inhumanity of the sport of hunting - of pursuing a poor, defenceless creature for mere amusement, til it becomes exhausted by terror and fatigue, and then of causing it to be torn to pieces by a pack of dogs? From what kind of instruction can men, and even women, imbibe such principles as these? How is it possible that they can justify it? And what can their pleasure in it consist of? Is it not solely in the agony they produce to the animal? They will pretend that it is not and try to make us believe so too - that it is merely the pursuit. But what is the object of their pursuit? Is there any other than to torment and destroy?'
Lewis Gompertz (1779-1861)