30 Jun 2012

What do you mean by 'the commons'?

You have written much about how the concept of “the commons” provides the basis for an alternative, ecological economy that is democratic, resource-efficient, decentralised and sustainable. What do you mean by “the commons” and how could it be applied across whole economies?
The commons is collectively-owned property, as opposed to state or privately-owned. To me it is the essence of ecosocialism, involving the democratic ownership of the means of production. Communities, including indigenous and peasant farmers, have collectively regulated resources including land, forests and fisheries for thousands of years.
Access is free, but those with access must conserve the resource. Commons is key to Marx’s ideas, as we can see from the quote from Das Kapital above. In 2009, [US political economist] Elinor Ostrom won a Nobel Prize for economics, incidentally the first woman to do so. Her research shows that, with care, commons can create sustainable and prosperous economies.
There are numerous examples of norms within commons that tend to encourage sustainable use.
Chris Hannibal-Paci’s examination of conservation of sturgeon by the Cree and Ojibwe at Lake Winnipeg, Canada, is a good example of a successful commons. The lake fisheries were a commons used by indigenous people until commons rights were eroded during the colonial era. In recent years, overfishing has been a problem. Thus, as private property rights and the commodification of fisheries have increased, sturgeon catches have fallen.
Before colonial times, fish catches were fairly and carefully regulated. There are thousands more examples.
Commons is simply about collective and ecological regulation. Private ownership of resources encourages short-term waste and destruction. Commons is an appropriate alternative.
The commons is always under threat of enclosure. To me, ecosocialism is about defending, extending and deepening commons.
Cyberspace is to a large extent commons. The wiki principle is commons. Collective, creative solutions are possible.
While commons work at a community level, with the web we can nest commons and use wiki principles to democratically plan regional, national and international economies.
The notion of workers’ plans for green production is also an important manifestation of the commons principle. Markets and states are not going to disappear. but 21st century socialism and especially ecosocialism is about democratic, creative, common pool property rights, not top down Stalinist perversions of a democratic vision.
Land, cyberspace, factories — you name it, it can, with care, be made commons. Ostrom is fascinating: coming from a background in neo-liberal Hayekian economics she was convinced by research into existing commons that sustainable collective property rights can work well.
She has been a great friend of the indigenous and the green movement. While there are weaknesses in her work — for example, she lacks a class analysis — she is a tremendous inspiration.
This is a nice quote of hers:
“Our problem is how to craft rules at multiple levels that enable humans to adapt, learn, and change over time so that we are sustaining the very valuable natural resources that we inherited so that we may be able to pass them on.
“I am deeply indebted to the indigenous peoples in the US who had an image of seven generations being the appropriate time to think about the future.
“I think we should all reinstate in our mind the seven-generation rule. When we make really major decisions, we should ask not only what will it do for me today, but what will it do for my children, my children’s children, and their children’s children into the future.”


29 Jun 2012

Full list of Green Party candidates for leader.

The Green Party today (29th June) announced the candidates standing for the Leader and Deputy Leader of The Green Party of England and Wales.

For Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales
Pippa Bartolotti, currently Leader of Wales Green Party
Natalie Bennett, current Chair of Green Party Women
Peter Cranie, currently lead candidate in the North West for the European Elections
Romayne Pheonix, currently Chair of the Coalition of Resistance

For Deputy Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales
Caroline Allen, Recent candidate in London Assembly Elections, Member of Policy Committee
Cllr Will Duckworth, Dudley
Cllr Richard Mallender, Nottingham
Cllr Alexandra Phillips, Brighton

24 Jun 2012

A tale of two conferences: The social and ecological crises of capitalism

by Chris Williams
“It’s impossible!” I said.
“No Johnny, we’re impossible. It’s like it always was ten million years ago.
It hasn’t changed. It’s us and the land that’ve changed, become impossible, us!”
—Ray Bradbury, from the short story “The Foghorn”
Sometimes, the calendar of international conferences attended by global elites serves up potent lessons for the rest of us, when they shine a spotlight on the deliberately murky affairs of the people who run the system. As the 20 most powerful world leaders deliberate on economic issues in Los Cabos, Mexico for the G20 summit, representatives of the rest will be simultaneously converging on Rio de Janeiro to consider how to follow up on the original Earth Summit, 20 years ago this year.
At these seemingly separate gatherings, we in truth observe the two sides of the capitalist coin. Namely, how can the capitalist elite continue the necessary work of exploiting both humans and the natural world in the service of profit, while cloaking their intentions in the benign language of growth, development and sustainability? Fine words to cover nefarious ends. No doubt, as people’s livelihoods and world decay around them as a direct consequence of the system the elite oversee, and in response the flame of revolt is rekindled from Cairo to Athens, political elites in the two locations will reflect on the fact that it’s not getting any easier. From the other side, critics and commentators of the two conferences are missing an important and significant lesson when they consider them in isolation.
At the original Earth Summit in Rio, it was generally accepted that environmental questions could not be separated from economic ones. This year, the two conferences, occurring concurrently at different ends of the South American continent, bring to light how this thinking has been undermined.
Furthermore, they indicate with geographical and political precision where the priorities of the global elite lie. While the most important world leaders hot-foot it to Mexico to discuss global economic development, they send low-level delegates to Brazil to discuss issues they deem less vital; to be exact, planetary ecological crisis.
Indeed, so desperate were the Brazilian organizers of Rio+20 to cajole the British premier to attend, they changed the date of the conference so as to avoid conflicting with the much more important and worthy 60th anniversary celebrations of the Queen of England’s ascension to the throne. An attempt that proved ultimately and embarrassingly futile, as British Prime Minister, David Cameron, chose to cling to the coattails of President Obama and other G20 leaders in Los Cabos, as they calculate, connive and concoct the further dismemberment and disenfranchisement of communities of workers and peasants around the world.
In a further sad irony, to enhance attendance at Rio, Brazil is providing flights courtesy of the Brazilian air-force to those countries too poor to send delegates. It’s hard to imagine that the countries who can’t afford to send delegates to an environmental conference will have the financial capacity to take action to preserve biodiversity and a stable climate without international funding and technology transfer. But the concept or even use of the word “transfer” is exactly what the United States delegation is trying to excise from any document emerging from Rio+20.
In Los Cabos, 20 people wielding enormous economic power gather to ensure that nothing stands in the way of the international accumulation of money by their respective corporations; that capitalist growth continues, uninterrupted by paltry considerations such as democracy. Scheming and plotting in Los Cabos, the 20 leaders will huddle, concerned that their plans have been exposed by the people of Greece.

19 Jun 2012

Why are the Greens winning in West Midlands? Interview with Will Duckworth

THE Green Party were celebrating this morning (Friday) after winning their first ever seat on Dudley Council.
Will Duckworth romped home to victory in Netherton, Woodside and St Andrews where he polled 1,525 votes beating his nearest rival (Labour's Mahbub Rahman) by 256 votes. Conservative candidate Steven Ridley (standing in after sitting councillor John Davies retired) was left trailing behind with 335 votes while UKIP went home with 257.
Former maths teacher Will, aged 58, described his first-time win - after placing second last year - as "amazing". He told the News: "It really shows that when you've got someone working hard for the residents they take notice. We've been telling them constantly what our policies are and people like our policies because they make sense."


1. The West Midlands Green Party are winning seats at a faster rate than any other part of the party, can you tell me more about this?

WMGP’s recent electoral success has come about through smart targeting, pooling resources and getting members working together across the whole region. In the last two years we have gone from three Councillors on three councils to thirteen on seven. The new regional committee that was elected in 2010 (including me) has developed an incredibly thorough strategy and followed it very closely. But let’s not forget that this is not about winning seats for the sake of it - we have to bring positive change, especially to those least well off and most disenfranchised in our society.

2. Your own victory in a Working Class ward in Dudley was a big achievement can you tell me more about this and how you did it?

In a nutshell - a lot of hard work and a real team effort. It was very much about doing the basic things of discovering individuals' issues and trying to do something about them. We sent out about 20 leaflets to each home in the 30 months running up to this election and dealt with around 1000 pieces of casework before the election this year. We have had a great deal of success with things that make a noticeable difference to people’s lives, like getting potholes in the road mended, but also really important, high impact issues, like having draughty windows and broken central heating replaced.

We also tried to tackle a significant national issue in each ward newsletter - cuts, pay differentials, housing, redundancies, etc. People find it easy to relate these national issues to their own lives, so it’s a great way to get our socialist message across.

3. How can the Green Party break from its middle class image and be relevant to more people?

I think the Green Party may need to change its name to better reflect what we stand for. Our excellent social policies are often overlooked just because the ‘green’ tag still makes people think we are a single issue party. Since the biggest worry for working class families right now is job security and income, unless a local Party is getting active and telling people about our social policies, many will keep thinking we are only interested in the environment.

I would also like to see the Party challenging the cosy relationships between the ruling political class and big business. We have to point out to traditional Labour voters that there is only a whisker of difference between the Conservatives and Labour when it comes to looking after the interests of the rich. Anyone can see that the main parties are supporting the bankers and their agenda of making themselves incredibly rich at the expense of everyone else. People need to understand that the Green Party is the only one not to have connections to dodgy donors and that this means we are free to promote policies that are genuinely good for people and the planet.

4. You are an ecosocialist and involved in Green Left, how can left green politics be made relevant and what does it mean to you?

At the moment, there is nothing more relevant than left green ideas. We have now seen the flaws in global capitalism. The demise of the Soviet Union was heralded as the end of state socialism if it wasn't for the big players in the media we would all recognise that the ongoing financial crash heralds the end of belief in the capitalist system. Capitalism's only aim is to make money and more and more people are waking up to the devastating effects that is having. We have to work together to prevent the boom and bust cycle being repeated in humanity.

5. Tell me more about your political background and how you came to be a party member?

My first understanding of politics was when Animal Farm was read to us as a child. My response was that I didn't believe that the pigs would really behave like that and that the whole of the farm needed to take control. John Lennon's 'Imagine' cemented my anarchist/socialist beliefs and I had often flirted with the left and with environmental groups. However, I didn’t join a political party until I was 52. I read every single UK party’s manifesto and realised that the Green Party was my obvious political home. I joined the nearest local group, several miles away, and a year later co-founded Dudley Green Party. When Stourbridge was chosen by the Politics Show as the featured constituency in the run up to the 2010 general election I decided I had to get involved. I stood as our candidate there, ended up getting media training at conference, doing television and radio interviews and taking part in hustings and things have just gone on from there.

6. Climate change is a huge challenge how can we fight it.

First we need to get clear the causes of climate change. The rape of the planet is caused by big business needing more and more resources to make more and more money. Sooner or later the cheap oil that is causing so much damage will run out, so the earlier we get used to low carbon living the better. We need to switch to using long lasting, locally produced goods, for example, and seeing the many benefits that come from that model.

Of course, massive governmental intervention is also needed, but, judging by the hypocritical positions of the larger parties, we can’t really expect that any time soon. One great example of this hypocrisy is currently playing out in Birmingham. The government keeps going on about legally binding CO2 reduction targets, while at the same time allowing the six local authorities that own Birmingham Airport to extend the runway there, encouraging more flights and greater noise pollution to boot!

7. How do we link the local to the global? Are you active in international campaigns?

I have been involved with Avaaz for years as well as supporting the usual suspects; Amnesty International, Greenpeace, etc. Internet activism is becoming a great deal sharper and more effective and I think this trend is only going to continue, which is a very good thing.

8 Do you have a green lifestyle?

I presume you mean in the traditional low carbon emitting sense? Until I became a Councillor we had relatively little disposable income but we weren't poor enough to have to have a really low carbon footprint.

I have not flown since 1985. We do have a diesel camper van which we use for holidays and we have an old cheap all electric car (G-Wiz) for our day to day travel. Our home is well insulated, but sadly isn't suitable for solar panels. We have a green sedum roof on the garage. We get our electricity and gas from Ecotricity and I grow most of our food on my allotment or pick from the hedgerow and cook everything from basic ingredients, making our own bread and much of our drink. We recycle very little because we buy very little and reuse everything we can.

9. What have you managed to achieve as a councillor and what are your plans?

My primary medium term aim is to get more Green Councillors elected. I also want to hold the Council to account wherever possible. I had managed to get a number of Council houses brought up to decent standards before I got elected and there are still plenty that need sorting out. I know it wasn't my doing but I got involved in the fight against the Coseley 'eco park'. As you would expect with a title like that they wanted to build an incinerator. A number of us objected to it, led by Friends of the Earth. It may be a coincidence, but when I added the title Cllr on my letters the company suddenly dropped the proposal for the incinerator from their planning application.

My plans are to persuade the lefties on the Labour group to realise that we are the socialist alternative and work with them to fight the cuts.

18 Jun 2012

Rio statement 'take back the commons'

An impatient Trade Union Assembly in Rio on 11-13 June adopted a statement which represents an important step forward, in which it realises "that our current profit-driven production and consumption model, identified as the source of rising social inequalities and environmental degradation, must be replaced if a truly sustainable development is to be achieved".

It further demanded that "the Commons, natural and energy resources are brought and kept under public ownership, securing their public preservation and administration with social control."

In order to replace the existing model, the trade union movement must play "a decisive role in fighting for an alternative development model for our societies, grounded on peoples' needs, on solidarity, on economic democracy and on a fair distribution of wealth".

In this struggle, the trade union movement must "make use of our organisational capacity and our experience of past struggles to form a strong, organised global movement in a bid to spur governments and corporations, who are reluctant to act, into taking appropriate measures to tackle and stop climate change."

This is something to live up to! Find the entire statement here:
social inequalities and environmental degradation, must be replaced if a truly sustainable development is to be achieved".
All the best
Asbjørn Wahl
Adviser of the Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees, and
Chair of the Working Group on Climate Change of the International Transport Workers’ Federation

Notes from the Borderland: Essential Green Left Reading

 I have had the pleasure of knowing Larry O'Hara since around 1989, he is one of the pillars of the left in the Green Party and a man with a Phd on the British far right.  He is also one of the network that puts together Notes from the Borderland, well yes its controversial stuff and yes the articles are long with lots of footnotes and yes its quite cutting about the personalities involved.   Nonetheless its essential reading in my book.  This is what they say about themselves:

Welcome to Britain's premier parapolitical investigative magazine Notes from the Borderland (NFB). We have been producing the magazine since 1997 but some published material before then.
Our political perspective is Left/Green, but we welcome truth-tellers, whatever their affiliation. Research interests include the secret state (MI5/MI6/Special Branch) & their assets, including those in the media. We are resolutely anti-fascist, and to that end investigate the far right and state infiltration of various milieus.

This issue includes a lengthy analysis of the Searchlight/Hope not Hate split, which I must admit I had been hardly aware of and much else besides.  NFB is also a long standing critic of 7/7 and 9/11 conspiracy theory campaigns.

A growing distaste at bizarre conspiracy theories the 9/11 cult propagate, in particular anti-semitism.  Claims by Shayler (New Statesman 11/9/06) that 9/11 was a 'Zionist' conspiracy are two-a-penny--yet we rarely hear the phrase 'Saudi conspiracy' with far more evidence for such.  Lurking in the wings are the usual racist snake-oil salesmen (or in David Icke's case lizards) eager to blame the 'Jews'.  The venomous & often anti-semitic reaction to criticism by Jewish journalist Jon Ronson in November 2006exemplifies this. A relevant subtext is the sheer disbelief non-US citizens could have organised 9/11 without US government assistance--racism by another (subtle) name.  MORE HERE

Have a click here and look at the Notes From the Borderland site.  And if its not your cup of tea fair enough....ha ha not sure about the video with the crying child but it gives you the idea.

Oh and did I mention the coverage of the mystery of the death of MI5 Gareth Williams and the mystery of why we believe anything in the Evening Standard!

17 Jun 2012

join GreenParty before 29th June and you can vote for our new leader to replace Caroline Lucas

If you join the GreenParty before 29th June and you can vote for our new leader to replace Caroline Lucas.

And its only £5 if you are a young person or student.

I am very much of the polycentric i.e pluralist left, good luck to left not in the Green Party and to greens who maybe not ecosocialists!  However we have to build.  Internal politics matter, think of how the lib dems were taken over by the Orange book group or how Labour is being targetted by Progress.  Political parties have a role and internal party politics is part of the work we need to do, although from culture change to non violent direction action there are other vital dimensions.

Caroline Lucas has done a brilliant job setting the agenda and pushing a no cuts anti-austerity approach based on serious action on climate change.

She will continue to do so as MP but having a good leader and deputy are important.

So put your shoulder to the struggle, these things matter and Green Party internal elections can be very close!

Membership details here, do click and join http://join.greenparty.org.uk/membership/index.html

15 Jun 2012

Romayne Phoenix to chair Coalition of Resistance national rally

Tuesday 19th June Coalition of Resistance, Public meeting

Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London, 6.30pm

Speakers include Tony Benn, Wendy Savage of Keep our NHS Public, Len McCluskey of UNITE, Christine Blower NUT and the chair of the event is Romayne Phoenix, London Green Party. This meeting is a preparation for the TUC day of action to be held 20th October 2012.

14 Jun 2012

PROTEST at the PERUVIAN EMBASSY Friday 15 June 1-2pm

Friday 15 June 1-2pm
52 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9SP Knightsbridge Tube

520 years after Colombus and Pizarro’s genocide for gold, the movement in Peru demands an end to domestic slavery and gold mining. 

A year ago, after decades of organising, domestic workers won the historic Convention 189 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which recognises their rights as workers. Governments must now ratify the Convention. So far, despite promises by President Ollanta Humala’s party during the election campaign, the Convention has not been ratified. On Friday, Lima’s domestic workers’ trade union SINTTRAHOL will take to the streets to demand immediate ratification.

Impoverishment drives thousands of women and children from Indigenous and other rural areas to the city, where they are forced to take domestic work in slave conditions – unending hours; denial of wages, benefits or pensions; rape and other violence.  

Leddy Mozombite, SINTTRAHOL’s General Secretary says:“Convention 189 is a great victory for women, whether we are remunerated or not, domestic workers or housewives, because it recognises the value of work in the home which has been kept invisible until now. Every country should include the economy of caring work in their public policies.”

President Humala is breaking other promises. Before he was elected he promised to fully consult the population on the gold mining Conga Project in the Cajamarca region. Instead he is giving the go-ahead to US multinational Newmont and other mining companies which threaten to destroy the environment and pollute the water supply. But Cajamarca, where Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro murdered Inca leader Atahualpa, is rebelling against this latest colonization. Despite the government sending in the army and killing protesters, the population of Cajamarca has been on general strike since 30 May: children have refused to go to school, there have been massive marches, and communal kitchens feed the strikers. 

With SINTTRAHOL and the Cajamarca movement,
we call on President Humala to:

RATIFY Domestic Workers’ Rights Convention 189
– ¡RATIFIQUEN Convenio 189! 

¡Agua Si, Oro No! –Yes to Water, No to Gold!
¡Si a la vida, No a la mina! – Yes to Life, No to Mines!
¡No a la militarización de Cajamarca! – Stop the militarisation of Cajamarca!

Called by: Collective of Peruvians in London colectivodeperuanosuk@gmail.com
Global Women’s Strike  gws@globalwomenstrike.net  Tel: (020) 7482 2496
Women of Colour, GWS   

SINTTRAHOL is affiliated to the GWS

12 Jun 2012

Elinor Ostrom (RIP): A personal appreciation

To an outside observer, my career may look rather successful at the current time. Has it always been this way? To be honest, the answer is no. My entry into an undergraduate major in political science was almost accidental. Fortunately, I had a short business career before starting my graduate program or I might have been discouraged by the advice I was given when I applied to graduate school. My research interests took me down a long and interdisciplinary path to the study of complex social-ecological systems—a path that many colleagues in political science strongly criticized.
I was deeply interested in how institutions were initially crafted, and then how they affected the incentives and outcomes of human interactions in many settings. Although the theory I participated in developing was general, most of the settings where I conducted empirical research were viewed by some in my home discipline as being irrelevant to political science. Why was I studying local governance and policing, or irrigation systems in Nepal, or peasants, or forests? A political scientist was expected to study the parliaments or bureaucracies of national or international regimes and not the design, operation, and adaptation of rule systems at lower levels.

I was devastated to hear that Professor Ostrom died today of pancreatic cancer.

She was the first women to win a Nobel Prize for economics for her work on commons.

She argues that people can come together and find ways of managing resources in an environmentally sustainable way.

She would declare 'No Panaceas', sometimes commons failed,  and didn't like to advise governments because she believed academics often got it wrong.

Her work has been one of my major inspirations.  I have just today been writing an article for Green World the Green Party magazine about her and I met up with her twice in the spring when she was in London.

A towering intellectual but a modest one, she was almost embarrassed to gain the Nobel because she insisted her work was a collaboration with both her husband Vincent Ostrom and with a network of colleagues.

I sincerely believe that, despite her modesty, if human beings are to prosper we need to learn from her work and that of her network of scholars across the world.

To my understanding her work had a number of key themes:

1. Commons, there are different ways of owning property that work in broadly ecological and democratic ways, there is property beyond the private and the state.  Property rights she argued in reference to John Commons the institutional economist, were bundles of rights.

2. Craft.  Politics isn't just about government its about how we humans craft institutions for governing ourselves right down to community rules for keeping using forests.

3. Polycentricism.  From her husband, who survives her, Vincent Ostrom and Michael Polanyi she continued to argue that in a messy world, different over lapping systems worked best, this extends to social science theory and method.

4. Inter-disciplinary work.  She was a political economist inspired by such varied figures as Douglas North and John Commons but worked with anthropologists, biologists, mathematicians.  Her work was most famous for case studies but ranged from experiments to the use of satellites to survey forests.

5. Ecological sustainability.  This was key to her work but based on local and global action on the creativity of people not just top down rules (although somethings these were needed too she argued).

6. Indigenous.  She was a great supporter of indigenous people and would repeat the Iroquois's Seven Generation Rule that in policy matters we should think of the next seven generations.

7.  Economic isn't just about money and markets.  Rules shape all economic systems even ones that don't use money or markets or over lap with systems that do. Agnes Varda's film The Gleaners and I is a good illustration of this point.

8. Academic practice.  Hailed as a libertarian and indeed drawing strongly on Hayek her practice shames most academics who claim to be on the left, she shared, she worked to promote free exchange of knowledge, she gave her prize money away to fund research and was a great advocate of social justice and compassionate living.  She was a collectivist in the best sense of networking with others, despite,  or perhaps, even because of her 'individualist' roots.

She place 137 of her articles on the web for free all part of a Digital Library of the Commons she created with Vincent and her colleagues, how many academics work to make sure their findings are disseminated for free and not enclosed in exclusive expensive 'academic journals'.

The Digital Library of the Commons that provides free universal access to thousands of full-text commons papers, articles, and dissertations—it is hard to imagine how challenging it must have been in the formative years. In a letter dated June 20, 1984 Vincent wrote: “We have struck a sensitive and hostile response where our work has not confirmed the predispositions and aspirations of other scholars. We have had great difficulty in securing publications; and we have a great reservoir of important work that has never seen the light of day.” 

Her complex work, micro political economy, isn't properlydescribed by the labels people normally use, her work and that of her husband is something else.  Normative concerns with environment, indigenous peoples, anti-racism, feminism, equality were rarely given labels and were combined with an intellectual heritage which might be seen as liberatarian and market based.  To repeat key to her work and that of her husband was the idea of humans designing their own political systems and a scepticism of top down control whether from states or corporations.

Her autobiographical article A Long Polycentric Journey' is important to read especially about her struggle against the barriers women faces in the 1950s, 60s and 70s to becoming academic

She gave us many gifts, we need to keep giving them away, a generous and beautiful soul, I was privileged to meet her.

9 Jun 2012

50 reasons to oppose ACTA (Green Party campaign video)

While you could put a rizla paper between my ecosocialist politics and that of say the German Green Party, its superb that the Greens in the European Parliament are fighting ACTA.

The Pirate Party sits with the Greens in the European Parliament, good stuff from one of their Swedish members on the video above.

Today June 9th is anti-ACTA Day, please spread the word,

8 Jun 2012

Newcastle anti-cuts rally with Mark Serwotka and Romayne Phoenix

Watch Romayne Phoenix - Stop the ConDem Cuts! Coalition Of Resistance in News  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

Thursday 14 June - 6.30-8pm - Royal Station Hotel (next to Newcastle Central Station)

This is the LAUNCH RALLY for Newcastle's mobilisation to make 20 October's TUC national demo a massive show of opposition to cuts and privatisation. Organised by Coalition of Resistance,... this rally will feature PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka and a number of other anti-cuts, anti-privatisation speakers (see below).

Stop regional pay - defend pensions - oppose privatisation in the NHS, education and across the public sector.


Romayne Phoenix, Chair of Coalition of Resistance and Green Party activist,

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary

Paul Noble, Newcastle NUT assistant secretary

Meriem Evans, student activist at Gateshead College

Chair: Clare Harwood, Gateshead Unison.

plus speakers from UCU, Coalition of Resistance and Keep Our NHS Public.

6 Jun 2012

Elinor Ostrom, Caroline Lucas and radical Republicanism

I am a republican of course.  Having said that I have not been shouting 'Off with their heads' and demonstrating.

I just think people should be self-governing.

I have also been busy with my research into Elinor Ostrom's work,  Elinor was the first women to win a Nobel Prize in economics for her work on the commons.  She is currently putting together a huge global comparative research project into socio-ecological systems.

I am a huge fan of Elinor and the more I find out about her work the more unique and it important it seems.

Briefly she holds many of the values that a green leftist like me holds, while she does not reject the market or the state, her work is revolutionary in that it shows that collective democratic ownership can work, putting people in charge while promoting sustainability.

She is an advocate of the seven generation rule, respects indigenous people and is passionate about solving ecological problems.

But her conclusions have come from a career rooted in Hayek and as a former President of the Public Choice Society.   Confused you should be!

Typically she has done much research into Games Theory looking at how cooperation rather than competition can be promoted.

She has long become sceptical of 'rational economic man or women' at least outside the confines of the narrowly economic.......and is a great friend and fan of Amartya Sen, whose rational fools paper critiqued much of the basis of Public Choice.

What is uncontroversial is that she and her husband, who is also a fascinating thinker, Vincent Ostrom are republicans.

They don't demonstrate but their bed rock belief is that people can come together, however imperfectly, and make instutitions to govern themselves.  In this sense despite other differences like Negri and Hardt they celebrate Republican Political Theory.

A kind of polite and practical anarchism, which seeks to learn and promote government literally by 'Res Publica' the people.

I think this is something we need more of in the Green Party!   Caroline Lucas's exit as leader should be met by some real discussion, collectively, about how we create a stronger and more successful party. 

And more on the Ostroms coming soon from me!

Top down is not the green way and we greens can learn from the Ostroms in this respect,