30 Apr 2006



Ital report from Caracas visit in January, scroll down for more Rasta stuff/fight the green Nazis…

The best thing was being taken to an ecological high school outside of Caracas, where the principal Cesar Brand proudly told us about their work. The children were taught about organic farming, an integrated agricultural system was being developed, he showed us a flow chart cycling manure into biodigester to produce energy and grow crops. Learning from Cuba’s special period where the whole nation went organic to reduce dependency on oil based fertilizers and pesticides, Venezuela’s which is the fifth largest oil producer is looking to a post-petroleum age.
This is a country where the Hilton Hotel is used for World Social Forum events and next to the Hotel is a large organic farming producing tons of produce each week. Chavez addressing the WSF proclaimed that it was ‘socialism or death’, noting that unlike Marx we no longer have the luxury of waiting because capitalism is destroying the environment. Rhetoric may be but astonishing words from the leader of a major oil producing country.
Of course in a couple of hundred words based on a couple of days visit, a full account is impossible but Venezuela is in the midst of a revolution, the country has been run for centuries on behalf of a small fairly Americanised elite. This is changing, Venezuela is being governed in the interests of the majority. The passionate hatred of the Bolivarian process is based on the fear of a minority whose power is being eroded. There is certainly no shortage of debate, we were able to talk to opposition demonstators, this feels like a country where people are very free to voice their opinions.
From Cuban doctors in the barrios, to a very successful literacy campaign to the organic farms, a huge creativity experiment in democratic, ecological and rather anarchic socialism is being undertaken, which is why Bush and Blair are so hostile to it. It was a pleasure to see a little of it in action.

Derek Wall

DIY Rasta (green) Revolution.

Well, the Rasta stuff is a good way of saying fuck off to the green fascists and the BNP, of showing that food localism can be multi-cultural and of exploring what is useful and useless in religious culture (I am afraid I have never seen Haile Selassie as a particularly dread guy).

I made my partner, last night, a basic run down….the idea is to take fresh veg, home grown chillis (still have a large supply grown by fellow Green Party member Stephen Young out here in Ascot/Windsor), coriander (growing on the porch), fennel, cinnamon, thyme (the signature herb for Jamaican cooking)….the non local part is the coconut milk you boil this down….is there a local alternative or one with less saturated fat.

So here is a nice article on 3. ital food http://debate.uvm.edu/dreadlibrary/pasmore.html, 1.the definitive Karl Marx statement on italism, www.marxists.org.uk/archive/ marx/works/1857/grundrisse/ch06.htm 2. lots of links from Veg blog ….get cooking and vote for Nandor!


The Times of November 1857 contains an utterly delightful cry of outrage on the part of a West-Indian plantation owner. This advocate analyses with great moral indignation—as a plea for the re-introduction of Negro slavery—how the Quashees (the free blacks of Jamaica) content themselves with producing only what is strictly necessary for their own consumption, and, alongside this 'use value', regard loafing (indulgence and idleness) as the real luxury good; how they do not care a damn for the sugar and the fixed capital invested in the plantations, but rather observe the planters' impending bankruptcy with an ironic grin of malicious pleasure, and even exploit their acquired Christianity as an embellishment for this mood of malicious glee and indolence. [39] They have ceased to be slaves, but not in order to become wage labourers, but, instead, self-sustaining peasants working for their own consumption. As far as they are concerned, capital does not exist as capital

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Ital is Vital
If you're even a casual listener of reggae music, there's no doubt that you've heard the word "Ital" mentioned at one time or another. Ital has been translated from Jamaican patois slang as "pure," and that's appropriate, especially when taking into account that Ital is usually mentioned in connection with food or cooking.
So what is Ital food? Simply put, Ital food is organic, non-processed food from the earth (that is, vegetarian, by most definitions). "Ital is vital" best summarizes the Rastafarian belief that pure food from the earth is the most physically and spiritually beneficial. Interestingly, while table salt is not considered Ital because of the chemical processing it undergoes, ganja (marijuana) is considered Ital since it is smoked in its natural state. Even more, ganja is considered as an holy herb that can be used in pretty much any recipe.
An Ital diet is nearly vegan (some recipes contain honey as an optional sweetener) and prohibits tobacco (because of the heavy processing), alcohol, and other drugs. Milk is referred to as "white blood" (Rastafari Selassie I Center, Finland) and is therefore not included in an Ital diet.
So, no milk, no flesh, no processing... the recipes must be bland, right? If you're visiting the Veg Blog, you're probably well aware of how satisfying vegetarian meals can be. Indeed, Ital dishes often contain a variety of herbs and spices as well as a wide range of exotic fruits and vegetables. While some of these may be hard to hunt down if you're not on a Carribean island, others are readily available to be cooked up "inna Ital stylee."
A good place to start looking at Ital recipes is online, through one of the links below. As far as cookbooks go, there's only one that I know of, and that is The Rasta Cookbook: Vegetarian Cuisine Eaten With the Salt of the Earth, compiled in 1993 by Laura Osborne. The eggplant dish is especially good.

Ital Links
Earth Culture Roots
Click on "Ital recipes" on the right side (it uses frames and doesn't allow direct links). Contains a good number of ital vegan recipes.
An active, quality discussion list that focuses on ital/raw vegan food as well as the Rasta lifestyle.
A series of recipes in several categories: Drinks, Soups, Porridge, Main Courses, Breads and Cakes
Ital cooking - necessity or religious fervor?
A lengthy article about why Ital cooking may have been born more out of necessity rather than religious ideology.
Root Nattie: Ital is Vital Discussion/Reasoning Forum
Rastafari Selassie I Center, Finland
All content on this website is governed by a Creative Commons License (2000-2006), Ryan A. MacMichael.


Ital cooking - necessity or religious fervor?
John Pasmore

The party started at around 9 PM but my girlfriend and I decided to get there a few hours early to help set up. We made our way into the Bronx with my friend Leroy, a co-worker who had invited us, and reached the house at around four. We helped them string up a tarp and set up the sound system. It was a small fenced-in backyard but we stacked up the speakers and woofers seven feet high. They had apparently gotten permits earlier for the music, which was good, since I couldn’t hear myself think when the DJ was at work on his system. We had been working for a while and the yard was looking good, the woman of the house asked us if we were hungry. This was a pointless question with me since I am always hungry and we quickly followed her into the kitchen.
Once inside the house, the faint smells of cooking food became much stronger while she led us into the kitchen. The kitchen was about average, just like any other person’s except there was a huge pot of soup/stew on the stove. We approached it and were offered paper cups full of delicious, hearty fish soup. This was only the beginning, as I was to discover later, the party quickly progressed and grew.
Earlier in the day, there were only a few people at the house and I felt quite welcomed and comfortable. As the night went on and people continued showing up my girlfriend and I slowly became the minority. By the time the party was in full swing, the whole yard was packed and we had flowed into the neighbor’s yard to barbecue. We were two of the four white people at the party but Leroy and the hosts still made us feel comfortable. It was an eye opening experience to be the minority especially after growing up in predominantly white towns.
When the guests started showing up in force Leroy, along with a few other guys, got to the business of barbecuing. The music was pumping, the red stripe was flowing and the party was going but the fire wasn’t burning. They set up a fifty-gallon-drum-barbecue in the neighbor’s yard since theirs was quickly filling and fired up the charcoal. Once the fire was good and hot, they pulled out several bags of seasoned Jerk chicken. Leroy told me that they put the meat in the plastic bags with spices and seasonings and let it sit for a day or two in the fridge. While the chicken was coming out to the barbecue, Everton (one of the hosts and Leroy’s friend) started to mix up the barbecue sauce for the chicken. He mixed in all sorts of things and then at the end added a whole 40 of malt liquor. I was a little shocked (to say the least) but hungry, open-minded, and ready to try the Jerk Chicken. They cooked the chicken smothered in the sauce and when it had been cooking for a while the chef added a second 40 of malt liquor to the chicken directly, on the grill. Again, I was a little shocked but I was also anxiously awaiting a taste.
Finally it was done and we sat down with a plate and a Red Stripe and ate. It was the best chicken I have ever tasted, the flavor went all the way to the bone and it was delicious. We ended up leaving before it got too late but the party was great fun and a learning experience for both my girlfriend and I. It was also one of my first encounters with Jamaican food and it sparked an interest that still burns bright.
I worked at a supermarket with Leroy as well as two other people from Jamaica, Noel and Marcia. This turned out to be quite educational, as we often discussed Jamaica at work and during breaks. It was only after I had worked with Leroy for about a year that he invited me to accompany him to the party. In retrospect I am glad that I had the opportunity to work with Leroy, Noel, and Marcia because I picked up a lot about Jamaican culture just from our conversations. We got on topics like gender roles and police, since Noel was a cop back in Jamaica. We discussed many other interesting topics and it is probably because of their friendships that I have such a strong interest in Jamaica.
Now that the background is out of the way, I shall get to the topic at hand, Jamaican food. Ever since that party, where I tasted the best chicken I ever have, I have been fascinated with Jamaican food, and as my eating habits have shifted closer and closer to vegan, I have become increasingly interested in the topic of Ital cooking. This is how people refer to the healthy, Ital (vital), vegetarian cuisine of the Rastafarians. When I first started to look into this topic, I was under the impression that Rastas were very mystical and that there was some magical enlightened motive to their eating habits. The further I researched, the more I found that their eating habits are more out of availability and necessity than religious beliefs. This is not to belittle religious influences on diet but to show that Jamaicans are as creative as possible with what is available and while religion does effect diet, Ital cooking is the best and easiest style of cooking in rural Jamaica.1
Most of the food consumed in Jamaica, especially in the rural areas, consists of fresh fruits and vegetables. Meat is available but is harder to come by. People generally grow some food in garden plots or yards. They sell or trade their surplus for a little money or variety. There is a major gradation in lifestyle from the cities out to the country and up into Cockpit Country. Imported goods enter into the country mostly via ships docking at harbors along the coast. Then the goods are sent into the cities were they are mostly consumed and finally, if there is anything left, it filters out to the country. This makes for a major shortage of even the simplest consumer goods that we, in America, take for granted. Things like toilet paper, canned meat, fish and rice and all the major processed imported products are scarce at times, if available at all. The cities are becoming increasingly globalized and the wealthier people live much as we do here in America, although the majority of even the urban inhabitants have significantly less money than the lower class of America. This means that on the average, Jamaicans live at a much lower standard of living than people in America, with significantly fewer processed goods.
On top of this in-country imbalance there is also an international trade imbalance in which Jamaica is importing more goods than it is exporting. This trade deficit has been growing in recent history, especially since the fall in value of bauxite, one of Jamaica’s major exports. As well as bauxite, gypsum, limestone, aluminum, and garnets, Jamaica also exports many agricultural products. The list includes sugar, bananas, coffee, citrus, cocoa, and rum as well as many other products in smaller quantities. The U.S. 37% is the major importer of these goods followed by the U.K. 13%, Canada 11%, Norway 8% and the Netherlands 8%.
Jamaica’s major imports are machinery, transportation, electrical equipment, food, fuels, and fertilizers. The US is the major exporter to Jamaica sending about 50% of Jamaica’s imports, as of 1995, followed by a few other countries at about 10% or less. Looking exclusively at America’s statistics it is easy to see the imbalance of trade. Jamaica is also in heavy foreign debt of more than $3.4 billion and it consumes about 46% of the budget.2 On top of this, Jamaica’s balance of trade has been continually changing for the worst. In 1938 the balance of visible trade was —$2,905,000 and this figure has been growing ever since, except in 1976-1977 when it dropped but after that it continued to rise until in 1998 it was up to —$61,596,419,000.3 These figures are shocking to say the least and illustrate how Jamaica’s economic balance has been sliding more and more to imports without expanding exports to compensate. The United States is, by far, Jamaica’s most important trade partner with bilateral trade amounting to 1.9 billion in 1997.2 As well as trade, there are many U.S. citizens living in Jamaica as well as vast American investments in Jamaica totaling more than a billion dollars.
These statistics help to illustrate how Jamaica and America are inseparably interconnected. As well as trade between the two, they share similar feelings toward the British since both America and Jamaica are former British colonies. There is also a large number of Americans living and working in Jamaica and the reverse holds true as well. On top of this, the U.S. investments in Jamaica help to cement the two countries together. These close ties show up in the cultures of these two countries, each is heavily influenced by the other and they share many cultural practices.
Although there are so many levels of interconnectedness, there is still some resentment. One case is that of the Jamaican beef industry and their problems with McDonalds. The local beef industry raised the issue of beef imports at a recent meeting of the Jamaican Agricultural Society and Ministry of Agriculture. The farmers complained that imported beef is displacing their sales and they asked the government for help. The Ministry of Agriculture stated that the problem was due to local consumers and not lawmakers. McDonalds said that they import beef because local prices are 14-20% higher and thus prohibitive. In response to the attention, Burger King stated that they buy their beef locally and McDonalds stated that they buy their other meats locally. This has sparked discussions about raising import duties to level the playing field but only time will tell.4
This problem illustrates the trade imbalance and how Jamaican producers are faced with very competitive prices. This leads to more imports and a larger trade deficit. This is the same problem that Jamaica has faced for some time, attempting to compete with artificially low prices for imported goods as opposed to locally produced items. The low price of foreign goods makes it difficult for local producers, processors and manufacturers to compete and thus foreign goods continue to flow in at increasing rates. The competition leads to the displacement of local production and since imported goods are limited to help control the deficit, processed goods are scarce and rare in rural areas.
This shows why manufactured goods are so lacking in rural areas and why the people who live in these areas have to depend on locally grown fresh produce as well as local meat and fish. Most people in the country can’t afford to buy much except for the bare essentials that they cannot grow or raise. The average rural Jamaican buys very few processed goods, such as; some rice, coffee or hot chocolate, toilet paper, canned meat, salted fish, and condensed milk. These goods subsidize what is grown, caught, bought or bartered from local markets. Refrigeration is limited and most people, especially in the rural areas, don’t have access to refrigeration. This means that even if they could get and afford processed goods, they are limited by the lack of a way to preserve them.
Lack of refrigeration and low availability of goods are two of the major influences on Jamaican food and cooking. As Patrick at Caribbean Corner put it "you become creative and do the best that you can with what is available." This means that you take whatever resources are available and use them to create the best food that you can. If you don’t have a refrigerator, you use fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and spices. If you don’t have a stove or an oven you use an open fire to roast or grill. This improvisational cooking can be found throughout the world and is prevalent in Jamaica. People make the best out of locally grown and raised food as well as limited resources and create healthy, tasty, vital meals.
Now that we have explored the political and economic influences on Jamaican food it is time to explore the cultural and especially the spiritual aspects. The daily meals in Jamaica are breakfast, dinner (a large midday meal) and supper. Breakfast may consist of a hot beverage (coffee, cocoa, tea, or herbal tea), hard dough bread with butter or jam, boiled breadfruit, yam or fried dumplings with salted cod, often served with ackee, herring or mackerel. Dinner could be fish, beef, pork or goat meat with vegetables and rice and peas (beans), along with a cool drink. For people in the cities working in offices, the midday meal may not be dinner, but lunch - sandwiches and a drink or a pattie (spicy ground beef morsels in pastry envelopes). Supper is usually substantial boiled dumplings or boiled sweet potatoes, yam or breadfruit, vegetables and beef, pork, fish or goat meat.
Tropical fruits are enjoyed after meals or as snacks between meals. The highlight of the week, Sunday dinner, is eaten on return from church. Several examples of common Jamaican foods are: patties (spicy ground beef morsels in pastry envelopes), ackee and salt fish, curbed goat, rice and peas, fried dumplings and fried ripe plantain. A Jamaican specialty is 'jerk' meat. The Maroons of the Cockpit Country are credited with perfecting 'jerk' cooking. The meat is seasoned with a mixture, which includes pepper, pimento, nutmeg, cinnamon, garlic, and scallions. It is then grilled over coals, covered with a corrugated iron sheet or slats of wood from the mahoe tree (source of the pimentos) or Jamaican allspice.5
Ingredients commonly used in Jamaica are beef, pork, chicken, and fish as well as many fruits and vegetables, spices and sauces. In recent times processed foods are becoming more prevalent but people living in the country are still using mainly fresh ingredients in their cooking. Some of the fruits that are commonly used are: The Ackee, a bright red fruit that opens upon maturity and the yellow flesh inside is eaten. It is poisonous before ripe and needs to be cooked. It is often eaten at breakfast and with saltfish. It is an introduced species from West Africa. There is also Guava, small fruits with pink, seed-filled flesh and green exteriors. Guava is eaten raw or made into jellies, preserves, fruit cups, sauces, cocktails, and desserts. Limes (Caribbean limes) have a yellow skin when ripe, though they are often picked green, due to the fact that they go bad quickly when ripe. They are a great source of vitamin C and are used in everything from marinades, to sauces, to drinks and desserts. The Mammey Apple, also known as a Custard Apple, is a large tropical fruit with an edible tangerine colored flesh that tastes like peaches. It is most often turned into jam. Mangos are a native of India but are common in the tropics. They are used green in hot sauces, and condiments and ripe in drinks, desserts and candies.
The Otaheiti apple is a pear-shaped fruit with pink to ruby red skin and is usually eaten raw, poached in red wine, or as a drink. Papayas or pawpaws as many Jamaicans call them are orange when ripe and have a bland flavor, making them go well with sharper flavored fruits. Papayas are used in chutney or in relishes and are also eaten raw or as a drink if sweetened. Soursop is a spiky green fruit that has a pleasant smelling tasty flesh that is put into drinks or ice cream. The Stare Apple has a green or shiny purple skin and a delicious flesh that is part of matrimony, a traditional Jamaican dessert. Sweetsop, a native of the tropical Americas, is difficult to eat and consists of white flesh filled with black seeds
Jamaicans have access to many of the same fruits and vegetables that we do in America but the following are a few of the more unique ones. Callaloo is a leafy, spinach like, green served as a side or in dishes. Cho-Cho is a pear shaped, light green, light flavored squash, which grows on a vine and is known by the alternate name Chayote. It is eaten as a vegetable and also as a substitute for apples in apple pie. Pea, Jamaicans refer to almost all beans as peas. They are a major source of protein and are found in stews, side dishes, and especially with rice. Plantains, the slightly larger cousins of the Banana, are eaten cooked and are more starchy then bananas. They are often fried as a tropical side dish. Scotch Bonnet Peppers are very spicy peppers that range in color from red to orange to yellow and are used to spice up many dishes and are also made into sauces or ground as seasoning. West Indian Pumpkin or calabaza, are members of the pumpkin, squash family has a sweet flavor and a firm texture but is similar to squashes such as the acorn, Hubbard, or butternut.
Starch is a major part of most people’s diet and here are a few of the starchy foods that Jamaicans enjoy, Breadfruit, was also introduced from Tahiti and is a great starchy food when cooked and is served like squash. Cassava, a second starchy food also known as Manioc or Yuca. It is a root vegetable and flour made from it is used to make bread named Bammie. There are two major types, sweet Cassava, which is eaten as a boiled vegetable and bitter cassava, which needs to be processed to take out a poisonous acid it contains. Dasheen also known as taro, is a starchy tuber usually served boiled or as a thickener for soups and is comparable to potatoes but is a much more easily digested form of starch with particles one tenth the size of those in potatoes. Yams are an important source of starch and the three most popular varieties in Jamaica are the white, yellow, and yampee. They are usually either boiled or roasted and although they look a lot alike, they are not related to the sweet potato of America.
Jamaican food wouldn’t be the same without the spices, seasonings and colors from: Allspice, the pimento berry. Annatto is from a seed and is used to give a yellow color to dishes. The flesh of the Coconut, a member of the palm family, is used grated in some recipes. Jamaicans insist on grating fresh Nutmeg for recipes and don’t use the pre-ground stuff. It has a spicy sweet flavor and is used as a seasoning and has its place in everything from cakes and desserts to jerk sauce. Pimento is the Jamaican name given to allspice, grown almost exclusively in Jamaica and with a taste like nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, and clove. Pimento is used as a spice in many Jamaican dishes and is one of the ingredients in jerk sauce. Sorrel was brought to Jamaica from India and its flowers are dried and steeped to make a tart red beverage similar in color to cranberry juice. Stinking Toe, a seedpod that looks like a human toe, has sugary powder inside surrounded by rough smelly exterior, and is eaten on the spot or made into drinks or custard. Tamarind is a sweet, tangy pulp from the seedpod of a decorative tree; it is used to flavor many things from beverages to sauces and is also part of Jamaican folk medicine.6
Now that natural ingredients of Jamaican cuisine have been explored it is time to turn to how the people of Jamaica have influenced the cooking. Jamaica is a lush beautiful land of long beaches and dense forests with high mountains in its middle and fertile coastal planes just behind its beaches. It has attracted many people since the Arawaks who (it was called Xaymaca -land of wood and water), originally inhabited the Island. Christopher Columbus and Captain Bligh both stopped off on the island on their journeys as well as many other explorers. The Island has also been under more than it’s fair share of colonial rule by the Spanish and later by the British. Now that Jamaica is finally free from the hand of colonialism it is starting to find it’s own identity.
It’s a mixing-pot of many cultures and especially in the cities, is quickly becoming globalized. Although the cities are adopting global culture more quickly, people in the country are still living in much the same style that they have for hundreds of years. This is in large part due to lack of any other option and in some part to rejection of homogeneous culture and all of the things that go along with it. Jamaica is made up of Anglicans, Baptists, other Protestants, Roman Catholics and Rastafarians. It is primarily inhabited by people of African decent, about 91% and also by East Indians 1.3%, Chinese 0.2%, Whites 0.2%, and people of mixed decent 7.3%.7
The diversity amongst Jamaica’s inhabitants makes for an interesting cooking style that borrows from many cultures and places, both in style and ingredients. Jamaican cooking styles and recipes are passed down from generation to generation and make creative and delicious use of the available resources. Since cooking is passed on through parents to children through experience and most rural people don’t have external influences on their cooking, Jamaican cuisine has remained traditional and is slow to change. At the same time, it is starting to feel global influences more and more and processed foods are becoming more prevalent.
In this turbid cultural climate exists the Rastarafians. They are a fast growing religious group that believes that Haile Selassie, the former ruler of Ethiopia, is the messiah who will lead the black repatriation to Africa and save black people everywhere from the evil hand of Babylon. Rastas believe that Blacks have been suppressed in a white world of Babylon and that returning to Africa and raising black pride and dignity will save them. This is, of course, a huge generalization and synthesis of a vibrant fluid religion that has many sects with different beliefs but all share this general outline and follow the teachings of the Old Testament. This is where the religious taboos come into play.8
The Rastas generally, adhere to a set of strict guidelines regarding diet. Rastas are forbidden to eat pork and this is the one rule that seems to be accepted by all Rastas. They also tend to be vegetarians and avoid eating beef, pork, chicken and goat. As well as avoiding animals, they also tend to avoid shellfish and fish with no scales as well as large fish, which are perceived as having more developed spirits or souls. Basically Rastas believe in not killing other creatures and this leads most to a vegan lifestyle which is referred to as Vital or Ital, meaning the natural state of their diet.
Rastafari is a philosophy that very rigidly adheres to the laws of nature. This is most important in the food they eat. If the body is a temple it should be protected and cared for as such. All things in nature, fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, have been provided by JAH and should be held sacred. Rastas believe in a concept of one love. This refers to the belief that we are all one, I and I, and shouldn’t hurt any other living thing because we are hurting ourselves. They believed that we were all one until the devil brought us the concept of other and now we classify and compartmentalize ourselves to help justify mistreating other living things. This concept is at the heart of Rasta Ital cooking. They all may be One; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that They also may be One in Us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me And the Glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them, that they may be made One, even as We are One: I in them, and Thou in Me, that They maybe made Perfect in One. (John 17:21)9 This passage illustrated the biblical basis for the concept of I and I.
As well as avoiding meat and fish, Ratsas avoid processed foods. This is the other part of Ital, processed foods are no longer Vital because they have long since died and are only still here because man processed them. This means that they are no longer natural and thus not Ital. Preservatives, artificial additives and things of this un-nature are avoided for good reason and the use of any added processed salt is also strictly prohibited. For ye are the Temple of the Living God, as Jah hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God and they shall be Me people (Romans12:1)10 Rastas take this passage to heart and assume that whatever they are polluting their bodies with also is polluting JAH.
Although it would seem to someone with a western diet that these rules cut out most foods, Rastas are allowed to eat. Things that are natural and created by the hand of JAH are permitted. They will eat some fresh, the flesh of fruits and vegetables as well as spices and herbs. Rastas believe that JAH gave them every herb on the face of the earth to eat and so, they are essential ingredients to the diet of the Ital man. The most widely used of these herbs is the holy herb, collie weed, Ganja, or marijuana. It is the strongest of all the herbs to Rastas and it is tradition unlimited by dish. It is used to enhance and embellish all foods, baked, boiled, fried or stewed. Great care should be taken in preserving the natural state of all ingredients from the preparation and serving to the eating of Ital food. Because of this, the most devout of Rastafari will use only cooking and eating utensils made of natural materials, such as clay, stone, or wood. Most Rasta recipes are based on ingredients commonly found in Jamaica and the other Caribbean islands, which means they are mainly comprised of tropical fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. As with any recipes, though, there are many variations depending on region, availability of ingredients, as well as preference. The only provision, being that any substitution, addition, or accompaniment must be of a natural and organic origin.
The Rastafari have three colors that symbolize their movement and each of these colors has it's own significance. Red for the blood, green for the earth and gold for the sun.11 These colors help to symbolize what is important to Rastas and it is not green for money and gold for Gold and riches it is the earth and the sun, that which sustains all life. The Rastas realize that they are dependent on the sun for energy to grow the foods they eat and the earth for providing a place for them to grow. They also hold the human body in very high esteem, hence red for blood, and as such believe in not polluting it. These concepts are at the heart of their diet. All natural foods made by the earth that allows us to live on it. They capture the closeness of Rastas to the natural world.
Rastas believe that their diet, along with their beliefs and other religious practices help bring them closer to god. This is especially true regarding the smoking and consumption of Ganja. It is a very sacred herb to the Rastas and they use it on a regular basis to help them keep close to god. When a Rasta has "Eaten", meaning smoked, some herb they are said to be Ire is to be at one with nature.11 The state of being at one with nature, at peace with ones self, and with all things around us is to be of the highest state. This state is a combination of close ties to nature, chant and drumming, and a healthy Ital diet. This allows Rastas one with nature and Jah and that is what most are striving for.
Religious aspects influence some Jamaican’s diets strongly especially among the Rastas but there is a second major influence. That influence, as stated above, is that of availability. Not to belittle religious fervor but most Rastas do not have easy access to processed goods. Although I have found many great resources on Jamaican cooking, many if not most were written or produced by white males. This, in my opinion, means that all of that information is produced from different, mostly non-Jamaican perspectives and as such needs to be taken with a grain of salt, sea salt of course. For this reason, I feel that the words of Patrick Brown hold the most weight out of my resources and I will close with a quote from my interview that I think sums up my opinion well. " People are creative… The same could be said about dress as food, you become creative with what you know…. You know no other way except what is passed down and what is imitated or learned from other countries over time. You (ideally) pick your breadfruit, roast it, and eat it… It is the same if you live in Canada, the America or England, if you are a native you are still looking forward to going back and eating fried fish, avocado, breadfruit, and other native foods… (Referring to Jamaican cooking) why change it?"
This quote captures the essence of Jamaican cuisine; it is people making the best of what is available and coming up with innovative and delicious ways of preparing local foods. The quote also gets another major point across, and that is once you have lived in Jamaica and are used to the food, you will always long for it because no other food will make you feel so good.
1: Interview with Patrick Brown owner and cook at The Caribbean Corner Restaurant, 12 North Winooski ave, Burlington Vermont
2:U.S. Department of State Background Notes: Jamaica, March 1998. Released by the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. Downloaded on 4/11/00 from
3: The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute statistics downloaded on 4/10/00 from http://statninja.com
4: Globus & NTDB, STAT-USA, Jamaica; Livestock; Jamaican Farmers Protest Imports of U.S. Beef; AGWORLD ATTACHE REPORTS USDA, FOREIGN AGRICULTURAL SERVICE. Downloaded on 4/11/00 from
5: Downloaded on 4/13/00 from http://cwr.utoronto.ca/cultural/english2/JamaicaEng.htm#_1_9
6: DeMers, John, The Food of Jamaica; Authentic Recipes from the Jewel of the Caribbean. Periplus Editions, Boston MA. 1998
7: U.S. Department of State Background Notes: Jamaica, March 1998. Released by the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. Downloaded on 4/11/00 from

8: Barrett, Leonard E. The Rastafarians. Beacon Press. Boston, MA. 1997

9: Downloaded on 4/10/00 from http://www.webcom.com/nattyreb/rastafari/

10: Downloaded on 4/10/00 from http://members.aol.com/praizejah/Links.html

11: Osborne, Laura and Osbourne, Ivor, The Rasta Cookbook. African World Press, Inc. Trenton New Jersey. 1992

Interview with Patrick Brown owner and cook at The Caribbean Corner Restaurant, 12 North Winooski Ave, Burlington Vermont
Barrett, Leonard E. The Rastafarians. Beacon Press. Boston, MA. 1997

DeMers, John, The Food of Jamaica; Authentic Recipes from the Jewel of the Caribbean. Periplus Editions, Boston MA. 1998
Osborne, Laura and Osbourne, Ivor, The Rasta Cookbook. African World Press, Inc. Trenton New Jersey. 1992
Web Sites:
The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute http://statninja.com statistics downloaded on 4/10/00 from
Globus & NTDB, STAT-USA, Jamaica; Livestock; Jamaican Farmers Protest Imports of U.S. Beef; AGWORLD ATTACHE REPORTS USDA, FOREIGN AGRICULTURAL SERVICE. Downloaded on 4/11/00 from
http://people.delphi.com/tgdf/preamble.htm accessed on 4/9/00
http://www.mv.com/biz/beautravel/knows.html accessed on 4/9/00
http://www.webcom.com/nattyreb/rastafari/ Accessed on 4/10/00
http://members.aol.com/praizejah/Links.html Accessed on 4/10/00
http://www.Jamaicans.com/cooking/ accessed on 4/13/00
http://cwr.utoronto.ca/cultural/english2/JamaicaEng.htm#_1_9n accessed on 4/13/00
U.S. Department of State Background Notes: Jamaica, March 1998. Released by the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. Downloaded on 4/11/00 from
U.S. Department of State Background Notes: Jamaica, March 1998. Released by the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. Downloaded on 4/11/00 from

29 Apr 2006

Green fascists and the BNP

Hi folks,

I thought I ought to flag up schnews, a weekly newsletter from Brighton, one of the fruits of the direct action/anti-roads/Earth First! milleau of the 1990s that I over lapped a bit with and wrote my Phd on (!). Well, anarchistic rather than green socialist if one wants to be pedantic but full of very good information, they are also challenging the coop bank over unethical investments, fighting for asylum rights and animal liberation.

Worth subscribing to on a weekly basis....any way on to green fascism, I have written on this at some length and done lots of research but to cut a long story short the only real over lap between the far right and greens in the UK at present is via social credit/monetary reform.

Not all social crediters are fascists but many are prepared to work with overt anti-semites.

The lynch pin seems to be Scottish activist Alistair Mcconnachie, an ex-UKIP member expelled for holocaust revisionism who now stands as an independent Green in Glasgow.

All very nasty, in my view this stuff, anti-globalisation drawing upon anti-semitic conspiricy is very dangerous, the intellectual inspiration is AK Chesterton's book The New Unhappy Lords. Chesterton an ex member of the British Union of Fascists and first leader of the National Front (parent of the BNP) identified the Trilateral commission, Bilderburg group and the usual suspects as part of a Jewish lead conspiracy to take over the world....

Alistair has been to campaign against Asylum seekers and for David Irving....he needs to be challenged strongly!

This is from my 'ecosocialism of fools' article in Capitalism Nature Socialism....Bloomfield books, James Gibb Stuart and Alistair networked into Muslim groups(!) with the Islamic Party of Great Britain who in turn have members in RESPECT .

The British League of Rights established Bloomfield Books, which has promoted Douglas’s books along with Holocaust revisionist titles, the Protocols, a massive range of populist conspiracy texts and even Mein Kampf. The League of Rights also encourages supporters to subscribe to Spotlight. The Bromsgrove Group, an alliance of varied monetary reformers, contains right wingers such as Don Martin from the League of Rights and Alistair McConnachie. James Gibb Stuart acts as convener. His book The Lemming Folk is a conspiracist’s bible, which promotes once again the populist message that the “money power” links capitalism and communism with its plan for world domination. The book, which has been promoted by the far right British National Party, also praises apartheid,
it means separate development — not racism, or repression, or institutionalized violence, or the eternal social and economic subjugation of one race by another. It was adopted in South Africa some thirty years ago because a white minority saw it then as the only means by which they could preserve their culture and their identity.
During the 1970s Stuart supported Rhodesia’s white government who he saw as a target for the conspiracy because of their financial independence. His associate Alistair McConnachie, suspended from the UK Independence Party, an anti-European Union group, after writing to the Scotsman newspaper to question the Holocaust, edits Prosperity, a social credit/monetary reform newsletter widely promoted in the green movement. McConnachie, who was a member of the Douglas Secretariat during the 1990s, and remains active in monetary reform circles, is reported to have stated, “I don’t accept that gas chambers were used to execute Jews for the simple fact there is no direct physical evidence to show that such gas chambers existed.”

Nasty, nasty, nasty....oh well on to the BNP



Far-right racist British National Party are fielding an
unprecedented number of candidates for the local council elections
on 4th May.

Their campaign feeds off the natural disillusionment people in the
UK have with New Labour's cut-throat capitalist policies, which
have flogged off public assets for the profits of a small elite
of wealthy individuals, while clamping down on civil liberties
with authoritarian laws. The BNP uses this dissatisfaction to
promote its racist agenda by blaming all these problems on
immigration and building up the fear-mongering myth of Islamic
extremism. Its inflammatory leaflets use the tried-and-tested
tactic of divide and rule to create divisions within society
along racial lines.

Initially the BNP's mid-nineties reorientation to electoral
politics was the result of defeat on the streets. Their strategy
of 'march and grow' where 'rights for whites' were to be secured
with 'well directed fists and boots' collapsed under the onslaught
of Anti-Fascist Action and the Anti-Nazi League. However the bulk
of the party now, publicly at least, supports Nick Griffin's
strategy of 'respectable' action through the ballot box.

The BNP are not on the verge of forming a government - they only
have currently 20 councillors up and down the country and nothing
like a majority on any local authority. Even if extremely
successful they can only hope to double that number. But
significant numbers of people are willing to put their cross
down next to a party that among other things promises
repatriation of every non-white individual to their country of
'ethnic' origin.



If people are gravitating to extremist organisations, it is
because the mass organised Left has collapsed and the centre has
proved to be an illusion. After 1997, some people held a naïve
hope that things would improve after the nightmare of Thatcherism,
but of course Neo Labour only continued the capitalist project,
adding their own peculiar twist of authoritarianism and sinister
doublespeak (while fascists threaten to bomb Muslims, Neo Labour
are actually doing it all over the world). The BNP's propaganda
attempts to step into this political vacuum by latching onto
legitimate issues like unemployment, the state of the NHS,
privatisation and in fact any bandwagon with more than three
wheels. While seeming to promise everything to everyone in an
attempt to gain support, their answers consist entirely of racism
and hot air, returning relentlessly to the pseudo-problem of

The danger they represent is more in the influence they have on
mainstream media and politics than any prospect of jack boots in
Whitehall. Parts of the media, notably the Murdoch press, are
pushing an openly racist agenda, with the likes of Richard
Littlebrain (yeah, he's working for the Mail now) leaving no
fact undistorted to blame social ills and inequality on immigrants.

Nick Griffin has described the tabloids as "one of the BNPs best
recruiting agents" and expressed his satisfaction with government
immigration policies. The BNP's success has been to get immigration
considered a 'problem' right across the board, dragging the debate
inexorably down and to the right.

The racist political and media campaign has real consequences -
last Friday, 18 year old Christopher Alaneme was stabbed to death
in Kent in a racist attack, and the British Crime Survey estimates
that there are more than 200,000 racially motivated incidents
every year. The fact that the Tory party's election campaign
echoed the BNP's stance on immigration and law 'n' order, with
Neo-Labour playing second fiddle, is an indicator that all
parties consider that playing the race card is a potential winner.

While the Mirror may have recently attempted to stem the tide of
anti-immigration propaganda, the recent furore of Charles Clarke's
failure to ensure the control of 'foreign' prisoners shows that
many in the so-called political 'centre' are willing to play with
fire when it comes to using latent racism to score political points
Politicians and journalists assume that the electorate -
particularly the 'white working class' - is racist, so their tactic
to restore confidence in the 'centre' is to promise to be 'tougher'
with an endless series of crackdowns and fear-mongering against
the most marginalised people in society. The centre party's
ceaselessly irrigate the cesspool in which the BNP swim.

The bungled attempt by the state to prosecute Nasty Nick Griffin
twice for the same offences of race hate were certain to fail
while giving free publicity to the disgusting ideas he has
carefully cleaned up to remain within the law, and served mainly
to soften up public opinion for more laws restricting freedom of
expression and the erosion of double-jeopardy protection.

One of the central ironies of the BNP's attempt to surf the
zeitgeist of terrorism paranoia and Islamophobia (the party
tastelessly reproduced images of the bus blown apart on July 7th
with the slogan "Maybe now it's time to start listening to the
BNP"), is that the far-right produced its very own homegrown
terrorist - David Copeland. His association with the BNP in the
early nineties fuelled his psychosis, leading to him placing three
nail bombs around London in 1999 in an effort to spark a "racial
war...so that all the white people would go and vote BNP".

Curiously, in all his rants about the danger of terrorism from
immigrant communities Old Nick doesn't dwell on his own
organisation's flirtation with suspect devices.

Neo-Labour are using the BNP as an electoral scare tactic. In an
effort to avoid an electoral referendum over their own cowboy job
while in power, they're attempting to use the fascist bogeyman to
scare voters back into the fold and make their own authoritarian
racist policies seem relatively moderate. Sadly the main
anti-fascist organisation, the Socialist Workers' Party-inspired
Unite against Fascism (UAF), while providing a network of activists
prepared to combat the BNP electoral threat, has chosen to
emphasise the message of 'using your vote', i.e. voting for
either of the other authoritarian anti-immigration parties on
offer. So what's a good anarchist to do? Leafleting with the UAF
at least destroys the idea of mass consensus around a right-wing
agenda, but it is no alternative to building real anti-fascist
coalitions willing to take on the authoritarians in power as well
as the fascists on the street.

On St George's Day, for example, Sussex activists chased the BNP
off the streets of Crawley, Ifield and Southgate. Meanwhile in
Bristol recently, local people got together and acted to shut
down a neo-Nazi website run by an organisation called November
9th Society, after noticing stickers appearing around the city.

Residents tracked down who the site was registered to (one Kevin
Quinn, for the record) and where it was hosted, and then
complained to them. US-based Excellence Host acknowledged that
the site stuffed full of race-hate and other trash breached their
terms of service and so suspended the site on their servers.

In a way, this represents the true political situation in the UK.
The mass organised Left are not out in the streets fighting fascism
, and it has come down to networks of individuals organising
ourselves to fight the BNP without relying on the dubious authority
of state or party.

* For info about anti-fascist direct action see www.antifa.org.uk
* To find where the BNP are standing candidates in your region,
check www.stopthebnp.org.uk/index.php?location=ec2006
* www.uaf.org.uk contains useful information, although their
leaflets do urge people to vote.
* www.uaf.org.uk/news.asp?choice=60423 lists anti-BNP events
around the country.

28 Apr 2006



I think Yochai Benkler is going to outshine Adam Smith and Keynes, his concept of social sharing provides an economics that will work in meeting human needs, ending bureaucratic forms of government control and in replacing markets with real human creativity. Ofcourse none of this is new, of course Benkler's paper on sharing nicely is quite modest and of course the whole project is open source so never one person's pet but lets celebrate Benkler, a rare thing...an economist with something interesting to say...the economist who shows how we can work with rather than against the planet.

Thanks for sharing

SIR – Yochai Benkler's contention that social sharing provides an economic alternative to both markets and the state sounds both novel and obscure (Economics focus, February 5th). Yet the principle of “usufruct”, which allows resources to be used by any individual provided he or she leaves them in at least as good a state as they were given, can be found in ancient Roman law. Commons regimes (where local communities share the use of common land through rationing, so replenishing their resources without eroding them) are found throughout history and across four continents. Such sharing provides a way of restoring economics back to its original promise as a science that finds ways of matching scarce resources with unlimited human wants. In other words, while there may be no such thing as a free lunch, you can use my crockery as long as you wash and dry.

Derek Wall

Windsor, Berkshire (Economist, 17th February, 2005)

Yocai Benkler in an issue of Harvard Law Review has argued that there is an alternative to both market based economics and state regulation, inspired by open source principles he calls this social sharing. Social sharing is essentially a new term for traditional commons regimes and provides the essential basis for a green economy, not simply an environmental economy which internalises externalities but an economy which is ecologically sustainable, socially just and grassroots democratic.

'BY NOW, most people who use computers have heard of the “open source” movement, even if they are not sure what it is. It is a way of making software (and increasingly, other things as well), which relies on the individual contributions of thousands of programmers. The resulting programs are owned by no one and are free for all to use. The software is copyrighted only to ensure it remains free to use and enhance. In essence, therefore, open source involves two things: putting spare capacity (geeks' surplus time and skill) into economic production; and sharing. (Economist 3rd Feb, 2005)

Switch on your computer and click on the web and you will use a browser to enter the site you want. Ninety per cent of computers come pre-packaged with Microsoft Explorer. So when you bought your PC a proportion of the cost went to Bill Gates. Yet open source internet browsers like Firefox can be downloaded for free and are generally agreed to do a better job than purchased products. OpenOffice, a free office software suite with almost 50 million downloads, does more than its commercial rivals. The open source movement produces programmes, designs and an ever expanding range of other forms of information that are developed, passed around and continuously adapted and improved.

I learned about open source within days of finishing my book on anti-capitalism, Babylon and Beyond, took a look on the computers at work and found all of them connected to the internet with Firefox. Students and teaching colleagues whose computer skills don’t necessarily extend beyond email and web browsing are all keen advocates of open source software.

While the terminology is disputed, open/free source is based on two key principles. First, packages of information are free for use, although sometimes cash is generated by selling allied products or services. Firefox is provided by Mozilla, which generates income via donations to the Mozilla Foundation and work with corporate users.

Participatory production is the second key theme. Individuals are encouraged to adapt and change products – an approach that underlies the development of the world wide web itself. Tim Berners-Lee, who is widely credited as being one of the two main inventors of the web, combined pre-existing software to create it and insisted that it be based on royalty-free use so that it could grow quickly. While Bill Gates is probably the richest man in the world, the web upon which his wealth is based was made for free. This apparent paradox provides a puzzle for conventional economists and indicates that a very different notion of economics is possible.

Economists tie themselves in knots trying to explain open source. To cut a long and complicated story short, traditional capitalist economics assumes that greed is good. If Tim Berners-Lee had charged for every click on the world wide web, he would long ago have bought out Bill Gates and built the first dacha on the moon. Explaining why things are done for free is challenging for a discipline that insists that human beings are always motivated by material self-interest.

With open source, however, people produce things simply for the satisfaction of doing so. Computer geeks don’t think ‘career first’ but get on the net for the sheer hell of creating something new and ironing out some bugs in their mate’s software. Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia, is written, edited and available for free. Articles have no named authors, so note even prestige can be seen as the motivation – people just go online and contribute for the satisfaction of doing so.

Some more conventional economic benefits arise from this. Free software development pushes down labour costs and is helping to attack monopolies like Microsoft, earning open source a following among right wing liberatarians.

But this has obviously progressive implications too. The ‘free’ market is actually built on the principle of enclosure – converting previously unowned, shared resources into paid-for commodities. This is a process that can be seen in one of its most blatant forms today when corporations try to patent naturally occurring seeds so that peasants who have previously used them for free have to pay for them – a process that leads to economic expansion on the one hand and increased poverty and restrictions on freedom on the other. A similar situation applies with computer software, where the capacity for creative sharing is reined in by the enclosure of computer code as corporate intellectual property.

Open source challenges this approach and returns software to common ownership. This is far from a new idea. Commons regimes, where local communities share the use of common land through rationing, are found throughout history. The term ‘usufruct’ is used to denote this process, whereby a resource can be borrowed and used as long as it is put back in its original state. Open source means it is put back in a better state than it started out.

Attempts to produce for free, to share and to make resources serve the community will always be resisted by corporations, which are invariably keen to promote renewed enclosure. The non-corporate vision, however, is that the free use of productive resources will facilitate the creation of a society that is both ecologically sustainable and equal, based on participation rather than command. The future of radical politics, then, is inextricably linked with the fight for an open source or free society. One day our descendents may even say with amazement that their grandparents used to work for money rather than for pleasure and necessity.

What is the Commons?

Open source is far from a new idea. Commons regimes, where local communities share the use of common land through rationing, are found throughout history. The term ‘usufruct’ is used to denote this process, whereby a resource can be borrowed and used as long as it is put back in its original state. Open source means it is put back in a better state than it started out.

There are numerous well documented accounts of commons regimes, where regulation occurs through local bargaining and shared use. In Canada the Ojibway Nation of Ontario still harvest wild rice from Wabigoon Lake using commons principles:
Violations of harvest allocations by machine harvesters are dealt with at community meetings: a recent case resulted in one machine harvester being denied harvest rights for the rest of one season. For each canoe harvest area, the community agrees upon ‘a field boss’ whose responsibilities are to regulate the harvest cycle according to custom, and to arbitrate in any disputes. Where harvesting rules are breached, the offender may be ‘grounded’, one person in a recent harvest being told to ‘relearn the Indian way by sitting on the shore and watching’. (Ecologist 1993: 127)
The Ecologist claims that while the commons has an old fashioned feel for many of us in Europe and North America it is a reality for the ‘vast majority of humanity’ (Ecologist 1992: 127). Ninety percent of inshore fisheries are regulated by commons. Depletion is a product of high tech hoovering by unregulated Japanese and European fleets keen to increase profit rather than more local abuse (Ecologist 1992: 127). In Maine, lobster fisheries have long been preserved by the commons, in Finland, many forests are communally regulated and in Switzerland, grazing is controlled by commoners to prevent ‘tragedy’ through over exploitation:
[in] Torbel in Switzerland, a village of some 600 people […] grazing lands, forests, ‘waste’ lands, irrigation systems and paths and roads connecting privately and communally owned property are all managed as commons. […] Under a regulation which dates back to 1517, which applies to many other Swiss mountain villages, no one can send more cows to the communal grazing areas than they can feed during the winter, a rule that is still enforced with a system of fines. (Ecologist 1992: 128)
Ostrom (1991) provides numerous case study examples of commons in land, river use, fisheries, etc.

Some ecological gains from social sharing

1. Reduced resource consumption without poverty.

By sharing goods, for example, car pooling we can reduce our resource use and have access to essential goods. Only the market social shring does not have a built in growth imperative.

2. Usufrucht
Social sharing is based on the principle of usufrucht, using resources without damaging, this is an ecological alternative to traditional property rights. Permaculture rather than intensive agriculture to serve Tescos would be a social sharing usufrucht model. The whole idea is we use property and make sure that when we have finished with it, it is in just as good a state if not better than when we found it.

Social sharing is socialism
It is in a sense even communism, based on sharing, equality, it aims for free access not privatisation. Social sharing is democratic and participatory.
Marx links the open source principle to socialism and use, we should take what we want but nurture what we use for the benefit of the next generation:
From the standpoint of a higher economic form of society, private ownership of the globe by single individuals will appear quite absurd as private ownership of one man by another. Even a whole society, a nation, or even all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not the owners of the globe. They are only its possessors, its usufructuries, and like boni patres familias, they must hand it down to succeeding generations in an improved condition. (Marx quoted in Kovel 2002: 238)

Or as Nandor notes in my book Babylon, 'We humans think that we can own the planet, as if fleas could own a dog. Our concepts of property ownership are vastly different from traditional practises of recognising use rights over various resources. A right to grow or gather food or other resources in a particular place is about meeting needs. Property ownership is about the ability to live on one side of the world and speculate on resources on the other, possibly without ever seeing it, without regard to need or consequence.'

The struggle for social sharing.

In short while traditional socialism sees centralised planning as a model and usually ignores the environment and the market seeks to enclose and exploit, social sharing in its varied guises provides the only model of economic regulation that tends towards green goals. Greens should abandon environmental economics which is based on further extensions of the market and embrace the open source option. Today millions of people are struggling to defend, extend and deepen the commons...join them, spread the word, embrace the practical struggle against those who would fence, sell back and devastate. Today wikipedia is a dictionary, tomorrow if we are to have a tomorrow it will be the world.


Benkler, Y. “Sharing Nicely: On Shareable Goods and the Emergence of Sharing as a Modality of Economic Production.” Yale Law Journal, November 2004. http://www.yalelawjournal.org/pdf/114-2/Benkler_114-2.pdf

Ecologist (1992) Whose Common Future? Ecologist, 22 (4).

Kovel, J. (2002) The Enemy of Nature. New York: Zed Press.

Wall, D. (2005) Babylon and Beyond: the economics of anti-capitalist, anti-globalist and radical green movements. London: Pluto.

see also Open Source Economics www.redpepper.org.uk/tech/x-nov05-wall.htm

This is culled from Babylon, from a paper for the Green Economics Institute, from Red Pepper, from my letter to the economist below, from talks I give nearly every week to greens, socialist groups and others about genuine alternative economics, please open source it by rewriting and distributing to others!

27 Apr 2006

Top Ten books on ecology and revolution/George Monbiot, Hilary Wainwright and Joel Kovel

Top Ten books on ecology and revolution.

'How rare it is to come across Marxists who actually proclaim what is subversive, philosophical and militant in Marx’s work, or greens who unambiguously state that we need to live in an entirely different way if we are to live at all. In Kovel we have both; his book provides a pure and fundamental account of the key and overlapping themes of red and green philosophies.

There is a lot here: from Rosa Luxemburg’s love of buffaloes to Bhopal as a case study of capitalist-growth-induced catastrophe; from the pathologies of the Bush state to the threat in a devastated world of eco-fascism. It is richly argued, well referenced and impossible to put down.'

Foster, J. (2002) Ecology Against Capitalism. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Foster, J. (2000)Marx’s Ecology. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Fromm, E. (1979) To Have or To Be? London: Abacus.

Gould, P. (1988) Early Green Politics. Brighton: Harvester.

Kovel, J. (2002) The Enemy of Nature. New York: Zed Press.

McNally, D. (1993) Against the Market: Political Economy, Market Socialism and the Marxist Critique. London: Verso.

Mellor, M. (1992) Breaking the Boundaries: Towards a Feminist, Green Socialism. London: Virago.

Roberts, A. (1979) The Self-Managing Environment. London: Allison and Busby.

Trainer, E. (1985) Abandon Affluence! London: Zed Press.

Wall, D. (2005) Babylon and Beyond: the economics of anti-capitalist, anti-globalist and radical green movements. London: Pluto.

I would value your suggestions as well....here is a review of Joel's book, Joel like Nandor is somebody I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with. When here in London, he offered to buy a round in the Sun (?) in Lambs conduit street, I said I would buy if he agreed to run for the US Presidency again, sadly he hasn't but his bid to go for the green party usa nomination was an inspiring attempt to promote ecosocialism.

The Enemy of Nature is a classic. Joel of course worked hard with Walt Sheasby when Walt was still alive....some Monbiot and Hilary stuff here as well....

Manifestos for the millennium

Derek Wall

January 2004

Derek Wall considers George Monbiot’s, Hilary Wainwright’s and Joel Kovel’s alternative visions for future radical politics:

The Age of Consent: a manifesto for a new world order

George Monbiot (Flamingo, �15.99)

Reclaim the State: experiments in popular democracy

Hilary Wainwright (Verso, �15)

The Enemy of Nature: the end of capitalism or the end of the world?

Joel Kovel (Zed Press, �15.95)

George Monbiot, Hilary Wainwright and Joel Kovel have each produced a manifesto for radical politics in the new millennium. Depending on your perspective, these books will provoke, annoy or stimulate. They are necessary reading for all those who seek a better world. They account for the end of one kind of radicalism and the emergence of a new revolutionary alternative.

After the ‘death of socialism’, the ‘end of history’, the fall of the Berlin wall and the replacement of ‘Labour’ with ‘New Labour’, social democratic parties have become neo-liberal, socialists have become social democrats, and the old communist parties have morphed into thuggish oligarchic clans (� la Serbia) or post-modernist posses (the British Communist Party famously turned into the New Times network). Yet injustice remains and capitalism continues to buy and sell the world. Thus, we have the new anti-capitalism – a chaotic, vibrant wave of global fervour using grass-roots organisation, direct action and mischief to fight the power.

The new anti-capitalism, seen so visibly at the protests against the WTO in Seattle in 1999, has no central organisation, leaders or blueprint for change. It is plural, experimental and sceptical of existing structures and ideologies. Such an orientation is both positive and very limited. The books of Monbiot, Wainwright and Kovel can each be seen as contributions from individuals who have participated in the new anti-capitalism, and which seek to make the networks involved more reflexive about what they want and how they are going to get it.

Many commentators have argued that, rather than protesting, the ‘movement’ should provide ‘positive alternatives’. Personally, I have mixed feelings about this. As one wit once proclaimed, the only policy session worth attending at party conference is the one from the drugs working group. Protest can all too easily be channelled into worthy discussion of policy, and while alternatives are debated ad infinitum the elites are allowed to construct a world safe for themselves.

Equally, we must also be careful that when we imagine a different world we don’t subconsciously re-import the features that we already have. Happily none of these titles focuses simply upon lists of policies for a better world. Instead, they seek to identify causes of the injustice the new anti-capitalists seek to combat.

In The Age of Consent Monbiot argues for the creation of a global parliament, proclaiming that everything has been globalised except ‘our consent’. Usefully, he points out the need to debate institutions of global governance now that we live, for good or ill, in a global order with worldwide problems of war, injustice and ecocide. Monbiot is sceptical of those, like Colin Hines, who argue that economic activity should be localised. He finds anarchism and Marxism wanting as sources of ‘movement’ ideology.

The Age of Consent is entertaining because of Monbiot’s fiery rudeness to opponents, his refreshing ideological self-belief and admirable frankness. The whole text is imbued with a passionate certainty; you can imagine the writer on the podium, proclaiming his truth and smiting detractors – particularly the anarchists who, as we all know, live mainly in Brighton. Monbiot certainly feels he is on to something that we should all know about.

Yet ‘criticism’ in The Age of Consent looks too close to an attempt to silence alternatives and present Monbiot’s vision as the only one permissible. Criticism is never wrong in radical politics, because the way to a world that works will only come with the most rigorous debate. Only then can new strategies be developed. Dialogue and modesty are necessary if we are to be militant. Rather than being criticised, localists, anarchists and Marxists are caricatured and then knocked down by Monbiot. A liberal form of politics is then ‘regrettably’ offered as the only alternative.

Marxism has been a wellspring of radicalism for revolutionaries from William Morris to Fidel Castro. Whatever its manifold failings, it should not be simply binned and ignored. Maybe Marx had something to say about capitalism. Yet after a brief account of The Communist Manifesto, Monbiot has Stalin merrily butchering the kulaks.

‘The problem with [Marxism’s] political prescriptions,’ Monbiot says, ‘is not that they have been corrupted, but that they have been rigidly applied. Stalin’s politics and Mao’s were far more Marxist than, for example, those of the compromised – and therefore more benign – governments of Cuba or the Indian state of Kerala.’ Slagging off Marx’s manifesto for its deterministic simplicities is one thing, but refusing to engage with the socialist tradition full stop is quite another.

Similarly, grass-roots movements have been fertilised by anarchist thought since the days of Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin and Percy Byshe Shelley, but Monbiot rejects the possibility of learning from anarchism with an unconvincing parable of violence. And while localism may be an insufficient economic critique it does provide a practical alternative with the power to mobilise communities against capitalism. We can move from making cider from local apples to a critique of accumulation. But plans for world government rarely elicit enthusiasm in the streets or villages.

If I had worked as closely with the Socialist Workers Party as Monbiot I might also be a bit chary of Trotskyism or even Terry Eagleton, but what has the normally mild-mannered Hines done to attract such wrath? Monbiot’s liberal globalism could be presented as another ideology of straw and burnt with a single match. Where do we have the classic liberal constitution? In the US. Where do we have a blueprint for global government? In the UN? But while rhetoric is fun to condemn the book in this way would be quite wrong; it at least poses a number of difficult questions – including that of agency and strategy. The Age of Consent lacks the precision and the poetry of Monbiot’s excellent column and previous books, and it doesn’t contain any answers. But it does ask a number of important questions, and it demands our engagement for doing so.

Like Monbiot, Wainwright rejects anarchist purity and repressive forms of Marxism. Unlike Monbiot, she sees a variety of alternatives growing out of and beyond liberal democracy.

The theoretical underpinnings of Reclaim the State are strong, but the book is most interesting when examining grass-roots democratic alternatives. Wainwright argues that while we may need global governance, political parties, constitutions and old-style ‘representation’ none of these concepts are sufficient or even come close to exhausting the concept of democracy.

Wainwright has not magicked up a blueprint, but engages in dialogue with those who have started to live new democratic experiments. She visits Porto Alegre in Brazil, and shows how the people’s budget is put together in the city famous for the World Social Forum. In Luton she shows how Bob Marley has inspired local community government. And she examines how alternative networks have fought privatisation in Newcastle. She also takes the place of Anne Robinson in a Manchester version of The Weakest Link.

The book is intellectually stimulating and fun to read, but there are weaknesses. The Brazilian Workers Party (PT) that pioneered the people’s budget in Porto Alegre now forms a government that cohabits with the right in the form of the IMF. Yet elsewhere in South America there is encouraging resistance to neo-liberalism. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela has proved too tough for capital to kick out, and the Cuban revolution continues to enjoy popular support. Even for their admirers, however, Castro and Chavez cannot be seen as democratic libertarians.

While there is clear continuity between Reclaim the State and Wainwright’s earlier work, closer integration and questioning would have been beneficial. Why did Tony Benn and the GLC fail to leave any legacy? Why were we left with Tony Blair? Does the iron law of oligarchy always win? And where does ecology fit in with the struggle for democratic socialism?

Nonetheless, the book is a pleasing blend of documentary, theoretical sophistication and metaphor. Wainwright’s notion of radical politics is informed by literature. It is a politics that must be practised, and ‘that is willing to cope with uncertainty and is not constantly straining for a programmatic unity that would restrict the creativity of the process for no good reason. A good metaphor is the jazz of Charlie Parker or Miles Davis: an underlying structure with which everyone is familiar, and then improvisation whose character is impossible to predict or orchestrate’.

While often equally musical Kovel’s book is brutally frank. It argues that capitalism is essentially a gigantic cancer that is devastating global ecology. It has to be excised with an eco-socialist crusade based on the creation of economic alternatives around production for use not exchange.

There have been many books on ecology and socialism; think of Andre Gorz’s Ecology as Politics, Rudolf Bahro’s Socialism and Survival and Barry Commoner. This is the best. Marxism is merged with radical green politics, and the joins have been erased. I would love to place this book in the hands of any ‘anti-capitalist’ and say this is what your antipathy is about. Kovel sees the economy as dominating and distorting our lives. Hostility to multinationals is not enough; capitalism is not a conspiracy but a process.

The ecological crisis can best be understood by reading chapter one of Das Kapital and understanding the nature of the commodity. To survive, we exchange commodities to generate the cash to get more commodities; money sticks to our hands and we become dominated by the need to accumulate cash to meet our needs. For Kovel multinationals, debt, the dislocations of ‘free’ trade and all the rest are conjured up by the basic atoms and molecules of commodity production. We must sweep away commodification and directly produce what we need. We must share and construct a pleasurable, even lazy, form of socialism based on the needs of people and the rest of nature.

How rare it is to come across Marxists who actually proclaim what is subversive, philosophical and militant in Marx’s work, or greens who unambiguously state that we need to live in an entirely different way if we are to live at all. In Kovel we have both; his book provides a pure and fundamental account of the key and overlapping themes of red and green philosophies.

There is a lot here: from Rosa Luxemburg’s love of buffaloes to Bhopal as a case study of capitalist-growth-induced catastrophe; from the pathologies of the Bush state to the threat in a devastated world of eco-fascism. It is richly argued, well referenced and impossible to put down. It invokes passionate commitment, but to do quite what?

Kovel argues for building eco-socialist parties to proclaim the red-green message. This basically means greening existing Green Parties, a process that I know to my cost to be both necessary and stressful. In line with this approach Kovel even contested a presidential primary and US Senate seat to stimulate debate.

Yet Kovel’s core passion seems to be for building religious communes based on ecological production. This kind of stuff tends to induce a kind of ‘haven’t we been here before’ despair. Like world parliaments, communes have failed to provide swift roads to liberation in the past.

So what we are left with in all three texts, enjoyable and informative as they are, is an invitation but no party. Without a stronger debate about how change can be achieved, the most worthy of the anti-capitalist manifestos remain pious rather than truly political. In short, we need to ask how – not whether – we should build eco-socialism. And this should be done in the most immediate and practical ways.

Derek Wall is a Green Party member and teacher of economics

26 Apr 2006

Nandor Tanczos: Green in South Africa

This is from Nandor's blog, hope you are getting the message about voting for him, then replacing other Green co-leaders, speakers, etc with equally 'dread' Rasta candidates and then going on to build a world beyond Babylon.

Hope you are also getting the message that their are some strong black roots to green politics, green politics is 'ital' politics, I ought to write something here about Mumia, Move and co but see my Green History book 1994 with a couple of great essays on green black themes that Alice Walker kindly let me use.

Another day I will also tell you how I got banned from every Tescos in Britain for life!

So people educate, agitate and organise, global capitalism is ruinning our planet..

All this stuff is obviously creative commons by the way...

There's more to Africa than famine and war
Friday, March 03, 2006

First published in the Waikato Times, January 2006:

In the summer of 2001, Hamilton-based Green MP Nandor Tanczos visits his
family in Cape Town and gets a glimpse of post-apartheid South Africa.

"SOUTH Africa?" she said, shaking her head. "Things are terrible there now. So much violence."

It was not the first time I had heard that opinion. The moment I made the decision to visit the land of my foremothers I seemed to become some kind of psychic magnet for expat South Africans.

I bumped into them in cafes, on buses, on planes. Not surprisingly, they almost all felt South Africa was beautiful but doomed.

Most New Zealanders don't have many sources of information to base an opinion on. Western media tends to ignore news from Africa unless it comprises war or famine. Reporting from South Africa largely ended with the first post-apartheid election in 1994.

Not so immigration. Many South Africans have moved to New Zealand since the end of apartheid, and it is their story many of us have heard. The story of one class of South African society. I discussed with Father Michael Lapsley, a famed anti-apartheid activist, the perceptions of South Africa that prevail in New Zealand.

"People who have left South Africa have a certain interest in talking the country down," he suggested. "That is not to say that their stories are not true. We could spend a whole day talking about all the bad things that are happening here. But we could also spend a day talking about all the good things."

Lapsley is in a position to know. A New Zealand-born priest, he is a veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and was in exile in Lesotho and Botswana. He is the director of the Institute for the Healing of Memories, which works with victims of violence and torture, and was himself the victim of a letter bomb which took both his hands.

One of the main difficulties in South Africa, he told me, is the enormity of the problems. The Government is making progress, but not fast enough for many people.

"The Government has built a million homes since coming to power. If you ask the four million that remain homeless about how the Government is doing, they will say that nothing has changed. If you ask the million that now have homes, they will say - well they might say - `we don't yet have electricity'."

They called it "smarty town", the new housing project you can see from the motorway into Cape Town. Brightly painted, with power and running water, it was a happy example of the results of a liberation Government.

Other schemes were more modest, smaller, with fewer amenities. All showed real progress despite the harsh, sandy conditions. But, even with these initiatives, the shanty towns remained. When one family moved into a new government-built home, another one took over the shack they had left.

The poverty there was devastating. Yet, despite the warnings about violence and hostility, I was amazed by the friendliness, the creativity and the generosity of spirit of the people. Township youths had taken on the role of unofficial parking attendants, directing drivers into empty spaces and protecting the cars from thieves and tickets in return for a tip when the driver returned.

People hustled newspapers at traffic lights, children begged for money for food. People carved, painted, busked, whatever they could do to make a living. But with unemployment at 50 per cent and no social welfare system, it was not surprising that crime was high. And there was growing resentment at the privatisation agenda adopted by the ANC Government.

But what I sensed more than anything else was a feeling of pride and of optimism. People were starting to assert themselves in new ways. Homegrown media reflected this and affirmed it. Like the Pasifika focus that is visible now in Aotearoa, South Africa was being redefined as an African country instead of a European enclave at the edge of "the Dark Continent".

Among the coloured community in Cape Town there was a resurgent interest in the Khoikhoi and the San, the original people of Southern Africa. Coloureds had been largely defined in the past as the bastard offspring of Europeans and Bantu Africans. Now, many were starting to reclaim their Khoi and San ancestors - the so-called Hottentots - as First Nation peoples.

The coloureds were even laying claim to Afrikaner culture, including the Afrikaans language. It was the coloureds, they said, the Khoi traders and labourers as well as the bastard offspring of slaves and Europeans who, unable to speak High Dutch, invented Afrikaans as a kind of pidgin or trade language.

Only later was it adopted by the Boer, along with many other Cape Coloured cultural items, in an unconscious tribute to the people they dispossessed in Southern Africa.

I found the idea too exquisite to disbelieve. It certainly wouldn't be the first example of colonisers copying indigenous styles and pretending it was their own idea. Boerewors, melktert, the distinctive architecture and crafts of Afrikaner society were all, my cousins told me, stolen off us by the Boer just as they stole the land itself.

They laughed as they said it, the kind of laughter we inherited, perhaps, from our oupa, our grandfather. The kind that makes hurt more bearable.

It didn't take much searching to find the anger simmering inside my relations, their friends, total strangers. Like my cousin Morris, who was expelled from law school because of his anti-apartheid activities. What other punishments, humiliations and violence he faced I do not know. His wife Gina did tell me about armed soldiers occupying her classroom. About the day the teachers marched, and seeing people with heads split open and blood staining the streets. But she also told me about their amazement when the 1981 Springbok tour game was cancelled at Hamilton's Rugby Park. "We danced in the streets," she said.

Their joy erupted like fireworks, to know that people all the way over in New Zealand knew about their struggle, cared about their struggle, for dignity and human rights.

Random connections shimmer between the two lands, like George Grey's stint as governor in South Africa prior to his arrival here, or the rebellious New Zealand soldiers who returned home from fighting Boer to fight the local constabulary using the same tricks they had learned in Africa.

A South African man came to my office to meet me when I got back, a guerilla, in truth. He asked if I had met any political people while I was there. I thought he meant MPs and said no, but then mentioned my uncle, Richard Stevens. "Oh Richard. I was in prison with him," he said, and then laughed as he told me about some of my uncle's prison tricks.

Uncle Richard was a lovely man. We had visited him for lunch and talked about various things, including black theology, which he had taught at the university, and also the black consciousness movement that he had been part of.

He lamented the effect on his family of seeing him dragged from his home by police, of his enforced absences. Yet he himself demonstrated an openness that his experience might have stolen from another man.

His son, Rhian, was one of the Cape Town Nyabhingi, serious dreads who had built themselves a tabernacle and organised themselves into a spiritual order. One of the more organised of the Rastafarian communities in South Africa, they were highly influential in the local reggae music scene. There were also Twelve Tribes of Israel members, House of Judah and others, spread all along the coast at least to Knysna and probably further. I found it interesting that most of them seemed to come from the coloured community.

Some of them had heard of the Rastafarian MP from New Zealand, and were eager to talk about faith, politics, food and all the facets that comprise Rastafarian philosophy. All welcomed me home as a son of Africa. I had been uneasy about this question at first, wandering around Cape Town on my own. Outside of my family, I must have looked like some white fella with dreads, a wannabe African. What I found instead was recognition. Everywhere I went, Africans would raise their fists in solidarity and hail me as a Rasta bredren. I don't know how much they knew of the philosophy, but they recognised it as an Africa-centred view of the world, as an
Africa-defined faith and, perhaps in a land where Africans have struggled so long for basic respect, this was enough.

Africa is in the process of redefining itself, in spite of the monocular view offered in the West where famine and war are the only events of interest. The great civilisations and empires of African history are rarely acknowledged outside the continent, nor its statespeople, philosophers or artists.

Just as with the indigenous people of this land, there seems to be a certain nterest in talking things down. I was inspired by what I saw in South Africa, in spite of the many problems, and I returned to Aotearoa proud of my own links to the great motherland.

posted by Nandor @ 3:16 PM

25 Apr 2006

I am a Rasta. I am also an MP for the Green Party...Vote Nandor Tanczos!

Capitalism is also built on self-hatred. Consumer society depends on us being unhappy with who we are. Therefore we need to buy this car, this stereo, this clothing label, this house, to be satisfied and complete. Of course this gets us nowhere except into another cycle of self-hatred. We have to buy stuff to make us look different and smell different so we can conform to some fucked up idea of what is beautiful or right. Rasta says the most beautiful thing you can be is yourself. Natural hair, natural smell, natural living - that is ital, that is dread. Babylon hates this, because it cannot be commodified....

So I am a Rasta. I am also an MP for the Green Party. Both these ways of being are about natural law, about social justice, ecological wisdom, peace and true democracy.

Nandor Tanczos has declared as a candidate for the New Zealand Green Party co-leader, I am backing him...first black leader of a Green Party and one of the few really ecologically literate politicians on the planet, above all, he understands economics...why our present economic system is killing the Earth and has some strong clear ideas on building a sustainable, socially just alternative.

Please, please vote for him if you are Aotearoa person, join the greens if not a member already.

Here is an interview with Nandor I did for Green World the Green Party of England and Wales mag.....I have already declared my candidacy for Green Party principal speaker over here...based on Nandor's ideas outlined here.

I am not a fan of any kind of leader but Nandor has real vision....so Aotearoa Greens do the rest of us sentient beings a favour.

Interview with Nandor Tanczos, Green MP in New Zealand

First published in Green World, 2003 by Derek Wall

Founded in 1972 as Values, the New Zealand Green Party was the first national Green Party in the world. It has helped transform NZ politics moving the country from First Past the Post to PR. As part of a loose coalition of radical groups, the Alliance, it elected the first Green Party MP in a first past the post constituency in the world. In 1999 it supported a Labour Government but dramatically forced a snap General Election this year when Labour decided to bring GM crops into the country. I was lucky enough to talk to its representative Nandor Tzancos, the world’s only Rastafarian MP.

He grew up in a political household, ‘My father fled his homeland, Hungary, after the 1956 uprising. My mother left her homeland, South Africa, at a time when apartheid legislation was being constructed.’ His own activism started in the 1980s, during the miners strike. ‘I ended up at RAF Molesworth when the peace village was evicted that led me to direct action and more militant politics. From there I joined the Peace Convoy and first experienced for myself police brutality at the battle of the beanfield’.

Settling in NZ he became involved in the Cannabis Legalisation Party before becoming a Green MP in 1999. I asked him about the Greens impact ‘We have 9 MPs in a house of 120. We have a consistent level of support of 5 - 10% of the population. We have doubled our support among Maori people in the past 3 years, from 5 to 10%, We have had a number of small but successful programs, like funding for edible gardens in schools, environmental legal aid, a register of toxic sites etc etc. At the same time, the fundamental and radical change required in this time is not taking place.’

Nandor’s spiritual beliefs are closely linked to such calls for anti-capitalist transformation. ‘It begins with private ownership - the idea that people can own the earth, as if fleas could own a dog. Ownership means the ability to sell and trade. It is different from use rights - which is what most indigenous law is about. My right to come and grow food, or gather it, in a particular place is about meeting needs. Property ownership is about the ability for me to live on one side of the world and speculate on bits of land on the other side of the world without even seeing it, without regard to whether I need it or whether people living in the area need it more.

This is what capitalism is. Since the first limited liability companies, the Dutch East India Company and the British East India Company, we have seen the kidnapping of 20 - 60 million African people as slaves, the colonisation of the planet and the rape, murder and exploitation of indigenous people around the world. Colonisation was firstly about mercantile empires, not political ones. It was all about forcing indigenous people to accept private individual ownership of land, so it can be alienated (bought or stolen) and pillaged. Political colonisation was just about how to enforce that ownership.’

He argues, that ownership is being extend through institutions such as the WTO and the crusade for privatisation, ‘Today that is going even further with the creation of property rights over public assets such as water, intellectual property, and with private ownership of DNA sequences through genetic engineering and biopiracy. Even traditional healing plants are under threat. Here we have multinationals attempting to patent piko piko and other native plants. This is all part of the "free trade" corporate globalisation agenda, to create tradeable rights over our common wealth, accumulate ownership and then sell us back what is already ours.

‘Ital is the opposite of that. Ital is natural living. I&I say that the land is from the creator, creativity is from the creator, life is from the creator. So how can a person own any of that in any true sense?

Such views have helped fuel that anti-GM campaign, In early 1999 the Wild Greens, a direct action group associated with the Green Party, broke into Lincoln University and destroyed an experimental crop of GM potatoes. Nandor spoke on behalf of the group to explain the reasons, although no evidence ever came to light about who did the action.

The Greens forced a Royal Commission of Inquiry into GM. ‘There were heaps of representations to the inquiry - about 11 000. 92% said "keep GM in the lab". The Royal Commission ignored those people, ignored the strong evidence against growing GM in Aotearoa, and recommended 'proceed, but with caution'. The government responded with window dressing, including a temporary ban on (commercial) release of GM, which runs out next October. That is what our disagreement with the government was largely over, and is still a big issue. Last Saturday we had a march of 10 000 in Auckland, Last year we saw 15 000 on the streets. In a population of 3 million, those are big marches - the biggest for at least a decade’ Nandor argues the Labour government are committed to GM, because they want a free trade deal with the USA.’

Another area of work has been the cannabis campaign, which Rastafarians see as a sacred herb placed on the earth for the benefit of all ‘60% of people agree some kind of change is needed. . The Prime Minister and the minister of Health both want to see change. The question is, what form will such change take?

Recent moves in the UK and Canada have helped to keep the issue on the table and there are lots of useful things to do before the next election, such as allowing medical use. After that, I hope things will be different.’

Cannabis, GM and anti-capitalism are all part of a bigger picture for Nandor, ‘Ecological thinking is not an option - it is a must.’

Black deep ecology

Rastafarianism, a religious movement founded in the 1930s in Jamaica and made global by Bob Marley, has deep green roots. Rastafarians practice ital, which means living in harmony with nature and building a local economy. Ital involves a vegan organic diet. In the 1970s Prime Minister Michael Manley used Rasta rhetoric to win an election victory against the forces of Babylon but failed to rid Jamaica of the multinationals.

‘Rasta is about community based and cooperative ways of operating… about self reliance - how you get your food, how you travel, all of that. Rasta is about love - supporting each other to live right. But Rasta is also about justice. The movement for reparations to Africa, and to the descendants of slaves in the west, is about recognising that the wealth of the western powers, is built ultimately on the slavery of African people, on the theft of African, Asian, Pacifica and American resources and deliberate destruction of non-European cultures. Same way I&I must support the struggle of indigenous people here in Aotearoa for restoration and for self determination. Rasta is about knowing our past and acting on that knowledge.

Capitalism is also built on self-hatred. Consumer society depends on us being unhappy with who we are. Therefore we need to buy this car, this stereo, this clothing label, this house, to be satisfied and complete. Of course this gets us nowhere except into another cycle of self-hatred. We have to buy stuff to make us look different and smell different so we can conform to some fucked up idea of what is beautiful or right. Rasta says the most beautiful thing you can be is yourself. Natural hair, natural smell, natural living - that is ital, that is dread. Babylon hates this, because it cannot be commodified.

So I am a Rasta. I am also an MP for the Green Party. Both these ways of being are about natural law, about social justice, ecological wisdom, peace and true democracy.

Other Black deep ecology groups include the Mother Earth group in Trinidad and the MOVE organisation in Philadelphia. "MOVE's work is to stop industry from poisoning the air, the water, the soil, and to put an end to the enslavement of life - people, animals, any form of life.’ The best introduction to black deep ecology comes in Alice Walker’s essay ‘Nobody was suppose to survive’ in her book ‘Living by the Word’.

Web sites


Move - http://www.eco-action.org/dt/20yrs.html

NZ cannabis campaign http://www.norml.org.nz/

Imperialism Is the Arsonist: Marxism’s Contribution to Ecological Literatures and Struggles

Derek Wall ’s article entitled  Imperialism Is the Arsonist: Marxism’s Contribution to Ecological Literatures and Struggles , argues that Ma...