30 Apr 2008

Stop another European capital falling to the right!

Supporters of Gianni Alemanno wave flags in Rome. Photograph: Dario Pignatelli/Reuters

Johnson, Johnson cried his supporters!

Will BNP votes give Boris their second preferences swinging him into power? You can see why the BNP are encouraging their supporters to back Boris when you read some of Boris' opinions.

"Whatever you say about the Russians, they have no qualms when it comes to abusing human rights, if that means cracking down on Islam." (Spectator, 2 September 2005)

"... too many Britons have absolutely no sense of allegiance to this country or its institutions. It is a cultural calamity that will take decades to reverse, and we must begin now with what I call in this morning's Spectator the re-Britannification of Britain. That means insisting, in a way that is cheery and polite, on certain values that we identify as British. If that means the end of spouting hate in mosques, and treating women as second-class citizens, then so be it. We need to acculturate the second-generation Muslim communities to our way of life." (Daily Telegraph, 14 July 2005)

"We've all got to be as British as Carry On films and scotch eggs and falling over on the beach while trying to change into your swimming trunks with a towel on. We should all feel the same mysterious pang at the sight of the Queen. We do indeed need to inculcate this Britishness, especially into young Muslims.... We should teach British history. We should think again about the jilbab, with the signals of apartness that it sends out, and we should probably scrap faith schools. We should forbid the imams from preaching sermons in anything but English; because if you want to build a society where everyone feels included, and where everyone shares in the national story, we cannot continue with the multicultural apartheid." (Daily Telegraph, 4 August 2005)

More here from Bozza on Islam.

Despite claiming to be an anti-racist Boris has been condemned for racist language on numerous occassions:

Ms Butler highlighted a 2002 article in which Mr Johnson referred to the Queen being greeted in Commonwealth countries by "flag-waving piccaninnies".

'Watermelon smiles'

She claimed he also said that he expected, during a mooted visit by Tony Blair to the Congo, that "the tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief".

Ms Butler, whose Brent South constituency is the most ethnically diverse in the UK, said: "These are disgraceful comments that shame Boris Johnson and shame the Conservative Party.

"This is the most offensive language of the colonial past and it shows that the Tory party is riddled with racial prejudice.

Boris: 'vote blue, get greed'

First priority...elect as many Green London Assembly members as possible...and support a combinination of Ken and Sian for Mayor...Boris is a case of 'Vote Blue, get greed'...the candidate of George Bush, Exxon and the climate deniers.

Ken is being attacked not for what he gets wrong but for what he gets right...social justice, environment, opposition to war.

The neo-cons would love to see an anti-War candidate lose...Ken is obviously better than Boris on the environment

I don't always agree with Jonathon Porritt but I think he could be right on this one.

'The prospect of Boris as Mayor of London is just so scary. Either he is a genuine, out-and-out buffoon, in which case London becomes a laughing stock alongside its Mayor, or he is a pseudo-buffoon, in which case his true ideological nastiness will soon be revealed. The prospect of Boris taking over London's Climate Change Action Plan is even scarier. He may have learnt not to reveal his full contrarian bigotry on climate change, but he really doesn't get it, and would rapidly scale back or completely get rid of the ambitious targets in the Action Plan. And that would be a massive set back.'

Ken, after being endorsed by Friends of the Earth noted:

Ken Livingstone said:

"I am delighted that Friends of the Earth have brought to Londoners' attention the clear choice they face.

"Boris Johnson's main contribution to environmental policy was as a cheerleader for George W Bush's disastrous decision to oppose the Kyoto climate treaty.

"It didn't seem possible six weeks ago, but Boris Johnson's environmental policies have got even worse during the course of the campaign. At the start he tried to hoodwink Londoners with his opposition to a new Heathrow runway, but his minders couldn't keep the true Boris under wraps throughout, and last week he revealed that his "big idea" for London is to build a new airport in the Thames Gateway.

"The election is neck and neck and everyone who cares about the environment needs to vote for me to stop Boris Johnson wrecking London's environment."

Ken and Sian write in the Independent:
We agree with your editorial that the London elections could have wider significance than simply their impact on the capital (‘The contest is local, the significance national’, 28 April).

No other newspaper can match the Independent’s coverage of environmental issues, and thus Independent readers know better than most just how urgent is the need to tackle climate change.

Cities contribute three quarters of world greenhouse gas emissions, so the fight to prevent catastrophic climate change will be won or lost in places like London.

With an environmentally committed Mayor and Green Party representation on its Assembly London has taken a global lead on environmental policy over the last eight years.

But that just wouldn’t be possible with Boris Johnson as Mayor. He may be funny on TV, but Johnson is an opponent of the Kyoto climate treaty, would scrap our plans for a £25 gas-guzzler charge, and says his ‘big idea’ for London is a new emissions-busting airport in the Thames Gateway.

Suddenly he’s not so funny.

Unusually, Londoners who care about the environment have two ways to do something about this: use your two votes for Mayor on 1 May to vote either Ken 1 and Sian 2, or Sian 1 and Ken 2.

Sian Berry, Green Party candidate for Mayor

Ken Livingstone, Labour Party candidate for Mayor

Finally, There are some great YouTube videos at londonvids.com of which this is one of the best


29 Apr 2008

Green Venezuela this thursday!

Hi Everyone

First of all, HOV London's regular weekly meeting will be at the same time
and place this Wednesday (7pm, 30th April, Room B04, Basement, Birkbeck
College, Malet St, London WC1, nearest tubes Goodge Street and Russell

Then on Thursday May 1st, Hands Off Venezuela will be joining the Latin
American contingent on the May Day March, meeting at 12 noon, Clerkenwell
Green (near Farringdon station). We will also have a stall at the end of
the march in Trafalgar Square, so look out for us! After the march, there
will be a meeting on the latest developments in Latin America featuring
Hands Off Venezuela, Bolivia Solidarity Campaign, Colombia Solidarity
Campaign and Movement of Ecuadorians in the UK. 3-5pm, Pitcher & Piano
pub, 40-42 William IV St., WC2N.

Later on Thursday, Movimientos is back at the Salmon & Compass for a May
Day special. On international workers day, as part of a worldwide day of
Climate Action everywhere Movimientos is presenting a programme of short
films and speakers focusing on environmental issues in Latin America.
Entry: £3 /Donations before 9, Salmon and Compass, 58 Penton Street
(Corner of Chapel Market) N1 9ES (Angel tube/Northern Line).

And in recent news from Venezuela, President Chávez says that Venezuela
will not be affected by the food crisis:

Best Bolivarian wishes!
HOV London

Vote for Green GLA

As well as elections for the mayor of London there are also elections for the London assembly, where the Greens are making a considerable impact as we have over the past eight years. Ken Livingstone has acknowledged that Green assembly members have been the driving force behind many of his initiatives on sustainable transport, and he has relied on negotiating with the Greens to get his annual budget through each year.

So while it is right to pay attention to what sort of mayor we want, we also need to look at what sort of London assembly we want, too. Boris Johnson would be a disaster for London. But Livingstone, without a strong Green presence on the assembly, would be a lame-duck unable to get his budget through, and lacking the ideas and momentum that has seen London beginning to take a lead on environmental and social justice.

Darren Johnson

Green party member of the London assembly

28 Apr 2008

Odd for a politician?

"Richard sent me photos of his private parts before I'd even met him," says the redhead. "I thought this was very odd for a politician."

This is from stroppyblog....I had a pint with Darren at conference who told me that when Richard visted the GLA, Ken Livingstone shouted out 'Are you casing the joint to make a gay porn film'....which amused Darrren and amused me on retelling.

Sexuality is a rich and varied thing and should not really be part of discussing candidate selection but I could not resist the quote above!

Any way it is hatred and discrimination we should target instead of worrying who is sleeping with whom....however the quote is the most bizarre I have seen for a while.

Food Crisis.

Hi Derek: Thank you for posting my article on your blog -- I'm glad you thoughtit worth sharing. Would it be possible to include a credit and link back to theSocialist Voice site? It's www.socialistvoice.ca -- and I'd like as many people as possibleto know about it! Thank you again -- hope your health is improving. Ian Angus

There you go Ian....when I starting posting on the indigenous struggle in Canada and on the wave of public sector strikes here, you know I will be well enough....and up to speed...any way must not grumble!

`The greatest demonstration of the historical failure of the capitalist model'
By Ian Angus

"If the government cannot lower the cost of living it simply has to leave. If the police and UN troops want to shoot at us, that's OK, because in the end, if we are not killed by bullets, we'll die of hunger." — A demonstrator in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

In Haiti, where most people get 22% fewer calories than the minimum needed for good health, some are staving off their hunger pangs by eating "mud biscuits" made by mixing clay and water with a bit of vegetable oil and salt.[1]

Meanwhile, in Canada, the federal government is currently paying $225 for each pig killed in a mass cull of breeding swine, as part of a plan to reduce hog production. Hog farmers, squeezed by low hog prices and high feed costs, have responded so enthusiastically that the kill will likely use up all the allocated funds before the program ends in September.

Some of the slaughtered hogs may be given to local Food Banks, but most will be destroyed or made into pet food. None will go to Haiti.

This is the brutal world of capitalist agriculture — a world where some people destroy food because prices are too low, and others literally eat dirt because food prices are too high.

Record prices for staple foods

We are in the midst of an unprecedented worldwide food price inflation that has driven prices to their highest levels in decades. The increases affect most kinds of food, but in particular the most important staples — wheat, corn, and rice.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says that between March 2007 and March 2008 prices of cereals increased 88%, oils and fats 106%, and dairy 48%. The FAO food price index as a whole rose 57% in one year — and most of the increase occurred in the past few months.

Another source, the World Bank, says that that in the 36 months ending February 2008, global wheat prices rose 181% and overall global food prices increased by 83%. The Bank expects most food prices to remain well above 2004 levels until at least 2015.

The most popular grade of Thailand rice sold for $198 a tonne five years ago and $323 a tonne a year ago. On April 24, the price hit $1,000.

Increases are even greater on local markets — in Haiti, the market price of a 50 kilo bag of rice doubled in one week at the end of March.

These increases are catastrophic for the 2.6 billion people around the world who live on less than US$2 a day and spend 60% to 80% of their incomes on food. Hundreds of millions cannot afford to eat.

This month, the hungry fought back.

Taking to the streets

In Haiti, on April 3, demonstrators in the southern city of Les Cayes built barricades, stopped trucks carrying rice and distributed the food, and tried to burn a United Nations compound. The protests quickly spread to the capital, Port-au-Prince, where thousands marched on the presidential palace, chanting "We are hungry!" Many called for the withdrawal of UN troops and the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the exiled president whose government was overthrown by foreign powers in 2004.

President René Préval, who initially said nothing could be done, has announced a 16% cut in the wholesale price of rice. This is at best a stop-gap measure, since the reduction is for one month only, and retailers are not obligated to cut their prices.

The actions in Haiti paralleled similar protests by hungry people in more than twenty other countries.

* In Burkino Faso, a two-day general strike by unions and shopkeepers demanded "significant and effective" reductions in the price of rice and other staple foods.
* In Bangladesh, over 20,000 workers from textile factories in Fatullah went on strike to demand lower prices and higher wages. They hurled bricks and stones at police, who fired tear gas into the crowd.
* The Egyptian government sent thousands of troops into the Mahalla textile complex in the Nile Delta, to prevent a general strike demanding higher wages, an independent union, and lower prices. Two people were killed and over 600 have been jailed.
* In Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, police used tear gas against women who had set up barricades, burned tires and closed major roads. Thousands marched to the President's home, chanting "We are hungry," and "Life is too expensive, you are killing us."
* In Pakistan and Thailand, armed soldiers have been deployed to prevent the poor from seizing food from fields and warehouses.

Similar protests have taken place in Cambodia, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Honduras, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Niger, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Zambia. On April 2, the president of the World Bank told a meeting in Washington that there are 33 countries where price hikes could cause social unrest.

A Senior Editor of Time magazine warned:

"The idea of the starving masses driven by their desperation to take to the streets and overthrow the ancien regime has seemed impossibly quaint since capitalism triumphed so decisively in the Cold War.... And yet, the headlines of the past month suggest that skyrocketing food prices are threatening the stability of a growing number of governments around the world. …. when circumstances render it impossible to feed their hungry children, normally passive citizens can very quickly become militants with nothing to lose."[2]

What's Driving Food Inflation?

Since the 1970s, food production has become increasingly globalized and concentrated. A handful of countries dominate the global trade in staple foods. 80% of wheat exports come from six exporters, as does 85% of rice. Three countries produce 70% of exported corn. This leaves the world's poorest countries, the ones that must import food to survive, at the mercy of economic trends and policies in those few exporting companies. When the global food trade system stops delivering, it's the poor who pay the price.

For several years, the global trade in staple foods has been heading towards a crisis. Four related trends have slowed production growth and pushed prices up.

The End of the Green Revolution: In the 1960s and 1970s, in an effort to counter peasant discontent in south and southeast Asia, the U.S. poured money and technical support into agricultural development in India and other countries. The "green revolution" — new seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, agricultural techniques and infrastructure — led to spectacular increases in food production, particularly rice. Yield per hectare continued expanding until the 1990s.

Today, it's not fashionable for governments to help poor people grow food for other poor people, because "the market" is supposed to take care of all problems. The Economist reports that "spending on farming as a share of total public spending in developing countries fell by half between 1980 and 2004."[3] Subsidies and R&D money have dried up, and production growth has stalled.

As a result, in seven of the past eight years the world consumed more grain than it produced, which means that rice was being removed from the inventories that governments and dealers normally hold as insurance against bad harvests. World grain stocks are now at their lowest point ever, leaving very little cushion for bad times.

Climate Change: Scientists say that climate change could cut food production in parts of the world by 50% in the next 12 years. But that isn't just a matter for the future:

* Australia is normally the world's second-largest exporter of grain, but a savage multi-year drought has reduced the wheat crop by 60% and rice production has been completely wiped out.
* In Bangladesh in November, one of the strongest cyclones in decades wiped out a million tonnes of rice and severely damaged the wheat crop, making the huge country even more dependent on imported food.

Other examples abound. It's clear that the global climate crisis is already here, and it is affecting food.

Agrofuels: It is now official policy in the U.S., Canada and Europe to convert food into fuel. U.S. vehicles burn enough corn to cover the entire import needs of the poorest 82 countries.[4]

Ethanol and biodiesel are very heavily subsidized, which means, inevitably, that crops like corn (maize) are being diverted out of the food chain and into gas tanks, and that new agricultural investment worldwide is being directed towards palm, soy, canola and other oil-producing plants. This increases the prices of agrofuel crops directly, and indirectly boosts the price of other grains by encouraging growers to switch to agrofuel.

As Canadian hog producers have found, it also drives up the cost of producing meat, since corn is the main ingredient in North American animal feed.

Oil Prices: The price of food is linked to the price of oil because food can be made into a substitute for oil. But rising oil prices also affect the cost of producing food. Fertilizer and pesticides are made from petroleum and natural gas. Gas and diesel fuel are used in planting, harvesting and shipping.[5]

It's been estimated that 80% of the costs of growing corn are fossil fuel costs — so it is no accident that food prices rise when oil prices rise.

* * *

By the end of 2007, reduced investment in the third world, rising oil prices, and climate change meant that production growth was slowing and prices were rising. Good harvests and strong export growth might have staved off a crisis — but that isn't what happened. The trigger was rice, the staple food of three billion people.

Early this year, India announced that it was suspending most rice exports in order to rebuild its reserves. A few weeks later, Vietnam, whose rice crop was hit by a major insect infestation during the harvest, announced a four-month suspension of exports to ensure that enough would be available for its domestic market.

India and Vietnam together normally account for 30% of all rice exports, so their announcements were enough to push the already tight global rice market over the edge. Rice buyers immediately started buying up available stocks, hoarding whatever rice they could get in the expectation of future price increases, and bidding up the price for future crops. Prices soared. By mid-April, news reports described "panic buying" of rice futures on the Chicago Board of Trade, and there were rice shortages even on supermarket shelves in Canada and the U.S.

Why the rebellion?

There have been food price spikes before. Indeed, if we take inflation into account, global prices for staple foods were higher in the 1970s than they are today. So why has this inflationary explosion provoked mass protests around the world?

The answer is that since the 1970s the richest countries in the world, aided by the international agencies they control, have systematically undermined the poorest countries' ability to feed their populations and protect themselves in a crisis like this.

Haiti is a powerful and appalling example.

Rice has been grown in Haiti for centuries, and until twenty years ago Haitian farmers produced about 170,000 tonnes of rice a year, enough to cover 95% of domestic consumption. Rice farmers received no government subsidies, but, as in every other rice-producing country at the time, their access to local markets was protected by import tariffs.

In 1995, as a condition of providing a desperately needed loan, the International Monetary Fund required Haiti to cut its tariff on imported rice from 35% to 3%, the lowest in the Caribbean. The result was a massive influx of U.S. rice that sold for half the price of Haitian-grown rice. Thousands of rice farmers lost their lands and livelihoods, and today three-quarters of the rice eaten in Haiti comes from the U.S.[6]

U.S. rice didn't take over the Haitian market because it tastes better, or because U.S. rice growers are more efficient. It won out because rice exports are heavily subsidized by the U.S. government. In 2003, U.S. rice growers received $1.7 billion in government subsidies, an average of $232 per hectare of rice grown.[7] That money, most of which went to a handful of very large landowners and agribusiness corporations, allowed U.S. exporters to sell rice at 30% to 50% below their real production costs.

In short, Haiti was forced to abandon government protection of domestic agriculture — and the U.S. then used its government protection schemes to take over the market.

There have been many variations on this theme, with rich countries of the north imposing "liberalization" policies on poor and debt-ridden southern countries and then taking advantage of that liberalization to capture the market. Government subsidies account for 30% of farm revenue in the world's 30 richest countries, a total of US$280 billion a year,[8] an unbeatable advantage in a "free" market where the rich write the rules.

The global food trade game is rigged, and the poor have been left with reduced crops and no protections.

In addition, for several decades the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have refused to advance loans to poor countries unless they agree to "Structural Adjustment Programs" (SAP) that require the loan recipients to devalue their currencies, cut taxes, privatize utilities, and reduce or eliminate support programs for farmers.

All this was done with the promise that the market would produce economic growth and prosperity — instead, poverty increased and support for agriculture was eliminated.

"The investment in improved agricultural input packages and extension support tapered and eventually disappeared in most rural areas of Africa under SAP. Concern for boosting smallholders' productivity was abandoned. Not only were governments rolled back, foreign aid to agriculture dwindled. World Bank funding for agriculture itself declined markedly from 32% of total lending in 1976-8 to 11.7% in 1997-9."[9]

During previous waves of food price inflation, the poor often had at least some access to food they grew themselves, or to food that was grown locally and available at locally set prices. Today, in many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, that's just not possible. Global markets now determine local prices — and often the only food available must be imported from far away.

* * *

Food is not just another commodity — it is absolutely essential for human survival. The very least that humanity should expect from any government or social system is that it try to prevent starvation — and above all that it not promote policies that deny food to hungry people.

That's why Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was absolutely correct on April 24, to describe the food crisis as "the greatest demonstration of the historical failure of the capitalist model."

What needs to be done to end this crisis, and to ensure that doesn't happen again? Part Two of this article will examine those questions.


[1] Kevin Pina. "Mud Cookie Economics in Haiti." Haiti Action Network, Feb. 10, 2008. http://www.haitiaction.net/News/HIP/2_10_8/2_10_8.html

[2] Tony Karon. "How Hunger Could Topple Regimes." Time, April 11, 2008. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1730107,00.html

[3] "The New Face of Hunger." The Economist, April 19, 2008.

[4] Mark Lynas. "How the Rich Starved the World." New Statesman, April 17, 2008. http://www.newstatesman.com/200804170025

[5] Dale Allen Pfeiffer. Eating Fossil Fuels. New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island BC, 2006. p. 1

[6] Oxfam International Briefing Paper, April 2005. "Kicking Down the Door." http://www.oxfam.org/en/files/bp72_rice.pdf

[7] Ibid.

[8] OECD Background Note: Agricultural Policy and Trade Reform. http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/52/23/36896656.pdf

[9] Kjell Havnevik, Deborah Bryceson, Lars-Erik Birgegård, Prosper Matondi & Atakilte Beyene. "African Agriculture and the World Bank: Development or Impoverishment?" Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, http://www.links.org.au/node/328

SE Euro candidates selected

Post 1,000!

Caroline has won the Euro MEP nomination for the South East (no surprise), followed by Keith Taylor and then yours truly.

Miriam drops from third which seems a shame given her economics work and I think it is a shame Nigel Tart isn't quite in the first 11 because he is a sterling camapigner on LGBT and TU stuff and election agent for Brighton.

seems to be Principal speakers get the posts...last time it was of course Caroline followed by the late and much lamented Mike Woodin...I was in position 8 then....

here is the announcement

Dear candidates,

We carried out the count today and the results are as follows:

1st place Caroline Lucas
2nd place Keith Taylor
3rd place Derek Wall
4th place Miriam Kennet
5th place Jason Kitcat
6th place Hazel Dawe
7th place Jonathan Essex
8th place Matthew Ledbury
9th place Steve Dawe
10th place Alan Francis

1st reserve Beverley Golden
2nd reserve Nigel Tart
3rd reserve Adrian Windisch
4th reserve John Pemberton

Congratulations to you all.

Best wishes,
Leo Littman ERRO

27 Apr 2008

My candidate sweeps up North Carolina delegates

Good news for the Green Party prospects in London with the Observer backing Sian

The traditional beneficiaries of protest voting - the Liberal Democrats - have failed to make an impact in the campaign. Their candidate, Brian Paddick, is undoubtedly a decent man, but he has been out of his depth as a politician. There is a stronger case to be made for casting 'first preference' votes for Siân Berry, the Green candidate. The party has already used its toehold on the London Assembly to wring green concessions worth millions of pounds out of the mayoral budget. A respectable score for Ms Berry, an intelligent and articulate advocate of her cause, would send a clear signal to whoever wins the mayoralty that London cares about environmental policy. It would also deprive the British National Party of fourth place, a small but notable step towards the mainstream.

even more excitement in the US where Cynthia is looking like a shoe in for the Presidential nomination....I have been invited to the party convention but I am currently not flying and I think the boat would take too much of dent out of my summer, having been ill I need to be out and about campaigning on this side of the Atlantic.

McKinney Poised for Green Nomination for President

By Matthew Cardinale


ATLANTA, Apr 22 (IPS) - With media attention focused almost exclusively on the dramatic contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, millions of U.S. voters probably have no inkling that there is a ballot option beyond the Democratic and Republican Parties.

"There needs to be room for a lot of policy threads in American discourse. But the corporate media is not informing the people," Cynthia McKinney, the front-runner for the Green Party presidential nomination, told IPS during a rare 90-minute interview.

Founded in 2001 as the successor of the Association of State Green Parties, the party's platform revolves around environmentalism, non-violence, social justice and grassroots organising. It has slightly more than 300,000 registered voters nationwide, and a standing ballot line in 20 states plus Washington, DC. In other states, the party must circulate petitions to get its candidates on the ballot.

McKinney, a former congressional representative from Georgia, abandoned the Democratic Party last year in disgust at its failure to end the U.S. troop presence in Iraq, and is now poised for a presidential run on the Green Party ticket.

She has won Green Party primaries in Arkansas, Illinois, and Washington, DC. Ralph Nader, who gave the party national stature as its candidate in 2000, won in California and Massachusetts, prior to announcing he is running as an Independent instead.

McKinney also won the Green state caucuses in Wisconsin and Rhode Island, and has a total of 71 delegates. Trailing candidates include Kent Mesplay (10 delegates), Howie Hawkins (8), Jesse Johnson (2) and Kat Swift (2).

The likelihood of McKinney winning the nomination at the party's national convention in Chicago this summer is "very high", Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News, told IPS, although he added that the Green Party will have a "one in a million" chance of winning the presidency this November.

"This country, even though it claims to be such a model, is one of the least democratic countries because election laws, campaign finance laws, and laws around debates openly discriminate against all parties except two parties [Republican and Democrat]," Winger said.

"In other countries, there is one set of [ballot access] laws," instead of 51 sets governing the 50 states and the capital, he said. "This is the only country that exempts the two biggest parties from having to qualify."

Scott McLarty, the national Green Party spokesperson, told IPS, "We would like to see our presidential ticket get five percent of the vote."

Despite the fact that winning is pretty much out of the question, many party activists are excited by the prospect of McKinney's campaign inspiring a "Black-Brown-Green Coalition".

"Of course you've got the situation that the Green Party is basically a party of whites. So they are extremely aware of that fact, except in Massachusetts and DC where they merged with the Rainbow Party. You have a little more people of colour in those two states," McKinney, who is African American, told IPS.

"There is a real need of the values of the Green Party to be known among all people of the country, not just a few," she said.

The Green Party admits this problem. "That's true except in certain locations. In DC, the Green Party membership is mostly black. Among leaders, there's a lot of diversity," said McLarty.

"Over the past couple decades, there has been a belief that the environmental movement is a white phenomenon and the Green Party has been associated with the environment even though we cover other things like health care and the war," he told IPS.

"On top of that, a lot of black voters have felt a very strong loyalty to the Democratic Party. When people feel strong loyalty to one party, they are less likely to support start-up parties," McLarty said.

"It's always been true of minor parties in U.S. You'd think African Americans would have been angry enough to leave the two major parties. Tradition goes back 100 years ago that African Americans are not interested in other parties," Winger said.

McKinney, McLarty, and Winger each have different ideas of how the Green Party should approach its political development.

"I asked for candidate recruitment because the purpose of a political party is to win office. They have successfully recruited more than 500 candidates," McKinney said.

However, the fact that the Green Party is not on the ballot in McKinney's home state "looks weak", Winger pointed out. Georgians will need to collect over 40,000 signatures by July to get McKinney on the ballot, Winger said, and they've only collected about 3,000.

"Some people have been out of the political system for a very long time," McKinney noted. "They made a choice to not be involved in the political process. After a series of disappointments, people made a rational choice. Unfortunately, the U.S. participation rates are well below that of other countries."

In recent years, Green parties have been racking up electoral successes around the world, particularly in Europe.

"The Green Party participated in the coalition that led in Germany and in Ireland and in the Kenyan Parliament," McKinney said. "The Green Party is international."

"We have a winner-take-all system in the U.S. that pushes conformity," she added. "Regressive ballot access laws in Georgia [and other states] prevent candidates from getting on the ballot."

"The Green Party is a political entity that deserves to be built," she said.

*This is the first of two articles about the U.S. Green Party and the 2008 elections.

Who will give birth to the electric car?

I have to come clean....yes I have had driving lessons (the test did not go well back in 2003 !) and when there is no bus, last one at 7.19 pm which neatly misses the train coming into Windsor at 7.22 ish, I have been forced to get a taxi to Cranbourne!


Seriously I guess electric cars fuelled by renewables have to be good and while I hate the usual biofuel (I was chanting sink the biofuel boat long before the rest of the world) I am keen on the concept of a chip fat oil mini cooper or a kebab house grease fuelled run around.

So I am interested in this email from Chris HOWEVER I still want localisation and tele work (instead of commuting) and good cheap public transport...hulking bits of metal on the road need to be minimised.

The Phoenix Motor company http://www.phoenixmotorcars.com of America are about to market an electric SUV that can do 95 Miles Per Hour and over 100 miles per charge. The normal charge takes several hours but a special 250 KW external charger can do it 10 minutes.

They are cheaper to run as they do more miles per pound and the servicing is less intensive as there is no oil to change nor filters to change. The only servicing is to keep the battery and the commutator or slip ring brushes up to scratch and one or two other things like windscreen wipers.

One advert says that batteries will soon be up to 1000 miles per charge.

I suggest now that electric cars are beginning to take off that we back standardisation of the external charging unit and their introduction into gas stations in this country.

They need to be about 40 miles apart to allow people to stop on longer journeys to charge their cars. I suggest that initially the price to charge the car is discounted and the cost of installing the charger subsidised by the government.

The first thing is to standardise the charger interface, the connector, the current and potential delivered.

Once this is done the popularity of electric cars will rise.

Additionally we could press for a guaranteed trade in price to scrap the petrol car and a subsidised electric car during the initial change over from petrol to battery car.

If we leave it the likelihood is that bio-fuels will come to dominate the market. We need to act before the biofuel disaster really takes off.

Remember money rules the world. Capitalism rules OK! Very Happy



25 Apr 2008

Greens on the London Assembly have delivered

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Vote for loveable Noel!":

If everyone who was thinking of voting Green next week, but just wasn't sure, met Noel Lynch they would be converted to hardcore Green voters instantly. Noel is a kind down to earth hard working man who would put the people first. It's a shame Noel can't simply knock on every door in London before the run up to the election!!

Vote Green- Vote Left

I think sadly that there is a real risk of Boris, so make sure you vote Sian 1 and then Ken, to stop Jeremy Clarkson's favourite politician from getting his hands on your tube,

and vote Green for Assembly we must get Noel back on...I am a paid up member of the Noel appreaciation society and I am not the only one.

Greens on the London Assembly have delivered

Greens have tripled the money available for supporting cyclists and walkers from £21 million to £63 million. Cycling on main roads in London has risen by 83% since 2000. This builds on London's position as the only major city in the world to have achieved a shift from private car use to public transport, walking and cycling.

Greens have secured an additional £18m over the next three years to deliver new waste and recycling facilities to ensure that London deals with the bulk of its own waste and to use the waste to produce renewable energy.

We have set up the London Living Wage Unit to tackle poverty pay - the contracts for building the Olympics aim to include the London Living Wage.

We have started the new Green Homes Service that supports Londoners who want to make their homes greener. As well as Transport for London's (TfL) £25m climate change mitigation funding, the London Development Agency now has a three-year £35m funding of Climate Change Action Plan projects such as the home insulation, Green homes, and the business-focussed Green 500 programmes.

We have secured the East London Green Grid, which will create the equivalent 29 Hyde Parks of new green space and protect the flood plains in east London.

We have doubled expenditure on road safety in London - our casualty rate has fallen faster than any other region in the country.

The Greens have also secured commitments from the current Mayor for major changes in the future. These include:

* Over £500m in the next ten years for new initiatives on cycling and walking.
* All new buses from 2010 onwards to be electric/diesel hybrids, producing a third less pollution.
* Training programs for green skills and a new emphasis on promoting green jobs in London.
* Boroughs will be given support and encouragement by TfL to adopt 20mph as the default speed limit across all residential areas.

With more elected Greens we can make more of a difference.
The 2008 budget agreement

Darren Johnson and Jenny Jones have made London a cleaner, greener and more affordable city. This has been achieved during the last four years by using their influence over the Mayor's budget. The London Mayor has outlined a series of policy changes, new initiatives and major projects in an annual budget agreement letter to the two green party assembly members.

This year's letter can be found at www.london.gov.uk/news/2008/letter-220108.

There is a press release from the Mayor's office, explaining the agreement, at www.london.gov.uk.

This year's budget letter was followed by more announcements on walking and cycling, which can be found at www.london.gov.uk.

Some questions for the Venezuelan socialist party

The Foundation of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV)
By Carlos Torchia
Carlos Torchia is a member of the Venezuela We Are With You Coalition and the New Socialist Group.

During the last 15 years Venezuelan people have greatly contributed to the struggle against capitalism and for a just society.

Firstly, the Bolivarian revolution has shown to the people of the world that is possible to challenge neoliberalism, which has devastated the lives of millions not only in the Third World but also in the countries of the centre, and successfully confront imperialism

Secondly, the Bolivarian revolution has restored the idea that socialism is needed to replace savage capitalism, which is threatening to annihilated humankind. The project "Socialism for the 21st Century" is beginning to resonate not only in Venezuela and Latin America but everywhere that people face exploitation, hunger and environmental degradation. The Venezuelan revolution has challenged the reactionary Margaret Thatcher's slogan TINA (There Is No Alternative – to capitalism).

Thirdly, the foundation of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) should be a key instrument not only for the Venezuelan revolution but also an asset for all of us. Why?

The idea of a revolutionary party has been discredited by the negative experience of the Communist parties in building the so-called "real socialism" or state socialism in the former USSR. Non-democratic and bureaucratic socialism was built upon the image and likeness of the party. On the other hand we have witnessed the bankruptcy of the Social Democratic parties, which have renounced to the idea of socialism, embracing neoliberalism. The victory of the socialist revolution in Venezuela and other countries needs the presence of a democratic revolutionary party, which should not substitute for the initiative of the people but rather to accompany it in building the new society. The foundation of the PSUV is intended as to be a step in this direction.
The foundation Congress of the PSUV seems to have taken into account the experience of the Worker's Party of Brazil (PT), which became a loose organization formed of various factions, which were in fact parties within the party. In the PT, the party leadership was divorced from its militants and the Brazilian people and had a free hand to move the party to the right, accepting neoliberalism as the only game in town. This type of party cannot be the instrument to help the masses to overthrow capitalism.
The anti neoliberal rebellions in Latin America, in Argentina in 2000-2002, and in Bolivia 2002 and 2005, scored formidable victories over the ruling classes, victories that paralysed their countries and expelled several presidents from office. Yet in the end the social movements were unable to unified all the segmented struggles in one national alternative to overthrow the rule of the capitalist class. This unifying tool, the revolutionary party of the oppressed, was absent in the case of Argentina and Bolivia anti neoliberal rebellions.
The foundation congress of the PSUV

The foundation of the PSUV is a significant step in the task of giving a unified direction to the Venezuelan people in the struggle of resolve the contradiction between capitalism and socialism. That is why a number of different socialist tendencies decided to join the new party.

President Hugo Chavez sensing this urgency, proclaimed: "The PSUV is born, destined to make history." Assessing the Congress outcome, Chavez said that the foundation of the Party signifies a "revolution within the revolution… [The party] fundamental role is to be…the biggest guarantee of [the revolution's] permanence".[1]

President Chavez called for the creation of the party on December 15, 2006, to unify the revolutionary forces in the country and to integrate in one body the heterogeneous electoral movement that had supported him from the beginning. From April to June 2007, some 5.7 million Venezuelans responded to Chávez's call to support this party. This was an astonishing development in a country that had no tradition of popular political participation in mass parties, a country in which for 50 years the masses had been excluded from politics that was only the privilege of the elites. This massive response constituted a great achievement of the Bolivarian revolution, at time when in the so-called western democracies people reject participation in party politics. Cells of 300 or more people formed a local battalion. Seven to 12 battalions in a district came together to form socialist circumscriptions or districts (or communes). From these districts 1,674 delegates to the founding congress were elected.

It can be said was that the party was being founded from below, even though the initial call was issued from above.

The congress sessions were held from January to March 2008. There was a democratic and tense exchange in the discussion of key documents such as the declaration of principles, program and statutes. The congress was a battleground as delegates representing grass roots organizations seeking to deepen the process confronted the bureaucratic and right-wing sectors seeking to put brake to the revolution. In the end these right-wing forces suffered a setback.

The congress approved a clear anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist platform. The right-wing delegates had wanted to eliminate the anti-capitalist stance.

The program discussed by the congress affirmed that

"the aim is to move towards a communal state socialism, with the strategic objective of totally neutralizing the law of value within the functioning of the economy… [The objective] is to end poverty, giving power to the poor… the people… [to] build a government based on Councils of Popular Power, where workers, peasants, students and popular masses are direct protagonists in the exercising political power… [promoting] democracy and an assembly-based culture within the party and in all spheres where it is present (communities, work fronts, areas of study, activity etc.)… [to] struggle to make self-government a reality [in] cities, communal councils and communes as the basic political units…"[2]

Tensions appeared also with regard to democratic participation, transparency and the way the congress was conducted, specifically in regard of the election of the leadership. Some delegates expressed that was necessary to "profoundly revise the internal processes that during the founding congress have unfolded…[3]

A heated discussion was also held on the subject of corruption and bureaucracy. In this respect a strong paragraph was included in the declaration of principles: "The inefficiency in the exercise of public power, bureaucratism, the low level of participation of the people in the control and management of government, corruption and widening gap between the people and government, threaten to undermine the trust that the people have placed in the Bolivarian revolution."

According to General Alberto Muller Rojas, a close ally of president Chavez and one of the party vice-presidents, bureaucratism is the most significant enemy of the revolution, even more dangerous than the imperialist and right wing threats, because tends to create a new class that makes party life (and society) much more rigid. This was exactly what happened in the former USSR.

PSUV Leadership

The great diversity of the party was reflected in the composition of the elected leadership: afro-descendents, indigenous, whites, and youth with a variety of different political positions. The leadership, which was elected for a one-year term, consists mainly of cadres that supported president Chavez from the beginning of the revolutionary process. The elected leadership represents a happy medium between the most radical delegates and the moderate ones. Hugo Chavez was elected president of the PSUV.

The party is rich in currents and tendencies, although they do not constitute factions. (This should mean that all the its militants are bound to the party's decisions.) In the party coexist Marxist, Christian and American indigenous cosmovisions.

The tasks ahead for the PSUV

According to General Muller Rojas, the main task is to organize the party territorially either on the basis of radical geography, which consider a special territorial division that take into consideration cultural and economic plurality in regions, or following the traditional Venezuelan state territorial division. In any case the party must have a presence in the whole Venezuelan territory.

Second, the PSUV must build an alliance with the Patriotic Pole, even though many of its members are militants of the PSUV. The Patriotic Pole groups political organizations that have their own history, traditions and space, such as the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) Fatherland for All (PPT) and the People's Electoral Movement (MEP). According to General Muller Rojas, to forge and alliance between the PSUV and the Patriotic Pole is necessary to push ahead the socialist transformation of Venezuela.[4]

Third, the relationship between Chavez's government and the party is symbiotic. The party is not merely the external support to the Bolivarian government. The party should be the promoter, the driving force of the revolution policies, in the understanding that the government does not dictate what to do to the party, but rather both government and party should work together and with the social movements.

Fourth, The PSUV should reduce the role of bureaucracy and maximize the role of ad-hoc structures. The political cadres of PSUV must commit themselves more to "ad-hoc-cracy" than to bureaucracy, when they work supporting governmental plans in health, educational or the economic field.

In sum, after the foundation congress PSUV's militants have a chance to build a political party to help the people make irreversible the transition to socialism in Venezuela. This will require breaking the capitalist bureaucratic state and replacing it with the communal state based in people's power, and resisting imperialist intervention. The PSUV's cadres could make a great contribution in restoring the credibility of the concept of a revolutionary party in the eyes of the oppressed of the planet. If the PSUV succeeds in these goals it should be an invaluable contribution of Venezuelan people to the struggle for socialism in the planet.

Pending issues and questions

Given the fact, that as General Muller Rojas stated, a party cannot be built in one year, it is understandable that President Chavez has been elected president of the PSUV. However, in the future this situation should change.
The same cautionary note would apply regarding the power that the congress gave to president Chavez to appoint five vice-president to the party's leadership (among them General Muller Rojas)
It should be clearly understood that the PSUV is not the government and that the party's role should be "the political controller of the objectives of the government and will keep a watch over it to ensure these objectives are carried out," as the programmatic platform proposed.
Five of 15 elected members of the executive committee are women. Will further progress be made in integrating women into the leadership of the party at all levels?
What about the presence of the organized working class in the congress?
Are capitalist elements still being admitted as members of the party? Are there capitalist elements in the party's leadership?



[1] Fuentes, Federico. "The PSUV is born, destined to make history" http://www.socialistvoice.ca/?p=269

[2] Venezuela: Draft program and principles of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) p. 3 http://www.links.org.au/node/261

[3] http://www.socialistvoice.ca/2p=269

[4] United Party of Venezuela is an Instrument for Socialism. Pp. 4-5. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/3295


Got sent this, spread the word

By the way I am better health wise so trying to do a few things...last saturday had the Morning Star conference on globalisation, yesterday spoke to the Sustainable Development Commission about commons/social sharing....still being quite gentle with myself cos the bone needs another month to heal but fingers crossed can see usual eco hyperactive kicking back in.

any way enough of me on to the gardening...

'This is really beautiful! Check it out!'



also Guerilla garden blog here...http://current.com/pods/tba/PD05735

23 Apr 2008

Vote for loveable Noel!

From the left of centre London Strategic Voter website some strong support.

Joseph Healy

The London-wide top-up seats

Again, we aren’t recommending tactical voting in this election, but if you
must, the key consideration in the vote for the London-wide top-up seats
is whether the party you are considering supporting is likely to clear the
5% hurdle to get one Assembly member elected. If it isn’t likely to, then
in tactical voting terms (your vote’s effectiveness in determining the
result), you have wasted your vote.

So which left of New Labour parties are likely to clear the 5% hurdle?
Polls are difficult to come by, as the mainstream media focuses solely on
the Mayoral race. At LSV our guess is that both the Lib Dems and the
Greens will clear the hurdle comfortably, but that Left List, Respect
(George Galloway) and Unity for Peace & Socialism will struggle to do so.

The Greens won 2 top up seats in 2004 (Darren Johnson and Jenny Jones) on
8.37% of the vote, down from 3 on 10.52% of the vote in 2000. The Greens
are going out and out to win 3 seats, which would put lovable Noel Lynch
back into the London Assembly. If they can win four, then this would put
Sian Berry into the Assembly.

The Lib Dems won 5 top-up seats on 16.5% of the vote in 2004, up from 4 on
14.05% in 2000. London Strategic Voter’s view is that the trade of two
fairly anonymous Lib Dem Assembly members for Noel Lynch and Sian Berry
would certainly be an excellent, as both would be excellent Assembly
members and would make an infinitely greater positive impact on the
Assembly than the LibDems.

Respect just missed out on a seat in 2004, getting 4.57% of the vote, just
0.43% short of the threshold. If Respect hadn’t split, then there would
have been an excellent chance of getting Lindsey German, their top of the
list candidate, elected. But now it is hard to see how a split vote, that
will leave both Left List and Respect (George Galloway) well short of the
5% threshold, can be avoided. In many ways this is a private battle
between the two halves of Respect to determine who has the most support
following the split. The manifesto policies of Left List and Respect (GG)
are pretty much the same as each other (whilst refreshingly different from
those of the other parties - underlining the daftness of splitting).

The prospects for Lindsey German and the Left List look bleak. Meanwhile,
Respect (George Galloway) have thrown their biggest gun, George Galloway
himself, into the fray. Can George get over the 5% threshold? Given his
huge - and richly deserved - popularity amongst the Muslim community in
London, and his very high recognition factor amongst all Londoners
(admittedly mostly as a tabloid hate figure, but increasingly as a “top
cat” Talk Radio phone-in host), it perhaps cannot be ruled out. Galloway
is asking Londoners the question, can you name a single London Assembly
member? And there is no doubt that they would be able to if he was
elected. As a former Parliamentarian of the Year, elected by other MPs
most of whom hate his views, George Galloway would bring a class of
heavyweight political talent, skill and rhetorical flourish to the task of
holding the Mayor to account that has never before been seen on the London

Is George Galloway worth voting for? Of course, theoretically, but the
problem is, how many Londoners know he is running for the Assembly, given
the media focus on the Mayoral race? In tactical terms, the problem for
London progressive voters is whether a vote for George Galloway would be a
wasted vote that could cost the Greens an extra seat on the Assembly.
Views and feedback are sought at lsvoter@hotmail.co.uk.
Dear Shelter Supporters,

As you may already know, Shelter works are returning to strike action this week.
Following our strike action in March, Shelter management agreed to return to talks at ACAS, where they made a revised offer to staff.
This offer, far from resolving the dispute, poured oil onto troubled waters. Further details can be found in the attached leaflet.
Union members were balloted on whether to accept or reject the offer. It was made very clear that in order to improve the package on the
table, further escalated strike action would be necessary. Members voted to do just that - escalate strike action.

Shelter workers will be on strike across England and Scotland on Thursday 24th and Friday 25th April.
We have timed our action on 24th to coincide with the NUT, PCS and UCU strikes on the same day. In many locations we will picket our Shelter offices and then join the demonstrations and rallies with our colleagues in the the other unions.

This is a significant week in our dispute at Shelter: the first batch of dismissal notices issued to staff opposing the cuts are due to expire today. Those staff members are being told if they want to continue in their jobs, they have to sign new contracts on inferior terms and conditions.

Please find attached details of our picket lines. Do come along and support us if you possibly can.

Best wishes,

Elizabeth O'Hara
on behalf of Shelter stewards

Shelter dispute – Thursday 24th and Friday 25th April 2008

Picket lines

Shelter staff are taking a further strike action on Thursday and Friday this week.
There will be picket lines at the following locations.

Please come support us.

Shelter Head Office
88 Old St
London EC1V 9HU
At junction of Old St and Whitecross St

Thursday 24th - From 7.30am – 10.30am at Old St, then at 11am joining NUT/PCS/UCU march from Lincoln’s Inn Fields to Westminster Central Hall for rally.

Friday 25th – From 7.30am – 2pm at Old St

Furnival House
Furnival Gate
S1 4QP

From 7.30am

Yorkshire & North East Regional Office
Ludgate Chambers
Ludgate Hill
From 7am

Midlands & East Regional Office
4th Floor
Gateway House
50 – 53 High Street
B4 7SY
From 8am – 10.15am and then again from 12 noon – 2pm

Manchester Housing Aid Centre and North West Regional Office
Ground Floor
Victoria House
119 Princess Street
M1 7AG
From 7.30am

Head Office (Scotland)
Scotiabank House
6 South Charlotte Street
From 7.30am

Glasgow HAC
First Floor Suite 2
Breckenridge House
274 Sauchiehall Street
G2 3EH
From 8am

Here is what I put out a couple of weeks ago:


Dr. Derek Wall


Press Office

Shelter strike gains Green Party support and backing

5th Mar 2008

The tendering of services via the market is a way of cutting wage costs and increasing poverty rather than increasing efficiency

Green Party Principal Speaker Dr. Derek Wall today pledged Green Party support for the workers of the housing charity Shelter, who are today taking industrial action after Shelter managers demanded staff work an extra two and a half hours a week without additional pay - lost income worth an average of £1,700 per person over a year.

Despite Shelter's 2007 annual report revealing an annual income of £49.1m, with staff costs of £27.7m,(1) the charity's Chief Executive Adam Sampson emailed Shelter employees informing them: 'Those who decide that they are not prepared to work under the new arrangements will, with regret, be issued with notices of dismissal.'

Dr. Wall said

"Workers at Shelter are taking industrial action because they have been told by the homeless charity that their wages must be cut. The Green Party of England and Wales supports the strikers, and calls on Shelter to reject pay cuts for its hard working staff.

"The tendering of services via the market is a way of cutting wage costs and increasing poverty rather than increasing efficiency. It simply widens the gap between rich and poor in Britain.

"It is richly ironic that a charity that seeks to deal with one symptom of poverty in the form of homelessness, has become part of a New Labour approach that will increase poverty."

St George in Palestine

A Palestinian St George works for liberation of Palestine, I like this image...its from the Socialist Unity blog, I think from a school girl in Palestine...

No dragons were hurt in the construction of this image...

St George; Palestinian rebel for human rights.

St George – Multicultural icon

Rebel against Roman tyranny

Human rights defender London and Oxford – 23 April 2008

"St George's Day should be a national holiday in England. We should celebrate St George as a symbol of freedom, dissent andmulticulturalism," says human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. "It is time we ditched the myths surrounding St George and celebrated the reality of his courageous life. "He doesn't belong to the far right. He represents multiculturalism and rebellion against tyranny. "St George wasn't white or English. He was a rebel from the Middle East. His father was Turkish and his mother probably Palestinian. Here relled against the Roman Emperor Diocletian and was executed for opposing the persecution of Christians by the Romans. "An early defender human rights, he is a heroic symbol of protest andthe right to freedom of belief and expression. "St George's parentage embodies multiculturalism and his life expresses the values of English liberalism and dissent," said MrTatchell.

Further information: Peter Tatchell 020 7403 1790 -- NOTE: Please do not reply via this automated email system. If you want to respond to this email, or at any time to contact Peter,please email him at his NEW email address - peter@petertatchell.net Peter Tatchell is the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford Eastwww.greenoxford.com/peter and www.petertatchell.net

PETER TATCHELL HUMAN RIGHTS FUND Donations are requested to help Peter Tatchell's campaigns promotinghuman rights, democracy and global justice. Peter is unpaid andreceives no grants. He depends on donations from friends andsupporters. Please make cheques payable to: "Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund". Send to: PTHRF, PO Box 35253, London E1 4YF To download a donation form or a standing order mandate, go toDonations at: www.tatchellrightsfund.org For information about Peter Tatchell's campaigns: www.petertatchell.net

Camper van Beethoven on renewables

Toby is a great guy, he worked really hard to get Caroline Lucas re-elected and campaigned against the evil incinerator in Slough.

He sent me a link to his blog on his use of renewables.

I don't camper van myself, I am still off of even my push bike...I seeing a lot more of the bus between Cranbourne Hall where I live and Windsor...any way on to Toby.

What's your point then?

I'm writing what I could have really done with knowing a few years ago ... how to set up a practical renewable energy system for a campervan/caravan. We spend nearly a month of every year in our beloved Bedford CF, either at festivals or at campsites in the UK or France. We can be parked up for a while, and more than once we were stranded in darkness after our batteries gave up. I toyed with the idea of getting a solar panel, but really, really, didn't give it much thought.

If you want to take the skinheads bowling click here.

22 Apr 2008

The cultural commons

Chet Bowers has kindly let me post his essay on education and the commons.

To save ecosystems and to serve humanity, we must defend, extend and deepen the commons...see what you think and spread the world, a world behind fences is a world with cancer....there is a cure. Most policy makers advocate taking more of the poison

Title: Revitalizing the Cultural Commons in an Era of Political
and Ecological Uncertainties

Author: Chet Bowers, Eugene, OR.

The “commons” and “enclosure” are two words that should frame the issues being addressed by environmentalists, educators, politicians, and citizens concerned about the deepening ecological crises. These words refer to fundamental relationships that existed within human communities and between humans and the natural environment even before the beginning of religions and myths of origins. The significance of the commons has become even more critical today as economic globalization is rapidly enclosing the diversity of the world’s commons, forcing more people to become participants in a money economy at the very time that the degradation of natural systems threaten species with extinction, and when the local economies that have a smaller ecological footprint are being overtaken by capitalist economies that benefit the few while further impoverishing the many.
The commons are now gaining the attention of academics, but to most of them the commons refers only to those aspects of the environment that have not been privatized, turned into a commodity, or require participating in the money economy. There are now over14,000 scholarly articles on the environmental commons written by academics listed in the Digital Library of the Commons—and there are an increasing number of conferences focused on how the environmental commons are being enclosed by advances in techno-science and market forces. For the first humans living in the savannahs of what we now call Africa, the environmental commons included the water, plants, animals, and the land—and the access and use was available to all members of the group. What is seldom discussed by academics, and not at all by today’s politicians, are the cultural commons. Indeed, the phrase “cultural commons” has only recently come into our vocabulary—even though what it refers to were the cultural practices that began with the first humans—spoken language, medicinal knowledge of plants, narratives, ceremonies, strategies for cooperating in the hunt, art, norms governing marriage, behaviors that violated the community’s moral expectations, and so forth. In effect, the cultural commons includes what we more conventionally think of as culture. And just as all cultural beliefs and practices have an impact on the viability of the natural environment, the distinction I am introducing by using the two phrases of “cultural commons” and the “environmental commons” should be understood as the former being nested in the latter—indeed, dependent upon the viability of the latter.
As mentioned at the outset, the current way of interpreting the commons to mean only the environment has the effect of marginalizing an awareness of the today’s cultural commons—including the many ways the cultural commons contribute to a smaller ecological footprint. By overlooking the cultural commons, the different forces of enclosure that should be resisted are being ignored. Readers may wonder why the words culture and community are not used. The reason is that these more familiar words lack the inherent tension that exists between the cultural and environmental commons, and the forces of enclosure. The words commons and enclosure are like two sides of the same coin—one side cannot be fully understood without an awareness of the other side. The coin metaphor is limited however as the forces of enclosure have from the beginning threatened access to both the cultural and environmental commons. The early introduction of status systems, social hierarchies, gender and racial biases, privatizing, monetizing, commoditizing, linguistic silences, ideologies, and so forth continually threaten what members of the community share in common—both in terms of the symbolic culture and in sharing the life sustaining characteristics of the natural environment. The word “enclosure” is often associated with the enclosure movement in England that coincided with the rise of the Industrial Revolution. This involved the abolishment of communal rights to pasture flocks and for free access and use of the natural resources of the untilled portions of the lord’s estate; it also involved evicting the peasants thus forcing them to become wage earners. What is often overlooked in associating enclosure with the environmental commons is that many of the communal and intergenerational traditions of the peasants relating to food, medicinal knowledge, crafts, ceremonies, norms governing moral relationships, and so forth, were also lost as the people were transformed into a work force that had to adapt to the requirements of the industrial system of production and consumption.
While the enclosure movement in England provides a powerful analogy for understanding today’s incessant efforts of market liberals to commodify every imaginable aspect of the environmental and cultural commons, associating the process of enclosure with transforming what is freely shared among the members of the community into a market relationship leads to a limited understanding of the other forces of enclosure. Enclosure can also be associated with different forms of loss that further undermine the traditions of community self-reliance. These may take the form of words and narratives that have been lost to the vocabulary of the community, such as “wisdom” which has now been displaced by “data” and “information” , and “privacy” which is now subordinated to fighting “terrorism”. Other examples of enclosure or loss of what was previously shared in common include craft knowledge that is being replaced by computer driven machines, the narratives of labor and civil rights struggles that are forgotten or repressed out of fear of the further outsourcing of jobs. Enclosure, when understood as a loss and thus as a transformation in the community’s traditions of self-sufficiency and mutual support, also takes place through the silences—including what is no longer remembered or thought significant. The loss of memory then impacts the people’s ability to think critically about what needs to be conserved and what need to be changed—which is essential to local democracy. Given the adverse ecological impact of a consumer dependent culture, it is important to recognize the enclosure of a wide range of intergenerational knowledge that is less dependent upon consumerism --ranging from the preparation of food, craft knowledge, creative arts, ceremonies, civil liberties (particularly relevant in our culture) to language itself.
The continual efforts to intergenerationally renew the traditions of the cultural commons (some of which were and still are sources of injustice and environmentally destructive practices) are very much related to the challenges facing today’s communities. The market liberal ideology now being promoted on a global scale, as Naomi Klein documents in her book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007), is magnifying the double bind where the intergenerational knowledge and skills that enabled people to live less consumer dependent and less environmentally destructive lives is being replaced by the myth of progress and the seductions of a consumer lifestyle that fewer and fewer people will be able to afford—especially as the scarcities caused by a rapidly degraded environment raises the cost of basic food and shelter needed to sustain daily life.
As the focus of today’s politicians and community leaders should be on revitalizing the local cultural commons as a way of reducing our ecological footprint, it is necessary to identify the daily manifestations of the cultural commons that people participate in largely at a taken for granted state of awareness. It is also be necessary to discuss the many ways in which the local commons are being enclosed in ways that go beyond the earlier (and still existing) forms of enclosure that were based on gender, ethnic, class, and linguistic differences. People are empowered by the traditions of the cultural commons when they rely upon the many forms of intergenerational knowledge of how to grow, prepare and preserve food, when they expect that their lives will be protected by habeas corpus and the rights guaranteed in the Constitution, when they engage in local decision making about conserving the environmental commons and about expanding on the social justice achievements of the past, when they participate in the expressive arts –including ceremonies and narratives that lead to a sense of being part of a moral and interdependent community, when they engage others in the games and crafts, and learn to think within the language of the community into which they are born, and so forth. The cultural commons exist in every community, and are as diverse as the world’s cultures.
However, we should avoid romanticizing the cultural commons, as the narratives and daily practices may be based on intergenerational traditions that exclude and exploit groups based on gender, class, ethnic, religious differences. The traditions of racial and gender discrimination were (and still are) part of the cultural commons of many communities across America, just as honor killings and child brides are still part of the cultural commons of many Middle Eastern cultures. The vocabulary that carries forward the patterns of thinking of the past, and is largely taken for granted even by an environmentalists such as when E. O Wilson refers to the brain as a machine (which goes back the mechanistic patterns of thinking originating in the early days of Western science), also needs to be understood as part of the cultural commons. Even when the cultural commons perpetuate inequities and even environmentally destructive practices, there may be other aspects of the local cultural commons that are the basis of a less consumer dependent lifestyle. Examples that easily come to mind are the rich traditions of folk music and story telling that are part of the cultural commons in parts of the country that were also deeply racists. Therefore. it is specially important to recognize what needs to be conserved and intergenerationally renewed, and what needs to be reformed or entirely abandoned.
Today’s political discourse is silent about how the forms of enclosure are forcing people to become more dependent upon a money economy in an era of outsourcing, downsizing, and automation. Even though some democrats are questioning the market liberal inspired re-ordering of the nation’s previous commitment to address the needs of the poor and marginalized, they fail to take account of how public schools and universities perpetuate the same deep cultural assumptions that underlie the modern forms of enclosure. Nor are they addressing the fundamental life-threatening changes taking place in the natural systems such as how the chemistry of the world’s oceans are becoming more acidic—thus threatening the viability of marine ecosystems that are the basis of the food chain. While scientists are reporting on how global warming is affecting the growing season in different regions of the world, the spread of droughts, the melting of glaciers that are the source of water for hundreds of millions of people living in the valleys below—all of which impact the viability of local economies, including the cultural commons that have been adapted to the sustaining characteristics of the bioregion, the politicians remain silent. This silence represents yet another form of enclosure of local decision making about the critical issues that are threatening the traditions of community self-sufficiency.
Critical to reducing the ecological footprint of humans is the need to sustain the diversity of the world’s cultural and environmental commons. A recent development that makes this especially difficult is the way in which the computers are being promoted on a global basis without any awareness of the form of individualism reinforced by this technology—or the forms of intergenerational knowledge and relationships that cannot be digitized. Another major reason that conserving what remains of the world’s diversity of cultural and environmental commons will be especially difficult can be traced to what is being taught in public schools and universities—which will be discussed later. A source of hope is that there are ongoing efforts to limit the forces of enclosure. For example, conserving social justice traditions are being addressed by local groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, by groups working with the homeless and segments of the community lacking food security. Other traditions of the cultural commons are being renewed by artists who are mentoring youth living on the streets; by parents, restaurant chefs, and other groups in the slow food movement that are working to pass on the traditions of eating locally grown food rather than being dependent upon industrial food transported an average of over 1500 miles; by various forms of volunteerism in helping the sick, poor, and elderly to improve the quality of their daily lives, and by immigrants who continue, in their condition of mutually shared scarcity, their traditions of mutual support—including their indigenous gardens.
The variety of groups working to revitalize the environmental and cultural commons can be documented by a survey of activists in almost any community in North America. In many areas of the cultural commons, the revitalization is being done by older people who have retired and are finding new interests and talents in the various expressive arts and in working in one of the traditions of craft knowledge. Professionals from a variety of specializations are increasingly working to strengthen other traditions of the cultural commons—often by working in non-monetized relationships. There are thousands of books that address how to revitalize different aspects of the cultural and environmental commons—on a local and practical basis. Unfortunately, the influence of these efforts to renew the local cultural commons has not reversed the expansion of the markets, including the new forms of enclosure that are increasing people’s dependence upon what has to be purchased. The connections between the processes of enclosure and the rise of poverty and environmental destruction can be seen in the current level of credit-card indebtedness , the increasing number of bankruptcies and people dependent upon local food banks, the amount of waste going into the local land fills, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere, the number of hours that youth and adults spend on computer gains and in cell phone conversations .
The current threat to the cultural and environmental commons brings us back to one of the problems identified at the outset: namely, that the importance of commons are not understood by most students who graduate from public schools and universities. Aside from the environmental commons that students encounter in their science and environmental education classes, and which do not usually engage students in a critical examination of the cultural assumptions that underlie behaviors and policies that degrade the local and global ecosystems, the nature of the cultural commons is one of the most critical areas of silence in their formal education. The questions thus become: what are the reasons for students graduating from public schools and universities without a knowledge of how to reduce their dependence upon a industrial/consumer dependent lifestyle? Why do the cultural forces of enclosure continue to dominate in spite of the efforts of writers such as Wendell Berry, Vandana Shiva, Barbara Kingsolver, and even religious texts that are calling attention to the need to conserve the bio-diversity of God’s creation? Why do the efforts of people working to find less carbon producing approaches to food, shelter, and transportation go largely unnoticed by the majority of graduates ? As more of the Baby Boom generation discover that their individually managed 401K plan (which is part of strategy of corporations for increasing profits) will be inadequate for their retirement years, the failure of public schools and universities to educate them about how the local cultural commons represent alternatives to a life style dependent upon a money economy will take on more significance. These are the questions that public school teachers and university faculty should be considering.
Outside of the environmental sciences, where students are engaged in more activist efforts to conserve what remains of the local biodiversity, the small number of faculty in the social sciences, humanities, and in some professional schools are beginning to address the ecological crises by adding to their courses the writings of environmentalists such as Aldo Leopold, Wendell Berry, Berry Lopez, Rachel Carson, Vandana Shiva, and so on. These reading are important because they increase student awareness of the need to live in more sustainable relationships with natural systems. Unfortunately, they do not provide students with the practical knowledge of sustainable living practices they will need after graduation. In effect, the efforts of local groups to revitalize both the local cultural and environmental commons are not being passed on to students. There are several reasons for this, with the major one being that most faculty continue to think and teach within the discipline they learned from their graduate school experience and from colleagues in the discipline. Another reason is that practical knowledge is still looked upon by most academics in the social sciences and humanities as less important than the theory-based knowledge required in order to publish in the scholarly journals of their discipline (which is essential for promotion and acquiring tenure).
There is a more profound reason that students graduate from public schools and universities without an explicit knowledge of the local cultural commons, as well as knowledge of the world’s diversity of cultural commons that are being integrated into the global economy by market liberal ideologues--including the true-believers in the Chicago School of economics. In effect, students are left largely ignorant of the interconnections between the various forms of enclosure of the cultural commons and the increased vulnerability people are experiencing as governments and corporations pursue their efforts to globalize a free market economy. There is another problem that is even more difficult to recognize because it is rooted in linguistic traditions that are still taken for granted. Most students graduate with a distinct bias that prevents them from taking seriously the intergenerational knowledge, skills, and patterns of mutual support that sustain the local cultural commons. This bias is passed on in the language that students acquire as they are socialized to think within the language community of public school teachers and professors. The sources of the bias are critical to understanding why most students, and many faculty, take for granted the same cultural assumptions that gave conceptual direction and moral legitimacy to the Industrial Revolution. Understanding how the language continues to frame current ways of thinking, even supposedly cutting edge thinking, in terms of the cultural assumptions that were constituted before there was an awareness of environmental limits and the importance of adapting the cultural and environmental commons to what could be environmentally sustained, brings us to the important question of what educational reforms now need to be undertaken.
There are several reasons that make it difficult for market liberal and social justice liberal professors (even those who are adding environmental writers to their courses) to recognize the cultural assumptions that frame their taken for granted patterns of thinking. One of these difficulties is the widely held idea that language is a conduit in a sender/receive process of communication. Accepting this view of language, as I have pointed out in earlier essays, is essential to sustaining the myths that the rational process is uninfluenced by the taken for granted assumptions of the culture, and that objective data is obtained through observation and systems of measurement conducted by individuals who are able rid themselves of all cultural influences—including the metaphorically based language they rely upon to report their findings and to communicate with colleagues. How this conduit view of language sustains the myth of objective knowledge can be seen in how highly acclaimed scientists ignore the many ways culture influences thought, behaviors, and the silences that are ignored. The following predictions are examples of how the importance of cultural influences are ignored: Hans Moravec’s prediction that computers represent the next stage in the process of evolution, Gregory Stock’s prediction that computers are part of the process of natural selection that will lead to a global consciousness (and thus the elimination of the world’s diversity of languages—which would be a disaster), and Francis Crick’s prediction that scientists will shortly understand the nature of consciousness—and why some brains, which he refers to as machines, lead to various forms of creativity. Market liberals such as Milton Friedman, and his many followers, are also misled by the conduit view of language into ignoring differences in cultural ways of knowing—which leads them to promote the competitive lifestyle of the free enterprise system as the panacea for addressing the world’s problems. Examples of how the conduit view of language influences other disciplines and professional schools can easily be cited. The most egregious is the efforts of American and Canadian educators to promote the idea in Third World cultures that educational reforms should be based on the recognition that students learn best when they construct their own knowledge—which would have the effect of further undermining the intergenerational knowledge and skills that are the basis of the local cultural commons.
Another reason that most students graduate with the belief that the industrial/consumer dependent culture represents the future, and that the intergenerational knowledge of the local community represents the backwardness of tradition, is that the metaphorical nature of the language that is so much a part of their taken for granted patterns of thinking carries forward the misconceptions of earlier generations who were influenced by the assumptions of Western philosophers and social theorists—particularly the Enlightenment thinkers and their followers such as John Dewey, Milton Friedman, George Lakoff, and the many techno-scientists who are turning our genes, sources of food, healing practices, communication and entertainment into commodities that are, when the benefits are compared to the losses, both environmentally disruptive and sources of impoverishment for the majority of the world’s population.
The conduit view of language taken for granted by most academics hides the metaphorical layered nature of language, especially how the current meaning of words were framed by the choice of analogies made by earlier theorists who were unaware of different cultural ways of knowing, ecological limits, and that the cultural commons represented alternatives to a consumer dependent lifestyle. The theorists who succeeded in framing through their choice of analogies how much of our vocabulary is understood and used today anticipated what has become the mantra of today’s political leaders who advocate a continual process of change. That is, they shared the same assumptions that equated change with progress, and like both today’s market and social justice liberals, they gave little attention to what needs to be conserved beyond the dynamics of change itself. The result is that the analogies settled upon by Enlightenment theorists continue to frame the meaning of such words as individualism, tradition, conserving, and intergenerational knowledge. In short, the key words (metaphors) essential to a more balanced understanding of tradition, conserving, and intergenerational knowledge, non-monetized skills, and values-- which are essential to becoming aware of the cultural commons that people participate in as part of everyday life—carry forward the biases of the Enlightenment thinkers and their present-day followers. As the industrial/consumer culture sustains the current addiction for acquiring the latest cell phone, digital camera, and so forth, few youth are concerned about the silences and biases perpetuated in the metaphorical language that is being reinforced in classrooms.
There is another issue that has particular relevance to the discussion of why the enclosure of the cultural commons is being ignored. Basically, it has to do with how an educational process that privileges print over face to face communication contributes to relying upon abstractions that divert awareness from the many dimensions of embodied/culturally mediated experience—which include memory, meaning, imagination, values, intentionality, self-identity, moral reciprocity (or lack of it), physical sensations, and the need to give expression to these experiences. These aspects of embodied/culturally mediated experience always take place within a context of relationships—with others and with the environment.
Not only does print- based storage and communication reinforce a conduit view of language, marginalize awareness of local contexts and tacit understandings, and carry forward the analogies of earlier thinkers who framed the meaning of the words encountered on the page, it also has the effect of reducing awareness of one’s embodied experience in the cultural commons—which involve relationships, interdependencies, awakening of personal interests, development of talents and skills, and moral reciprocity that is the glue of community. And when participating in the cultural commons is taken for granted, and thus below the level of conscious awareness, there is no real basis for comparing experiences in the industrial/consumer dependent culture with experiences in the cultural commons. In effect, the individual will move between the two sub-cultures and view them as seamless when the latter is actually creating new forms of dependencies and impoverishment. The lack of awareness that the two cultures has profoundly different implications for the quality of daily life, and for achieving an ecologically sustainable future, leads in turn to a state of indifference to the further enclosing of both the cultural and environmental commons. Evidence of this can be seen in how most Americans accepted the recent enclosure of key civil rights, the right of workers to strike, the shift in social priorities as market liberals diverted funds to the military in order to promote their vision of an American empire.
Educational reformers must take seriously Einstein’s warning about the perils of double bind thinking. Double bind thinking can be seen in how the language that contributes to overshooting the sustaining limits of naturals systems is the same language that is reinforced in today’s public schools and universities—and even in courses that are addressing environmental issues. If the readers thinks this is an over generalization, they should check out whether the local professors and classroom teachers are encouraging students to identify culturally and ecologically informed analogies for changing how such words as individualism, progress, tradition, conserving (and conservatism), liberalism, intelligence, community, etc., are understood. More specifically, they should examine whether professors and teachers are challenging students to base their thinking on the new root metaphors of ecology and sustainability rather than taking for granted the root metaphors of progress, individualism, mechanism, anthropocentrism, economism that underlie the industrial/consumer oriented culture. That the root metaphors and analogies of the past can be replaced can be seen in how educators, after much prodding, discovered that the root metaphor of patriarchy and the analogies dictated by this root metaphor, were the basis of gender discrimination.
Briefly, teachers and professors need to help students to become explicitly aware of the differences in their embodied/culturally mediated experiences as they move between the culture of the commons and the culture of industrially driven consumerism. Success will depend in part on helping students become more aware of the many past misconceptions about language. This will include becoming aware that language is not a neutral conduit in a sender/receiver process of communication, that words have a history and, as metaphors, their meaning may carry forward the misconceptions of earlier times, that print-based thinking and communication contributes to relying more on abstractions than on embodied/culturally mediated experiences, and that the root metaphors that gave conceptual direction and moral legitimacy to the industrial revolution and to the current agenda of economic globalization, are accelerating the rate of global warming and other forms of environmental degradation. As most professors and classroom teachers are caught in this linguistic double bind, they will need the help of others in society who have a clearer understanding of how the linguistic double binds are being perpetuated—just as others helped professors and classroom teachers recognize the linguistic basis of gender and racial discrimination—including the colonization of other cultures.
In addition to the educational reforms that must be undertaken, revitalizing the cultural and environmental commons must be seen as the responsibility of various groups that make up American society. This responsibility must be shared by communities of faith, mentors in the various expressive arts, crafts ,and skills essential to the cultural commons, volunteers , and people dedicated to addressing issues of security in food and housing. People engaged in revitalizing the commons, even if they lack the theory framework that explains how the commons represent alternatives to a consumer dependent and environmentally destructive lifestyle, are modeling for youth the pathway that must be taken of we are to achieve a post-industrial future. But the effort to gain the attention of youth, especially in this era of hyper-consumerism, must engage them in cultural commons activities that lead to discovering their own interests, talents, and sense of being a valued member of an intergenerationally connected community. Complaining about the cell phone and computer addicted youth culture will not work. Educational reforms can help students develop the conceptual understanding of which aspects of the cultural commons and industrial/consumer dependent experiences contribute to a sustainable future, and provide the historical perspective on the different forces that are enclosing the diversity of the world’s cultural commons. But it is the members of the community who are intergenerationally renewing the cultural commons that need to reach out to youth.
Chet Bowers is the author of 19 books and a number of online books and articles that address the cultural roots of the ecological crisis. His website can be accessed at http://cabowers.net or by Googling C. A. Bowers

A Guide for Classroom Teachers and University Professors

Discussions of educational reforms that address how to revitalize the cultural commons as well as how to help students develop the communicative competence necessary for engaging in the political process of resisting various environmental and community forms of enclosure too often are met with indifference or a blank stare that indicates a lack of understanding. Why otherwise intelligent people are unable to recognize the community and ecological importance of the cultural commons can be traced to the way in which public schools and universities have relegated the knowledge and skills that sustain the cultural commons to such low status that they are left out of the curriculum. Thus, in order to discuss educational reforms that address how to revitalize the local cultural commons in an era of global warming and economic globalization, it is first necessary to have a clear understanding of the characteristics of the cultural commons and the different forms of enclosure. The following provides an introductory overview.

Key Characteristics of the Cultural Commons

• The cultural commons represent the largely non-monetized and non-commodified knowledge, skills, activities and relationships that exist in every community.

• They are part of the intergenerational legacy within communities that enable people to engage in activities and relationships that are largely outside of the mainstream consumer, money dependent culture.

• The cultural commons are intergenerationally passed along through face-to-face relationships that may include mentoring.

• The nature of the cultural commons vary from culture to culture, with ethnic groups often sharing aspects of the cultural commons with the dominant culture as well as maintaining their own cultural commons.

• The cultural commons of some cultures may be the source of unjust social practices, while in other cultures the cultural commons carry forward the traditions essential to civil liberties and democratic practices.

• The cultural commons are the basis of local economies and systems of mutual support that contrast sharply with the market system that is driven by the need to create a demand for the constant stream of new products.

• Participation in different aspects of the local cultural commons enables people to discover personal interests, develop skills, and to engage with others in ways that strengthen the sense of community belonging and responsibility.

• The cultural commons, in relying upon non-industrial approaches to production and consumption, have a smaller adverse impact on natural systems.

• The activities and skills that are expressions of the cultural commons connect the generations in ways that are profoundly different from relationships that characterize relationships in a consumer-oriented culture. Moral reciprocity, receptivity to intergenerational learning and mentoring, and an awareness of what needs to be conserved as essential to community identity and self-sufficiency are more easily learned.

• Embodied experiences in the cultural commons are more likely to strengthen the propensity to cooperate rather than to compete, and to lead to identifying oneself more in terms of mutually supportive relationships and personal talents rather than as an autonomous individual who relies upon consumerism as the marker of success.

• The cultural commons strengthen the patterns of mutual support and face-to-face relationships with a broader segment of the community, and thus strengthen the practice of local democracy.

• The cultural commons are under constant threat from ideological, techno-scientific developments, and efforts of the market system to incorporate different aspects of the cultural commons into the market system—thus transforming what remains of community self-sufficiency into dependence upon the market and a money economy.

Examples of Intergenerational Knowledge, Skills, Practices, and Activities Identified as the Cultural Commons: (this list will vary from community to community, and between ethnic groups within the community)

• Food: Growing, preparing, and ways of sharing food. Includes knowledge of growing conditions, recipes for preparing food, traditions of sharing food that strengthen family and ethnic solidarity.

• Healing Practices: Intergenerational knowledge of medicinal characteristics of plants, traditions of providing different forms of support for members of the community that have physical and emotional problems

• Creative Arts: Various forms of dance, theatre, poetry, writing, painting, sculpture, photography that involve community participation, development of interests and talents, and are only minimally dependent upon the market system of production and consumption.

• Narratives and ceremonies: The narratives that are expressions of community memory ranging from sports, achievements in the area of social justice, exemplary individuals who have made major contributions and those who had a destructive influence. Ceremonies that celebrate important events, religious traditions, and so forth. Important to passing on the moral values of the group and strengthening ethnic, working class, religious and other forms of group identity.

• Craft Knowledge and Skills: Activities that combine aesthetic judgment and skill in working with wood, metal, clay, jewelry, glass. Produces both useful objects as well as provides for individual expression that has a transformative effect on the quality of everyday life that raises it above the banal, what is routine and taken-for-granted.

• Games and Outdoor Activities: Intergenerational knowledge, skills, and moral guidelines carried forward in various games ranging from playing chess, cards, to football, track, tennis, and other games. Also, includes hiking, birding, camping, and so forth. Many of these activities increasingly are becoming commercialized and thus are being transformed in community destructive ways.

• Animal Husbandry and Care: Intergenerational knowledge about the care, breeding, and uses of different animals—from sheep dogs, horses, to household pets. Encompasses a wide range of knowledge about sources of feed, habits and traits of the animal, to how to treat physical and other forms of disabilities.

• Political Traditions: Democratic practices, traditions that protect civil liberties achieved in the past, modes of political discourse, moral codes that govern political outcomes not dependent upon use of force and violence, protection of minority groups and points of view.

• Language: Vocabulary that illuminates and hides in terms of the culture’s priorities and prejudices, may be a storehouse of knowledge of local ecosystems, frames different forms of social relationships, reproduces the misconceptions of earlier thinkers, may carry forward the wisdom of earlier times, essential to communicative competence, may be used by totalitarian forces to control consciousness and behavior, has a different cultural influence depending upon whether it communicated face-to-face or mediated through print and electronic modes of communication.

Forms of Enclosure:

• General definition: Enclosure involves transforming the cultural and environmental commons from what is largely shared in common, and subject to local decision making, into what is privately owned, part of the industrial/market economy, and where decision making is located outside the community.

• Ideologies:: The tradition of market liberalism, with its emphasis on expanding markets and profits, private ownership, and on ignoring cultural differences, continues to be a major source of enclosure. Religious fundamentalism may also lead to different forms of enclosure such as civil liberties, narratives of achievements in the areas of social justice and environmental protection.

• Technologies: The mediating characteristics of different technologies contribute to various forms of enclosure—from the way computers enclosure (marginalize) the possibility of mentoring and face-to-face communication, the enclosure of privacy by surveillance technologies, the enclosure of craft knowledge by automated machines, to the bio-technologies that now make it possible for private ownership of gene lines.

• Universities that Define What Constitutes High-Status knowledge: By identifying what constitutes high status knowledge (which is based on many of the same deep cultural assumptions that underlie the industrial/consumer oriented culture that is contributing to the ecological crises) universities and colleges have relegated the various forms of knowledge that are the basis of the cultural commons to low status—with the result that few graduates are aware of the complexity and ecological significance of the cultural commons of their communities.

• Silences Perpetuated by Modern Forms of Development: The emphasis on change, individualism, consumerism, personal happiness and interests (as well as the personal insecurities that accompany the modern industrial system of production and consumption) has resulted in social divisions where the younger generation is unaware of how participation in the local cultural commons may lead to discovering personal interests, the development of skills and talents, and a sense of community. Indeed, it would be more accurate to say that most of the younger generation is predisposed to reject the cultural commons as irrelevant. The older generations who have discovered personal fulfillment and ways of creative expression from participating in different activities within the local cultural commons too often remain isolated from the younger generation. What is being enclosed are the intergenerational continuities, which leaves the younger generation more dependent upon what the market can provide.

• Economic Globalizaton: Western traditions that are being universalized-- such as approaches to education, various uses of computers, science, English and other dominant languages, market system of production and consumptions, military domination, etc.,--are contributing to the enclosure of many of the world’s languages and thus of the world’s cultural commons. The result is that more people are becoming dependent upon consumerism and thus adding to the forces deepening the ecological crises

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