31 Aug 2010

Žižek 'How Marx invented the symptom'

I enjoy Žižek, don't always understand him and don't always agree with him. He is great, fun and very stimulating. Just been reading 'How Marx invented the symptom' from his first book to be translated into English, The Sublime Object of Ideology.

He combines Lacan and Marx, noting that Lacan suggests the psychoanalytic concept of the 'symptom' was invented by Marx.

I am not in a position to summarise the article but do give it a read.

Two insights though.

1) Belief befor belief.

The individual does not have belief in say Catholicism or Socialism but because they wish to believe they go through the rituals, by carrying out the

rituals they then gain belief. Practice leads, as Marx suggests to a change in consciousness, the twist here is that one wants to change consciousness.

2) The contradiction between the 'forces' and 'relations' of production

It is not, according to Žižek, that Marx believes that the contradiction between 'relations' (the method of ownership to vulgarise) and forces of production, limits the expansion of industrial development but that within capitalism the constant contradiction drives production.

Well these two insights interested me but they are largely marginal to the main argument.

I think politics should be enriched with a bit of theory and humour, or all you get is the Miliband brothers.

Enjoy your symptom, take a look at Žižek, I think while much escapes me he writes very clearly about very subtle and complex 'stuff'.

30 Aug 2010

Lily Allen message to the fascists

If you didn't catch this first time around, here it is again, great lyrics, to all those who confronted the English Nationalist Alliance in Brighton today or the EDL in Bradford on saturday, thanks for fighting the racists.

Message to the EDL

And report here on the abortive ENA march today in Brighton, claims Greens need to be out on the streets but I am sure his taunts about 15 year girls will get him flack, if the anti-fascists were mainly 15 year old girls, good for them.

Nice message above from the Asian youth to EDL

The England Nationalist Alliance (ENA) marched through Brighton today. About 30 of “England’s finest”, protected by several hundred police, made their way from Brighton Station to Victoria Gardens. There was at least one police vehicle for every member of the ENA – excluding the police helicopter.
The ENA is not a Brighton-based group and they were made to feel unwelcomed. They could only take to the street protected by the police. I assume that the ENA is just a front for the English Defence League (EDL).
A group of anti-fascist demonstrators (from what I could see made up mainly of 15 and 16 year old girls) were penned into an enclosure around the Mazda Fountain (at the bottom of North Road). This required a ridiculous number of police officers and police horses. The biggest threat they posed to public order would have been a mass Barbie make-over!
The ENA was escorted back to Brighton Station followed by hundreds of anti-fascist demonstrators (excluding those in the Barbie-pen). Then, quite inexplicably, the police didn’t escort them onto a train back from where they came, but allowed them to leave by the station’s side entrance and into the New England Quarter and on to Circus Circus. Staff at Circus Circus served them. A boycott of Circus Circus is in order, me thinks.
At Brighton Station I spoke to a police officer who described the ENA as “good as gold” and that this was a free country and that they have a right to demonstrate. (Can we assume that the police will, in future, defend the right to demonstrate for those outside the EDO factory in Brighton.


Message from striking London Underground staff to passengers


London Underground plans to:

get rid of around 800 station staff posts
reduce ticket office opening times by around 7,500 hours
carry out essential maintenance checks on trains every four weeks instead of every two weeks
cut the number of train drivers’ posts
Tube trade unions RMT and TSSA have tried for months to persuade London Underground to scrap these unnecessary and dangerous cuts. We have spent hours in talks, have lobbied politicians, and have won lots of support from passengers. But London Underground and the Mayor have not listened.

London Underground has left members of the two unions with no choice but to hold strikes and other industrial action. We are prepared to lose money by striking because we are not prepared to see London’s workers and passengers put at risk, left without help, or have vital services withdrawn. We are professional railway staff and we want to be able to do our jobs safely and properly.

We believe that people who live in, visit and work in London need:

a safe, secure London Underground
open ticket offices
more Tube staff, not fewer
job opportunities for unemployed people and school-leavers
We understand that strikes can cause disruption and distress. We want the staff cuts withdrawn so that we do not have to carry on striking. Please support our campaign.


Fewer station staff means:

a less safe London Underground
less information and help during delays and disruptions
it will be harder to evacuate stations quickly and safely in the event of an emergency eg. fire, crash, bombing
less help for disabled, elderly and other vulnerable passengers
less chance of you getting the help you need with directions, information, lost property, accidents or other issues
less deterrent to assault, vandalism and other harmful behaviour
you will feel less secure travelling around London Underground


Spiderman arrested for skyscraper climate climb

Famous building scaler Alain "Spiderman" Robert was arrested after climbing the Royal Bank of Scotland in Sydney, Australia.

He had climbed up and displayed a banner advertising One Hundred Months, the organization that believes we have a 100 month deadline to fix global warming or suffer dire irreversible consequences.

Dressed as Spiderman Alain Robert climbed one of Sydney's tallest buildings to raise awareness of climate change.

He is promoting the www.onehundredmonths.org website.

Good for him, a reminder that some of Australia's most senior politicians like would be Prime Minister Tony Abbott are on record as saying climate change is a myth.

As Australia has faced huge forest fires and the Murray-Darling river basin is drying up drastic action is some times needed to combat the well funded deniers.


29 Aug 2010

Fascists march in Brighton tomorrow- Mobilise against them

Fascist demonstration in Brighton on August bank holiday

Call out for a counter mobilisation

On August 30th, bank holiday Monday, two days after the English Defence League are planning to march in Bradford, the English Nationalist Alliance aim to march through the streets of Brighton. The ENA want to impose their nationalist, far right idea of English identity on us all, their approach to Muslims being to “force out these bastards coz we ain't got the room”.
Whereas the English Defence League officially attempt to hide their far right politics, the ENA are open in their attacks on anti-racists, anti-war and anti-arms trade campaigners, anarchists and socialists. In their own words they intend to “protest against the militant students and attacks on industry in the region by Palestinian militants and socialist extremists, to support the English people of the region against the constant anti-English activities in the area...no more support of Palestinian terrorists...militant students need to know their place...”.
We believe that fascists need to know their place, and are calling for a counter mobilisation from all sections of the community to stop them and show that they are not welcome on our streets. Be in Brighton for the morning of the 30th, the ENA demonstration is due to start at 12.30pm. Further information will follow soon, and will be posted on Indymedia.


BNP Doctor in slimming pill crisis appeal

I just don’t have the money to relaunch my cosmetic career . . . I’m in a bit of a state at the moment.
“I need equipment, lasers and so on, but I’m broke.
“In a way it might have been better if I’d been struck off . . . at least then I could have looked at starting afresh in a new career. This has left me hanging on for three years

The racist BNP is in apparent free fall. Despite earlier crisis, indications are that they could now be in real trouble. Marmite-gate, where the party breached corporate copyright looks likely to lose them £100,000s, leader Nick Griffin's heavy handed approach to internal critics has led to calls for a new far right Party from former 'legal advisor' John Lee Barnes, the Party's only representative on the Greater London Assembly ex- gay porn producer Richard Barnbrook has gone independent.

To add to this the saga of Dr Allan Paterson's on going dog fight with the medical establishment continues. Lead candidate for the North East Euro consituency, the former Ulster Unionist, was suspended for prescribing a controversial obeseity pill to a patient who was allegedly not obese.

The original hearing in December 2007 heard how Dr Patterson, a member of the British Association of Cosmetic Practitioners, prescribed a once-banned diet pill called Phentermine to a woman who was not technically obese at the Fifth Element Clinic in Gateshead back in July 2005.
Phentermine was linked to dizziness, depression, headaches, high blood pressure and other side effects, but Dr Patterson failed to adequately warn her of its dangers or fully assess her by measuring her weight or blood pressure.
The panel concluded Dr Patterson’s actions had been “inappropriate, unprofessional and not in her best interests” and suspended him for a year, but the ban was extended by the GMC until last September, when 12 restrictions were imposed.
In the meantime, however, Dr Patterson claims his private practice “melted away” leaving him in a dire financial situation.


28 Aug 2010

Abandon Affluence!

Ted Trainer wrote a piece for my first book 'Getting There- Steps to a Green Society' published in 1990 (on green strategy if you are asking).

His book Abandon Affluence! looking at why capitalist growth was wrecking the planet was very important to my political education, he has feed his ideas into the Australian Green movement which is flourishing with Green Party gains and the amazing Green Left Weekly.

He has written an interesting but friendly critique of the Transition Towns movements here.

This is from an interview with him on the 25th anniversary of Abandon Affluence!

Could you explain more about your concept of the “simpler way”?
It can be summarised in a few principles.
First, lifestyles cannot be affluent. This doesn’t mean deprivation at all. It means having perfectly adequate food, clothing and shelter — a better lifestyle than most of us around the world have now — but without the wasteful gadgets and jet-away holidays.
We’d have to provide ways of life that provide us with alternative satisfactions.
The second principle is localism — mostly small, highly self-sufficient local economies. It doesn’t mean we wouldn’t still have big economies, but they’d be much less important. So most of what you’d need would come from the neighbourhood and the region.
The third principle is participation and cooperation. We need a totally new economy. It can’t be driven by profit. It can’t be driven by growth. I believe it could be largely private. By that I mean it could have mostly small enterprises and co-ops and so on.
So I don’t see a problem with the economy including small private enterprise, as long as they weren’t trying to become tycoons and as long as they were driven by an enjoyment in contributing to the wider neighbourhood.
Not trying to get rich, but making a contribution to a community that is enjoyable to live in.
Unless we get rid of acquisitiveness, competition and individualism we won’t achieve anything.
I’m more optimistic about what the simple way could be like. Our hopes depend on whether we can inspire enough people to make a contribution. The simpler way is not only a much more rewarding way, but it’s going to be dead easy if we’ve got enough sense to just get together and dump the old greed and competition — the capitalist way.



This is an excellent article from Ben in Australia.

A new urgency
The failings of economistic 20th century leftism have allowed capitalism and consumerism to run rampant to the extent that the biosphere of the planet is beginning to experience a catastrophic breakdown, best known in the form of climate change (although broader than that most pressing problem).

Climate change and the ecological crisis are demanding a reinvigoration of the left’s imagination. No longer can workers settle for demanding pay rises and economic advances. No more can the left settle for reactive campaigns calling to stop this or that crime, or to save this service from cutbacks. These are the defensive posturing of a movement that has put their visions of a better future off indefinitely as impractical or impossible just now.

Climate change demands action now. It demands solutions. They are feasible, and we can fight for them, but they are a radical departure from the consumerist life. This life is what the Western working class knows. It is largely what the third world masses aspire to. It is the dominant mass ideology. It’s a powerful ideology because it gives the appearance of having left behind the grim poverty of yesterday, and it gives the appearance of some return on the hours of workday drudgery that pay for it.

But at heart, consumerism is truly a hollow ideology. Even the commonplace sayings of the consumer era refute it. Consumerism says “you are what you buy” – but everyone knows, as the Beatles sang, “money can’t buy me love”. It can’t buy very much happiness either. There is an intrinsic gap in the ideological hegemony of the consumer ideal.

Forward to utopia!
Practical solutions to climate change open up vast arenas of possibilities for future social organisation. If we can’t afford to continue industrial agriculture, we will have to return to more localised, community based agriculture. How will it be run? Co-operative community gardens? Or individual plots? Will it be shared? Bartered? Food is a vital part of our inherited culture and recreation, as much as it is a simple necessity. A ration of bread or rice might go a long way to solving basic needs, but why would people settle for just that?


27 Aug 2010

Mumia Abu-Jamal 'A Matter of the Mosque'

[col. writ. 8/22/10] (c) '10 Mumia Abu-Jamal

In Manhattan, the controversy over the placement of a mosque (or Islamic house of worship) just a few mere blocks from what is now known as 'Ground Zero' -- the site of the New York plane strikes on 9/11, rages on.

Sides have been assembled, and arguments have been hurled like mental Molotov cocktails on both sides of the fray.

The argument, no matter how resolved, shows us how empty is the Constitution, which has an express provision protecting free religious practice.

What an argument for those who claim fealty to the Constitution!

For a right that can't be practiced is no right at all.

One is reminded of how the Constitution 'protected' the rights of Blacks after the Reconstruction Amendments to the Constitution were passed from 1865 to 1870. It looked fine on paper, but over a hundred years later they had no reality in the lives of millions of Blacks, who couldn't vote, couldn't sit on juries, serve in public office, or who lived in segregated housing.

The 'rights' existed on paper, but such rights being practiced offended the sensibilities of southern whites.

Sound familiar?

Americans treat the actual document (the Constitution) as Holy Writ, papers protected from the ravages of time and temperature, and held behind sophisticated security systems.

As for what is says: not so much.

--(c) '10 maj

Thank God man-made global warming was proven to be a hoax.

Thank God man-made global warming was proven to be a hoax. Just imagine what the world might have looked like now if those conspiring scientists had been telling the truth. No doubt Nasa would be telling us that this year is now the hottest since humans began keeping records. The weather satellites would show that even when heat from the sun significantly dipped earlier this year, the world still got hotter. Russia's vast forests would be burning to the ground in the fiercest drought they have ever seen, turning the air black in Moscow, killing 15,000 people, and forcing foreign embassies to evacuate. Because warm air holds more water vapour, the world's storms would be hugely increasing in intensity and violence – drowning one fifth of Pakistan, and causing giant mudslides in China.



A few years ago I came across a document called “The Ecosocialist Manifesto.” It had been co-authored in 2001 by Joel Kovel and Michael Lowy. I contacted Joel and arranged for him to write a piece on ecosocialism for Canadian Dimension. That article appeared in the November/December 2007 issue of CD. The cover of that issue reads “Capitalism vs. The Earth: The Ecosocialist Alternative.”

Since then I have been immersing myself on the literature of ecosocialism — elements of which I had first read many years earlier. It didn’t take long to conclude that the single most important contribution to ecosocialism has come from U.S.-based Marxist economist, James O’Connor.

It was in 1988 that Jim and his partner Barbara Laurence founded the journal Capitalism, Nature, Socialism. CNS brought together dozens of ecosocialists in several collectives around the world and sparked a vigorous intellectual discussion, which is still ongoing. Jim also acted as editor of a series of very important books for the Guilford Press. The series was titled Democracy and Ecology and included such titles as Is Capitalism Sustainable? Green Production, Minding Nature and The Greening of Marxism.

CSN is still being produced, now under the editorship of Joel Kovel. Ecosocialism also has a very active and excellent web site called Capitalism and Climate edited by Ian Angus.


26 Aug 2010

Rainforest priest Paul McAuley under new threat

Many oil and gas projects in the Amazon have met fierce resistance from indigenous groups.

Residents accuse the government of abusing their land rights and failing to consult them about big investment projects, the BBC's Peru correspondent Dan Collyns says.

Brother Paul has repeatedly said that oil exploration and logging are threatening to the indigenous population of the Amazon.

He admits that his work might lead to people asking for their rights.

"Education is often accused of inciting people to understand their rights, to be capable or organising themselves to ensure their human rights," Mr McAuley told the BBC.

"If that's a crime, then yes I'm guilty," he added. "As a member of a Catholic order, my life's been dedicated to human and Christian education."

Had a message yesterday from Fr Paul McAuley, he is based in the Peruvian Amazon and works with local people to preserve their environment and human rights.

The Peruvian government sought to expell him from the country, there was an international outcry and he won his case to stay in the country.
as reported here.

Now a couple of weeks later, his victory has been annulled on a technicality.

Please keep the pressure up on the Peruvian authorities.

Paul's environment website is here, has lots of interesting material in English and Spanish.

25 Aug 2010

Hugo Blanco Tour

Hugo Blanco is a historic leader of the Peruvian peasant movement, who has been active for more than fifty years. In the 1960s he played a central part in the ‘Land or Death’ peasant uprising in the southern highlands of Peru. He was captured, and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
The consistent struggles of the indigenous peoples of Latin America against neoliberalism and in defence of the environment are an inspiration to many ecosocialists across the world and this event, and other parts of the tour will give us an opportunity to find out more - including about the struggles in Peru which are less well known.
Today Hugo Blanco is the editor of the Cusco based newspaper Lucha Indigena, and part of the purpose of the tour is to raise funds for that publication. The indigenous organisation Aidesep have been intense conflict with the neo-liberal Peruvian government for several years, fighting to prevent the Amazon rainforest from being sold to oil and gas corporations. In 2009 Peruvian military police massacred indigenous activist at Bagua, Hugo Blanco will report on this struggle and the wider struggles of indigenous people in Latin America.
Hugo Blanco has been brought to Britain by two ecosocialist organisations Socialist Resistance and Green Left.
A biography of Hugo Blanco can be found here www.sfu.ca/las/news/documents/Biography_HugoBlanco.pdf
More events are being planned so please look out for updates

Saturday 11 September: Green Left/Socialist Resistance fringe meeting
:‘The Rise of the Green Left: Inside the Worldwide Ecosocialist
Movement’ with Hugo Blanco and Derek Wall. Venue: Cascade Suite,
Copthorne Hotel, Paradise Place Birmingham B3 3HJ [pedestrian access
from footbridge, between Paradise Forum and the War Memorial]. 7.30

Contact: Stuart Richardson ser14@btinternet.com,

Tuesday September 14 London ‘The Rise of the Green Left’ Pluto Derek Wall book launch with Derek Wall, Hugo Blanco and Jeremy Corbyn MP, Bolivar Hall, Grafton Street, London, 7.30pm
Contact Derek Wall wallddd@hotmail.com

Saturday 18 September: Saturday September 18th
University of London Union,
Malet Street, London WC1. Nearest tube Goodge Street
Doors open (registration) 10.00
Seminar — 11.00 until 5.30.
Speakers to include: Hugo Blanco, Caroline Lucas MP (invited), Diana Raby, Derek Wall, Stuart Piper, Grace Livingstone, Amanda Latimer.
Entrance: In advance £12.00 (£4.00 unwaged). At the door £15.00
(£6.00 unwaged). Send a cheque made out to Lucha Indigena to
PO Box 62732, London SW2 9GQ.

Contact: Terry Conway terryconway@tiscali.co.uk

Wednesday October 14: Brighton Hugo Blanco, Friends meeting House,
Brighton with Caroline Lucas and others
Contact Iain Bruce: iainafbruce@hotmail.co.uk

Tuesday, 19 October Birmingham at 7.30 pm Socialist Resistance Forum:
‘Latin America: the Ecosocialist Alternative’ with Hugo Blanco. Venue:
Bennett’s Bar, Bennetts Hill, Birmingham B2 5RS
Contact: Stuart Richardson ser14@btinternet.com

Saturday 23 October: Manchester Climate and Capital 2 with Hugo Blanco
http://www.climateandcapitalism2.blogspot.com/ Contact:

24 Aug 2010

‘Greenslide’ a shift to left

‘Greenslide’ a shift to left — neither major party wins majority mandate
Tuesday, August 24, 2010

By Peter Boyle

Rally for equal marriage rights, Sydney August 14, 2010. Photo by Peter Boyle.

By denying both the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the the Liberal-National coalition an outright majority in primary votes and in House of Representatives seats, Australian electors voted “neither of the above” for the traditional parties of government.

This followed an election campaign in which the major parties conducted an ugly race to the right, most notoriously by scapegoating the few thousand desperate refugees who attempt to get to Australia on boats.

The effect of this race to the right was to promote racism, further breakdown community solidarity, and a bolster a range of other conservative prejudices on issues ranging from climate change to the economy to same-sex marriage rights. Important issues like Indigenous rights and Australia's participation in the imperialist war of occupation in Afghanistan were totally screened out.

However, there was also a reaction to this push to the right. The Greens, a party with a record of taking positions well left of the major parties on many critical issues enjoyed a 3.8% swing, taking most of its votes away from the ALP.

At the time of writing, the Greens had obtained 1,187,881 (11.4%) of the first preference votes for House of Representatives. Yet under the undemocratic system for lower house elections, the Greens only got one of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives, that of Melbourne. There were a string of other once-safe ALP seats that came close to being taken by the Greens.

The contradiction between the size of the Green vote and their small representation in Parliament grows, suggests the need for a grassroots campaign for democratic reform of the electoral system. It is not democratic that the Nationals, who won a third the number of votes as the Greens, should get seven times their representation in parliament!

The power of corporate Australia to buy elections with massive donations and their domination of the media also has to be confronted.

The Greens won the seat of Melbourne with the open assistance of the Victorian Electrical Trade Union and many other militant trade unionists. This was an important break from the total domination of the labour movement by the pro-capitalist ALP.

At the time of writing, the Greens had won 1,266,521 first preference votes in the Senate election and socialist candidates, including the Socialist Alliance, a further 39,186 votes. The Greens look like raising their number of Senators from five to nine — giving them the balance of power in the Senate.

The progressive social movements, including the trade unions will be looking to these Greens Senators to offer strong support in the struggles ahead, no matter which major party eventually forms government.

The result after election night on August 21 was a hung parliament. The major parties are now desperately trying to negotiate agreements with three or four independents and the Greens MP to form a minority government, while the outcome in a number of seats remains uncertain. If a deal to form government cannot be made, the Governor-General has the power to call another election.

While the three independent MPs certain of a seat, Tony Windsor, Bob Katter and Rob Oakeshott, are former members of the conservative rural-based National Party, all broke over strong objections to particular aspects of the neoliberal agenda that has been pursued by both Liberal-National coalition and ALP governments since the 1980s.

Further, they have consolidated the hold on their seats by taking “community-first” positions on issues directly affecting their electorates. So neither major party can be certain of their support.

Newly elected Greens MP for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, indicated earlier in the campaign that he would support a hypothetical ALP minority government but since August 21, he's been reluctant to be so specific. He told ABC TV's 7.30 Report on August 22 that the Greens were entering discussions with various parties and independents and “there's nothing on or off the table”.

Progressive independent Andrew Wilkie, a former Greens candidate, has a chance of winning the Tasmanian seat of Denison away from the ALP. He laid out a position, on the August 22 7.30 Report on how he would be prepared to support a minority government:

“If I'm elected, the party I support will only be assured that I won't block supply, and that I won't support any reckless no confidence motion.

“Beyond that, it's all up for grabs. I will look at every piece of legislation, every issue and assess them on its merits. I think it's self evident what is reasonable ethical behaviour and what isn't. And any acts of lying and so on, I won't accept that and I won't support legislation in that regard.”

The Greens should make an offer to support a minority ALP government along similar lines because clearly a Liberal-National government would be a greater evil. However, entering or making any further commitments to a possible ALP government would trap the Greens in a conservative government that will be bad for the majority of people, bad for Indigenous communities, bad for refugees and bad for the environment.

Peter Boyle is national convener of the Socialist Alliance.

23 Aug 2010

Derek Wall and Adrian Ramsay - Deputy Leadership Hustings Round 2 - CAMBRIDGE

Derek Wall and Adrian Ramsay - Deputy Leadership Hustings Round 2 - CAMBRIDGE


DATE: September 2nd, 2010

TIME: 1930 - 2130 - hustings commencing at 1945, ending 2115/20. All to be seated, hopefully, by 1940.

FORMAT: 10 minutes introductory speeches each, then one hour of questions, with 3 minutes MAXIMUM to respond, then 5 minutes closing statements each.

CHAIR: TBC - but probably Fiona Radic (neutral chair).

There will be a donation bucket, to cover some (or hopefully all) of the cost incurred by Cambridge Green Party in the hiring of this room. Any additional monies will be retained by Cambridge Green Party for Party purposes.

Any questions you would like to submit if you cannot make it, please email adamepogonowski@gmail.com. It is not guaranteed that all (or any) will be used.

The event is open to all Green Party members.


Adam Pogonowski

Message from Australian Greens

The Greens are the breakthrough story of this election.

I want to make sure you're the first to understand how significant these results are—and that we couldn’t have achieved them without your support.

Yesterday, the Greens won the balance of power in the Senate, as well as our first lower house seat at a general election in Melbourne. We've achieved so much together this election that it's hard to quantify, but here are some numbers that tell part of the story:

We won a Senate seat in every State, including our first ever Greens Senators in Queensland and Victoria. This gives us the power to shape the agenda of the new Government and achieve real outcomes on issues like climate change, a fair go for asylum seekers, same sex marriage, and improving public schools and hospitals;
Our first ever lower house Greens Member of Parliament has been elected in a general election - congratulations to Adam Bandt who won the seat of Melbourne with a massive 13% swing to the Greens on primaries!
More than 4,500 of you signed up online to volunteer over the course of the campaign - knocking on doors, handing out how to votes, holding Greens stalls and events, and much more;
Together, we raised more than $300,000 from small online donations to run our fantastic, positive campaign advertising on TV, on billboards in capital cities, in major newspapers, and to build the biggest online advertising presence we've ever had; (with special thanks to the talented creative team at Make Believe for all their work on this campaign)
More than 20,000 people became Facebook fans of the Greens- and dozens of State and local Facebook groups sprung up to spread the Greens' message online
For me, as Campaign Manager, the last few months have been both exhilarating and exhausting. What's kept me going is the knowledge that you - the people out there reading these emails - have been working tirelessly in your own communities.

You've shared the Greens' positive vision for Australia with your neighbours, your colleagues and your families, and that's what's led to these stunning results.

You are the heart and soul of the Greens.

Having the balance of power in the Senate from July 2011 isn't a magic wand, but it does mean we'll be in a powerful position to make legislation better, introduce new ideas to the Parliament and push both sides of politics to deliver smarter, more constructive and progressive outcomes for our nation. The results of this election won't be clear for another few days - or even weeks - and the Senators and I will be in touch with the latest developments.

But for today, I just wanted to say thank you.

You've believed all along that we can make tremendous change to Australian politics, and yesterday, your votes created a powerful change in the Parliament. It is truly an historic achievement for the Greens and it has been my absolute pleasure and privilege to be a part of it.

Thank you,

National Campaign Coordinator
Australian Greens

22 Aug 2010

The Deputy Leadership hustings London 20/8/2010



The Deputy Leadership hustings were held in London tonight.

The turnout was very good, and the questions very interesting, ranging from AV to party strategy, disability issues within the Party to political philosophies, and lots of talk on economic issues....and the occasional mention of Latin America and Elinor Ostrom from Derek!

Owen Clayton and Adam Pognowski, both of Green Left renown, also sent questions in to the hustings which were put to both candidates. And Zain Sardar, another fine and upstanding member of Green Left chaired extremely well throughout the evening. So well done to him!

(NB Green Left does not take a postion to support either candidate in this election PM)

Videos here http://greenleftblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/blog-post.html

WikiLeaks: The Global 4th Estate


WikiLeaks: The Global 4th Estate
Recently, the whistleblower website WikiLeaks was thrust onto the world stage with two separate releases of US government classified documents. The first was a cockpit video from a 2007 Apache gunship attack in Baghdad and the second was the largest ever military document leak in world history relating to the US-Afghanistan war. WikiLeaks called the sensational 2007 video Collateral Murder. It opened with a quote from Orwell’s 1984 and depicted from the point of view of the Americans in an Apache helicopter the gunning down of Iraqi civilians and Reuters reporters in a Baghdad street. As the controversy over the video boiled over, questions were raised about government secrecy, the importance of transparency, as well as legal and moral accountability. When the more controversial Afghan War Diaries were released, the US security establishment came out with rhetorical guns blazing trying to shoot the messenger and avert attention from the message itself.

Nevertheless, WikiLeaks’s work has been seen by many people worldwide as a positive development toward accountability and openness regarding the actions of those in power. Across all borders, this enigmatic group of volunteers have become instant heroes as champions of open government. There are also many that perceived these leaks as a threat to the national security state and they have responded with vehement talking points. The primary criticism has come mostly from US government leaders and American people who are insulated by the mainstream corporate media.

Those who have criticized WikiLeaks have said their releases of war documents are putting lives in danger in war zones and have accused them of political slant in the editing of the Collateral Murder video. Assange laid out in an interview with Steven Colbert how WikiLeaks actually intentionally editorialized the title, Collateral Murder and released this edited version along with the full, unedited footage (Comedy Partners, 2010). Some felt this slant was manipulation. Assange indicated that the purpose of the release was to show the world what modern warfare actually looks like and that “his mission is to expose injustice, not to provide an even-handed record of events.” He said that this slant was to bring maximum political impact (as cited in Khatchadourian, 2010). Is the WikiLeaks editing of Collateral Murder an act of deception? What did Assange mean by maximum political impact?

Collateral Damage vs Collateral Murder:

“In the beginning was the Word … ” – Gospel of Saint John.

Some perceived the title Collateral Murder as manipulation on the part of WikiLeaks. When one carefully examines people’s reactions not only to the video but also to the way it was edited, it can reveal a lot about their position and perspective in the matter. In the article Manning & WikiLeaks Are True Patriots by Definition Dallas GoldBug examined a controversial question related to the ethics of whistle-blowers, namely whether they should be prosecuted for their actions or not. He said, “the answer to this would perceivably be different depending on what side of the pond you call home” (2010). This home is one’s foundational framework through which one perceives the world and is something that people are often not aware of. It is common to feel one is free from bias and is not taking sides in any issues. I have heard some say, “I am neutral and refuse to take either side because you and I really don’t know which side is right.” The problem is that one is often not aware of their own bias.


21 Aug 2010


'Forget Foucault' indeed, there is some droll material here.

Aidesep call rainforest protest mobilisation

There is a slogan that goes 'Another World is Possible'. Well I reckon the border between the world we have, based on injustice and ecological destruction, and a world that works, just and sustainable, exists somewhere in the Amazon of Peru and Ecuador, where the indigenous show signs of winning victory and making the necessary also the possible.

Its easy to forget the struggles in Peru and Ecuador are crucial for our climate and much else besides, I must must must regularly post stuff on this, very easy to get caught up in ones politics and forget that this is absolutely crucial stuff.

Aidesep the inter ethnic association of Peruvian Amazon are calling massive demonstrations for 12th October in protests by the Congress to discuss a 'law of the forests' that would recognise their rights and against attempts by the government to split the indigenous.

This is the google translate from Aidesep's webside, viva Aidesep and look out for Hugo Blanco when he tours Britain soon who can tell us about this first hand.

The video is from last year.

AIDESEP, August 20, 2010. After Congress decided not to discuss the opinion on the Law of Indigenous Peoples Consultation, whose original version was observed by the Executive, the National Confederation of Communities Affected by Mining (CONACAMI), the Peasant Confederation of Peru (CCP) and Interethnic Development Association of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP) announced a national march in against this attitude to the 12th of October this year.

AIDESEP President Alberto Pizango Chota, reiterated that the government intends to divide communities by sponsoring organizations that have no parallel representation as the case of the "Coordinator Awajun" unusually whose representatives left in the last military parade of July 29 and "apologized" to the National Police by the facts of Bagua of June 5, 2009.

"It is unfortunate that the government still within indigenous peoples to use them against splitting and favor large corporations. We understand that the president of the Organization for the Development of Border Communities Cenepa (ODECOFROC) Zebelio Kayapo, is being threatened by this group of supposedly Coordinator Awajun "he said.

For his part, representative of CONACAMI, Mario Palacios, expressed his rejection of text search of the Plebiscite Law, drafted by the Constitutional Commission, and requested that Congress correct its "mistake" and return the text back to this committee that is subjected to a more thorough debate. The leader announced that the country's indigenous peoples will join in a massive march on October 12 at the national level to reject the comments of the Executive Law of Indigenous Peoples Consultation.

Caroline Lucas congratulates first Green Party MP in Australia

Just had this from Green Party HQ, good news.
Australia elects its first Green MP...

...and the UK’s first Green MP broadcasts congratulations to Melbourne celebration party

Today Australia became the second Commonwealth country this year to elect its first Green Party MP – and in a show of solidarity from the other side of the planet, the Australian Greens invited Britain’s first Green MP to broadcast a live message to their celebration party in Melbourne.

Caroline Lucas, the new Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, congratulated Adam Bandt (1), the new Green Party MP for Melbourne, who like Caroline won the progressive vote to take a seat from a Labour party. Caroline today spoke of her delight in the Australian Greens’ success:

“It’s excellent news for Australia, because the Greens are the party nowadays offering the socially progressive policies as well as the best environmental policies.

“And it’s excellent news for the world, because with a stronger Green influence we can expect Australia to be pushing harder for a proper global agreement on climate change.”

Adam Bandt had been expected to take the house of representatives (lower house) seat of Melbourne from the Labor Party. This seat covers the inner city suburbs of Melbourne and had been held by Labor since 1900.

According to an official from party leader Senator Bob Brown’s team, “This seat has been Labor’s heartland, but now many of the progressive voters of Melbourne have become disillusioned by Labor’s conservative stance on refugees, climate change and gay marriage as well as many other issues.”

The early indication is that Adam Bandt polled 52% of the vote “after preferences”, the vote being held under the AV (additional vote) system currently under consideration for the UK house of commons. Mr Bandt may even find himself in a “balance of power” situation.

Green Party campaign won progressive vote

As with their English colleagues in Brighton Pavilion, the Australian Greens won the Melbourne seat through an effective targeting strategy and a strong message to progressive voters on social issues, as well far stronger environmental policies than the bigger parties were offering.

The Australian Greens had been polling at 13-16% of the national vote over the last 6 months, and this held up during the election campaign. At the time of writing it’s too early to tell how many new senators (upper house representatives) the Greens will gain, but a vote of this size could mean five new seats in the senate. This would bring the number of Greens in the upper chamber, which is elected under the single transferable vote system, to ten.

An Australians Greens insider said today as the votes were being counted:

“Even if we only get two or three new Senators all commentators agree that we will hold the balance of power in the senate. This means we will have a much more influential role in the parliament and in amending and moving legislation. Senator Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens, has had unprecedented media attention during the campaign with good coverage of our health, education, transport and environmental policies.


1. Adam Bandt is an industrial and discrimination law lawyer. He ran for the seat in 2007 and got 45.3% of the vote after preferences were distributed and the Labor vote after preferences was 54% of the vote. This election the long-time Labor member who narrowly beat Adam in 2007 has retired, increasing Adam’s chances of winning. See http://greens.org.au/content/adambandt#3 for further information relating to his campaign.


Jerry is definately a man after my own heart and a good friend, grassroots trade union militant, working class hero and an ecosocialist, he has back me as Green Party Deputy-Leader and I am backing him for Unite General Secretary.

If you are in Unite or have friends in Unite, please support Jerry Hicks and spread the word.

What I Stand For
This election comes at a defining moment for working people in this country. It is the most important Trade union election for generations. We had the credit crunch, the recession and now the crisis of public debt. The Tory-Liberal ,Con-Dem coalition government, wants to dump the costs of bailing out their beloved “free market” on working people, those least able to pay and the most vulnerable.

Instead of increasing taxes on the very rich to pay off the debt, the Con-Dems are using the debt as an excuse for a massive attack on the welfare state and public services, risking a double-dip recession, and ditching any real move to tackle Climate Change.

This is a nasty government. To push through the cuts it wants to encourage division amongst us. Our best chance of defending our jobs, pensions and services is united resistance. That means unity of public sector and private sector, young and old, men and women, employed and unemployed, students and pensioners. That means standing up against any attempt to divert anger against scapegoats, be that through nationalism, racism or homophobia.

UNITE needs to be at the heart of a coalition of resistance standing up to the onslaught from employers and the government.

Our union needs to offer an alternative vision to that on offer from the Con-Dems. And that can’t simply be about backing Labour – they lost the election because they let down working people so badly over so many issues for so long.

Why don’t we:

Prioritise public ownership over shareholder greed?
Demand a million new ‘Green’ jobs to tackle climate change?
Demand a public works programme, with the first 3100 jobs offered to blacklisted construction workers?
Work alongside the millions of pensioners to defend and demand decent pensions?
Work alongside students to demand free education, instead of having half our young members saddled with huge debts?
Work alongside those with disabilities to defend incapacity benefit and prevent some of the most vulnerable being forced to compete in a difficult labour market?
Campaign for the People’s Charter and make it happen?
Demand jobs and services not wars and occupying other countries?
Change in UNITE

But we also need change in our own union, if we are to turn the tide. The members are the union, but the activists (reps, stewards, branch officers etc) are the heart of the union. If we want an effective union, we can’t afford to continue allowing the activist layer to age and dwindle in numbers.

We need change in UNITE’s culture and structures to inspire and involve more people, especially young members, and to put the rank-and-file members in charge:

Change from a “can’t do” union to a “can do” union; from a campaigning union to a fighting union; from a centralised top-down union to a bottom-up union; from a union afraid of people doing the wrong thing, to a union determined to act; from a climate of fear to a culture of open debate
Officials to be elected by the members, not appointed
Officials to be accountable to members through the appropriate lay member committee
Reps, stewards and branch officers to have access to membership information about the people they represent. Internal politics at the top should no longer be prioritised above effective organising and campaigning on the ground
A General Secretary on an average member’s wage
Resources as close to the members as possible. Branches, Area Activist Committees, Regional Councils, Sector Committees and Equality Committees all need resources and authority if they are going to be at the heart of involving members in our campaigning and organising.
Invest in training our activists, the future of our union
A dedicated unit to support officers, reps and stewards during ballots and disputes
Retired members, a prized asset, should have full and equal rights in the union structures.
Mergers if they make us stronger, not just bigger
Every equality committee to have at least one Executive Council member reporting to them
Political structures open to every UNITE member who contributes to the political fund, not just a tiny minority
An end to breaking our own rulebook by under-funding organising. Properly resourced organising, linked in to the union’s structures, to build up our strength and our activist base
Access to legal advice without slow and bureaucratic procedures
Members decide the Union provides.

If elected as General Secretary I will give rank and file members the confidence to stand up and be counted when they feel the need to do , and help activists to get the full backing of their union in their campaigns and to help build trade union organisation in the workplace.

Not change in the form of top down dictates but change from below from the workplaces, branches, sectors, areas and regions that will be given authority and independence over decisions and direction. Change at the top encouraging change from the bottom up.

Changes in How We Fight

When members feel they have no choice but to fight back, they have often been disappointed with the support they receive. For example:

Membership records a shambles, causing delays and increasing the risk of legal challenges
The relationship with Labour being put ahead of members’ interests. Have such considerations hampered the conduct of the BA cabin crew dispute, when strike days were not called during the general election?
Failure to get the whole union behind a group of members in dispute, raising collections, organising solidarity meetings etc
Lack of support and guidance, even when reps and members are striking for the first time
These problems have to be addressed urgently, given the challenges members will face in the coming months and next few years.

The questions that needs to asked are why are so many simple things so wrong, and can we have any faith or confidence in those responsible for the running of the union who now seek to be the General Secretary getting it right?

We also have to change how we deal with the anti-union laws, brought in by Thatcher under the Tories, left unchanged by three terms of a Labour government and virtually unchallenged by our Union or the TUC. The laws work by threatening the union’s funds, so putting pressure on those at the top of the unions to “police” the members and stop them taking action which is often effective.

We now have a situation where groups of members frequently find that there is no lawful way for them to defend themselves.

When a law is unjust, it is sometimes right to confront it, and when members do, they often win.

Successes in construction, and at the Visteon plants in Belfast, Basildon and Enfield are fine examples. In the construction strike on Humberside, it was unofficial solidarity action that helped force the employer to reinstate sacked workers and to create over 100 ‘new’ jobs.

Defiance of unjust laws is part of Trade Unionism’s proud history and is the most likely route to get them repealed, and the best deterrent against the government introducing even worse legislation.


All the other candidates in the election for General Secretary of Unite are very senior officials and have been during the period that has got us to where we are and for that there is a collective responsibility. I am the only candidate not part of the current union leadership.

We are facing the biggest attacks on working people in generations. UNITE needs to change fundamentally and urgently if members are going to beat these back successfully.

We can’t afford more of the same. We deserve better, we need a radical change in direction, and that’s what I’m offering.

20 Aug 2010

Caroline Lucas Hugo Blanco joint meeting Brighton 14th October

Thursday 14 October 7pm Friends Meeting House Brighton:

Hugo Blanco event organised by GL & SR. Caroline Lucas is attending.

Wonderful first Green Party MP and indigenous leader from Peru on how we fight for the future.

19 Aug 2010

Climate campers target the bankers

Thursday 19 August 2010 by Will Stone

The RBS group has been targeted over its investment in the oil industry

More than 200 climate activists are laying siege to the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters in Edinburgh in protest against the bank's oil investments.

A hundred campaigners from Camp for Climate Action broke through protective fencing to swoop on the grounds of the bank's headquarters in Gogarburn at 9.15pm on Wednesday - a day earlier than planned - to dodge authorities keen to stop the protest camp setting up.

Campaigners, who were joined by 100 more on Thursday, targeted the Royal Bank of Scotland over its investment in the oil industry, which is financing environmentally damaging projects such as the Canadian tar sands and Enbridge pipeline.

The location of the site was announced through mass text messaging that campers subscribed to as part of the planned swoop.

They said the camp had been set up at the site in preparation for a day of action against RBS next Monday, which could include attacks on Edinburgh Festival events sponsored by the bank, coal and oil industry sites across Scotland as well as direct action on the bank's headquarters itself.

The 200 activists have pitched up in the grass area outside the bank's headquarters and are expecting to be joined by 600 more over the weekend as marquees, workshops, eco-toilets and kitchens are being set up.

Climate Camp spokesman Richard Bernard said: "The progress has been phenomenal with more and more protesters joining by the hour.

"We have learnt from previous years that the police will try to do anything in their power to stop us, which is why we decided to set up camp on Wednesday night."


Second Wave of Global Protest in Support of indigenous Mapuche Hunger Strikers

6 Lodge Street
Bristol BS1 5LR, England

Tel/Fax: + 44-117-9279391
Mobile: 078 139 79712
E-mail: mil@mapuche-nation.org
Website: www.mapuche-nation.org

Second Wave of Global Protest in Support of indigenous Mapuche Hunger Strikers

Press Release – August 19th 2010.

A second wave of global protest was in initiated by the families of Mapuche political prisoners and hunger strikers on Weds 18th of August. The worldwide protest took place in the following countries, Chile, Argentina, England, France and Norway amongst numerous others.

In London a demonstration of solidarity with Mapuche hunger strikers took place in front of the Chilean embassy and was a well attended and peaceful event. Amongst its supporters were UK based NGO, Mapuche International Link, the Association of Chilean ex- political prisoners in the UK, Colombian Solidarity Campaign, Latin American Coordination, Memoria Historica, and many independent pro-Mapuche sympathisers.
In Temuco, Chile, peaceful demonstrations were again disrupted by unsolicited violent police repression against the Mapuche supporters. The protest was marked by 56 arrests, including that of Catalina Catrileo sister of Matias Catrileo a Mapuche youth previously murdered by Chilean police during a peaceful land rights demonstration.

The hunger strike initiated on the 12th July 2010, planned to highlight the current human rights breaches against Mapuche ancestral land rights activists using the application of internationally condemned anti-terrorist law against them. This law was initially introduced under the former Pinochet dictatorship as a tool with which to neutralize democratic dissent and today is applied solely against Mapuche and their supporters in tandem with the militarization of Mapuche traditional communities as a means of silencing their just democratic territorial demands.

The health of the hunger strikers who today entered their 37th day of a liquid protest is reported to be in serious jeopardy as they exhibit symptoms of heart failure, e.g. visual disturbances, nausea, dizziness, disorientation and stomach cramps. Reports also state that some prisoners have lost ‘between eight and eleven kilos in weight.’ Of further concern to their families has been the denial of medical care for the prisoners, leaving them at increased risk to serious health conditions by withholding possible life supporting medical interventions.

In a global act of unity with the Mapuche hungers strikers and political prisoners, the demonstrators demand that the Chilean government:

Negotiate with the political prisoners

Repeal the anti-terrorism law

End the system of simultaneous trials before a military tribunal and a civilian court

Ensure the observance of due legal process

End the militarization of Mapuche traditional regions

MIL general secretary Reynaldo Mariqueo heading the UK protest remarked that “the universally accepted standard for democratic rights and civil liberties remains denied to the Mapuche Nation by means of shrouding the routine application of illicit and inhumane policies against the indigenous people”. He further stated that “the use of media blackouts is a standard exercise used to maximum effect by the Chilean State, therefore this type of high profile global support is of fundamental importance, in fact it is a crucial lifeline to the still suffering Mapuche.”

Source: http://www.mapuche-nation.org/english/html/news/pr-93.htm


18 Aug 2010

Climate camp takes RBS HQ, urgent help needed!

Just had this! If in Edinburgh go immediately, if not spread the word

At 9.15PM tonight Climate Camp took the site on RBS HQ. Get on site as
fast as you can! Defence help urgently needed. Come to RBS Gogarburn
Gardens, off Gogar Station Rd.

Everything you wanted to know about Elinor Ostrom but were too afraid to ask

Well not quite but hopefully some food for thought.

Interview with Elinor in Yes Magazine http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/america-the-remix/elinor-ostrom-wins-nobel-for-common-s-sense

Whose Common Future, an Ecologist special issue on commons and ecological crisis http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/resource/reclaiming-commons

Elinor's paper for the World Bank on climate change http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/IW3P/IB/2009/10/26/000158349_20091026142624/Rendered/INDEX/WPS5095.txt

Elinor's big autobiographical article http://arjournals.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev.polisci.090808.123259?amp;searchHistoryKey=%24%7BsearchHistoryKey%7D&cookieSet=1

Her Nobel Prize lecture here http://nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/index.php?id=1223

Her most important book is of course Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action Ostrom, Elinor, Cambridge University Press, 1990

17 Aug 2010

'What you call love,' says Draper, 'was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.'

This was an interesting project, I was approached by the Sustainable Development Commission to write a 'thinkpiece' on a post-capitalist economy, the first draft was returned with the suggestion that it wasn't radical enough, Professor Tim Jackson who is great borrowed the first bit of my title for his book....but not the second.

I think people are mystified by my economics, they may still be after reading this, Karl Marx and Elinor Ostrom taught me so much and what's great is that Marx was well Marx and Elinor in contrast came from the school of Hayek and Buchanan before embracing the commons. Incidentally Marx focussed on power, produced dense philosophy and made stunning use of contradiction (his favourite book as a young man was Tristram Shandy), while Elinor is totally modest and uses quite careful case study work and certainly avoids big claims, although her work shows that there is an alternative to both the market and the state which is a pretty radical point when you think about it.

Sadly the neo-liberal government are closing down the Sustainable Development Commission....to save cash

I have nothing to do with hamster video but hey its on growth so there you go.


'What you call love,' says Draper, 'was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.'
(Heidkamp 2008)

I should elaborate a bit on what Social Banking actually is. Essentially sites like Zopa in the UK and
Prosper in America allow users to borrow and lend money, effectively cutting out the middleman. The
central premise is straightforward – there’s a network of lenders and borrowers and, as Zopa concisely
put it, the “people who have spare money lend it directly to people who want to borrow. There are no
banks in the middle, no huge overheads, and no unethical investments.” It’s a neat idea that’s likely to
appeal to the anti-capitalist in all of us. What’s more, a quick comparison of the interest rates indicated
on Zopa show that social borrowing can be extremely competitive, especially considering the big
lenders wariness in the post credit crunch market


This paper argues that 1) economic growth is unsustainable ecologically and perhaps economically,
even if environmental questions are set aside. In turn, economic growth does not correlate well with
rising welfare in mature economies. 2) However, a capitalist economy needs to grow for structural
reasons. Alternative economic structures that provide for sustainable increases in welfare, increased
social justice and increased participation, are necessary. 3) Social sharing/ commons, a concept
described most fully by Benkler, provides a way of raising standards of living, in an economy marked by
static or negative growth in GDP. Free and open source software are perhaps the best known examples
of social sharing.


While there is no formal growth target in the UK, non-inflationary continuous expansion (NICE!) is the
goal of economic policy. Indeed most policy is measured in terms of its potential contribution to higher
economic growth. Increased economic growth is understood to raise standards of economic well being
by most economists and policymakers. However, critics argue that rising economic growth may not be
environmentally sustainable. It has proved difficult to achieve rising economic growth without rising
levels of CO2, while British CO2 output is falling slightly, this fails to take into account the carbon
footprint of goods manufactured abroad but consumed in the UK or of airline emissions. The approach
of theorists such as Hawken (1999) et al who advocate a form of ‘Natural Capitalism’ where energy and
resource use does not grow with output, has failed to materialise to date.

Other critics, most notably Kenny and Kenny (2006) have marshalled impressive empirical evidence that
after relatively low levels of per capita GDP are achieved the correlation between rising welfare and
growth is often poor. Some of the studies suggest that rising GDP may correlate with declining levels of
mental health and happiness.

However, criticism of economic growth predates mature capitalism. In 1819 the political economist
Sismondi observed, ‘I have seen production increasing, whilst enjoyments were diminishing. The mass
of the nation here, no less than philosophers, seems to forget that the increase of wealth is not the end
in political economy, but its instrument in procuring the happiness of all. I sought for this happiness in
every class and I could nowhere find it. […] Has not England, by forgetting men for things, sacrificed
the end to the means’. (quoted in Luxemburg 1971: 175-177). Radical environmentalists have argued
that economic growth is environmentally unsustainable for several decades, yet growth has continued,
without apparent catastrophe. Lomborg (2001) has argued that economic growth correlates strongly
with greater efficiency in resource use and that empirical evidence suggests the environment is
becoming cleaner with such growth.

Yet from climate change to the threat to commercial fish stocks to the challenge of rubbish disposal,
economic growth forever looks unrealistic. While environmental problems predate industrialization, just
a few decades of capitalist development in part of the globe, have created obvious strain. If all human
beings on the planet consumed at the same level as US citizens, it has been suggested we would need
several planet Earths (Wilson 2002). Continued economic growth into to the distant future looks
somewhat optimistic on a planetary scale . Putting the case in bleak terms Professor Joel Kovel notes:

If the world were a living organism, then any sensible observer would conclude that this ‘growth’ is a
cancer that, if not somehow treated, means the destruction of human society, and even raises the
question of the extinction of our species. The details are important and interesting, but less so that the
chief conclusion – that irresistible growth, and the evident fact that this growth destabilizes and breaks
down the natural ground necessary for human existence, means, in the plainest terms, that we are
doomed under the present social order, and that we had better change it as soon as possible (Kovel
2002: 5).


Vote Jerry Hicks!

Unite the Union Britain’s largest and most influential Trade Union gears up for the election of its General Secretary. This election comes at a time when the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition is about to announce its plans for massive cuts to be set out in their Autumn Budget in October. All eyes will be on where any possible fight back may emanate. Given the size and make up of Unite, which represents over 1.5 million members in all sectors of the economy, this makes the election for the union’s General Secretary the most significant union election for decades.

Jerry Hicks, with over a quarter of the nominating period to go has already secured more than the required nominations to be able to declare that he will be a candidate in the coming election. Gaining support from every region and sector of the union.

He argues that there is no need for any cuts to public services, pay and pensions but that the collection of the £100bn worth of tax evasion by the very wealthy and big business should pay for the crisis that is not of ‘our’ making.

He is in the unique position of being an ordinary member of the Union whereas the other three candidates are all appointed senior officials – Assistant General Secretaries

The contrasts don’t end there. He (Jerry Hicks) believes in elections of all union officials where none of the others do. He, if elected, would only take an average member’s wage where the others all would claim the six-figure salary.

He is the one candidate who argues that fundamental change is needed in the union’s relationship with New Labour which he describes as being - too close, too cosy, paying too much, for far too little. He argues for a restriction of support to only those MPs or councillors who vote for and actively campaign for Unite’s policies, of which a priority would be the repeal of all anti trade union laws.

This means the election will be especially significant, as it will run concurrently with the election for the leader of the Labour Party. Indeed on that basis it would be very questionable if any of the Labour leadership contenders other than Diane Abbott would be supported by Unite under Hicks.

For more information visit www.jerryhicks4gs.com

Pete Shields 'at its best Green politics is about a radical transformation of society'

The Morning Star/Tribune debate continues on socialism and the Green Party, see what you think of Pete's thoughts.

Pete Shield has left a new comment on your post "Carl 'GPEW is close - very close - to becoming a g...":

I just don’t think you get Green politics at all, its not another route to full employment and the empowerment of the working class a la Labour delusions in the 60s and 70s.You can’t bend green politics into your old Labour’s not rather successful political project, but you can start to take a good deep look at aspects of the green movement and see what a thoughtful socialist can learn form it, as can the green movement from the Labour movement.

At its best Green politics is about a radical transformation of society to move from a materialist value system to a sustainable one, sustainable for the planet of course but also for the people on that planet. High wages only become important when you need to buy in the basic needs for survival and if other means of gratification have become solely commoditised. Fighting for a system where there are lower energy costs, affordable and public housing, communal and affordable public transport, local work, food security, a health system based on public health and not just treating public illness may seem disassociated from your idea of a left wing agenda, but just because it uses a different language if you take off your blinkers you will see strong parallels with, well, old left wing values.

As for Greens in the UK disassociating themselves from collective action I suggest you stop smoking whatever it is has been tucked away in that pipe of your and have a look around, I am sure the comrades in the Green Trade Union Group may have a thing or two to say about that, as would those involved in a wide range of civil society organisations and campaigns.

And flaky was just flaying about… Which political party did the man who said there musn’t be a cigarette paper’s different between the Government’s and the Conservative Party’s immigration policy belong too? and I won’t mention the war- both of them.

Flaky? Have you been following the Labour leaders contest, now from a left wing green perspective it all looks kinda flaky to me.

There is a great space for debate here, and a lot to be learnt by all. The article however reads like a knee jerk reaction, which isn’t exactly going to get the ideas flowing.

16 Aug 2010

Indigenous candidate to run for Peruvian President

This is just from google translate, cos its late, I haven't time to go through it

Basically Aidesep who are the indigenous organisation in the Peruvian Amazon, effective and strong at defending the rainforests, are going to run their leader Alberto Pizango as a Presidential candidate in next years Peruvian elections....this is partly in response to Government attempts to set up false indigenous groups who they can use to divide and conqueror the Amazon.

original is here

This looks like his website here for the Presidential bid I should send him James Youd who has been working very effectively my campaign here for Green party deputy leader.

Alberto Pizango: "the government's intentionis to divide us
the people will respond by participating in the elections of 2011 "

AIDESEP, August 11, 2010. At a press conference with the international news media, Alberto Pizango Chota, president of AIDESEP, regretted that the government tried to divide the indigenous movement by creating coordinators or groups who do not have the necessary representatives to speak on behalf of the people. He reported that there are 79 cases of brothers who have pending complaints by Amazon Paro.

The indigenous leader regretted that the unknown Awajún Coordinator has negotiated with the government without the support of the people Awajún, contradicting the decisions of the Apus of the five basins of the Amazon and is centered in the spirit of reconciliation, peace, harmony between peoples so that never again repeat the tragic events of Bagua.

He reported that the prosecution of people because there are still latent sibling 107 cases reported and of which there are three prisoners, with orders to arrest 40 who are refugees by the people in their communities because there are no guarantees of the case and the rest are with subpoena.

On the political foray of indigenous peoples in the upcoming 2011 elections, Pizango Chota clarified that during the twenty-first Ordinary Congress of the AIDESEP, people decided it was time to actively participate in national politics and is proposed to collect signatures for the Party Enrollment Partnership for Alternative Sites - APHU and that mission is to create a project linking the country to the coast, mountains and jungle.

"If people suggest that I am a political figure, which you can pursue the great ideals, great proposals, major projects, I am available to them," he said.

The representative said that the project shawi country is based on three main points: a) peace and sovereignty with the right to territoriality b) education and health for all Peruvians, because the development of one country alone there are going to achieve true access both c) Good Living of peoples is the harmony between people and nature.

"Over the last government just proposed development has been destructive to nature: extractive industries, logging, deforestation, polluted rivers, cities uninhabitable as La Oroya and Cerro de Pasco. Instead, we propose a constructive development, alternative not abuse the planet that is our only home, "he concluded.

Carl 'GPEW is close - very close - to becoming a genuine and radical party of the Left

This is from Carl in response to my recent Morning Star article

Hi Derek

I guess I am with Keith on this one. Reaction to the article I wrote has been somewhat defensive. For example:

"At its best, the Green Party is part of a tradition of English radicalism that includes Tom Paine and William Morris. It is attempting to address many of the important questions..."

Not exactly an attack, as you would characterise it. And from the unedited version:

"One of the crucial questions for the Green Party concerns the extent to which they can become a party of the 'working Left' - with reference to the kind of family 'eco'-nomics so powerfully depicted by John Steinbeck in the 1930s."

In the article I am actually trying to point out to the readers of Tribune that the GPEW is close - very close - to becoming a genuine and radical party of the Left. I think that people in the Labour Party need to think about what this might mean and what is the best way to help. But the response has been angry.

If Labour people want to be involved in a process of 'shared development' there must be a better way forwards than simply saying 'join the Greens'. In the meantime, I stand by the criticisms I made of the European Green movement.

I would make different criticisms of our leaders in the European Socialists, but no less fierce. We face massive challenges across Europe, where I live there are 2000 applicants to each crappy job. We are led by miserable kings, lacking in guts and spirit, and something has to change, but it will not arise from the Greens alone.

Latin America facing the global ecological crisis

Latin America facing the global ecological crisis*

Ignacio Sabbatella – University of Buenos Aires



In this article, we will try to outline briefly some of the challenges facing Latin America in relation to the environment. To this end, we will begin by analysing the structural factors underlying the global ecological crisis. We will continue by exposing what we have called environmental inequalities, the forms they assume and the conflicts they may provoke. Finally, we will refer to the conduct of Latin American governments, and the political strategies they employ together with those they might implement.

1) Capital vs. nature appropriation

Humankind is facing an escalating ecological crisis of great magnitude. Its manifestations can be grouped in two major and interrelated problems. On the one hand, we can mention the environmental damage, which includes air, water and soil pollution. The so-called climate change has become its clear expression. On the other hand, the progressive depletion of natural assets, essential to human life such as fresh water, minerals, fertile lands and energy sources. Statistics from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) indicate that world’s demand on biological resources exceeds 30% the regenerative capacity of the planet. It is possible to situate this accelerating environmental degradation in the last four decades, a period which coincides with the implementation of neoliberal policies.

Some analyses, either superficial or profound, lay the responsibility of environmental degradation on humans’ actions in the abstract. These analyses conceal the historical aspects of human actions. Apart from this, we believe it is not desirable to lay the responsibility on Modern ideas, i.e.: a faith in the endless progress of material forces; for these ideas do not unveil the way men use and transform nature at a given moment under the dominant production and reproduction system.

It is necessary to reconsider the foundations of the capitalist system of production to understand environmental problems. Not only is it important to discuss the antagonistic relation capital-work, but also the contradiction present in the pair capital-nature: nature’s capacity to supply and assimilate is limited and, therefore, incompatible with the unlimited accumulative characteristic of capitalism. Given the atomized and anarchist structure of capitalism, human beings relate to nature through private ownership and commodification. Human beings are alienated from the natural world, and Capitalism fetishizes nature.

The State professes to be the mediator between Capital and nature by regulating access and exploitation. However, policies aiming at privatizing State owned companies, market deregulation and open economic policies jammed State mechanisms which safeguarded nature. Therefore, capitalism accelerated its dominion over nature in order to produce surplus value. This is an extensive and intensive process simultaneously. It is extensive because Capital ownership keeps expanding, capturing more and more parts of nature and advancing its frontiers of extraction. And it is intensive because of its growing need for greater amounts of natural assets and a greater subjugation of natural forces.

In the same way, relaxation of government regulations also accelerates contamination processes given that the responsibility of the disposal of solid, liquid, and gaseous waste depends on individual capitals, which tend not to treat them properly. The logic of maximization of profits exposes the fact that the protection of the environment is not part of the productive expense of capital.

2) Environmental inequalities

Having analysed the specific characteristics of the capitalist way of production in terms of its relation to nature, we will now focus on the socio-political impacts. Whereas concepts such as social or economic inequalities are widespread, we believe it is necessary to coin the term environmental inequalities in order to evince the power relations that are also reproduced in the ecological field.

There are two ways in which this environmental inequality is manifested: inequality in the access to and control of natural assets, and inequality in the access to a healthy environment. The first one indicates the existent asymmetries of power to dispose, benefit, and utilize assets that are essential to human life, such as water, soil and energy. And the second way in which inequality is manifested is related to the protection of the environment and the asymmetries of power in the distribution of environmental damage resulting from productive activities.

In the case of mining and hydrocarbon extraction, both ways of inequality are involved. All around the world, transnational capitals capture these activities and prevent local communities from accessing. As a result, they are forced to relocate. Moreover, extraction is made through low-cost methods which result in serious damage to the environment: the use of great amounts of water, contamination with chemicals, gas burning, etc. Transportation is also dangerous either for the breakage of slurry, gas and oil pipelines, or the leakage of oil tankers.

The persistence and magnitude of environmental inequalities are generally a key factor for socio-environmental conflicts: i.e. disputes over the appropriation or maintenance of natural assets locally, nationally and internationally. At the same time, these environmental inequalities coexist with other types of social inequalities, generating new conflicts based on old unequal relations, just like the well-known unequal exchange between “northern “and “southern” countries.

The big demand centres, together with the major rates of consumption and contamination are in the “northern” countries, whereas poorest countries are given the role of mere suppliers of natural assets A fact that illustrates this is the percentage of greenhouse gas emissions: 80% is produced by 20% of the world population, concentrated in USA , Europe and Japan .

The international division of labour is re edited and the regions where natural wealth abounds are coveted for capitalist appropriation. Because of Latin American natural wealth, this region is a great supplier of commodities, food and energy to industrialized economies; and, at the same time, the wealthier countries try to transfer the environmental costs of the dirtiest industries to it. A familiar example is that of the pulp mills in Argentina : UPM (former Botnia), generated the greatest and best-known conflicts.

At a national level, environmental inequalities also interact with other kinds of inequalities. Under normal conditions of accumulation, capital appropriation progressively curtails the access to natural assets and distributes environmental degradation among the poor, black, native peoples, farmers, etc. In times of crisis, either economic or ecological, inequality becomes even more marked given that capital will try survive at all costs by transferring the losses of its activities to other social sectors.

3) From extractivism to neoextractivism.

Having analysed the inequalities mentioned above, the challenge Latin America faces as regards the environment becomes evident. Despite considerable political changes in the region during the last decade, progressive governments have not been able to change the role assigned to their countries in the international division of labour, and at times, this role has been accented. Venezuela and Bolivia , for example, have had a remarkable role at international level, as it was seen during the Copenhagen summit last December by placing the responsibility for climatic change on the capitalist system. At the same time, it is necessary to emphasize the importance of the Peoples’ World Conference promoted by the Bolivian president Evo Morales, which took place in Cochabamba last April. However, the pending tasks at national spheres are numerous. Whereas extractivist policies were predominant during the neoliberal stage, this last decade is characterized by what the Uruguayan investigator Eduardo Gudynas called neoextractivism.

The term extractivism refers to a preponderance of economic activities based on the removal of great amounts of natural assets. These assets are limitedly or not at all industrialized and are destined to international markets. For Latin America, this is not new; it has been the same since colonial times. However, it is important to point out the significant function of the neoliberal policies implemented during the nineties as facilitators of the agro export model. At that time, legislation was passed favourable for capitals.

Despite having a critical rhetoric about neoliberalism, progressive governments still introduce policies which incorporate parts of the existing extactivism combined with new characteristics. Neoextractivism promotes a developing model based on intensive and extensive nature exploitation, which sustains a weakly diversified production network and depends on international markets. High international prices intensify oil, mineral and monoculture exportations. In this context, the State takes up a more active role in these sectors of the economy. It seeks to capture higher incomes from these transactions so as to redistribute it through social-aid policies. Many times, these policies are legitimized by the peoples, although the limits they present are clear. Apart form the negative impact on nature, environmental inequalities increase in regions where natural wealth abounds. Far from being a coincidence, environmental conflicts directly result from this new way of extraction: local farmers and natives facing transnational oil and mining companies, or resisting being expelled from their lands as a consequence of monoculture.

It is hard to believe that Latin American governments will change the approach of their policies in the short run, and social tensions are thought to continue during the next years. Even though Gudynas perceives the difference existing between countries according to their State intervention and the way they assume the extractive economic model, we believe it is necessary to emphasize these differences.

In some cases, these sectors are kept in private hands, as can be seen in Argentina . Hydrocarbon exploitation is still Capital’s privilege, despite the abrupt decrease of reserves and the energetic crisis that has hit the world economy for the last years. Large-scale entrepreneurship of open air mining companies spreads despite the negative consequences on the environment and people’s health. Transgenic soy plantations keep expanding, leading to two harmful consequences: national food sovereignty is put at risk, and more contamination is produced by the wider use of agrochemicals.

On the other hand, there are countries that tighten State control over extractive economies such as Venezuela . The State managed to seize control of most oil wells through significant reforms in legislations and renegotiation of contracts. Of course, the environment impacts of hydrocarbon exploitation do not disappear only through a change in the way control is assumed. Nevertheless, it is important to point out State control as a stepping stone for social management of both the activities and their impact.

Political and social transformation is indispensable for a democratic planning of natural assets exploitation and the protection of the environment. This also requires a cultural transformation, which would stimulate a participatory democracy. Last but not least, advancing towards an ecological society is a utopia if capitalist fundaments of production and reproduction are not questioned.

*Published in www.vocesenelfenix.com in July 2010.

Translated by Laura Mattas.

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