31 Aug 2011

'economics can be bent towards serving the needs of humanity and nature rather than its own violent abstract growth'

Babylon and Beyond: The Economics of Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Globalist and Radical Green Movements (Review)

This is a vital book for those who, like me, recognise that there is much to stand against in our current consumer culture, but who find themselves caught between light-bulb replacing platitudes on one side, and angry radicalism on the other. It turns out that the protest movement is broader and more diverse than I realised, and more thought-out and intentional than the news footage would imply.

Anyone with a social conscience and a eye on the newspapers knows that the consumer society is not all it seems, that there is a catalogue of atrocities behind the shiny veneer. We know that the gap between the rich and the poor is widening, that trade is unfair, that our consumption patterns are unsustainable, and that globalisation has not delivered its much lauded benefits evenly. The problem is, what do you do about it? How else could it work? And even if we can imagine an alternative, where do you start dismantling a whole world order?

Babylon and Beyond explores the many different answers to those questions. For some, the answer lies in reform of our financial institutions, making sure globalisation continues, but more fairly, at a workable pace. Others believe that the system is beyond repair, and we need communism instead, or to revert to peasant farming and self-sufficiency. Some want to focus on corporations, others on monetary reform. There are an awful lot of ideas and potential solutions out there, some good, practical and possible, others not so useful.

Derek Wall is a historian and an economist, and a leading member of the UK Green Party, which makes him the perfect guide through this maze of ideas. Wall knows which voices are the ones worth listening too, whether he agrees with them or not. So George Soros and Joseph Stiglitz get a whole chapter between them, as the leading voices for change within the capitalist system, a kind of `more but better' globalisation that Wall suggests `illustrates the truth that a bridge that only stands on one side of the river is no bridge at all'. David Korten and Naomi Klein, with their focus on corporations and brands, are another chapter. Localism, marxism and anarchism are also explored.

For me personally, the chapter on ecosocialism resonated the most, a marriage between green politics and a marxist understanding of capitalism. The view that capitalism is responsible for the current ecological crisis is self-evident to me, so I sympathise with the ecosocialist cause. I also value the insight that there are two kinds of environmentalism - north and south. In the north, environmentalism is a choice, an optional concern. In the south, it is a matter of life and death.

The future will undoubtedly pick and choose from many of the different philosophies here, but what I appreciate most is that Wall is confident that these movements are not wasting their time. Although some are not going far enough, and some are barking up the wrong tree, Wall sees hope in all sorts of places, like the slow movement, open source software, allotments. In fact underpinning the book is the belief that `economics can be bent towards serving the needs of humanity and nature rather than its own violent abstract growth', and that's an important message.

Jeremy Williams

30 Aug 2011

My manifesto!

Book Review: "The Rise of the Green Left" by Derek Wall

Derek Wall is a former Speaker of the Green Party of England & Wales and a key proponent of the growing ecosocialist movement which is the subject of his book, "The Rise of the Green Left". He teaches political economy, but this is no dry academic text riddled with political theory. Rather, it is a cri de coeur, with a vital analysis of the problems confronting the planet as untrammelled capitalism hungrily gobbles up our biosphere, spreading the poisonous profits it generates so unequally that billions either go hungry or compliantly join in the rape and destruction of our living space, buying into the lie that their hard work will eventually be rewarded.

Derek Wall contrasts the long term sustainability of the shared Commons, written about extensively by Elinor Ostrom, with the inherent need for capitalism to create goods which become obsolete sooner and sooner, either via technical breakdown or aspirational shifts in fashion. The corollary is the burgeoning waste of resources even at a time of rapidly increasing resource scarcity - something which does not alarm capitalism given that it thrives on scarcity. Capitalism is driven by a mechanism that ignores morality - even superficially "green" initiatives such as growing biofuels for American and European cars in Colombia are shown to have involved armed gangs torturing and murdering local farmers into selling their lands so that traditional, sustainable pastures could be destroyed and replaced with alien, but profitable, biofuel crops. There are echoes here of Joel Bakan's psychological diagnosis of corporate capitalism as essentially psychopathic.

The Commons approach of sharing, in sharp comparison, reduces waste massively and conserves resources, encouraging a socio-economic system based on co-operation and sufficiency as opposed to competition and endless growth. Viewing people as part of Nature rather than either somehow apart from or in dominion over it, ecosocialism seeks to synthesise the most vital aspects of both ecology and socialism, with the inextricable symbiosis between social justice and environmental sustainability emphasised and illustrated again and again.

This is an important document for anyone interested in how green politics can deliver a truly different society and provide an answer to the claim that there is no alternative to capitalism. It challenges socialists to consider the need for sustainability in their thinking about social change. And it challenges the green movement, positing the need for a more coherent ideological narrative to underpin the authentic concerns of many of those involved. Greens who argue for individual or local action alone miss the point that, for example, even if every American citizen took every step argued for by Al Gore in his Inconvenient Truth film, this would achieve barely a third of the required reduction in US carbon emissions. "Lifestyle change is not enough; deeper structural change is needed."

Collective, worldwide action is vital - this timely, highly readable and usefully engaging tome sets out some of the paths we can take towards a far happier world. Tracing the thinking behind a sustainable and just human society back as far as Marx and Engels, the book charts the progress of ecosocialism to date. Latin America is a particular example to the world; but the book also looks at developments elsewhere, including the rise of ecosocialism within green and left political parties like Die Linke in Germany, and the establishment of the global Ecosocialist International Network. It highlights practical soldairty between movements in different parts of the world, such as combined action between Peruvian trade unions and British climate change activists following the Bagua massacre in 2009.

Derek Wall argues for an inclusive approach, embracing a diverse range of strategies and tactics and a wide range of thinking. The leap from where we are now to where we need to be is substantial, and so a welcome segment of the book covers possible transitional steps, such as progressive mutualisation of the economy, land reform and conversion of military production to peaceful and renewable purposes. He explicitly rejects the narrow dogmatic purity that so often stymies the Left, though equally cautions that political parties and individuals within them risk being seduced by power and so absorbed into the mainstream, neutralising their capacity to effect real change. Constant self-challenge and renewal within radical movements are important in order to effectively tackle wider societal issues.


29 Aug 2011

'from Sappho and St Augustine to Sismondi and Schumacher'

I have written eight books on Green Politics, put together this anthology in 1993, met the mother of my kids while I was occupied with Green History.

Alice Walker was so kind to let me include her essay "Nobody was supposed to survive' about the MOVE organisation massacre in Philly, these are the people who Mumia Abu-Jamal was inspired by.

here are some comments and if you want to buy it great but library is even better (ha my publishers hate me!) greener, open source....

'Where Green History really scores is the way in which Derek Wall binds together that would otherwise be interesting but frustratingly disconnected literary snippets. His chapter introductions are extremely helpful in linking the separate parts to what emerges as the `green whole'.' - Jonathon Porritt, BBC Wildlife Magazine

'Derek Wall has assembled some compelling writing to underline how environmental concerns are as old as civilisation itself ... He teases out the beginnings of strands now present in current debate. This is a timely book.' - Tribune

'This book needed writing. It kills off the flip political assumption that environmental concern has no past. We must be grateful to Mr Wall for steering a path through what turns out to be a vast literature - for what is effectively the first time.' - The Spectator

'If you're after a wider and deeper understanding of the green movement and its history, this is for you. - The Herald, Glasgow

'This book contains much that is fascinating and thought-provoking even to someone who thinks they are well-acquainted with the field, and is likely to start more trains of thought than slow them. Surely the intention of all concerned. Take a dip yourself!.' - Venue

'Derek Wall illustrates the history of the environmental debate in this excellent anthology of writings ranging from Sappho and St Augustine to Sismondi and Schumacher.' - The Ecologist --

And a review.

Reader (Cork, Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Green History: Reader in Environmental Literature, Philosophy and Politics (Paperback)
Derek Wall has written a insightful anthology of writings
dealing with humanity and its relations to the environment.
The book has an informative introduction dealing with the origins
of the green movement. Then it goes on to an extract by Alice
Walker (who wrote "The Colour Purple") in which
she describes how a confrontation between Philadelphia police and the controversial
African-American Green group MOVE ended in tragedy.

The subsequent chapters are organised by theme:
for instance, Chapter 2 is about the environmental issues of Ancient
Civilisations (Greece & Rome), while chapter 14 is about "Eco-Feminism"
(which links the oppression of women with the destruction of nature).

The most disturbing sections are in Chapter 4, about anti-ecological
attitudes. We read of Francis Bacon (the philosopher,not the painter)
advocate a technocratic state, US President Andrew Jackson defend the
extermination of the Native Americans, and Sidney and Beatrice Webb
defend Stalin's plans to remould the Soviet environment.

The book is interesting and suprising to read. For instance, I
didn't know John Stuart Mill rejected the idea of "economic growth"
in favour of what we would now call "sustainability", or that he wanted
to protect endangered species (pg.120-1).I knew of Lewis Mumford as
an architectural writer, but in Chapter 7 he calls for an "organic
outlook" that will replace a society based on pollution and
hierarchy to one based on harmony with nature and egalitarianism.
Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" is also quoted, the irresponsible scientist
whose work has disasterous consequences being a metaphor for Green
fears about the "techno-fix". It should be pointed out most of the
Green thinkers in the book aren't against technology as such, only
its most destructive manifestations. There's an interesting passage from
the Victorian socialist writer Edward Carpenter (pgs. 145-6)
about how technology needs to be placed
within an environmentally sound,
human-centred context.

As in any anthology, some readers will wish Author X had been
included and Author Y dropped. I would certainly rather have read
something by the great Victorian nature writer
and liberal reformer Richard Jefferies than
the grumpy reactionary Thomas Carlyle (pg. 144).
Still, Wall has written an entertaining and thought-provoking
book. Recommended to those seeking information on the
Green Movement.

Pimps and economists

Love this, not that I am an anarchist, its poetry.

The concept of an older women as lead singer punk rock goddess is the most political and sweetest thing about the Poison Girls.

This is a message to persons unknown

Persons in hiding. Persons unknown

Survival in silence

Isn't good enough no more

Keeping your mouth shut head in the sand

Terrorists and saboteurs

Each and every one of us

Hiding in shadows persons unknown

Hey there Mr. Average

You don't exist you never did

Hiding in shadows persons unknown

Habits of hiding

Soon will be the death of us

Dying in secret from poisons unknown

This is a message to persons unknown

Strangers and passers-by

Persons unknown

Turning a blind eye

Hope to go unrecognized

Keeping your secrets persons unknown

Housewives and prostitutes

Plumbers in boiler suits

Truants in coffee bars

Who think you're alone

Big men on building sites

Sick men in dressing gowns

Agents in motor cars

Who never go home

Women in factories

One parent families

Women in purdah

Persons unknown

Wild girls and criminals

Rotting in prison cells

Patients in corridors

Persons unknown

Statistics on balance sheets

Numbered and rubberstamped

Blind and invisible

You're lost in your homes

Liggers and layabouts

Lovers on roundabouts

Wake up in the morning

Persons unknown

Accountants in nylon shirts

Feminists in floral skirts

Nurses for when it hurts

Persons unknown

Astronauts and celibates

Deejays and hypocrites

Liars and lunatics

Persons unknown

Hopefuls on football pools

Teachers in empty schools

Kids into heroin not yet full grown

Typists and usherettes

Black men who can't forget

The lonely who long for

Persons unknown

Closet idealists

Baldheaded realists

Rastas and bikers

The voice on the phone

Pimps and economists

Royalty and communists

Rioters and pacifists

Persons unknown

Visionaries with coloured hair

Leather boys who just don't care

Garter girls with time to spare

Persons unknown

Judges with prejudice

Dissidents and anarchists

Policemen deal dirty tricks

To persons unknown

Strikers and pickets

Collectors of tickets

Radical architects

The queen on her throne

Soldiers in uniform

Sailors and stevedores

Beggars and bankers

Perjurers and men of law

Persons unknown

Football crowd hooligans

Bunking off school again

Workers down tools again

United's at home

Smokers with heart disease

Cleaners of lavatories

The old with their memories

Persons unknown

Flesh and blood are who we are

Flesh and blood are what we are

Flesh and blood are who we are

Our cover is blown...

28 Aug 2011

'I simply want to put an end to capitalism before capitalism puts an end to us.’

Hugo Blanco is my inspiration, I am lucky to have spent some time with him, a living legend, he just sent me this from New Internationalist.

He is the most important influence on my practical politics at 77 he fights for indigenous, socialism and ecology!

He says 'I simply want to put an end to capitalism before capitalism puts an end to us.’ that is what it is about!

Hugo Blanco
Hugo Blanco is a legendary figure in Latin America. In the early 1960s, when Blanco led a ‘Land or Death’ peasant uprising that sparked Peru’s first agrarian reform, the military called for his execution. But Blanco’s life was spared following an international campaign led by the likes of Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Che Guevara. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison and eventually served eight. Now a feisty 76, he publishes the Lucha Indígena (

Roxana Olivera
Dressed in blue jeans, an alpaca sweater, sandals and a large straw hat, Hugo Blanco stands outside the main doors of the Gran Hotel Bolívar in downtown Lima. He is holding up the latest issue of Lucha Indígena, just in case I miss him.
Peru’s rulers never liked him, Blanco tells me. But his followers adored him. As soon as he returned to Peru from exile in Sweden in 1978, Blanco was elected to Parliament. Soon afterwards he became a member of Congress – though that did not save him from police brutality. He was once beaten, for instance, when he attended a protest organized by Lima’s street vendors.
In 1983, Blanco was suspended from Congress after accusing General Roberto Clemente Noel of genocide. Twenty years later, a Peruvian truth commission established Noel’s role in violations, tortures and extra-judicial executions during his stint as political-military chief in the highland region of Ayacucho.
‘In the meantime I had to find another way to earn a living,’ Blanco tells me. Ever resourceful, he began to sell coffee as a street vendor, incredibly, just a stone’s throw from Congress – the very institution from which he had been ejected. ‘Many of the employees went out of their way to avoid me, but some bought my coffee, just for the thrill of it,’ he says, laughing. Needless to say, Blanco became the subject of considerable gossip. ‘One day a journalist from one of the local dailies asked me if I was not embarrassed to sell coffee on the street. “Look,” I said, “just two blocks away, other congressmen dressed in expensive suits and ties are selling out the country and they don’t seem to be bothered by it. So why should I be embarrassed by earning a living in an honest manner?”’ I ask if the story made it to the newspaper. ‘Unfortunately not,’ he chortles. ‘I suppose I didn’t give him the quote he was looking for.’
Although Blanco can’t remember how many times he’s been jailed, he’s been on 14 hunger strikes – the latest just last year. ‘In one of those strikes I was so frail that the interior minister of the day actually sent me a coffin as a present!’
Blanco then recalls the details surrounding one of his arrests during the first term of President Alan García. He was taken into custody after a public protest in Pucallpa on 9 February 1989. ‘A comrade saw policemen wrap a banner around my head and throw me into the back of a car. He called other union members in Lima who, in turn, contacted the Secretary General of Amnesty International in London. An international campaign to protest my arrest was mounted right away. That’s why I am not amongst those “disappeared” by García.’
But before they released him, García’s men kicked Blanco in the liver and genitals. He carefully straightens the straw hat that adorns his snowy white head. ‘They kept me on my knees and whenever I fell back on the soles of my feet, they propped me up with blows aimed at my head. As a result I am not too keen on removing my hat,’ he says. As a consequence of so many police beatings a vein burst in his brain. ‘The beatings caused a split between the skull and the brain,’ he explains. After surgery his doctor feared that his skull might not withstand even an accidental minor bump. ‘And so, he ordered me to keep a hat on my head at all times.’
The struggle now is about the survival of all species. To defend Pachamama [Mother Earth] against the predatory multinational timber, mining, oil and gas companies
Blanco then jots down some names on a piece of paper and reads them aloud. It is the names of the people that the national police gunned down at the protest. ‘Eight people dead, twenty-six wounded and eighteen missing,’ Blanco recalls sombrely. ‘I saw a lot of blood in Pucallpa.’
According to Peru’s Association in Defence of Human Rights (Aprodeh), as many as 3,000 peasants took part in that protest. Protesters asked for better prices for their crops and payment for the debt the government had owed rice and corn producers since September 1988. With inflation then running at more than 2,000 per cent and ever-increasing calls for García to resign, demonstrations had become a familiar feature of the Peruvian landscape. ‘And so, President García felt he had to teach the protesters a lesson,’ says Blanco. ‘And, of course, accuse me of terrorism.’
I ask Blanco what experiences stand out in his mind. He takes a deep breath. ‘It’s hard to tell,’ he says softly, his wrinkled fingers constantly fidgeting with his hat. ‘When I was in prison, I was not allowed to speak to my mother in her native Quechua.’ Pause. ‘That affected me a great deal.’ Then he recounts a story told to him when he was a child, which shocked him into numbness. ‘It was the tale of a landowner in my hometown who branded his farmers with the same burning iron rod that he used to brand his animals. That story is to this day engraved in my brain,’ he adds. ‘And, of course, the latest massacre, the Bagua massacre, has also had a profound impact on me.’
Indigenous vanguard

Leading the way: Blanco with Enrique Fernández, editor of Lucha Indígena. Roxana Olivera
On 5 June 2009, a protest in the Bagua region of the Peruvian Amazon turned into a true massacre, Blanco tells me. Amazonian indigenous groups had organized the protest – blocking roads, waterways and pipelines – in reaction to controversial decrees issued by President García – now on his second turn as president. The decrees were designed to enable multinational corporations to pursue oil, gas, lumber and mining projects on communal lands without the consent of indigenous residents. (García has reportedly parcelled out 72 per cent of the Peruvian Amazon to private interests.) When Peruvian police and armed forces were sent to thwart the protest and break up a roadblock along a stretch of highway in the town of Bagua, all hell broke loose. Officially, 24 police and 10 protesters were killed. But eyewitnesses claim that at least 200 indigenous people lost their lives in the deadly encounter. ‘People saw policemen dump bodies into the Marañon and Utcubamba Rivers,’ says Blanco, raising his thick grey eyebrows and wagging his finger in the air.
‘García is notorious for being very economical with the truth. Look, an Awajún woman was helping one indigenous protester, who had been injured, when a policeman asked her: “What are you doing?” She replied, “I’m trying to get medical assistance for this wounded man.” “No,” he said, “no-one has been wounded here.” He took his gun out and shot him dead right in front of her eyes.’
What took place in Bagua is important to Blanco because it illustrates the well-organized nature of the Amazonian indigenous movement. But it also highlights his departure from old-style Marxist thinking. Blanco no longer believes that the struggle is just about class and social justice, or procuring land for disenfranchized peasants.
I don’t do things for people to remember me. I simply want to put an end to capitalism before capitalism puts an end to us
‘The struggle now is about the survival of all species,’ he says. ‘To defend Pachamama [Mother Earth] against the predatory multinational timber, mining, oil and gas companies. These companies are poisoning our rivers, destroying our soil, killing the fish, killing the birds and killing our people, too.’
And this destruction, he says, is with the full support of government authorities who are mere servants of the neoliberal system. ‘We have reached a point where the private ownership of the means of production has turned into the private ownership of the means of destruction,’ he says. And the most sensitive to that ferocious assault on the environment, he emphasizes, are the indigenous people, since they are closely linked to nature. ‘That’s why they are the vanguard in the fight to save Mother Earth.’
Finally, I ask Blanco how he would like to be remembered.
‘Let people remember me any way they want,’ he says with a shrug. ‘I don’t do things for people to remember me. I simply want to put an end to capitalism before capitalism puts an end to us.’
Roxana Olivera is a Peruvian-Canadian freelance journalist who lives in Toronto.

LONDON AFIRE, by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia's links to ecosocialist and deep green politics here

10 August 2011
After decades of political betrayal by the Labour Party, and the blatant attacks on the working class by the Tories (the
British Conservative Party), there has emerged an angry and bitter class that has rocked what was once the center of a
global empire: London.

Fires have erupted In Birmingham, Croydon, Bristol, Liverpool and Tottenham at last count, sparked by the very same
fuse that lit the explosions of the 1960s, and 1990s: police violence-this time against a 29-year old father of four, Mark

But while this cop violence may prove a spark, that doesn’t mean it was the reason. Years of cutbacks, joblessness,
slashed educational opportunities and plain old political mean-spiritedness aimed at the poor and the dispossessed,
immigrants and the like, left sour tastes in the minds of many. Especially in the midst of a city that became the financial
center of Europe, who were living a life of excess and plenty.

Predictably, pols bum-rushed the mike and spat out words that could’ve echoed their American cousins in power in the
’60s, or after the Rodney King police-beating acquittal, which burned Southern California in 1992.

“They’re just criminals–this isn’t about social conditions!”

“These people are just thugs–they’re thieves–that’s all!” (Last time I checked, thieves don’t usually light fires where they

Fires are attempts to destroy: period.

The late Rev. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. said, during the tumult of the ’60s: “A riot is at bottom the language of the unheard.”

For those In power in Britain, they’ve still heard–nothing.

(c) ’11 maj

26 Aug 2011

Green trade union/anti-cuts event in Belfast

I enjoyed taking part in the "Jimmy Browne debate", Greg who organised it and his wife were wonderful hosts, Greg told me a lot about traditions of rural trade unionism with members of agricultural unions fighting against pesticides that harmed them and the wider environment. This in its self was worth the tip.

Greg is an inspiring red-green or green-red, very committed to practical work to advance socialism and environmental sustainability. Can't wait to be back in Belfast again and Portaferry!

With the disturbances going in England it is with no little irony that the Unite union organised the first "Jimmy Browne debate" which took place at the union's office in north Belfast recently.

Speakers included Jimmy Quinn, senior organiser and comrade of Jimmy Browne, the Green Party's Derek Wall and Jimmy Kelly, regional secretary of the Irish region, and chaired by education officer for Ireland Ritchie Browne.

The lunchtime gathering drew progressives from a range of political opinion across the north of Ireland to hear the need for a political alternative which not only puts ordinary people first, but is environmentally sustainable and based on clear socialist principles.

The Unite union education department in Ireland organised the debate as part of its political school for activists and reps. The plan is to establish the debate as a regular fixture in the union's education programme, so enabling ideas and views to be discussed and debated as part of the ongoing process to create a clear political alternative from the failed neoliberal model, which is at the real root of the current wave of unrest.

It is fair to point out that the Good Friday Agreement has created a space for political issues to be discussed, the fact that a trade union is actively facilitating those debates here in northern Ireland is commendable in itself and credit has to be given to those who attended and organised the session.

I would like to think that rural socialist and trade unionist Browne, who the debate was named after, would have approved.

Greg Sachno



25 Aug 2011

'tell an addict to cut their habit and they get angry'

A blast from the past but gives you an idea of my approach when I was Green Party of England and Wales Principal Speaker a year or two back.

Talking around the theme 'Catastrophe and Resistance', Derek Wall outlined the ways in which radical green politics can equip us to challenge the threats of ecological and economic catastrophe. Dismissing the Tories as 'green pretenders', he cited conventional politicians 'lack of understanding, lack of vision and lack of aspiration.'

"Gordon Brown commissioned the Stern review, but there is little evidence that he has read it.

"We have new green, the painted on environmentalism of Cameron, Campbell and Brown, united yes by ecotaxes but also by support for nuclear weapons and the insanity of ever increasing economic growth. They use accountancy to pretend they are doing something, but its more like pushing food around your plate than eating up the problem."

"Cameron the neo-con backs war in Iraq as well.

"The bribery scandal, with investigations of alleged BAE payments to Saudi Arabia, was halted by the Blair government, and reveals the truth. They stand from top to toe in blood, shattered bones and entrails. And in this week's budget, an additional £400 million of public money was set aside to fund 'defence', a euphemistic way to describe spending more on death and destruction in our name. Trident alone will cost as much as £70bn on mega death.

"Addicted to profit based on consumption of fossil fuels, old-style politicians are fighting desperately to maintain an unsustainable way of living.

"But tell an addict to cut their habit and they get angry, everyday politicians are tightening the tourniquet and mainlining on petroleum. They can't see the truth, blinded as they are by corrupt desires."


24 Aug 2011

Councillors lack strategy to fight the cuts.

So what is Plan B? *( An article on local government and cuts by Sean Thompson )

In an interview in the August edition of Environmental Health News, Bill Randall, Leader of Brighton Council, said that while the Green Party in Brighton won with a manifesto that promised to resists the cuts to the greatest possible extent, the council cannot actually stop them. He said he is not going to defy the government, adding ‘I am not going to be a George Lansbury.’

Of course, he was referring to the 1921 Poplar Rates Revolt - the refusal of Poplar councillors, led by George Lansbury, to collect a precept for the LCC and other London wide bodies in protest against the unfair burden the then rating system placed on a desperately poor borough like Poplar. The majority of the borough’s councillors were committed to prison for contempt, but after six weeks, in the face of huge public support for the councillors and other councils starting to threaten to take the same action, the Government backed down, releasing the councillors and rushing a Bill through parliament which effectively equalised the burden of rates between rich and poor boroughs.


23 Aug 2011

Passivhaus positive!

“A Passivhaus is a building, for which thermal comfort can be achieved solely by post-heating or post-cooling of the fresh air mass, which is required to achieve sufficient indoor air quality conditions – without the need for additional recirculation of air.”

...meaning the heating requirement in a Passivhaus is reduced to the point where a traditional heating system is no longer considered essential. Cooling is also minimised by the same principles and through the use of shading and in some cases via the pre-cooling of the supply air. Night purging and the use of natural cross-ventilation through open windows is encouraged during the summer months.

This sounded interesting, wish they would build affordable housing for rent, we used to have council housing, we need to grow it back, housing has become a speculative commodity with the hyper-rich living in castles and young people struggling to find somewhere to live.

Nonetheless this sounds positive.

UK's largest Passivhaus development to be built

20 August 2011
The London Borough of Camden is to become the home of the UK's largest development of Passivhaus residential properties.

Passivhaus is a German standard for energy efficiency in construction and is increasingly being used across the world.

Energy saving features of the 53 homes to be built in the borough will include extensive levels of insulation and high levels of air tightness.

"As the need to create ever more energy efficient housing to mitigate against the rise in fuel prices becomes more critical, so will the use of systems like Passivhaus become more common as the standard to deliver affordable energy housing," explained John Frankiewicz, chief executive of Willmott Dixon Capital Works, which has been contracted to build the homes.

"Camden is making a very imaginative and exciting statement on delivering low carbon housing that others will be watching closely."

The development forms part of the borough's Community Investment Programme to build new energy efficient social housing for tenants.


Blood on the margarine?

Unilever has a problem: For many of its products, the company buys palm oil from one of the most ruthless producers in Indonesia, Wilmar International.

The world’s largest multinational palm oil company is notorious for illegal logging and severe human rights violations. Now, one of its subsidiaries has once again resorted to violence on the Indonesian island of Sumatra: The Brimob, a special operations force unit, was hired to destroy a whole village and shoot at the indigenous people.

The reason: A man had wanted to sell palm oil fruit which the company claims to own. The methods of its suppliers have been long known to Unilever. We want to remind the company of its responsibility, and we demand the palm oil in its products to be consistently replaced with native fats.

Please sign our letter of protest to Unilever: www.rainforest-rescue.org/mailalert One more request: The residents of the affected village are left with nothing, five of them still remain in prison.

We collect donations which will be used to pay for the rebuilding of their homes, for legal fees, for the victims’ medical care and to support the protest campaigns in the provincial capital of Jambi, Sumatra. https://www.rainforest-rescue.org/donationalert/81/indonesia-victims-of-palm-oil-need-our-help Thank you for your support.

Yours sincerely, Christiane Zander

Rettet den Regenwald e. V. Hamburg, Germany+49 40 4103804

21 Aug 2011

Repeat after me 'Even though we disagree we share a common enemy'

Theres always been a pattern of struggle and defeat
Never that cycle incomplete
Never enough to tip the scales
Too many people rotting in jails
Or bloodied on the battlefields
The history books from every age
Have the same words written on every page
Always starting with Revolution
And ending with Capitulation
Always silenced by the truncheon
Or bought out with concessions
Always repetition...
Repetition... repetition... repetition...
Im the boss of the factory
Im in charge of the U.K.C.
Shopfloor workers run and fetch
As I sit around and smugly watch
And the process makes me stinking rich
Were all links in the factory chain
And the chain grows longer day by day
And whilst were apart
The process wont stop
Repetition... repetition... repetition...
But were kept apart by philosophies
And moral stances and policies
Well be stuck in our own little ghettos forever
Til we start to work together
Together... Together... Together... Together in the open or together in our little heaven?
Fighting for total change, or working for concessions?
Do we take what is ours, or ask that it be given?
Are we stealing it together, or asking for permission?
Even though we disagree we share a common enemy
Our methods may not be the same
But together we can break the chain
Different aims, different means, with common ground in between
Dont sit back, its time to act
This life is ours, lets snatch it back
Even though we disagree we share a common enemy
Our methods may not be the same
But together we can break the chain
Different aims, different means, with common ground in between
Dont sit back, its time to act
This life is ours, lets snatch it back
The time has come to make a choice
Stop taking orders from His Masters Voice

Nick Clegg is 'destroying the Liberal Democrat party and its progressive soul'

Alexis Rowell’s resignation letter:

Dear Nick,
I’m afraid I’ve decided to leave the Liberal Democrats. My principal reason for doing so is Chris Huhne’s support for nuclear power. Opposition to a new round of nuclear power stations has always seemed to me to be a key Liberal Democrat policy and a potent symbol of Lib Dem values. Before Fukishima I could think of many reasons why the Lib Dems were right to oppose nuclear power.With that tragedy still ongoing, and rivalled only by Chernobyl in terms of its adverse impact on nature and mankind, the list grows ever longer.
When I was interviewed as a potential Lib Dem councillor candidate in 2006 I said that the only thing I could foresee which would make me leave the party was if it decided to support nuclear power. The party hasn’t, but Chris Huhne and the Lib Dem coalition negotiators have.
As I think you know I’ve also been quite unimpressed with the coalition’s general record on environmental issues. The bar set by the previous government was low but so far, in the opinion of all too many environmentalists and commentators, you’ve sailed under it. I joined the party primarily because of its environmental policies, and I worked tirelessly in Camden in 2006-10 to promote sustainability with a Lib Dem face, so this feels like a personal betrayal.
However I’m also horrified by what the coalition’s policies are doing to the social fabric. I recognise that any government would have had to make difficult decisions, but I’m still shocked by the fact that you signed the foreword to the bill to privatise the NHS, by the draconian frontloaded cuts to local government, by the free schools policy, by the virtual abandonment of state-funded higher education, by the lack of any action on banker bonuses and exorbitant pay in general, by the decision to fully privatise the Royal Mail, and by a host of other free market or libertarian policies which I didn’t vote for and which I can’t support.
I hope one day you manage to find your voice in the coalition and that it ends up being the progressive voice of the Liberal Democrat Party that I joined when Tony Blair launched his illegal war in Iraq. However for the moment I can see no value in your being Deputy Prime Minister or in the Lib Dems being part of the government. Your participation is not only legitimising the Conservative Party’s confused and troubling agenda, it is also destroying the Liberal Democrat party and its progressive soul. I therefore feel that I have no choice but to leave.
Yours sincerely,
Alexis Rowell
Liberal Democrat Councillor, London Borough of Camden, 2006-10

20 Aug 2011

Green Party policy endorsed by Treasury Committee!

The Green Party have welcomed a report from the Treasury Select Committee of MPs, saying that it endorses their long-held position on the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). PFI is used to gain private sector money for public projects.

The report described PFI as "extremely inefficient" and inherently inflexible (especially for NHS projects). It said that it is an "illusion" that PFI shields the taxpayer from risk.

The cross-party report also pointed out that the long-term expense of PFI deals are now much higher than more conventional forms of borrowing.

MPs found that the cost of capital for a typical PFI project is over eight per cent - double the long-term government gilt rate of approximately four per cent.

It also emerged that the majority of PFI debt does not appear in official data. If it were, the UK's national debt would increase by £35 billion, or two and a half per cent of GDP.

"We need efficient, high quality and publicly-owned services provided in the most cost effective way," said Caroline Lucas, Green Party leader and MP for Brighton Pavilion.

She pointed out that in opposition, both George Osborne and Vince Cable said that PFI was poor value for the taxpayer. Osborne, now Chancellor, described it as "a discredited model" whilst. Cable, who is now Business Secretary called it "a dishonest system of accounting, designed to hide taxpayers' liabilities".

Lucas insisted that, "Local schools and hospitals should be publicly owned and publicly accountable - not primarily vehicles for private profit. Instead, with PFI, we have had businesses build schools and hospitals, and then we pay them several times over for the privilege."

The Green Party opposes private financing schemes, and is calling for public funds to be used to build all new hospitals, schools and other public service infrastructure.

Lucas added, "If the renegotiation of existing privatised contracts is impossible, the government should at least aim to bring all affected facilities back into public ownership as soon as possible".


17 Aug 2011

Liberal Democrat resigns to join Greens citing coalition assault on 'social fabric'

“I have been growing increasingly disillusioned with the Lib Dems since the party joined the coalition government. My principal reason for leaving was Chris Huhne’s support for nuclear power, but I have also been completely unimpressed with the coalition’s overall environmental record and appalled by what their policies and cuts are doing to the social fabric.” said Alexis Rowell on tuesday.

The former Liberal Democrat councillor and Camden Eco Champion, Alexis Rowell, will be the Green Party candidate for the Highgate by-election on Thursday 15th September.

Alexis formally resigned from the Lib Dems on Monday, paving the way for his selection by the Greens on Tuesday night. In his resignation letter to Nick Clegg he said: “I recognise that any government would have had to make difficult decisions, but I’m still shocked by the fact that you signed the foreword to the bill to privatise the NHS, by the draconian frontloaded cuts to local government, by the free schools policy, by the virtual abandonment of state-funded higher education, by the lack of any action on banker bonuses and exorbitant pay in general, by the decision to fully privatise the Royal Mail, and by a host of other free market or libertarian policies which I didn’t vote for and which I can’t support.”

The Green Party already have won councillor in the ward and can win.

If you would like to help with the campaign please contact Natalie Bennett on natalie.bennett@greenparty.org.uk


Return of the eco champ and this time he is battling for the Green Party.

This is his Lib Dem resignation letter:

16 Aug 2011

16 tons 'a kind of an anticapitalist masterpiece'

"Sixteen Tons" is a song about the life of a coal miner, first recorded in 1946 by American country singer Merle Travis and released on his box set album Folk Songs of the Hills the following year. A 1955 version recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford reached number one in the Billboard charts, while another version by Frankie Laine was released only in the United Kingdom, where it gave Ford's version competition.

According to Travis, the line from the chorus "another day older and deeper in debt" was a phrase often used by his father, a coal miner himself.[4] This and the line "I owe my soul to the company store" is a reference to the truck system and to debt bondage. Under this scrip system, workers were not paid cash; rather they were paid with non-transferable credit vouchers which could be exchanged for only goods sold at the company store. This made it impossible for workers to store up cash savings. Workers also usually lived in company-owned dormitories or houses, the rent for which was automatically deducted from their pay. In the United States the truck system and associated debt bondage persisted until the strikes of the newly-formed United Mine Workers and affiliated unions forced an end to such practices.

Ümit Kıvanç used several versions of the song in his documentary 16 Tons - A movie about conscience and free market in 2011.

Dear Derek,
One of my close friends in Istanbul, Umit Kivanc, made a new experimental-documentary movie on coal mining and free-market economy. I think it's a kind of an anticapitalist masterpiece.
Now it has an English version, and it can be seen on Vimeo in full length (85 min). Here is the link:
I hope you enjoy.
My best.
Umit Sahin

Ümit Şahin

15 Aug 2011

A song for David Starkey

'Evil men with racist views'

Vote in the Total Politics awards!

Click here to vote in the Total Politics Blog Awards 2011

Green Party councillor Gus Hoyt 'Do we build a better future or live in a police state?

By Gus Hoyt
Green Party councillor for Ashley ward

I would like to start with one important premise which has been lost in the divisive language of the last few days: to understand is not to condone. I wish to understand what has happened to our society to create the extreme behaviour of the last few days; but I do not wish to condone violent behaviour.
Many independent shops, homes and charities have been targeted in these recent events. So many people from different backgrounds have been arrested and the confusion – and therefore the need for understanding – has continued to grow. This is such a wide-ranging issue I will omit more than I can include. Such is the nature of limited space.
I am a pacifist who understands that violence begets violence and that a violent backlash against the rioters on the streets (with water cannons and plastic bullets) and in the judicial process (through exaggerated sentencing) will only create more mistrust, anger and ultimately violent behaviour in years to come.
Society should be based upon understanding, unity, compassion and understanding. It is clear that the past 30 years have seen our society move away from such ideals and head towards individualism, competition, greed and violence.
An African proverb has been bouncing around the internet the last few days: “If children are not welcomed into the village, they will burn it down to feel its warmth.” To me this sums it all up.
We have demonised the younger generation and condemned many to an urban environment where gang-rule and violence is a common language. I spent many hours talking to people on the streets after Monday’s destruction and everyone, no matter what solution they proposed, believed that the hope of practical and higher education leading to meaningful employment has almost been lost.


Global green politics

1 Global green politics

The term ‘green politics’ was once synonymous
with the German Greens, who have participated in
governments for much of the last three decades. But
Green parties have now gone global – from Kenya
to Mongolia, Taiwan to Brazil. And green political
activity encompasses non-electoral campaigns and
direct-action techniques the world over.

IN 1983, 28 MEMBErS of the German Green Party
were elected to the West German parliament. Dressed
informally in jeans, some of them brought in plants to
place on their desks. Their colorful arrival contrasted
with the suited members from the traditional parties.
Their success marked the first entry into a national
parliament of a group of greens. The German Greens
were elected in 1983 on a platform with four key
elements: ecology, social justice, peace and grassroots
Green parties were born in the early 1970s, grew
in the 1980s and green politics is now a global
phenomenon. Green politics is first and foremost the
politics of ecology; a campaign to preserve the planet
from corporate greed, so we can act as good ancestors
to future generations. However, green politics involves
more than environmental concern.
Ecology may be the first pillar of green politics but
it is not the only one. Andrew Dobson, an English
Green Party member and academic, has argued that
green politics is a distinct political ideology. While
much ink has been spilt defining the term ‘ideology’,
Dobson argues that it is a set of political ideas rather
than a single idea, even one as powerful as concern for
the environment. He argues that a political ideology
provides a map of reality, which helps to show its
adherents how to understand the world. He also
believes that ideologies demand the transformation
of society. He uses the term ‘ecologism’ to distinguish
green politics from simple ‘environmentalism’.
The second pillar of green politics – social justice
– is vital. Greens argue that environmental protection
should not come at the expense of the poor or lead to
inequality. This social justice element places greens
on the left of the political spectrum. Greens argue,
however, that the right-left spectrum is not the only
dimension of politics, not least because there are many
political parties that are committed to social justice
but which fail to protect nature.
The third pillar – grassroots democracy – also
distinguishes greens from many traditional socialists
who have often promoted centralized governance of
societies. This is a principle that greens share with
anarchists and other libertarians.



Saturday 1st October, London
The economic crisis of 2008 is still gripping Europe. Governments are telling us that we are all in it together. But we are not responsible for this crisis of the neo-liberal system.

The EU Central Bank and the IMF are trying to impose austerity programmes on a scale not seen since the 1930s. This means mass unemployment, wage cuts, reforms of pensions, and privatisation of public services. Meanwhile the same bankers collect bonuses worth millions. But these programmes are not working. Greece and Ireland are now asking for more help as they are unable to pay back the first financial bail-out.

There is an alternative.

This crisis is not our crisis. We should refuse to pay their debt. Together across Europe, we must take action to resist these attacks and to defend our public services and jobs. And together, we must organise for a society which meets the needs of people and the planet, not private profit.

Join us in London on Saturday 1st October 2011

Delegations and representatives welcome from trade-unions, social movements and progressive organisations from across Europe.

14 Aug 2011

NATIONAL DEBTS, by Mumia Abu-Jamal

NATIONAL DEBTS, by Mumia Abu-Jamal

[col. writ. 7/30/11], Mumia Abu-Jamal

Amidst the political brinksmanshlp occasioned by the rising of the national debt ceiling, a question arises.

What is the nation‘s debt?

Of the 14.3 trillion cited in published accounts, over a quarter of that amount, or $4.4 trillion, is the projected costs of the mad adventures In Iraq and Afghanistan, in military material expenditures, wages, financial supports to occupation governments, and perhaps the most steadily increasing price tag: medical bills for tens of thousands of those wounded in the wars--costs that will continue to accrue for the rest of their lives.

Indeed, the needless, wasteful and disastrous wars (talk about weapons of mass destruction!) account for 31% of the rampaging national debt!

Should the millions of Americans who took to the streets in the largest anti-war demonstrations in generations, who warned against this folly In Spring 2003, be saddled with this stunning burden of trilIions?

That is not fair.

Yet, it is they who will suffer the effects of cuts in social services, like Medicare, Medicaid, and lengthened work lives in order to access Social Security, and worsening schools as teachers are bullied by anti-union ideologues barking for their corporate masters on Wall street.

How is this their debt?

And as we speak of ‘national debt’, why do we not discuss the almost immeasurable debt owed to the Cherokee, Lenape, Iroquois, Navaho and Seminole clans and nations?

I‘ve never heard that discussed.

What about the debt owed to millions of Mandinka, Wolof, Ashanti, Akan, Fula and Pular clans and nations stolen for centuries from West Africa to enrich and build this nation?

These debts are not, and have never been tallied up.

Was this just a freebie?

Meanwhile, the political class loads more and more burdens on the backs of the people, to please their billionaire and corporate sponsors.

All they can do is promise more.

(c) ’11 maj

13 Aug 2011

Feed the world without destroying the planet tour coming soon!

Really pleased to be on board with this, Mindanao is the site of an ecosocialist struggle, a little bit of hope that ecosocialism via indigenous, workers and peasants can grow in Asia like it has in Latin America....I would love to get out to Mindanao at some point (however trying to stick to my no fly policy!) , any how spread the word, this is going to be good.

Feed the world without destroying the planet
Tour of Philipina Ecosocialist

In November 2011 Socialist Resistance and Green Left will be hosting a national tour on the vital subject of food production and food sovereignty.

This is a crucial subject in a world where soil erosion, desertification and famine for millions of poor people is an ever-increasing reality while the profits of large landowners and supermarkets continue to soar.

The main speaker will be Maria Neri B. Pampilo from Mindanao in the Philippines. Maria is a longstanding activist and ecosocialist. She will share her fascinating experiences in the struggle for land reform and for ecologically sustainable food production.

The rise in monocultures, particularly in the countries of the south, together with climate change itself is one of the bases for soil erosion and desertification. Agribusiness calls for ever-increasing yields which may have benefit in the short term but at a devastating long-term cost. The massive increase in pesticides pollutes rivers and oceans too, while forests are cleared.

The cost to human communities is also immeasurable – peasants are thrown off their land as land reform is reversed in the insatiable search for profit. Millions are forced to migrate to unsustainable cities – living in shantytowns with no infrastructure.

Samir Amin, the economist and writer on development issues, has argued that agriculture is one of the new frontiers for capital. Over the last few years appreciable amounts of speculative capital has moved into food production forcing food prices up. At the same time there has been a massive expansion of a unprecedented phenomena – the land grabbing, particularly in Africa, by both private and state capital, for the production of both food and agrifuels.

There is resistance – from the growth of militant peasant and indigenous organisations in many parts of the globe, the pioneering of organic agriculture in countries as diverse as Cuba, Venezuela and the Philippines and of guerilla gardening in the deserts of post-industrial cities in the United States such as Chicago.

But the opportunity for ecosocialists in Britain to explore these topics in depth doesn’t come often and we hope you won’t miss this opportunity

For further information contact:


Confirmed dates:

Leeds Thursday 10 November

London Saturday 12 November, University of London Union, Malet Street

Brighton Monday 14 November

Birmingham Tuesday 15 November

Cambridge Thursday 17 November

Manchester Saturday 19 November

Oxford Thursday 24 November

12 Aug 2011

'make the world your priority try to live your life ecologically'

I could say fck the lifestyle, study the politics, its not about changing your light bulbs it is about learning about Simon Bolivar and making the change! Nice song though...enjoy

is it right or wrong
try to find a place
we can all belong?
be as one
try to get on by
if we unify?
we should really try...

all this time
spinning round and round
made the same mistakes
that we've always found
surely now
we could move along
make a better world?
no it can't be wrong

let's come together
right now
oh yeah
in sweet harmony

let's come together
right now
oh yeah
in sweet harmony

let's come together
right now
oh yeah
in sweet harmony

let's come together
right now
oh yeah

time is running out
let there be no doubt
we should sort things out
if we care
like we say we do
not just empty words
for a week or two

make the world
your priority
try to live your life
play a part
in a greater scheme
try to live the dream
on a wider scene

let's come together
right now
oh yeah
in sweet harmony

How they learnt to riot and burn?

I was on the train listening to feral youth, trainee bankers smug as they talked about stealing from us, stealing big style is the socially accepted norm, cops taking bungs from Murdoch to turn a blind eye to phone hacking, city hacks, rioters....its a system which does not even disguise the greed. Can we move from a society based on burn, steal and batter? We have to.


Feral Capitalism Hits the Streets
by David Harvey
11 August 2011

“Nihilistic and feral teenagers” the Daily Mail called them: the crazy youths from all walks of life who raced around the streets mindlessly and desperately hurling bricks, stones and bottles at the cops while looting here and setting bonfires there, leading the authorities on a merry chase of catch-as-catch-can as they tweeted their way from one strategic target to another.

The word “feral” pulled me up short. It reminded me of how the communards in Paris in 1871 were depicted as wild animals, as hyenas, that deserved to be (and often were) summarily executed in the name of the sanctity of private property, morality, religion, and the family. But then the word conjured up another association: Tony Blair attacking the “feral media,” having for so long been comfortably lodged in the left pocket of Rupert Murdoch only later to be substituted as Murdoch reached into his right pocket to pluck out David Cameron.

There will of course be the usual hysterical debate between those prone to view the riots as a matter of pure, unbridled and inexcusable criminality, and those anxious to contextualize events against a background of bad policing; continuing racism and unjustified persecution of youths and minorities; mass unemployment of the young; burgeoning social deprivation; and a mindless politics of austerity that has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with the perpetuation and consolidation of personal wealth and power. Some may even get around to condemning the meaningless and alienating qualities of so many jobs and so much of daily life in the midst of immense but unevenly distributed potentiality for human flourishing.

If we are lucky, we will have commissions and reports to say all over again what was said of Brixton and Toxteth in the Thatcher years. I say ‘lucky’ because the feral instincts of the current Prime Minister seem more attuned to turn on the water cannons, to call in the tear gas brigade and use the rubber bullets while pontificating unctuously about the loss of moral compass, the decline of civility and the sad deterioration of family values and discipline among errant youths.

But the problem is that we live in a society where capitalism itself has become rampantly feral. Feral politicians cheat on their expenses, feral bankers plunder the public purse for all its worth, CEOs, hedge fund operators and private equity geniuses loot the world of wealth, telephone and credit card companies load mysterious charges on everyone’s bills, shopkeepers price gouge, and, at the drop of a hat swindlers and scam artists get to practice three-card monte right up into the highest echelons of the corporate and political world.

A political economy of mass dispossession, of predatory practices to the point of daylight robbery, particularly of the poor and the vulnerable, the unsophisticated and the legally unprotected, has become the order of the day. Does anyone believe it is possible to find an honest capitalist, an honest banker, an honest politician, an honest shopkeeper or an honest police commisioner any more? Yes, they do exist. But only as a minority that everyone else regards as stupid. Get smart. Get Easy Profits. Defraud and steal! The odds of getting caught are low. And in any case there are plenty of ways to shield personal wealth from the costs of corporate malfeasance.

What I say may sound shocking. Most of us don’t see it because we don’t want to. Certainly no politician dare say it and the press would only print it to heap scorn upon the sayer. But my guess is that every street rioter knows exactly what I mean. They are only doing what everyone else is doing, though in a different way – more blatently and visibly in the streets. Thatcherism unchained the feral instincts of capitalism (the “animal spirits” of the entreprenuer they coyly named it) and nothing has transpired to curb them since. Slash and burn is now openly the motto of the ruling classes pretty much everywhere.

This is the new normal in which we live. This is what the next grand commission of enquiry should address. Everyone, not just the rioters, should be held to account. Feral capitalism should be put on trial for crimes against humanity as well as for crimes against nature.

Sadly, this is what these mindless rioters cannot see or demand. Everything conspires to prevent us from seeing and demanding it also. This is why political power so hastily dons the robes of superior morality and unctuous reason so that no one might see it as so nakedly corrupt and stupidly irrational.

But there are various glimmers of hope and Light around the world. The indignados movements in Spain and Greece, the revolutionary impulses in Latin America, the peasant movements in Asia, are all beginning to see through the vast scam that a predatory and feral global capitalism has unleashed upon the world. What will it take for the rest of us to see and act upon it? How can we begin all over again? What direction should we take? The answers are not easy. But one thing we do know for certain: we can only get to the right answers by asking the right questions.

David Harvey is Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His latest book is The Enigma of Capital, and the Crises of Capitalism.

11 Aug 2011

Socialist Worker central committee 'Why we need an ecosocialist network'

Karl Marx, in Capital, Volume III noted:
“Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not the owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations as boni patres familias [good heads of the household].”

Great to see Aotearoa/New Zealand Socialist Worker embrace ecosocialism, ecosocialism currents are growing fast in socialist and green organisations, to my mind ecosocialism is about 3 three things.

1. Democratic control of society i.e. the Commons
2. Respect for future generations i.e. the idea that we must act as good ancestors advocated by Marx, Ostrom, indigenous, etc.
3. Disciplined and focussed struggle to achieve 1 and 2 so we have a decent democratic ecological and equal society

None of this belongs to one political organisation, we have to make paths by walking them. I am not a supporter of the Socialist Worker A/NZ, its not my tradition but great they are prepared to take steps to make paths....

Statement by Socialist Worker central committee

August 11, 2011 -- Unityblog -- The crises of global capitalism, coupled with catastrophic climate change and peak resources, is going to bring about profound social, ecological and political upheavals.

There is evidence of this happening globally already. We can point to the Arab revolts that have toppled US-backed regimes and the emergence of anti-neoliberal movements of workers and young people in a number of European countries. Part of the context for these revolts is the global financial crisis, which is ongoing and will unravel further, impacting severely on the lives of grassroots people around the world.

While the current political situation in New Zealand is a big step away from mass revolt, the forces at work in this country are similar. Masses of ordinary people are hurting, there’s simmering anger towards politicians and other corporate elites, and there’s growing concern at the ecological catastrophe that humanity faces. The political quietism will not last indefinitely.

What can eco-socialists do today to prepare our forces for the historic challenges in front of us?

Socialist Worker believes the time is right to encourage further cooperation among people who identify as eco-socialists. Across the New Zealand’s existing left parties and socialist groups there are people who broadly share a common political perspective, who want to work towards a sustainable, equitable and democratic future.

But equally importantly, there is probably thousands of people not currently belonging to any political party or organisation who broadly share an eco-socialist vision.

We think it’s necessary, and possible, to cohere and grow the network of eco-socialists in New Zealand. For this reason, Socialist Worker has started trialing an eco-socialist network sign-up sheet. (To view the sign-up sheet click here.)

While it’s very early days, there are some encouraging signs that people are interested in joining an eco-socialist network.

In the near future we want to set up an eco-socialist website/discussion forum on the Internet. We envisage this new site being free of any party branding and that it would evolve, we hope, into a forum jointly run by a number of organisations and individuals.

Such a web presence would maximise the sharing of information and ideas relevant to an eco-socialist vision. The site would connect with people through email newsletters and social media.

Socialist Worker believes that building a broad eco-socialist network in the short term will be one practical “here-and-now” foundation for a mass-based broad left movement in the future.

An eco-socialist network would complement other positive developments on the left, particularly the emergence of the Mana Party, which is uniting a flaxroots Maori movement with radical left activists from socialist and union backgrounds.

An eco-socialist network would also build on the closer cooperation between leftists that we’ve seen in recent years around campaigns like $15 per hour minimum wage, NZ Not For Sale, Kia Ora Gaza, Tax Justice and anti-mining/oil drilling.

An eco-socialist network could look to achieve these goals:

1. Draw people together across parties and organisations who self-identify with the word “eco-socialist”, and thus be a force for breaking down barriers and opening up democratic debate, so essential to building a broad movement for change;

2. Facilitate open discussion about all aspects of the political struggle in New Zealand and globally.

3. Foster increased cooperation around anti-neoliberal campaigns initiated by a range of groups and organisations;

4. Work towards launching popular strategic campaigns that target neoliberalism and bring activists into contact with broad layers of grassroots people.

5. Encourage a dynamic analysis of the crisis of global capitalism and its impact on material conditions in New Zealand, from which sound political strategies can emerge that provide us with realistic pathways towards a sustainable, equitable and democratic future.

While there is a lot to work out in practice Socialist Worker believes a web-based eco-socialist network has considerable potential.

We would like to invite interested individuals and organisations to contact us directly about supporting and getting involved in this initiative. Contact Vaughan Gunson, email vaughangunson@ecosocialist.net or ph/txt 021-0415 082.

For more on the crisis of global capitalism, which compels the eco-left to join together, read Capitalism's terminal crisis and the global cooperation of eco-socialists by Grant Morgan.

In solidarity,

Socialist Worker’s central committee:

Bernie Hornfeck
Bronwen Beechey
Daphne Lawless
David Colyer
Don Archer
Grant Brookes
Grant Morgan
Len Parker
Peter Hughes
Vaughan Gunso

Stealing the commons and looting the streets

The elite steal and the people steal from each other depressing....food for thought here.

This week the international news has been dominated by two distinct, yet not unrelated events. First was the international financial crisis precipitated, or more accurately exacerbated, by the decision of S&P to downgrade the US credit rating, something that led to $3 trillion (that’s 3 with 12 zeros) to be ‘lost’, a topic addressed at length in the article by Horace Campbell this week. The second was the eruption of young people onto the streets of Britain (see Alex Free’s article). Two features of these events are worth pointing out.

First, the reaction to the events reflect the growing crisis of the ruling classes in being able to imagine a solution beyond trying to solve the problem with the same kind of thinking that created the problem: in the first case, neoliberal economics that serve the interest of financialised capital has itself created a crisis in a world economic system that depends on fictional capital (what Yash Tandon refers to as ‘Kleptocratic capitalism’); the solution to that crisis? Yes, you’ve guessed it, more privatisation, greater cuts in social expenditure, fleecing those who labour, and increasing the scale of the dispossessed. The same neoliberal policies have created a growing class of the dispossessed, not only in the global South, but in the belly of the Empire itself. Accumulated frustration about a lack of a future, deprivation, impoverishment, harassment by the police and imprisonment have finally erupted into anger and rage on the streets of London, Liverpool, Manchester and other cities. And the solution to that offered by the ruling class? Yes, once again, the same treatment that has created the crisis is offered as the solution: harass the young more, cut social expenditure, harass them more and lock them up (one newspaper even proposed shooting them!).

But the second feature of these events is perhaps best captured in the following poem by an anonymous author from the 1821 (quoted by Arundhati Roy in her recent book “Broken Republic: Three essays” Penguin Books, London 2011):

‘The law locks up the hapless felon
Who steals the goose from off the common,
But lets the greater felon loose
Who steals the common from the goose.’

Anonymous, 1821


Sour times in Britain.

I get the impression that 98% of the population want water cannons, horrendous but understandalbe, this is worth reading and the horrifying video is instructive....and I have pasted in one of Jenny Jones statement which is important. A cycle of violence looks increasingly likely in the UK as the jilted generation meets alienation with looting and they in turn face more repression...sour times.

Public opinion on this will probably be under the belief that this just means getting protesters a bit cold and wet so they go home. We must be clear that the use of water cannons is brutal and dangerous, and can result in the following:

This man had his eyes ripped out by a water cannon (see picture above) in the protests in Stuttgart against the construction of the Stuttgart 21 train station. The image is taken from Der Spiegel, and has done the rounds in Germany, but is not well-known here in Britain. It is vitally important that we spread good information on the dangers of water cannon use as quickly as possible. Please link to this post wherever you can, retweet it, link to it on facebook, etc. This way we can build a campaign against this tactic.


10 AUGUST 2011
Responding to David Cameron's statement today making water cannon available to police forces on the UK mainland, Jenny Jones, Green member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said:

"Water cannon causes injuries to the eyes and brain, as well as bruising to internal organs.

"Water cannon have restricted manoeuvrability, so they would not be very useful against mobile groups in narrow city centre streets or estate lanes.

"And when you have a machine that requires 4000 gallons every 4 minutes, it needs constant refilling.

"In contrast, we've seen a massive increase in police presence on the streets of London on Tuesday night, leading to more order and security.

"We should be asking why the police didn't respond sooner and nip the looting in the bud on Saturday night, at the Wood Green and Tottenham Hale shopping centres.

"We had copy cat looting, with the destruction of businesses and livelihoods, because young people felt they could get away with it.

"We need an urgent review of police tactics, not a whole new armoury.

"Instead of investing in water cannon, the government should be thinking of investing in the longer-term measures that we know will make a difference.

"We have to avoid a US approach of criminalising entire communities and using paramilitary policing on young minority men.

"We need to think about younger children who may be vulnerable to getting caught up in gang violence.

"And we need to create a society where youth are not so extremely alienated in the first place."

7 Aug 2011

Jenny Jones statement on events in Tottenham

Green Mayoral candidate and member of the Metropolitan Police Authority,
Jenny Jones, has reacted to last night's riots in Tottenham by calling
for swift action to restore vital youth services and a review of
communications failures between the police and the community.

Jenny Jones said:

"We urgently need to examine all the factors that led to last night's
events in Tottenham, a community suffering from one of the highest
deprivation levels in the country [1], and take appropriate action to
prevent repercussions.

"We need a full investigation into the shooting of local man Mark Duggan
which seems to have been the trigger for last night's riots, and an
urgent review of stop and search and what communications failures there
were between the police and Tottenham's community. Violence and looting,
and smashing up your own streets is not the answer. It's bad for the
old, the poor, and those who run the small businesses people rely on.

"The Government must take some of blame for what went wrong last night.
Cuts to local services, especially youth services [2], played a role in
fomenting tensions in the area. With one of the highest unemployment
rates in London, Tottenham urgently needs help. Emergency funds to stop
youth centre closures and a review of policing must now be a priority."

Notes to editors

[1] Residents in Haringey claiming Job Seekers Allowance rose for the
fourth consecutive month in February to 10,159, according to the Office
for National Statistics. The figures show eight per cent of the adult
population of Tottenham are on the dole, a fifth of which is

[2] The Government reduced the local youth services budget by 75% after
a cut of £41m to Haringey council's overall budget.

Anna Bragga
London Press Officer
Green Party of England & Wales

Derek Wall discusses “The green left alternatives” in Belfast

Belfast Béal Feirste
Tuesday 9 August, 1 p.m.
Unite Political Summer School, 2011
First Jim Brown Debate: “The green left alternatives”
Speaker: Derek Wall (environmental activist). Chairperson: Ritchie Browne (Unite).
▶Unite (26 Antrim Road)

Máirt 9 Lúnasa, 1 i.n.
Scoil Samhraidh Pholaitiúil Unite, 2011
Céad Díospóireacht Jim Brown: “The green left alternatives”
Cainteoir: Derek Wall (gníomhaí imshaoil). Cathaoirleach: Ritchie Browne (Unite).
▶Unite (26 Bóthar Aontroma)

Very pleased to have this invite to address the Unite Summer School in Belfast.

I am trying to stick to my no fly rule, so its train and ferry there and back, so less blogging from me for the next day or two!

Here is a biog of Jim Brown, proud to be doing the first of what will be a series of annual events in his memory.

And of course its 'green left alternatives' so not based on one political organisation but thought the GL banner would be appropriate for this post!

Jim Brown

Trade Unionist – Socialist – Anti -Fascist

“ A Delightful Subversive”

That was how the rural trade unionist and socialist, Jim Brown from Lisbellaw , Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland was described in a book published by Marian Hyndman about activists from the unionist/loyalist community in Northern Ireland who dared to be different (Journeys from a Protestant Past)

Jim was born in 1924 in the village of Lisbellaw into a working class family. He didn't get a lot of schooling and took a jaundiced view of Sunday school when on an an outing to the seaside sponsored by the Sunday school he was refused a paris bun and a cup of tea because he hadn't attended enough Sundays. Jim attended a lot less after that experience.

Jim's early working life was as an agricultural labourer who was hired out to local farmers because he a strong young fellow. As a hired labourer he seen the injustice of a system which worked him day and night with not a lot of food or decent shelter and often refused to pay the 6 months pittance due on the flimsiest of excuses.

That was the experience of the young man who although underage joined one of the Scottish regiments of the British army at the outset of the Second World War. He fought fascism in the deserts of North Africa and the beaches of Dunkirk where he seen friends blown to piece beside him . That experience gave Jim a live long hatred of viloence, sectarianism and fascism. It was also in the war that Jim developed a lide long interest in socialist politics when his commanding officer ( A Lieutenant Sinclair from Aberdeen) gave him the Ragged Trousered Philiantrophist to read in the North African desert.

Jim demobbed in Bristol where he met the veteran comunist, Betty Sinclair and began to sell the Daily Worker on the streets of Bristol. At the time Jim seen no future in Northern Ireland and only returned because his mother took seriously ill. While home he met his future wife Margaret and settled in his home village of Lisbellaw.

Jim was not however for settling when it come to the class issue and got himself involved in local trade union struggles, he had joined the Transport and General Workers Union in 1945. Jim who worked as a Carter went to become the local Branch Secretary of the T&G branch and the Chairperson of the local Fermanagh Council of Trades Unions. At various times he was also a member of the Communist Party and the Northern Ireland Labour Party. Wherever there was a workers struggle Jim was there cheering them on whether at the Woolen Mills of Henderson/Eaddie in his native Lisbellaw or when he became a member of the Civil Rights Movement in 1969.

Jim always encouraged rurual workers to organise and fight for their rights. Nothing annoyed him more than the violence and oppression which engulfed his community for so many years. When the ceasfires came and the dispensation of the Good Friday agreement was negotiated. Jim, although he knew it wasn't going to solve our problems, was four square behind political conciliation and at that time in particular the Women's Coalition.

Jim always argued that the long term answer to our problems in Northern Ireland and beyond was the development of class politics. He was never afraid to promote that argument whether locally or on the Regional Committee or National Trade Groups of the union on which he sat. Undoubtedly Jim would have had double contempt for this Government because while he had not time for Tories he had even more contempt for what he called the “wrotten middle class” of the Liberal Party .

Jim died in 2003 but he would have been delighted that the union he loved was sponsoring a political debate which would advocate liberating the class he loved, “The Working Class”.

Left publisher should reject racist author

I am shocked that Zero books are apparently publishing a book by Gilad Atzmon, who is a pretty solid example of anti-semite, as I noted here.

I often disagree with Harry's Place and I am sometimes known to have my disagreements with Socialist Unity but this seems a straightforward example of a racist being helped to promote his views.

Atzmon claims that Jews were responsible for their persecution by Nazis, and argues that Hitler’s persecution was a “direct response to the declaration of war on Germany by the worldwide Jewish leadership. “
Atzmon has argued that American Jews do “try to control the world by proxy”, which “makes any debate on whether the ‘Protocols of the elder of Zion’ are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant”
Atzmon claims that “Jewish bankers bought for themselves some real reputations of backers and financers of wars and even one communist revolution”
Atzmon has written that the credit crunch was caused by “Zionists”
Atzmon promotes the views of Holocaust deniers, and praises “three outlaws: [David] Irving, [Ernest] Zundel and [Germar] Rudolf”
Atzmon believes that burning down a synagogue is a “rational act”.


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

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