24 Mar 2013

Britain's historic peace bookshop Housmans has published it's first ever e-book.

Historic peace bookshop publishes first ever e-book 
Britain's historic peace bookshop Housmans has published it's first ever e-book.  

Downloaded by more than 1000 people in the first week after it's online launch, You Can’t Evictan Idea is a first-hand account of the Occupy movement, including an assessment of the impacts, and an argument about what can be learnt. It was written while the author Tim Gee was touring with his first book Counterpower (New Internationalist, 2011). 

The publisher - a founder member of the Alliance of Radical Booksellers - has taken steps to ensure the limited edition printed version is sold exclusively by radical bookstores rather than corporate giants such as Amazon. 

The e-book is available to download for free or as a physical book from the Housmans website [www.housmans.com/occupy.php].


From 1 April, print copies of You Can't Evict an Idea will be available from Bluestockings (New York), Big Idea (Pittsburgh), Word Power (Edinburgh), Radish (Leeds), People's Bookshop(Durham), and Freedom, Friends House, Bookmarks and Newham Books in London. It is also available to order online or buy in person from Housmans [www.housmans.com/occupy.php]  

For information on the Alliance of Radical Booksellers please visithttp://www.radicalbooksellers.co.uk/ , email nik@housmans.com or call 020 7837 4473

For information on the author's first book Counterpower please visitwww.newint.org/counterpower 

For a review copy please email counterpowerbook@gmail.com 

To speak to the author, please email timothysimongee@gmail.com  

Capitalism vs climate meeting in Dorchester, 6th April


Speaker: Derek Wall

International Coordinator for the Green Party [pc]

Sat 6th April, 1.30pm, Colliton Club

(Opp. County Hall), Colliton Park, Dorchester


Dorset Socialists is very proud to welcome Derek Wall this month.  Derek is a prominent Green Party speaker, a socialist and regular columnist in the Morning Star.


Capitalism threatens to destroy the planet through its uncontrolled search of profits and its unbridled greed.  No other society has wantonly dumped food in the oceans to maintain profits or exterminated entire species in the search for a quick buck.


But huge disagreements exist over how to stop the beast.  Should we seek a rural idyll and abandon production altogether?  Should we trade carbon production by mighty states against its lesser output by the poorer, usually undeveloped countries?  Should we pin our hopes on voting for ecological

parties in elections?  


Come and discuss how we save our planet without wiping out humanity!   

All Welcome


15 Mar 2013

VAMPIRE HOLIDAY: The Passing of Chávez

VAMPIRE HOLIDAY: The Passing of Chávez
[col. writ. 3/8/13] © ’13 Mumia Abu-Jamal

The death of Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez has brought out the malicious and carnal glee of the corporate press, who report, breathlessly, not only on his mortal passing, but an end to the Bolivarian Revolution.

They are the voices of their vampire, Wall Street bosses, who delight in owning more of the earth, no matter how much misery they may cause for millions. In fact, Chávez was beloved by the vast majority of Venezuelans, poor, Indian, and African, who saw in him their rising in the world.

Upon his death, 7 nations declared days of mourning in his honored memory; Cuba, Chile, Uruguay, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina and Iran. Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, decreed 3 days of mourning, and called Chávez an inspiration of the revolutionary transformation sweeping through Latin America.

Argentina’s president, Cristina Kirchner also ordered 3 days of mourning to mark the passing of Chávez.

For millions of Latin Americans, Chávez brought dignity to them, by refusing to play the puppet for El Norte – the U.S. Empire.

He helped found ALBA, the International Latin American Bank, and became, in Fidel Castro’s retirement, a son of his spirit who learned from his mentor, how to resist the Empire.

According to virtually every newspaper in America, Chávez was ‘Anti-American’.
Why? Because he refused to bow, scrape and kiss the boots of Empire?

Because he wanted the oil wealth of the nation to be used for Venezuelans, instead of investors on Wall Street?

How many of us know that CITGO provided low cost heating oil to over one and a half million Americans, and that CITGO – a wholly owned subsidiary of Venezuela oil – did so with Chávez’s blessings?

Would an ‘anti-American’ make sure that over a million Americans are warm in winter, at reduced cost?

Chávez was anti-imperialist, and he opposed how the U.S. ran roughshod over Latin American countries and their independence, at will.

When he took to the rostrum of the UN and said “The devil was here yesterday”, and that the place “smelled of sulphur”, he was a global hit – except for U.S. puppets.

The ‘devil’ was U.S. Imperialism still a dangerous drone-invading, bomb dropping threat to millions worldwide.

Chávez, on the other hand, was loved and admired by millions, both in and out of Venezuela.

¡Viva Hugo Chávez!

--© ‘13maj

10 Mar 2013

Meeting on the commons 21st March, 2013 with Silke Helfrich

A World that Works for Everyone.

Thursday 21st March, 6-30 to 8.30 PM

Location: School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies, 

16 Taviton Street, Room #433 - London.

An event jointly organised by the Green Party and the School of Commoning
Silke Helfrich, co-editor of The Wealth of the Commons’ A world beyond Market and State, engages with activists, academics, business people and politicians from around the world to explain why the commons is important for our time.
In her words: “The commons is about people, as active participants, co-owners and citizens in their communities, people with relationships of responsibility toward each other and the resources that we all share together.”
We are poised between an old world that no longer works and a new one struggling to be born. Surrounded by centralized hierarchies on the one hand and predatory markets on the other, people around the world are searching for alternatives. The commons is one of them. And the commons gain momentum. Everywhere.”
Come to this event in our series of Meetings with Remarkable Commoners, a unique opportunity to meet Silke Helfrich, and find out how the commons can be relevant in your life, in your community and in the world.

7 Mar 2013

Hugo Chavez RIP

Dear friends,
International committee has agreed the following statement and I am going to tonights candle light vigil (see below) as well as signing the book of condolences in Bolivar Hall,
best wishes,
As International Co-ordinator of the Green Party of England and Wales I would like to offer condolences to the Venezuelan people for the loss of President Hugo Chavez.  Along with  Jean Lambert MEP, Richard Mallender then chair of the Green Party Executive and other members of the Green Party, I had the pleasure of meeting Hugo Chavez when he spoke in London in 2006.

Venezuela is one of the few countries in the world that has become more equal in the last decade.  Hugo Chavez did so much to create community development and social inclusion boosting health care, housing and education.  He was a friend to those in the barrios and indigenous people.  While Venezuela, like Britain in the 1980s, has an economy highly dependent on oil, their government has been an advocate at climate negotiations of strong cuts in CO2 emissions. While cancer has taken Hugo Chavez, his legacy, like that of Simon Bolivar, will live on.

Derek Wall

1) Following the sad death of President Hugo Chavez the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign is calling a candlelit vigil tonight (Thursday) 7th March, 6pm by the statue of Simon Bolivar in Belgrave Square, London, SW1X.
The nearest tube is Hyde Park Corner. You can view a map at http://goo.gl/maps/8cCxU Please bring your own candles. Amongst those saying a few words will be Alvaro Sanchez (Venezuelan Embassy,) Alicia Castro (Argentinian Ambassador,) Ana Alban Mora (Ecudaorean Ambassador,) Guisell Morales-Echaverry (Nicaraguan Charge D'Affaires,) Verónica Paola Melendres Argote (Bolivian Charge D'Affaires,) Nara Filipon (Brazilian Workers' Party,) Dr.Francisco Dominguez (VSC,) Billy Hayes (CWU General Secretary,) writer Seumas Milne, Professor Doreen Massey, Aaron Kiely (NUS Black Students' Officer,) Adrian Weir (Unite the Union,) & Jeremy Corbyn MP.

2) The Venezuelan Embassy has opened a book of condolence for members of the public who wish to show their respects to President Chavez  
The book of condolence is open for signing at Bolivar Hall, 54-56 Grafton Way  London, Greater London W1T 5DL on   Thursday, 7 March(09:00 to 19:00,) Friday 8 March (09:00 to 19:00,) Saturday 9 March (13:00 to 17:00.) Alternatively you can send messages of condolence to condolences.venezlon@gmail.com

3 Mar 2013

Yellow squares on the windows : The Sussex Occupation




Sunday 24th February.  The Occupation banners were flapping in an icy cold breeze outside Bramber House of Sussex University, where a fluctuating number of students (a core group of 50 plus various supporters) had been  occupying the top floor conference room for 17 days in protest at the proposed privatisation of virtually every non academic function and facility on the campus.
As I live nearby, have a daughter at the University, and work on privatisation policy for the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), the least I could do was offer support.   In response to an e-mail, the students invited me to give a talk on privatisation and PCS’s campaigns against it. 
The privatisation at Sussex is one small – but now extremely visible and significant – example of a wave of outsourcing across the public sector.  In many ways privatisation of the UK’s public services is the core of this government’s philosophy.  Austerity has little to do with “balancing the books”.  With the loss of the UK’s AAA Credit rating, a triple dip recession and increasing public debt, austerity is clearly an economic failure.
But the Government’s cuts are not driven by economic necessity.  They are a political project to reduce what remains of the British welfare state to a patchwork of disconnected services delivered by private firms or charities. Pension “reform” will make people pay more, work longer, die sooner, and get less on retirement. Behind that lies the core agenda to privatise, as Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, let slip when he said “The changes will allow the government to forge ahead with our ambitious plans for public sector reform, since the new pension arrangements will be substantially more affordable to alternative providers in the private sector bidding for public sector contracts”.
The examples of public service privatisation are too numerous to mention.  My own union, PCS, faces a host of outsourcings across the civil service – government debt collection (after cutting debt management staff in HMRC), Criminal Fine Enforcement, the National Benefit Fraud Hotline (to Vertex), JSA online (to Capita), the helpline of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (to Sitel, which does not recognise trade unions), Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants (to local authorities, who may then outsource this last safety net for the destitute), and the Forensic Science Service (a privatisation slated by the police and the CPS!).  There are many more.
Trade unions campaign against these, of course, but often in an ad hoc and defensive manner, and with an eye on the “twin track” approach – i.e. whilst we oppose privatisation in principle, we have to recognise it may proceed and have a duty to secure the best possible terms for our members (TUPE etc).  This is necessary, but not likely to turn the tide of privatisation, influence political and media debate, or synchronise with other protests.  By contrast, the imaginative, attention-grabbing strategies of the student protestors, the Occupy movement, UK Uncut etc do have that potential.
Sussex is a good example.  It began in May 2012 as a “standard” outsourcing – the University authorities led by Vice Chancellor Michael Farthing proposed to outsource “Total Facilities Management”, which is basically everything including  building management and maintenance services, cleaning services, estates management, fire safety management, grounds maintenance, laundry services, postal services, portering services, security services, waste disposal services, and all catering operations.   This will involve transferring 235 staff to the private sector. The plans were declared with no consultation with the NUS and scant communication with campus unions. Representations from the students to negotiate and discuss alternatives were ignored.
Farthing and his managers were not expecting what happened next.  On 7th February over 300 students occupied the top floor of the Bramber Building, the campus conference centre.  See it and subsequent mass demos on Youtube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=qEA6BCF5-s8.  By the evening of 7th February students reported that uniformed dog handlers were wandering the campus.
The students bedded down and started a campaign that quickly went viral.  Through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube, Indymedia etc they got the message out about their action. Solidarity and support flooded in.  Thousands have now  signed their Statement of Solidarity, including Noam Chomsky, Ken Loach, MPs Caroline Lucas (Green), John McDonnell and Peter Hain (Labour), Will Self, Owen Jones, Jonathan Miller, Tariq Ali, Frankie Boyle, and Mark Thomas.  Caroline Lucas addressed the students from inside the occupation - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nevevw-5eNc.  The Statement is also packed with the signatures of Sussex University academics, as well as union officers and other sympathisers.
A rolling programme of innovative events and benefits has kept the issue live and spirits up.  Mark Steel and Josie Long have done gigs. Owen Jones and Laurie Penny drew massive applause for barnstorming speeches.  And on 8th March Noam Chomsky is due to Skype to the students in Bramber House!  The occupation has garnered support from students, workers and academics across the globe.
It also has enormous support on campus.  The first thing I noticed when I arrived were windows across the campus plastered with yellow A4 paper,  the adopted sign of support for the occupation.  The yellow A4s are everywhere, a visible rebuke to Farthing.  Management have instructed local union reps that they are not to sign off e-mails sent from campus PCs with a message of support, but this has had little effect. When I arrived, lugging a big bag of PCS anti-privatisation and anti-austerity material, the security guards placed outside the main conference room were friendly, even holding the doors open.  The students told me that they were sympathetic and didn’t hassle them.
The main conference room was like a M.A.S.H tent.  Sleeping bags were pushed into corners, and walls were covered with leaflets and slogans.  Several laptops were set up on a desk by the balcony.  A long chaotic table run across the top of the room, overflowing with papers, books, food, pots and pans, and a big simmering wok.  I was well wrapped up, but still felt cold.  Some students hugged sleeping bags around themselves as we sat chatting. In the unusually cold weather, the heating system was apparently “faulty” and the authorities were not rushing to fix it.  There were two portable heaters, which made hardly any difference.
It was a Sunday afternoon and the constantly rotating cohort of occupying students were down to a hard core, but we pulled up some seats and had a good discussion.  As well as bringing them a personal message of support for their action from PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka, I told them about PCS’s campaigns against privatisation and the more general anti-austerity campaigning of trade unions.  They were not naive about efforts made to separate students and campus unions and were determined to see that did not happen.
They were very clear on the links between specific instances of outsourcing and the general policies of all governments since Thatcher to shift the education curriculum towards a diet of business friendly subjects whilst de-emphasising the humanities and social sciences, with the aim of producing well schooled future employees burdened with debt and unaware of past struggles or social injustice.  They pointed to a new building opposite  – once intended for Sociology, it now taught Business Studies.
When I left they were preparing for another night on the floor of the conference centre.  What impressed me most was that they do not have to do this. Most outsourced services will still be delivered, though probably not as well. The transferred jobs are not theirs. But they are there to defend the principle of an integrated higher education community that looks after all on campus (students and staff), against that of fragmented services delivered for corporate profit on the backs of outsourced and de-unionised workers.
Seeing the occupation for myself, I was reminded of the end of the appropriately titled Appeal to the Young by the anarchist writer Peter Kropotkin – “all of us together, we who suffer and are insulted daily, we are a multitude whom no man can number, we are the ocean that can embrace and swallow up all else. When we have but the will to do it, that very moment will Justice be done: that very instant the tyrants of the Earth shall bite the dust”.
John Medhurst PCS (personal capacity)

Updated  Thursday 28th February.  In response to Registrar John Duffy’s statement that even if all students and staff complained about the privatisation it would make no difference, two further buildings on the Sussex campus were occupied.  The students issued the following statement:

Students and staff have occupied the Jubilee lecture theatre.  This is currently the third occupied space on campus.  We have taken this space temporarily as a portent of things to come.

These actions are part of a broad movement to halt the privatisation of services and bring attention to management’s refusal to engage in any form of dialogue. John Duffy has stated that even if all students and staff personally expressed concerns over outsourcing, that the process would go ahead regardless.   They have left us no choice. We will disrupt, block and destroy their ability to manage our campus.

We wish to extend greetings and solidarity to the organisers of the event that we disrupted. After discussion with us they professed their support for our cause and our actions. Our quarrel lies with management, and we recognise that our interests ultimately lie together. Indeed, in taking spaces such as these we hope to materialise that unity.

Once again we re-state our demands:

• An immediate end to the privatisation process
• An immediate end to management intimidation and attempts to stifle dissent
• The establishing of a means for us to hold management to account

Here, we have demonstrated our power. We leave the Jubilee and Michael Chowen lecture theatres with management on the back foot. Let them know that we will continue to escalate until they capitulate to our demands.

We call on all staff and students to join us. To reclaim the spaces of our campus.  To strike. To occupy.    The university is a factory – shut it down.

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...