28 Sept 2014

1000 people march in London against ISIS assault

Brief report from Sarah Parker, thanks Sarah for permission to use

I thought people might like a short report of today's demonstration for Kobane and against ISIS.

Don’t let Kobane fall!

On Sunday 28 September 1000 or so people marched from Angel Edmonton through Haringey to the Kurdish community centre off Green Lanes to protest against the siege of Kobane, and the silence of the international community over the blatant  military support of the Turkish state for the ISIS fighters who are besieging the Kurdish town of Kobane in Northern Syria. Most of the people on the march were Kurdish from Turkey; there were also contingents from the Turkish left. Stephanie and Sarah took the Haringey Left Unity banner. The march went down Fore Street and Tottenham High Road and Philip Lane, West Green Road to Green Lanes. Slogans in Kurdish, Turkish and English included:

  • Unite against ISIS!
  • Long live the Kobane resistance!
  • Long live YPG[1] <#_ftn1> !
  • Who beheaded American journalists? ISIS.
  • Who has been killing Kurdish and Assyrian women and children? ISIS

Speakers called for an end to the silence over Turkey’s role in supporting ISIS. People in the streets gave a friendly reception to the march, and many took pictures.

If people want to offer solidarity, they can do a variety of things:

  • Keep informed,  follow events in the Middle East, including via Kurdish news agencies Firat News and Hawar News
  • Make sure people they know are aware of the siege of Kobane and that they understand that the people of Kobane have the right to defend themselves against ISIS
  • Post news on social media about the defence of Kobane and the Kurdish protests all over Europe
  • Get organisations to agree positions of solidarity with the defence of Kobane
  • Ask David Lammy or Lynn Featherstone what they is doing to get the British government to restrain Turkey, a NATO member, from giving military assistance to ISIS
  • Like the Kurdish Unity Facebook page and get notices of events
  • Support Heyva Sor (Kurdish Red Crescent equivalent) – see their Facebook page

[1] <#_ftnref1>  (the People’s Protection Units who are defending Kobane, where there are several hudred thousand people including refugees, and who in August rescued thousands of Yezidis from the ISIS assault on Shengal in northern Iraq).

27 Sept 2014

Unite Against ISIS attacks in Kobane March in London



Kurds will march from Angel Corner, Edmonton to Haringey on Sunday 28th Sept. 2014 from 1pm to condemn ISIS attacks on the city of Kobane, Northern Syria (Western Kurdistan) and ask for the support of the UK public and government

ISIS gangs have been attacking the city of Kobane since 15th September 2014. They have been beheading and kidnapping civilians in the villages they have laid siege to. Over 160,000 people have been displaced, most of them fleeing across the border to Turkey, where they are being attacked by Turkish soldiers, with one Kurdish civilian being killed by soldiers on the 26th and two being wounded.

Today is the 12th day of attacks on Kobane. ISIS is using heavy artillery, tanks, missiles and US military technology to bomb the city. Despite the brave resistance of Kurdish fighters, unfortunately they are being overpowered by the superior military capability of ISIS. To add to this the AKP government of Turkey are still turning a blind eye to ISIS and hoping to create a buffer-zone in Northern Syria. This will mean an illegal occupation of Kurdish controlled areas and will further intensify the human suffering.

Kurds across Europe and the world are protesting against an imminent genocide by ISIS, similar to that of the Yazidi Kurds in August. The lives of over 300,000 people is under threat in what will be another human tragedy.

We, as the Kurds of the UK will be engaged in democratic protests to condemn ISIS terror, Turkey’s policies and raise awareness and ask the UK public and government to recognise and support the Kurds of Rojava (Western Kurdistan) by providing weapons and humanitarian aid as well as diplomatic support.

We ask the international and UK media to continue bringing to attention the situation in Kobane, Kurdistan and the Middle East, and what is being done against ISIS in the UK.

Unite Against ISIS attacks in Kobane March
Date: 28th September, 2014
Place: Angel Corner, Edmonton, London (outside LIDL)
Time: 13:00

Kurdish Assembly UK

Contact for enquiries: 07506702697

22 Sept 2014

Kurdish Demonstration stop the genocide from #ISIS and #Turkey Wednesday 24th 1pm Parliament Square , London

Kurdish Demonstration Wednesday 24th 1pm Parliament Square

From Kurdish Unity Facebook <https://www.facebook.com/KU.ORG?hc_location=timeline>

To all, we will be gathering on - Wednesday 24th September at 1pm - for a Gigantic Protest in Parliament Square.

 According to new information, the situation in Rojava, Kobani, is even more serious than previously thought. It is the difference between Kurds holding onto their freedom currently in Syria to Kurds losing control completely and facing a genocide on a scale possibly not seen in the History of the Kurds. This will inevitably impact the Kurds in all parts of Kurdistan.

 We are calling upon Kurds from all parts of Kurdistan. Bakur, Başur, Rojhilat and Rojava to gather in Unity to protest against ISIS terrorists and to call for the UK government to send both humanitarian and arms to Kurds in Rojava.

 Please bring as many people as you can. Our turnout must be in thousands.

 It is very important that Kurds UNITE and stand TOGETHER on Wednesday 24th September.

 This is the TIME and day to UNITE and stand SHOULDER to SHOULDER with KURDS from all parts of KURDISTAN.

 This coming week on 24th of September at 1pm in Parliament Square.

 Organised by Ciwanen Azad UK <https://www.facebook.com/CiwanenAzadUK>  and Britain Kurdish People's Assembly

Thank you for Lucha Indigena appeal

[Agricultural societies commonly have a custom of shared labor for a common goal.  Among the peoples of the Andes, this is known as minga.  Opposite the editorial in the present issue of Lucha Indígena is a letter from Manuel Rozental and Raúl Zibechi, announcing the initiation of a financial campaign in support of the magazine.  The goal in the present period is to assure a regular supplement of US$1600 per month, mostly through "solidarity subscriptions" from comrades in sympathy with our purposes.  There follows a consideration of possible ways of organizing the minga for the long term.  This latter question is still under discussion.  The editorial is a comment on this very welcome development.  Translator's note] 
The comrades working at Lucha Indígena are deeply grateful for the militant efforts of our sisters and brothers in other parts of the world.  We are united by the struggle of the oppressed to turn back the attack of the transnational corporations that rule the world.  This is an attack on humanity and our environment.  We are in resistance against the economic and political system imposed by the transnationals through their many servants.  These servants include the great majority of the world's governments with their armies, police forces, judiciaries, news media, etc. 
We network with our sisters and brothers by means of the internet, through skype sessions and at international meetings such as the recent one in defense of water and life in El Tambo, Cajamarca. 
They value the effort that we began in 2006 and have continued through 97 monthly issues in which we deal with national and international concerns.  Furthermore, they understand that our main shortcomings have economic causes.  For this reason, they have initiated a minga (or minka) -- a collective action for collective benefit -- for us in the form of a funding campaign in support of our work. 
We have urgently needed an office in Lima, and with the first fruits of this campaign we now have it.  Although it is not yet fully functional, given how little we can afford for rent, it is a decided step forward.  We are now in the process of setting it up and expect to be ready to sell our magazine and pamphlets there by 7 September.  Naturally, the office will be available to those who wish to meet and exchange views on how the oppressed can struggle in defense of water and life, how we can defend ourselves against the thousand attacks undertaken by the ruling class to crush the oppressed.  The objective of these attacks, undertaken with both legal and illegal means, is the accumulation of ever greater wealth in the rulers' hands. 
The office is situated in the old section of Lima at Miguel Alijovin 347 near the Palace of Justice. 
With the help that is on the way, we are hopeful of opening offices in yet other parts of the country. 
In addition to the magazine, we have published many pamphlets on various questions in the struggle.  Naturally, with this financial aid we will be able to expand what we are doing.  As it now stands, it pains us that we must pass over in silence reporting on many of the assaults and the resistance to them for lack of space.  We hope in future to increase the number of pages of Lucha Indígena without raising the price. 
When this is a reality, we will be able to open regular columns devoted to the different forms of struggle, written by comrades with close personal knowledge.  With gratitude and great respect, we look forward to incorporating them into our modest staff. 
We call on all our readers to join in building and extending this fine minga for Lucha Indígena. 

21 Sept 2014

Green Party determined to stop extracting ever more coal, oil and gas

Caroline Lucas MP and other Greens supporting a Frack Free Zone
Caroline Lucas MP and other Greens supporting a Frack Free Zone
The Green Party of England and Wales are active in the campaign against fossil fuels. Here, Derek Wall - their International Coordinator - explains the role the Green Party has taken in the fight against fracking.
The message at the heart of Green Party of England and Wales work on climate change is to stop extracting ever more coal, oil and gas. It is vital to expand renewables but to prevent runaway climate change we need to contract carbon based fuel. This is why our party views fracking as so dangers. Fracking has a range of ill effects and associated problems but, above all, it is a source of CO2 emissions. The current British government is embarking on a fracking frenzy, tax cuts are being given to frackers and there are plans to make it possible to frack in national parks. While an English person's home may in theory be their castle, frackers will be allowed to frack under other peoples property without permission.
The Green Party of England and Wales has been campaigning strongly against fracking. Our Member of the European Parliament for the South East England region, Keith Taylor, has been a long term opponent of fracking. He has used the European Parliament to challenge the practice. In Sussex the local community of Balcombe were faced by exploratory drilling which they feared would lead to fracking and used non violent direct action to protect their beautiful countryside. Many Green Party members took part in the Balcombe anti fracking camp. Our Member of the national Parliament Caroline Lucas took part in a protest, sitting in the road and was arrested. She was found not guilty and drilling at Balcombe was stopped after the company involved withdrew.
Fracking is one element of a large problem of extreme energy with governments unconcerned about climate change finding new and dangerous sources of fossil fuel to exploit. In Britain, while other political parties including the Liberal Democrats, Conservatives, UKIP and Labour support fracking, we in the Green Party oppose it. Our opposition is full spectrum: we fight to win elections to legislate against it, we support non violent protest and we spread the word about fracking.

19 Sept 2014

Stop the ISIS attacks on Kobanê Stop the continuing arms supplies to ISIS from Turkey

Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) statement, 17 September, 2014

Stop the ISIS attacks on Kobanê
Stop the continuing arms supplies to ISIS from Turkey

Solidarity with Western Kurdistan (Rojava) 

The Middle East continues to resemble a tinderbox. The barbaric organization ISIS increasingly terrorizes the entire region. Apart from attacks on Kurdish regions in Northern Iraq, where ISIS repeatedly massacres Kurds (especially Êzîdîs), Christians, and Turkmen -Mosul and Tikrit have already been captured-, ISIS has resumed attacking the Kobanê region in Northern Syria since mid-September in the most brutal ways. The region had already been targeted by the terror organization in the summer of this year. By 18 September 2014, already 21 villages had to be evacuated due to ISIS attacks, forcing thousands of people to flee. If the Kobanê region falls under ISIS control, more massacres with thousands of deaths and hundred thousands of refugees will be inevitable.

Rojava as a democratic model in the Middle East

Kobanê is one of the three cantons in Rojava (Western Kurdistan/ Northern Syria), in which autonomy was declared in November 2013 under a democratic constitution with the participation of all religious and ethnic groups. The creation of grassroots-democratic self-governance structures in Rojava pose a democratic alternative for the entire Middle East, beyond nationalist, religious fundamentalist, patriarchal and capitalist foundations. For the protection of these democratic gains, the defence forces of the cantons in Rojava formed a joint military front with different combat units belonging to the Free Syrian Army, the Burkan El Firat alliance, in order to collectively fight against ISIS in Kobanê.

Turkey supports ISIS

The democratic model in Rojava is a thorn in the side of terror groups such as Al Qaeda, Jubhat al Nusra, and IS, as well as to regional and international forces. According to news reports, military equipment was transported via train across the Turkish-Syrian border and taken by IS. There have already been reports in the past about Turkish support for ISIS in their attacks on Rojava. This obvious support by the AKP government, which has increased its own military presence near the border to Kobanê, happens right in front of the eyes of the international public.
While the attacks of the terror militia IS in Iraq and South Kurdistan at the beginning of August of this year were observed and condemned with great urgency, the attacks of this same terror organization on Rojava have been totally ignored.

We call on the international public to break its silence in the face of these brutal attacks on Rojava. The international powers have to make sure that Turkey ceases its blatant support for the organization of the Islamic State. 
Without stopping the support for IS from such states, IS cannot be adequately defeated.
The fight against ISIS cannot be selective and regional, but must be global, united and determined

Emergency protest against ISIS, Turkish Embassy 12-3pm today

Urgent appeal to the world – Stop the brutal attacks by ISIS in KobanePress Statement
Since 15 September the Islamic State has been carrying out the heaviest attacks yet on the Kurdish population of the Canton of Kobanê in Rojava (Western Kurdistan). Weapons delivered by Turkey are being used as well as weapons looted during the recent violent sweep through North Iraq. Representatives of Kobanê report that the weapons are being delivered from Turkey to the Islamic State by train. The AKP government is openly supporting these attacks by ISIS before the eyes of the  world. Furthermore, an increased presence by the Turkish army is visible on the border with Kobanê.

Up to the time of writing (15.00 hours, 18.09.2014), 21 villages have had to be evacuated because of the attacks, and thousands of people have been forced to flee to the town centre of Kobanê.
If the attacks go on for too long, there is a danger that Kobanê will fall under the control of ISIS. The consequence would be the massacre of thousands of people, and hundreds of thousands would have to flee. At this moment an international alliance against ISIS is being discussed, and in this context we call on the world to break its silence about ISIS’s brutal attacks, and the international community must ensure that Turkey ends its open support of the Islamic State.  
 Salih Gedo, Foreign Minister of the Autonomous Self-Administration of Cizîrê (Jazireh)
 Abdulkarim Omar,   Speaker of the Autonomous Self-Administration of Cizîrê (Jazireh),

Join the protest tomorrow Friday 19 September 2014, 12-3pm at the Turkish Embassy
43 Belgrave Square, SW1X 8PA
For information:
Dr Alan Semo: ASemo <drasemo@hotmail.com>

18 Sept 2014


This was agreed in May but seems a good day to repost!

On 18 September 2014, the Scottish people have an opportunity to determine their own future as an independent country in a free vote. The choice that they make in this independence referendum will influence the lives of future generations. Furthermore, the result will have a profound impact on the fortunes of peoples throughout the world – the Kurds included - who hold similar aspirations to take greater control of their own lives and who are seeking to determine their own futures.

At stake are not borders, national flags or emblems, but whether free people have the right to decide their own futures in a democratic state. It is for this reason that the Kurds will be watching closely the vitally important developments unfolding in Scotland over the next few months.

The Kurds, involved in their own historic national struggle for respect and recognition as a people, see democratic autonomy as forming the basis of a new relationship between themselves and their neighbours whereby all peoples in their region are treated as equals.

The Kurds in Kurdistan have been expressing a resounding ‘Yes’ in increasing numbers to the strategy of deepening democratisation. In Southeast Turkey and in Rojava in Syria in particular the Kurds have been taking greater control of their destinies in a democratic process that they regard as ultimately unstoppable.   
The Scottish people have the right to choose independence and build a strong, new relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK. This is what a ‘Yes’ vote essentially means; the alternative is to remain within the old structure of the centralised British state where all key decisions influencing their lives and livelihoods are taken in the Westminster Parliament. If the Scottish people have the courage to vote ‘Yes’ they will start to construct a new partnership of equals with the rest of the British Isles.

The Kurdish community in Britain, through their representative civil society organisations across the UK, recognise the historic significance of the coming referendum in Scotland.  As such, we would like to express support for ‘Yes’ vote and believe that an independent Scotland will improve the lives of the people considerably.

Independence for Scotland will not only strengthen democracy in Scotland itself but help re-energise the democratic process in the rest of Britain also, where the implementation of neo-liberal economic restructuring, gross social inequalities and an interventionist foreign policy have inflicted great suffering on people everywhere.

Right across the world, nations of people without an independent state to call their own are taking power and asserting their rights to determine their own futures in different ways. In Catalunya and the Basque Country in Spain, in Kurdish Rojava in Syria, and elsewhere in Europe and beyond, the peoples that were long shunned as a ‘minority’ governed by majority rule, are declaring their right to self-rule in ways that are most appropriate for their own specific situations. A ‘Yes’ vote in Scotland will inevitably make a profound contribution towards the successful resolution of this historic process.  

Jointly supported by:
Kurdistan National Congress UK (KNK)
Kurdish Community Centre, Haringey
Halkevi Turkish and Kurdish Community Centre
People’s Council of Britain
Roj Women
Sussex Kurdish Community Centre
Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

11 Sept 2014

Review: Capitalism and its Alternatives by Chris Rogers. Zed Press

Capitalism and its Alternatives by Chris Rogers. Zed Press

Chris Rogers attempts to describe contemporary capitalism, to suggest that it is inevitably crisis ridden and that an alternative is needed. He also describes various alternatives to capitalism. This is a relatively short and admirably clear book.  It provides a good introduction to political economy and Chris to his credit summarises much interesting material, much of which will be new to readers, with considerable economy.  I have two general criticism, though.  First, the book is ambitious but at 170 pages too concise.  This means that many important topics are ignored, for example, the ecological ill effects of capitalism are ignored and discussions of topics such as Marx's conception of crisis are far from exhaustive. My second criticism is political, while he clear wishes to end capitalism, his perspective via the autonomist Marxism of John Holloway, seems inadequate to do so.
Chris Rogers provides a very solid critique of attempts to build a reformist anti-capitalism using the state and of revolutionary Leninism.  I agree that an alternative to capitalism must be a process not an outcome or a utopia, we will have to build to create something that works without crisis. Yet the alternative of a bottom up, apparently spontaneous movement can also be criticised.  Rogers is inspired, like Holloway, by the Mexican Zapatistas who built their own self-organised community rather than seeking to become an electoral alternative, taking over the Mexican state. Yet the other alternative of taking state power and using it to make change, one thinks of Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba, seems to have had more material effect than the Zapatistas who have been rather marginalised and repressed.  The point clearly is that so far political alternatives seeking to over come capitalism, in a capitalist world, where the rich and the powerful retain power, have either been marginalised or deformed.  Rogers' criticisms are relevant but his alternative conception seems, while attractive and far too vague.
A more sustained discussion of the weaknesses and strengths of the Latin America left would have been valuable. The sometimes antagonistic relationship between states and social movements should be acknowledge however Latin American left governments have generally been both propelled by social movements and indigenous and provided them with more space to create communities and experiments.
Anti-capitalism demands communal ownership, the idea that property is either private or state, can safely be discarded.  Elinor Ostrom produced a detailed study in 'Governing the Commons' of 'commons'.  She examined where communal ownership worked and where itfailed. In doing so far from creating a blueprint, she came up with research that might be used to help commons work better.  Chris Rogers briefly mentions commons but might have benefitted by looking at her work.
Nonetheless while it is possible to criticise Rogers book, none of us have clear answers to the question of growing alternatives to capitalism, in his clear and cogent book, he makes us think more deeply but how to bring about change.  In provoking thought and showing that capitalism is a human construct and we humans can build something better, he should be applauded.

10 Sept 2014

The Act of Killing

I am watching The Act of Killing, imagine a country where over 600,000 people were killed by para military death squads and imagine 40 years later interviewing those who killed.

Not monsters or cartoon villians but real human beings undertook killing on an industrial scale.

Death squads are on their way back, from Honduras to the Philippines, Colombia to the Middle East, groups of right wing para military groups kill for a mixture of ideology and greed.

What makes them tick?

A scary film and unpleasant film but a necessary one.

9 Sept 2014

Green Party conference motion supports Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign


Emergency Motion to Green Party conference September 2014 

Very pleased this was passed by over 2/3rds at Green Party conference on saturday we also had packed meeting on Gaza

"Conference condemns Israel's ground invasion, aerial and marine bombing of Gaza, and calls on Green Party and Green Party elected representatives to take what steps they can to put existing Green Party policy into action and to ensure that the underlying causes are addressed, acknowledging there can be no lasting peace without justice.  
Such steps include: 
·        Reiterating our calls on the UN, the EU and the US government to ensure that Israel complies with international law; 
·        Supporting these calls by active participation in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. This campaign aims to put pressure on the government of Israel to end the Occupation and to give equal rights to Palestinians. The campaign asks individuals, organisations, councils and governments to refuse to deal withcompanies and institutions identified as facilitating Israel's military capacity, human rights abuses or illegal settlement activity. 
·        In particular to demand that the UK government halts all joint Israeli/UK military co-operation and approval for all arms sales to Israel." 

Proposer:  Annie Neligan 

Seconder: Derek Wall 


8 Sept 2014

Rojava at Green Party conference

I had a very conference, as well as running a session on Ostrom and the commons and chairing Gaza/Palestine, I also chaired a session with speaker about the plight of Christians in Iraq/Syria and two Kurdish speakers.

Green Party members listened intently to Dr Alan Semo, representative of the main political party in Rojava, the Democratic Union Party.

I learnt that via Jenny Jones and London MEP Jean Lambert, the Green Party has had a long standing relationship with Kurdish political organisations.

Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the PKK, whose sister Party Dr Semo represents in the UK, has read the works of social ecologist Murray Bookchin.

The PKK and  PYD (Democratic Union Party) promote grassroots democracy, ecological politics, feminism, pluralism and secularism.

I am hoping to continue to build solidarity with Rojava and to spread the word about all the communities attacked by the jihadists in Iraq/Syria.

Good background article here https://libcom.org/news/experiment-west-kurdistan-syrian-kurdistan-has-proved-people-can-make-changes-zaher-baher-2

4 Sept 2014

Book Review: Richard Seymour 'Against Austerity' Pluto. 2014.

Book Review:  Richard Seymour 'Against Austerity'  Pluto. 2014.

(Published in Green World the Green Party magazine)

In May this year, 20 year old Martin Hadfield, committed suicide after being rejected for over 40 jobs.  He had refused to accepted benefits and felt a failure.

 £1.5 million is being slashed from Kew's budget with a loss of 120 jobs.  Austerity has led to a host of other environmentally damaging cuts from reduction in funding for bus routes to reduction in various forms of environmental protection. 

For Richard Seymour austerity is about restructuring our society rather than cutting deficits.  With higher debt in the past, record low interest on government bonds that makes it relatively painless to finance debt, there are plenty of arguments to suggest that we don't need to destroy the welfare state and close old peoples’ homes.  To the extent that government debt demands reduction, at all, from cutting Trident to dumping subsidies for nuclear power and increasing tax on corporations, there are other options for fiscal prudence.

Austerity is a way of pushing down wages and instilling an ideology of universal competition. Austerity Britain mimics the game show mentality, when we are unemployed or struggling to feed our families, it is our fault.  We haven’t played the game well enough, we have lost, we our failures.  The notiong that there are a few winners, the number of British billionaires is sharply rising, is just the flip side.  Spending on conservation is a luxury, trees are of purely commercial value, in this vision of our future, so Kew must be cut.  Cuts for those with the least, are accompanied by increased wealth for those with most. The lean starve so the fat can accumulate more body mass.

Richard Seymour has produced the most sophisticated guide to the politics of austerity Britain, it is essential reading for all Green party members.  There are no simple slogans here but clear analysis of how an economic crisis has been exploited for ideological reasons and an honest, sometimes pessimistic, account of how we can create an alternative for the common good.  Buy it, read it, share it with your friends and, above all, use it as a tool for change.

Green Party conference: A beginners guide

Conference runs from tomorrow, 5th September to Monday.  Green Party membership has risen by 30% this year and there will be more members coming to conference, I think, than ever before.  At least 750 at the latest count.

It may be a confusing experience for new members, so here are some thoughts. 

All attending members can vote on policy, the controversial area is energy where a long paper has been submitted, amendments to reverse our long standing anti-nuclear policy, will generate controversy.

The energy paper is likely to be discussed and voted on Saturday morning.

As well as policy and organisational motions there are conference speeches from our leader Natalie Bennett and from Caroline Lucas our MP and other leading members.

Plenaries are another aspect, glad to have the Bolivian ambassador talking about climate change along with Jean Lambert MEP.

There are numerous fringe events, I am chairing one on Rojava and the crisis in the Middle East, with Kurdish and Christian representatives on sunday at 2pm.

Sunday afternoon sees hustings and a ballot for party committees.

There is lots of socialising too and emergency motions, see you all at conference!

Lots of useful material including guide to policy making and time table here.

Already generating press coverage too http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/election-2015-green-party-want-to-give-disgruntled-leftwing-voters-a-new-voice-9709775.html

3 Sept 2014

Democracy against the State

Miguel Abensour's 'Democracy Against the State: Marx and the Machiavellian Moment' covers a fascinating topic.

Machiavelli rather than just providing a political guidebook to evil 'The Prince' has been understood also as a republican radical.  In his 'Discourses on Livy' he discusses Levy's history of ancient republican Rome, while the discourses cover some of the same ground as 'The Prince' the text from Machiavelli is about how to defend a republic.  Machiavelli was a promoter of democracy, in the form of his own beloved Florence, which for a time was a democratic city state.  Well Ok for Mac and the ancient Romans and ancient Greeks, plenty of people were excluded from the democratic system!

A source on all this The Machiavellian Moment by Pocock.

Spinoza owned a complete works of Machiavelli and studied him with great interest.  Marx made notes on Spinoza's Tractatus Theologico-Politicus  but not I think on Machiavelli.  Marx studied ancient Greek philosophers who influenced Spinoza but the stoics are another story!

In brief Marx and Machiavelli and Spinoza were concerned with radical democracy based on the republic but democracy moves beyond the state form.

I didn't find Abensour's book very accessible but he does cover an important set of linked concepts and yes the State isn't the last word in democracy.

Again this links in with the practical pragmatic work of the Ostroms....and political pragmatism, not in the sense of how to win but how to deal with actual problems rather than setting up universal abstract values....links the Ostroms with what might be seen as a Spinoza/Marx/Machiaveilli approach.

Machiavelli examined the practical strategies of a Prince or a people defending a republic, the Ostroms rejected win/lose politics but studied the practical governance needed for a commons and practical questions around ecology and governance.

I would not start in this inter locking area by reading Abensour but he poses the relevant questions.

On republics, Ostroms and Machiavelli have a look here!

2 Sept 2014

New book on the Ostroms

Paul Dragos Aligica's new book 'Institutional Diversity and Political Economy: The Ostroms and Beyond' (Oxford University Press), fascinates me.  It is full of ideas.  Stimulating unusual ideas.  So often I look at books and kind of think 'I know about this already', not this one.

However I would not recommend it as a first book on the Ostroms.  Vincent and Elinor were unusual thinkers and its a good idea to get a feel for where they were coming from before tackling this.

Paul looks at their themes such as diversity and shows how a new generation of scholars are extending them.

Nearly every paragraph contains interesting and very important themes.

Forget the 'state versus markets' debate, the starting point here is that there are a diversity of institutional forms, even states and markets and networks would be a gross simplification.

Thinking beyond the market and the state, is radical.

The normative, theoretical and empirical embrace of diversity instead of uniformity, is another challenge.

Above all, Paul shows how the Ostrom's sought to make institutional design democratic, that we can learn more about institutions work and change them.  Not a conservative acceptance nor the alternative of an opposed choice, but popular involvement in institution building, was an important theme of the Ostroms.

Commons can be managed by institutions created by commoners, and commoners don't always create tragedy....however while the Ostroms were known for their work on commons, their institutional political economy extend beyond them.

A very stimulating book indeed!  Will try and work through some chapters and blog about them.

1 Sept 2014

Appeal from Rojava on the World Day of Peace, 1 September 2014

Appeal by Co-chairman of the PYD, Mohamed Saleh Muslim, on behalf of the people in the cantons of Rojava,  Qamişlo, 01.09.2014

To the international community,
To the members of the United Nations,
To all international aid organisations,

On the occasion of the World Day of Peace, I want, as someone who has not lost his hope for peace, to address this letter to you. The purpose of this letter is not to describe to you the tragic events that have occurred in Syria over the past three years. However, I hereby appeal to you to take responsibility to make an end to this tragedy: I also want to tell you how we are trying to live up to our responsibilities.

In March 2011, the population of Syria for the first time went to the streets to express their legitimate demands concerning the Assad regime, and we have attempted to revolt against a system that has for decades suppressed and tormented our population. We have driven the regime forces from the Kurdish majority settlement areas in the north of the country and are determined, as an ethnic group, including the young people, the women and the men from Rojava, to shape our future ourselves from now on. Both the regime and various Islamic groups have objections to our decision - because they started attacking us. Against these attacks, we have made use of ​​our legitimate right to self-defence. There was no other choice open to us.

In the last two years, initially Islamists of the Al-Nusra front, and later the ISIS (or the IS) have taken the leading role in the fight against us. We have not only had  to deal with Islamists from Syria or Iraq, but with insurgents who have come, and continue to come, not only from regions and countries such as Chechnya and Egypt, but also from Europe or even Australia. They are organised in many countries and often use Turkey as a transit country. We have had to counter the attacks of these people and we have needed, and still need, to defend ourselves.

But for the people of Rojava, one thing is certain, namely that nothing will be as it was before the outbreak of the civil war. But what will the situation be then? To find answers to these questions, we have developed solutions and initiated related projects. And this right to self-determination is to us, the population of Rojava, paramount.

We have always said that we are in a revolutionary phase. Our understanding of revolution, however, is not to do with dividing people and groups, but concerns bringing them together. The result of this understanding is that the revolution has resulted in Rojava with the building of a project of Democratic Autonomy; a project in which the Syriacs, Armenians, Arabs, Turkmen and Kurds from Rojava are all involved and in which they participate equally. But this Democratic Autonomy is also a project, which sees itself as part of a future democratic and pluralist Syria. The hope for a democratic Syria, for which the people took to the streets  at the beginning of the Syrian revolution -  is today,  in northern Syria, in Rojava, an issue that is fully alive.

The structure of the Democratic Autonomy is not, as it is often portrayed in the media, the result of a "going alone" of the PYD. More than 50 parties and organisations involving the Syriacs, Armenians, Arabs, Turkmens and Kurds have come into this system and participate in it on a daily basis. In January 2014, those supporting Democratic Autonomy have decided (with the consent of the population) on the implementation of this model of society in the three cantons of Afrin, Kobanê and Cizîrê and they have adopted the social contract.

Rojava currently seems the last glimmer of hope for the Syrian revolution.. While the rest of the country is dominated by war and violence, resulting in hundreds of thousands of people being forced to flee from their homes, in Rojava at least many of these suffering people from the rest of Syria, are being provided with a safe haven. This is also a result of our conception of revolution. What happens in Rojava, is not a "national revolution", it is the expression of the constant insistence on the principle of the brotherhood of nations, quite contrary to the philosophy of all of the ethnically and religiously fuelled conflicts in the region.

But I also have to say that we have been abandoned by the international community. We have received neither the necessary political support nor sufficient humanitarian aid.

We currently find ourselves confronted with an even greater flow of refugees into Rojava. For hundreds of thousands of Kurds from Sengal, Turkmens from Tal Afar and Syriacs from Karakos have had to leave their homes in northern Iraq. Also, they were, and are in fact still, exposed to the attacks of the inhuman "Islamic State" organisation. Since these groups had no self-defence units, they had, and have, little chance to oppose their attackers. So they had (and have) no choice but to flee or to expose themselves to the danger of being massacred.

Had the fighters of the YPG and YPJ responsible for the defense of Rojava for two years, not hurried over the Iraqi border into Sengal, possibly as well as thousands of  Turkomans and Syriacs, 200,000 Yezidi Kurds from the city would have not survived the advance of the IS.
They only managed this by fleeing on foot over the Sengal mountains so as to get away from the Islamists.

The YPG and YPJ succeeded in rescuing these people, despite dozens of losses in their own ranks, by providing a flight corridor over the mountains and down again so as to bring tens of thousands of them to safety in Rojava.

Although Rojava looks on the map barely larger than a small, inconspicuous spot, the social system that we are putting together in this area currently represents the other face of this region. This little spot on the map has again played in recent days a vital role in that tens of thousands of people have been provided with a refuge and offered protection from inhuman organisations such as the IS.

And we are convinced that with our system we not only give ourselves protection and shelter but also have much to offer the hundreds of thousands who have fled to Rojava - if it were not for this war, if the inhuman and barbaric attacks by the IS were halted and the embargo  against Rojava were swept away. But we are currently exposed to a life and death situation. Not a day passes without war, without reports of new deaths, of flight and "ethnic cleansing".

We call upon the world public to finally completely break down the wall of silence regarding this. For as long as there is silence outside Syria and Iraq, then the murdering and killing within the two countries will steadily increase. While possible aid is being debated in the UN, in the EU and elsewhere, murderous groups of the IS are advancing and destroying the lives of many more people and families. While you remain silent, more chapters of a tragedy are being written, in which the victims are the peoples of the Near and Middle East.

For us it is has long been far too much, that in New York, Geneva, Brussels, London, Berlin, Paris and Istanbul, discussions do not result in more than a show of apparent sympathy for the suffering of the people. If you are in fact genuinely concerned about the sufferings of the people, then we urge you to act. Together, let us help the people who are affected by flight and expulsion. To limit the aid alone to Iraq, stopping at the gates of Rojava, would be fatal. These artificial boundaries have long lost any significance in the region..

And I have reported from Rojava, despite all attacks, there the aspiration for a democratic Syria is still very much alive, as it tries with its very limited resources to provide for tens of thousands of people in need of protection and shelter. The German Bundestag member Jan van Aken, who visited the region early 2014, stated that Rojava provided a glimmer of hope in the Middle East. We share the opinion of Mr. van Aken and are fully convinced that it is high time that the international community recognises the autonomy of Democratic Rojava.

On behalf of the people who live in the cantons of Rojava
Co-chairman of the PYD
Mohamed Saleh Muslim
Qamişlo, 01.09.2014

Amelia Womack wins, Green Party leadership ballot results

The results of the Gpex elections 2014 were as follows:
Party Leader: Natalie Bennett was elected 2618 Re-Open Nominations (RON): 183
Party Deputy Leaders:
In the first round – Amelia Womack was elected with 1598, Will Duckworth's 1108
In the Second round – Shahrar Ali was elected 1314 to Will Duckworth's 1277
Gpex Chair: Richard Mallender was elected 2640 to RON 101
Campaigns Co-Ordinator: Howard Thorpe was elected 2546 to RON 181
Elections Co-Ordinator: Judy Maciejowska was elected 2631 to RON 161
External Communication Co-Ordinator: Penny Kemp/ Clare Phipps/ Matt Hawkins were elected 2586 to RON 147
Management Co-Ordinator Mark Cridge was elected 2636 to RON 82
International Co-Ordinator: Derek Wall was elected 1416 to Anna Clarke’s 891
Trade Union Liaison Officer: Romayne Phoenix was elected 2639 to RON 94
Policy Co-Ordinator: Sam Riches and Caroline Bowes were elected 1786 to Rachel Featherstone and Anna Heyman's 839
Publications Co-Ordinator: Martin Collins was elected 2468 to RON 249
Further information with regards to turnout figures will be published on the members website in due course.
Many thanks to all those that participated in the election.
Best regards,
Tom Harris
Electoral Returning Officer GPEW

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

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