Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Farewell 2006

It is almost over now, the last few hours of 2006 slipping away. Thank you to all those who have supported Greenman's Occasional Organ in 2006, and to those who have supported the foundation of Green Left as part of the Green Party of England and Wales. I am sure great things await us in 2007 - the NHS campaigns, the Party Spring Conference in Wales in March, the Exxon actions in April and the local and Assembly elections in May are just a few of the challenges of the months ahead. I will try to maintain G.O.O. as a resource relating to these events and the broader picture of current affairs.

A few varied blog entries looking ahead here - Lenin's Tomb foresees the Death of Liberalism, whilst Dave's Part sees the Return of Marxism, Peter Tatchell suggests New Policies for a New Year, Martin Jacques sees China as being one of the most interesting factors in 2007, Larry Elliott believes an economic storm is brewing and Polly Toynbee also has a New Year wish list for Labour. Elsewhere Renegade Eye looks at what might be ahead for Venezuela, Andy Newman reflects on the forthcoming smoking ban in Britain on the Socialist Unity Blog, and finally, with the situation in Scotland after May's elections possibly being very interesting, Tim Barton reflects here on the Devolution of the UK.

I have also added a couple of new links on economic democracy, international left debate and workers' cooperatives to my list - the Economic Democracy For The Americas (ECODEMA) blog of Canadian NDP'er Pierre Ducasse, the Transform! site (European Network For Alternative Thinking and Political Dialogue)who have lots of fascinating online articles from leading figures on the European left including our own Hilary Wainwright and George Monbiot, and the Institute for Economic Democracy site, associated with the Georgist ideas of DW Smith and Glen T Martin. As well as all this I have added another document - the CICOPA World Declaration on Worker Cooperative Ownership.

Now for a bit of a New Year break - hopefully you will hear from me again sometime in January 2007! Happy New Year!

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Advance Notice - Expose Exxon Day

This is advance notice of a series of actions coming up in the New Year against one of the biggest climate change villains and funders of disinformation.


24 hours of protest at Exxon (Esso) HQ,

5.00 pm Thursday 5th April to 5.00 pm Good Friday, April 6th

Mass Action 2.00 pm Friday


Climate Victims' Vigil

Music, Street Theatre, Workshops, Speakers to be announced…..


Come and target the ultimate Global Warming Villain

April 5th is the day of the release of the "Climate Impacts"
section of the new IPRCC (UN panel of scientists' ) report.

ExxonMobil (trading under the name "Esso" in the UK) Headquarters is
South of London, about 20-30 minutes walk from Leatherhead Railway
station (trains from Waterloo). It is North of Leatherhead, just inside
the M25. For location see the map here

or for a more close-up map see here

More details as they become available :

Exxon is the ultimate Global Warming Villain……

Exxon is the world's largest oil company, making $ 1,000+ a
second, and the highest annual profits for a company ever, in 2005 ($36 billion)…….

Exxon has used its vast wealth to back the Bush administration in the
US. It has used the influence that that buys it to ensure that the
US continues to block progress towards an international emissions
reduction treaty – the only realistic way to bring down the global total
of greenhouse gas emissions and prevent the catastrophic destabilisation of global climate…………………….

Exxon funds a variety of right wing, neo-liberal, think tanks like the
"Competitive Enterprise Institute" which lobby against action to fight
climate change, and are influential in shaping Republican party policy………

Exxon is the company most closely associated with the climate and
energy policies of the Bush administration in the US, which are
identical to those recommended by Exxon……….

Exxon has run a cynical campaign of disinformation on climate change,
funding a professional "denial industry" that has – in all probability -
delayed effective global action on climate change by years……………….Some elements of that "industry" are identical to those previously funded by the Tobacco industry to undermine the science that proved the health damage done by smoking…..

Exxon has a deliberate policy to confuse the science of climate
change, exaggerate uncertainties and undermine the scientific consensus. It funds the tiny minority of oddball scientists who question global
warming so that they get hugely disproportionate media exposure and
appear to represent a substantial body of respectable scientific

Exxon was even condemned, in September 2006, by the Royal Society for funding bogus science……

Exxon asked the Whitehouse (in a letter published in the New York
Times) to remove Bob Watson (whose views they didn't like) from
chairmanship of the IPCC (the UN panel of climate scientists) and the
Whitehouse did just that…………….

Exxon recommended that Harlan Watson be appointed as the US chief
negotiator at the UN Climate Talks and the Whitehouse did just that.
Watson has been wrecking the negotiations ever since…………….

Exxon marginally softened its anti-environmental stance after the
retirement of Lee Raymond as CEO (now employed by Bush to produce a report giving advice on future energy policy!) but continues to fund
climate disinformation and remains the mainstay of the lobbying machine
against action on climate – not only in the USA but also Europe – see,
eg, this article from the Independent from December 2006 at It funds the "International Policy Network" to argue against action on climate in the
UK. See further on our website

US anti-Exxon coalition at detailed analysis at

As ever more people die in droughts, floods and hurricanes - and the
world hurtles ever faster towards climate catastrophe we cannot afford a company that acts the way that ExxonMobil does….

Please pass on information about these important events.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Some 2006 'Best Of' Lists

Natalie Bennett and Peter Tatchell did not win their categories in the Guardian Comment is Free blogs 'Best of 2006' lists, But well done to them on getting nominated and having a good showing. As promised, here are some of my own 'Best of 2006' lists - purely my personal opinion of course!

Top Ten Blogs I Have Read In 2006

1. Another Green World
2. Daily (Maybe)
3. Dave's Part
4. Stroppyblog
5. Life is Complicated
6. International Rooksbyism
7. Philobiblon
8. Cllr Matt Sellwood
9. Peter Tatchell
10. Lenin's Tomb

(All the above are linked in my blogroll and links column)

Top Ten Websites I Have Visited In 2006

1. Wikipedia
2. Urban 75
3. Indymedia - (UK)
4. Guardian Unlimited
5. Lobbywatch -(UK)
6. Z Net
7. Green Party of England and Wales
8. Solidarity Economy
9. IWW - (UK)
10. Spokesman Books

(All the above are linked in my links column)

Top Ten Books I Have Read Or Re-Read In 2006

1. The Star Fraction (read along with three other Fall Revolution Novels) - Ken MacLeod
2. Past Caring - Robert Goddard
3. Babylon and Beyond - Derek Wall
4. Dubliners - James Joyce
5. The Invisibles Graphic Novels - Grant Morrison and Others
6. Devil Water - Anya Seton
7. The Plantagenet Chronicles - Edited By Elizabeth Hallam
8. Hamlet's Mill - Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend
9. The Golden Bough (1922 Abridged Edition) - James George Frazer
10. Stephen Hero - James Joyce

Labels: ,

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Season's Greetings!

The greetings of the season to all G.O.O. readers! May those of you who have some time off with family and/or friends over the next few days have peace and relaxation.

All being well I will be back after the holiday break, looking back on 2006 and ahead to 2007.

In the meantime, here is a brief musical interlude.


Friday, December 22, 2006

National Conference for NHS Campaigners planned for January

Keep Our NHS Public are promoting a conference on 20th January 2007 for people involved in the range of health service campaigns around the country. This is part of the build up to the national events planned for 3rd March that are being organised by the TUC/NHS Together.

Campaigners' conference
National conference for NHS campaigners

The time.... 20th January 2007, 11am

The place.... Friends Meeting House, 173 Euston Road, London (opposite Euston Station)

Across the country local campaigns are starting up to protect local NHS services. We are inviting all NHS campaigners to come together to find ways to urgently intensify the pressure on the government to change its approach to the NHS.

There will be speakers to provide an overview on the political situation and on what we have learnt from the campaign so far, along with workshop sessions where campaigning ideas can be developed in smaller groups.

Speakers include Tony Benn, John Lister, Jacky Davis and Sally Ruane.

We are inviting NHS campaigns to send up to three delegates. All remaining places are available on a first come first served basis and we welcome anyone interested in actively campaigning in support of the NHS. To register for places send delegate names to, tel. 01273 234822. There is a fee of £5 for each place.

It is crucial to build for the TUC led national event on 3 March and to work together where we can.

More details from NHS Support Federation, 113 Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XG; tel. 01273 234822; email

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Polls of the Year

A plethora of polls of "Best ofs" has started to appear across the blogosphere. I may even indulge with my own "Best of" lists next week as the end of the year approaches. Georgina Henry, the editor of the Guardian's Comment is Free pages has her own set of "Best ofs" relating to their blogs and comments and I am pleased to say that two of my fellow Green Bloggers, Peter Tatchell and Natalie Bennett (AKA Philobiblon) have been nominated in two of her categories. Peter is nominated for blogger of the year and Natalie is nominated for a "Thread of the Year". Georgina's poll can be found here.

Peter's latest excellent Comment is Free Post is on New Labour's asylum policies and their tragic effects in the real world beyond media sound-bites.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Greens Now Main Threat To Big Three Parties

I blogged last Friday about the Times/Populus Poll showing the Greens as the fourth party nationally in Britain.

Further confirmation of this comes with a Guardian/ICM Poll published today that draws comment from the Guardian that the Greens are now the main threat nationally to the big three parties - scoring 3% of the poll, a larger share than UKIP on 1%. What is more, when voters for other parties were asked which party they might vote for if not their current choice the greens were the most popular choice outside the big three-

"Despite recent publicity about Conservative defections to Ukip, and fears inside the party that Mr Cameron's remodelling of Conservative policy could alienate traditional support on the right, only 14% of Tory supporters say they might back UKIP instead.

Asked to name one or more other parties that they might support, Conservatives are much more likely to choose the Liberal Democrats or the Greens: 32% of Tories say they might vote Lib Dem and 19% say Green.

The result appears to strengthen Mr Cameron's hand in arguing the Conservatives must embrace a radical environmental and social justice agenda.

Labour supporters are also more likely to switch to the Lib Dems (30%) or Greens (16%) than UKIP (9%)."

Encouraging news!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Guardian Comment and Rightist Spluttering

Three articles that are worthwhile reading on the Guardian Comment Is Free site today.
The first is by George Monbiot. I do not always see eye-to-eye with George, but he does argue a good case. Today he has an interesting contribution on airports expansion and carbon trading entitled Ministers know emissions trading is a red herring and won't work

Elsewhere, the blatant playing to the gallery of Sun-and-Mail-believers by government Minister John Hutton on the subject of the long term unemployed attracts comment. The frequently controversial Polly Toynbee, whose Fabianism sometimes comes over as annoying middle-class liberal hectoring, but who nevertheless has at least tried to exist for some time in the economic conditions of the worst off in Britain, responds to Hutton's comments that The Welfare State needs to be policed at the top as well.

A similar response, but without some of Polly's more annoying traits comes from fellow Green Blogger (at Philobiblon) Natalie Bennett who has a piece on Comment is Free entitled Labour market pains. Having been unemployed for only a short time myself, but having worked with unemployed people in various capacities I can say that the picture painted by Natalie is far nearer the truth than the hate-filled, tabloid-stereotype-repeating bile we get from the usual crowd of Rightist Neanderthals who turn up to liberal-bait on the Guardian comment pages. You can almost see the flecks of spittle covering their screens as the red-faced self-righteous scourges of indolence spew out their hatred of Natalie and Polly. Not a pretty sight. It must be terrible for them containing their urge to type up the foul language that is all too common on the inexplicably popular blogs of your average British, American or Australian Rightist in order to avoid falling foul of the Guardian's moderators.

Reading the articles by Polly and Natalie I am moved to reflect that it is a little rich for government ministers to try to focus public attention on a small number of wrongdoers from the most disadvantaged groups whilst presiding over what the former director of the establishment think-tank of Chatham House calls "a terrible mistake", "a disaster", and "a debacle" , along with loans for peerages and dropping enquiries into dodgy arms deals at the merest hint from friendly tyrants. The rightists would perhaps be better employed spluttering about these crimes of New Labour than joining in as chorus to the puerile dog-whistle politics of New Labour Ministers. But then the nature of a reactionary, I suppose, is that like Pavlov's Dog, they react on cue.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sustainable Communities Bill - Update

The campaign for a Sustainable Communities Bill, headed up by Local Works, which I blogged on back in October here was immediately adopted by the MP who came out top of the Private Members Ballot - thanks to all those who worked hard lobbying for this. The Bill now enters the next stage with a reading set for Friday 19th January - a hurdle it must clear if it is to proceed. Fridays are not a good day for Private Members Bill discussions as many MPs head off early to their constituencies for the weekend, so Local Works are asking for renewed pressure on MPs to back the Bill and be in the House of Commons on 19th January to vote it through - 100 MPs are needed to do this. Action points to let UK residents help at this stage of the campaign are set out on the Local Works website here.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Blogs on Sunday

The dropping of the Serious Fraud Office enquiry into the BAE-Saudi arms affair after the intervention of the ever-more-bloodsoaked Vicar of Saint Albions himself has been a talking point around Brit left blogs. Lenin's Tomb comments here, with an, er, lively debate in the Comments section. Fellow Green Left Blogger Councillor Matt Sellwood comments here. I liked his analysis, short and to the point -

“Labour have always at least had the decency to shroud their moral bankruptcy in a sheen of PR - no longer, it seems. An ethical foreign policy is not only dead, it has been exhumed, drawn and quartered, and cremated.”

Elsewhere Ed at International Rooksbyism has been blogging some interesting stuff from the recent Historical Materialism Conference attended by various left intellectual heavyweights - here he reports on the discussion on the rise of China between Andrew Glyn, David Harvey and Simon Clarke, which had a floor conribution from Alex Callinicos.

Finally Ken MacLeod blogged about a new book on the Home Guard which sounds interesting -

Home Guard Socialism: A vision of a People's Army

by Stephen Cullen

Copyright, Allotment Hut Booklets

Price £3.00. Available for cash, UK stamps, or sterling cheque made out to the author at 76 Hanworth Road, Warwick, CV34 5DX

The BBC comedy series Dad's Army has probably done more to shape the popular memory of the Home Guard, Britain's WW2 volunteer defence force, than any other source. Good though the laughs are, this is a shame, because the Home Guard was a serious organization whose history has some significance today and may have more in the future. Stephen Cullen, an anti-militarist with a sound knowledge of military history, here provides a clear, well-documented and non-sectarian introduction to one aspect of the Home Guard's history that deserves to be better known: the key role of a small group of socialists and Spanish Civil War veterans in its initial organization, in the training of thousands of its members, and in the popularization of its ideas and methods to a readership that extended well beyond the Home Guard itself. Tom Wintringham's New Ways of War (1940), and 'Yank' Levy's Guerrilla Warfare (1941), both Penguin Specials, provided their readers with the political rationale and the military tactics of guerrilla warfare as a method of national and popular resistance to mechanized warfare and fascist occupation. Guerrilla Warfare is a severely practical manual: Levy's personal experience ranged from the Royal Fusiliers through the Mexican Revolution and Sandino's struggle in Nicaragua to the British battalion of the International Brigades. He drew also on the contemporary experiences of the Soviet and Chinese partisans. It's a long way from Captain Mainwaring's comical crew.

Stephen Cullen's pamphlet provides a wealth of fascinating information about Wintringham, Levy and their comrades, the 'Osterley Park socialists', and their vision of a People's Army. It leaves its readers to reflect on the curious and unsettling fact that in the national and social crisis of 1940, the one moment in the twentieth century in Britain when an armed people led by socialists was an urgent necessity and was rapidly becoming a practical reality, the great majority of Britain's radical socialists were otherwise engaged.

Tom Wintringham, an ex-International Brigader who went on to form the radical Commonwealth Party in Britain during the Second World War, is a fascinating figure that I am currently reading about and on whom I may blog in the future.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Pogues at Nottingham Arena

I went to see the Pogues at Nottingham Arena on Thursday night. A trip down memory lane, I had not seen them play live since they had Joe Strummer temporarily up front. On Thursday we had the treat of Shane himself, and he stayed the course (with a few staggering trips off stage) to the end of the gig!

Here is the Nottingham Evening Post Review.

Carol Clerk has a book out about the Pogues - Kiss My Arse-The Story of The Pogues

This is what she has to say in her introduction -

Few would have predicted the spectacular popularity of their mission to pump some fresh new blood into traditional Irish folk music, a genre that was unfashionable and widely unloved, to revitalise it and to make it relevant and exciting even to people who had possibly never heard of a jig, a reel or an air, a cittern or a bodhran.

It all caught on very quickly, at a time when Eighties audiences were tiring of the electronic precision of the new romantics. There was something irresistibly wild about The Pogues’ reckless dash, something daring about their tales of drinking and brawling and sex, and something achingly romantic in their stories of love, loss, life and death. Importantly, though, the traditions that they rescued from the past, and the musical and literary influences of Ireland, the country across the sea, were counterbalanced by a realism set in the harsh streets of London. It wasn’t always pretty, but the young especially understood it; they related.

Thinking of their early days, there is a very good quality clip of them playing in 1985 on You Tube here

The Nottingham gig also included the legendary Fairytale of New York - a clip of which is recorded here from someone's mobile at their Osaka gig.

Labels: ,

Friday, December 15, 2006

Poll Shows Greens as Fourth Party UK-Wide

A Times/Populus poll, reported here on the Green Party of England and Wales site, has indicated that the Green Party is the fourth most popular party UK wide (below the big three, but above the BNP, UKIP and Respect)with a percentage rating now approaching levels which will demand being reported separately from the "Other" classification.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Carter Review and Legal Aid

A very busy day today with not much time for blogging, but time enough to link to one or two interesting pieces. A Parliamentary debate on the implications for Legal Aid of the Carter Review is scheduled for this afternoon. Louise from Stoppyblog has posted on this subjects a number of times, the latest being here.
She writes of the proposed changes :

Make no mistake, Lord Carter wants to cut legal aid to the bone and marketise advice. It is all about cost cutting at the end of the day. People who desperately need access to legal advice in any area of law will have severe problems as it won’t be about equal entitlement to justice instead it will who can afford it. It will be rough justice for the poor under the pretext of “consumer choice” and “value for money”.

The horrific events in the Ipswich area are the subject of another post on Stroppyblog here and on Jim's Daily (Maybe) blog here. Comment from Natalie Bennett of Philobiblon here.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Chicken Yoghurt and Max Hastings

A very good contribution to the Trident Replacement debate by yuckily-named blogger Chicken Yoghurt here.

Elsewhere war journalist and commentator Max Hastings ill advisedly ventures into the climate chamge/energy/environmental debate with a Guardian article based on the rather better argued (though not much better) recent Economist editorial piece. Hastings, who confesses to not beeing such an expert "as George Monbiot" proceeds with a series of half truths, distortions and debatable points presented as facts to attack organic food, wind farms and Fair Trade. Like in the Economist article these are set up as straw men - virtually nobody is arguing that all farming can be organic in the near future, or that Fair Trade is the solution to all the problems of the developing world, or that wind energy has got to carry the major burden of energy demand in the UK.

Unfortunately for Mr Hastings a lot of well qualified people working in all these fields read the Guardian and proceed to take his arguments apart point by painful point in the comments section online (it is just a pity that these demolitions could not appear in the print edition where Hastings' musings appeared unchallenged)

The point that we should not take claims of "green-ness" at face value and should question the profiteering of large companies making green/social justice claims is taken, Mr Hastings (though hardly needed making for most of us) - but a better researched and referenced article would be more advisable next time!

Labels: , , ,

Monday, December 11, 2006

Pinochet is dead - the interests and attitudes that created him unfortunately live on

Celebration in Santiago, Chile, 10th September 2006

Augusto Pinochet, former dictator of Chile has evaded justice for the last tme, dying yesterday. Many relatives of the disappeared and murdered, those who were tortured and those forced into long exile are celebrating, others are angry that Pinochet never faced a proper investigation and prosecution of his crimes. Amongst those mourning the dictator will be the former evil leaderene herself, Margaret Thatcher, and the followers of the "Chicago Boys" and other pioneers of vicious neo-liberalism who were given free reign for their experiments in Chile.

The response in the British media shows much of that media in its' true political colours. Whilst crying crocodile tears for Pinochet's victims, the classic response, even in the so-called left-liberal independent is to laud the economic experiment that Pinochet ushered in on the back of mass repression, torture and murder as "setting a good example" which Thatcher et al followed. Scratch a so-called liberal... The public weasel words of these representatives of the so-called enlightened wing of capital give us an idea that many of them share a secret admiration for some of Pinochet's other methods (given away by their admiration for the "toughness" of Tony Blair and John Reid) This is to say nothing of the private thoughts and intentions of the true movers and shakers in Britain and other "advanced" Western economies - the political, military, security, industrial and financial elites. The leopard does not change its' spots and do we really think that the current Western ruling class would behave any differently to Pinochet if faced with any real threat to their power and privilege? Do we think that they are really morally and spiritually a world away from the ruling class of say, Columbia? No, they are just currently more secure....

Dictatorships are not anomalies springing from the chance ascendancy of "bad men", they are specific responses by elements of the ruling class and their dependents to perceived threats. With this in mind, the left across the world should take a very close look at the lessons of September 11th 1973, and what it reveals about the nature of the class enemy and what they were prepared to do right at the inception of their current ruling ideology. The response of the left at the time, in Chile and elsewhere is also of importance, showing positive ways to organise and respond, but also the dead ends of wrongly drawn lessons leading to armed elitism or social democratic capitulation/liquidation. Along these lines is a post to Indymedia reflecting on the Chilean events of 33 years ago.

The threat of fascism, dictatorship and war are not aberrations of the capitalist system, they are an ever present threat found deep in the marrow of societies where power is concentrated in elites, and ready to be turned to as alternative strategies of the ruling elites whenever real threats emerge or other approaches fail to deliver their desired economic outcomes.

Various comment across the blogosphere on this, including from Marc Cooper, a journalist who worked as a translator for Allende.

Selected other comment from Louise at Stroppyblog, the SPGB aligned Inveresk Street Ingrate, top green blogger Paul Kingsnorth, and last but not least, the inimitable Lenin's Tomb who comments that Pinochet is "Not dead enough!"

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Blogs on Sunday

First up in the broadly speaking greenie-lefty blogosphere, Dave Osler of Dave's Part has announced that he has rejoined the Labour Party. Interestingly, this seems more based on pessimism and despair than optimism -

That is, of course, a limited horizon. But then, these are times when limited horizons surely trump strategic dead ends.

Dave rightly analyses the Respect project as a dead end, writes off the SSP (perhaps prematurely) and sees the Socialist Party and other organisations' "regroupment" projects as likely dead ends. He does not really consider the Green option, which is a shame, particularly when he describes his current political position which sounds remarkably similar to that of a majority of Green Left supporters in the Green Party.

Jim Jay has pointed out that unlike in the Green Party, where we have relative freedom to speak, the Labour Party is quite keen on disciplining and expelling those "unable to keep quiet" and Dave will find himself having to give money, tacit support and political energy to the unsavoury elements that are responsible for the debacle of war, privatisations and authoritarianism of the last 9 years. Good luck to Dave and all those soldiering on in good faith in the Labour Party, and hopefully the man may have a small effect on changing the Party rather than the all too common and likely opposite scenario.

Speaking of Jim, he reflects on the green left perspective on his blog today.

I was happy to be added to the blogroll of Renegade Eye, and have returned the complement.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, December 09, 2006

New Links Added

I blogged a while ago about Molly Scott Cato's new book. Molly is now blogging and I have added a link to her blog, Gaian Economics, in the sidebar.

I visited the Thinking Mountain blog after Derek Wall posted a link. It is good to see more ecosocialists joining the blogosphere. Thinking Mountain also joins my blogroll.

Thinking Mountain had an interesting article on the new campaign for solidarity with workers and left organisations in Iran and opposition to the US-led war drive. He links to the interesting website of Workers Left Unity -Iran which has also joined my blogroll. The Iranian militants have been meeting with an eclectic selection of left groups from various currents across Europe. It looks like the major group in Britain that have been linking up with these representatives of the Iranian Left are the CPGB, in 'Third Campist' mode - good on the CPGB in this instance, but it looks like this is a worthwhile initiative that might benefit from the attention of a broader and more representative sample of the 'Third Campist' left than the CPGB who, despite their name, are a tiny group sometimes prone to sectarian outbursts.

On the subject of Third Campism and Socialist-Feminist responses to the situation in the Middle East and elsewhere I found the following article on the blog Hammer and Broom of Mahmood Ketabchi controversial, but stimulating - False Front - The Left and The Anti-Imperialist Right. I first found the article on the interesting US socialist Renegade Eye blog.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, December 08, 2006

Responses to Stern, Brown and Barker

Green Party of England and Wales Male Principal Speaker, and fellow blogger Derek Wall has an excellent article on the recent Stern Report on the economics of climate change over at Red Pepper.

Elsewhere South East England Green MEP Caroline Lucas has responded to Gordon Brown's pre-Budget report. The pre-Budget was also criticised by Friends of The Earth.

Meanwhile the Treasury commissioned Barker Review on planning has come under heavy fire from Friends of the Earth and the New Economics Foundation.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Green MEP Calls For Protection Of Public Services At Petition Launch

Green MEP Jean Lambert has called on the European Commission to
take action to protect and strengthen public services that are vital to
the wellbeing of all European Citizens.

Speaking at the conference launching European Federation of Public
Services Unions (EPSU) campaign backing the European Trade Unions
Confederation (ETUC) Europe wide petition on the subject, Jean urged all
those that care about public services to sign up.

Jean Lambert, who is Green MEP for London and has continued to campaign
for the protection of public services, today said; “A wide variety of
public services are relied upon by thousands of people across Europe and
we simply can’t sit back and see these being undermined. We all have to
act now to ensure everyone has access to good health care, schools and
quality public services now and in the future.

“It is essential that the public interest is seen as more important than
open markets and by reaching the target of one million signatures on the
petition, the European Commission will see there is a public demand for

The petition can be signed at

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Moonbase Alpha? Space and Survival.

The news that NASA are planning to visit the Moon again with a manned mission in 2020 - looking to begin the establishment of a permanent moonbase - is causing some excitement. For those of us who were impressionable kids in the 1970s there are faint echoes of 'Moonbase Alpha', and the Moon inhabitants of the visually exciting, but factually implausable TV series Space 1999.
I even remember my brother having a model of the "Eagle" shuttle which bore some similarity to the real Space Shuttle.

Anyhow NASA are a little vague about the project, but do set out some of the reasoning and rationale on their website. This comes after the recent hoo-ha over Richard Branson's low-orbit 'space tourism' for the super-rich. We can only hope that that project has some useful technological spin offs to partially justify it.

Now Greens tend to be somewhat sniffy about space and space exploration. The classic response from greens and most leftists is to look at the poverty, environmental problems and political injustices in the world and grumble about the "wrong priorities". This has always seemed to me, though understandable, to be a little short-sighted and to appear to confirm some of the prejudices of the libertarian right (generally gung-ho pro-spacers) that greens and the left are anti-technology or regressive. The reason I think it is short-sighted is that a prime motivator for many greens is the desire to preserve life and ecosystems. Just a little thought (and a look at the fossil and geological records) will tell us that even in a politically perfect world, restricting ourselves (and the vast range of organisms and systems we are willing or unwilling stewards of) to Earth alone is condemning our species (and probably all other life forms on this planet) to extinction. This is the view of Martin Rees, author of the sobering book Our Final Century (published as Our Final Hour outside the UK)
Rees outlines the multiple threats - asteroid or cometary impacts, run-away climate change, global epidemics, technological disasters, war - that threaten the continued existence of human civilisation or even life on earth. He concludes that we have a 50-50 chance of surviving the next 100 years and that humanity will either choose to spread out beyond the planet (something that will take unprecedented human unity of purpose) or choose extinction.

The asteroid or near-space object threat is something that Rees has worked to make people take seriously, along with the 'maverick' Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik, whose father was a distinguished Estonian astronomer. The Spaceguard project exists to work on this issue.

The modern Green movement grew in the 1960s and 70s inspired by a new global awareness, an awareness in part stimulated by those beautiful early pictures of our blue-green planet from space, and the movement of various oppressed groups to break free from the physical and mental restrictions of rigidly traditionalist religious and political systems. It has always been a struggle between reactionary romantic elements dreaming of their rural idylls and those on the more progressive green wing keen to embrace new technologies that minimise human impact on ecosystems and social systems that increase human freedom rather than retreat into insularity and xenophobia. This is typified by the contrast between deep ecologists and "bright greens" and in the opposition between conservative greens and social ecologists or ecosocialists. These lines are not always clear, and some individuals and groups hold combinations of ideas from different currents, but this dynamic is internal - the green movement is not either some monolithic reactionary force or red conspiracy as various elements of the dogmatic left or conspiracist right are apt to suggest.

Fellow Green blogger Daniel Ketelby on his blog Metaphysics as a guide to lunch has written of his liking for the work of political science fiction writer Ken MacLeod, which I share. But I agree that MacLeod offers a challenge to Greens that should be heard - can we create a movement that is progressive and open minded, that actually helps preserve life on this planet for future generations long enough to give those future generations a fighting chance of existing through the necessary "spreading out" that Rees suggests?
MacLeod has a Marxist background and his characters often have either a Marxist/Trotskyist or right libertarian/libertarian capitalist viewpoint. His greens of the future have degenerated from Arne Naess-worship into eco-fascism and primitivism. In the Star Fraction his main character Moh Kohn is scathing about the rural idyll of the primitivist greens -

“Protection. Conservation. Restriction. Deep ecology. Give me deep technology any day. They don't scare me. I'm damned if I'll crawl, my children's children crawl on the earth in some kind a fuckin' harmony with the environment. Yeah, till the next ice age or the next asteroid impact.”

I recommend MacLeods books as a useful mental exercise for more unreflective greens.

We should not be starry-eyed about space programmes - at the moment they are heavily influenced by the military-industrial complex and competing national capitals, with the free-market 'space tourists' coming up on the wings. But if progressives continue to ignore the current situation - which looks to me like a possibly quite tight window of historical opportunity, then not only will the above remain true, but the necessary urgent push for space colonisation will be muted, and largely dominated by the libertarian right. IF as a global movement we feel we can turn the tide and save the planet from ecocide, then surely we have the potential strength to affect the direction and priorities of space programmes - now not restricted to the USA and former USSR but increasingly encompassing China, Japan and Europe. Because in the longer term, saving the planet is a little self defeating if we then sit on it like sitting ducks waiting for the next extinction level event....

Various information is out there - there are even organisations like the long standing British Interplanetary Society (associated with the Science Fiction writer and visionary Arthur C. Clarke)and the grandly named "Alliance to Rescue Civilisation" - about which I know little, but appears to mirror the aims of some of the groups and individuals in MacLeod's Fall Revolution novels.

I may, at the moment, plough a lonely furrow as a red-green spacer, but I will continue to argue that the green movement will only succeed if it wears its' humanist and progressive colours on its sleeve. A rural idyll or aiming for "self realisation" or "oneness with nature" is not enough to motivate sufficient numbers of people to make the kinds of efforts that are now required for our, and all other, planetary species. Frightening people about disasters is always a problematic strategy too. What is needed is to marry together the positive, forward-looking aspirations for progress (with the motivating dream of space exploration) with those desires to protect the earth (and our own DNA) that are so deeply ingrained as to be recorded as the ancient prime directive to "Go forth and multiply" and the latest understanding of evolutionary genetics.

If there is to be faith, let it not be in a deified nature or the wisdom of the holy market, but in the capacity of human beings to co-operate - to preserve and extend life to the stars......

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, December 04, 2006

Blair's Legacy - megawaste and megadeaths

So, the nauseating poodle (sorry but I am not feeling charitable to him or his apologists today) has published his government's White Paper on Trident replacement. £20-£40 Billion of British people's tax money is to be wasted propping up US Full Spectrum Dominance with a replacement for the so-called 'independent' nuclear deterrent. Blair has been about as 'independent' of US foreign policy as a boil on Dubya's buttocks is independent of his bottom.....the so-called 'independent' deterrent is a similar joke. In what possible circumstances can we see Britain needing an independent deterrent where the US would not have nuked the offender to ash before the PM of the day had raised his head from his red box? Who exactly is Trident supposed to deter? Some mythical enemy of Britain that is a friend of the USA?

It beggars belief that Blair follows his limpet-like foreign and 'defence' policy in good faith. Is he naive, stupid or just the pompous, stuck-up, priggish public school boy he appears? Or does the US military-industrial complex have a hold on him in some other way? Perhaps the Police should ask him that along with his long awaited questioning on dodgy loans and cash for peerages!

It is bad enough that we have this vassal-like status to the US Imperium, Blair does not even have the nerve to take advantage of it by saving some money - he could just say, "Well, George, we have stood by you through thick and thin, and I'm sure Gordon or even David will do likewise - they're both one of us really - but you can hold the nuclear umbrella for us while we concentrate on giving our troops some decent kit (Y'know, that the poor bloody infantry don't have to buy for themselves) and making sure our education and health systems do not totally collapse so that they can still supply grunts and armaments manufacturing workers. Because we really can't afford £40 Billion....did I say 40? this line secure? Sorry, 15-20. So what do you say George? Are you wearing that sweater I bought you?"

But no, Tony wants to secure "his legacy" - which basically means cementing in place neo-liberal economic policies, tying British troops to open ended involvement in the wars of the US Imperium, committing to new nuclear power and nuclear weapons and handing over as poisoned a chalice to Gordon Brown or David Cameron as possible.
And we thought we would never get to dislike a British Prime Minister as much as we disliked Margaret Thatcher........

Comment here from the Green Party and Caroline Lucas on the Trident White Paper announcement, and coverage from CND here. CND also have a useful question and answer PDF here.

The chances are, that if we had a really independent foreign and defence policy - i.e independent of the USA, then Britain would not be a target for most of the exaggerated threats that it faces, even at the moment, let alone those in Blair's fantasy future. But that is the problem with the Blairites, for all their high flown rhetoric - no vision - just more of the same. And no guts - not the 'guts' to send off working class lads and lasses to get blown up for your cosseted, protected folly and poodling, but the guts it takes to stand up to the 'Superpower' like we see in Latin America.

Anyhow, one bit of slightly better news today is the local paper in Brighton quoting a study that predicts a Green Parliamentary victory in the Brighton Pavilion seat.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Around the blogs on Sunday

Various interesting recent posts have come to my attention today.

Over at International Rooksbyism Ed reflects on the prospects for the US economy.

Meanwhile Student Medic, at Life is complicated, but beautifully simple offers further reflections on AIDS and in particular antiretrovirals.

Elsewhere, Jim at the Daily (Maybe) is inspired by a post on Dave Osler's recently cyber-relocated Blog to give his reflections on Punk.

In a more international vein, Louise over at Stroppyblog has been posting on today's election in Venezuela. She includes a link to the interesting Hands Off Venezuela Delegation blog

Natalie at top-ten-listed UK green blogsite Philobiblon reports on the vicissitudes of by-election campaigning in Kentish town. Go for it Sian!

Stuart Jeffrey at Green The Health Service has been looking at a lengthy document from the House of Commons Health Select Committee which reveals some of the mounting costs of the not-so-stealth privatisation of healthcare in the UK.

Many stories from these and other bloggers are set to run and develop over the next days, weeks and months.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Attack of the Potato Men

With the news that BASF Plant Science have been granted permission for crop trials on genetically modified potatoes in Borrowash, Derbyshire and Girton, Cambridgeshire, now seemed like a good time to add a link to those excellent people at GM Watch (formerly NGIN). No doubt we are in for another round of government and corporate spin. GM Watch is a good resource with research on who benefits most from the promotion of GM food, who funds the lobby groups and campaigns and the backgrounds of the leading pro-GM figures.

This crop has obviously been carefully chosen as a "thin end of the wedge" (a potato wedge? :)) - i.e a modification based on material from another crop in the potato family (nothing too scarily transgenic) and designed to combat Potato Blight (to try and get British farmers on board)We should not be fooled by this PR based move and should remember the true nature of the GM industry - from GM Watch -

British Member of Parliament, Alan Simpson, suggests the antipathy towards organic farming needs to be seen in a wider context, ''The pursuit of knowledge for public or environmental safety has already been ditched in favour of a culture which says we will pursue knowledge for the purpose of commercial gain, and anything that steps in the path will either be excluded or suppressed.'

The Report of the Royal Society of Canada's Expert Panel on the Future of Biotechnology (published February 2001) noted with concern the growing evidence of university researchers building 'unprecedented ties with industry partners' and the 'profound impact' this is having.

A study by the UK's Institute of Professionals, Managers and Civil Servants showed that one in three government-funded laboratories had been asked to modify their conclusions or advice to suit the customer's preferred outcome. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that clinical research into cancer drugs is eight times more likely to reach a positive conclusion when funded by drug companies than when publicly funded.

But public funding is itself becoming increasingly corporatised. This is a world where government funding agencies are dominated by industry-linked scientists

Here is what the Green Party of England and Wales has to say on GM foods.

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 01, 2006

World AIDS Day

Support World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day.

The bare figures of the estimated death toll fom this syndrome are now shocking in themselves, even before we begin to think about the social and economic consequences, particularly in developing countries. This from the Wikipedia entry linked above-

World AIDS Day, observed December 1 each year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the global AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. Despite recent, improved access to antiretroviral treatment and care in many regions of the world, the AIDS epidemic claimed an estimated 3.1 million (between 2.8 and 3.6 million) lives in 2005 of which, more than half a million (570,000) were children.

In the UK, one of the main, and most longstanding AIDS awareness organisations and charities is the Terrence Higgins Trust, named after one of the first people in Britain to die of the condition, back in 1982.

Top Ten Green Blogger Student Medic writes on the issue here on the Life is complicated yet beautifully simple blog.

Labels: ,