Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Quotes of the day

Ten ways to challenge capitalism that wouldn't frighten your grandmother
1. Arrange to buy your vegetables through the nearest organic box scheme.
2. Switch all your bank accounts to the N********* or another mutual building society.
3. Shop at the Cooperative - better still join your local coop.
4. If you work in the private sector, cut your hours of work at least by half.
5. Cook more at home for yourself and your friends.
6. Don't vote unless the party you vote for has stated anti-capitalist economic policies.
7. Whenever you are talking to someone involved in business, ask them if their business is a cooperative and have something to back yourself up if they ask why you asked this question.
8. Get an allotment.
9. Cut down on your coffee intake and make sure that what you do buy has been fairly traded.
10. Before you buy anything ask yourself how much you know about who made it and how, and move towards products where you have more information and closer ties.

- Molly Scott Cato, Market Schmarket - Building The Post Capitalist Economy.

Ask the powerful five questions -
1. What power have you got?
2. Where did you get it from?
3. In whose interests do you exercise it?
4. To whom are you accountable?
5. How can we get rid of you?

Only democracy gives us that right.
That is why no-one with power likes democracy - and that is why every generation must struggle to win it and keep it - including you and me, here and now.

Tony Benn,

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Anti-Trident Replacement Events

Following on from yesterday's post here are some upcoming events against the British government's WMD plans.

27th February - Hereford - No Trident Replacement Meeting with Bruce Kent. 7pm, Methodist Hall, St Owen Street.

1st March - London - Women's International League For Peace and Freedom public meeting and lobby against Trident replacement. House of Commons, hosted by Joan Ruddock in Committee room 8, 5pm.

3rd March - Plymouth - Trident is Terrorism/Reclaim the River Tamar - Meet 10am at Torpoint Ferry.

12th March - Lewes - No Trident Replacement! Public meeting with Norman Baker MP. 7.30pm, Friends Meeting House, Friars Walk.

15th March - Lewisham - Trident Replacement? - Public Debate, Speakers at 7.30pm. Council Chambers, Lewisham Town Hall, 1 Catford Road.

19th March - Aldermaston - Block The Builders Blockade (moved from 12th) See

28th March - Norwich - Norwich Stop The War & CND Public Meeting with Tony Benn, 7pm, St Andrew's Hall, St Andrew's Plain. Tickets £5/£3 concesions from The Greenhouse, Bethel Street, Norwich.

And here, courtesy of the Stop The War Coalition site is what certain people said about Britain's nuclear weapons in the past -

Tony Blair: "Labour is the only party pledged to end the nuclear madness." (1982)

Gordon Brown: The Trident programme is “unacceptably expensive, economically wasteful and militarily unsound”. (1984)

Peter Hain: 'The more direct action there is against nuclear weapons in Britain, the greater the freedom a Labour government will have to get rid of them.' (1983)

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Peace Protest Reports

Ther were protests about the war in Iraq, Trident replacement and threatened war on Iran in various places yesterday.
A Scottish Green MSP spoke at the Glasgow rally -

Chris Ballance, the Scottish Green Party speaker on nuclear issues, said:

"The majority of people in Scotland oppose nuclear weapons.
"When Westminster votes on the issue, Labour MPs should remember that they represent the Scottish people and are not elected to simply nod through Tony Blair's policies."

Here are some reports.

BBC on Glasgow March.

BBC on London Demonstration. And here.

Someone's personal report and some excellent photos on Indymedia.

More photos from Indymedia.

More protest photos.

The Void's report and photos.

Some photos on Flickr.

Meanwhile, the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise has been seized during an action at Faslane. Here are Greenpeace's photos on Flickr

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Waste, Recycling and Freecycling

Battles are ongoing around the country against the current wave of local government waste contracts that are handing over vast sums to multinational waste companies to run incinerators and cap recycling targets at unambitious levels. At the EU level Greens had a minor victory in curbing some of the worst excesses of EU policy on this issue last week. The MEPs tackled the industry lobby-fed move to re-brand incineration head on. The "Energy From Waste" and "Energy Recovery" rhetoric is just greenwash to protect the profits of the incineration industry. As South East England Green MEP Caroline Lucas said :

"The decision by MEPs to reject an amendment which would have reclassified waste incineration is an important step for the environment too: re-branding incineration as a means of recovery rather than waste disposal could create the impression that burning our rubbish is environmentally-friendly, which it clearly is not. "

A particularly toxic part of the waste stream in Europe is office equipment and computers. Thanks to James Eagle in his Wired Column in the Morning Star for directing us to this site - which lists and links UK computer recyclers and refurbishers. Hopefully this is a way to avoid the recently publicised export of used and redundant computers etc to China and other countries where environmental standards are not as strong as in the UK.

James also pointed us to another site that is home to an increasingly popular way of disposing of unwanted items - particularly electrical items etc which charity shops and the like will not accept - Freecycling is a bit like e-bay without the money element.

To quote the UK freecycling site -

Freecycle groups are run by locally based volunteer moderators.

The first UK Freecycle group was set up in London in Oct 2003. There are now 401 groups spread across the country, with 571,444 members!

Now that is progress!

Here is Friends Of The Earth's webpage of waste related links.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Scotland The Brave!

Scotland was the testing ground for Margaret Thatcher's Poll Tax, and as a result led the way in the campaign that played a significant part in her downfall. It now seems likely that Scots may again play a pivotal role in the downfall of Tony Blair, his 'heir apparrent' and his legacy. A perfect storm appears to be building, where opposition to Blair's wars, his Trident replacement and his nuclear energy proposals coincide with a high point of support for the SNP and Greens, and a mood of support for more Scottish freedom and independence.

This is all coming to a head in the run up to the Scottish Parliament elections in May, which appear to have Labour running scared.
If Brown is seen as the front-runner to replace Blair later this year, then a disaster for Labour in his Scottish homeland could be very damaging for him. It will also strengthen those elements that want to return Labour to a more traditional stance like the centre leftist "ex Blairite" Cruddas and the left's official challenger John McDonnell.

The time is here to pile the pressure on and the coming days have plenty of opportunities to do so across the UK. Blair's Iraq 'wind down' announcement must be seen in the context of this gathering storm, as well as the intentions of the US and Israeli governments as regards Iran. Even some of the gung-ho Atlanticists backing Blair must now be wary of the scenario unfolding for British forces in Shiite majority Southern Iraq if the Israelis and Americans launch an attack on their co-religionists in Iran.

In England the main opportunity to pile on the pressure over the wars and Trident replacement is this Saturday - Greens are mobilising to join the mass demonstration in London as in the following e-mail to members-


Green Party members are asked to assemble for this major protest at Hyde Park, near Speakers Corner 12 noon (Marble Arch Tube)......

We appeal to all Greens to come, to raise Green visibility, carry our placards and your banners and help distribute 5,000 new anti-Trident leaflets.

This month is the fourth anniversary of the Iraq invasion and the annual big Stop the War Demo is combined this year with No Trident Renewal, co-sponsored by CND. We aim to have a good Green presence on this demo and there will be new materials and posters to display - being produced this week. We must keep up the public pressure on the nuclear weapons issue which is one of our core policies.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, Demonstrators will gather in George Square in Glasgow at 11.30am on Saturday for a march and rally - there will also be demonstrations at 12 noon at the Market Cross in Lerwick and 11am at St Peter's Church in Peebles.

More details from CND here and Scottish CND here.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Climate Change Meeting in London

I received notice of this meeting on Climate Change at an occupied social centre in London this Thursday:

This week at ex-Vortex Occupied Social Centre
(former Vortex Jazz Club, Stoke Newington Church St., N16, occupied by lefties who want it to stay community/social space rather than the threatened redevelopment by Starbucks)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
7:30PM - 11:00PM
An evening of discussion on the real causes of climate change.
- Discussion of last year's events including Drax power station action and climate camp
- Actions and events taking place this year
- International campaigning
- Climate politics
- Carbon rationing
- Contraction and convergence

Open to all those interested, curious or concerned about how our planet is being destroyed and what we can do to prevent it.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

More on the Camden Anti-Cuts Campaign

I have just received the following additional information on anti-cuts campaign activities in Camden -

No Cuts in Camden!

Lobby the Council from 6pm -- Wednesday 21 February 2007

Come and support deputations to Camden’s Executive from disabled people, Save Kilburn Grange Play Centre, UNISON

*** Kilburn Grange Play Centre will be bringing the after-school club to the Town Hall from 6pm ***

Camden Town Hall, Judd St WC1
Wheelchair accessible
All welcome including children

On 21 February, councillors on the Executive will agree the budget to go to full Council on 28 February. In the most serious cuts for years, Camden councillors aim to take £23 million from Council and community services. We, other community groups and Council workers oppose these cuts which will have a devastating impact on the whole community.

As women with disabilities, pensioners, mums, immigrants, low-income people facing discrimination, we rely on homecare and day centres, welfare rights help, advice and legal services, translation, play centres, housing services and support. Home helps employed by Camden are worried they could lose their jobs in a switch to 100% private agency staff. Councillors plan to raise Council rents as well as charges for meals on wheels (poor-quality frozen meals) and other services.

This is our money; it should go into people´s care. We must stop it being taken from us to pay for war and other policies which inflict death and disabilities.

Come to the meeting to show how many of us oppose these cuts in basic necessities of life. People are losing services now – we want more, high-quality services and care.

Wed 28 February: March and lobby called by Camden UNISON

5pm Meet at Cobden Statue, Camden High St (near Mornington Crescent)

5.30 March to Camden Town Hall (minibus to ride down being arranged)

6-7 Lobby outside Camden Town Hall, Judd St

Bring your placards and banners.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

John Bellamy Foster

I was alerted by Derek Wall to this interesting essay in Monthly Review by the ecosocialist writer John Bellamy Foster. Well worth a read.

Oh, and a Happy Chinese New Year to all who will be observing it!

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Dark Energy

Wow! Was it a bird? Was it a plane? No, it was Dark Energy!

I woke up to a BBC Radio Five piece on this topic this morning - fascinating. The reporter seemed sold on the idea that research and discoveries in this area were the basis for a probable paradigm shift.

More from the Scientific American blog here

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Greenpeace Defeat British Government in High Court

Great news on the nuclear front - Greenpeace have defeated the British Government in the High Court over their so-called consultation on the energy review.
Here is the report from the Green Party of England and Wales, and here is Greenpeace on their victory.
My fellow Green Lefter Jim Jay comments here.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Nuclear Panglossian Hubris and Survival

I have recently been watching DVDs of Terry Nation's seminal 1975-77 British TV series, Survivors. The basic plot is that a small number of people survive the accidental release of a very high fatality/very highly infectious flu-like virus. As the series developed it explored various political and philosophical themes around self-sufficiency, law and justice, technology, democracy and education. Despite a very English middle class bias, typical of the period, the series retains the power to shock and impress which I remember from watching it as a child. The series has topical relevance at the moment with the Avian Flu virus stories, although even in the worst case scenarios with the current viruses and their likely mutations we are not looking at quite such an apocalyptic outlook.

A green trivia point is that John Abineri who played Hubert Goss in Survivors was an environmentalist who played some role in the development of the Green Party in England and Wales (at the time of the series , the Ecology Party.) It was Abineri , who with Chris Rose, proposed the change of name from Ecology Paty to Green Party at the Party conference in 1985.

In the summer of last year it was said that the BBC were looking to revive the series following the success of the revival of Dr Who.

One question mark that raises its head about the artistic license in the scenario of people rebuilding some kind of civilisation after the disastrous pandemic is the question of nuclear power. Considering this issue raises some important points about the nature of nuclear technology and the worldview of those who present it as some sort of solution to global energy and climate change problems. In the series the breakdown is very rapid, we are shown things getting progressively worse over a few days, and then one of the characters goes through the illness to emerge 4-5 days later and find her husband, and the bulk of the rest of the population dead. I have not re-watched all three series yet, but I cannot recall any significant storylines dealing with the results of abandoned reactors, reprocessing and waste facilities.

Now it might be argued that a die off like this is not likely, and even if rapid extensive mortality did occur in advanced economies reliant on nuclear energy, there would be ample time for safe, effective shutdown of reactors, which would then be safely contained within their containment vessels for long enough for society to get back on its feet again and sort out the long term danger of multiple Chernobyl-style releases of radioactive materials. Likewise it might be said that current waste storage in the UK at least would survive intact for many years without the necessity for monitoring. You could believe that, if you wanted to. Whether you would be being hopelessly optimistic is another matter.

Of course, you could say , that if we are talking about a global catastrophe of the type fictionalised in Survivors, then the safety of reactors and waste would be the least of our worries. On the other hand, we are talking about the resilience and survival of the human race here - and whilst the chance of a global catastrophe exactly like that in Survivors is hopefully very low, one cannot be smug about our chances of avoiding all possible near-extinction level events in the light of the work of the respected British Scientist Sir Martin Rees. If humanity is reduced to struggling to re-establish itself from a much reduced base, then heavy radioactive contamination of the necessary agricultural basis of life would perhaps significantly shift the odds against our survival.

Rees discusses a range of existential risks confronting humanity, and controversially estimates that the probability of extinction before 2100 AD is around 50 per cent, based on the possibility of malign or accidental release of destructive technology.

Am I alone in thinking that increasing the number of potential disaster sites from this incredible total is not perhaps a good idea if Rees is right? That is before we talk about the risks run by this ever growing army of nuclear reactors in terms of nuclear weapons proliferation, terrorism, war zones, natural disasters etc.

The fact that safe decommissioning and clean up, as at Chapelcross, one of the oldest sites here is reckoned in terms of 100 years does not fill one with confidence, neither does the large number of reactors in Britain and elsewhere that are situated on shorelines at sea level in this age of predicted rapid rises in sea levels.

Now it might be said that all this doomsday stuff is gloomy and morbid and not to be taken seriously - however, this is not the view of the Norwegian government, who are building a doomsday seed depository on the side of a mountain on an island (Svalbard) in the Arctic Circle. That is before we investigate all the deep earthworks and worst case scenario provisions of the US government.

My mind is open on the question of radioactive waste disposal - I am not convinced that a strategy of denial of a solution is a convincing one for greens, even if it is understandable to be opposed to solutions that are dangerous or proposed to make continued nuclear expansion appear more attractive and less problematic. What the above indicates is that leaving the stuff lying around on the earth's surface, even with highest security, is not the best solution given the prognosis for humanity in the coming time period. Yes, monitoring and access must be possible, and yes there must be no argument that "we've 'solved' the waste issue, so we can expand nuclear energy now" but we should also seek the situation whereby the legacy of the nuclear industry (and other industries with potential for wide distribution of toxicity for that matter) is not disastrous for the survivors if current levels of human monitoring and maintenance are curtailed by a catastrophe or global disaster.

The defenders of the nuclear industry, and those urging its expansion to "counter global warming" revel in a state of hubris, where those who disagree 'Just don't get it'. Some of these defenders and proponents, as in this debate on the Plastic discussion boards have an outlook worthy of Voltaire's Pangloss. The gamble is that, not only will our civilization avoid any of the brushes with disaster Rees sees as possible in the next century or so, but that in our current state of development we will now avoid any of the breaks and discontinuities in progress that are evidently common in any sufficiently long term view of history. They seek to avoid any conclusions harmful to their argument from Chernobyl, Three Mile Island or the alarming number of weapons and reactors now rusting on the seabed, as reported in a 1989 Time magazine article by Daniel Benjamin -

“NATO intelligence has confirmed that nine reactors and 50 nuclear weapons of various sizes are resting on ocean floors. Said one Danish official: "Nuclear things don't just go off, but the idea of these weapons and reactors rusting away on the seabed does not seem to be a safe thought”

An interesting writer on technological vulnerability and nuclear and peace issues is Brian Martin.

So what do I propose? Well, firstly the nuclear power programme should be replaced as quickly as possible by a blend of renewables. Even temporary use of carbon capture and deep storage (if proved viable) from carbon based fuels is preferable to expansion of the nuclear programme. A "hardening of energy supplies" would be the best option, by this I mean the possibility of as much local power generation as possible, so that if we face rocky times ahead the loss of cerain strategic areas does not bring down power supplies or availability everywhere. This is in line with the England and Wales Green Party policy.

Secondly all the safest methods of protected storage of current radioactive wastes should be considered, including the "Finnish model" and the current plans that are on the table in Britain and the most favourable implemented rapidly. Continuous monitoring should be facilitated - there should be no dump and run - but the disruption of this, in light of the "catastrophe scenarios" should not compromise the security and safety of the deposit.

Whether climate change is severe or not, we face troubled times ahead. We cannot duck the issue and join the Panglossian optimists - real, worthwhile optimism is about preparing to survive, or help others to survive even the worst that we might encounter, at the same time as pursuing social, scientific and technological progress.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007


You can say what you like (and I probably will) about Barack Obama and his bid for the US Democrats' Presidential nomination, but that was a damn fine speech. And he is also there on You Tube, too.

I was quite impressed, but then an English Green is not foremost amongst the people Barack needs to convince!

The cynic in me says that if he is sincere and honest the corporate Democlican/Republocrat establishment will do everything in their power (by fair means or foul) to keep him away from the office of President, and if he is not, then, well, same old same old - with added disillusionment if he manages to inspire a lot of confidence and idealism.

Nevertheless, he should at least make the fight for the Democratic nomination more interesting than it would otherwise have been if solely dominated by the Clinton machine, and even if not successful may at least raise the possibility in some American minds that there are different and better ways of going about things.

That a major American politician can come out and say that he wants to end the war in Iraq and that it was a mistake from the start is a good thing in itself.

This bit was particularly promising:

And as people have looked away in disillusionment and frustration, we know what's filled the void. The cynics, and the lobbyists, and the special interests who've turned our government into a game only they can afford to play. They write the checks and you get stuck with the bills, they get the access while you get to write a letter, they think they own this government, but we're here today to take it back. The time for that politics is over. It's time to turn the page.

Let us hope that this voice added to the Naderites and Independents, Greens and others begins to build the sort of consensus for change in the corporate-lobbyist dominated official politics of America that is needed, alongside grass roots mobilisation. What happens in America affects the rest of us everywhere on the planet. We shall be watching closely.

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Defend ESOL Provision

This is the text of a message circulating via e-mail from Paul Mackney of the University and College Union on the current threat to English For Speakers Of Other Languages provision:

Dear colleague,

Staff in further education, and in adult and community education, face
enormous pressures including cuts in provision. The latest development
is that the government has decided to restrict free access to courses
in English for Speakers of Other Languages.

Concern about these restrictions and their implications for the low
paid, for migrant workers and asylum seekers is widespread. UCU is also
seriously concerned about the impact on both colleges and their staff.

English language skills, for workers and families, are central to
social inclusion and integration - another major government objective.
Government ministers including Alan Johnson and Gordon Brown have stressed
the importance of this provision.

Nevertheless, without warning, the government has decided to restrict
entitlement to free ESOL. The decision has been widely criticised by all
political parties, every union, college principals, and many
independent organisations.

I am therefore writing to UCU members - and to the many organisations
who have already expressed opposition to this decision - asking that you
join the campaign we have launched and do two immediate steps:

1. Publicise and join the lobby of parliament UCU has organised in
conjunction with over 50 organisations and other unions on 28 February with
a view to persuading the government to change its stance. Many college
principals have already indicated support for our campaign and for
college deputations to the lobby.

2. Sign the petition we have launched and invite all your students and
colleagues (whether UCU members or not) to do the same. You can sign
the petition online or download a form to collect signatures yourself at:

Finally I would draw your attention to an excellent article summarising
our case, by Roger Kline of UCU, who is jointly leading this important
campaign, in The Guardian at:,,1986359,00.html

Yours sincerely

Paul Mackney
UCU joint general secretary

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday Links

Some interesting links that came to my attention in the last day or two -
This is Oxford's International Women's Festival scheduled for the first few weeks of March, with lots of events and meetings planned.

Meanwhile comment in various places on the House Of Lords Reform proposals put forward in the Guardian by Jack Straw - a response here from Jim Jay at Daily (Maybe).

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Science : A Zone Of Contestation

A quick scan of the Guardian's Comment is Free articles and comments recently has been instructive in showing the shape of debate in Western capitalist societies. Aside from the usual debate on war and the Middle East, hot topic of the last week has been climate change or anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

Articles by scientists, environmentalists, green activists and others calling for action on AGW attract a barrage of comments from climate change deniers, contrarians and self-described "Skeptics" (note the 'K'). Likewise, journalists, politicians and professional contrarian commentators are given space on CIF to voice varying degrees of disagreement with what they see as the 'totalitarian' (for which, read majority)green consensus on AGW.

Aside from a limited debate on technical details a good deal of mud is slung in these debates and the nature of to the mud slinging is revealing. The deniers/contrarians chief abuse-de-jour is to go on about climate 'fundamentalists' and green 'religion' (a point laboured to the point of tedium by the very self-satisfied David Cox this week). In return the less temperate of the defenders of AGW analysis and action charge the deniers with being 'anti-science' (usually a favourite of the other side when attacking greens) and basically disingenuous, corporate-backed liars.

Within the prism of AGW argument we can see how science is currently a major field of contestation between different and opposed viewpoints and class interests. It is claimed by both sides in a way reminiscent of historic debates where both sides fought to lay claim to 'true patriotism' or 'sound religion'. Similarly we can see how the term "religious", in the modern secularised West is now a term of abuse akin to the old "witch!" or "commie!" or "fascist!". In a way, this is a sign of progress. The forces of reaction, those defending the rights of the wealthy and privileged to retain their wealth and privilege, have often in the past relied on alliance with the church to cement their common front against egalitarian forces. With a significant section of the right now in thrall to a virulently anti-religious individualist libertarianism, "religious" is now often used as a right wing term of abuse for the left or greens, or even well-meaning liberals. Effectively this weakens the economically right-wing alliance that constructed Thatcherism and its children. Ironically, the free-market right are seemingly oblivious to the very strong impression they give that the free market as cure-all is in itself a faith position rather than something based on scientific observation.

The personal abuse directed at greens in these debates, often including amateur psychologist musings, is a sign of the relative strength of the green position on AGW. In the absence of good arguments our opponents are reduced to ad hominem and nonsense about going back to cave dwelling or the middle ages. This vitriol and hatred is one of the few things uniting that segment of the free market right who have been forced to accept the overwhelming evidence for AGW and the fact that action must be taken on it with the last, muttering, conspiracist remnants of the deniers. Of course the newly-convinced-of-AGW free marketeers filter "what is to be done" through their ideological net and it unsurprisingly comes out as more freedom for capitalists. But they still sing from the same hymn sheet (!) as the deniers in hating greens.

One rather obsessive commentator on Comment Is Free has analyzed the clash over AGW as something from man's "animal" nature - a group exclusivity thing where alpha male types (who maintain their dominance through money and weapons - the historical position of warlords and aristocrats)and those who take their shilling fight against those who seek to conquer power through the power of the word - the power of argument. The poster identifies this as the historical position of priests, philosophers and scientists - the priests bit does in part explain the vehmence of the anti-religious rhetoric deployed against climate change activists. Tempting as this viewpoint is, the simpler and perhaps more othodox view of the dynamic of this debate is that the common pro-market, pro-force, anti-intellectual rhetoric in opposition to pro-political, moralistic, anti-corporate rhetoric is another manifestation of class antagonism. Sections of the middle classes and intelligentsia take sides against the reactionary corporate entities and their apologists and others defend the status quo against the latest threat - and any rationale for change (be it scientific, moral or political) is a threat to the class interests of the corporate elites and those who identify with them. Meanwhile the majority of the population have yet to be heard, or to move.

Of course, the green/left participants in this debate should be wary of moralising and actions which are more to do with individuals' self images than social/environmental/political effectiveness. The critique of the anti-greens has at least a grain of truth in this regard. However, pop-psychological ad hominem does not negate majority scientific opinion or political logic. The deniers and anti-greens need to try harder than that....or preferably concede the argument.

An excellent rundown on the deniers at Grist - their series of pieces on "How To Talk To A Climate Skeptic" here.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What Does The Red And Green Flag Stand For?

Notes for a proposed leaflet in response
to questions about the red and green flag

What Does The Red And Green Flag Stand For?

The red and green flag brings together the colours representing socialism
and ecology. It represents the fusion of the best ideas of the two
historic political currents.

Why Both? Why Not Either/Or?

We believe in equality and ecological consciousness.
Those who fly the red and green flag show their belief that socialism
without ecological awareness and a green movement without humanism and
a concern for social justice are both outdated and potentially
damaging. The time is ripe for a radical movement that moves forward by
recognising what is worth keeping from the social, political and
environmental movements of the last century, but also what needs to be
left behind. We should leave behind the vanguardism and sectarianism of much of the historic left and the anti-modernism and anti-humanism that have disfigured parts of the green movement.

Does It Represent A Party?

The red and green flag is freely offered for use by all who share the basic
red-green analysis - that is an understanding that we live in a world
where power is based on class lines and class is based on the economic
system known as capitalism. It is an understanding that human beings
will only survive if they begin to live in a way which recognises
natural limits and ourdependance on functioning ecosystems. The flag is divided diagonally like the red and black one of the Spanish anarcho
-syndicalists - this is not accidental - green socialism is libertarian
and democratic - it is not about elitism, leaders for life or one party
states. At the moment networks of ecosocialists exist both
within and outside of various political parties - we do not organise as
a separate party in a sectarian manner, but seek to move as much of the
existing left and green movements as possible in the direction we

But What Do You Want?

The World!
But seriously, the global crisis demands a massive shift in power and
priorities. Power must be taken away from global corporations and
finance capitalists and be used by ordinary working people. Industries,
economies and societies must become sustainable, equitable and governed
by the most radical democracy. Global unity needs to be aimed for to
solve our planetary problems We need to cooperate to advance
scientifically, technically and socially. Ultimately the survival of
earth-based life forms may well depend upon our capacity to spread out
to the rest of our solar system and beyond. Confinement to this planet,
as the fossil record warns us, means extinction. The utopias dreamed of
by the early socialists are now technically feasible. What is lacking
is the vision, unity and organisation to defeat the defenders of the
current ecocidal system.

That Is All Very Inspiring, But What Can We Do In The Here And Now?

Work together for unity on the projects at hand. In Britain at the moment
this means the defeat of the New Labour 'project' and the rise of a new
red-green left. The privatisation of the NHS and education must be fought and workplace and community organisations built
and strengthened throughout the country.
Everything possible should be done to break Britain away from US
imperialism and align our forces with those in Europe that are
currently holding up and attacking the EU plan for an imperialist
bosses Europe. Internationalism and local organisation are key.
Link up with other ecosocialists and seek to win others over.

We must act quickly, maturely and in a united fashion as the ecological and
economic writing is now on the wall for the current system. Even the
establishment parties and monopoly capitalists are frightened by what
is unfolding. Now is not the time for defeatism, it is the time for
unity and action......

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Latest From Defend Council Housing

Here is the latest news from Defend Council Housing (DCH) regarding their new pamphlet and response to the Cave Review of Social Housing Regulation:

'Dear Gordon: Invest in decent, affordable, secure and accountable council housing’ is a new Defend Council Housing pamphlet to be launched at a meeting 6pm, Tuesday February 20, Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House, House of Commons.

Speakers will include: Austin Mitchell MP (chair. House of Commons Council Housing group), Jack Dromey (chair. Labour Party NPF housing working group and Deputy Gen Sec TGWU) and Alan Walter (chair. Defend Council Housing).

The pamphlet makes the financial and political case for the ‘Fourth Option’ to improve existing and build new council homes. It also takes on the recent neo liberal offensive that proposes to remove our life-long, secure tenancy; deregulate (including removing rent controls) and open council housing and housing associations up to market forces (see Cave Review below).

Privatisation of council housing is deeply unpopular. In 2006 tenants voted NO in more ballots than ever before. With mortgage repossessions up and private developers and RSL landlords failing to provide the homes people need the case for investing in improving existing and building new council housing is stronger than ever.

The Labour Party’s National Policy Forum housing working group is expected to report later this month (following the third consecutive Labour Party conference voting to call on “government to provide the ‘fourth option’ of direct investment to council housing as a matter of urgency”). We need to step up pressure on government:

1. Register (by email) to attend the House of Commons meeting on Feb 20
2. Forward on this email and distribute widely the meeting flyer and DCH February Briefing
3. Ask your MP to join 102 MPs who have already signed EDM 136 Funding Decent Council Housing
4. Put DCH’s ‘Ten Questions to Candidates’ to all politicians standing in forthcoming elections
5. Read the DCH submission to ‘The Cave Review of Social Housing Regulation’ and send in supporting arguments

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Mobilising Against Cuts In Camden

I have received the following from Winvisible regarding a meeting this week in Camden -

No Cuts in Camden!

Public meeting 7pm Thursday 8 February 2007

Small Hall, Friends Meeting House, Euston Road
(opposite Euston Station)

Wheelchair accessible -- BSL sign language interpreters

All welcome

In the most serious cuts for years, Camden councillors aim to take £23 million from Council and community services. We and other community groups are working with Camden UNISON, organisers of this public meeting, to oppose these cuts which will have a devastating impact on the whole community.

As women with disabilities, pensioners, mums, immigrants, low-income people facing discrimination, we rely on welfare rights help, advice and legal services, translation, homecare and day centres, play centres, housing services and support. Home helps employed by Camden are worried they could lose their jobs in a switch to 100% private agency staff. Councillors plan to raise Council rents as well as charges for meals on wheels (poor-quality frozen meals) and other services.

This is our money; it should go into people´s care. We must stop it being taken from us to pay for war and other policies which inflict death and disabilities.

Come to the meeting to raise your concerns -- to show how many of us oppose these cuts in basic necessities of life. See attached advert published in the Camden New Journal on 1 February.

ACCESS : Friends House is wheelchair accessible. The back entrance is in Endsleigh Gardens, where parking restrictions end at 6.30pm.

More dates and info from Camden UNISON for the No Cuts campaign:

· Monday 5 February 6.30pm: Next steering group meeting at the Camden UNISON office, 59 Phoenix Road NW1, meeting where all concerned are welcome to influence the direction of the fight against cuts, and helping to plan the events.

· Weds 28th February: Protest, probably including a march through some of the Borough, to end with a lobby of the Council meeting in the evening at the Town Hall.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Blogs On Sunday

A cyber-stroll around some of my favourite blogs today rendered a good batch of postings on a range of topics.

Louise, formerly of Stroppyblog, is now posting on the Socialist Unity Network Blog - this weekend she has an entry on
New Labour’s War on the Poor

The Quiet Road, (with a new, more readable template) has some amusing observations on the “Hitler was a vegetarian” type argument

Renegade Eye has an obituary for Molly Ivins who died recently.

Tim Barton at Blue Green Earth reflects on Climate Change action in the light of the latest IPCC release I blogged on yesterday.

Finally, Dave Osler at Dave’s Part
reports on the scandal engulfing Britain's New Labour Government.

Outside the world of blogging, here is a link to John Pilger's scary article on the likelihood of a US/UK/Israeli war on Iran that was published in the Morning Star in Britain this week - now to be found on

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Climate Change - IPCC Report Stirs Contrarians

The latest release of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change findings has been too dramatic for the media to ignore, and there has been a lot of coverage. However, the increasing seriousness of the situation and the dire nature of the warnings appears to have inspired further efforts by the corporate-backed contrarians.

With this in mind I thought it worthwhile putting up a recent comments box message on the blog front page -

I have an urgent call to action for our UK blogging, media and activist friends.

There is a Canadian Exxon-funded think tank readying to launch an attack on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on Monday, Feb. 5th at 10am at the Atrium Restaurant (across from the Houses of Parliament, Four Millbank, Westminster.

Here's the info, with backgrounders on the group, we need people down there to get out the message about who these guys really are.

I live halfway around the world (in Canada) and cannot attend. If even just 5 people print off copies of the briefing note I have prepared and be there to hand it out to meeting -- anybody can go. And, trust me, you will really be making a difference.

Here's a PDF of the briefing note: desmogblog pdf

Contact me at if you want more information.

News here of action against Shell's latest greenwash.

Here is the England and Wales Green Party news release on the latest IPCC report, and all the latest here from Calvin Jones.

Here is the Stop Climate Chaos website.

And here is the Real Climate web discussion on the publication of the IPCC "Summary for Policymakers" of their latest report.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Two Two

I stated reading James Joyce's Ulysses today.
The Second of February. (2/2)
I was not aware until I started reading that the date of first publication in book form was 2nd February 1922. This was Joyce's fortieth birthday - he wass born on 2nd February 1882. My own birthday has two twos in it.
Looking up coincidences on Wikipedia the following leaps out from the short entry -

The odds that two people share a birthday, for example, reaches 50% with a group of just 22.


Synchronicity or coincidence?

Here is the source of the birthday probability statement - Probability.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

7th February Protests on Trident And DU Munitions

Two sets of protests are arranged for 7th February at Westminster, and Green MEP Caroline Lucas is involved in both.

Caroline Lucas MEP will be leading a Green Party demonstration
against renewal of Trident nuclear missiles, assembling at 1pm on Parliament Square by the site of Brian Haw's peace-camp. At 2pm a Green Party delegation led by Caroline and including MLA Darren Johnson and Female Principal Speaker Sian Berry will deliver a letter of protest to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street,
while a Green protest will cluster opposite at the base of Richmond Terrace
in Whitehall. Caroline Lucas' attempts to meet the Minister for Defence, Des Browne on Wednesday 7th have been postponed, so PM Tony Blair is now the focus of our demonstration. Britain's 4th largest political party has been largely excluded from the debate leading to a Commons vote in March, so this is our chance to have a public say on one of our core policies.

Later in the day there is a lobby of parliament against Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions. Caroline is speaking at a public meeting on this in the evening.

Here is the notice of these events from CADU - The Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

CADU Lobby of Parliament
Wednesday 7th February
House of Commons, SW1.
Lobby in Briefing Room W4 between 2-4pm
Public Meeting in Committee Room 12, 7-9pm, Westminster Hall.
Dr Keith Baverstock - formerly of the WHO's Radiological Protection Division
Dr Caroline Lucas MEP - Co-President of the EP cross-party Peace Initiatives Intergroup
John La Forge - anti Alliant Tech Systems Campaigner, Nukewatch USA
Ria Verjauw - European Lobbyist ICBUW
Jeremy Corbyn MP - Vice Chair CND
Rae Street - CADU
More speakers to be confirmed.
CADU's lobby hopes to put pressure on the Government to make the right choice and abandon this indiscriminate, inhumane and illegal weapon.
Called by the Campaign Against Depleted Uranium and the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons.

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