Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Peter Tatchell Speaks Out On Saudi Royal Visit

Leading human rights activist and Green Party/Green Left supporter Peter Tatchell has spoken out on the visit of the Saudi King and the hypocrisy of the British establishment picking and choosing which dictatorial regimes to condemn and which to treat with full state visits. Peter was featured on various news bulletins and has a very good article on the Guardian Comment is Free site. Says Peter -

Gordon Brown refuses to meet the Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe. He says he wants to take a stand against tyranny. Yet the same Gordon Brown will happily embrace the Saudi dictator, King Abdullah during his state visit to Britain this week. Double standards or what?

The State Banquet broadcast live on Sky News and BBC News 24 tonight was an appalling juxtaposition of flummery and toadying with apologetics for a murderous regime. It should lead not only to support for human rights and anti-arms trade campaigns targetting Saudi Arabia, but also to increased support for a Republic!

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Weekly Links - 28/10/2007

There are various links that I want to flag up this week.

In the Brit-left blogosphere the big talking point this week is the big bust up that is ongoing in Respect and its' major organised constituent part the Socialist Workers Party, involving expulsions, resignations, manoeuvring and vitriol. Those of us not in the SWP or Respect could be forgiven for a little Schadenfreude, but I think
this is not appropriate at the current time as the bust up does not yet seem to be part of a turn to more democratic and non-sectarian politics on behalf of most of those involved, despite some wishful thinking along these lines from some of the more democratic left elements involved. To outsiders it appears as a shameless power struggle with neither side covering themselves in glory and various smaller factions lining up with the SWP, Galloway or others to have their sectarian tupennyworth.

Respect and the SWP may both be deeply flawed and indeed damaging projects at the moment for those interested in truly progressive politics in the UK, but their problems at the present time do not yet look likely to lead to the emergence of more positive trends, rather the confirmation in the minds of observers of the current irrelevance, stupidity and petty-mindedness of some of the largest factions of the non-Labour, non-Green left. The Eustonites, the Blairites, the right-wing union bureaucrats and the far right will all be jubilant.

But we must have hope, and Derek Wall's (Green Party, Green Left) hopeful comments about space perhaps opening up for a more positive co-operation between left-of-Labour forces if the current Respect situation resolves into a more sustainable and democratic formation got a positive response in some quarters like the Socialist Unity blog.

Here is the resignation letter of one of the leading working class activists of the SWP, Jerry Hicks, published on Liam MacUaid's blog. And here is MacUaid's article on the politics behind the split in Respect and the SWP. Here is the view of ex-Trot Labour leftist Dave Osler. MacUaid also cheekily posts the relevant sections from the October 22nd issue of the SWP's internal "Party Notes".

Elsewhere Green Party of England and Wales Male Principal Speaker Derek Wall was engaged in a bit of Direct Action on the hot issue of housing this week.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Big Climate Change Public Meeting Coming Up

I have recently had the following notice of a big public meeting in London in the run up to the December International Day of Action.

Campaign Against Climate Change

"How can we win the race against climate catastrophe ?"

A Public Meeting on Thursday November 8th, at 7.00pm

at the Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London.

With George Monbiot
Author, Journalist and Campaigner

John Sauven
Director of Greenpeace UK

Claire Fauset
from the Camp for Climate Action

and Phil Thornhill,
National Coordinator, Campaign against Climate Change

The Friends Meeting House is opposite Euston station, 173 Euston Road.


This year the arctic ice cap shrunk to just 60% of its normal size (the
average summer size for 1979-2000). We are seeing the first macro-impact of global warming.
Some have speculated that only a small temperature increase
(of a kind quite possible in the next ten years or so) could see the ice
disappear completely and very rapidly. That would leave open sea which
absorbs heat from the sun rather than reflect it back into the atmosphere as
ice does. The warmed waters would then transmit heat to the land causing
massive melting of permafrost, releasing huge quantities of CO2 and
methane, triggering a massive warming event that would render much of the
globe uninhabitable. This is just one of the terrifying "positive feedback"
scenarios that have been suggested as a possible result of continuing to
belch out greenhouse gases into the atmosphere the way we do now.

So what are we doing about it ?
Changing the light bulbs. Buying cars that use slightly less petrol. At most, reducing emissions by a few percentage points a year. Do we have a plan even remotely radical enough to stand any real chance of heading off disaster ? Where are the politicians conveying the true urgency of the situation ? Where is the solemn prime ministerial broadcast explaining that the nation and the world is in grave peril and we need to take extreme action ? What can we do in this situation to turn the politics around and get the scale and speed of action that we really need ?

George Monbiot in his recent book Heat has offered a radical blueprint for survival. But recently he has said that even that does not go far enough.

Come to this Public Meeting to find out what he is saying now, what the
Director of Britain's best known environmental pressure group has to say
about it, too, - and also the view from the activists who hit the headlines
with their Climate Camp at Heathrow, earlier this year.


And don't miss the

NATIONAL CLIMATE MARCH on SATURDAY DECEMBER 8th join people all around the world to demand that world leaders act now to prevent the catastrophe that threatens to engulf us all, on this GLOBAL DAY OF CLIMATE ACTION (see and

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Nothing to do this Saturday?

There are a range of events this Saturday, some of which are listed below.
Firstly, the "peace strike" initiative in London -

Pre-emptive Peace Strikes

Initiating Peace Strikes in UK/USA/Israel…
Plus other countries around the world

Don’t Attack Iran

Saturday 27th October from 2pm and alternate Saturdays from then on and every third Wednesday of the month from 10am. Check the website for latest updates

Parliament Square

Westminster, London

SOCPA Act 2005 – Authorised Demonstration

Join us on our strike for peace

All welcome

Withdraw your labour, book a day off work, or take a break from your usual routine and show the government that you are opposed to any actions or steps that might be taken that threaten the sovereign nation of Iran, or any other country.

We cannot repeat the mistakes that have been made causing the appalling mindless slaughter of the innocent people of Iraq that we have all felt and witnessed in one form or another in the media. We have to get ourselves organised now in order to have any real chance of saving the Iranian people from the same such horrible fate. It is not too late we can and WE WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

We say NO to any threat or action by either UK/USA/Israel.

What Sorts Of People Make Up A Strike?

We can all be strikers if we care about each other and other people. The Peace Strike has been formed to provide a direct action movement whereby housewives, parents, students, workers, people on benefits, homeless people, people with disabilities, carers, pensioners, families, etc, can join together in solidarity in a common cause for peace, united in action and standing strong together.

We would also like to hear from individuals, churches, clubs, campaign groups, workers unions, etc, who would like to start a picket and to establish a picket line in their own town or city in solidarity nationwide.

On Strike For Humanity

At first you could book the day off work or ask for a day in lieu. You may prefer to join for part of the day or come for the evening only, depending. You should feel comfortable with the action that you take, come and make new friends and join together to make a stand for peace. And of course, we are not expecting emergency workers to abandon their post.

Please bring: Placards, banners, food, musical instruments plus anything else you would like or need for the day.

Code Of Conduct

We would like all participating groups to act accordingly to the following code of conduct:

· To stand united and participate in peaceful non-violent direct action.

· To be non-confrontational, peaceful and respectful in our attitude and manner. We will act in a courteous and responsible manner at all times.

· Everyone is welcome to join us in our planned demonstrations and actions and all will be able to contribute equally within the group.

“Together we are strong”

Secondly, the Republic Annual Conference -

Republic Annual Conference this Saturday

The conference is for members only, however, each member may bring a guest
and non-members may join at the door (minimum of £10).

This year's Annual Conference and AGM will be on Saturday October 27th.
This is a good opportunity to meet the people running the campaign, to
find out more about future plans and to talk to other members. Guest
speakers include Leanne Woods AM, Norman Baker MP and Graham Watson MEP.

PLEASE NOTE: The venue is near Holloway Tube station, which unfortunately
will be closed on the day of the conference. However, Highbury and
Islington tube station, on the Victoria line, is just a ten minute walk
down the road. If you exit the station and turn left and walk up
Holloway Road you'll pass Holloway Road station on your left. The venue is a
further 200 yards on the right, next door to Waitrose. There are also
buses travelling up Holloway Road.

PS: Keep up with the debate on the Guardian website:
and on Facebook:

Thirdly, the Campaign Against Euro Federalism AGM and Public Meeting in Birmingham I publicised on Sunday in my weekly links.

Sometimes it would be useful to have the time shifting powers of Hiro in the TV series Heroes to be able to attend more than one event at the same time! Good luck to all involved in these events.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

BP - Beyond Parody?

The latest news about BP (who like to trumpet their ethical nature and their aim to go "Beyond Petroleum") does not really surprise me, but nevertheless is worth noting!

The oil company BP today accepted blame for failures to protect employees, the environment and consumers as it agreed to hand over a total of $373m (£136.5m) to settle a string of criminal investigations into its conduct across America.

If the BP fines were not enough we have this fine bit of "splinter and plank" posturing from the legal representative of a government given to launching aggressive resource wars with the use of depleted-uranium munitions, stealing elections and handing out contracts in conquered territories to corporate pals:

The acting attorney general, Peter Keisler, said the deal demonstrated the US government's commitment to enforce laws to protect the integrity of both financial markets and the environment.

"Businesses that ignore those laws and endanger their workers and communities or corrupt our markets must be held accountable," said Mr Keisler.

You really couldn't make it up, could you?

Meanwhile, in Britain government policy wonks have been caught out planning the ditching and sabotaging of renewable energy targets. However, at the same time the government's transparently favoured nuclear newbuild is under threat from various problems and disagreements before the ink is dry on their fake nuclear consultation exercise. This has drawn comment from the likes of John Sauven of Greenpeace and John Vidal, the Guardian's Environment correspondent.

Meanwhile the European Commission seems set to back the building of further reactors in earthquake zones, as in Bulgaria.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Three Interesting Comment Pieces

Three interesting pieces have just gone up on the Guardian's Comment is Free pages.

First, George Monbiot launches an attack on Matt Ridley and right-libertarian politics here.

Secondly Peter Tatchell talks about the film Rendition here.

Finally, here is Graham Smith of Republic reflecting on the curtailment of freedoms for Republicans in Spain and asks if similar things are likely here.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

"Sicko" Firms Target NHS

This is the latest news release from Keep Our NHS Public -

Campaigners raise alarm as ‘Sicko’ corporations target NHS

The Keep Our NHS Public campaign is calling for an investigation into the probity of three American corporations given a key role in the NHS under new government reforms.

The corporations, Humana, Aetna and UnitedHealth, are featured heavily in Michael Moore’s new film Sicko, to be launched at the London Film Festival on 24 October, which exposes the practices used by healthcare companies to deny treatments in the US.

Former Health Secretary Frank Dobson is tabling questions in Parliament tomorrow (22 October), which ask Alan Johnson if he “will ensure that no healthcare organisations indicted for fraud against the federal or state governments in the US are given contracts to provide services for the NHS or NHS patients.”

The government this month published a list of 14 companies, including Humana, Aetna and UnitedHealth, that it wants to see take over the role of ‘commissioning’, or buying healthcare for NHS patients. These companies will gain control over which treatments patients receive and who provides them.

But experience from the US suggests they may not be as “trusted” as health minister Ivan Lewis has claimed.

UnitedHealth has repeatedly been fined for defrauding the American healthcare system. For example, in August 2004, UnitedHealthCare Insurance agreed to settle civil Medicare fraud charges with the US Attorney for $9.7 million. The US government claimed the company had inflated its costs under the state Medicare program in order to obtain higher reimbursement and greater performance incentive payments.

The NHS Support Federation - one of the groups behind the Keep Our NHS Public campaign - has written to the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee requesting independent assessments of these companies, to establish whether they are fit to work in the NHS.

Meanwhile, a key scene in Moore’s film shows US doctor Linda Peeno testifying before Congress that she caused the death of a man by denying him care in order to save Humana half-a-million dollars. In a separate landmark case in Florida, Humana were fined $79.6 million in 2000 for wrongly denying care to a 5-year-old girl, Caitlyn Chipps, with cerebral palsy.

Alex Nunns of Keep Our NHS Public said:

“Anyone who goes to see Michael Moore’s film will question health minister Ivan Lewis’ assertion that these corporations are ‘trusted’. It’s astonishing to see our government inviting companies that have been fleecing the Americans to come and fleece the NHS.

“This will see private sector giants at the heart of the health service, with huge power over the care patients receive. If we don’t stand up and stop the gradual privatisation of the health service, then what we see in Sicko is what we are in for here.”

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Weekly Links - 21/10/2007

Green Blogging
I blogged a few days ago about the "top 20 green blogs" poll being run by Jim at Daily (Maybe). The Tory blogger Iain Dale who has compiled the book in which Jim's piece on green blogs in these islands appears has recently posed the question of "what is the point of the greens", which attracted the usual comments from cranks like the "9 percent growth" freak Neil Craig (that Derek Wall recently crossed swords with) and a nasty conspiracist rightwinger calling themselves "Verity" (sic). Jim has blogged in answer to Dale's original post here.

With the Referendum on the "Reform" treaty a hot topic, there is a public meeting to follow the Campaign Against Euro-Federalism (the left/labour movement Euro-sceptic group) CAEF AGM in Birmingham next week.
From CAEF -
The AGM is next Saturday 27 October from
11.00 to 1.00pm

The public meeting in the afternoon will take place from 2 to
4pm. The speakers will be:

Alex Gordon from Trade Unionists against EU Constitution (Alex
is a member of RMT Executive Committee)


John Boyd - CAEF Secretary and Democrat Editor.

The public meeting will be chaired by Denis Anderson, CAEF

These speakers will be making the case for a Referendum on
the renamed EU Constitutional Treaty agreed in Lisbon on

The meetings take place at the Social Club in Gough Street not
far from New Street Station and just off the Express way
(A38(M)) linked to J6 on the M6.

Waste & Incineration
Interesting news this week that Ken Livingstone, the London Mayor, has said that the government (of his own party) is far too close to the incineration companies and this may affect policy. More from Recycling and Waste Management News - here.

Health Service
Preparations for the big NHS demonstration on 3rd November are continuing. Transport is being arranged from various parts of the country. More information from Keep Our NHS Public. (KONP)

Meanwhile KONP have circulated details of a range of other events around the country -

Public meeting - Merseyside Keep Our NHS Public
Thursday 18 October 7pm. Friends Meeting House, School Lane, Liverpool.
Prof. Wendy Savage, KONP
Karen Reissmann, UNISON Manchester
Dr. Andrea Franks, Dermatology, Countess of Chester Hospital
Ritchie Krueger, Maghull KONP
Dr. Alex Scott-Samuel, KONP, Amicus/UNITE

Conference - Keep Our NHS Public, Oxfordshire and PFI Alert
Saturday 20 October 10am - 3.30pm. North Oxford Association Community Centre Summertown
Speakers to include:
- Dr. Julian Tudor-Hart
Author of The Political Economy of Health Care - A Clinical Perspective.
- Dr. Sally Ruane
Health Policy Research Unit De Montford University Leicester.
The Conference will review what has happened in the NHS since the last conference in 2005 but will focus on looking forwards, showing how public services can be developed to maximise the public health of the population. Whilst announcements from Gordon Brown have said that the NHS is a priority organisers feel that vigorous campaigning will still be required to ensure we reach the 60th anniversary in 2008 with the NHS still intact and improving its status as a truly world class public health service.
Please email if you would like to attend

March and rally - Bridlington
Saturday 20 October 10.00am.
Assemble Bridlington Business Centre. March to grounds of Bridlington District Hospital.
Save Bridlington Hospital Campaign Action Group

Public meeting - Shropshire NHS SOS!
Thursday 25 October, 7.30pm. Hobbs Room, Shrewsbury Library.

Public meeting - "Save our Mental Health Services" Manchester
Wednesday 31 October, 12.30pm, Manchester Town Hall.

Public meeting - Tower Hamlets Keep Our NHS Public
NHS, public or private? Patient care or profits? What’s the Government doing to our NHS?
Wednesday 31 October, 7pm. Old Anatomy Lecture, Old Medical School (Behind Accident and Emergency at corner of Stepney Way), Royal London Hospital Whitechapel.
- Dr Julian Tudor Hart,
retired GP, emeritus Professor, writer ,former local Councillor from Wales
- Dr Chris McCullough
Renal Registrar North Thames, Chief Executive Officer RemedyUK
- Ms Karen Reissmann,
Community Psychiatric Nurse, and Unison Chair, suspended by her Trust in Manchester for opposing privatisation
- Dr Kambiz Boomla,
Chair, East London GPs’ Local Medical Committee
- Councillor Motin uz Zaman,
Labour Cabinet Lead for Health and Wellbeing, Tower Hamlets Council.
Organised by Tower Hamlets Keep our NHS Public c/o Unison Office, Mile End Hospital E1.

More information from the NHS Support Federation

The serious questions about biofuels as an answer to climate change were raised by a demonstration at a major trade fair and conference in Nottinghamshire as reported on Indymedia here.

Climate Change/Contrarians
Finally this week, I have blogged on the Dimmock court case over the Al Gore film here and here . A very good examination of the links and networking of climate change contrarians, put together by Medialens, was posted on Indymedia here.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Leaders - Only Mass Media Approved Candidates Need Apply

Sometimes things happen with perfect timing, and so it is as we
approach the Green Party of England and Wales referendum on single
leaders or principal speakers in November. Just take a look at the
Liberal Democrats' current fiasco for an example of what happens if you
allow your structures (and eventually your policies) to be determined
by a "mainstream" media discourse rather than long held and
collectively agreed principles and beliefs.

The former Lib Dem leader, Ming Campbell, was subject to a relentless media assault over the question of his age. These constant attacks undermined his position and gave strength to his external and internal enemies. His internal rivals further fuelled the fire by 'briefing' against him. This is the
same man, remember, that much of the MSM (Mainstream media) had
previously lauded as a "sensible option", a "safe pair of hands", a
"responsible, establishment figure". He was contrasted in this
discourse with the "dangerously left wing" Simon Hughes, and the "far
too seriously green" Chris Huhne who contested the leadership with him.
In fact, Hughes is not particularly "left-wing" in any reasonable
description of the political spectrum seen from a global viewpoint -
i.e. beyond the tiny political range of British-media-approved politics
- he is in the tradition of solid liberal "radicalism" and right-wing
social democracy. Likewise, Huhne is an ex-public schoolboy with similar right-wing economic policies to the current neo-liberal favourite for the leadership, Nick Clegg.

Huhne, and presumably any other contenders for the post-Campbell leadership
will now presumably be attacked (by all but those sections of the media
briefly playing at being politically distinct) as "unelectable" and a
"liability". The safe, right-wing,photogenic Nick Clegg - a clone of
David Cameron and the young Tony Blair - will be praised and boosted,
particularly by the powerful Murdoch press. In fact, the Murdoch press
will not be really satisfied until all the main political parties are
led by a white male, early middle aged, heterosexual,neo-liberal with a full head of hair (ideally an ex-public school boy)! Anyone else, except perhaps some blonde haired authoritarian dominatrix in the Thatcher/Merkel
mode, will be made an "electoral liability". Even those sections of the
media playing at being politically distinct will not make too much of the fact that the choice between Huhne and Clegg is not really a choice on anything other than a superficial level. They even went to the same public school.

Once parties accept the logic of "we must have an MSM-friendly leader" the MSM
have them in a blackmail grip. The overwhelmingly reactionary British
print media and the largely liberal-establishment broadcast media will
let you know what they think of your choice. If the leader is not
authoritarian enough to impose policies that back the economicallyneo-liberal status quo (and belief in this economic standpoint is a cornerstone belief common
to both the openly reactionary and liberal establishment media) then
there will be a journalistic feeding frenzy, an attack pack to destroy
that leader in any way they can. The establishment economic "consensus" cannot be challenged under any circumstances. Thus the fortunes of an entire party will rest
on the vulnerability to attack of one individual, who in most cases,
being a politician and only human, will bend with the wind of demands
to be faithful to the status quo or be broken.

John Pilger recently said of journalists in an article on Michael Moore's latest film that

The few who dig deep into the nature of a liberal ideology that regards itself as superior, yet is responsible for crimes epic in proportion and
generally unrecognised, risk being eased out of the "mainstream",
especially if they are young - a process that a former editor once
described to me as "a sort of gentle defenestration".

None has broken through like Moore, and his detractors are perverse to say he is not a "professional journalist" when the role of the professional
journalist is so often that of zealously, if surreptitiously, serving
the status quo . Without the loyalty of these professionals on the New
York Times and other august (mostly liberal) media institutions "of
record", the criminal invasion of Iraq might not have happened and a
million people would be alive today.

Regimes of the past depended upon church, education and media to instill the
necessary subservience to the interests of the ruling class. In modern
Britain the church is much reduced and weakened and education is a
poorer disciplinarian than ever as it struggles to respond to ever more
complicated demands with limited resources. Therefore, the main burden
of opinion forming, or as it has been termed "manufacturing of consent"
will fall upon the print, broadcast and electronic media.
The media cannot be ignored, but can just about be used by radicals who
have their wits about them (as recently demonstrated by the clever
media management of the climate camp group)if they keep them at arms
length and constantly remind themselves about who owns the MSM, whose agenda it follows and whose interests it ultimately serves.

To allow the media to use you however, and to be dictated to on "media friendly"
structures (and ultimately "media friendly" policies) is the result of
the height of naivety, an almost touching faith in relative
impartiality and ignorance of how the modern body politic works to
sustain the wealth and power of the already wealthy and powerful. The
owners and controllers of the MSM , whether these are global businesses, wealthy directors or trustees, are not benevolent public servants seeking the truth, neutral in politics and eager for everyone to have
their say. These people are in business for two interlinked reasons -
to make money and to control the agenda. The second objective of course makes the first easier. Now they are not going to allow their mouthpieces to undermine their position, are they?

Of course, this will rarely be as unsubtle a process as directives coming down from on high as to want can be published (though this does happen)- the fig leaf of editorial independence salves the conscience. More subtle
methods are appropriate - once a culture and workforce are established
around a certain worldview, dissenters will only ever be allowed a
niche market, the position of tamed radicals. Any real radicals or
threats to the statusquo will be target number one for demonisation. Woe betide any MSM journalist who consistently thinks otherwise. This is not forgetting that in corners of the media docile "rebels" will be maintained to salve the guilty conscience of sections of middle class readership.
"Look - Johann Hari is publicly advocating a Republic - we must have a free and fair press"

No, day in, day out, the mantra of the MSM, reactionary and liberal alike is "this is how the world is, this is the only economic system possible, there is no alternative - you will be assimilated - resistance is futile!". Few physical chains and restraints are deemed necessary when thought and imagination are so severely shackled on such a basis that a tiny, restricted political spectrum is accepted as all that is possible.

However, all is not lost. It is a remarkable thing, but on questions where the real material interests of ordinary people are directly threatened (think the Poll Tax or union action on pensions or the strong and growing movement to defend the NHS in the UK) media propaganda spectacularly fails to work. In fact the very world-weary scepticism that the MSM tries to promote in relation to leftism is here deployed by the public against the establishment and its media. This shows the way forward - not personality politics, not tailoring policy presentation to the preconceptions of Fleet Street, but real politics of the base - collective leadership working on the real threats to economic and environmental well being . We will only go forwards as a movement with a base in real life, in the lived experience of ordinary working men and women, children, pensioners, the disabled and the unemployed. We need to be about empowering people to fight back, we do not need to become a PR vehicle resting on a single fallible ego.

The Lib Dems gave in long ago. It is up to the Greens and the broader democratic left, green and workers movement to make a difference in local communities - and build the national and international alliances required for success.

The mould that must be broken is much more than a media-controlled parliamentary circus.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Schumacher The Reactionary

For those waiting for it, I have not forgotten the next installment of my "Green Sacred Cows" series. This is because setting out to critique E.F. Schumacher I decided to do a full critique of his book "Small Is Beautiful", so the next Green Sacred Cows installment will appear when this is complete. The reasoning behind this is that although his philosophical testament "A Guide For The Perplexed" is quite plainly and obviously (to anyone with even mildly left wing or humanist principals) an objectionable reactionary diatribe, it is not much read amongst Greens and those within the broader environmental movement. Small is Beautiful had a much wider readership and has had a far greater influence on the green movement, and other people's perception of it. However, it is clear even early in the book that the reactionary and superstitious/metaphysical underpinning is the same as the more straighforwardly philosophical book, even though the subject is "economics". It is clear why so many on the left have had such a visceral reaction to greens (only now being gradually overcome by patient ecosocialist work) if many of them had an early exposure to Schumacher as an exemplary green thinker.
Schumacher is of course a key thinker for the green right and the aristocratic/feudalist/theocratic wing of green thought. A reading of him as anti-science and technology is incorrect, though, as his position is far more nuanced on those topics. Nevertheless, there are some appalling quotes to be had from him showing a dismissive and patrician contempt for human progress, which must warm the hearts of that other competing wing of the green movement (who must also be the subject of merciless critique by ecosocialists) the deep ecologists and primitivists. In opposing these people and their ideas ecosocialists are in at least temporary alliance with the light green/centrist wing of the movement. I am happy to say that the centrist Green Peter Sanderson of Earthquake Cove blog is embarking on a critique of Deep Ecology and Primitivism. Unfortunately his fellow blogger Paul Kingsnorth appears to be sinking deeper into the morass of anti-humanism and misanthropy that originates in the reactionary philosophy of the malevolent Arne Naess.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Green Party Executive Election Results

I reported on Tuesday about Derek Wall's re-election as Male Principal Speaker of the Green Party.

The full results of the Green Party of England and Wales Executive (GPEX) elections are now up on the Party website here.

Meanwhile the Spring Conference of the Party is scheduled for Reading from 14th-17th February 2008.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Vote, Vote, Vote.....

Vote, Vote, Vote....for your top Green Bloggers over at Jim's Daily (Maybe) blog.

Jim has written a piece on the "State of Green Blogging" for Iain Dale's book A Guide To Political Blogging In The UK 2007-8.

Jim compiled a top 20 green blogs for this purpose and now has put up a public poll on his blog to see which blog gets the "popular vote". I am happy to say that Greenman's Occasional Organ is in there (albeit by the skin of its' teeth at number 20!) So hop on over there and cast your vote, now, and may the best blog win!

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Derek Wall Re-elected Green Party Of England & Wales Principal Speaker

My fellow blogger and ecosocialist Derek Wall has been re-elected Male Principal Speaker in the Green Party of England and Wales Executive postal ballot. Congratulations Derek!
Derek has been an outspoken defender of the Principal Speaker posts against those who wish to replace them with a single leader. The current Lib Dem fiasco shows how right we are to have this structure.

Green MEP Caroline Lucas returns to the post of Female Principal Speaker after Sian Berry. This should help her profile as the Green prospective parliamentary candidate in Brighton Pavilion, which is said to be the most winnable seat in England for the Greens. Good luck Caroline!

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Rightists And Corporate Puppets Prepare Assault On Climate Change Education In Britain

Flushed by their "success" in the Dimmock vs Gore/HM Govt court case (strange "success" when the Judge grants that there are some minor "errors" in the thing they are attempting to discredit, but says that its' core arguments are basically sound - but then the fickle media ran big on the "errors" and not on the Judge dismissing the bulk of the contrarian argument, and maybe this was the intention of the well-funded court case in the first place.) Now Lord Monckton, who is related to that well-heeled gang of rightist contrarians the Lawsons, has decided to try and get his own contrarian propaganda into schools - funded by American corporate attack money. Article in the Independent here.
Johann Hari is not one of my favourite columnists - on some issues he has been downright objectionable, but on this issue he has got the contrarians bang to rights.
The contrarians are following a typically dishonest strategy - it does not matter to them that their arguments are weak - what they are interested in is giving the impression that there is debate and widespread scientific uncertainty on the Climate issue. Ironically, the contrarians who regularly accuse those seeking action on climate change of political motivation are pursuing a political strategy against the weight of scientific evidence and opinion - their gamble is that if they can confuse the voting public enough, politicians will not feel confident enough of public support to take the radical measures required to address the climate crisis. The longer this goes on, the longer the paymasters of the contrarian movement continue to rake in profits from activities that increase the likelihood of disastrous runaway climate change. Unfortunately for us all though, unless defeated they may be successful for long enough to make catastrophic warming unavoidable.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Weekly Links - 14/10/2007

On Saturday UK Greens were involved in a protest against threats to the old growth forests of Tasmania in solidarity with our friends in the Australian Green Party.

Dave's Part had an article on "Brownism" and whether there is such a thing (spot the comment from yours truly!)

Molly over at Gaian Economics offered her thoughts on the topical subject of Inheritance Tax. This topic also drew the attention of Louise at Stroppyblog.

I posted recently on the EU Reform Treaty/disguised constitution - there was also comment on this and the Margot Wallstrom approach to "debate" over at Irish blog The Cedar Lounge Revolution.

Returning to the 101 best left blogs from these islands I reported on a fortnight ago, at number 29 is Leftwing Criminologist who this week reported on repression at a University in Nigeria.

At number 40 is Michael Greenwell's blog. He helpfully links to articles he has written elsewhere including this one on the EU treaty mentioned above. Blog 44 in the top 100 is that run by brave anti-fascist student Duncan Money. He reports on the trouble brewing in Oxford over the Oxford Union inviting various fascists to speak.
Finally from the list this week a bit of culture - at number 48 "Through The Scary Door" has been talking about William Burroughs.

Many left blogs are speculating on what will be revealed about the proposed agreement in the postal dispute. We shall see. Watch this space for next weeks' exciting installment!

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Friday, October 12, 2007

700 Jobs Threatened By Cadbury Schweppes

Cadbury Schweppes are threatening to move production from their factory at Keynsham near Bristol to Poland, threatening 500 jobs. A further 200 jobs are under threat at the Bournville plant in Birmingham, the longstanding home of British chocolate.

Again we see the socially and environmentally disastrous nature of rampant neo-liberal globalisation. Chocolate for the home market will have to be shipped from Poland. Workers will be thrown out of work and local economies disrupted. The carbon footprint will grow larger.

A petition has been launched and can be found here -

News story from the Independent newspaper here and here from the BBC


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rightist Contrarian Lands Weak Punch On Hollywood Environmentalism

A High Court Judge has criticised 9 “errors” in Al Gore’s glossy climate change film, An Inconvenient Truth. The case was brought by a parent and school governor.

Stewart Dimmock is a rightist contrarian member of the political vanity project party of “Scottish Multi millionaire businessman Robert Durward” (Wikipedia), The New Party, (which unfortunately shares its’ name with the Party formed in the 1930s by war-time British fascist leader Oswald Mosley). As Dimmock is described as a lorry driver, one wonders who paid his legal costs, especially as the party he belongs to has allegedly (Wikipedia) been notorious for offering free membership and sloshing the largesse of its’ founder around.

Wikipedia on The New Party here -

Unfortunately for Dimmock (who comes across in the media as an archetypal nerdy-small-rightist-party-member) he did not get the film banned either in schools or elsewhere – and the Judge merely stated that balancing material explaining Gore’s errors accompany any showings in Secondary Schools. Furthermore, Mr Justice Barton said that the four main arguments of the film regarding man-made global warming and the necessity of doing something about it were correct and matched the best available scientific analysis.

More coverage on the case here -

And here -,,2188015,00.html

Mr Justice Barton did say that the film was “broadly accurate” insofar as it reflected current scientific understanding of the real nature of anthropogenic global warming, but pointed out what he saw as 9 errors or misleading arguments :

· The film claimed that low-lying inhabited Pacific atolls "are being inundated because of anthropogenic global warming" - but there was no evidence of any evacuation occurring

· It spoke of global warming "shutting down the ocean conveyor" - the process by which the gulf stream is carried over the north Atlantic to western Europe. The judge said that, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it was "very unlikely" that the conveyor would shut down in the future, though it might slow down

· Mr Gore had also claimed - by ridiculing the opposite view - that two graphs, one plotting a rise in C02 and the other the rise in temperature over a period of 650,000 years, showed "an exact fit". The judge said although scientists agreed there was a connection, "the two graphs do not establish what Mr Gore asserts"

· Mr Gore said the disappearance of snow on Mt Kilimanjaro was expressly attributable to human-induced climate change. The judge said the consensus was that that could not be established

· The drying up of Lake Chad was used as an example of global warming. The judge said: "It is apparently considered to be more likely to result from ... population increase, over-grazing and regional climate variability"

· Mr Gore ascribed Hurricane Katrina to global warming, but there was "insufficient evidence to show that"

· Mr Gore also referred to a study showing that polar bears were being found that had drowned "swimming long distances to find the ice". The judge said: "The only scientific study that either side before me can find is one which indicates that four polar bears have recently been found drowned because of a storm"

· The film said that coral reefs all over the world were bleaching because of global warming and other factors. The judge said separating the impacts of stresses due to climate change from other stresses, such as over-fishing, and pollution, was difficult

Of these, the first is a surprise to me, the second point is widely acknowledged, though it is not clear from my memory of the film that the film presents this as something that will happen rather than something that might. The third is a technical point, and presumably Gore would excuse himself on the basis of making his point forcefully. The fourth point is again interestingly phrased - the Judge does not say the disappearance of snow on Kilimanjaro is not due to AGW, only that it cannot be proven. The fifth point, if correct, is fair enough and Gore should have done his research better if that is the case. The Hurricane Katrina case is again a fair enough criticism and was one point that made me uneasy about the film, especially as the hurricane image has been used in all the promotional material for it. The swimming polar bears thing is interesting - so where did this story come from then? Is it an urban myth? It is far more widespread a belief than one held by Gore. I remain to be convinced either way on that one. Again the final error appears to be somewhat hair splitting "global warming may cause some damage to coral reefs but we can't say how much". However, I am no expert on these issues and leave further commentary to those who are!

Nevertheless, one wonders whether environmental organisations like Friends of The Earth were wise to use the film quite so widely as a campaigning tool, without doing their own commentary - Roger Higman was left looking very uncomfortable under a barrage from Paxman on Newsnight.

The lesson is perhaps not to rely too much on liberal capitalist benefactors and glossy Hollywood marketing. A real movement to combat Climate Change (and indeed all the other environmental threats and social injustices) will be a mass movement with power at the base, not a celeb crusade. It will be a movement that threatens the privileges of the likes of Al Gore and co as much as it does the position of Robert Durward. We can leave political vanity projects and corporate slush to the likes of The New Party.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

More on the Ecosocialist International Meeting

Further report backs from the International Ecosocialist meeting held at the weekend are coming in, and all seem encouraging. The body is to be officially known as the Ecosocialist International Network. The Ecosocialist Manifesto is being re-written in time for the next (larger and hopefully teleconferenced) gathering in Brazil. A new website for the International Network should be up and running within the next few weeks with international reports, solidarity appeals and a forum for communication and debate. British comrades were the largest national grouping represented - it would be good if the various British based groups represented could network together on a national basis too.

Most of those at the conference are in the process of mobilising for the International Day of Action on Climate Change on December 8th. The range and widespread nature of action on that day should be impressive. Participants at the Paris meeting heard that there would be a demonstration in Amazonia!

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Ecosocialist International Founded!

Green Left supporters from the UK have participated in a conference in Paris that has established an Ecosocialist International. Derek Wall reports here.

This is a very encouraging development. There were worries that the Paris meeting might not bring forward concrete proposals, but this did not occur, instead an ambitious plan for linking together like-minded activists and building up an international movement is underway.

Ian Angus, editor of Climate and Capitalism who helped with the Paris conference is to speak at a meeting in London sponsored by Green Left and Socialist Resistance on Wednesday 10th October. Ian will be reporting back on the Paris conference at meetings in Canada (Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Ottawa) in November.

The conference had individuals and representatives from groups in the UK (GL, AGS, SR), France, Belgium, Australia, Canada, USA, Denmark, Greece, Brazil, Cyprus, Italy and Switzerland. Messages were received from groups and individuals in Nepal, China, Poland, Zimbabwe, Palestine and Germany.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Brown Backs Off

Ho hum, Gordon Brown has backed off regarding an 'Autumn Election'.

This of course has nothing to do with the continuing postal dispute, nor the Labour nosedive in the latest opinion polls, oh no.... it is all so that Gordon has more of a chance to show us how "brilliant" he and his New Labour Mk2 are. ;-)

Oh, and did someone whisper Iran?????

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Demand a Referendum!

The recent TUC and Green Party conferences both put forward the demand that there should be a referendum on the new European "Reform Treaty" - the rebranded neo-liberal European Constitution.
At the time of writing the petition on the "I Want A Referendum" website had over 19,800 signatures.
The case for a referendum is put here.

For those who believe the pro-treaty arguments about the aims and substance of the constitution being dropped (rather than just the window dressing of Euro-State language and symbols) and it being just a "tidying up exercise", here are some telling quotes :

"Public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them directly"
"All the earlier proposals will be in the new text, but will be hidden and disguised in some way." - V. Giscard D'Estaing, (Chairman of the Convention which wrote the European Constitution) June 2007

"What was (already) difficult to understand will become utterly incomprehensible, but the substance has been retained...Why not have a single text? The only reason is that this would look too much like the constitutional treaty. Making cosmetic changes would make the text more easy to swallow" - D'Estaing again, July 2007

"We have not let a single substantial point of the Constitutional Treaty go… It is, without a doubt, much more than a treaty. This is a project of foundational character, a treaty for a new Europe." - Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Zapatero.

"The substance of the Constitution is preserved. That is a fact." - Angela Merkel, German Chancellor.

" The substance of what was agreed in 2004 has been retained. What is gone is the term 'constitution'." - Dermot Ahern, Irish Foreign Minister, June 2007

"Britain is different. Of course there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact?" Jean Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg (obviously not expecting to be translated and reported in Britain!)

"The aim of the Constitutional Treaty was to be more readable; the aim of this treaty is to be unreadable...the Constitution aimed to be clear, whereas this treaty had to be unclear. It is a success" - Karel de Gucht, Belgian Foreign Minister.

"The good thing is...that all the symbolic elements are gone, and that which really matters, the core - is left" - Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Danish Prime Minister, June 2007.

Trade Unionists Against The EU Constitution (TUAEUC) published a very good pamphlet that helped sway views at the TUC - "The Big EU Con Trick - Why trade unionists should demand a referendum on the EU's Renamed Constitution"
This is available on request from TUAEUC, PO Box 46295, London W5 2UG.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Elections! (Green Party internal ones, that is)

Congratulations to all the winning candidates in the first wave of Green Party of England and Wales Executive (GPEX)election results, particularly to my Green Left and Green Empowerment supporting colleagues Joseph Healy and Jonathan Essex who took the International Coordinator and Campaigns Coordinator posts respectively.
Congratulations also to my fellow blogger Peter Sanderson who is the new Publicity Coordinator. Peter and I have our political differences, but I am sure he will do a very good job for the party in this post. Commiserations to my Green Party Trade Union Group colleague (and another blogger) Pete Murry whom Peter Sanderson beat to the post.
Other elected posts results including Male and Female Principal Speakers to follow.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Fighting New Labour.....and all its' works.

We are in a curous political phase where numerous campaigns and struggles are springing up or upping their game and the political establishment has pre-election fever.

The Faslane 365 campaign came to a close yesterday, with a flurry of action and arrests at the Big Blockade. 365 may be over, but the campaign against New Labour's ridiculously expensive and ludicrously useless Trident Missile replacement continues. Pictures of the last day from Indymedia here. Well done to all those taking action - the struggle continues!

Meanwhile, the repression of protest in London continues with the banning of the Stop The War Action on 8th October. To their credit, the anti-war campaigners are refusing to give in to bullying and Tony Benn is taking a stand - see his Guardian blog here. According to the STWC site "Tony Benn, Brian Eno, Mark Thomas, Walter Wolfgang, George Galloway and Ben Griffin (ex SAS trooper) will head the march to Parliament in defiance of the ban"

This, as Brown grandstands from Iraq about troop withdrawals - some of which have already happened, others of which were planned previously, and none of which addresses the crucial issues around the future involvement of UK forces in the aggressive interventionist wars of the US imperial bloc. The Tories are outraged, as his news manipulation takes over from their attempts to help the poor, poverty stricken people who have £500,000 to £999,999.99 to leave to their kids.

Meanwhile the industrial situation simmers as the fresh postal strikes loom from Thursday and Post Office management made itself even less popular than it was already by announcing the first 180 Post Offices chosen for closure from a potential 2500. Another vital public service to be sacrificed on the altar of the great neo-liberal demiurge.

Brown may be tempted to go for an early election by among other things the looming prospect of a winter of discontent with industrial action across the public sector on pay and strings - organised workers are aware that there is a comprehensive spending review in the offing - and Gordon may be looking at what looks very much like a public sector pay freeze.

With massive demonstrations on the NHS and Climate Change planned for November and December respectively, a growing campaign across the political spectrum for a referendum on the European Const...sorry, Reform Treaty, it looks like a real sea change in British politics is a possibility. The time is coming for more and more of us to get off our knees and fight if we are to really build a movement to resist neo-liberalism, environmental destruction and war - if we are to have any hope of a better future.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

On the leader debate and a piece from Gorz

I have just had my attention drawn to this article on the Green Leader debate from the Natural Choices website, which contains many good points and is a summary of some of the debate so far from the viewpoint of a non-Green Party environmentalist.

I blogged at the weekend about the death of Andre Gorz - here is an interesting viewpoint that he published as an Appendix to his Critique of Economic Reason: A summary for trade union and other left activists in 1989.

Here is a list of Gorz's main works:

# La morale de l'histoire (Seuil, 1959)
# Stratégie ouvrière et néocapitalisme (Seuil, 1964)
# Socialism and Revolution (first published in France in 1967 as Le socialisme difficile)
# Réforme et révolution (Seuil, 1969)
# Critique du capitalisme quotidien (Galilée, 1973)
# Critique de la division du travail (Seuil, 1973. Collective work)
# Ecology As Politics (South End Press, 1979 - Galilée, 1975)
# Écologie et liberté (Galilée, 1977)
# Fondements pour une morale (Galilée, 1977)
# The Traitor (1980, first published in 1957 by Le Seuil)
# Farewell to the Working Class (1980 - Galilée and Le Seuil, 1983, Adieux au Prolétariat)
# Paths to Paradise (1985 - Galilée, 1983)
# Critique of Economic Reason (1989)
# Capitalism, Socialism, Ecology (1994 - Galilée, 1991)
# Misères du présent, richesse du possible (Galilée, 1997)
# Reclaiming Work: Beyond the Wage-Based Society (1999)
# L'immatériel - Connaissance, valeur et capital (Galilée, 2003, in French)
# Lettre à D. Histoire d'un amour (Galilée, 2006 )

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