Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Waste Company Errors Undermine Case For Incinerator

This is the latest from PAIN (People Against Incineration) fighting plans of Nottinghamshire County Council/Veolia for a County Incinerator in Sherwood Forest at Rainworth near Mansfield in Nottinghamshire:

Veolia got their sums wrong

Serious mathematical errors have embarrassed Veolia, undermining their application for a waste incinerator. When these mistakes are corrected, Veolia's own Carbon Analysis report, produced by Veolia's consultants RPS, shows that incineration is about the worst of a range of options in terms of climate change, and not the best as Veolia claimed.

Climate change is described as an "overriding material planning consideration" ever since the Government issued Planning Policy Statement 1 (Supplement) in December 2007. Veolia's original application failed to address the climate change impacts of their proposals, so in May 2008 Nottinghamshire County Council planners wrote to Veolia asking for them to assess carbon balance of incineration compared with other waste management options.

In an independent report commissioned by the local campaign group People Against Incineration (PAIN), Public Interest Consultant Alan Watson writes: [Veolia's analysis] "...contains some basic errors that are so serious that it cannot be relied upon to support the applicant's case...When Table 4 is checked on a spreadsheet it can be seen that whilst the results for the incinerator are correct, ALL the comparative MBT [an alternative to incineration] results include serious errors". When all of the errors have been corrected the report shows that "Over a 25-year period...the additional climate change damage caused by the incinerator would therefore be more than £57 million".

Shlomo Dowen, of PAIN's Legal & Research Team, says: "This is just what PAIN needed to accompany our latest 150 pages of planning objections. We expect the climate change report to be an important document for submission to the forthcoming Public Inquiry into the controversial Sherwood Forest (Rainworth) incinerator proposals".

PAIN calls upon Veolia and Nottinghamshire county council to withdraw their application and engage with the community to develop mutually acceptable sustainable waste management solutions that place greater emphasis on reducing, reusing and recycling discarded material.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Chomsky's Birthday Meet Up Planned In UK

Noam Chomsky is one of the world's best-known intellectuals. Aside from his professional work on linguistics, his writings over the last 40 years on US Foreign Policy, and also the role of the mass media as a form of indoctrination, have provoked support and vitriol.

December 7th 2008 will be his 80th birthday.

On Saturday 29th November (so as not to clash with the Climate March in London), Manchester will host activists and scholars who will come together to discuss, share and debate around the issues that Chomsky has worked on (and one or two that he hasn't!).

Neither worshipping nor condemning, the focus is not on Chomsky the man or the theorist, but exploring the current developments on issues he has written about (media, human rights, US foreign policy) and some others he hasn't written much about- climate change, the role and responsibilities of solidarity movements and more.

Confirmed speakers include David Miller of Strathclyde University, who's
written widely on media spin in Iraq, Ireland and global power politics,
Milan Rai, anti-war activist and editor of Peace News, and Leo Murray of Plane Stupid. More will be announced in the coming weeks.

For more information please see, email info [at]
or sign up at the Facebook group at

Monday, October 27, 2008

Economic Transformation - A Preliminary Programme

Below is a statement agreed at a recent meeting of various individuals and organisations associated with the Global Justice Movement at a meeting convened by the Transnational Institute and Focus on The Global South. The text can be found in full at the interesting website Casino Crash which has been set up by the TNI and Institute of Policy Studies for discussion of the current crisis from a radical social justice perspective. Individuals and organisations can sign up to or comment on the statement here.

I am not sure about all of these proposals, even as "transitional demands", and I am sure most of us can find something to disagree with somewhere in the document, but nevertheless there is much of value here for those interested in pushing forward rather than falling back into a purely defensive posture as the rich try to make the rest of us pay for their crisis.

The global economic crisis: An historic opportunity for transformation

An initial response from individuals, social movements and non-governmental organisations in support of a transitional programme for radical economic transformation Beijing, 15 October 2008


Taking advantage of the opportunity of so many people from movements gathering in Beijing during the Asia-Europe People’s Forum, the Transnational Institute and Focus on the Global South convened informal nightly meetings between 13 and 15 October 2008. We took stock of the meaning of the unfolding global economic crisis and the opportunity it presents for us to put into the public domain some of the inspiring and feasible alternatives many of us have been working on for decades. This statement represents the collective outcome of our Beijing nights. We, the initial signatories, mean this to be a contribution towards efforts to formulate proposals around which our movements can organise as the basis for a radically different kind of political and economic order. Please sign on to this statement by adding your name in the comments section.

The Crisis

The global financial system is unravelling at great speed. This is happening in the midst of a multiplicity of crises in relation to food, climate and energy. It severely weakens the power of the US and the EU, and the global institutions they dominate, particularly the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation. Not only is the legitimacy of the neo-liberal paradigm in question, but the very future of capitalism itself.

Such is the chaos in the global financial system that Northern governments have resorted to measures progressive movements have advocated for years, such as nationalisation of banks. These moves are intended, however, as short-term stabilisation measures and once the storm clears, they are likely to return the banks to the private sector. We have a short window of opportunity to mobilise so that they are not.

The challenge and the opportunity

We are entering uncharted terrain with this conjuncture of profound crises – the fall out from the financial crisis will be severe. People are being thrown into a deep sense of insecurity; misery and hardship will increase for many poorer people everywhere. We should not cede this moment to fascist, right wing populist, xenophobic groups, who will surely try to take advantage of people’s fear and anger for reactionary ends.

Powerful movements against neo-liberalism have been built over many decades. This will grow as critical coverage of the crisis enlightens more people, who are already angry at public funds being diverted to pay for problems they are not responsible for creating, and already concerned about the ecological crisis and rising prices – especially of food and energy. The movements will grow further as recession starts to bite and economies start sinking into depression.

There is a new openness to alternatives. To capture people’s attention and support, they must be practical and immediately feasible. We have convincing alternatives that are already underway, and we have many other good ideas attempted in the past, but defeated. Our alternatives put the well-being of people and the planet at their centre. For this, democratic control over financial and economic institutions are required. This is the “red thread” connecting up the proposals presented below.

Proposals for debate, elaboration and action


* Introduce full-scale socialisation of banks, not just nationalisation of bad assets.
* Create people-based banking institutions and strengthen existing popular forms of lending based on mutuality and solidarity.
* Institutionalise full transparency within the financial system through the opening of the books to the public, to be facilitated by citizen and worker organisations.
* Introduce parliamentary and citizens’ oversight of the existing banking system
* Apply social ( including labour conditions) and environmental criteria to all lending, including for business purposes
* Prioritise lending, at minimum rates of interest, to meet social and environmental needs and to expand the already growing social economy
* Overhaul central banks in line with democratically determined social, environmental and expansionary (to counter the recession) objectives, and make them publicly accountable institutions.
* Safeguard migrant remittances to their families and introduce legislation to restrict charges and taxes on transfers


* Close all tax havens
* End tax breaks for fossil fuel and nuclear energy companies
* Apply stringent progressive tax systems
* Introduce a global taxation system to prevent transfer pricing and tax evasion
* Introduce a levy on nationalised bank profits with which to establish citizen investment funds (see below)
* Impose stringent progressive carbon taxes on those with the biggest carbon footprints
* Adopt controls, such as Tobin taxes, on the movements of speculative capital
* Re-introduce tariffs and duties on imports of luxury goods and other goods already produced locally as a means of increasing the state’s fiscal base, as well as a means to support local production and thereby reduce carbon emissions globally

Public Spending and Investment

* Radically reduce military spending
* Redirect government spending from bailing out bankers to guaranteeing basic incomes and social security, and providing universally accessible basic social services such as housing, water, electricity, health, education, child care, and access to the internet and other public communications facilities.
* Use citizen funds (see above) to support very poor communities
* Ensure that people at risk of losing their homes due to defaults on mortgages caused by the crisis are offered renegotiated terms of payment
* Stop privatisations of public services
* Establish public enterprises under the control of parliaments, local communities and/or workers to increase employment
* Improve the performance of public enterprises through democratising management - encourage public service managers, staff, unions and consumer organisations to collaborate to this end
* Introduce participatory budgeting over public finances at all feasible levels
* Invest massively in improved energy efficiency, low carbon emitting public transport, renewable energy and environmental repair
* Control or subsidise the prices of basic commodities

International Trade and Finance

* Introduce a permanent global ban on short-selling of stock and shares
* Ban on trade in derivatives
* Ban all speculation on staple food commodities
* Cancel the debt of all developing countries – debt is mounting as the crisis causes the value of Southern currencies to fall
* Support the United Nations call to be involved in discussions about how the to resolve the crisis, which is going to have a much bigger impact on Southern economies than is currently being acknowledged
* Phase out the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organisation
* Phase out the US dollar as the international reserve currency
* Establish a people’s inquiry into the mechanisms necessary for a just international monetary system.
* Ensure aid transfers do not fall as a result of the crisis
* Abolish tied aid
* Abolish neo-liberal aid conditionalities
* Phase out the paradigm of export-led development, and refocus sustainable development on production for the local and regional market
* Introduce incentives for products produced for sale closest to the local market
* Cancel all negotiations for bilateral free trade and economic partnership agreements
* Promote regional economic co-operation arrangements, such as UNASUR, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), the Trade Treaty of the Peoples and others, that encourage genuine development and an end to poverty.


* Introduce a global system of compensation for countries which do not exploit fossil fuel reserves in the global interests of limiting effects on the climate, such as Ecuador has proposed.
* Pay reparations to Southern countries for the ecological destruction wrought by the North to assist peoples of the South to deal with climate change and other environmental crises.
* Strictly implement the “precautionary principle” of the UN Declaration on the Right to Development as a condition for all developmental and environmental projects.
* End lending for projects under the Kyoto Protocol’s “Clean Development Mechanism” that are environmentally destructive, such as monoculture plantations of eucalyptus, soya and palm oil.
* Stop the development of carbon trading and other environmentally counter-productive techno-fixes, such as carbon capture and sequestration, agrofuels, nuclear power and ‘clean coal’ technology.
* Adopt strategies to radically reduce consumption in the rich countries, while promoting sustainable development in poorer countries
* Introduce democratic management of all international funding mechanisms for climate change mitigation, with strong participation from Southern countries and civil society.

Agriculture and Industry

* Phase out the pernicious paradigm of industry-led development, where the rural sector is squeezed to provide the resources necessary to support industrialisation and urbanisation
* Promote agricultural strategies aimed at achieving food security, food sovereignty and sustainable farming.
* Promote land reforms and other measures which support small holder agriculture and sustain peasant and indigenous communities
* Stop the spread of socially and environmentally destructive mono-cultural enterprises.
* Stop labour law reforms aimed at extending hours of work and making it easier for employers to fire or retrench workers
* Secure jobs through outlawing precarious low paid work
* Guarantee equal pay for equal work for women – as a basic principle and to help counter the coming recession by increasing workers’ capacity to consume.
* Protect the rights of migrant workers in the event of job losses, ensuring their safe return to and reintegration into their home countries. For those who cannot return, there should be no forced return, their security should be guaranteed, and they should be provided with employment or a basic minimum income.


These are all practical, common sense proposals. Some are initiatives already underway and demonstrably feasible. Their successes need to be publicised and popularised so as to inspire reproduction. Others are unlikely to be implemented on their objective merits alone. Political will is required. By implication, therefore, every proposal is a call to action.

We have written what we see as a living document to be developed and enriched by us all. Please sign on to this statement here.

A future occasion to come together to work on the actions needed to make these ideas and others a reality will be the World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil at the end of January 2009.

We have the experience and the ideas - let’s meet the challenge of the present ruling disorder and keep the momentum towards an alternative rolling!!

Add your name and/or organisation by leaving a comment here.




Transnational Institute, Netherlands
Focus on the Global South
Red Pepper magazine, United Kingdom
Institute for Global Research and Social Movements, Russia
Ecologistas en Acción, Spain
JS - Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JS APMDD), Asia
RESPECT Network Europe, Europe
Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers (CFMW), Netherlands
The Movement for a Just World, Malaysia
Nord-Sud XXI, Switzerland
Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières (ESSF), France
Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), Inadi
Movimiento Madre Tierra, Honduras
Asian Bridge, South Korea/ Philippines
Center for Encounter and Active Non-Violence, Austria
The Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)
Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Pakistan
Pambansang Katipunan ng Makabayang Magbubukid-PKMM (National Federation of Patriotic Peasant), Phillipines
Proresibong Alyansa ng mga Mangingisda-PANGISDA (Progresive Alliance of Fisher), Philippines
WomanHealth, Philippines
Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD), Philippines
Fisherfolk Movement Philippines
Democratic Socialist Perspective, Australia
Resistance & Alternative, Mauritius
Observatori del Deute en la Globalització, Spain
African Journalists on Trade and Development
Centre for Education and Communication (CEC), India
ESK-Basque Land, Basque Country
Common Frontiers, Canada
Alab-Katipunan, Philippines
Finnish Asiatic Society, Finland
Alab-Katipunan, Philippines
Finnish Asiatic Society, Finland
Red Constantino, Philippines
Intercultural Resources, India
Women’s March Against Poverty and Globalization (WELGA)
FDC Women’s Committee
Bharatiya Krishak Samaj (Indian farmers organization)
Peace for All International Development Organization, Canada/Uganda
Foundation for Media Alternatives, Philippines
The Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement , Philippines
The Freedom from Debt Coalition-Iloilo, Philippines
Jubilee Eastern Cape, South Africa
SdL intercategoriale, Italy
Foro Ciudadano de Participación por la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos, Argentina
APRODEH (Asociacion Pro Derechos Humanos), Peru
Attac Spain, Spain
HealthWrights, Workgroup for People’s Health and Rights, US
Ander Europa, Netherlands
Enlightening Indonesia, Indonesia
SolidaritéS, Switzerland
ATTAC Hungary
AITEC (Association Internationale de Techniciens, Experts et Chercheurs), France
Red Venezolana Contra la Deuda/CADTM Venezuela
Movimiento Unido Socialista Haitiano por el ALBA (MOUSHA), Venezuela
IPIAT (Instituto para la Investigación de la Agricultura Tropical), Venezuela
ECOPEACE Party South Africa
Jubilee Kansai Network, Japan
Ecuador Decide, Ecuador
Transnationals Information Exchange (TIE) – Netherlands
Popular Education for Peoples’ Empowerment, Philipines
International Gender and Trade Network, Brazil
Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM), Begium
ATTAC Morocco
Friends of the Earth Finland
European Left Party Network, UK
Center for the Study of Democratic Societies, USA
European SocialForum Activists News Agency.
Cymru Europa Press (Social Forum Cymru/Wales), UK
Initiative Colibri/Germany
Sudptt (SOLIDAIRES) Attac 44 France
International Debt Observatory, Belgium
Ligue communiste révolutionnaire (LCR), France


Fiona Dove, South Africa
Walden Bello, Philippines/Thailand
Hilary Wainwright, United Kingdom
Boris Kagarlitsky, Russia
Achin Vanaik, India
Dot Keet, South Africa
Brid Brennan, Ireland
Pietje Vervest, Netherlands
Cecilia Olivet, Uruguay
Ramon Fernandez, Spain
Pierre Rousset, France
Rodney Bickerstaffe, United Kingdom
Von Francis C Mesina, Philippines
Al D. Senturias, Jr., Philippines
Sammy Gamboa, Philippines
Fe Jusay, Philippines
Nonoi Hacbang, Philippines
Lidy Nacpil, Philippines
Tom Kucharz, Spain
Herbert Docena, Philippines
Seema Mustafa, India
Kenneth Haar, Denmark
Wolfram Schaffar, Germany
Christa Wichterich, Germany
Isabelle Duquesne, France
Adhemar Mineiro, Brazil
Benny Kuruvilla, India
Aehwa Kim, South Korea
Manjette Lopez, Philippines
Bonn Juego, Philippines
Rasti Delizo, Philippines
James Miraflor, Philippines
Miquel Ortega Cerda, Spain
David Llistar, Spain
Alpo Ratia, Finland
Mira Kakonen, Finland
Hilary Chiew, Malaysia
Celeste Fong, Malaysia
Tatcee Macabuag, Philippines
Teodoro M. de Mesa, Philippines
Uwe Hoering, Germany
Asad Rehman, UK
Andy Rutherford, UK
Debbie Valencia, Greece
Petra Snelders, Netherlands
Etta P. Rosales, Philippines
Pete Pinlac, Philippines
Ute Hausrnann, Germany
Alain Baron, France
Hanneke van Eldik Thieme, Netherlands
Dorothy Guerrero, Philippines
Ric Reyes, Philippines
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, Malaysia
Ahmad Soueissi, Switzerland
Elias Davidsson, Germany
Juan Almendares, Honduras
Carlos Ruiz
Alexis Passadakis
Sally Rousset, France
Hyowoo Na, South Korea
Sung-Hee Choi, Korea
Marko Ulvila, Finland
Matthias Reichl, Austria
Orsan Senalp, Turkey/The Netherlans
Tamra Gilbertson, Unites States
Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, India
Prof Anuradha Chenoy, India
Gilbert Achcar, UK
Richel “Ching” M. Borres, Philippines
Helen Mendoza, Philippines
Sukla Sen, India
Olli-Pekka Haavisto, Finland
Amira Armenta, Colombia
William K. Carroll, United States
Gigi Francisco, Philippines
Sylvia Estrada Claudio, Philippines
Pablo Rosales, Philippines
Alice Raymundo, Philippines
Maris dela Cruz, Philippines
Terry Townsend, Australia
Ashok Subron, Mauritius
Ko Ko Thett
Einar Ólafsson, Iceland
Anjani Abella, Philippines
Gianni Alioti, Italy
Dr Michael Williams
Peter Lavina, Philippines
Gina Cantano-Dela Cruz, Philippines
Cecilia Jimenez, Philippines/Switzerland
Thierry De Coster
Sushovan Dhar, India
Krishan Bir Chaudhary, India
Dave Tucker
Bruno Ciccaglione, Italy/Austria
Haydi Zulfei , Asia
Adam Davidson-Harden, Canada
Al Alegre, Philippines
Tom Mertes
Elâabadila Chbihna, Morocco
John A. Fitzpatrick
Matyas Benyik
Roger Keyes
Ted Aldwin Ong, Philippines
Romero P. Gerochi, Philippines
C.P. Vinod, India
Laurence Schechtman
Berend Schuitema, South Africa
Francesco Martone, Italy
Asbjørn Wahl, Norway
Teodolita S. Lopez-Suano, Philippines
Hans Schäppi, Switzerland
Rasigan Maharajh
Anna Camposampiero, Italy
Lorenzo Pellegrini, Italy/Netherlands
Rashmi Shetty, India
Wahyu Susilo, Malaysia
Fabrizio Tomaselli, Italy
Rayhan Rashid, Bangladesh
Saskia Poldervaart, Netherlands
Pierluigi Tedeschi, Italy
Gladys Baldew, Netherlands
Francisco Soberon, Peru
Erik Eriksson, Sweden
Marco Cuevas-Hewitt
Luigia Pasi - Italy
Maximo Kinast Aviles
Paul R. Woods
Antonio Carlos Diegues, Brazil
Luis David Saraiva Grivol, Brazil
Nick Dearden, UK
David Werner, US
Håkan Danielsson, Sweden
Wouter F.A.Snip, Netherlands
Valdimar Jóhannsson, Iceland
Vida Viktor, Hungary
Edgardo Lander, Venezuela
Yvon Thea Young-Ang, Philippines
Khristine Alvarez, Philippines
Hayri Kozanoglu, Turkey
Manfred Schiess, Germany
Antonio Gomez Movellan, Spain
Enrique Baigorri Remirez, Spain
Gunilla Andersson, Sweden
Matyas Benyik, Hungary
Kathia Ridore, France
Willem Bos, Netherlands
Irendra Radjawali, Indonesia
Jean Batou, Switzerland
Hector de la Cueva, Mexico
Maurizio Casetta, Italy
Adriana Nicoleta Filip, Italy
Kathia Ridore, France
Susana Barria, Suiza
Julia de Souza, Brazil
Paulino Núñez, Venezuela
Borsos Dóra, Hungary
Geraldine McDonald,
Fco. Javier Benítez Morales, Spain
Diego Luís Castellanos
Daniel Kollmer, Netherlanda
Daniel Chavez, Uruguay
Jayatilleke de Silva, Sri Lanka
Ruben Joseph
Carolina Parada, Sweden
Filippo Incorvaia, Italy
Lilia Claudia Jaramillo-Guerra, Austria
Miguel Gamboa
Bram Büscher, The Netherlands
Luis Gonzalez
Ikrame Moucharik, Morocco
Oscar Revilla Alguacil, Spain
Adriano Garassino, Italy
Brissaud Jean-Bernard, Morocco
Franny Parren, The Netherlands
Lisa Clark, Italy
Donatella Biancardi, Italy
Davide Buoncristiani, Italy
Martin Pigeon, Brussels, Belgium
Jo Versteijnen, Netherands
Eric Toussaint, Belgium
Murray Smith
Daniel Gomez, Netherlands/Argentina
Panos Vlachakis, Greece
Natalia Sansón Moreno, Spain
Moustakbal Jawad , Morocco
Pablo Peredo
Albert Capella
Kristof Gal
Dr. Magdolna Csath, Hungary
Piero Stella, Italy
Ibarrola Aitor
Tamara Pearson, Venezuela
Mark Barrett, USA
Kenneth Haar, Denmark
Fred Moseley, USA
Bo Jansson, Sweden
Ingegerd Jansson / Sweden
Charles Quist-Adade, Canada
Marko Ulvila, Finland
Andrew Stevens, UK
Edlira Xhafa, Albania
Robley E. George, USA
Cristina Civale, Argentina
Sebastian Job .
Al Campbell, USA
Mirjana Joksimovic Bohlin, Serbia
Johannes Lauterbach, Germany
Carol Bergin, Germany
Alain Mouetaux, France
Gábor Vinnai, Hungary
Jorge Marchini, Argentina
Johannes Dragsbaek Schmidt, Denmark
Federico Lucero
Etienne Funck, France
Urantsooj Gombosuren, Mongolia
Erich Seifert
Jaume Francesch Subirana
Bernadette Huger
Djilali Benamrane, France
Eric Goujot, France
Brigitte Queck, Germany

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Weekly Links 26/10/2008

Climate Change Campaigns
Preparation is well under way for this year's global Climate Change demonstrations in December. The London demo, organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change is scheduled for Saturday 6th December and will take the form of a march on Parliament. Before then there is a meeting on the topic of "Is the Government failing us on climate change?" (7pm, Thursday 16th November, Friends House, 173 Euston Road) to be addressed by George Monbiot, Bob Crow, Zac Goldsmith, Ann Pettifor and Phil Thornhill.
There is also going to be a climate conference in Cambridge at the end of January 2009, supported by the Cambridge Climate Coalition and Workers Climate Action, who have their national gathering planned for 15th/16th November.

Unions and Work
British Public Service Union Unison has moved to get a European investigation into the situation of workers and their rights in Colombia.

Peace Movement
Stop the War have a meeting scheduled for 3rd November, just before the US elections. More here.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

The Crisis - Economic Alternatives and Alternative Economics

The current financial crisis and developing economic recession create a need for and a space for alternative economic analyses and programmes. In Britain, as well as the excellent Corner House people that I have previously linked there is good work coming out of the Left Economics Advisory Panel LEAP - who have a blog here. LEAP have recently published work by Jerry Jones, the Economics writer on the Morning Star newspaper. Despite his association with a newspaper long linked to the remnants of the old "Moscow Line" CP in Britain, Jones has a refreshingly open and eclectic approach and promotes strategies involving much cooperativism and mutualism and other forms of collective ownership rather than blanket old-fashioned centralised nationalisation.
His recent paper on common ownership is worth a read and is available here.

Good stuff is also to be found through the Green Economics Institute. Blogger Molly Scott Cato of Gaian Economics has been a contributor to this and has been an economics spokesperson for the Green Party of England and Wales. Molly has recently worked with Richard Bickle on editing a book of essays on the relevance of Robert Owen and Owenism today - New Views Of Society:Robert Owen For the 21st Century which is being published by Scottish Left Review Press.

Robert Owen was one of the most significant thinkers and social innovators of the nineteenth century. Widely recognised as the 'father of co-operation' and an exemplary industrialist and educational reformer for his pioneering work while managing the New Lanark Mill in Scotland. He is less well known for his work on the development of time-based currencies, trades unionism and experiments in community living.

One hundred and fifty years after Owen's death, his ideas have a remarkable contemporary resonance, whether it be in the development of LETS schemes, eco-villages and 'fairtrade', or the emergence of new social movements challenging and offering alternatives to a politial and economic system built on global capitalism. This book explores these connections through a series of chapters written by leading current practitioners in each of the fields of endeavour that Owen was concerned with and tries to draw lessons from his experience for social innovators of the future.

In an era when the social and environmental consequences of our capitalist economic system are looking increasingly perilous, and when the financial system no longer inspires confidence, Robert Owen's creative contribution can help us to inspire an alternative economic paradigm.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pensioners and Unions Lobby Parliament

Yesterday saw a lobby of parliament by pensioners' organisations supported by unions :

More than 1,000 protesters of all ages were lobbying Parliament to urge MPs to pay single pensioners at least £151 a week.

They also want the state pension to be increased immediately in line with earnings or prices, depending on which is higher, and for it to be paid universally to all existing pensioners, rather than being based on National Insurance contributions as is currently the case.

The campaign was organised by the National Pensioners Convention and 15 trade unions to mark the centenary of the introduction of the state pension. The groups believe it is the first time that both working age and retired people have joined forces to call for a higher pension for both now and in the future.

More here and here.

Here is the National Pensioners Convention and here is their blog.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Peter Tatchell To Speak After John Osborne Play In London

A Patriot for Me – by John Osborne

Followed by

The State of the Queer Nation - with Peter Tatchell

The New Players Theatre
Thursday 30 October 2008

7.30pm: A Patriot for Me – by John Osborne

10.30pm: Peter Tatchell Q and A on the play and on the unfinished battle for LGBT human rights.

Ticket price includes admission to both events.

In the post-performance Q and A, gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell discusses the issues raised in John Osborne's acclaimed play,
A Patriot for Me. He offers a perspective on the cultural changes since the play was written, and the still unequal status of LGBT people in contemporary Britain.

This new version of A Patriot For Me by John Osborne is directed by David Harris. It is set in the 1900s. Alfred Redl is an exemplary Austro-Hungarian soldier, working up through the ranks to Colonel whilst battling with his homosexuality. His struggle takes him on a riveting journey, through turbulent relationships, drag balls and espionage.

First performed in 1965, this play met huge opposition from the chief censor, the Lord Chamberlain, who only allowed it to be performed to membership club audiences. It went on to win The Evening Standard Best Play of The Year and crossed new boundaries in the representation of gay lives and loves.

Peter Tatchell praises the huge gains in equal rights for LGBT people over the last decade, but identifies key areas of discrimination that remain to be rectified. He is the Green Party's parliamentary candidate for Oxford East, began campaigning for queer freedom in 1969, aged 17. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, Sylvia Pankurst, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, he adapted their direct action methods and invented a few of his own.

The New Players Theatre
The Arches

Villiers Street



Box Office: 020 7478 0135
Tickets: £20, £15 (concs) & £12.50 for 10+

Peter Tatchell's website is here.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Times No 69460 - Strange Days?

I am not a reader of The Times, being more than a little averse to feeding the coffers of Rupert Murdoch. However, today I decided to have a look, tempted (oh the shame!) by a front page banner of a head of Karl Marx and the Words "The New Kapitalism" and underneath the main story of the day being "The Tories, the oligarch and a £50,000 question". Hence began a strange experience. It was most disconcerting, almost as if I had entered a parallel universe where the journalistic bastion of establishment solidity was suddenly all at sea, thrashing this way and that to get a handle on the changing times, yet still throwing out nuggets of disinformation and smears in the old fashioned way.

Not only has the paper gone big on the linked stories of newly ennobled Government Minister Lord Mandelson and Osborne and Feldman (of David Cameron's opposition Tories) hobnobbing with super-rich members of the global elite in Greece this summer, it has an impressive, industry sponsored pull out on renewable energy (demonstrating the financial clout that industry is beginning to amass); a crass article on the "return of Marx" followed by an odd (but revealing) selection of "Marxist" talking heads and several pieces on UFOs! You have entered the Twilight Zone!

The Corfu summer Brit-political shenanigans appears likely to become serious as there are counter allegations which basically mean someone is lying. After having fun at Mandelson's expense over the last week over his schmoozing the Putin linked oligarch Deripaska on his yacht, the core of the new allegations are that Nathaniel Rothschild says that the Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne (himself a millionaire and Bullingdon Club pal of Rothschild)and Andrew Feldman (Tory Chief Exec. and college buddy of Cameron)spent time at the yacht also - and discussed a donation from Deripaska (illegal under British law)through the medium of one of his British companies (Deripaska currently holds Leyland DAF trucks). Cue furious denials from the Tories and a big bust up. Ho ho ho.

But the weirdness does not end with British politics - the paper's Tom Baldwin in Washington reports the US election and the disconcerting comments of Obama's VP candidate Joe Biden to a fund raiser in Seattle on Sunday night -

"Mark my words, it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47 year old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here...we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy"

What the....there's one to make the conspiracy theorists drool!

Interestingly regarding his comments on Kennedy, Biden will be the first Roman Catholic VP if he is elected.

Biden went on to talk about Russia and the Middle East and the Afghan Pakistan border and then said "He's gonna need help because its not gonna be apparent, initially, that we're right." He then added, (just to add fuel to the fire of speculation!) "I probably shouldn't have said all this because it dawned on me that the press is here"

The bit on Marx was prefaced by some appalling ill-informed journalistic-simplistic dross from Phillip Collins and then soundbites from seven "commentators from the left" - three of whom were from the Living Marxism/Furedi/Institute of Ideas sect, including that group's guru the ex RCP leader Furedi. Of course, Mick Hume is Murdoch's tame "libertarian Marxist" in house and his sect-buddy Claire Fox also gets lots of airtime based on her continuing contrarianism. At least the contribution from Alexei Sayle was amusing. The basic message of Collins was that Marx was wrong on loads of things and no great prophet - so far, so what. Hume, who like a stopped clock is occasionally right, pointed out that it was foolish to treat Marx as some kind of Nostradamus figure.

UFOs figure in an article by Martin Rees (President of the Royal Society - the original clandestine elite club!) who says "ET might be out there" and SETI is a worthwhile gamble, and also in a piece for Times readers' kiddies in Times 2 (Do You Believe in Flying Saucers?) which directs enquirers to the National Archives for the recently released UFO files. Woo hoo - bring back Mulder and Scully!

The Renewable Energy pullout from the BWEA and Provisa is 16 pages long with loads of adverts, but interesting facts and figures on the state of play with renewables in Britain (3.1 GW of installed wind capacity - if all the wind farms in the planning process were approved there would be enough installed capacity to power an extra 5 Million homes etc)

If we wanted to be really creative we could begin to link up these stories like the former Tory grandee Sir Bernard Ingham being both a nuclear industry shill and a leading light in the organisation mobilising for the blocking of onshore wind developments in the UK, or that the Spiked/LM/IofI sect are leading backers of global warming scepticism and were behind the two anti-environmentalist C4 "documentaries" Against Nature and The Great Global Warming Swindle in the UK. Meanwhile Deripaska was :

one of 16 global business leaders who drafted CEO Climate Policy Recommendations to G8 Leaders, a document outlining international business community's proposals to effectively tackle global warming. The proposals were signed by more than 100 of the world's leading corporations and handed to Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on June 20, 2008. G8 leaders discussed the recommendations during the summit in Japan on July 7-9, 2008. The process was coordinated by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development

One of billionaire Deripaska's main sources of wealth and clout is his membership of the Board of Directors of a leading aluminium industry company. And aluminium production is one of the most energy intensive industrial processes on the face of the planet.

This is the Wiki on the Mandelson affair revealed in the papers over the last few weeks -

On October 5 2008, the well informed Mandrake column in the Daily Telegraph disclosed that Peter Mandelson had, while he was the EC Commissioner, availed himself of Deripaska's hospitality aboard his yacht the Queen K while she was anchored off Corfu. Mandelson's spokesman Peter Power downplayed the encounter, saying it was a purely social occasion and that was the extent of Mandelson's links with Deripaska. Subsequently Benjamin Wegg-Prosser, a former employee of Mandelson, appeared to contradict this when he said Mandelson had had a series of dinners earlier with Deripaska. This was of interest to the Conservative Opposition since Mandelson had as EC Commissioner been involved with fixing alumunium tariffs which clearly had an impact on Deripaska's business activities.

However David O'Sullivan, Director-General of the Commission's trade department, denied that Lord Mandelson personally intervened to influence decisions on aluminium import tariffs, Press Association newswire wrote. Mr O'Sullivan, who worked closely with Lord Mandelson during his four years in Brussels, said in an open letter to British newspapers that all relevant decisions had been taken in line with EU law, transparently, and in the interest of EU companies and consumers. The letter declared: "I am very surprised by the allegations in the British Press about Peter Mandelson, Oleg Deripaska and aluminium. He said decisions on tariffs and "anti-dumping" duties on Russian aluminium were "based on sound facts". "Far from receiving favourable treatment from the EU, RUSAL may end up having to pay duties on its exports to the EU", said the Director-General.

Meanwhile, Biden's "off-on record" comments come not only from someone who is the prospective VP, but someone who is Chairman of the US Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations

Curiouser and curiouser. Its enough to make you think we are not all getting the full picture or something......

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Weekly Links 19/10/08

Green Politics
The Campaign For Better Transport is running a campaign to get UK MPs to support a Transport Bill amendment to make it greener.
Michael Palin is a leading light of the Campaign for Better Transport and is speaking at a CFBT fundraiser at the Southbank Centre on 13th November.
Michael is like me, Sheffield born, so local CFBT campaigns around the Woodhead Tunnel and the Peak District will have a special interest for him.

Workers and Unions
I reported on Friday about the PCS strike ballot. On Tuesday of this week the Union is holding a meeting at Westminster to discuss the so-called welfare "reforms" proposed in the government's Green Paper.

There was a general strike in Italy this week - good to know that resistance to the Berlusconi regime continues.

From the USA, Daniel Gross has an article on the Counterpunch website about the case of Alexandra Svoboda, an IWW activist subject to Police brutality during a peaceful march last year -

A peaceful union march is brutally attacked by police. A union activist’s leg is horribly disfigured and nearly amputated. Maimed possibly for life, she is charged with multiple felony offenses.

The battleground is not the coalfields of Harlan County in the 1930s or 1970s; it's not an example of anti-union violence in Colombia or the Philippines. Our setting is present day Providence, Rhode Island.

An exhibition of Art for Palestine, by artists from Palestine, the Arab World, China and the UK - Occupied Space 2008 is to be on show in London for the first two weeks in November. The exhibition is organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

And Finally ...A Bit of Music
Finally this week, a bit of music. The US election campaign has unleashed further waves of distortion and propaganda from the established media. Meanwhile in Britain we have had the unedifying spectacle of a New Labour Minister (incidentally a much unloved National Union Of Students leader in my days of study) playing to the reactionary media gallery on the topic of immigration. One of the best agit-prop songs on media distortion of the last few decades was Billy Bragg's "It Says Here" - a song that he tends to adapt to changing circumstances for live appearances. Here is a youthful angry version from You Tube. Speaking of adapting songs to changing circumstances - have a listen to one of Bragg's later versions of "Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards" here.
One of Bragg's popular radical songs is The World Turned Upside Down about the Diggers of the English Revolution - explained here and sung by songwriter Leon Rosselson, a legend of rebel protest music in Britain whose songs have been recorded by a variety of artists.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Amnesty to Screen Film on Situation of Women In Yemen

I have just been informed of the following forthcoming meeting in London hosted by Amnesty International :

Screening of the film 'Amina'

Date: Tue 4 November 2008

Directed by Khadija Al-Salami
Presented by Amnesty International UK’s Womens’ Action Network. A donation to the work of the womens’ action network will be requested at this screening.

In ‘Amina’, Yemeni film maker Khadija Al-Salami enters Yemen's female prison system to find 24-year-old Amina, married at 11 and a mother of three, awaiting execution for killing her husband. The director's full access to Amina and her forthright account of her life exposes the harshness of womens' lives in Yemen.

The film is always powerful, moving and engrossing and tells a story all too common even in the 21st century of misogyny, injustice and the oppression of women, but manages to keep hope burning throughout. The documentary is also a powerful example of how film and cinema can not only document, but act as a force for change, as it highlighted Amina’s fight for justice around the world.

Followed by a discussion with Dina el-Mamoun, Amnesty International researcher and Dr Andrew Long, both experts on human rights in Yemen.

More info here

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Friday, October 17, 2008

PCS Union Members Set To Strike

In a ballot over pay 54% of UK Public And Commercial Services Union members have voted to strike.

From the BBC news site:

General secretary Mark Serwotka said a quarter of civil servants earned less than £16,500 per year, with thousands paid just above the minimum wage.

"The government's policy of capping public sector pay has hit some of the lowest paid in the public sector the hardest, leading to real terms pay cuts and pay freezes," he said.

"The hard-working people who keep this country running, from passports, immigration and justice, to coastguards, tax and Jobcentres, face increasing financial hardship because of the pay cap.

"Pay freezes and real term pay cuts are simply not sustainable when you are earning a pittance and experiencing double digit rises in food, fuel and housing costs.

"Bailing out bankers should not be at the expense of those who deliver public services or those who rely on them."

This is a good opportunity for workers to show that they will not be the fall guys for the shambles brought about by corporate and individual greed aided and abetted by supine governments and toothless regulators. It is a shame, however, that there is not to be co-ordinated action across the public sector as our strength is in unity and numbers. This unity in action and breakdown of barriers between sectors, occupations and industries is something that British Wobblies will continue to fight for, both as dual-carders within TUC unions and as members of the fighting alternative that is the international IWW.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

International Ecosocialist Conference Planned For February 2009 In Brazil

The following announcement has been circulated on the Ecosocialist International Network's E-list:

The Ecosocialist International Conference will take place in Belem, Brazil, on February 2 and 3, just after the end of the World Social Forum. Our Brazilian comrades (Brazilian Network of Ecosocialists) will kindly host our event. We hope that ecosocialists from around the world will come to participate in this first conference of the EIN, at which we will do important foundational work for our organisation.

Ecosocialist groups and parties from around the world are encouraged to send a delegation, and individuals are also encouraged to come and participate in the organisation and strengthening of our Network. Many of you were present at the first International Ecosocialist meeting in Paris one year ago, and we hope that you or other members of your groups will join us in Belem. The EIN will also be participating in the World Social Forum itself with several public meetings, during which we will present the organization and rally more support for Ecosocialism.

The proposed schedule of our Conference is as follows:
1. Self-presentaion of participants
2. Discussion of ecosocialist principles and vote on the acceptance of
the Second Ecosocialist Manifesto
3. Vote on the nomination of Hugo Blanco as honorary president of the EIN
4. Election of a coordinating body, and a webmaster.
5. Proposals for further activities, including the time and place of
the next EIN meeting, perhaps in Venezuela.

In solidarity,
Danielle (for the EIN coordinating committee)

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Poverty Blogging

Today is a global day of blogging on the subject of poverty.
In my humble contribution I am going to link to some historic musical contributions on this subject, some with a good left-wing political perspective.

There are various versions of a traditional weavers song -including a popular recent one from Chumbawamba - Poverty Knock

Chumbawamba's version is here -

When people are poor, it does not mean that they should lie down and be patronised, or be prey to snake oil merchants no matter how "charitable". Some of the great songs popular in the hard times of the 1920s and 1930s in the USA not only poked fun at the religious organisations that sought to exploit misery to gain recruits alongside their charity, they showed a confidence in the power of poor, working and unemployed people to take control of their situation and make a better world. Maybe we need more of that spirit today and less grandstanding from popstars and politicians...

Here are Harry McClintock's Hallelujah, I'm a Bum and Big Rock Candy Mountain -

Beyond this gentle mockery, the singers associated with the Wobblies, the Industrial union spread by boxcar riders and itinerant workers across the States in the years before, during and after World War One (and still existing today) showed the strength that could be gained to fight poverty through fighting in unity for better wages and working conditions, with an eye on the final prize.

Solidarity Forever -

Power In The Union

Of course, as an ecosocialist blogger I cannot avoid mentioning the importance of environmental limits and climate change when discussing the question of poverty. It will be the poor who will pay the highest price for the inability of governments and corporations to tackle these problems. It is a good sign that alongside the long term social campaigning of the Green Party in England and Wales, groups such as Friends of The Earth are now trying to tackle issues from the point of view of "environmental justice" - a case in point being their recent challenge to the UK government over fuel poverty.

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Advance notice - Richard Greeman UK Tour

US ecosocialist Richard Greeman is to tour the UK with speaking dates in November, and judging from his posts on the International Ecosocialist Network E-lists he should be worth a listen -

Richard Greeman, the writer and longtime activist, will be touring Britain this November speaking on Ecosocialism and promoting his new book of political essays, Dangerous Shortcuts and Vegetarian Sharks. Richard is eager to meet with fellow Ecosocialists and to spread the good word to activists and sympathisers through talks at bookstores, universities and meetings with political groups.

Richard's tentative schedule includes London (Nov. 6-10), Liverpool (Nov. 11-13), Glasgow (Nov. 15), Edinburgh (Nov.15-17), Newcastle (Nov.18-20) and back to London, (Nov. 21-23).

More information:

To see covers, blurbs, and free downloads of Greeman's new book Dangerous Shortcuts and Vegetarian Sharks go to content/923573

Biography: Longtime U.S. socialist Richard Greeman was awarded his Columbia Ph.D in April, 1968 while occupying the University as one of the radical leaders of the student strike. He is best known for his translations and studies of the Franco-Russian novelist and revolutionary, Victor Serge, whose posthumous novel Unforgiving Years, has just been published by N.Y. Review Books, translated and introduced by Greeman. He is one of the founders of the Praxis Research and Education Center in Moscow, Russia, and lives in Montpellier, France.

For reviews and presentation of Unforgiving Years go to
http://www.nybooks. com/shop/ product?usca_ p=t&product_ id=7159

"Ecotopia is a bet you can't refuse. Global capitalism in crisis is structurally unable to halt ecocidal productivism and the looting of the environment for quick profit. As a result, the planet is likely to become uninhabitable in two or three generations as tendencies like global warming, nuclear proliferation, flooding, epidemics, food shortages, air/water pollution and destruction of human communities increasingly combine in destructive synergy.

If there remains a marginal (say 1 in 100) chance for human society to survive, it would entail replacing the competitive profit system with a planetary network of producers -- a cooperative commonwealth or democratic socialism. Against the near certainty of planetary catastrophe under capitalism, we must bet on the unlikely dream of a harmonious, healthy ecosocialist world. The `Ecotopian Bet' is one we can't refuse.

Let us then begin by dreaming the dream, by imagining a technically feasable, ecologically sustainable post-capitalist future and historically possible roads leading to it.
One such road, based on theories of cybernetics, chaos, emergence and an idea of Cornelius Castoriadis, I call the New Archimedes Lever. It involves connecting the historically proven lever of solidarity with a philosophical fulcrum (planetary consciousness) and a global electronic platform (the Internet) in order to `lift the earth' before it succumbs to capitalist ecocide.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Weekly Links 12/10/2008

British Politics
An article has been posted on UK Indymedia regarding the Government's new Green Paper which includes "workfare" proposals.
The Government has been exposed as completely misquoting a couple of researchers whose report they have used to justify the new workfare proposals in the Green Paper — “No one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility”, where the report based on a study of the effect on the labour market in Australia of the introduction of a workfare scheme there actually found that as a result, the very long term unemployed in fact grew by 68%!

More here.

Green Politics
The UK's Green Party MEPs, Jean Lambert and Caroline Lucas have called on governments and the European Commission to legally recognise trade union green workplace representatives.

Jean Lambert, who sits on the Employment and Social Affairs Committee in the European Parliament said:

"Dedicated union green reps have the potential to raise awareness of environmental issues and help to change behaviour in the workplace. They would also help deliver significant environmental improvements through engagement between employers and the workforce that will help the UK shift to a low carbon economy.

"There is huge potential for trade union members to play a significant role as green representatives at work, but to perform their role effectively they need legal recognition and the right to undertake relevant training and duties."

Unions and Work
The following are action alerts from Labourstart -


South African unions have asked for our help to bring pressure on
Woolworths to recognize the right of their employees to join trade
unions. They say that Woolworths in engaging in Wal-Mart style
union-busting and are hopeful that a big global campaign can bring
pressure to bear on the company. Please send off your message today --
and spread the word:


Some 18,000 sugar workers have been on strike since 15 September. The government and employer response was to use police violence to clear the mills of striking workers. The IUF is requesting international support for their struggle. For full details, including the chance to send off your messages, go here:

Climate Change

This is the latest from the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group in Britain, including dates of the next big demonstration in December and the CCCTU conference in March 2009:

As you can see, the date of the second CCCTU Conference is Saturday 7th March 2009 and it will be in London (possibly Kings College.) Please put this date in your diary and send it around your contacts so that we can try to ensure that other organisations don’t arrange anything else on that day.

We also discussed the National Climate March (which is part of the Global Day of Action on Climate, to coincide with the UN climate talks in Poznan) on 6th December 2008. It is of course very important that we get plenty of trade union contingents with banners on that march. Please try to ensure that your branch is represented, but also phone round others to ask them to do the same. Those of you who are members of UCU, PCS, CWU, FBU and Connect may be able to get assistance with transport to the march from your union since those unions are affiliated to the campaign nationally. For more details, and to download a leaflet, see:

Sean Thompson of Green Left has written an appraisal and critique of the "Green New Deal" proposals which is posted at the Green Left blog here and at Socialist Unity blog here.

Molly at Gaian Economics has been commenting on the global financial situation as it developed this week. On the same subject, Andy C has linked to some of the humourous explanations of Bird and Fortune.

Finally, a plug here for GreenFeed which re-posts the postings of a whole spectrum of Brit Green blogs.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Bosses' Crisis And How To Fight Back - Lessons From The 1930s

I was recently reading the book The Industrial Workers Of The World - Its First 100 Years by Fred W Thompson and J Bekken and the following passages on how the famous union faced the threats and attacks of the 1930s after the Wall Street Crash of 1929 is particularly relevant to the unfolding global economic crisis. The way in which the IWW faced the implications of the Depression shows how working people can not only resist the inevitable attacks from the ruling elites and bosses eager to make workers pay the cost of the rulers' own greed and gambling, but how ordinary folks and their organisations can take advantage of the situation to build new solidarity and strength.

From Chapter 12 - (p149, Red Sun Press, Boston, Mass. 2006 edition)The Stimulus Of Depression (1930-1940) (My links added for clarification)

The Stock Market crashed in October 1929, as accurately predicted by the Industrial Worker. Constriction of business activity, layoffs, wage cuts and the Big Depression followed, just as the IWW had right along been saying was the certain consequence of the increasing exploitation of labor. The IWW had no doubt what labor should do: resist all wage cuts to make them expensive; organize the jobless so that they would no longer menace those who still had jobs, while these fought to cut the workday and raise real hourly rates; back all demands with the determination that if employers did not employ, the working class could dispense with their disservices and establish planned abundance.

The IWW made a tremendous propaganda effort. Its effects cannot be measured, but the outstanding fact of the thirties remains this: for the first time a labor movement, instead of shrinking in a depression, grew as never before. This turn from abjectness preceded Roosevelt and the Blue Eagle. AFL propaganda of the early thirties was craft union echoing of the assurance that business was sound. The various radical propagandas focused on political issues. The healthy change in labor attitudes can thus largely be attributed to the millions of peices of IWW literature, straight to the point, issued at factories or where the unemployed gathered, and to the IWW soapboxers who held meetings daily at factory gates and at street corners in the evening, establishing regular schedules in even out-of-the-way places that they had to reach by boxcars or hitchhiking.

The propaganda effort was constructive, educational, and put out by flat-broke members of a flat-broke union. The IWW had never recovered from the 1924 split. It lost its building and printing plant into which it had sunk all its resources. To economize, in 1929 it replaced its various industrial union offices with a Clearing House run by its general secretary. Even so, the general secretary taking office in November 1932 found $29.00 cash all told with which to pay back wages, run the office, and pay accumulated printing bills and the industrial union funds that had been loaned to General Office. Within a year it was all in the black again, but with less than a thousand dollars to run on.......

In February 1931 the IWW stirred up its own members and sympathizers to greater activity with a leaflet "Bread Lines or Picket Lines" very widely distributed. This urged that the unemployed organize either in the IWW or out of it, so that they could assure those still working that they would not scab; and then, by demonstrations outside plants that cut pay or worked longer than normal days, promote action to abate the depression. In execution the programme became much modified: the unemployed helped picket lines in strikes called independently of this programme; it was approximated among job-seekers at out-of-town construction jobs, for example Cle Ellum, and the Portland Unemployed Union did assure success to a small loggers' strike. These Unemployed Unions were formed to provide housing and food for footloose jobless members while they carried on IWW agitation. The UU at 2005 W. Harrison, Chicago, held meetings outdoors nightly throughout the city, sold over a thousand IWW papers a week and many pamphlets, solicited their own food in the large markets, and defrayed rent etc. from proceeds of social affairs. A similar venture in New York made publicity even out of its move from E. 10th Street to larger quarters at 133 W. 14th, and accommodated personnel for an organization drive in eastern industrial centers that did much educational work though it secured few members. In Seattle the less spectacular 6 Hour Committee did its most effective work through influence in other unions to demand shorter workdays. The Portland UU beside housing soapboxers and leaflet peddlers, managed to provide the food for the unorganized lumber workers at Biex Logging when they struck and won them a 25 percent pay boost. The chief result of this agitation everywhere was that the morale of the unemployed became such that workers dared to strike.

All this now has particular relevance in Britain where Government Ministers like Purnell, undeterred by the worsening economic situation, are itching to lay into the growing numbers of unemployed with a round of vicious "welfare reforms" that do not go far enough for the likely successors to the Brown government. Meanwhile even in the relatively extensively organized public sector in Britain the largely Labourite-led and sectional unions have for the most part demonstrated their inability to work in a coordinated fashion to fight pay cuts also known as below-inflation "rises" - divided they fall. Truly, time for the strategy and tactics of One Big Union.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Corner House Papers On Background To The Crisis

The following Corner House papers are useful contributions to debate around the current global financial and economic turmoil:

1) 'A (Crumbling) Wall of Money: Financial Bricolage, Derivatives and

2) 'Taking it Private: Consequences of the Global Growth of Private

Even without really understanding the current 'financial 9/11', one can
pick up a sense of fear, panic and uncertainty.

Blame for the crisis is attributed to 'greed and fear' . . . or
insufficient regulation . . . or too high bonuses paid to financial whizz
kids . . . or irresponsible lenders pushing cheap loans . . . or
irresponsible individuals accepting them . . . and so on.

But the crisis also needs a deeper structural analysis of how financial
markets have changed over the past 2-3 decades -- because it is these
changes that lie behind the current financial meltdown, particularly those
changes associated wtih the evolution of 'new financial instruments'
and 'vehicles' such as derivatives and private equity.

And because the neoliberal edifice has been so spectacularly shaken in
these past few months, the crisis also provides an opportunity for the
public to redefine what constitutes 'the public interest' and to reassert
its claims over how finance should be managed and allocated and in whose

For the past couple of years, The Corner House and its colleagues have
been trying to understand the impacts of the new finance on the ground --
for instance, on communities affected by mining or plantations -- and to
analyse what difference it might make to solidarity strategies with
affected communities: Is capital just capital, whether it comes from hedge
funds, private equity, banks or the state? Or does the very structure of
this new finance create new challenges?

Our work on this is still unfolding, but with the financial landscape
changing by the day, we thought we should share with you now our analysis
to date.

So we have posted on our website two papers:

-one exploring the 'shadow banking system'

-the other private equity.

Because events are still unfolding so rapidly, however, we are posting
them as 'works in progress' that we aim to update as soon as we can.

Within the next few weeks, we hope to post other papers on sovereign
wealth funds, hedge funds, and the liberalisation of the banking and
financial system that enabled the crisis to happen.

We hope you find them the papers useful. Your comments and feedback are
always welcome.

best wishes from all at The Corner House

'A (Crumbling) Wall of Money:
Financial Bricolage, Derivatives and Power'
by Nicholas Hildyard

The current financial crisis is closely linked to the emergence of a
'shadow banking system' that financial entrepreneurs have created over
the past 30 years. Their goal in doing so was not only to make huge profits,
largely for themselves, but also to circumvent regulation and to offload
risk onto others throughout the financial system.

This system relied on the creative use of 'new financial instruments'
- in particular what are called derivatives - that allowed financiers to
generate easy credit by taking high risk bets while offloading the risks
on to others.

The 'wall of money' they created fuelled a boom in corporate mergers
and acquisitions across the United States and Europe (see also private equity
paper). It provided huge sums for companies involved in mining, biofuels,
private health care, water supply, infrastructure and forestry to expand
their activities.

When the 'bets' began to go wrong, however, the pyramid of deals began
tumbling down –- the bankers have certainly suffered but it is the public
that will continue to carry the costs for many years to come.

This paper explores and summarises:

-how the shadow banking system was constructed and why;

-the history of the derivatives, 'hedges' and speculation that
underpinned this new finance;

-how derivatives are being used to get around banking, accounting, trading
and public finance rules;

-the negative impacts on the ground even before the current crisis;

-recommendations put forward in the past few months on how to fix a broken
system; and

-how best to seize the moment to pursue a different system that has a
genuine public interest at its centre.

'Taking it Private:
Consequences of the Global Growth of Private Equity'
by Kavaljit Singh

Private equity is now an integral component of the world’s financial
system. It was behind many of the multi-billion buyout deals, and mergers
and acquisitions that swept across the US and Europe. Its activities have
created a new type of corporate conglomerate that has reshaped the way
business is conducted.

As a new form of corporate ownership, private equity poses new challenges
to labour unions, NGOs and community groups; it has a significant and
distinctive influence on taxation policy, corporate governance, labour
rights and public services, and thus deeply affects society, human rights
and the environment alike.

These challenges are especially clear in Asia, which has become more
attractive for private equity firms since the 'credit crunch'
diminished the scope for huge deals in Europe and North America.

This paper looks at the global growth of private equity and its social,
environmental and political impacts, using India as a case study of its
growing importance in Southern countries.

It concludes with an outline of private equity’s vulnerabilities that may
provide opportunities for public concerns to be addressed.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Defending GP Surgeries in London

I have received the following details on a meeting about defence of doctors' surgeries in Lambeth, London -


Public Services Not Private Profit


Wednesday Oct 15th
7pm Woolley House,
Loughborough Estate
(Corner of Loughborough Rd and Barrington Rd)


Dr Ron Singer GP,
Gill George from Unite (a health workers trade union),
plus invited speaker from Lambeth Pensioners Action Group

Lambeth Primary Care Trust (PCT) is planning to build a new privatised health centre in Akerman Road. The new clinic will mean the closure of existing practices at Myatts Fields and Iveagh House - forcing thousands of local people to travel further for our health care.

The private company who will own 80% of the centre will make huge profits from renting it back to the PCT – draining millions of pounds from our publicly funded NHS, which could be used to improve community health services and pay decent wages to local health workers.

Lambeth Council recently rejected the planning application to build the new clinic because it was so badly designed and the area would not be able to cope with the massive increase in traffic. But now Lambeth PCT is coming back to try again so local residents and health workers are getting organised to stop it – come along to the meeting to find out more or to get involved.

Organised by Lambeth Public Services Not Private Profits

Supported by Southwark and Lambeth Keep our NHS Public


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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Paxman Says BBC Fawns Over Royals

The following is a press release from Republic, the campaign for an end to an unelected head of state in Britain.


Republic has welcomed remarks by Jeremy Paxman in which he said the BBC fawned over the royals.

Spokesperson Graham Smith told reports:

"We respect the BBC's usual standards of reporting, however we do have serious reservations about the manner in which the corporation reports on issues to do with the monarchy and the royal family."

"We are pleased a senior and respected journalist such as Mr Paxman has raised this issues. We will once again be writing to Director General Mark Thompson to seek changes to the way the BBC reports on the royals."

"We believe there is a clearly identifiable institutional bias, particularly within the BBC's national news output, toward presenting the Monarchy in a manner that is favourable to the institution and to members of the royal family."

"The BBC also plays a strong role in promoting royal events and occasions, which are in essence little more than PR exercises for the monarchy. In doing so the BBC implies that 'royal' events are synonymous with 'national' events, thus excluding those who oppose the monarchy."

"We welcome Paxman's remarks and hope that, as we approach Prince Charles' 60th birthday, the BBC will take note of the serious concerns held by a significant proportion of their audience about their royal reporting."

The story was reported in the Independent here and here on the BBC's own website.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Weekly Links 05/10/2008

The Economic Crisis
Iceland is in difficulty (It is a measure of the size of the issue that I am talking about the country here, not the store)

British Politics
In an act of staggering indifference towards the views of electors, (or staggering ignorance) Gordon Brown has brought back one of the most hated people in political life, Peter Mandelson, to be his Business Minister during the current crisis. Mandelson, who was "safely" out of mainstream British political life as a European Commissioner (Where he was concentrating on screwing the people of developing nations for the benefit of neo-liberal capitalist globalisation), is to be made a Lord so that he can enter the government. After incredulity has come a wave of ridicule - including this thread in the Guardian with hilarious comment after comment on New Labour lackey Derek Draper's article saying that Mandelson's return is "a good thing". I suppose we should be grateful that Brown has at least given us all a good laugh in these gloomy times.
Meanwhile comes the news that thousands more Post Offices could be at risk due to the possibility of losing benefits and pensions contracts.

Child Poverty
The demo on child poverty took place in London yesterday.
Earlier in the week, ex-Labour Minister Clare Short condemned the government's record on tackling poverty.

Two stories of interest on pollution and climate change - one that some rivers might run dry once the warmer summers kick in (I know, warmer summers might seem appealing after the wash outs of the last two years in Britain!) - and secondly, concerns regarding the health and pollution implications of a planned plant that would burn a third of North East Scotland's rubbish. Meanwhile the UKWIN (UK without incineration network) and it's articulate and well informed public face Shlomo Dowen have been in the news following an Audit Commission report casting doubt on the wisdom and practicality of the government's waste strategy.

Fellow Bloggers
James Caspell of La Lutte Continue! reports that a South London meeting is planned for 22nd October to start one of the suggested local expressions of the recently developed Convention of The Left.
Jim at Daily (Maybe) commented on the US "bankers bailout" this week and has also come up with "Seven Commandments of Blogging".

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Nottingham Trent Uni Dispute Rally On Monday

Staff at Nottingham Trent University are in dispute with management over derecognition of their union and cuts in facility time for union reps that currently represent them, members of the UCU (University and College Union).

A rally is planned in Nottingham for Monday 6th October at 12.30 outside the Royal Concert Hall. The rally and protest is being supported by members of the newly formed Nottinghamshire IWW group - an injury to one is an injury to all! The actions of management against the UCU are indicative of the aggressive anti-worker, slavishly pro-big business stance of the new regime at NTU.

More info on the dispute here.

Here is an update from earlier this week -

No breakthrough at NTU:

On Wednesday of this week, thanks to the intervention of ACAS, a negotiations meeting between UCU and NTU management took place. Unfortunately, in spite of hard work and good will from UCU negotiators we were unable to reach an agreement. The summary of the current situation is as follows:

The branch are pleased to report that yesterday’s negotiations with NTU at ACAS produced progress on two of our key demands:
· Agreement that the proposed consultation forum would be distinct from the negotiating procedures

· Agreement to a separate forum to discuss matters relating solely to academic and related staff.

The talks eventually concluded without agreement as management were not prepared either to:

· Honour the notice requirements in the existing recognition agreement or sufficiently extend the negotiating timetable (they offered just 1 month); or

· Offer reasonable time-off for your union reps to resolve members’ problems in line with sector norms.

No agreement was reached either on what would be proportionate representation for UCU at any future negotiation forum and management's current proposals would mean that UCU could always be outvoted on contentious issues. As an act of good will, UCU negotiators conceded that providing agreement was reached on the detailed issues associated with our essential rights and ability to negotiate, the union could consider participating in wider consultation forum so long as it remained distinct from negotiation procedures and UCU were entitled to a separate forum to discuss matters relating solely to academic and related staff. The ACAS talks show that a negotiated settlement is still possible. Yet, as things stand, NTU management intends to proceed with the termination of union recognition next week. Given NTU’s decision to press ahead, we have no choice but to continue with our preparations for the nationally supported rally on October 6 at 1230pm.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Upcoming Anti-Poverty Events

Saturday 4 October
Trafalgar Square
End Child Poverty Coalition

End Child Poverty, a coalition including Save the Children, Oxfam, UNICEF and major trade unions will stage the UK’s biggest-ever event to end child poverty, calling on the government to keep its promise to half child poverty in the UK by 2010.
The march starts at Millbank at 11.30 and will end in Trafalgar Square.
Sign up to say you'll be there at

Tuesday 7 October

To mark World Day for Decent Work in the UK, and in support of the Decent Work, Decent Life Campaign, the TUC is organising a day of activities at Congress House, focusing on rights at work and ending inequality in the workplace.
Over the course of the day there will be over 50 workshops, films, exhibitions and stalls from UK development charities, trade unions, organisations concerned with fair and ethical trade, and academic institutions focusing on the development and gender dimensions of livelihood and income generation issues.
For more information, please email Gary Willis on or visit

Saturday 11 October
BOND, Global Call to Action Against Poverty, Jubilee Debt Campaign, Stamp Out Poverty, Stop Aids Campaign, Stop Climate Chaos, Trade Justice Movement and UK Aid Network.
Central London

Does the credit crunch mean we can't make poverty history? Is the food crisis undermining the benefits of debt cancellation? The End Poverty Now forum will bring together global poverty campaigners to hear the latest on economic justice campaigning, debate how current events have changed the context for our campaigning, and discuss the future of activism in the UK.
For more information please email or visit

Wednesday 15 October

Thousands of bloggers across the world will blog about poverty on this day. Find out more and register your blog at .
Confirmed UK bloggers include Nick Dearden (Jubilee Debt campaign) and Brendan Barber (TUC).

17 October – 19 October

'Stand Up and Take Action' is a mass action in which millions worldwide take a stand against poverty. Last year, 43.7 million people in 127 countries took a stand. This year, don't just stand, take action as well. Make sure politicians and decision makers hear our call that they act on our demands.
Local events are planned in most UK cities. Many faith-based gatherings will have sermon themes of world poverty. Many NGOs will organise public meetings or panel discussions.

On 17 October, the UK premiere of the brand new film 'The End of Poverty' will take place at the Human Rights Action Centre in Shoreditch at 6:30pm. This will be followed by a party organised by pants to poverty.
Stand Up and Take Action Against Poverty and Inequality will take place over 3 days, Friday October 17 to Sunday October 19. The “counting” period will be at any time over those 3 days. Register your event and upload numbers directly to the Stand Up and Take Action website at .
To find an event close to you or to organise one yourself, please visit

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