Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Protest Against The Israeli Attacks On Gaza

Assemble 12:30pm along Embankment, by Embankment tube station , LONDON.
Called by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, British Muslim Initiative and many other organisations.



TUESDAY 30 DECEMBER, 2 - 4pm outside Israeli Embassy, Kensington High Street, London, W4. Nearest tube Kensingston High Street (turn right out of tube station and walk along the main road.

WEDNESDAY 31 DECEMBER, 2 - 4pm outside Israeli Embassy

THURSDAY 1 JANUARY, 2 - 4pm outside Israeli Embassy

FRIDAY 2 JANUARY 2 - 4 pm. Outside the Egyptian Embassy, 26 South Street, London, W1K 1DW. Call for Egypt to open the border immediately.


Saturday 3 January 12 noon. Outside Lloyds TSB St Vincent Street then assemble for demo at Blytheswood Square 2pm

Saturday 3 January 12 noon. Foot of the Mound, Princes Street

Centre, opposite the Hippodrome, Tuesday - Friday 5.00 - 6.00 and Saturday 3.00 - 4.00.

Tuesday 30 December 12 to 1pm. outside Cardiff Market/ St John's Church, the Hayes
Wednesday 31 December New Year Vigil. Nye Bevan Statue, Queen Street

Tuesday 30 December 12 noon, Market Square

Tuesday 30 December 12 to 2pm, West Quay Entrance, High Street

Saturday 3 January 11am, Guildhall Square
Organised by Portsmouth Network for a Just Settlement of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and Portsmouth Stop the War Coalition

Saturday 3 January, 11am. Queen Victoria Square.

England and Wales Green Party statement on the events in Gaza here on Derek Wall's blog Another Green World- Derek has been blogging regularly as things have developed.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Greenman's Occasional Awards - 2008

Bloggers Of The Year (In No Particular Order)
Daily (Maybe) - Jim J
Socialist Unity Blog - Andy Newman and Friends
Another Green World - Derek Wall
Anglo-Buddhist Combine - Matt S
La Lutte Continue! - James Caspell

Books Of The Year
1. Joel Kovel, Second Edition of The Enemy of Nature
2. Ken MacLeod, The Night Sessions
3. Dave Douglass - Geordies - Wa Mental

Storm In A Teacup Award
1. The SWP Pre-Conference "Split" (Yawn)
2. The NUM versus Climate Campers clash which fortunately was kept comradely.
3. The "Knives are out for Gordon Brown" media stories

Sporting Moments Awards
1. Rebecca Adlington's Swimming Golds
2. James Hayter ends his goal drought at Wembley giving Doncaster Rovers Promotion
3. Fabio Capello amazingly succeeds in teaching England how to play football
4. Andy Murray's comeback with the best season for a Brit since Fred Perry

"Oops - Let it Slip" Award
1.Gordon Brown "Saved The saved the banks"
2.Nick Clegg letting slip what he really thought about members of his front bench
3.George Monbiot letting slip his real (aristocratic disdain and lack of concern) feelings about ordinary people in his Guardian article arguing for the "destruction of Detroit" - for which he was rightly flamed to a crisp in the comments section.

The Idealistic Liberals Misplaced Hopes Award
1.Barack Obama Presidency (Need we say more than his subsequent appointments for a flavour of what is to come)
2.The EU Constitution (And we await with baited breath what happens to the blessed Euro in the New Year after all the Europhile schadenfreude over the Pound's slump)
3.Most versions of the "Green New Deal"

The Rightist "Con-mentariat" Award For Disservice To Their Own Causes And Contributing To The Impression That Many Of them Have, er, Mental Health Issues
1. Melanie Phillips (For services to frothing hatred and irrationality)
2. Richard Littlejohn - the "stupid person's Jeremy Clarkson" (Ditto)
3. Julie Burchill (Continuing her degeneration into a permanent "toddler tantrum")
4. Brendan O'Neill of the weird Furedi cult (For anti-green monomania)

Golden Molotov Award
1. China's (In the face of a media blackout) multitudes in revolt
2. Greece's street rebels
3. Iceland's Credit Crunch Protestors
4. Italy's Anomolous Wave
5. Germany's School Students

Campaigns Of The Year
1. The Big Ask (Friends Of The Earth) Successful, at least on its own terms.
2. Republic - going from strength to strength and raising profile
3. Convention Of The Left (For services to left unity)

British TV
1. Little Dorrit - BBC
2. The Devil's Whore - C4
3. Survivors - BBC
4. Outnumbered - BBC

Hopes for 2009
1. Continued growth, development and strengthening of the Ecosocialist International
2. Development of the Convention Of The Left in Britain
3. Continued growth and development of the IWW in Britain and internationally

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Season's Greetings!

It is the Winter Solstice today.
I shall be taking some time off from blogging to be with my family and have a rest from work over the next week or two. Hopefully normal service will resume before long.
The very best wishes for a happy festive season to all my readers, whatever or however you celebrate.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

More Support For Republic

Here is the latest press release from the British campaign group Republic :


Philippa Gregory, the British historical novelist, best known for 'The Other Boleyn Girl' has joined the ever growing list of high profile republicans to support Republic's campaign to abolish the monarchy.

Asked in a recent interview if she would ever write about the current Queen, Philippa replied: "No. I'm a republican, not a monarchist. I don't see the point of a monarchy."

Republic's Campaign Manager Graham Smith told reporters:
"We are delighted to have Philippa's support. Philippa is someone who knows what the monarchy means to British history, having written about many of the key characters in our past. Yet she understands that it has no place in our future."

"Republic welcomes Philippa as the latest in a long line of high profile figures who have backed our campaign in recent months."

'The Other Boleyn Girl' was turned into a Hollywood movie starring Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson and Eric Bana.

Other recent additions to Republic's campaign include directors Paul Greengrass, Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, television writer Maureen Chadwick and former Clash bassist Paul Simonon. Philosopher Julian Baggini, human rights lawyer Imran Khan and biologist Richard Dawkins.

Here are links to the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand Republican movements.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Belem Ecosocialist Declaration

The Belem Ecosocialist Declaration

“The world is suffering from a fever due to climate change,
and the disease is the capitalist development model.”

— Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, September 2007

Humanity’s Choice

Humanity today faces a stark choice: ecosocialism or barbarism.

We need no more proof of the barbarity of capitalism, the parasitical system that exploits humanity and nature alike. Its sole motor is the imperative toward profit and thus the need for constant growth. It wastefully creates unnecessary products, squandering the environment’s limited resources and returning to it only toxins and pollutants. Under capitalism, the only measure of success is how much more is sold every day, every week, every year – involving the creation of vast quantities of products that are directly harmful to both humans and nature, commodities that cannot be produced without spreading disease, destroying the forests that produce the oxygen we breathe, demolishing ecosystems, and treating our water, air and soil like sewers for the disposal of industrial waste.

Capitalism’s need for growth exists on every level, from the individual enterprise to the system as a whole. The insatiable hunger of corporations is facilitated by imperialist expansion in search of ever greater access to natural resources, cheap labor and new markets. Capitalism has always been ecologically destructive, but in our lifetimes these assaults on the earth have accelerated. Quantitative change is giving way to qualitative transformation, bringing the world to a tipping point, to the edge of disaster. A growing body of scientific research has identified many ways in which small temperature increases could trigger irreversible, runaway effects – such as rapid melting of the Greenland ice sheet or the release of methane buried in permafrost and beneath the ocean – that would make catastrophic climate change inevitable.

Left unchecked, global warming will have devastating effects on human, animal and plant life. Crop yields will drop drastically, leading to famine on a broad scale. Hundreds of millions of people will be displaced by droughts in some areas and by rising ocean levels in others. Chaotic, unpredictable weather will become the norm. Air, water and soil will be poisoned. Epidemics of malaria, cholera and even deadlier diseases will hit the poorest and most vulnerable members of every society.

The impact of the ecological crisis is felt most severely by those whose lives have already been ravaged by imperialism in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and indigenous peoples everywhere are especially vulnerable. Environmental destruction and climate change constitute an act of aggression by the rich against the poor.

Ecological devastation, resulting from the insatiable need to increase profits, is not an accidental feature of capitalism: it is built into the system’s DNA and cannot be reformed away. Profit-oriented production only considers a short-term horizon in its investment decisions, and cannot take into account the long-term health and stability of the environment. Infinite economic expansion is incompatible with finite and fragile ecosystems, but the capitalist economic system cannot tolerate limits on growth; its constant need to expand will subvert any limits that might be imposed in the name of “sustainable development.” Thus the inherently unstable capitalist system cannot regulate its own activity, much less overcome the crises caused by its chaotic and parasitical growth, because to do so would require setting limits upon accumulation – an unacceptable option for a system predicated upon the rule: Grow or Die!

If capitalism remains the dominant social order, the best we can expect is unbearable climate conditions, an intensification of social crises and the spread of the most barbaric forms of class rule, as the imperialist powers fight among themselves and with the global south for continued control of the world’s diminishing resources.

At worst, human life may not survive.

Capitalist Strategies for Change

There is no lack of proposed strategies for contending with ecological ruin, including the crisis of global warming looming as a result of the reckless increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The great majority of these strategies share one common feature: they are devised by and on behalf of the dominant global system, capitalism.

It is no surprise that the dominant global system which is responsible for the ecological crisis also sets the terms of the debate about this crisis, for capital commands the means of production of knowledge, as much as that of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Accordingly, its politicians, bureaucrats, economists and professors send forth an endless stream of proposals, all variations on the theme that the world’s ecological damage can be repaired without disruption of market mechanisms and of the system of accumulation that commands the world economy.

But a person cannot serve two masters – the integrity of the earth and the profitability of capitalism. One must be abandoned, and history leaves little question about the allegiances of the vast majority of policy-makers. There is every reason, therefore, to radically doubt the capacity of established measures to check the slide to ecological catastrophe.

And indeed, beyond a cosmetic veneer, the reforms over the past thirty-five years have been a monstrous failure. Isolated improvements do of course occur, but they are inevitably overwhelmed and swept away by the ruthless expansion of the system and the chaotic character of its production.

One example demonstrates the failure: in the first four years of the 21st Century, global carbon emissions were nearly three times as great per annum as those of the decade of the 1990s, despite the appearance of the Kyoto Protocols in 1997.

Kyoto employs two devices: the “Cap and Trade” system of trading pollution credits to achieve certain reductions in emissions, and projects in the global south – the so-called “Clean Development Mechanisms” – to offset emissions in the highly industrialized nations. These instruments all rely upon market mechanisms, which means, first of all, that atmospheric carbon dioxide becomes a commodity under the control of the same interests that created global warming. Polluters are not compelled to reduce their carbon emissions, but allowed to use their power over money to control the carbon market for their own ends, which include the devastating exploration for yet more carbon-based fuels. Nor is there a limit to the amount of emission credits which can be issued by compliant governments.

Since verification and evaluation of results are impossible, the Kyoto regime is not only incapable of controlling emissions, it also provides ample opportunities for evasion and fraud of all kinds. As even the Wall Street Journal put it in March, 2007, emissions trading "would make money for some very large corporations, but don’t believe for a minute that this charade would do much about global warming."

The Bali climate meetings in 2007 opened the way for even greater abuses in the period ahead. Bali avoided any mention of the goals for drastic carbon reduction put forth by the best climate science (90% by 2050); it abandoned the peoples of the global south to the mercy of capital by giving jurisdiction over the process to the World Bank; and made offsetting of carbon pollution even easier.

In order to affirm and sustain our human future, a revolutionary transformation is needed, where all particular struggles take part in a greater struggle against capital itself. This larger struggle cannot remain merely negative and anti-capitalist. It must announce and build a different kind of society, and this is ecosocialism.

The Ecosocialist Alternative

The ecosocialist movement aims to stop and to reverse the disastrous process of global warming in particular and of capitalist ecocide in general, and to construct a radical and practical alternative to the capitalist system. Ecosocialism is grounded in a transformed economy founded on the non-monetary values of social justice and ecological balance. It criticizes both capitalist “market ecology” and productivist socialism, which ignored the earth’s equilibrium and limits. It redefines the path and goal of socialism within an ecological and democratic framework.

Ecosocialism involves a revolutionary social transformation, which will imply the limitation of growth and the transformation of needs by a profound shift away from quantitative and toward qualitative economic criteria, an emphasis on use-value instead of exchange-value.

These aims require both democratic decision-making in the economic sphere, enabling society to collectively define its goals of investment and production, and the collectivization of the means of production. Only collective decision-making and ownership of production can offer the longer-term perspective that is necessary for the balance and sustainability of our social and natural systems.

The rejection of productivism and the shift away from quantitative and toward qualitative economic criteria involve rethinking the nature and goals of production and economic activity in general. Essential creative, non-productive and reproductive human activities, such as householding, child-rearing, care, child and adult education, and the arts, will be key values in an ecosocialist economy.

Clean air and water and fertile soil, as well as universal access to chemical-free food and renewable, non-polluting energy sources, are basic human and natural rights defended by ecosocialism. Far from being “despotic,” collective policy-making on the local, regional, national and international levels amounts to society’s exercise of communal freedom and responsibility. This freedom of decision constitutes a liberation from the alienating economic “laws” of the growth-oriented capitalist system.

To avoid global warming and other dangers threatening human and ecological survival, entire sectors of industry and agriculture must be suppressed, reduced, or restructured and others must be developed, while providing full employment for all. Such a radical transformation is impossible without collective control of the means of production and democratic planning of production and exchange. Democratic decisions on investment and technological development must replace control by capitalist enterprises, investors and banks, in order to serve the long-term horizon of society’s and nature’s common good.

The most oppressed elements of human society, the poor and indigenous peoples, must take full part in the ecosocialist revolution, in order to revitalize ecologically sustainable traditions and give voice to those whom the capitalist system cannot hear. Because the peoples of the global south and the poor in general are the first victims of capitalist destruction, their struggles and demands will help define the contours of the ecologically and economically sustainable society in creation. Similarly, gender equality is integral to ecosocialism, and women’s movements have been among the most active and vocal opponents of capitalist oppression. Other potential agents of ecosocialist revolutionary change exist in all societies.

Such a process cannot begin without a revolutionary transformation of social and political structures based on the active support, by the majority of the population, of an ecosocialist program. The struggle of labour – workers, farmers, the landless and the unemployed – for social justice is inseparable from the struggle for environmental justice. Capitalism, socially and ecologically exploitative and polluting, is the enemy of nature and of labour alike.

Ecosocialism proposes radical transformations in:


the energy system, by replacing carbon-based fuels and biofuels with clean sources of power under community control: wind, geothermal, wave, and above all, solar power.

the transportation system, by drastically reducing the use of private trucks and cars, replacing them with free and efficient public transportation;

present patterns of production, consumption, and building, which are based on waste, inbuilt obsolescence, competition and pollution, by producing only sustainable and recyclable goods and developing green architecture;

food production and distribution, by defending local food sovereignty as far as this is possible, eliminating polluting industrial agribusinesses, creating sustainable agro-ecosystems and working actively to renew soil fertility.

To theorize and to work toward realizing the goal of green socialism does not mean that we should not also fight for concrete and urgent reforms right now. Without any illusions about “clean capitalism,” we must work to impose on the powers that be – governments, corporations, international institutions – some elementary but essential immediate changes:


drastic and enforceable reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases,

development of clean energy sources,

provision of an extensive free public transportation system,

progressive replacement of trucks by trains,

creation of pollution clean-up programs,

elimination of nuclear energy, and war spending.

These and similar demands are at the heart of the agenda of the Global Justice movement and the World Social Forums, which have promoted, since Seattle in 1999, the convergence of social and environmental movements in a common struggle against the capitalist system.

Environmental devastation will not be stopped in conference rooms and treaty negotiations: only mass action can make a difference. Urban and rural workers, peoples of the global south and indigenous peoples everywhere are at the forefront of this struggle against environmental and social injustice, fighting exploitative and polluting multinationals, poisonous and disenfranchising agribusinesses, invasive genetically modified seeds, biofuels that only aggravate the current food crisis. We must further these social-environmental movements and build solidarity between anticapitalist ecological mobilizations in the North and the South.

This Ecosocialist Declaration is a call to action. The entrenched ruling classes are powerful, yet the capitalist system reveals itself every day more financially and ideologically bankrupt, unable to overcome the economic, ecological, social, food and other crises it engenders. And the forces of radical opposition are alive and vital. On all levels, local, regional and international, we are fighting to create an alternative system based in social and ecological justice.

(To add your name to the list of signatories, email your name and country of residence to

My comments later.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

The Crisis And Social Change - January Meeting In London

The following is an initiative of comrades from the Radical Activist Network:

Financial crisis: What does it mean for social change?
January Activist Forum

When? 7pm, Monday 12th January

Where? The studio at 22 Betterton Street, London WC2 (through the blue door and upstairs)

What? Economist Paulo dos Santos (SOAS) will kick us off with some thoughts on the economic crisis and radical social change. Then we'll all discuss it. Come to join in, or just to listen.

Why? This is the first in our series of monthly activist forums, a regular space where we can discuss the politics of social and ecological justice, make links between issues we're involved in as activists, and help strengthen radical politics in London.

January's Activist Forum

A major economic crisis is hitting the world again, and this time rich countries will be severely effected. Neoliberal free market dogma and corporate welfare, which have represented the status quo for thirty years, are being questioned a new. For progressives this is not just a crisis, but an opportunity. Proposals such as the 'Green New Deal' promise to resurrect the idea of state intervention for the social good. But is a new wave of Keynesianism just a way of propping up a system which needs more fundamental change? Or could it be a first step towards that change?

Paulo L dos Santos is a lecturer in Economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies. His recent work focuses on the contribution to the current financial crisis of rising inequality and increased lending to ordinary wage earners by the financial system.
While Paulo will be giving us an introduction, the emphasis is very much on the discussion, including what the implications are for how radicals should organise.

Find background articles to read on our website

Activist Forums: The general idea

Activist Forums will take place on the second Monday of every month in 2009. They're initially organised by folks involved in the Radical Activist Network, but are open to everyone. They're not just about discussing politics, but about organising and networking.

Our February Activist Forum (on 9 February) will focus on the politics of the movement(s) to stop climate change - more details to follow next month.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Timid Poznan UN Climate Conference - Radical New Agenda Needed

I paste below the Poznan statement of the Climate Justice Now! Alliance (I do not agree with everything in the statement but there is much here that is of value):


Poznan statement from the Climate Justice Now! Alliance

12 December 2008

Members of Climate Justice Now! – a worldwide alliance of more than 160 organisations - have been in Poznan for the past two weeks closely following developments in the UN climate negotiations.

This statement is our assessment of the Conference of Parties (COP) 14, and articulates our principles for achieving climate justice.

We will not be able to stop climate change if we don't change the neo-liberal and corporate-based economy which stops us from achieving sustainable societies. Corporate globalisation must be stopped.

The historical responsibility for the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions lies with the industrialised countries of the North. Even though the primary responsibility of the North to reduce emissions has been recognised in the Convention, their production and consumption habits continue to threaten the survival of humanity and biodiversity.
It is imperative that the North urgently shifts to a low carbon economy. At the same time in order to avoid the damaging carbon intensive model of industrialisation, the South is entitled to resources and technology to make this transition.

We believe that any ´shared vision´ on addressing the climate crisis must start with climate justice and with a radical re-thinking of the dominant development model.

Indigenous Peoples, peasant communities, fisherfolk, and especially women in these communities, have been living harmoniously and sustainably with the Earth for millennia. They are not only the most affected by climate change, but also its false solutions, such as agrofuels, mega-dams, genetic modification, tree plantations and
carbon offset schemes. Instead of market led schemes, their sustainable practices should be seen as offering the real solutions to climate change.

Governments and international institutions have to recognise that the Kyoto mechanisms have failed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – common but differentiated responsibilities, inter-generational equity, and polluter pays - have been undermined in favour of market mechanisms. The three main pillars of the Kyoto agreement - the clean development mechanism, joint implementation and emissions trading schemes - have been completely ineffective in
reducing emissions, yet they continue to be at the center of the negotiations.

Kyoto is based on carbon-trading mechanisms which allow Northern countries to continue business as usual by paying for "clean development" projects in developing and transition countries. This is a scheme designed deliberately to allow polluters to avoid reducing emissions domestically. Clean development mechanism projects, which
are supposed to support "sustainable development", include infrastructure projects such as big dams and coal-fired power plants, and monoculture tree plantations. Not only do these projects fail to reduce carbon emissions, they accelerate the privatisation and corporate take-over of the natural world, at the expense of local
communities and Indigenous Peoples.

Proposals on the table in Poznan are heading in the same direction.

In the current negotiations, industrialised countries continue to act on the basis of self-interest, using all their negotiating tactics to avoid their obligations to reduce carbon emissions, to finance adaptation and mitigation and transfer technology to the South.
In their pursuit of growth at any cost, many Southern governments at the talks are trading away the rights of their peoples and resources.
We remind them that a climate agreement is not a trade agreement.

The main protagonists for climate stability – Indigenous Peoples, women, peasant and family farmers, fisherfolk, forest dependent communities, youth, and marginalised and affected communities in the global South and North, are systematically excluded. Despite repeated demands, Indigenous Peoples are not recognised as an official party to the negotiations. Neither are women's voices and gender considerations
recognised and included in the process.
At the same time, private investors are circling the talks like vultures, swooping in on every opportunity for creating new profits.
Business and corporate lobbyists expanded their influence and monopolized conference space at Poznan. At least 1500 industry lobbyists were present either as NGOs or as members of government delegations.

The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation(REDD) scheme could create the climate regime's largest ever loophole, giving Northern polluters yet another opportunity to buy their way out of emissions reductions. With no mention of biodiversity or Indigenous Peoples' rights, this scheme might give a huge incentive for countries to sell off their forests, expel Indigenous and peasant communities,
and transform forests into tree plantations under corporate-control.
Plantations are not forests. Privatisation and dispossession through REDD or any other mechanisms must be stopped.
The World Bank is attempting to carve a niche in the international climate change regime. This is unacceptable as the Bank continues to fund polluting industries and drive deforestation by promoting industrial logging and agrofuels. The Bank's recently launched Climate Investment Funds goes against government initiatives at the UN and promotes dirty industries such as coal, while forcing developing countries into the fundamentally unequal aid framework of donor and recipient. The World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility aiming to finance REDD through a forest carbon mechanism serves the interest of private companies and opens the path for commodification of forests.

These developments are to be expected. Market ideology has totally infiltrated the climate talks, and the UNFCCC negotiations are now like trade fairs hawking investment opportunities.

Solutions to the climate crisis will not come from industrialised countries and big business. Effective and enduring solutions will come from those who have protected the environment – Indigenous Peoples, women, peasant and family farmers, fisherfolk, forest dependent communities, youth and marginalised and affected communities in the
global South and North. These include:

· Achieving low carbon economies, without resorting to offsetting and false solutions such as nuclear energy and "clean coal", while protecting the rights of those affected by the transition, especially workers.

· Keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

· Implementing people's food and energy sovereignty.

· Guaranteeing community control of natural resources.

· Re-localisation of production and consumption, prioritising local markets

· Full recognition of Indigenous Peoples, peasant and local community rights,

· Democratically controlled clean renewable energy.

· Rights based resource conservation that enforces indigenous land rights and promotes peoples sovereignty and public ownership over energy, forests, seeds, land and water

· Ending deforestation and its underlying causes.

· Ending excessive consumption by elites in the North and in the South.

· Massive investment in public transport

· Ensuring gender justice by recognising existing gender injustices and involving women in decision making.

· Cancelling illegitimate debts claimed by northern governments and IFIs. The illegitimacy of these debts is underscored by the much greater historical, social and ecological debts owed to people of the South.

We stand at the crossroads. We call for a radical change in direction to put climate justice and people's rights at the centre of these negotiations.

In the lead-up to the 2009 COP 15 at Copenhagen and beyond, the Climate Justice Now! alliance will continue to monitor governments and to mobilise social forces from the south and the north to achieve climate justice.

Meanwhile, the EU summit also came up with an underwhelming and market based strategy. Here is Greenpeace's assessment of the EU summit's Climate Change measures.

Elsewhere, the "mainstream media" highlights differences between the approaches at Brussels and Poznan - we get a false choice, which excludes real alternatives..

It seems the outcome of both sets of talks is very much in line with the predicted trajectory of capitalist response to the ecological crisis detailed by Joel Kovel in his book The Enemy Of Nature which I blogged on last week. Capitalism's "solutions" usually involve the commodification of aspects of ecosystems and development of new sources of profit and expansion in "mitigation" and "adaptation" industries. In short, the response of Capital is to seek more growth, more quantitive and spatial expansion, more commodification - the features that have been crucial in getting us into this state of affairs in the first place - what might be seen by environmentalists as barriers that call for a period of restraint and questioning are seen by Capital as boundaries to be passed by its fittest elements, as opportunities only to be missed by "losers". In the end, of course we will all (but first and foremost the poorer and more vulnerable amongst us) be losers if war on ecosystems and wilful ignoring of resource limits is allowed to continue. These conferences show us that the main concern of international capital and its' representatives and shills is how mitigation and adaptation can be used to prolong this war and ignorance as long as possible. They know no other logic, the Leopard does not change its spots.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Dawkins Amongst New Supporters For Republic

Republic has announced further new supporters prominent in public life in Britain - famous scientist, atheist and secularist Richard Dawkins, playwright Peter Whelan and "legendary Clash bassist" Paul Simonon. The following is a recent press release from the campaign group:


Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist and author, has given his backing to Republic's campaign for the abolition of the monarchy. Campaign Manager Graham Smith told reporters:

"This is very exciting news. Richard sees that our campaign is at a turning point and that republicans must work together to drive forward change."

"We have the best chance in a generation to get rid of the monarchy and see a truly democratic Britain. I'm sure Richard's support will inspire republicans across the country to get actively involved in the campaign."

In response to Prince Charles' plans to be an 'activist King', Dawkins has written on his blog that:

"The whole point of a hereditary monarchy is that you can't opt out when it suits your convenience. You now have to ask who would be the best head of state in the whole country. And that means a proper election, in which William and Charles would, of course, be free to stand."

Dawkins joins an ever-growing list of high profile and distinguished republicans, which includes leading figures from politics, law, entertainment and the arts.


Republic is a membership-based pressure group calling for the democratic replacement of the monarchy by an elected head of state. Republic lobbies politicians and opinion-formers, undertakes original research on the monarchy, comments on Royal stories in the media and provides information on republicanism.
Republic is a non-party-political organisation with members from all the main parliamentary parties. Its distinguished supporters include 20 MPs, as well as leading figures from politics, law and the arts. A full list of Republic’s supporters can be found at

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Greens Slam Government U-turn On Gay Civil Partnerships

Green Party slams government u-turn on Gay civil partnerships

The Green Party yesterday slammed the government's decision to lend its support to EU countries that do not offer gay civil partnerships, and questioned its commitment to LGBT rights after it back-tracked following pressure from the House of Lords.

Despite the UK 's own recognition of civil partnerships, the government made a submission to the European Court of Human Rights saying Austria should not have an obligation to provide the same rights to same sex couples. The opinion was submitted as part of a case brought by an Austrian couple who argued that Austria had violated their right to a private and family life, the right not to suffer discrimination, and the right to marry.

Green Party MEP for London , Jean Lambert, said:

"Across the EU and in the European Parliament we are pushing for the equal recognition of civil partnerships in all member states. However, it seems that the UK government voluntarily lent its support in this case to EU Member States who do not wish to allow the same rights to same sex couples as heterosexual couples.

"One would hope that a government supposedly committed to equal treatment would also promote the principle outside its own borders.

"This clearly displays the government's own confusion with what it hopes to achieve for LGBT human rights. Human rights are meant to be universal and indivisible, however, it would appear that the British government does not think so and is making it more difficult for those at the EU level who are arguing for the mutual recognition of civil partnerships and marriages."

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sherwood Forest Incinerator - Round One To The Anti-Incinerator Campaign

A notable success has been scored by those campaigning against the plans of waste multinational Veolia and Notts County Council to build an incinerator at Rainworth in Sherwood Forest. The local Chad newspaper reports the decision of Newark and Sherwood Council Planners to vote against the incinerator plans. The County Council have the final decision, but this District opposition means that a public enquiry or "call in" are now far more likely and the arm of the anti-incineration campaigners is strengthened. It is notable that the planners opposition centred on the feeble nature of claims of sustainability and "energy from waste" in light of the electricity-generating-only (non CHP) plans. The Veolia plans are outdated already and measure up badly against alternatives including those involving various kinds of anaerobic digestion and mechanical/biological treatment.

COUNCILLORS have tonight (Tuesday) unanimously rejected major plans for a waste incinerator in Rainworth — after concerns were raised about its environmental impact.
Members of Newark & Sherwood District Council's planning committee said they could not support proposals by Veolia Environmental Services for the facility at the former Rufford Colliery.

Their decision to object to the plans came after a protest this morning by members of People Against Incineration (PAIN) at a site visit by councillors, where campaigners released black balloons to show the carbon footprint the incinerator could have.

Local residents turned out in force with banners to make their views known about the plans and the protest went ahead peacefully, although police were called to the scene.

Planning officers at the district council recommended committee members object to the incinerator because of concerns about its carbon emissions and building the facility on greenfield land.

The authority will send its views to Nottinghamshire County Council which is expected to make a decision on the plans next month, although the decision could then be called in by the Secretary of State for a public inquiry.

More, including video, here.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Weekly Links 08/12/2008

Lots happening at the moment, and very busy myself. Here are some quick links.

Climate protests

Lots of pictures of Saturday's Climate March on Indymedia UK here and also here.
Video of the Critical Mass bike ride on the day is linked here. Pictures of the Critical Mass ride here.

Today Plane Stupid have upped the ante with a new airport invasion, this time at Stansted - BBC Report. Here is the Plane Stupid Website and here is Stop Stansted Expansion website.

Riots in Greece
For Greek readers here is Indymedia Athens. Lots of reports and pictures on UK indymedia - the initial rioting in Athens after the death of the student at the hands of Police reported here. More pictures of the rioting here.

Workers' Struggles
Workers in Chicago show the way to act in a recession/depression situation - Occupy!
Meanwhile, Nottingham Trent Uni have backed down over their union derecognition plans.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Of Interest To Green Syndicalists This Week....

The Green Party Trade Union Group are holding a fund raising quiz at the Lucas Arms in London this Friday.

Event: Green Party Trade Union Group Fundraising Quiz
"Help the Green party Trade Union Group carry on important work with the trade union movement"
Host: Green Party Trade Union Group
Start Time: Friday, December 12 at 7:30pm
End Time: Friday, December 12 at 11:00pm
Where: Lucas Arms, 254 Grays Inn Road near Kings Cross station

Here is the GPTU website.

Also on this week is a meeting at the TUC organised by the South East Region TUC International Committee about the precedent setting cases at EU level - Viking, Laval, Ruffert, Luxemburg etc. This is at 6pm on Wednesday 10th December at Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS and has Prof Keith Ewing of the Institute of Employment Rights and Hannah Reed, TUC Senior Employment Rights Officer speaking. The nearest Underground stations are Tottenham Court Road (Central and Northern) and Russell Square (Picadilly Line). More on these cases from the Amicus/Unite Union website here and here and from CAEF here.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

the enemy of nature

Sometimes, when you are reading something it is just so appropriate to the times and other things you have recently read or heard about. So it was for me the other day when I was reading Joel Kovel's excellent argument for ecosocialism, the enemy of nature.

The Bhopal anniversary was just the other day, I had just been reading in the newspaper about the plans to privatise parts of Scotland's forestry in order (it is claimed) to "pay for climate change tackling measures" and this weekend sees the annual climate change demonstrations in London and elsewhere. With these in mind, Kovel's words (on page 40-41 of the 2007 Zed second edition) took on an extra immediacy and relevance -

The essential argument for environmental economics within the capitalist system is that by privatizing nature people learn to care for it as their property. However, the problem is that, being made property, nature is a priori severed from its ecosystemic ways of being. Thus the ceaseless rendering into commodities, with its monetization and exchange, breaks down the specificity and intricacy of ecosystems. To this is added the devaluation, or basic lack of caring, which attends what is left over and unprofitable. Here arise the so-called "externalities" that become the repositories of pollution. To the extent the capital relation, with its unrelenting competetive drive to realize profit, prevails, it is a certainty that the conditions of production at some point or other will be degraded, which is to say, natural ecosystems will be destabilized and broken apart. As James O'Connor has demonstrated in his pioneering studies of this phenomenon, this degradation will have a contradictory effect on profitability itself (the Second Contradiction of Capital"), either directly, by so fouling the natural ground of production that it breaks down, or indirectly, in the case of regulatory measures, being forced to pay for the healthcare of workers, etc, re-internalizes the costs that had been expelled into the environment.(see note)
In a case like Bhopal, numerous insults of this kind interacted and became the matrix of a ghastly "accident." For Bhopal, degradation was concentrated in one setting; while the ecological crisis as a whole may be regarded as its occurrence in a less concentrated but vastly more extended field, so that the disaster is now played out more slowly and on a planetary scale.
It will surely be rejoined to this that a great many countervailing techniques are continually introduced to blunt or even profit from the degradation of conditions and production, for example, pollution control devices, commodification of pollutants, etc. To some degree these are bound to be effective. Indeed, if the overall system were in equilibrium, then the effects of the Second Contradiction would be contained, and we would not be able to extrapolate from it to the ecological crisis. But this brings us to the second great problem with capital, namely that equilibrium and confinement of any sort are anathema to it.

Note - The first contradiction of capital is that of the classical "realization crisis", where cutting workers wages makes it more difficult for them to purchase the commodities they produce.

Wise words indeed - I recommend Kovel's book to all seeking a deeper understanding of the current systemic economic and ecological crisis.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Anniversary of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster in India‏

Clean up and pay up!

Join the Global Day of Action for Corporate Accountability

Wednesday 3 December

– also International Day of Disabled People


Actions by the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, led by Bhopali women gas survivors from Muslim and Hindu communities together, with worldwide solidarity, helped bring about two victories:

* The Indian government agreed to set up a Commission on Bhopal, as campaigners had demanded in their march to Delhi this summer. At that time, many protesters, including small children and women, were beaten, arrested and imprisoned by Delhi police for demonstrating in front of the Prime Minister's residence. They were eventually released after international condemnation of the authorities.

* On 3 November 2008, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reinstated claims against Union Carbide Corporation for continuing large-scale water pollution from the abandoned pesticide factory in Bhopal, where poisons have not been cleaned up. The case was previously dismissed by a lower court. Now the Second Circuit has reversed that decision, finding the dismissal to be improper. Every time it rains, toxins from the factory contaminate the drinking water of nearby residents. Many babies and children with disabilities there are recent victims of Dow, which took over the Union Carbide Corporation and its responsibilities. Dow has never agreed to clean up the site.

You can phone or write to Dow's UK office to urge them to clean up the site and pay proper compensation:

Dow Chemical Company Ltd
Diamond House
Lotus Park, Kingsbury Crescent
Middlesex TW18 3AG

Tel. 0203 139 4000
Fax: 0203 139 4004


On the night of 2-3 December 1984, a gas cloud from the pesticides plant in Bhopal immediately killed approximately 8,000 children, women and men. Since then a further 15,000 people have died and at least half a million more were poisoned or disabled. Bhopal is recognised as the world's worst industrial disaster.

Compensation has been very, very hard to get. Only those who have documents to prove their claim have been paid – around $1000 each – less than 10p a day – enough to buy a cup of tea in Bhopal.

The deadly pesticide gas was similar to nerve gas, causing death, disability and devastation on a comparable scale to that suffered by people, animals and the environment caused by military weapons of mass destruction – depleted uranium in Iraq, Agent Orange in Vietnam and nuclear testing in the Pacific …

Indra Sinha's novel Animal's People, short-listed last year for the prestigious Man Booker Prize, is "a bold, punchy parable" based on Bhopal today, whose lead character, "Animal" is a disabled gas survivor. To hear an interview with the author, click on

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Weekly Links 01/12/2008

World AIDS Day
Today is World AIDS Day. The Guardian has a moving series of photos and information.

The famous Magnum Photos agency dispatched its photographers around the globe to capture images of people living with HIV/Aids to mark World Aids Day today. Magnum's Access to Life photographs went on show in Washington DC earlier this year before being displayed in locations around the world

Peter Tatchell comments on one aspect of continuing prejudice on CIF today.

Anti-incinerator campaign
The campaign against the incinerator planned for Rainworth within Sherwood Forest in Central England steps up this week with campaigning around the planning committee stages. People Against Incineration (PAIN) are calling for good turns outs to their coming protests and meetings. This is from the campaign organisers:


Further evidence [available upon request] has recently come to light proving that if not for our previous efforts, a waste incinerator would have been built in Forest Town. Now we need your help to win again!

Help us prevent a waste incinerator being built in Sherwood Forest (Rainworth, on the outskirts of Mansfield).

Join with fellow demonstrators next Tuesday (9th December) for the Sherwood Forest Protests Against Incineration

People Against Incineration (PAIN), the group formed to take over from Mansfield Against incineration (MAIN), are organising two anti-incineration protest demonstrations to take place on Tuesday 9th December 2008 to correspond with Newark & Sherwood District Council's Planning Committee meeting where the Council's incinerator consultation response will be decided.

PAIN is putting out the call to all anti-incineration campaigners to join the peaceful fun in Sherwood Forest, with a morning protest during the Planning Committee's site visit to the Old Rufford Colliery Car Park, Rainworth (11.15-12.30), followed by an afternoon demonstration at the Newark & Sherwood District Council offices at Kelham Hall (protest from 3 – 4 pm, incinerator application to be considered 4 – 6 pm), and hopefully evening celebrations!

A meeting will be held by PAIN on Thursday 4th December, from 7:30 pm in the Phoenix Suite at Rainworth Village Hall, Kirklington Road to discuss plans for the protest demonstrations.

Campaign organiser Linda Tift says:

"We know it's a difficult time of the year with much to do and many commitments to meet, but this is the moment we have all been worked towards for the last 3 years. Time spent making our voices heard now will be an investment in the future for both us and our families. Bring your kids. This is a lesson in democracy and the power of the people they will never learn so well in school! Bring your granny, your neighbours, the window cleaner and the plumber..."

Various interesting articles in the Comment is Free/Soundings "Who Owns The Progressive Future" series this week, including pieces by radical artist John Jordan, Middlesex Uni Academic Jo Littler and Green Party of England and Wales Leader, Caroline Lucas.
Activist Jordan is particularly sceptical about versions of a "Green New Deal", but could be surprised to find that considerable numbers of left wing Greens might sympathize with most of his criticisms of some versions of a "Green New Deal", but might question the lack of any clearly defined agents of change in his proposed alternative that seems to look to those outside society or at the margins rather than organised workers or accountable community delegates. The typical rabid rightist trolls infest the comments sections under the articles as usual I am afraid, but there is the odd bit of constructive debate.

Lefty Green Bloggings
Former Green Principal Speaker Derek Wall had an article on indigenous struggles published in the Morning Star newspaper last week.
The Green Party Trade Union Blog has a response to the proposed British Government Welfare "reforms" from Alan Wheatley and Anne Gray.
Jim comments on the troubles of Lib Dem leader Clegg at Daily (Maybe) as does Peter Cranie.
Meanwhile Matt S has started a much needed debate on the left and anti-social behaviour at his Anglo-Buddhist Combine blog.

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