Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Rising Revolt - French Workers Show The Way

Events in France over the last 48 hours show that whatever the ruling class of Europe thought they could get away with in terms of making the ordinary people pay for the profligacy, recklessness and irresponsibility of the bankers (and their tame government stooges) is now seriously being questioned. This is immensely heartening.
After the people of Iceland showed what they felt and drove the neo-liberal government there from office - and Greek workers and farmers have used the example of their students and youth to go on the offensive against the capitalists - the general strike in France shows that the stakes are being raised. This crisis of capitalism gives immense opportunities, the likes of which have not been seen for a couple of generations, for a reshaping of the world into something where workers and ordinary people, not banks, corporations and corrupt politicians set the agenda.

The IMF report this week showed the scale of what is faced - and showed how in Britain this crisis is likely to be deeper, longer lasting and more consequential than elsewhere. Quite clearly this "recession" (the "D" word is still only hinted at) is said to be going to be worse than any of those of the 70s, 80s or 90s in Britain.

However, although it seems that it takes longer for the working class of Britain to rouse itself than in other parts of continental Europe, the ruling class here should not be complacent, things are beginning to move. The angry walk-outs over social dumping and job cuts that have sprung up this week are a sign of the new mood. Gordon Brown's attempt at whipping up nationalism and racism - "British jobs for British Workers" - is quoted back at him in a new and more dangerous (for him) context in relation to corporate plans to replace local labour.

Obviously there are dangers here also for the workers, in that little petty nationalists and fascists will see the nature of the dispute that has started in Lincolnshire and Teeside as a massive opportunity for the propagation of their ideas. However - the left and union activists should not allow this to happen - this is not an issue primarily about "National interest" or immigration, but about the capitalist class acting in its usual immoral and insensitive way to use working people as pawns in their money-making game. It is also about the labour laws of the new European Capitalist superstate that have been opposed in campaigns led by the likes of the RMT

Meanwhile, the ruling class fall to arguing amongst themselves - hurrah! - Obama (either because he does not see it as good PR at the moment or because he really is pursuing a different agenda) shuns the depressed elite jamboree at Davos and various others grandstand and stage walkouts there.

The opportunity is arising for raising more radical demands than it has been possible to get a hearing for for many a long year. These demands - that workers should not pay the price of the crisis, that economic democracy is something that should be taken seriously and explored, that politics should not be about swapping representatives of the same plutocratic class every few years that their inevitable corruption becomes blatant and that transition to a new "green" economy must be worker-led and socially just - can unite the disparate elements of the left and workers' organisations in Britain and begin to make the challenges that our European comrades are making. When this process gets going in enough countries we will begin to see the marvellous change in consciousness where huge masses of people begin to see that another world truly is possible.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Weekly Links 27/01/2009

Lots of interesting, exciting, and scary developments around the world this week as the impact of the conjoined economic/ecological/resource/political crises becomes stronger. In the developed world, one of the places that is experiencing most change and that consequently has most possibilities at the moment is Iceland. The government has been under increasing pressure from mass protest and revolt, and this has continued despite the calling of an election for May. It now seems that the existing government has collapsed to be replaced by a caretaker regime until the elections - more on Indymedia here. Derek had a piece earlier this week about the Icelandic Green Left Party, riding a wave of popularity in the current crisis. A comprehensive bit of analysis from the AVPS blog here.

Repression and resistance continue to develop in Italy where the hard right government and its fascist outriders face a developing independent radical movement that has tired of the timid and backtracking Parliamentary reformism of the established parties. See here and here

In Nepal, the authoritarian militarists of the Maoist movement are facing increasing workers opposition to their attempts to impose Chinese style state capitalism on the country. It seems they are responding in the usual vicious Maoist manner and encountering growing resistance from rival "left" factions.

This weekend saw the Convention of The Left Recall Conference and the Progressive London Conference.

Jim reported on the London event here and here.

Meanwhile, A Very Public Sociologist reported this week on the dispute at "Britain's Left Wing Daily", the Morning Star.

There is a major left-right battle in the Unite Union over the election for General Secretary of the Amicus side of the union. More from Derek here.

Mobilisations and demos on the Gaza issue continue across the UK, with a current focus on exposing and attcking the blatant bias of the BBC and Sky blocking the Disasters Emergency Committee Gaza Appeal broadcast. Some enterprising researcher dug up this revealing piece from 2005 that sheds light on the so-called "non-partisan" approach of the BBC Director General.

Meanwhile the Green Party of England and Wales published this condemnation of the BBC's position.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Film Review : Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire is already accumulating awards and is hotly tipped for the Oscars. I enjoyed the film, though at times it is a little schmaltzy (the Guardian reviewer said that it reminded him of Max Bygraves' rendition of A Deck Of Cards !) and the theme of escape from poverty and hardship through luck and fate (as it says in the film "It is written") is a little hard to stomach for those of us committed to collective solutions to many of the problems that face us in the world, and the importance of people choosing to try and take control over their lives. Nevertheless, the depiction of a life growing up in the slums of Bombay/Mumbai and the darker corners of India's "precarious" classes is by turns illuminating, funny, harrowing and shocking - at least for us pampered Westerners. This can give a slightly uncomfortable feel at times - a feeling of being a voyeur on misery, or a suspicion, unfounded or not, of complicity in making light of truly desperate situations.

In the film, whilst the squalid conditions of the slums and the horrors of communal violence, gangsterism and child exploitation are realistically depicted, the human spirit and humour shine through. The film depicts the authorities - especially the Mumbai Police - and some of those who have "made good" in the new India in a very bad light and is firmly on the side of the underdogs, the outcasts and the exploited.

I have not read the book on which the film is based, and had not read many reviews before going to see it, so I came fresh to the film and got all kinds of nods and references which may or may not have been intended - including the novels of Charles Dickens, particularly Oliver Twist (with a far more horrific hybrid of Fagin and Mr Bumble) and Great Expectations (this Pip finally liberates his Estella), Indian "Bollywood" Epics (as would be expected - the question master in the central Who Wants To Be a Milliionaire Show in the film is a well known Bollywood star), Biblical stories from Old and New Testament (Cain and Abel, Judas)and both the feelgood films of the 1930s and the film noir of the same period - with the interogatory theme and narrative eye throughout.

The 30's echos are particularly interesting given the economic times we are living through - with the same ideas of escape and glamour, the human spirit overcoming hardship and disadvantage and moral messages that were found in some of the films of that period. This may account for some extra success due to good timing.

Great acting by all concerned, particularly Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto as the central couple, excellent cinematography and a great script. This is undemanding and beautifully shot entertainment, without as sharp a feel as Danny Boyle's previous Trainspotting and Shallow Grave. Nevertheless, it will be good that the world gets to see a glimpse of another India beyond journalistic platitudes about the recent "boom" and tourist publicity.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, January 23, 2009

NHS Support Federation News Release

NHS constitution is no defence against commercialisation
NHS Support Federation
News release

NHS constitution is no defence against commercialisation

Responding to the signing of the new NHS constitution, the NHS Support Federation is warning that it is too weak to protect the core ideas behind the NHS against the impact of commercialisation.

“Government lawyers will have been working long and hard to ensure that the NHS constitution cannot be used to stop its commercialisation programme, but it is this precisely which is the greatest threat to the values and principles of the health service.

“The first test for the NHS constitution will come quickly as the plan to extend competition and patient choice will in fact bring greater unfairness, poorer care for some patients and waste public resources.”

The Federation believes that the terms of the constitution are at odds with the impact of government policy. The NHS constitution states that "The NHS is an integrated system of organisations and services bound together by the principles and values now reflected in the Constitution". In reality the NHS is becoming more fragmented as more commercial providers are contracted to run NHS services.

However the public cannot use the constitution to defend the core values of the NHS unless it counts in law. The Federation is calling on MPs to look at this aspect as the new Health Bill passes through Parliament.

“The current economic crisis shows that we cannot rely on commercial companies to act in ways which protect the public interest. Yet the government is placing commercial values at the heart of the NHS. It is doubtful that the NHS constitution will be any match for the large corporate interests currently looking to run NHS services.”

- Paul Evans, director of the NHS Support Federation

The NHS Support Federation is an independent organisation that works to protect and promote a comprehensive NHS, with equitable access and active public involvement. Our supporters and affiliated organisations are drawn equally from the health profession and the general public.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Events This Weekend

This weekend sees a flurry of events important to the development of the left and more specifically the green left in Britain.

The long awaited recall conference of the Convention of the Left is in Manchester on Saturday - see website here and John Nicholson's introduction on the Socialist Unity Blog here.

Green Left are having a meeting for supporters and activists in Manchester on Sunday as Derek reports here.

A more middle-of-the-road event is the Progressive London event convened by Ken Livingstone, but there will be Green activists arguing for a left green approach there too.

Meanwhile, with the Gaza blockade continuing and the fragile ceasefires allowing an acccounting of the death and destruction, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign has its 2009 AGM this weekend, plus there are continuing solidarity events around the country.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Weekly Links 18/01/2009

The "Crunch"
News this week that Ireland has nationalised the Anglo Irish Bank.

At a press conference held at Government Buildings, the finance minister Brian Lenihan said that the admission last month by former chairman Sean FitzPatrick that he had taken secret loans of over €87 million over a period of eight years had caused "serious reputational damage" to the bank.

The Irish economy is in serious trouble - we will see whether the obvious culpability of Ireland's politicians and capitalists for the severity of the difficulties to be faced by Irish workers results in good left conclusions being drawn.

Meanwhile, in Britain, all the signs are that unemployment will continue to grow rapidly for some time.

Climate Change
NASA scientist Jim Hansen has warned Barack Obama ahead of his inauguration as President later this week that there are as little as four years left to make the major changes in economic, energy and transport policies necessary to have a chance of averting catastrophic climate change - i.e dramatic action needs to take place during Obama's first term.

As a result of his fears about sea-level rise, Hansen said he had pressed both Britain's Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences to carry out an urgent investigation of the state of the planet's ice-caps. However, nothing had come of his proposals. The first task of Obama's new climate office should therefore be to order such a probe "as a matter of urgency", Hansen added.

IWW IU 530 emergency appeal

The IWW has been organizing Truck Drivers in Eastern North Carolina and Virginia for much of the past year. In response to our growing power and planned founding convention this upcoming weekend, the bosses have begun firing the union's leadership.

Two log drivers and five container haulers have lost their job over the past two days. The union is already discussing legal and direct action means to fight these unjust firing, but right now we need funds to support our fired drivers.

These drivers have families to support and this is a part of the country where economic opportunities are very limited. Please offer whatever you can, drivers are counting on you.

Checks can be sent to the Freight Truckers Organizing Committee at PO Box 274, Waukegan, IL 60079. Please include "emergency relief" in the memo line.

We are in the process of setting a PayPal Acct for online donations.
Thank you and please be generous.

In Britain, organised teachers and campaigners have scored a victory in the fight against the government's attempts to break up and part-privatise more of the education system - this is form the Anti Academies Alliance :

UNIONS at WORK ! from the Anti Academies Alliance

Derby Council cabinet voted to abandon their plans for an Academy to replace Sinfin Community school last night (Tuesday 13th January). This is a significant victory for the determined campaign run by teachers and parents.

The campaign has involved 7 days of strike action by NASUWT members, one of those a joint strike day with the NUT.

It involved a public meeting of 100 parents and teacher.

883 people returned the consultation document, including 150 pupils, 793 rejecting the proposal.

The campaign managed to shift the Headteacher from supporting the academy proposal to opposing it.

The campaign persuaded the governors that the academy would not be good for local children.

At the cabinet meeting councillor Allen said "There is an overwhelming objection to Sinfin school becoming an academy. We have an obligation to listen to the people of Sinfin".

Dave Wilkinson, NASUWT secretary sent us this comment:

"The decision by Derby City Council to abandon its academy plans really is a historic victory in the battle against the privatisation of our schools brought about by the Government's academy programme. Eighteen months ago, opposition to academies in Derby was confined to a handful of trade union officials from the Education unions. Last night was the culmination of a campaign where literally thousands of Derby residents have shown their opposition to the closure of a school which has served working people in Derby since it was established. A coalition of organisations and trade unions has brought about this victory, but I do want to pay particular tribute to the two teacher unions in the school, NASUWT and NUT, who took eight days of strike action against the academy plans. NASUWT members have also maintained action short of strike action from May 2008 onwards."

Meanwhile, following the craven apologetics for government and big business from the TUC and some Labour-affiliated unions over the Heathrow expansion announcement it was good to see that the main rail and civil service unions in Britain proposed a more progressive and environmentally sensitive option.

High-speed rail would create tens of thousands of jobs – including at Heathrow – and would provide a cleaner option than airport expansion, say RMT, ASLEF and PCS.

Welcoming positive government statements on the benefits of high-speed rail and electrification and the accelerated provision of new passenger rolling stock, the unions point out that the emphasis should be on modal shift that will help meet the carbon challenge

I can also report on success for left candidates, including Green Left's James Caspell in Unison elections in Lambeth, London. They showed that united, and fighting on a radical programme, the left can win union elections against Labour timeservers and those on the left who adopt a more sectarian approach.

Ecosocialist Theory
An interesting contribution to the discussion on individual versus social solutions to the ongoing ecological crisis by Don Fitz, the editor of Synthesis/Regeneration has been published on the excellent Climate and Capitalism blog.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, January 16, 2009

Heathrow Runway 3 - A Declaration of War?

The Government announcement of their backing for a third runway at Heathrow entails the destruction of one village and the encirclement of another, a massive increase in pollution and further congestion and over-development of the South East of England at the expense of the rest of Britain, amongst other things. It also signals the final nail in the coffin of any claimed "green credentials" for the New Labour government.

The figleafs of claimed increases in aircraft efficiency and new limits on pollution and noise are an easily seen through propaganda exercise - two minutes thought tells us that if you improve emissions by a certain percentage, but then increase number of flights by that percentage or more you are not getting an overall gain! (This appears to be lost on Transport Minister Hoon - he of the Iraq War and "45 Minutes" - Hoon must surely go. What exactly does this right-wing militarist ex-public school boy have in common with the largely working class people of Ashfield in Notts anyway?) And do they really expect us to believe that Heathrow would shut and jobs be lost if it is not allowed to grow indefinitely? Is this really the future of the British economy, a cheap sevice bay for the International jet-set as they pass through, ceaselessy wandering the globe in search of profit - an economy that does not produce anything (food or manufactures) significant, but just services the global rich - a kind of National "Upstairs Downstairs" future?

The insult of the decision was combined with the arrogance and anti-democratic display over denying a debate on the issue (though hopefully the opposition can bring about a debate in Parliament). John McDonnell, one of the few remaining Labour MPs worthy of respect was quite right to be outraged - and one can sympathize with his symbolic wielding of the mace that has led to his Parliamentary suspension.

This anti-democratic behaviour by the Govenment over Heathrow was telegraphed long ago with the passing of the new planning laws meant to steamroller opposition and delays to projects that the government and their big business pals see as strategic. The legislation obviously had three or four main targets, all of which are potentially environmentally and socially disastrous - airport expansion, (chucking away carbon targets), a massive wave of incinerator building (effectively capping recycling and reuse and tying local government into an antiquated waste strategy for a quarter of a century), new nuclear build (dodging the waste question and again throwing more good millions of pounds away on a dangerous, strategically vulnerable and dubious "techno-fix") new road building (see carbon targets!) and new coal power stations with ridiculous promises of carbon capture "readiness" (i.e. without carbon capture).

However, the silver lining to all this is a change in the zeitgeist to a more united and militant opposition - we must all stand with the people of Sipson, Harmondsworth and Harlington. The resistance at Heathrow can spread out and become emblematic of resistance to the plans of new Labour and their Capitalist pals for a whole range of anti-social and ecocapitalist projects (i.e. projects which use the environmental crises as an excuse for further profiteering and which dodge the question of accumulation and the insatiability of Capital being the root of all the problems)

We need to see links built between community and environmental and workplace activists all over the country and the demand for a just and worker-led transition to a lower carbon economy raised to counter the "British jobs for British workers" crypto-fascist rhetoric that is beginning to be deployed by New Labour and their corporatist Gauleiters at the top of some unions and local government.

Some blogging comment below -

Derek reports on a Labour defection.

Jim reports the McDonnell protest at Westminster.

And more from Septic Isle at Obsolete

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Monbiot and O'Neill Fire Salvos On CIF

The war between scientifically correct but politically way off George Monbiot and scientifically and politically way off (but sometimes correct in some of his criticisms of Monbiot)Brendan O'Neill has had a new injection of vitriol with an exchange of posts on the Guardian Comment Is Free Site.
Here is Monbiot on class and the Furedi cult's attacks on him
And Here is O'Neill's response

The Guardian site sometimes behaves very strangely when I try to post on there - I'm not paranoid, honest. But despite me posting on other threads it would not let me post on Monbiot's thread. And from some other comments this is not to do with time lag between posts, nor exclusive to me. Not to be defeated I will post it here!

I think the Aga stuff may be included in GM's article in a less serious way than some of the huffers and puffers on here have read it. The main drift of the article is an attack on O'Neill and the Furedi-ites. Despite my dislike of Monbiot's patrician approach he has chosen an appropriate target there.

And hey - the Schumacherite has drawn forth a response from the Furedi-ite!


A plague on both their (well appointed) houses, though of course anyone who is not a tinfoil hatted conspiracist can see that Monbiot is on firmer scientific ground than O'Neill and chums.

I think it is only right and proper that we question the motives and mindset of both and how the "debate" is framed - for example Monbiot's world federalism and the general dodgy-ness of ideas derived from (rightwing Catholic Traditionalist "green" guru) Schumacher, the funding and intention of O'Neill's pals and their network of shady fronts etc.

This is not "ad hominem" - it is knowing where someone is coming from, it is investigative research, and ultimately defence against being deliberately manipulated for ends other than those which appear exoterically.

Perhaps now that battle has commenced we can go over to O'Neill's thread and ask the questions he and the rest of the Furedi-ites should be made to answer -
What is the plan?

I mean, all this contrarianism and taking the corporate shilling - does it have a basis in some over-arching ideology or grand vision? Is the idea -

a) Everything will turn out alright, the market will solve everything, go back to consuming.

b) Capitalism is awful, but must be allowed to mature into REALLY DISASTROUS before we can expect the working class to do anything about it, and all these blooming reformists are getting in the way of the maturing of inevitable crisis.

c) Who gives a monkeys? Contrarianism pays the bills.

d) The CIA have got the pics and they will publish them unless we do what they say.

e) Only when the party cadre have infiltrated every organ of the media and capital and established our full control/got into the position where we can flip the switch to bring it all down, will the brilliance of our plan be revealed!

I think we should be told.......

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weekly Links 11/01/2009

Here are some links regarding this weekend's demonstrations and other events.
UK Indymedia had a timeline of events during the Saturday protest in London.

Pictures from the London Demonstrations are posted here, here, and here. They also have reports and pics from Sheffield and Edinburgh, which also has links to Indymedia reports of protests from around the world.

A detailed opinion piece with photos from the London demo has been posted on the website of the commune.

Bloggers reports come from
- Derek Wall recording David Rosenberg's views on Another Green World.
- Jim, on Daily (Maybe), who links to lots of other blogging comment.
- Ed, at I.R. also has some good pics from Saturday's demo.

Other blogging
Dave Osler at Dave's Part reflects on the latest revelations of a racist outburst from a British Royal.
Matt S at Anglo-Buddhist Combine reports on early UK opinion polling for the upcoming European elections.
Meanwhile, on the subject of polls, A Very Public Sociologist blogged about the latest Weblog Awards this week, and gave some suggestions for a brave and eclectic handful of leftist bloggers to vote for against the rightist hordes.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Great Lightbulb Debate

Some of the tabloid media are having a field day over the rather hamfisted attempts of the UK government to gradually phase out "traditional" lightbulbs.
A debate was started on Urban 75 which has raised some good points and helps to dismiss some of the more far fetched myths about the current situation, so I will post some of the more relevant posts here.
First one of the resident Toryboy reactionaries on Urban stated the Daily Telegraph Case for the prosecution:

Traditional Lightbulbs Being Phased Out

The traditional "candescent" bulbs are said to use more energy than the new, chunky "Fluorescent Lumps" (FLs) that won't work with dimmer switches.

However, FLs use a lot more energy whilst warming up than they do whilst running afterwards, so switching them on and off will COST energy ... ESPECIALLY as this shortens their life to the same existence of a trad bulb.

However, if you leave FLs on all the time you're not saving energy in the long run. In essence, their energy consumption is that of the old fluorescent strip-light. And the light is just as harsh.

The high-frequency flicker is the same, causing some people headaches and doing no favours to epileptics. FLs contain mercury, so disposal could be a nightmare. If they break in your home, mercury could be widespread. They are more expensive than trad bulbs. And they don't reach "full light" for a few minutes.

Is the decision to ban "trad" bulbs really a good idea?

Further on there was an informative reply from the poster known as Extra Refined:

Extra Refined
Whilst I don't think tungsten bulbs should be banned, for several reasons; a tax on CO2 emitting electricity generation would work better; exceptions will make it pointless; the nonsense spread about CFLs pisses me off no end.

Originally Posted by Alright
However, FLs use a lot more energy whilst warming up than they do whilst running afterwards, so switching them on and off will COST energy ...

This is a lie

Turning off fluorescent lights for more than 5 seconds will save more energy than will be consumed in turning them back on again
Originally Posted by Alright
ESPECIALLY as this shortens their life to the same existence of a trad bulb.

This is wrong. To reduce the life of a CFL to that of a tungsten bulb you'd have to switch it on and off every 5 mins. Even then, its lifecycle CO2 emissions would be lower than the tungsten.

Originally Posted by Alright
However, if you leave FLs on all the time you're not saving energy in the long run.
You would have to usea CFL five times as much as a tungsten bulb to use as much energy

Originally Posted by Alright
And the light is just as harsh.

Modern CFLs are available in different colour balances (unlike tungsten bulbs which are all around 3000K). If you find daylight balance too harsh, in which case I assume you dislike going outside in the day, you can use warm balance. Up to you.

Originally Posted by Alright
The high-frequency flicker is the same, causing some people headaches and doing no favours to epileptics.

Modern CFLs flicker at frequencies in the kHz range. No can discern this.

Originally Posted by Alright
If they break in your home, mercury could be widespread.

Some modern CFLs contain no mercury. The rest contain tiny amounts ~5mg. This is less than the amount of mercury released by burning the quarter of a ton of coal needed to power a tungsten bulb for 10,000 hours.

Originally Posted by Alright
They are more expensive than trad bulbs

Running a 100W tungsten bulb for 10,000 hours will use 1000kWh of electricity. This will cost ~£100. A 20W CFL will cost £20 in electricity, a saving of £80. Against this the cost of the bulb is insignificant.

Originally Posted by Alright
And they don't reach "full light" for a few minutes.

Modern CFLs reach 80% brightness or more in seconds, which you'd actually have a very hard time discerning from 100%, but if you really care, just buy one a few watts brighter. You can buy 30W CFLs (which I have fitted in my front room) which are FAR brighter than 100W tungsten bulbs.

Furthermore, in a couple of years LED lighting will be affordable (although compared to the lifecycle cost of tungsten it already wins). This instantly reaches full brightness, contains no more dangerous chemicals than any other electronics, and can potentialy be any colour you want.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Two plugs

Two quick posts - one is an e-mail I had regarding a new website, the second is news of a film showing by the AWL left group on the interesting subject of the "green bans" implemented in the 1970s by Australian workers.

Hi Greenman,

I'm emailing you to find out if you could lend us a helping hand with our new project.

We have just launched a new service on called "Green QuestionVille". It's a place where you can ask green questions and have other memebers answer them. Members also vote for the best answers. Very cool stuff... You can find Green QuestionVille here and I was hoping you could do a quick post to let people know about it.

If there is anything we could post about on for you we would gladly help. Thanks so much.

Bart Dabek
Founder | | | | | |

Green Bans

A showing of "Rocking the Foundations", the story of the New South Wales Builders Labourers Federation in the 1970s, and how they built a powerful, politicised workers' movement that stood up for the environment and sustainable communities as well as its members' rights.

(For more about the BLF, see

Followed by a talk by an activist from Workers Climate Action, discussion and a social.

£2 unwaged, £3.50 waged, £5 waged

7pm, Thursday 5 February 2009
The Bread & Roses, 68 Clapham High Street, London SW4 6DZ (Clapham Common tube)

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, January 05, 2009

Weekly Links 05/01/09

Lots of coverage of the situation in Gaza and the demonstrations against the continuing Israeli assault from my regularly linked bloggers this week including Derek, Jim (who has a helpful selection of links), Dave Osler and Matt S.
There is another demonstration arranged for this Saturday in London.

The latest eco-catastrophe
The latest eco-catastrophe in the US has not had much coverage on this side of the Atlantic - a huge coal slurry retention pond has broken its banks in Tennessee and flooded some 400 acres of 6' deep slurry (over 1.1 billion gallons) into the Tennessee Valley. It's meant evacuating people, warning others to boil water, and is dumping a huge amount of toxins into the Tennessee River, used as a drinking water source by many communities downstream. A number of people are reporting vomiting after drinking water.
Reports here and here from the regional media.
More info from United Mountain Defense

Activism and Repression
Hot on the heels of their recent attempts to spread security services propaganda about the threat of "ecoterrorism" in the UK (a story based on exaggeration, guilt by association and innuendo and very quickly demolished so that they had to issue a sheepish apology through their "readers editor") the Guardian/Observer and other sections of the media are now busy retailing the exaggerated fairy tales of the French and other security services about the threat of a new wave of "home grown leftist terror" about to sweep Europe.

The Guardian/Observer group, (in addition to continuing a stream of biased knocking copy on the South and Central American left) are fast becoming the conduit of choice for psy-ops and disinformation aimed at radical activists in the UK and Europe. This is nothing new really, some of us remember some "freelance" journalists from the 80's who were very keen to fit up parts of the British anarchist movement on behalf of elements of the secret state.

The texts that seem to have got the French state machine in a tizzy (and it seems to be these that are more the target than the small acts of sabotage that were the pretext for the paramilitary police action) are rather disappointing really, for an old leftist like myself - rehashed Situationist and Autonomist theses with an anti-globalisation flavour and some unpalatable (for me, but it takes all sorts) elements of nihilism and primitivism. Nevertheless, I am never one to avoid an opportunity to offend the powers that be, so here are some links to English Translations of two of the offending documents and you can judge for yourself -

The Coming Insurrection

20 Theses On The Subversion Of the Metropolis

For me, Kovel's analysis and programme in the last chapter of The Enemy of Nature is nearer the spot - I will post some more on this in the near future.

Nevertheless, the fact that states in Europe are "upping the ante" against even potential opposition is interesting, as is their apparent concern that the current crisis will grow so severe that currently marginalised and tiny groups and ideas might gain a larger and more effective following.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, January 02, 2009

A Sherwood Forest Incinerator? Act On January 9th!

A Sherwood Forest Incinerator?
Act On January 9th!
Let Notts County Council Know How You Feel About It!
Following unanimous rejection by the planning committee of Newark and Sherwood District Council the plans of Veolia to build an incinerator near Rainworth in Sherwood Forest is before Nottinghamshire County Council on Friday 9th January.

PAIN (People Against Incineration) are calling for people to mobilise and let the County Councillors know how we feel about their dash to unsustainable and polluting incineration at a totally unsuitable site. The meeting is at County Hall, West Bridgford from 10.30am on Friday 9th January.

Here is the website of UKWIN (UK Without Incineration Network) for more info on incineration, the campaigns against it and the alternatives.

Local MP Paddy Tipping is believed to be calling for the decision on the incinerator to be called in by the Secretary of State as it seems a nonsense that such an important and controversial decision should be made by members of the very Council who have set up and agreed the local waste agreement and signed the multi-million pound contract for waste services with Veolia.

Whatever happens on the 9th and immediately afterwards the campaign against Veolia and their plans will continue in defence of the health of the population, the ecosystems of Sherwood Forest and the local SSIs and in favour of a sustainable and progressive waste strategy which does not cover the waste of millions of tonnes of recyclables and masses of heat energy with the figleaf of a little bit of (electricity-only) energy recovery!

Labels: , , , ,