Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

May Day Greetings!

May Day Greetings to all readers of Greenman's Occasional Organ old and new.

It seems we are fated to live with the ancient curse of "living in interesting times"!

Feelings of solidarity and comradeship go out to all those facing attacks from bosses and governments, to all those living in the shadow of the new flu and the fears that it arouses, to all those who dream and organise and struggle for a better world.

May out of our current trials and battles come greater international understanding and unity, and clearer views of how we might work together to fight climate change, eliminate bigotry and take back control of our own lives, workplaces and communities from neo-liberal capitalism and corporatism.

Below is the draft text of the leaflet that the Nottinghamshire General Membership Branch of the IWW will be distributing at local May Day events over the next few days:

Make This A May Day To Remember – Join The IWW!

Whilst May Day has historically been a day of worker's solidarity and a celebration of the power of working people, this is not a day or year like any other.
That's because the world is in the midst of economic recession and financial failure, and it is workers worldwide who are suffering from layoffs and mass firings in almost every sector of the global economy.

While working people are under attack, the capitalists are taking advantage of the situation to claim for themselves bigger and larger shares of national and global wealth, as governments rush to bail out banks and investment firms, which have been allowed to become "too big to fail."

Under the newly amended rules of capitalism, corporations (especially in the financial sector) can scam, steal, and hustle virtually everyone, and when the economy falls, the government sails in and bails them out with public money!

Under a system such as this, the capitalists can never lose. It's like a gambling casino, where the house rules change all the time to benefit the winners.

But workers are losing.

Around the world, workers are facing lost jobs, vanished careers, repossessed homes, and families broken and shattered against the grinding wheel of Capital. Capitalism is destroying our natural environment and squandering the resources of the world in its never-ending pursuit of profit at all cost. It is even beginning to threaten the long term survival of a viable civilization. The pursuit of dwindling resources leads to more catastrophic wars.

This will be one hell of a May Day for many - but it's the one that globalized capitalism has fashioned for us all.

Only if labour – the organised working class - is truly globalized can it now effectively fight for its’ fair share from the ravages of capitalism.

Everywhere, people are beginning to fight back – strikes, occupations, militant demonstrations are growing across what were previously held up as countries of capitalist triumph. Many of the tactics and strategies being employed have a long and glorious history – some are those that were employed from the start by the Industrial Workers of the World, the international Union set up in North America at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Despite a marvellous period of struggle that union was diminished by repression, war and the false hopes upheld by business unions and dogmatic “Communists” alike. Nevertheless it survived, and now in the first decade of the Twenty First Century the IWW, or Wobblies as they are affectionately known, have enjoyed renewed growth as working people seek effective and militant forms of organisation untainted by soggy capitulation or links to failed models of 20th Century regimes.

The IWW has particularly grown in Britain, with new groups and branches springing up across the country – including locally in Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire. Many who attended the Put People First demonstration in London in March this year were surprised and impressed to see the many flags and banners of the IWW, with a block of marchers to rival many of the TUC unions.

The IWW is not exclusive, you can hold dual card membership with a TUC union if they are the main organisation in your workplace – we are not about dividing, but uniting workers around a militant platform. We are not about splitting workers and sectionalism, but about uniting all workers in each industry and all industries. We are about workers, not bureaucrats, calling the shots, about democracy and direct action rather than credit cards and funding neo-liberal political parties. We are not about narrow nationalism, but international workers’ solidarity that recognises that, as ever, UNITY IS STRENGTH!

Join with us and begin the task of building the new society within the shell of the old. Defend the gains that working people have made and look forward to a just, sustainable and dynamic society where all are engaged in democracy at every level, in every community and workplace.

Forward to the future – forward to ONE BIG UNION!

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New(-ish) Green Left Blogger

I was pleased to be alerted to another Green Left colleague who has now been blogging for a while - Nick. His blog is Rosso-Verde.

Meanwhile, some more interesting political food for thought here.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Where is the British Labour Party going?

Long time Labour Party members continue to leave the Party. This is being spaked by a number of "last straws" like dodgy local candidate selections, the announcement of massive public spending cuts being likely, sleaze on the internet emanating from spin doctors and fixers. This week, respected long term Labour member and former Halifax MP Alice Mahon decided to leave as reported by the Left Luggage blog.

What might happen to Labour in the wake of what seems like inevitable crushing defeat in the next general election? This is my take, slightly adapted from what I posted on Urban 75 earlier-

Where Labour go might depend on who stays with them and who goes.

In the wake of a whacking defeat the first to go (already deserting really) will be the financial and business backers, the careerist elements and the crypto-tories. I would guess some of the ousted New Labourite MPs and their entourages will just revert to being the "business people", lawyers and accountants that they were or aspire to be - and abandon politics. Some may just defect to the new ruling party. Membership loss will be certain.

Who will stay?
- The right wing controlled union bureaucracies for a start! They have nowhere else to go and some of the bureaucrats need a link to even a marginalised Labour party as it gives them extra power in affiliated unions and the glimmer of a place in the House of Lords.
- The Blairites with no preferable jobs to go to, who are already predictably saying that Brown's demise is because the Brownites abandoned full-on Blatcherism.
- The rump of lobby fodder, the soft left when it suits them, and Brownite MPs - there are unlikely to be many more accurately described "left" MPs remaining as (already small in number) they will be culled in proportion by the voters, and notable members of the Campaign Group (e.g. Simpson) are retiring at the next election anyway. At a local level, the lifetime, right-wing, tribalist hacks might remain, to preside over even smaller numbers of members. (Take a look at the recent selection in Simpson's seat)

Who will be "left"?
- There may be some reflux of leftists into the party seeing an opportunity and encouraged by the corporatist union leaders' rhetoric about reclaiming the party (ignoring that these are right wing union leaders). I suspect these leftists will have a hard time of it - Blairites and bloggers like Akehurst are already preparing for a new set of purges and witchhunts, and the right control the mechanisms and structures of the party - there is virtually no chance of a new 80s 'Bennite' period for structural reasons alone - before we even get into the numbers game.

So we will have a Labour Party dominated at the top by Blairites spouting Labourist rhetoric, backed by "reformed " Brownites and chancers like Cruddas talking all left (take a look at his voting record for where he is really coming from) - see the "unions' friend", privatiser Alan Johnson and the sickening Mandelson on Newsnight last night (welcoming a new age of "left wing" interventionism and regulation) for a taste of the dishonesty and language mangling that is to come.

Whether slimmed down New Labour get away with this and whether the ridiculous cycle repeats is down to how cynical and pissed off the British working class really are come the election and afterwards, and whether real alternatives emerge. We will get a chance to see how the land lies with the Council and Euro elections in June.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Blog to be more truly "occasional"

When I started this blog with the title Greenman's Occasional Organ it was meant to be just that, Occasional. However, through time I have got into the habit of doing weekly links and feeling obliged to blog every couple of days at least. This has led to blogging (and collecting interesting links) taking up more of my precious time than was desirable and to me blogging sometimes for the sake of it - covering things that were widely available elsewhere and which I made little extra contribution to by blogging on them.

As my time is precious, and I am currently in a process of re-assessing my commitments, affiliations and stances, I think it is time for the blog to live up to its' title. From now on I will try to be more disciplined in only blogging when a) I feel truly motivated to do so and b) When I feel there is information and links that really need to be blogged either because I can shed a more unique light on the info than others, or because it is an issue where more bloggers covering it is likely to have a positive effect in itself.

So, no more Weekly links, more personal comment rather than just advertising events and more effective promotion of causes and events where I can have an effect.

In addition, I am thinking of launching a more politically focused blog under another pseudonym, around the subject of a new political project.

Thanks to those who have been regular readers of this blog so far, and I hope the changes meet with your approval.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Blogging Break

I am taking an Easter Break from blogging...normal service will be resumed etc etc...

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Protests, Occupations And Strikes

Visteon Occupation
A mini documentary on the occupation at Visteon here.
Thursday, April 9, 11am: Rally at the Enfield plant. Factory address: Morson Road. Five minutes’ walk from Ponders End train station, Enfield.
Here is a blog hosted by the people at Libcom.

MITIE Cleaners
My fellow blogger Matt has blogged about the MITIE dispute here.
There is another solidarity action this Thursday - info here.

SCAPA Workers, France
The workers at SCAPA, a British owned adhesive plant in France held three British bosses captive for some time to press their grievance over the threatened loss of their jobs. The practice has also spread to Universities as part of protests over education cuts.

Local Government
Meanwhile, British council workers have been offered a 0.5% pay offer for the coming year as the employers prepare "austerity" budgets.

In Russia, 800,000 armed forces civilian staff are set to protest over unpaid wages from April 10th, it seems unclear as to whether this will involve mass strike action.

From Iran there is news of workers' action in the Sugar industry.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Weekly Links 07/04/2009

Another busy week and little time to post links, but nevertheless a few that might be interesting to some of my readers.

Green Politics
Monday was National Pensions Action Day and the Green Party in England and Wales announced its key election pledge for pensioners - a £165 a week non-means-tested citizens' pension for every pensioner in the UK.
Much of the green focus in the protests last week was on the climate camp in the city - a blog on this here. The Green Party also spoke out about the provocative policing on the G20 demos.

British Politics
Here is a You Tube video of the whole of the Put People First March passing on the 28th March in London.
Here is film of a Police attack on the Climate Camp later in the week - the mass media preferred to focus on a bit of minority window smashing at a city bank rather than police brutalisation of peaceful protesters.
I had a fine pint of Leveller ale from the Newark brewery this evening - a reminder of the Leveller legacy kept alive by the annual Levellers Day festival in Burford, Oxfordshire - more info on this years' event here. The theme this year being the energy crisis.
Speaking of British republicans, tickets for the annual conference of the main umbrella republican organisation, Republic, to be held on the 20th June in London, are now on sale.

Unions and Workers
More on the inspiring Visteon occupations here.

As people are probably aware, workers are currently occupying Visteon Car Plant in Enfield against redundancies. But in an exciting move, workers have also raised the idea of transfering from producing cars to more environmentally useful things. This is from the text of their leaflet:

'As well as proper redundancy payments, some are suggesting that the skills of the workers who can make anything in plastic, should be used to make increasingly needed parts for green products - bike and trailer parts, solar panels, turbines, etc. Government investment in this rather than throwing money at bankers could be profitable & save jobs in the long term.'

The example of the Lucas Aerospace Plan continues as an inspiration to new generations of workers.

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Support The Occupations!

Two schools have been occupied in Glasgow in opposition to the Council's planned closure programme. This, along with recent factory occupations in Ireland, Scotland and England, is another sign of the growing awareness of the need for direct action tactics to oppose the onslaught of cuts, closures and job losses that ordinary people face in the aftermath of the breakdown of casino capitalism. French workers have been engaged in some even more militant and radical action, including occupying and keeping bosses captive! The ruling class and the establishment should know that we will not take the destruction of our communities, livelihoods and services lying down. These are all signs of what is to come.

From the BBC -

A demonstration has been held in support of parents who have occupied two closure-threatened schools.

More than 20 parents barricaded themselves inside Wyndford Primary and St Gregory's Primary in the Maryhill area of Glasgow on Friday afternoon.

The city-wide Save Our Schools Campaign held a rally outside the premises in a show of solidarity.

Glasgow City Council has proposed closing or merging 13 primary schools and 12 nurseries across the city.

Parent Debbie Watson is one of those occupying the school.

She said: "We are fighting against the closure of our schools.

"If our schools close within the Wyndford community, our community dies.

"It's already in a bad state as it is, but our community will fight to the bitter end to keep our schools open.

"We will be here until the very end until Glasgow City Council and the Labour councillors wake up."

The support we've been getting has been amazing. I've had about 300 texts from all over Britain and even one from Italy
Nikki Rathmill

More, including the interview above, here.

The Glasgow Save Our Schools Website is here.

All these occupations should be applauded and supported and publicised as much as possible to show people what is possible.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Left and Green G20 Comment

Some very good left and green commentary before and after the G20.

On Britain's Guardian Comment Is Free pages there was a good article by Seamus Milne about the protests (here) and another, beautiful and poetic statement of the situation we find ourselves in, (as opposed to where we could be) in the prosperous West/North, by Jeremy Seabrook

Imagine a society that looks with different eyes on the submissive surrender of its children to forces which, from the moment they open their eyes, ensnare them in the silken nets of commerce, instructing them in perpetual dissatisfaction and teaching the corrosive lesson that even the most abundant plenty can never be enough. Imagine a liberation that threw aside the sexual burka, the invisible but ubiquitous garment that determines a rigid hierarchy of desirability and glamour, so that the beauty of the wise, the kind, the merciful and the noble might appear once more through the shallow virtue of the skin-deep. Think of a society where voices of sobriety and wisdom are audible above the strident cries of the preachers of the market.

The hyperactivity of a manic entertainment industry will fade, and we will ask ourselves why we spent one-eighth of our life on earth gazing at other people's passions by the unearthly glow of a TV set, or why we sat for a year in traffic and stood uncounted hours in line waiting to relieve ourselves of the money we have earned. Why, people will ask, have we been both distracted from life and amused to death? Whatever happened to our ability to delight and enchant, to hold one another enthralled as we sang and celebrated our lives, rather than wept over the fate of shadows on screens, or vicariously lived the rise and fall of the famous, paying homage to their fabricated success?

More here.

Following the Summit announcements, the usual suspects like the Brownite mouthpiece Will Hutton sung the praises of Gordon and the G20. The Brownites and other enthusiasts for the deal hope that we will believe that the leopard can change its spots, that the IMF, strengthened and emboldened, will not use that new strength to impose an only slightly amended version of the "Washington consensus" globally (perhaps in the age of trillion dollar rescue packages and global "quantative easing" we should speak of the "London Consensus" - a shiny new "humanitarian" and cleaned up method of imposing the power of corporations and finance houses on the poor people of the world.)

Fortunately questions are already being asked about the lack of a significant environmental and climate change tackling element to what is proposed, and the nature of the agenda behind the agreement, as well as the unlikelihood of meaningful action by those who have been instrumental in creating the current crises in the first place.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Alternative Summit Takes Place On UEL Lawn

The University of East London had closed its campus down and cancelled all lectures for Wednesday and Thursday out of fear that demonstrators would use the university buildings as a base for protest at the ExCel centre Thursday. Despite this, a crowd of 200-300 people gathered from 5pm onward on the university's lawn, sitting in the sun and clearly enjoying the relative calm after the riots in London.

Speakers including comedian Mark Thomas, Dr Camilla Power of the University of East London, Tony Benn, Stop the War coalition organiser Lindsey German and academic Richard Wilson assembled with the crowd.

More from Guardian CIF here.

Pictures from todays' events in the City on Indymedia here.

Here are pics from the Climate Camp action.

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