Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Meeting in London on Inequality

The event detailed below, scheduled for Wednesday 2nd December, is hosted by Hackney Green Party and should be quite interesting for anyone within travelling distance sympathetic to left green ideas.

INEQUALITY IN THE UK - Effects and solutions

Wednesday December 2nd, 7.30 - 9.30 pm

Abney Public Hall, Stoke Newington Church Street

Join Bill Kerry, Secretary of The Equality Trust, as he presents the findings of the bestselling book, 'The Spirit Level'. Inequality is having a massive negative influence on our society - hear the details of new research into how it impacts on everybody, and what we can do about it.

All welcome, with plenty of time for questions, answers, and discussion from the floor!

Hosted by Hackney Green Party, free entry.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

The British Zeitgeist: Conservative Anarchism

There has been a lot of talk recently of the ideology of the Tory Party leadership in Britain around David Cameron and how they are influenced by the "Red Toryism" of Philip Blond. With Cameron increasingly presented by the MSM as Prime Minister in waiting we might be forgiven for supposing that this "Red Toryism" was something of a popular current, a spirit of the age. In fact, Blond's ideology, (which despite the title and the eagerness of some politically illiterate journalists to describe it as some kind of reborn social democracy has some unnerving parallels with the far right reactionary currents of Traditionalism and Synarchism) is only embraced in a watered down and qualified form by Cameron and is hardly embraced at all by some of his camp who are still thinly disguised Thatcherite Monetarists. Any putative Cameronian government will most probably swing between a pragmatic centrism demanded by the economic mess it inherits and vicious Thatcherite attacks in selected areas of society to feed red meat to the backbenchers and finance capitalists to whom both major parties still feel they have no option but to bow to.

So if red Toryism (social traditionalism and crypto-corporatism)does not seem to have a real social base amongst those likely to put the Tories into power, what kind of ideological position can be said to characterise wide swathes of the now rightwardly inclined electorate? My guess is what I would call Conservative Anarchism akin, though not identical to the movement in America known as Paleolibertarianism. The poster boy of this tendency in Britain is Jeremy Clarkson. Its most extreme examples are found among the support bases of UKIP and the English Democrats, but I would suggest that the attitudes and views are common across wide sections of the population, including many, if not most of those about to vote Tory. We are talking about not so much an organised movement as a viral set of attitudes. The massive sales of Clarkson's books attest to the appeal of his stance. And what is this stance? - It is contrarian, individualist, aggressively self assertive and, well, not just anti-socialist, but anti-social. It is a stance that says I will do what I like, eat what I like, drive where I like, say what I like, buy what I like and treat others however I like and woe betide anyone who tries to stop me (and "trying to stop me" is the interpretation put on even the mildest criticism of anti-social and selfish behaviour.) In short it is the attitude of generations of teenagers writ large to people of all ages and classes. Teenagers used to grow out of this phase into responsibility and reasonableness in most cases. Now a whole media, advertising and cultural industry encourages people to behave like spoilt brats for the whole of their lives. Bureaucratic hamfisted attempts to impose civility from above become weapons of a culture war in the hands of conservative anarchists - where everywhere "free spirits" are fighting "PC gone mad".

The Conservative Anarchist is disdainful of everything that teenagers have always hated in large numbers - authority, often religion (of which more later), intellectuallism, high culture and complicated ideas. Hence no professional is safe - the bureaucratisation of professional careers in Britain has proceeded apace (every action of a professional must now be recorded, assessed, analysed, prescribed to death) at the same time as public contempt and lack of respect for professionals has grown. Every Conservative Anarchist feels that he or she knows better than those namby-pamby liberal teachers, doctors, clergy, climate scientists and criminologists. Every slip up of a professional or learned body is now elevated by a deeply anti-intellectual media as a condemnation of a whole body of workers and a whole library of thought.

Anti-intellectualism has easily grown to ridiculous proportions as it has long been a feature of British life compared to other parts of Europe. The "left" wing of conservative anarchism, (the ex-Living Marxists and the failed labourites, the ex-feminists and ex-punks, the O'Neills and Burchills of this world) dress their anti-intellectualism in class terms for added hate value, and of course the fetid British class system makes this easy for them. Thus sometimes Mockney and Estuary English accents attack anything demanding or requiring self control or reflection as "Booorjwah".

Religion is the ultimate hate target of many of the more consistent conservative anarchists found on comment pages as it stands in many cases on a claim of ultimate truth, reality and authority - things which the conservative anarchist sees as his or her sacred right to define personally. The "your politics/views/worldview is religious" or a "new religion" is the coup de grace of the conservative anarchist's armoury of argument. The existence of liberal religions and religious liberals is avoided as an inconvenience, or derided as weak liberal intellectualism - to the macho conservative anarchist all philosophical systems that are not purely centred on the individual and his or her desires are wicked and must be destroyed. To them, Humanism and Socialism, Christianity or Islam, Unitarianism or Agnosticism, Feminism and Animal Rights are all evil creeds not just because of their inevitable human failings but because they are social or universal - they appeal to and try to build a reality beyond the atomised individual and his or her prejudices and bigotries.

The rise of conservative anarchism in Britain has social roots in the vast destruction of community and social organisation that was commenced with a vengeance by the Thatcher government and has continued since. Remember "There is no such thing as society,just families and individuals"?

Additionally, the rise of conservative anarchism has material roots in the technological development of the last 20 years. The e-mail, the text, the social network, the blog comment section all both give a platform for the macho new breed to propagandise and smite his or her wet opponents, and facilitate a form of communication that is harsher, less nuanced and more aggressive than face to face discussion or the more regulated environment of the old newspaper letters pages. Ad Hominem, misrepresentation and casting aspersions about someone's underlying aims, objectives or trajectory are the preferred tools of online warfare. It is not surprising that many conservative anarchists seem to fall into a lazy conspiracist worldview. Non verbal communication, courtesy and even safety consciousness are lost in this world - things are written that might result in a physical fight if said face to face. But bit by bit this mode of communication has leaked into the offline world, into newspaper commentary and into real face to face transactions. I feel it likely that an incoming Tory government will find it gets as much flak from those trapped into this mindset as the beleaguered current Labour Government does. As an ecological, political and social campaigner I find the street and doorstep and street campaigning reaction you now get is in line with this coarsened and violently charged mindset on an alarmingly increasing number of occasions.

The time has come when this trend has to be faced by all those who seek a better world, or even to preserve and defend the social, political and environmental advances that have been made in this country. Because, make no mistake (and the evidence is there in the decline of the very voluntary, community and social clubs and initiatives that the so-called Red Tories would like to substitute for democratically run services - and in the impoverished and spirit-sapping content of what passes for debate on online newspaper comment pages invaded by the conservative anarchist hordes) from where I am sitting, conservative anarchism is corrosive of society, civility and even rational and non-violent debate.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

One Million Climate Jobs Pamphlet Now Available

The pamphlet on One Million Climate Jobs Now can now be downloaded from the PCS website at:

Earlier this year, the Campaign against Climate Change (CaCC) trade union group set up a commission to produce a detailed plan for a million 'climate' jobs.

The commission includes academics and environmental groups as well as several unions including PCS.

In November 2009 the CaCC trade union group published a pamphlet, One million climate jobs Now!, which sets out how this can be achieved. The pamphlet is the first stage in a national campaign to get the government to employ a million unemployed workers to save the climate. It contains the arguments workers need for building the campaign.

Physical copies for selling are also available from

The Campaign against Climate Change

for two pounds each or £10 for 15.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Avaaz Petition On World Hunger Crisis

Below is the latest mailing from the international web-based campaign group Avaaz:

With the recent financial crisis, poverty is skyrocketing in poorer countries, with 1 in 6 people on the planet now facing life-threatening hunger.

Next week, leaders will meet at the World Food Summit in Rome to address this growing crisis. The best solution is funding to boost sustainable agriculture in poorer countries, but the UK and other countries are backing out on a $20 billion promise made earlier this year.

Millions of lives are on the line. Sign the petition below for rich countries to keep their promises, and it will be delivered directly to world leaders through a spectacular stunt at the Roman Colosseum on the eve of the Summit:

The world produces enough food to feed everyone. Yet the number of people suffering from chronic hunger across the planet has reached the record-high figure of 1 billion this year.

Hundreds of billions are spent by wealthy governments to bail out banks and financial institutions, but the G8 countries are trying to cut a promised $20 billion commitment to agricultural investment to only $3 billion in new money. With literally millions of lives on the line, this is a scandal.

The Rome summit is also our best opportunity to push governments to promote small holder agricultural production -- growing evidence shows that intensive farming models are not effectively countering hunger and have a highly damaging impact on our environment.

We are teaming up with anti-poverty organisation ActionAid and global farmers networks to show our governments that we refuse to accept a world where people die every minute from hunger. Sign the petition to the Rome Summit -- every signature will be represented at a stunning delivery event at Rome's Colloseum:

With hope,

Luis, Alice, Benjamin, Graziela, Ricken, Pascal, Iain, Paula, Paul, Veronique and the entire Avaaz Team

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Poll : 59 Percent Of Australians Want a Republic

Great news for British, Canadian and Australian Republicans from this press release from Republic:


Republic has welcomed a new poll by the Australian Republican Movement (ARM) which found that 59% of Australians want to see their country become a republic. The poll was conducted to mark the tenth anniversary of the republican referendum in Australia.

The Australian poll comes just days after a survey conducted by the Canadian Friends of the Royal Family found that 52% of Canadians no longer believe there should be a king or queen as head of state.

Republic spokesperson James Gray said:

"We are delighted at the result of this poll which demonstrates that republicanism is once again a live issue in Australia."

"The people of Australia are sending a very clear message to the monarchy:

'We want to choose our own head of state.'

They will not let royal visits distract them from the fundamental issues."

"The renewed republican movement in Australia is a great boost to the campaign against the monarchy here."

"As the republic debate grows across the Commonwealth, the future of the monarchy in Britain will also be called into question. The British people will begin asking: if they can ditch the monarchy, why can't we?"

"We'll be working closely with our republican colleagues in Australia, Canada and New Zealand over the coming months and look forward to sharing resources and ideas to bring about our common goal."


1. The ARM press release on the poll is available to view online at

2. Republic is a member of Common Cause, an alliance of Commonwealth
republican movements, alongside the ARM, Citizens for a Canadian Republic
and the Republican Movement of Aotearoa New Zealand. For more about Common
Cause see


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


Visit our website :

Mail: Republic, PO Box 69, Brighton BN50 9GS

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Don't Scab On The Post

The following is the text of a leaflet being distributed by Notts IWW members at local Job Centres.

Don’t apply for Royal Mail jobs

Support the Posties instead!

Royal Mail workers are striking against pay and job cuts, and bigger and bigger workloads. This struggle will have an effect on pay and conditions for all us in the future.

Royal Mail management have been fiddling the figures to justify cuts and their aim is to hire 30,000 temps to cover the strike – twice as many as for the normal Christmas rush.

If others take these jobs it makes it easier for ALL bosses to attack ALL of us. Low-paid, casual contracts will continue to replace proper jobs, and wages will get lower and lower.

Asking you not to take these jobs is a big thing to ask, we know. In the current climate there are few jobs with long-term security. Some of us will need to take anything we can. Some of us are even being forced to apply by Job Centres. But we have to stick together and fight together: we are all ripped-off, exploited people. So, what can you do?

If you are unemployed

* Go and talk to the Posties on the picket line. Show them you support their fight for decent jobs.

* Talk to other unemployed people about the issue.

* If you get post on a strike day, go to the door and talk to the worker doing your regular postie’s job. Explain why you think they shouldn’t do it.

* Help us leaflet the Job Centre and employment agencies!

If you are being forced to take a job

* Refuse to cover the work of striking posties. It is legally suspect for companies to hire temps to break a strike, so they can’t force you do it!

If you are Job Centre or agency staff, this affects you too

* You have bosses breathing down your neck and probably bad pay & little job security too. But don’t place people in jobs that are aimed at breaking this strike!

Show solidarity with posties and claimants.

The Posties are striking for all of us

Show them you support them!

More here.

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