Thursday, 22 December 2016

2016 the Year in Blog Posts

These posts are the top ones, by month, as judged by page views, on this blog in 2016. Happy holiday to everyone.


Survey Finds that Every £1 Invested in Parks and Nature Reserves Delivers Over £50 in Social Benefits

Joel Kovel too talks about the rupture of ecosystems wrought by capitalist production, and of course human beings are ecosystems themselves, and by being placed in what is an alien environment, the daily struggle to earn money, just to survive, causes much mental ill health, stress, depression etc.


Now DWP Bullying Disabled Staff as well as Claimants 

The DWP appears unperturbed by these findings and in a twist of the truth claims, that the result reflects their efforts to get civil servants to report these incidents, so really they should be congratulated. You really couldn’t make it up.


Why Greens Should Vote to Leave the EU 

I am equally unimpressed by the absence of explicit anti-capitalism, for me such is integral to Green politics.  Despite this important absence, policies like genuine decentralization and self-sufficiency would genuinely undermine the EU if implemented, but the fact the Green Party don’t either realise or accept this is unfortunate.


Cameron is in the Panama Papers Scandal up to his Neck 

The Prime Minister is not having good time of it at the moment. What with the ever widening split in the Tory Party over the upcoming referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, now the leaked Panama Papers, show that his late father was a director of a company registered in the Bahamas to avoid paying British tax.


The EU Referendum Campaign Debate is Dismal

As we enter the final four weeks of the European Union (EU) referendum campaign, the public must be in despair at the ridiculous arguments espoused by both sides of the debate.


Labour Party Coup – Blair is responsible for Brexit, not Corbyn

Almost as soon as Jeremy Corbyn was elected as the Labour Party leader less than twelve months ago, Blairite MPs have been plotting to overthrow him. It has only been a matter of timing when the daggers will be drawn, not whether they would be.


Interview - Jonathan Bartley, Green Party Co-Leadership Candidate

We have to open up our political system to many more people.  It’s no wonder it is so out of touch.  Job sharing is just one way of doing it, but it’s an important one.  And I hope that we can blaze a new trail in this respect.


I think by far the likeliest explanation for this rise in this poll (which isn’t reflected in other polling), is the ongoing shambles in the Labour Party. Look at Labour’s polling figure of 26% in this poll (which is reflected in other polls).


You might well expect this kind of thing from the Whig press. The Guardian, let us not forget, urged its readers to vote for the Lib Dems in the 2010 general election, and look how well that all worked out?


I didn’t see my job as making people even poorer, I was trying to help them get back on their feet, and I had a fair bit success of getting people into work. This became increasingly unimportant to the management though, once the Coalition government was elected. Sanctions were the only game in town.


Richmond Park Byelection - Green's Decison not to Stand Provokes Fury amongst Membership

Judging by the forums mentioned above, I'm not the only Green Party member who thinks the decision not to stand in Richmond Park is a bad one. I think it is wrong on many levels, and I'm broadly in favour of a 'progressive alliance' (anti-Tory is probably a better description), at the next general election, with a commitment to proportional voting for future elections.


An internal party report written by the Chair and two other senior members of Kingston Green Party, reveals that pressure was put on the two local parties which cover the Richmond Park constituency, not to stand a candidate in the recent by-election. 

Sunday, 18 December 2016

A Socialist Economy for the 21st Century

First published at the Next System Project

In Next System Project Report 3, author and Tellus Institute co-founder Richard A. Rosen explores the changes he deems necessary for a modern definition of “socialism”, and describes key concepts and issues that arise when aiming to restructure the American economy to include social and environmental sustainability in the Twenty-First Century.

To elucidate some of these concepts and issues, Rosen analyzes a set of economic sectors that have very different mechanisms and structures for determining prices, and very different environmental impacts, including: chemical manufacturing, small businesses, housing, defense manufacturing, nonprofit sector, agriculture, and finance. Through these seven-industry sector analyses, Rosen offers a number of changes to each– many of which are also applicable to the economy at large.

More specifically, the author proposes a major transition to cooperative and public ownership followed by the adoption of new regulatory structures that are grounded in democratic participation (through Industrial Review Boards); heavily regulated – or even abolished – real estate markets; price and market adjustments that ensure social optimality; the recognition of certain sectors as “public service” in which profit should play no role; and the revival of small towns and cities to attract new farming families and to develop a system of sustainable agriculture across the country.

In addition to these proposals, Rosen outlines important lessons from the past. As he points out, one common theme among these sectors is the problematic feature of existing market structures for capital, as well as for goods and services.

Consequently, he concludes that when restructuring the economy “markets cannot be the sole or even the major determinant of how we get where we want to go in any economic sector.” Another lesson is the need for new, stricter regulatory standards to ensure environmental protections and to mitigate climate change.

But just as important as Rosen’s proposed changes and lessons learned are the questions the author raises throughout his report to ensure an effective restructure of American economy. In suggesting areas where additional research is required, A Socialist Economy for the Twenty-First Century is a concerted effort to further advance the system change conversation, and presents a framework for thinking about a new economy that takes environmental sustainability and social justice into consideration.

Download the full report

Dr. Richard A. Rosen received a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Columbia University in 1974.  Soon thereafter, Dr. Rosen switched his area of research to energy systems and energy policy at the Department Of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. In 1977 he helped to found what became the Tellus Institute, and has pursued his research and consulting interests there in the fields of energy policy, economic system alternatives, electric utility policy, planning and operations, and climate change economics and policy. Dr. Rosen has written or coauthored dozens of reports, papers, and items of testimony that he presented before professional conferences, public utility regulatory proceedings, federal courts, and in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Richard Rosen

Friday, 16 December 2016

George Monbiot Edges Towards Ecosocialism

Wanstead Flats in north east London is a Commons

The Guardian columnist, George Monbiot, wrote a piece on Wednesday, entitled 'The case for despair is made. Now let’s start to get out of the mess we’re in.' Those familiar with his writing will know that his political outlook is of a lefty liberal, I hear he was an anarchist in his youth, but there is nothing too radical about his politics today. That is not to say that he doesn't write a good, interesting column, and he is good on green issues too. I've learnt stuff from him.

We have looked at Monbiot's politics before on this blog, and concluded that he is a green neo-Keynesian, so his column caught me by surprise a little, when I realised he was writing about the commons. I became less surprised as I read through the piece though, because Monbiot applies a kind of liberal, market interpretation to the commons, as though he is trying to shoe-horn it into the capitalist system.

He scoffs at Corbyn's Keynesianism as irrelevant for good measure, but then describes nothing too scary for the establishment. It's this way of thinking which takes Monbiot away from any sort of radical politics, but he is at least moving in the right direction here.

As he points out, the commons do still exist in the capitalist, neo-liberal world of today, albeit they are shrinking fast, but with some heartening new initiatives as well. But surely the point is that the remaining commons are being enclosed, and new commons are largely isolated entities, a kind of last gasp of a once thriving alternative economy.

Monbiot says, 'The market alone cannot meet our needs; nor can the state,' which is quite right, and the commons, which is a very important concept in ecosocialism, is one of the ways an alternative economy would work. So why does he then suggest things like auctioning licences for burning fossil fuels and banning corporations from securing intellectual property rights? Why not just ban the corporations from existing at all, and all private property rights, so production can then be undertaken by cooperatives, in an ecologically centric way? Which is another form of commons.

Because all of this would be a direct threat to the capitalist system, and therefore unthinkable, for a Guardian columnist, anyway. The logic of Monbiot's thinking should be to replace capitalism, rather than all of this good intentioned tinkering. Surely he must know that the commons is incompatible with the how capitalism works. It must enclose, or else it will not be able to expand, and if it can't grow, it will die.

This doesn't mean that struggles to maintain the commons and the invention of new forms of commons are not very important. But they need to be seen as points of conflict with the system, and used to educate people about the subject, so they will see the status quo from a different angle. People live the struggle between capital and commons, and others see it happening and learn. We probably need to go through this stage to build the momentum for revolutionary thinking. Peaceful revolution, of course.

The commons doesn’t need to be rooted to a strip of land, it is an idea about struggle against property and commodification, and the battle between the commons and those who would enclose it manifests itself in many ways.

The ecosocialist writer, Joel Kovel writes in his book The Enemy of Nature, ‘Each in its way is a battle for a kind of commons, a piece of human ecosystem, more integral, more formed, more realised. Each points towards ecosocialism.’

This where we need to get to, and Monbiot's piece may contribute to the debate, so I welcome it. He may be even be changing his own thinking, edging a little closer to an ecosocialist solution to our problems.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

What Really is Labour's Policy on Brexit?

Days after the referendum, in which Britain voted to leave the European Union (EU), the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, called for Article 50 to be triggered as quickly as possible, to set in motion our formal negotiations to leave the organisation.

A couple of months later, Corbyn and John McDonnell, the party's Shadow Chancellor, having seemingly had a bit more time to think about it, stated that we should retain the free movement of people with the EU, but leave the single trading market. This vision had the rare distinction of being a policy position, that displeased both remain and leave voters in equal measures. The worst of both worlds, for everyone but the Labour leadership. Not only not a vote winner, but a massive vote loser.

Then a month ago, John McDonnell told a meeting in London, "Labour accepts the referendum result as the voice of the majority and we must embrace the enormous opportunities to reshape our country that Brexit has opened for us."

He went on to say "It is time we all were more positive about Brexit."

So we come to yesterday's speech by Keir Starmer, Labour's Shadow Brexit Secretary, at the London office of Bloomberg, of all places, which takes a very different view of what Labour's policy position should be.

This is from Labour List:

Laying out Labour’s vision for the future on Brexit, he said that there “are two versions of our future that could be negotiated. The first is a future that tears us apart from our EU partners. Out of the single market. Out of the customs union. Reverting to World Trade Organisation rules which would entail a range of harmful new barriers to trade and a desperate rush to sign new agreements with third party states to compensate.”

“A global race to the bottom which would not only put our economy and jobs at risk, but which would also abandon our shared scientific, educational and cultural endeavours with the EU. A so-called ‘hard’ Brexit.”

“The second version of our future is a version where we exit the EU but build a new and strong relationship with our EU partners based on the principles of co-operation, collaboration and mutual benefit. A future which preserves our ability to trade in goods and services with our biggest market. A future that values joint scientific, educational and cultural work with our EU partners.”

Sounds rather different from McDonnell's "we cannot hide from the fact that too much of the EU also had aspects of the old model, putting the interests of big business over ordinary people."

At least the Tory government are also sending out conflicting signals of their intentions on the kind of Brexit they want. But Labour should really be after the government on this, it is the single biggest political issue for the UK by miles. The government is split, Labour's obvious contradictory confusion is letting the Tories off the hook.

If the government mess this up, then the voters will need to have faith that Labour can do a better job of it, and I don't get the impression that people are too confident of what Labour really thinks about the issue.

I think the membership are nearer to Starmer than McDonnell on this, and certainly Labour MPs are. Not much support for the leadership's position at all as far as I can see it, in Labour.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Degrowth Is Punk as Fuck

Written by Aaron Vansintjan and Sam Bliss and first published at Common Dreams

Very serious people often tell us that the word “degrowth” is too negative. People like happy, positive, nice things. Sure, the economy is systematically destroying life on earth. But nobody wants to degrow it.

Instead, these critics prefer words like “post-growth,” “a-growth,” "re-growth", even the mythical “green growth.” They want to create a circular economy, a green economy, a new economy, a prosperity economy, well-being economy, or a steady-state economy.

What do all these terms have in common?

They’re boring.

Here’s what degrowth naysayers don’t seem to get: degrowth is actually punk as fuck. We’re nonconforming, anti-establishment, DIY punks. And we’re not trying to sound nice. Take your positivity and shove it.

The term "sustainable development" shows what happens to concepts that aren't hardcore. It's been integrated into international agreements for over two decades, yet here we are, at the precipice of reaching dozens of tipping points that will send Earth's climate spinning into chaos.

The problem wasn't that not enough people got behind sustainable development, it was that everyone got behind it because it didn't challenge anything at all. In 2014, Goldman Sachs commissioned a report “Attaining Sustainable Development of Oil and Gas in North America” (emphasis ours).

That's why we use degrowth. Goldman Sachs won't be able to co-opt it. Unlike post-growth, re-growth, or a-growth, we think degrowth has something special: that "de-" is a little middle finger at the establishment.

Very serious people shoot back that degrowth, in using the word “growth,” just strengthens the language of the status quo. All it does, according to “framing” enthusiasts, is further reinforce the dominant pro-growth “frame” that supposedly makes degrowth seem scary and bad.

To this, degrowthers respond reasonably: we actually don’t give a flying fuck. We don’t want to be fake-nice about it. We want to name and shame our enemy.

Very serious people claim that degrowth, like some punk culture, is nihilistic, that it doesn’t inspire hope or change. We denounce growth but do not describe alternative values, they say.

Sure, degrowth is nihilistic, but in the Nietzschean sense: a healthy refusal of the present, one that is necessary to think differently. We reject growth to make space for different concepts and values: international solidarity, the commons, financial reform, basic income, conviviality, care, to name a few. We've done our research, and we urge for practical policy proposals, long-term utopian visions, and disobedient direct actions—because the very serious politicians aren’t listening yet. If you've come to any of the last five degrowth conferences, you'll know how forward-looking and positive degrowthers can be.

Very serious people think that punks don’t get very far: no one listens to them, no one empathizes with them. Why not focus on the establishment, why not bribe them with words that are easier to swallow?

We beg to differ. Think of the Occupy movement. With little plan beyond stirring shit up, those punks redefined politics and forced politicians to finally pay attention to inequality. Think of the Windows employees who spent their time at the office coding open-source programs, using Microsoft money to pave the way for a new kind of cyberspace: one based on sharing and mutual aid. It wasn't the soothing March on Washington For Jobs And Freedom that convinced President Kennedy to sign the civil rights act; it was the threat of disaffected black youths rioting in the streets in every major US city.

This fall, we stood with Standing Rock. The Lakota gathered against the DAPL not to be nice, but to register their dissent, to stand in the way of a system that has tried to crush them for centuries. Their dissent delivered a striking victory against the establishment.

We understand, but don’t agree with, those who voted Brexit and Trump as a big “fuck you” to the establishment. They are punks too, and we lament that the Left has been so preoccupied with being nice, professional, and reasonable, encouraging many of these promising punks to vote for a new breed of white supremacists and oligarchs.

We think the suburbanites tinkering in their backyard are punks as well—their DIY creations objections to the industrial economy. We are in solidarity with the foot-draggers, the wildcat strikers who don’t care about their company’s competitiveness. We agree with Paul Lafargue, who scoffed at “the right to work” and demanded “the right to be lazy!”

To us, nurses, teachers, small farmers, and childcare workers are punks too. Capitalist society considers these jobs basically worthless, but people do them anyway, because fuck you, that's what they do.

At home, many of us degrowthers are squatters. Some of us dumpster dive and graffiti over advertising. We cook big meals for each other. We throw big weddings and big funerals. We are weirdos who’ve never quite fit in in board rooms.

Last week, one of our own presented degrowth inside the pearly halls of the UK House of Commons. Federico Demaria, one of the co-editors of the book Degrowth: A vocabulary for a new era, shared the parliamentary stage with Kate Raworth, who coined the unobjectionable phrase Doughnut Economics, Tim Jackson, who wrote Prosperity without Growth, and two of the authors of the 1972 book Limits to Growth. Unlike the other panelists, Federico was willing to be radical, willing to think differently. The audience loved it: he wasn't boring. Of course, some of his very serious co-panelists patronized him as a big-dreaming, radical youngster.

The serious people tell us that politicians will never support degrowth. They tell us to stop acting like teenagers, put on suits, and come up with innocuous words that the representatives of every country will applaud in the UN General Assembly.

We know that sort of work is necessary. Sometimes you will find us putting on those awkwardly fitting suits and creeping through the halls of power, our tattoos and piercings and bad haircuts not very well hidden.

But that’s not our audience. Our sympathies lie with the misfits, the outcasts, the mischief-makers, the queers. They are our kind of people. And that’s why people like us: at heart, whoever feels like a political outsider is a bit of a punk.

Aaron Vansintjan is a PhD student at Birkbeck, University of London and the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. He is an editor of the website Uneven Earth and enjoys wild fermentations, decolonization, and long bicycle rides.

Sam Bliss is a PhD student at the University of Vermont in the Economics for the Anthropocene research initiative. He loves reading, singing, and slow travel and strongly dislikes post-environmentalism.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Do Recent Political Events Signal the End of Neo-liberalism?

The Austrian Presidential election last week appears to have bucked the trend in a year of political victories for the right, indeed the far right. The left leaning and former Green, Alexander van der Bellen, defeated Norbert Hofer the far right candidate, and by a comfortable majority, in what seems to be a return to business as usual politics.

The Italian constitutional referendum, held on the same day, did see the President, Matteo Renzi, lose the vote, and is resigning his post, although this was not as immediately as he first suggested. But this was only a partial victory for the Italian far right, as many leftish voters also rejected his reforms, probably more than those who voted against, from the right.

All of this comes on the back of the Brexit referendum result in the UK and Donald Trump winning the US Presidential election, both of which were mainly victories for the right and far right of the political spectrum. The Ku Klux Klan supported Trump.

I had a discussion with a friend a couple of weeks ago, who I have known for a long time, and I wasn’t surprised to hear that he voted to leave the EU, as that has always been his position. A former Socialist Worker Party member, now ‘hanging around’ the Revolutionary Socialism for the twenty first century party (RS21). He told me of his surprise that he had been allowed to pay the £25 supporters fee, and voted for Jeremy Corbyn in this year’s Labour Party leadership election.  

He puts the Brexit vote and Trump as part of a piece, and welcomes Corbyn’s success saying that for the first time in his life the next UK general election will be a proper left versus right election, especially now the European Union will likely be out of way by then. He also thinks that voters have taken these positions because the neo-liberal economic system has failed, which it clearly has, and that this is a big opportunity for the left, which I think it is too, but I am less confident about.

But, why have the right been the beneficiaries of this change, so far anyway? Trump will clearly do little about neo-liberalism, apart from maybe introducing some tariffs on imports to the US. His whole programme is based on keeping immigrants out, as was the Brexit campaign, when they weren’t just spreading downright lies about more money for the NHS after Brexit.

I think there is an element of rejecting the economic system in these votes, but I think these votes are more to do with a cultural shift in the electorate, or some of the electorate anyway. The rust belt states that won Trump the election and parts of the UK that have never recovered from the post industrialisation of the 1980s, clearly have not done well out the system, but also have similar cultural attitudes. These cultural attitudes are also very different from say, California and London, places which did not vote for Trump or for Brexit.

Immigration is not an issue in California or London, and the people who live in these places take a very different world view, open, liberal and cultured. Suzanne Evans, who stood unsuccessfully to become leader of the right wing UKIP party recently, commented a couple of year’s back, on why she thought UKIP had done poorly in London elections. She said that the people in London were ‘too young, well-educated and cultured,’ and I think she was spot on in her assessment of the situation.

California and London are held in contempt by people in the rust belt and Brexit land, yes because they are relatively more prosperous, but also because of their outlook on things generally. The right in the UK are always accusing the Labour Party leader, as being an ‘Islington liberal’ and so out of touch with Labour’s core voters in the north of England. To be fair, there is a lot of truth in that, but it comes down to cultural differences more than economic success. Perhaps the two go hand in hand, so this should not be surprising.

All of which leaves the Labour Party with a lot of difficulties, in trying to please both sets of supporters, or former supporters. For this reason, I think the next general election could well be a complete disaster for Labour, and the broader left in general. Labour could win less than 200 seats, perhaps not many over 100.

I said to my friend, be careful what you wish for, I think the political (far) right are on the march now, and his obvious optimism, is not well placed if we judge it by the facts. Time will tell, but I am very pessimistic about the future of politics.    

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Richmond Park Donation Scandal Rocks the Green Party

An internal party report written by the Chair and two other senior members of Kingston Green Party, reveals that pressure was put on the two local parties which cover the Richmond Park constituency, not to stand a candidate in the recent by-election. The other local party involved is Richmond and Twickenham Green Party.

I first came across this report when a link was posted to it on the Green Left FaceBook page last Saturday, it was posted elsewhere on Facebook too. Green Left rejected the post once admins noticed the confidential nature of the report, but it remained on another Facebook page for several hours until it was removed. The poster of the link called themselves Sara Leeks, and had only just joined the Green Left page before posting the link to the report.

I read the report, which to be honest didn’t tell me an awful lot that I didn’t know already from what has been in the public domain, and postings to an internal Green Left email list. But there was one detail of how pressure was applied to Kingston Green Party to not stand a candidate, by the leadership of the Green Party of England and Wales, which was the part played by a £250,000 donation to the party, conditional on the Greens not putting a candidate up at the recent by-election in Richmond Park. It was said that if the Greens agreed to withdraw in favour of the Lib Dem candidate, this would prove the party’s seriousness about forming a ‘progressive alliance.’

Given the confidential nature of the report, which was sent to the Green Party Executive Committee and the Green Party Regional Committee, I decided not to comment publicly on the matter, and await the findings of the internal review. It was also obvious that this report was potentially very damaging to the Green Party. However, I thought the report would re-surface again somewhere on the internet, and sure enough today it did.

The report has been re-published in full via the Guido Fawkes right wing political website, with a follow up story to get full value out of the revelations. The report claims that pressure was brought to bear on the local parties, by the Green Party leaders, Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley and other senior figures in the party, and the donation offer played a part in adding to this pressure.

The Green Party did not accept the donation in the end, because it either was against the party’s ethical code for donations or it was dodgy in some other way, possibly it was judged to be illegal under Electoral Commission rules for party donations. But before that decision was made, the report claims that Green Party staff made it known that their jobs were at risk if the donation was not accepted and the Green Party did not withdraw their candidate from the by-election.

Green Left has now drafted a statement on the affair to the Green Left committee:

Green Left  welcomes the GPRC’s decision to consider the serious  issues raised in the so-called ‘Richmond Report’. Transparency and accountability are essential in this process.  We look forward to the Green Party 2017 Conference democratically arriving at a clear policy on the ‘Progressive Alliance’.    

I would add to this that the Regional Committee should review this report as a matter extreme urgency, given that I think the plan is to do this in mid-January next year. We can’t wait that long for an official response, because the cat is now out of bag, and whilst the world ponders on the allegations, a delay in a full official open response, is now heaping even more damage onto the party than is necessary. A bad situation made worse, if you like. But this is my opinion only at this stage.

The Green Party also needs to stop any further collusion with other political parties, or ‘progressive alliances’ until the party has come to a proper democratic decision via the party’s processes, which in practice means at Spring conference next year.

I worry very much for the immediate future of the Green Party, with it rumoured that over a thousand members have already resigned from the party since the decision was taken to stand down in favour of the Lib Dems in Richmond Park. Let us get all of this out into the open and an agreement or not reached, before any more pressure is applied to local parties over the mooted, and that is all it is at the moment, participation in any electoral pacts, and with whom.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Bill McKibben - How to Save the Planet From President Trump

Written by Bill McKibben and first published at Common Dreams

We’re going to be dealing with an onslaught of daily emergencies during the Trump years. Already it’s begun — if there’s nothing going on (or in some cases when there is), our leader often begins the day with a tweet to stir the pot, and suddenly we’re debating whether burning the flag should lose you your citizenship.

These crises will get worse once he has power — from day to day we’ll have to try and protect vulnerable immigrants, or deal with the latest outrage from the white supremacist “alt-reich,” or confront the latest self-dealing scandal in the upper reaches of the Tower. It will be a game (though not a fun one), for 48 months, of trying to preserve as many people and as much of the Constitution as possible.

And if we’re very lucky, at the end of those four years, we might be able to go back to something that resembles normal life. Much damage will have been done in the meantime, but perhaps not irreparable damage. Obamacare will be gone, but something like it — maybe even something better — will be resurrectable. The suffering in the meantime will be real, but it won’t make the problem harder to solve, assuming reason someday returns. That’s, I guess, the good news: that someday normal life may resume.

But even that slight good news doesn’t apply to the question of climate change. It’s very likely that by the time Trump is done we’ll have missed whatever opening still remains for slowing down the trajectory of global warming — we’ll have crossed thresholds from which there’s no return. In this case, the damage he’s promising will be permanent, for two reasons.

The first is the most obvious: The adversary here is ultimately physics, which plays by its own rules. As we continue to heat the planet, we see that planet changing in ways that turn into feedback loops.

If you make it hot enough to melt Arctic ice (and so far we’ve lost about half of our supply) then one of the side effects is removing a nice white mirror from the top of the planet. Instead of that mirror reflecting 80 percent of the sun’s rays out to space, you’ve now got blue water that absorbs most of the incoming rays of the sun, amping up the heat. Oh, and as that water warms, the methane frozen in its depths eventually begins to melt — and methane is a potent greenhouse gas. Even if, someday, we get a president back in power who’s willing to try and turn down the coal, gas and oil burning, there will be nothing we can do about that melting methane. Some things are forever, or at least for geologic time.

There’s another reason too, however, and that’s that the international political mechanisms Trump wants to smash can’t easily be assembled again, even with lots of future good will. It took immense diplomatic efforts to reach the Paris climate accords — 25 years of negotiating with endless setbacks.
The agreement itself is a jury-rigged kludge, but at least it provides a mechanism for action. It depends on each country voluntarily doing its part, though, and if the biggest historic source of the planet’s carbon decides not to play, it’s easy to guess that an awful lot of other leaders will decide that they’d just as soon give in to their fossil fuel interests too.

So Trump is preparing to make a massive bet: a bet that the scientific consensus about climate change is wrong, and that the other 191 nations of the world are wrong as well. It’s a bet based on literally nothing — when The New York Times asked him about global warming, he started mumbling about a physicist uncle of his who died in 1985. The job — and it may not be a possible job — is for the rest of us to figure out how to make the inevitable loss of this bet as painless as possible.

It demands fierce resistance to his silliness — clearly his people are going to kill Obama’s Clean Power Plan, but perhaps they can be shamed into simply ignoring but not formally abrogating the Paris accords. This is work not just for activists, but for the elites that Trump actually listens to. Here’s where we need what’s left of the establishment to be weighing in: Fortune 500 executives, Wall Streeters — anyone who knows how stupid a bet this is.

But we also need to be working hard on other levels. The fossil fuel industry is celebrating Trump’s election, and rightly so — but we can continue to make their lives at least a little difficult, through campaigns like fossil fuel divestment and through fighting every pipeline and every coal port. The federal battles will obviously be harder, and we may lose even victories like Keystone. But there are many levers of power, and the ones closer to home are often easier to pull.

We also have to work at state and local levels to support what we want. The last election, terrible as it was, showed that renewable energy is popular even in red states — Florida utilities lost their bid to sideline solar energy, for instance. The hope is that we can keep the buildout of sun and wind, which is beginning to acquire real momentum, on track; if so, costs will keep falling to the point where simple economics may overrule even Trumpish ideology.

And of course we have to keep communicating, all the time, about the crisis — using the constant stream of signals from the natural world to help people understand the folly of our stance. As I write this, the Smoky Mountain town of Gatlinburg is on fire, with big hotels turned to ash at the end of a devastating drought. Mother Nature will provide us an endless string of teachable moments, and some of them will break through — it’s worth remembering that the Bush administration fell from favor as much because of Katrina as Iraq.

None of these efforts will prevent massive, and perhaps fatal, damage to the effort to constrain climate change. It’s quite possible, as many scientists said the day after the election, that we’ve lost our best chance. But we don’t know precisely how the physics will play out, and every ton of carbon we keep out of the atmosphere will help.

And amidst this long ongoing emergency, as I said at the beginning, we’ve got to help with all the daily crises. This winter may find climate activists spending as much time trying to block deportations as pipelines; we may have to live in a hot world, but we don’t have to live in a jackbooted one, and the more community we can preserve, the more resilient our communities will be. It’s hard not to despair — but then, it wasn’t all that easy to be realistically hopeful about our climate even before Trump. This has always been a battle against great odds. They’re just steeper now.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License.

Bill McKibben is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College and co-founder of His most recent book is Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Zac Goldsmith – Arrogant Prat gets his Comeuppance

With something like a swing of 22%, the Lib Dem candidate, Sarah Olney, won the Richmond Park by-election, overturning a Tory majority of over 23,000 votes at last year’s general election. Zac Goldsmith, resigned from the Tories (sort of) to protest against the decision to build an extra runway at Heathrow Airport, causing the by-election.

Results like this don’t come along very often, and the Lib Dems and those supporting their rear-guard action against Brexit, are hyping this by-election result as a political game changer. It is being likened to the Ribble Valley by-election which preceded the abandonment of the Poll Tax, and the subsequent demise of the Prime Minister of eleven years standing, Margaret Thatcher in 1990.

But is this really going to have a big influence on our politics in the immediate future? I think the honest answer to this is no. What was the beginning of the end for Thatcher, was primarily the unpopularity of the Poll Tax in fairly marginal Tory held constituencies, particularly in the north of England. Many Tory MPs were worried about losing their seats because of the Poll Tax, and this forced a retreat by the government.

With constituency boundaries not certain as yet, for the next general election, it looks to be only a handful of Tory seats, would be vulnerable to an anti-Brexit vote favouring the Lib Dems, perhaps as many as seven constituencies. Of course a loss of seven seats would lose the government its majority in Parliament, but that would be only if they failed to pick up any gains, from pro-Brexit parts of the country, probably at the expense of Labour.

Although the government has a reduced majority after this loss, ironically it has probably made an early general election less likely. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, is known for her caution, and at the moment the government’s working majority of 13 seats is enough to carry on, at least for a year or two anyway.

It is also unlikely that the government will change its strategy, if we can call it that, for negotiating a settlement with the EU for life after Brexit. Richmond Park is not a normal constituency. A wealthy, leafy suburb in west London, where a majority of residents have a university degree, and where over 70% of the electorate voted to Remain in the EU in June’s referendum. Many people living there are employed in the City of London.

Goldsmith also did himself no favours with his Islamophobic campaign to become Mayor of London this year. Like most of London, the constituency is ethically mixed, and quite happy about this. Once reasonably popular locally, he was tarnished by his disgraceful campaigning tactics, in the London elections.

One thing that this result does seem to confirm, is that the Lib Dems have been forgiven for their part in propping up a minority Tory government in the last Parliament, by Labour voters. Labour humiliatingly lost their deposit in Richmond Park, polling barely above 3.5%. It looks as though, so called ‘tactical voting' is back with a vengeance, which tends to benefit the Lib Dems most. Whether we end up with a formal progressive alliance or not at the next general election, it looks as though the voters, or Remain voters anyway, have voted with their feet, and have formed into an anti-Brexit alliance.

I have written here on this blog before, that the Green Party should have stood a candidate in Richmond Park, and made the case for no airport expansion (anywhere), but it looks as though Green votes may have just swung this election in favour of the Lib Dems.

I can’t say I’m unhappy though, that Goldsmith’s arrogance has been punished, and trust we have seen the last of him as an MP for good. Don’t worry, he won’t starve.   

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Is the Green Party Pro-EU First, Environment Second These Days?

The decision, taken locally but heavily influenced by the Green Party leadership, of the party not standing a candidate in this Thursday’s Richmond Park by-election, appears to signal a change in the political priorities for the English Greens.

To recap, the by-election has been called because the sitting Tory MP, Zac Goldsmith, resigned from his party and is standing as an independent, anti-Heathrow Airport expansion candidate. Goldsmith, although having something of an ecological viewpoint, is not necessarily against airport expansion in general, but he is against it in his own back yard.

The Lib Dem candidate Sarah Olney, also backs airport expansion, but not at Heathrow, whilst the Labour candidate, Christian Wolmar takes the same position, preferring Gatwick Airport for an extra runway.

One might have thought that the Greens would seize on this opportunity to differentiate themselves from the other parties and use the by-election to publicise the urgency of action on climate change, and the part that air travel plays in exacerbating the problem.

The first indications were that this was indeed going to be the case, with a candidate selected to stand, but a change of heart by that candidate, and some other activists locally, saw the decision reversed. This was after representations were made by the Green Party co-leaders, Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley.

There has been more emphasis in recent years on the Green Party’s social as well as environmental policies, but I can’t ever remember environmental policy, and in particular those policies around climate change, being relegated to a subordinate status like has happened with this by-election.

The Lib Dems, hardly surprisingly given their modus operandi, are using the Heathrow expansion issue in the classic nimbyist way, but they have also tried desperately to make the by-election about a completely different subject. Brexit.

I suppose this should come as no great surprise to seasoned Lib Dem watchers, as trying to thwart the Brexit process is now their flag-ship policy, as they try to recover from their near wipe out at last year’s general election. They see an opportunity to tempt some of the 16 million Remain voters into supporting the Lib Dems, particularly as the Tories (and probably Labour too, although it is not clear yet), do not want to re-run the referendum on our membership of the EU.  

Green Party members and voters were overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the EU, as I was, but there was a minority who wanted to leave. Green Left comrade, Larry O’Hara made the case for Greens to vote to leave the EU eloquently on this blog prior to the referendum. Larry makes a strong case for Greens to abide by their principles and take the opportunity to bring democratic decision making to its lowest, local level. But as I say, most Greens, in some cases reluctantly, voted to stay. 

This was pretty much my view, seeing staying as the lesser of evils, rather than let the Tories dismantle environmental and employment protection policies.

I wonder how many Green remainers though, put EU membership or some kind of associate membership above the issue of airport expansion and climate change? I dare say that some Greens will say that staying in the EU will better enable us to deal with climate issues, but that is a matter of opinion.

Of course the decision not to stand in Richmond Park is all bound up with the idea, promoted by the Green Party’s new co-leaders, to make a start on the formation of a progressive alliance, of political parties vaguely to the left of the Tories. Labour are standing though in Richmond Park, and a progressive alliance does not yet exist in any real way.

I am broadly in favour of an anti-Tory alliance for the next general election, but I do think that we Greens have missed an opportunity to trumpet our distinctive position on airport expansion and the issues surrounding it, in this by-election.

Not all Green Party members are happy about the position we have taken in Richmond Park, and I must admit that I am uneasy about using this by-election as a referendum on Brexit, or the terms of it. I also have the feeling that we may be being used as the Lib Dem's useful idiots.   

Sunday, 27 November 2016

The Metabolic Rift and Ecological Value – the Ecosocialist Challenge

This post is written by Gordon Peters and is a paper he gave to the recent Historical Materialism Conference

In this short paper I am taking as a starting point the ecological rift, or metabolic rift in Marx’s own phrase, at the heart of the way in which capitalism appropriates the natural world and alienates humanity from its species being and from nature in the process. This is elaborated at considerable length  by John Bellamy Foster and Brent Clark [but not exclusively by them] and what I hope to do here is while accepting their recovery of ecological balance and its disturbance in Marx, give an overview of an ecological praxis related to that theorization. What does restoring ecological value look like?

In their article in Monthly Review, Bellamy Foster and Clark [1] mention – although they do not explore – two useful concepts to challenge the metabolic rift and the separation of humanity from nature, accelerating as it is with capital accumulation and reproduction.  One is ‘metabolic restoration’ and the other is ‘sustainable co-evolutionary ecology’. I think it is worth exploring the social and political interventions which are called for by these concepts. To do so we need to see clearly what is happening, what processes are taking place, what is irreversible, what can be refused, what can be overcome.

I want to look at four important tendencies in modern capitalism and what can constitute ecological challenges which are not themselves already determined by capitalist relations, or are likely to be re-shaped in managing capitalism to maintain its power or hold.

These are:

1] Automation and precarity
2] Despoliation and species reduction
3] Commodification and fetishism –reification
4] Ecological debt and unequal exchange

They are discussed only in broad outline as there is vast empirical evidence now in many places, and the point here is to orientate a praxis.
Automation and precarity

The labour saving aspects of technological innovation may be seen as positive and the value adding as negative, albeit that the exchange relationship demanded by capitalism appropriates huge surplus profit from new technological applications and makes more workers redundant or precariously self employed. There are now various projections of how far automated labour processes will go, and how far professional, middle class as well as conventional working class jobs will be lost and lives will change [e.g. Snricek and Williams [2], Standing [3]. For this purpose I think it is safe to say that the world of waged and salaried work is changing to an extent that most livelihoods based on paid work will become precarious, middle as well as working class people will suffer emisseration, and ever more unequal concentrations of wealth [and absence of wealth] will form, geographically uneven within countries and between countries.

Where family wage, job security and increasingly the social safety net for periods of worklessness and ill health are less and less viable, or in any sense dependable [and the decline of social democracy in government or as a main opposition to rampant capitalism confirms this] then the demand for basic or citizens income becomes not just a ‘left field’ or idealistic one but potentially central to a social discourse, and politics, which seeks to establish and protect rights of ordinary wellbeing and human dignity. There are numerous technical approaches to basic income, depending partly on different elaborations of welfare state or their absence, and what transitional arrangements will look like and affect groups of people, but essentially they take away the dependence on the exchange relationship of work and its extraction of surplus value to maintain the livelihood of people, fit or unfit, young or old, and replace that with a guarantee of sustainability of the means of life with no-one denied, and rights to earn or accumulate beyond that which may then be regulated [or not] according to prevailing circumstances. The argument about distribution of surpluses then remains but is no longer linked to peoples very survival. In more immediate and practical terms, the fight against discrimination and benefits capping and for a real living wage, and supporting trade unions in this is linked to the argument for citizens or basic income as the medium to longer term way of dealing with such discrimination and poverty.

The fight for decent work standards, and against zero hours precarity such as that taken up by Deliveroo workers in the UK, or the Walmart $15 hour campaign in USA, is one ecosocialism has to be allied to in challenging the way in which capitalism depends on further exploitation and denial of basic rights to its workforce. Minimum wage and employment rights, coupled with a social safety net, may be increasingly undeliverable by neo-liberal capitalism and to the extent that is the case, unifying the interests of those in low paid work and those unemployed, or periodically and unsustainably employed, is a vital transitional task in building demand for an alternative.

Complementary to a basic income approach, restoring ecological value envisages not only protecting but celebrating the commons.

Mutual aid and networks of skills exchange can make the limited applications of time banking possible within capitalism into a social norm of the use value of work, freely exchanged and not part of the commodity form. The uncompensated work of informal care in the political economy of welfare [currently estimated to involve over six million people in UK either part time or full time as carers] can be recognized as economic and social value.  Voluntary commitments of solidarity and support for the health and wellbeing of all as well as work to establish plant and animal preservation and balanced urban environments which recognize the biosphere as primary, not secondary, consideration to living well can be established as ecological value. The extent to which surplus value extraction from labour power continues, from those with capacity and willingness to engage in amassing some wealth – in its exchange value form – is of course very much a matter of how far anti-capitalist struggles go and balance of forces pertaining in any time and place. 

Despoliation and species reduction

As Bellamy Foster [4] has long been at pains to point out, Marx was anything but dismissive about the exploitative and potentially and increasingly actual ruinous effects of capital accumulation on the natural world. Rather the reverse, that the metabolic rift was central to capitalism’s mode of production and as explained by Marx in Capital on the denuding of soils and the strong link between that denudation and the guano and fertilizer trade.

Despoliation has of course now gone much further, with extinction of species, acidification of oceans, toxic wastes dumping and entering food chains, plastic molecular interference with life, air pollution, massive mineral and oil extraction, particularly fracking, and climate warming and its ramifications. Many of these processes are not new – oil extraction from shale sedimentary strata for instance was pioneered by ‘Paraffin Young’ in West Lothian in the mid nineteenth century. What is new is the much accelerated pace to meet the worldwide extension of commodification and the rise in population with demands for inclusion within that commodification and reproduction of a capitalist mode. *

While global warming may now be inevitable by at least 2 degrees C this century, and CO2 parts per million irreducible below 450 [ICPCC, Stern, McKibbin] [5]  mounting evidence says such capital extraction and energy generation is extending the metabolic rift to a catastrophic conclusion for many and a denuded future for all humanity, even those with amassed wealth in secluded places.

In this situation, a refusal strategy – no more fracking, keeping oil in the ground, the stranding of fossil fuel assets, i.e. a general policy of carbon sequestration has to be allied to a viable energy transition towards renewable resource dependence. Much of this is even accepted within the recent Paris Agreement, even though the pace necessary and sanctions to achieve a turnaround are quite lacking.

The ownership and control of investment remain largely untouched, though there are community owned outliers such as The Cochabamba Project in Bolivia and community energy generation projects of considerable size in Germany, and still at a micro level in the UK.

McKibbin reckons that there are seventeen years left in the USA in which to get alternative renewables up and running as main sources of power generation, before the worst effects for the rest of the century are made irreversible by fossil fuel extraction and its consequences. And he takes as confirmation the US Government report of the OCI [6].

The means of production of capitalism have not yet been altered significantly in the energy sphere. But they are not immune to oppositional pressure. Divestment demands and policies introduced into pension funds or other large investors, through Keep It In The Ground and through ethical policy demands, have sequestered billions of pounds of assets [Carbon Tracker, 2013] [7]. Divestment, Boycott and Sanctions are clearly useful weapons of political economy as witness the current Bill of the UK Government to outlaw local authorities from attempting to change their pension fund investments from corporate entities whose policies they oppose to ones of which they approve.

The way in which jobs are traditionally defended, and trade unionism tied up [or bundled – see below] with the latest requirement of monopoly capitalism, for instance Unite supporting Trident on the Clyde or the Hinckley B nuclear power plant investment, would seem to work against a class-based opposition. But just as the Lucas Aerospace workers challenged war production forty years ago, a green investment policy [TUC’s one million jobs][8] and climate unionism are emerging to provide an alternative – ‘’the rise of climate unionism offers a new direction for the labour movement’’ [Sean Sweeney, US]. In the UK there is a growing, if still embryonic, movement of trade unionists for carbon reduction.

Community energy generation and municipally owned power distribution networks, along with house insulation and maximizing solar cell installation, will combat fuel poverty and bring control of energy policy back to its use value rather than exchange value for profit making from a common or public good. Even within capitalist relations, the extent of such in Germany suggests it is already a viable proposition.

Commodification and fetishism

De-commodifying is trickier to find instrumental ways of changing and of transitioning. Dealing with more people made surplus to capital’s requirements and out of work and with increasingly unhealthy environments has more obvious traction than challenging methods of consumption, and the value and price correlation of a world in which commodification is a universal norm.

Food sovereignty  The definition by Global Justice of this is: ‘’It could create a food system that is designed to help people and the  environment rather than make profits for multinational corporations. The food sovereignty movement is a global alliance of farmers, growers, consumers and activists’’[9]

Moves towards more locally grown, organic and sustainably managed food as both healthier for people and for the biosphere can help challenge commodification linked to the need to stem air pollution [over 9,000 Londoners per year now die prematurely from the consequences of nitrogen di-oxide and particulate inhalation] and awareness of what corporate expansion and sovereign wealth funds are doing through mass monoculture in countries of the South, depriving local farmers and forcing a ruinous commodification on whole swathes of land and population. The struggle against corporate seed control [e.g. Monsanto GM policies] and vast distributional network control [such as by Cargill] is a struggle to maintain both biodiversity and livelihood, in the South and North.

Bellamy Foster and Clark excoriate Jason Moore [10] for his monistic approach to modern capitalism, a social determinism which sees capitalism and the modern Anthropocene taking all before it in ‘’bundles’’ which erase any basic nature. For Moore it’s as if now that it is difficult to talk of unspoiled nature or wilderness, as capital has so obviously spread everywhere, then it is hopelessly ‘dualist’ to consider nature as separate. The human and extra-human may be bundled up in many ways now, but that in no way should deny the fundamental given of the natural world.  Foster and Clark go on to suggest that seeing nature as internalized by society [e.g. Neil Smith] [11] or appropriated ‘’all the way down’’ {Moore] is deterministic hubris, and a denial of a dialectic. We could also add that flash flooding on an epic scale, excessive hurricane occurrences and certain volcanic reminders are a kind of ‘return of the repressed’ or empirical disproof of Moore et al.

Where Moore talks of ‘bundles’, it might be more useful to use the term ‘tangles’. With bundling, capitalism wraps things up, but if the natural and the social – and what’s in-between -  are entangled, then things are unresolved. There is a dialectical space for antagonisms to play out. The geographer, Paul Routledge, refers to a politics of entanglement [12], of different social forces at work in particular environments. It is proposed here then that in discussion of capitalism and its Anthropocene manifestations the notion of tangles is more grounded, descriptively accurate, and allows for thinking about unraveling. Think of salination in the Ganges-Meghna delta through the spread of shrimp farming and resistance of traditional fishers and rice growers, or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch round Midway in the Pacific [13]. Or encroachment on the Green Belt driven by property prices and desire for space in a countryside setting, and resisted by various interests with commons preservation at heart.

A further danger of the discourse of people like Moore, and ‘hybridists’[14] , is that class conflict seems overcome. The forward march of labour [Hobsbaum] may have been halted some time ago, but then neo-liberal capitalism and its global expression, following the 2007-8 crises, are now facing setbacks and inducing turmoil. And war economy persists, with its own despoliation and effects on biodiversity.  Accelerating inequality, displacement and migration  do not fit much of the conventional narrative of class conflict, and indeed tend to fuel right wing, populist demagogy which preys on a wider precariat, not any recognizable class alliance. But it is precisely at this point that Marx’s concepts of alienation and reification need recovering.

The alienation from the product of work through the exchange relationship of capitalism is ever more elaborated through the satisfaction of manufactured wants. And these wants are more and more controlled in their satisfaction by corporations, and internet monopolies, or cartels, who devise the very algorithms to complete the individual’s ‘lifeworld’ [to adopt Habermas’s term for what goes on in reality distinct from what is discursive knowledge]. Commodity fetishism drives much behaviour and takes up increasing leisure time. Reification, or becoming absorbed in the thing in itself, takes over more and more time – from ‘the medium is the message’ [McLuhan] to ‘the app. Is the message’. But things break down, debt is accumulated, possessions are re-possessed, much of the commons are lost, and addictions, severe stress and mental illness multiply. Meanwhile the society of the spectacle throws up projected demagogy – real life spectres like Trump and Farage as reified answers to the hard felt alienation of many.

Disentangling this alienation in its many different and uneven forms is itself a multi-faceted industry and the life work of much informal care. To the ‘free gift’ to capital of land and nature as seen by classical value theory [15], and as criticized for that by Marx, we can add the free gift of domestic and informal care, subsidizing profit taking and rentier capitalism. The under estimation of care work, and emotional labour, is a direct concomitant of exchange value trumping use value.
The return of use value is the answer to alienation [if only it were that simple, as a politically engaged psychoanalyst might say].

But if  ‘’rationally regulating the social metabolism of nature and society….in the service of advancing human potential’’ [Foster and Clark] is the ecosocialist aim where associated producers are relied on to restore the balance, then undoing commodification of all that exists must be part of the process. Transitional policies such as  reducing to thirty, then twenty, hour working weeks for those in waged work, and co-operative production and distribution networks, including common source and open space on the internet, can be part of such an approach [16]. Allied to moves to basic income, more food sovereignty and community or municipal energy generation we have the engendering of an ecosocialist value system and a workable alternative to capitalism.

Ecocentric production and prefigurative practice [in Koel’s phrase – ibid.] within existing capitalism, are both possible and necessary as transitional means to a more steady state. Without scaling up in global terms plus new community and inter-regional transactions which can negate corporate growth, state supported divestment, climate unionism as a mass not marginal activity, and reduced consumption they will not be sufficient.

Ecological debt and unequal exchange

An ecosocialist practice should recognize that disastrous situations for populations across the world are in significant measure the result of what Hannah Holleman [17] calls ecological imperialism. The global South has been made dependent on the global North – and theories of imperialism from Marx to Gunder Frank have set out to explain this dependency.  Ecological imperialism specifies the unequal ecological exchange which has taken place, and is ever intensified, and explains why looking to technological fixes, fair trade and greener agreements between global elites cuts off significant segments of the ecological movement ‘’from those with the greatest interest in transforming the system, the global working and dispossessed class’’ [18]. There is an elite, or class-based, and racialized, ‘’division of nature and humanity at the heart of the ecological rift of capitalism’’[19]. There is an under-compensated transfer of  ecological wealth which maintains the ‘’cycle of poverty, debt and ecological destruction’’ [20] and the sum of this is the ecological debt owed by the global North to the global South. Ecological solidarity then is with those** engaged in ‘’active struggle to protect land, livelihoods, and indeed lives in the face of the encroachment of capital’’ [21].

* It would be interesting to consider how far population rise, uneven and unequal as it is, and the demands arising, contribute to formations of capitalism as much as capital determining the nature of population growth, but that is another discussion – which it has to be said is much neglected on the left, thereby leaving population pressure theorizing too much to neo-Malthusians such as Population Matters.

1-      John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark : Marxism and the Dialectics of Ecology in Monthly Review, Vol.68, Issue 05, 2016

2-      N. Snricek and A. Williams: Inventing the Future – Post capitalism in a World without Work, Verso [London] 2015.
            Also Paul Mason : Postcapitalism – A Guide to Our Future,[Allen          
            Lane], 2015
3 - Guy Standing: The Precariat, Blackwells, 2014

4- See John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York: The Ecological RiftCapitalism’s War on the Earth; Monthly Review Press [NY], 2010. Other writers who have worked to ‘rehabilitate’ the ecological insights in Marx for too long neglected by Western Marxism are Joel Kovel: The Enemy of Nature, Zed Books, 2002, and Martin Empson: Capitalism and Ecology – Socialist Worker pamphlet

And Damian Carrington, 27 0ctober, 2016 in The Guardian on ten years after the Stern Report , 2006, on effects of climate change  commissioned by UK Government>Environment>Green

6 – ‘’Expansion of existing fossil fuels amounts to climate denial’’  in  Report of  Oil Change International, 22 September, 2016

7- Carbon Tracker Initiative and Grantham Research Insitute, LSE :
see on the 2 trillion dollars of stranded assets in Unburnable Carbon, 2013.

8- See for instance Mike Hales: Living Thinkworkwhere do labour processes come from?[CSE Books]1980. It is now[November 2016] the fortieth anniversary of the Lucas Aerospace Combine Shop Stewards Report, on The Lucas Plan and the campaign round that. In Birmingham on November 26, 2016 there is a day anniversary event.
See also the review of 22 January, 2014 in
The TU report on One Million Climate Jobs supported by PCS, CWU, UCU, TSSA, Unite:

10 - Jason W. Moore: Capitalism and The Web of Life, Verso [London] 2015 and The Capitalocene, Part 1, 2014 in

11 - Neil Smith : Uneven Development in Socialist Register [London] 2007

12 - J.P. Sharp, P. Routledge,  C. Philo, R. Paddison, [Eds]; Entanglements of Power, Routledge [London], 2000.

and the vimeo – A Message From the Gyre on the Midway Island land pollution.

14 - Hybridism can be a useful concept to challenge essentialist discourse, but in the context of  political economy and ecology, Foster and Clark cite Erik Swyngedouw, Modernity and Hybridity in Annals of the Association of American Geographers as an example of the monist or undialectical approach in hybridist theorizing

15- - Bellamy Foster and Clark [ibid.] point out Marx’s exposition of the Lauderdale Paradox in classical value theory where the Earl of Lauderdale wrote that the amassing of private wealth was at the expense of public good and led to monopoly and scarcity.

16 - The much reduced working week, and choice of period of years in which to perform an allotted amount of wage work, was proposed by Andre Gorz in the 1970s –Ecology as Politics, South End Press, 1979, and has been re-introduced to the discourse on economic and social policy by Anna Coote for the IPPR and more recently with the New Economics Foundation 

17 - Hannah Holleman: Interview in Left Voice, October 16, 2016 at

18- ibid.

19 – ibid.

20- ibid.

21 – ibid.

** It may be worth noting the Cochabamba Declaration of 2010, in Bolivia, as a first attempt to make a global challenge to the privileges of capital encroachment by declaring the sanctity of natural and human rights. And this led by a national government in the global South. Of some relevance to this discussion is the fact that it is the organized campesinos and indigenos in Bolivia who have kept the Morales government to its stance against rapacious wealth extraction, and it is the organized campesinos and agricultural and forest workers in Ecuador who continue to fight for the policy of keeping oil in the ground now that Correo, the Ecuadorian president has capitulated to big oil interests in part if not completely in the Yamani national park.

Gordon Peters in a member of Haringey Green Party and a Green Left Supporter