Since I’ve been gone…

Much has (or more cynically, hasn’t really) happened in my absence. Here is a quick summary of what I’ve seen from afar…

The Crisis in Capitalism.

It’s inherent instability has been on show for all these past couple of months and the free market is being bailed out by state intervention. The quetsion is twofold for us though.

How much of an imapct is this actually ahving on our daily lives?

and how should we,  as workers, engage with this. if at all? 

The UK left

Seems to be in a worse state than ever. Respect is in pieces, one piece the SWP led Left Alternative is dead by its own admission and is unlikely to feature again regardless of what any non-SWP activists within might feel. The other half, faces a major battle to restore both its momentum and credibility. The SWP meanwhile not content with this, seem to be frantically pushing the self-destruct button with rumours of faction fights and leadership coups abounding on the more trainspottery of web boards.

Elsewhere the ISG and SR are pushing for a new Revolutionary organisation, good luck to them, but it smacks to me of mopping up the mess of the above implosion.

The Convention of the Left appears to have been a qualified success (or at least has avoided embarrasment  – which let’s face it is in itself a measure of success for the Left these days!) with the seeds of an open discussion being sown for the future.

The Green Party

We now have a leader. I didn’t vote for them. I never even recieved my ballot paper, which is a little disheartening. But to be honest, Partyism is not much of feature in my relations with the GPEW, its is vehicle for change, not a structure worth maintaining for its won sake. we shall see. There is optimistic talk of up to 3 MPs next election. Given the Labour meltdown that is widely predicted, electorally this hould be a focus of ours as we strive to position ourselves as a credible alternative.

Apologies for Absence

Apologies to anyone who has been checking here, but I have been unable to post for some time. Hopefully, normal service will resume in the coming weeks.

On the UK Elections

No need to go into great detail as the results have been analysed abley elsewhere (I nicked the delightful pie chart from there…cheers Jim!).

However there are 3 points worth reiterating

1) The Left

The Left did almost universally disastrously. Clearly something in the message and the methods is not working. No amount of optimistic spin can change this. Hopefully, these results will provide a long overdue wake up call.

2) The Far Right

Whilst some take comfort from lower than expected gains for the BNP, there should be no escaping the fact that gaining a London Assembly member is a major breakthrough that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. The BNP are getting closer to a European style permanent presence in the British political landscape.

Also even the to all intents and purposes defunct National Front managed to attract large amounts of votes in some areas.

3) The Green Party

The only comfort in these elections was the continued progress of the Greens (albeit modest). The simple lesson to be drawn from this is that the Green Party represents the most practical vehicle for success with libertarian, progressive and ecosocialist ideas, and that the Greens manage to do something the Left do not. Those of us who would self define as being  on the left of the party should be cautioned by this against jumping into bed too easily with sympathetic elements of what remains of the old left. Similarly those of our allies still clinging onto leftist praxis (as it were) would be well to take a step back and critically analyse where exactly they are.

The Green Party and the dangers of pendulum politics

Two recent events in Europe again bring up the question of the Green Party’s political identity.

In Italy the collapse of the Left has taken the Greens, who self identify themselves as being on the far left, down with them, whilst in Germany the Greens are looking likely to enter into with the right wing CDU, at least in Hamburg.

Both are severe blows to the credibilty of the Greens as a distinct political current.

Attempts at what our Leninist friends might characterise as centrist vacillation are not really working, and should not be inferred as the aim of this piece. Rather, it is time to return the fundamentals and position the Greens as a unique aberration from the norms of the political spectrum.

Yes, we have a lot more common ground with the left, and should recognise this is our choice of postelection allies, yet it is vital that we maintain our traditions and philosophy that allow the Greens to simoultaneously be both radical anti-capitalists and a practical choice for voters seeking urgent, local change within their communities.

Our focus on autonomy, libertarianism and practical direct action are our strengths and the Green Left and ecosocialists should  continue to work to promote this and hold our own banner high!

The Qollasuyo Declaration

From the Climate and Capitalism blog…worth reposting here I belive.

The Qollasuyo Declaration: Indigenous Peoples Demand Full Participation in Climate Talks and Decisions

The statement below was issued on March 19, at the conclusion of a conference held in the Qollasuyo district of the province of La Paz, Bolivia, on “The Role of Indigenous Peoples in the Protection of Bio-Cultural Diversity: The Effect of Deforestation and Gas Emissions on Climate Change.”

According to a report in the Chilean newspaper El Rancahuaso, the meeting was sponsored by six groups:

  • Coordinating Body of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin;
  • Andean Coordinating Committee of Indigenous Organizations;
  • Indigenous Council of Central America;
  • United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues;
  • Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Issues;
  • Fund for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The conference recommendations will be submitted to Seventh Session of the Permanent UN Forum on Indigenous Issues, which will be held from April 21 to May 2 in New York City. The theme of that session will be “Climate Change, Bio-Cultural Diversity and Livelihoods: The Stewardship Role of Indigenous Peoples, and New Challenges.”

The Qollasuyo Declaration on Climate Change

The Indigenous Peoples of Abya Yala [the Americas] have gathered in the International Conference on “The Role of Indigenous Peoples in the Protection of Bio-Cultural Diversity: The Effect of Deforestation and Gas Emissions on Climate Change.”

With great respect for our ancestors and our Mother Earth, we declare that:

The Indigenous Peoples, who inhabit the most fragile ecosystems on the planet, including tropical rain forests, deserts, moors, mountains and islands, are the most vulnerable to the effects of global warming. The impact of climate change endangers our Mother Earth, our culture, our environment and our livelihood.

These changes are the result of the Western model of development, which is based on a rapacious capitalism that does not respect Mother Earth. In this century it is estimated that the average temperature will rise 1.8°C to 4.0°C, accelerating the impact of climate change on Indigenous Peoples. We insist that industrialized countries are solely responsible for the changes that are profoundly affecting Mother Earth, and we reject any suggestion that indigenous peoples have any responsibility for them.

The catastrophic effect of these changes can already be perceived in our territories: chaotic climatic problems including prolonged rainfall, flooding and droughts, deglaciation, rising sea levels, the expansion of endemic diseases, fires in the tropical rain forest, changes in the growing season. They are breaking the chain of life, threatening the survival of our peoples, and inducing high rates of extreme poverty. Indigenous women are particularly affected.

Even though we suffer disproportionately from climate change today, change caused mainly by excessive exploitation of natural resources, we are marginalized when attention turns to the development of policies and programs to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Multilateral agencies, the private sector, international NGOs and governments, etc. are proposing mitigation and adaptation policies that, although advanced as “solutions,” affect the exercise of our rights and outrageously assault our way of life. These supposed “solutions” include development of monoculture farming, production of biofuels, carbon sequestration, reduced emissions through avoiding deforestation and creating protected areas.

Historically, as different environmental pressures have affected our surroundings, Indigenous Peoples have been able to use our traditional knowledge to adapt. Because we still have that ability, we can propose alternative approaches to adaptation and mitigation.

It is time for Indigenous Peoples to be full participants in the national and international processes, discussions and actions related to climate change, biodiversity, protected areas etc.

Therefore we demand:

1. Full and effective participation in the processes of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the conventions on Biological Diversity and Protected Areas, and others.

2. Establishment of an indigenous expert group on climate change and traditional knowledge within the UNFCCC.

3. Coordination with agencies and specialized agencies of the United Nations such as the CBD, UNFCCC, UNESCO, FAO, UNICEF, GEF, UNPFII, UNDP and others that are involved in implementing actions and policies on climate change that affect Indigenous Peoples.

4. That the Permanent Forum [on Indigenous Peoples] recommend that a Special Rapporteur from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights produce a report on the impact of Climate Change on Indigenous Peoples.

5. Projects and programs related to climate change and adaptation should:

a. Fully respect the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples.

b. Consult effectively in advance, to obtain free and informed consent.

c. Be subject to the requirements of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Convention 169 of the ILO, and other relevant national and international agreements.

d. Respond to the needs, priorities and real experiences of Indigenous Peoples.

6. The implementation of UNFCCC policies should be subject to the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

7. Financial mechanisms to ensure that Indigenous Peoples have access to funds for adaptation, capability development, technology transfer, etc. should be expanded and made more flexible.

8. Programs and strategies specific to the climate change mitigation and adaptation needs of Indigenous People should be recognized and supported.

Adopted in Qollasuyo, La Paz, Bolivia, March 2008

(Translation by Ian Angus, Climate & Capitalism)

Bull in a China Town?

Vacouver, 29 March.

Heading into town on the Greyhound I was unsurprised to a protest about Tibet on the edge of the city’s chinatown.

What did surprise me was the fact the demonstrators were pro-Chinese.

The common call seemed to be denouncing the Tibetans as violent, with many placards saying “No to Riots!”.

Now whilst we can all be a little concerned about stories of ethnically based attacks on Han chinese settlers in Tibet, the Chinese angle of the Dalai Lama being a violent trouble maker does not square with the liberal west’s sanctification of the guy.

Friend’s who have lived in China talk about the improvements in infrastructure brought by Chinese occupation, and ironically  I belive had Tibet remained an indepedent theocracy many of the protesters we see on the news now would likely be waging a Maoist “peoples’ war”.

We must support the Tibetan’s right to self-determination, but be cautious of the forces backing it. We should also look more at workers’ unrest in China itself, Western Leftists would do well to offer as much practical support as possible to the nascent labour movement there, it is one of the few genuine powder kegs of proletarian insurgence at the moment. Maybe, just maybe the revolution will begin in China.

Action to defend Mehdi Kazemi March 22nd

Apologies for reposting from elsewhere, but I think this is worth disseminating as widely as possible. The blog also looks like one to keep an eye on.

On Saturday March 22nd at 2pm Middle East Worker’s Solidarity will be staging a protest opposite Downing Street in defence of Mehdi Kazemi, a gay Iranian asylum seeker who the British government plans to send back to Iran on the grounds that if gay Iranians are “discreet about their sexuality”, they will not get in trouble.

In fact, Mehdi Kazemi’s boyfriend in Iran has already been executed for being gay, and the regime knows about Mehdi Kazemi and will likely kill him if he returns. We are demonstrating to demand that he should not be sent to his death in Iran, and that he should be allowed to stay in Britain if he so chooses.

Saturday March 22nd, 2pm, Downing Street. Nearest tube Westminster/Charing Cross