Friday, 28 December 2012

People who want change must not allow themselves to be co-opted by the system

We live in a 'democracy'. A flawed democracy for sure, one with an anachronistic first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system, and consequently a parliament which fails to reflect the will of the British people. And in the second decade of the 21st century we have an unelected 'second chamber', a thing that would be regarded as absurdly undemocratic in most other countries, and something which you won't find in nations which our politicians criticise - like Chavez's Venezuela. 

What's more, we don't have a written constitution which people can refer to, and rely upon. Our constitutional arrangements are shrouded in mystery, and the goalposts appear to be moved, almost at will, to suit the needs of those in power. There can be no doubt that this 'democratic' system continues to be maintained because it benefits the alliance of monarchy, politicians, media magnates, capitalists and other 'establishment' figures who make up the British 'ruling class'.

The electoral hurdles are there to make sure that radicals and small parties find it very hard to make a breakthrough and get a toe hold in local or national government, but the story doesn't end there, because once elected, councillors and MPs find there are 'rules' that they are supposed to follow, and naturally enough the 'rules' are intended to make sure that they conform. The idea is that if you manage to get yourself elected you must then be co-opted you must become part of the system.

But if Parties and individuals want to get elected and bring about radical change they must avoid being co-opted at all costs, and they must retain their radical edge. 'Rules' are there to be changed, and broken if necessary. Many of the 'rules' are about how people are expected to behave rather than actual written codes. Please note that I'm not suggesting that anyone should make a martyr of themselves and end up getting fined or thrown into gaol. What I mean is that the 'rules' should be actively resisted by any legal means possible, especially peaceful democratic protest and direct action involving party members, supporters and trade unionists. In other words 'kick up a stink' and ruthlessly expose the corruption and anti-democratic nature of the system and its supporters. Don't co-operate with it, challenge it!

For example, if you are elected on a platform to oppose the cuts - oppose them at every opportunity!  A cut is a cut is a cut. There are no 'good' cuts in the Coalition's austerity programme, so vote against them, and work with trade unions and local community groups to defend jobs and protect local services. Form alliances with your local community from which you will gain trust and future electoral support. Once you have been seen to conform with 'the system' you simply become 'like all the rest' and lose credibility, and support - you become just another politician closing libraries and hospitals. Here is a quote from Deborah Mattinson's illuminating New Statesman article, based on in-depth electoral research  - 'Tony, you're just like all the rest' - [link above and well worth reading]:
"A conventional wisdom has grown up around the electoral success of new Labour. It is that to win elections you have to stifle radicalism; that being in touch with those vital "Middle England" voters is at odds with the needs of the Labour core vote; and that anything that challenges top-down thinking is somehow old-fashioned, certainly old Labour. Yet floating voters, and women in particular, were voting for something radically different in 1997. They wanted to see real change - [my italics] "
Of course there are some that will argue that this isn't 'grown up politics', and that 'with power comes responsibility'. But that is just playing into the hands of the the very people whose interests are served by the system. The real responsibility of power is to be true to your ideals and the people who elected you. Change is possible, but only if you don't do as you are told. Change the system, don't let the system change you!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Fracking is a delusional scraping of the bottom of the fossil fuel energy barrel

The battle over fracking is the new front line in the battle against climate change and the madness of the 'free' market fundamentalists who are destroying our economy and wrecking our climate. The battle lines are clearly drawn, with 'free' market cheerleaders like Boris Johnson and George Osborne eulogising the 'benefits' of cheap energy from shale gas and the environmental movement warning about the potentially damaging consequences of the 'dash for gas' in the UK.

I've posted on here before about how 'free' market climate change deniers are determined to avoid the economic consequences of climate change - that we will have to move to a different kind of economy which is more local, greener and steady state - and want to protect their own selfish interests and preserve big 'business as usual' at all costs. That is because they recognise that the kind of green, 'low energy' economy that is essential to combat climate change will mean the end of capitalism as we know it

It has been claimed that fracking has produced a massive economic boost in the USA with cheap shale gas lowering energy prices and fueling growth in the economy. But the longer fracking continues in the USA, the more evidence accumulates that not only are there environmental risks with fracking, but also that it is uneconomic. Here is a quote from an article in Business Insider:
"The economics of fracking are horrid. All wells have decline rates where production drops over time. But instead of decades for traditional wells, decline rates in horizontal fracking are measured in weeks and months: production falls off a cliff from day one and continues for a year or so until it levels out at about 10% of initial production."
The Government's own advisers have shown that Osborne's dash for gas is likely to increase energy bills for UK consumers by £600 as opposed to £100 for renewable energy. As if all this wasn't bad enough there are serious concerns about the potential environmental impact of fracking including the pollution of groundwater by toxic chemicals. Like the exploitation of oil from tar sands, fracking is an act of desperation, a Canute like attempt to prevent the inevitable changes that will have to take place in the global economy if we are to survive the very real threat that climate change poses to the future of our species. Reject this neoliberal nonsense and join the Green Party's fight for a greener, cleaner and socially just economy. Our future depends upon it.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

The European Union is becoming the enemy of the European people

The European Union is becoming the enemy of the European people - it gives me no pleasure to post this, but it is essential that I do so because it is the truth. Like many people of my generation I had high hopes for the EU. I voted for the UK to join in a referendum in 1974. I didn't buy the 'common market' guff I was being sold at the time by the corporate propaganda machine of the Tory press. I was voting for the 'ideal' and by that I mean a peaceful, war-avoiding Europe, united in a common and progressive purpose. 

In those days a progressive purpose was a realistic project, that a social Europe would be a prosperous, sharing society in which everyone would benefit from the kind of economic and social progress that still seemed inevitable at the time. How things have turned sour since then! Although most Europeans have held fast to that concept of progress, the politicians and capitalists had other ideas. By the 1970's profits were falling and as the EU expanded, so did the influence of the 'free' market neoliberals who were determined to ensure that the EU became a neoliberal corporate club, dedicated to the interests of the rich, at the expense of the rest of us.

And so now we find ourselves at the end of the European dream, living in a union dedicated to destroying the living standards of workers down to third world levels. The exemplar for this is the treatment of the Greeks, by the so-called Troika, who have been beggared  because of a crisis not of their own making. That the hypocrites who lead the EU such as Merkel (and of late Sarkozy) have claimed that this is "solidarity" only serves to emphasise the hypocrisy and mendacity of the Eurocracy . The Greeks have been betrayed and crushed by their own ruling class, with the co-operation of the Eurocratic/capitalist alliance which is a the heart of darkness of the EU.The bailout was only ever intended to protect European banks at the expense of the Greek people.

Munch's The Scream sums up the fate of the Greeks at the hands of the EU

The primary instrument of our betrayal is the the Lisbon Treaty, a neoliberal charter, which enshrines the supremacy of the 'free' market above the needs and democratic rights of the European people. Until this charter is consigned to the dustbin of history where it belongs, there can be no solidarity, freedom or progress within the EU. We need to fight to overcome not only the democratic deficit in the EU but to free Europeans from the economic slavery of neoliberalism. 

Having said all that, its essential that we reject the anti-EU rhetoric churned out by the likes of UKIP, and the right of the Tory party. The only reason for their euroscepticism is because they want to destroy what remains of EU environmental and employment legislation so that they can can screw UK workers even harder than they are being screwed at the moment. Of course, its ironic that this kind of euroscepticism is popular, and that people's discontent in the UK with the EU has been manipulated by the capitalist media to benefit  the likes of UKIP who think that the neoliberalism of the EU doesn't go far enough. Don't be fooled! We don't need to leave the EU but we do need to change it for the benefit of the European people.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Osborne's cuts have nothing to do with the deficit

In my last post I blogged about how the 'free' market was working - for the banks, corporations and the capitalist media (if that seems contradictory to the title of the that post - you 'll have to read the post).  Now I have to follow that up with the simple fact that austerity is working. Its working for the 1%, for the George Osbornes of this world, that is why it is being imposed on the people of Europe and the USA. The real aim of austerity is not to solve the 'problem' of the deficit, or to revive our economy. The real aim is to destroy the welfare state, and to reduce the unemployed, and the working poor to third world levels of destitution, and to destroy collective provision.

The poorest and most vulnerable people in our society, the disabled, the unemployed, and the working poor, are the first targets of austerity, The middle classes come next. The aim of austerity is to return the UK to the nineteenth century, and to roll back all the gains in pensions, conditions of employment, living standards, and healthcare, which we have obtained through the trade unions and our democratic process in the past 100 years.

George Osborne - destroying the welfare state in the UK

Osborne is a bare-faced liar. He knows very well that his description of the UK economy as some sort of household budget is a complete fiction. Either that or he is stupid. National economies are not like household economies. National economies can live with high levels of debt for long periods. Governments can borrow far more cheaply than companies or families. They can also create money. Not one penny of Osborne's original £81 billion of cuts was necessary. The structural deficit is convenient cover for an ideologically driven Tory class war on the British people. Its something that they have dreamed of for years - destroy the welfare state and privatise the NHS and the public sector. Now, under the cover of an economic crisis their friends in the banks created they have the opportunity to inflict their 'free' market ideology on the UK. Don't believe me? The read this quote from Michael Burke in the Guardian today:

"The stated aim of "austerity" is not growth but fiscal balance. According to its supporters it is self-evident that, like any household, if you cut your spending you will have more money left at the end of each month. For governments, this is reflected in current spending not capital spending – any fool can cut needed investment on school buildings, rail and roads and claim that things are improving. In official projections, the deficit on the current budget was expected to be falling to £80bn in the current financial year, down £34bn in two years. Is this current deficit falling? [no]. If not, austerity is failing in its stated objective, and persisting with it implies there is actually a different policy objective of lowering wages and benefits, which is what has happened.
Don't be fooled by this Coalition government. Austerity is working very well indeed because the Chancellor's cuts programme is a direct attack on the living standards of you and your family. It is designed to make the rich richer and the rest of us poorer. If it succeeds your children will be poorer than you are and your grandchildren will be poorer than your children. You only have one option and that is to join together with people who are fighting the cuts and stop the greatest heist in history in its tracks.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The 'free' market has failed, now for the alternative

Unfortunately the title of this post is not really true, the first part anyway. The 'free' market has succeeded. It has succeded in transferring huge amounts of wealth from ordinary working people to the very richest people on the planet. And it has done this by reducing wages and destroying pensions, social healthcare and social security. Because that transfer of wealth always was the aim of 'free' market neoliberalism - making the 99% (workers) poorer and 1% (capitalists) richer. 

Of course, most people don't like to think in terms of 'capitalist and worker', that, after all, is old hat isn't it? Well, no its not, its just that in the 30 year period after the Second World War, with strong trade unions, social security and decent pensions, the ongoing struggle between worker and capitalist was offset by rising prosperity. With hindsight we can now see that period for what it was - an anomaly. We are now back to capitalism as usual, capitalism as it has been for most of its 200 year history, with sluggish growth and poor welfare provision for the victims of capitalism - the poor and the unemployed. The fact that it took an economic crash to return us to 'normality' should really be no surprise to anyone (though when it happens it always is). The history of capitalism is a succession of economic crises, of which this one is only the latest and possibly the greatest. The capitalist media has worked hard to persuade us that the distinction between capitalist and worker no longer has any relevance, that we are all in it together, but that has been exposed as a fiction by recent events.

The lesson we should learn from the latest crisis is that only the nation state can prevent complete economic chaos and disaster. Without state intervention in the economies of Europe and the USA the crisis would have been very much worse. Neoliberals like to label the state as the enemy of freedom, enterprise and innovation, but without it we would all probably be living in shanty towns and could possibly have slid into barbarism. The reality is that the democratic nation state can be our friend and it is the only existing institution which can turn things around in times of crisis. That is why we must not turn our back on state intervention in the economy, and nationalisation of the railways and the utilities. People of my generation look back on the nationalised utilities with affection. They weren't perfect but they weren't the preserve of foreign corporations with footloose 'investors' who care nothing about energy and water provision in the UK.

It doesn't have to be like this. There is a sound economic alternative, but there is a problem because if we continue to elect political parties which follow neoliberal policies the misery will continue. For example, as Larry Elliot in the Guardian showed today new jobs have been created in the UK during the crisis but the bad news is that these are low-paid part time jobs, replacing the better jobs which have been lost. Here is a telling quote:
"The UK is turning into an old-style third world country with low pay growth for most workers below managerial level, widening pay differentials and poor levels of capital investment"
Of the mainstream political parties in the UK all but one adhere to the tenets of 'free' market neoliberalism, despite the fact that it is clearly unpopular with the electorate, as the by-elections last Thursday showed. The Coalition parties got hammered with the Liberal Democrats polling only 415 votes in Rotherham and coming eighth. UKIP did well, but they are a single-issue party trading on the unpopularity of the EU. If people understood better UKIP's other policies they would soon be exposed. Labour, who most voters are looking to as an alternative to the Coalition are neoliberal-lite at best and are unlikely to reverse many of the damaging changes made by the Coalition. The only party which has an alternative economic policy is the Green Party, as we showed in our manifesto, which is still as relevant now as it was in 2010 .

'Free' market neoliberalism has failed those who it was meant to fail, the ordinary people of  Europe and the USA, the 99%. The alternative is now needed more urgently than ever. But you can only get that alternative by voting for a political party which has an alternative. If you want to find out more take a look at our vision. Never has voting for an alternative been more important. Come and join us in turning things around.