War Costs

We are in an historic period of profound distress. It conjures-up images of the 1930’s for me, and we know how that ended. 

Everywhere, people are anxious amongst images and portents of great suffering. 

I’m taking nothing away from the so far more than 2 million Ukrainian refugees suffering severe trauma when I identify the wider global level of angst and nervous depression. Those being bombed in Yemen, tortured in Sudan, corralled in Syria and evicted in Palestine or the at-least 20 million starving to death right now in Afghanistan and southern Madagascar all suffer from fear and pain. Indeed, add to that the two-thirds of humanity going to bed hungry, two-billion without access to clean drinking water, and 3.5 billion experiencing environmental changes requiring migration, and we can recognise reality for what it is.

Added together the world’s human population is descending, as long-predicted, into a barbarous and genocidal maelstrom. 

Such cataclysm is only tempered by comparison with the destruction occurring to the rest of animal and plant life. The 6th Great Extinction, as scientists from all denominations call it. If stared at, with eyes wide open, the 21st Century as denoted by the Western human calendar is making the 20th look relatively benign.

Outside my window at the centre of this parochial military English city, people go about their business much in the same way as those in Kyiv did on the 23rd February. Change doesn’t hit until it hits. I’m sipping strong coffee (soon to be in short supply and triple the price), whilst tapping on my tablet (the wifi soon to be intermittent from supply outages) and musing in a warmish room (soon to be made unaffordable by fuel price hikes).

A few days ago the accursed International Monetary Fund, those who destroyed the economies of most of Africa (and Greece amongst many others) with their debt-economy demands and Structural Adjustment neoliberal privatisations, reflected upon the the economic impact of the war and western sanctions against Russia, saying,

“Price shocks will have an impact worldwide, especially on poor households for whom food and fuel are a higher proportion of expenses. Should the conflict escalate, the economic damage would be all the more devastating. The sanctions on Russia will also have a substantial impact on the global economy and financial markets, with significant spillovers to other countries.”

This is already beginning to take place. Oil prices have reached $130 per barrel, and in the United Kingdom, petrol prices at the pumps have surged past £7 a gallon to their highest levels ever. In France, the price of diesel has gone from €1.65 per litre at the end of last year to €2.20 per litre.

This doesn’t mean people will use less fuel – transport and heating are not luxuries to be discarded during lean times, but essential necessities. Inflation simply means we have to pay more for what we need to maintain employment and sustenance.

Those gambling on the Stock Exchange casinos of the super-rich have ensured the “Wheat futures” rise of 70% this year – Russia and Ukraine together account for one-quarter of all grain exports. In Europe, industrial production is beginning to shut down due to soaring energy prices whilst military emissions are rising exponentially. Oil price rises doesn’t reduce oil use, it just costs more.

In the month of February, UK inflation at the more honest RPI is at 7.9 percent and rising, and in the Eurozone it reached 5.8 percent, the highest level on record since the creation of the single currency in 1997. Inflation is expected to rise sharply in March as the consequences of sanctions reverberate throughout the world economy.

As a UK pensioner I will need to cut the food order and wear two jumpers by April (unless global warming shoots local temperatures to worrying new records), enough to validate my continuous moaning about this inhuman and corrupt class system, but not representing any real hardship compared with the challenges facing young working class families.

The worst hit will be developing countries in Africa and the so-called Middle East. Starvation and famine in this region of the world is already happening. Eighty percent of grain in Egypt is purchased from Russia. Other major importers of Russian grain include Turkey, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Yemen. There will be food riots alongside mass famine.

Altogether, the impact of war on the global working class will be enormous. We are already reeling from more than two years of the COVID pandemic in which some 15 millions have died and living standards have been eroded to the breaking point by inflation caused by pandemic-induced chaos in global supply chains. 

This social trauma is the product of deliberate rejection of necessary public health measures by the world’s governments in the name of “herd immunity,” or the sacrificing of life to profit. And there’s a new variant spreading out of Japan with unknown consequences in this, now war obsessed and pandemic denying world.

Governments are using Ukraine to deflect attention from the pandemic, which is not over and is already beginning to surge again. The war is being used to explain an inflation rate which was already at its highest level in decades before, now rebranded as a “Putin price hike” entirely the fault of Russia, in an attempt to deflect attention from the corruption, greed and incompetence of Prime Minister Johnson and, indeed, most of the western political class. 

There is every danger of a new war hysteria whipped-up by the media moguls on behalf of their peers in the armaments and fossil-fuel industries to obscure the record profits. The stock prices of armaments manufacturers and suppliers such as Babcock, Northrup Grumman and Raytheon have risen sharply in recent weeks. Western oil companies and agribusiness are predicting superprofits from worldwide shortages derived from the removal of their Russian rivals.

Yet, probably their single most focussed drive of this imperialist war propaganda (that’s what it is) is to push back the climate movement and our demand for the end of the fossil-fuelled economy. We were making headway, lets be clear, before and even during the Pandemic. Because of our global protests – Thunberg’s Fridays for Future and the international Extinction Rebellion direct actions – there are few who are unworried by the deepening and visible climate catastrophe, the extreme weather events quite universal, with shocking peaks such as fires-then-floods in Sydney – Sydney! Australia! Who would have thought?

The clamour from the organised far-Right, growing fast throughout the West, is to renew their denial of Climate Change in order to “save” the economy. White-supremacist nationalists such as Nigel Farage are promoting the UK version of a Trumpite “Make Britain Great Again” by ending green energy subsidies and closing the borders, not only from Ukrainians but all the perils of the world “outside”. Having warned of war with Russia (as did the Left, but from the opposite perspective of caring for humanity) he now turns our economic anxiety towards hatred of a foreign enemy, and against “the enemy within”: We, the climate and anti-war protesters. 

Throughout the world, the war in Ukraine is being used as cover to redirect hundreds-of-billions in resources away from health and welfare towards war. The latest spending bill making its way through the United States Congress includes nearly $800 billion for the military, including $15 billion in spending for Ukraine, while omitting $15 billion in pandemic-related funding. The corporate media in Britain is calling for the gutting of the postwar welfare state for the sake of increasing military spending. Most ominously, Germany has rammed through a tripling of their military budget for this year, the largest increase since Adolf Hitler.

Johnson’s Government, claiming to be “defending freedom” in Ukraine, is busy planning greater use of state repression, including injunctions, anti-strike legislation, executive orders and other measures to suppress working class opposition at home. 

It is difficult to judge, at this relatively early stage, the mood and sense of working class people here and abroad. With a situation more analogous with the First World War rather than the Second, it is worth reading-up on the many strikes and protests throughout those 4 ghastly years, despite the capitulation of the trade unions and their political representatives to the “war effort”. 

The immediate challenge is to expose the lie of any supposed “national unity” backing for war. We’ve heard it all before. The working class never benefits from war. We pay for it, always, as an international class, in poverty and death. Amidst economic and climate collapse, I can’t see ordinary working people going gently into that dark night. Protests will continue, essentially.

For climate activists there are traps to be avoided. This is no time to attack workers for daring to drive to work or be employed in fossil fuel industries – target the anger on where the power lies – for example, the corporate executives of Shell and BP enjoying disgusting levels of profit dividends from destruction. And don’t utilise the war sanctions as a method for cutting the use of fossil fuels – war increases global heating emissions far more than any reduction in their use due to price-hikes. And sanctions always hurt the ordinary people more than the oligarchs. Get real! 

It’s time to join the Movements together – No to War, No to Climate Chaos, People Before Profit! The main enemy is at home – Capitalism. 

Climate of War

Whatever strategies climate activists have organised to date, the War exposes much which is often left hidden or unsaid. It is also likely, if not stopped immediately, to elongate towards a constant and expand towards a global conflagration. It should clarify our perspective.

I have had the privilege over the past couple of years of addressing meetings discussing the deepening catastrophe facing humanity and the ecology. At each and every talk I have stressed and repeatedly concluded that global warfare will, necessarily, predate any climate collapse. 

War will also exacerbate and accelerate climate chaos. One feeds the other.

I’m grateful to those who agree with this very obvious and in no way clever assessment. The most casual consideration of human history cannot fail to link the impact of environmental change to human conflict and vice versa. When systems collapse, people move or die, producing either nihilistic competition for the remaining basic resources or system change to adapt and accommodate in a spirit of cooperation.

We are not living in a world of international cooperation. Indeed, the global economic and political system of capitalism requires competition. Locally, one provider competes with another to win our custom and their profits, globally rival imperialisms compete for regional resources and the cheap labour from which to produce private wealth. 

Capitalist competition is killing the Planet. 

The domination of one grouping or “Class” of humans over another is the real struggle constant at the base of human society. Which, in turn, means that not all humans are equally culpable for the destruction of the ecology. We know, for example, that the regions referred to as the Global South have caused little or no emissions responsible for the heating of the ecosphere. 

Within human societies there is a profound inequality of responsibility for either the climate emergency or warfare. The current whipping-up of Russophobia is as misplaced and manipulated as the narratives intent upon blaming all of humanity for climate change.

I am full to overflowing (I cry) with compassion for those experiencing war right now, in Ukraine, Yemen, Sudan, Congo, Somalia, Mozambique, Tigray, Rohingya, Myanmar, Colombia, Maghreb, Iraq, Libya…so many regions. The degradation of life and human potential is sickening. The degradation of the environment – from the 100% wasteful production of military hardware through to the explosive destruction of thermobaric bombs and nuclear missiles – is dramatically increased in periods of war compared with peacetime.

Right now I cannot side with the territorial ambitions of the Russian ruling class any more than those of the US-controlled NATO. I can only conclude that everywhere, everyone has to assert their right to life and self-determination. Only cooperation and mutuality can assure the right to life.

Survival requires the struggle for emancipation, suffrage and equality. Global Justice. Which in turn requires challenging those who, as individuals or groups, seek to restrict and repress the rights of others for their own gain. And  challenge to those who seek to destroy and exploit Nature for their own gain. 

I am therefore no pacifist. I oppose Imperialist wars and support collective struggles against oppression and exploitation. My comrades in Russia today are being arrested and tortured for daring to challenge Putin’s war. My comrades in Africa, the Americas, India and China are being incarcerated, tortured and killed for daring to challenge oil pipelines and Monsanto pesticides. They have the right to fight back.

The struggle to prevent climate collapse has elements of warfare as a requirement for success. If the oil companies, their billionaire executives and millionaire shareholders, won’t stop extracting this planet-killer, and continue to hire private armies to kill any who protest, then we have to use force to shut them down. 

If the political elites continue to seek power over Planet, such as the Bidens, Kerrys, Putins, Bolsanaros, Xis, Morrisons and Johnsons of this world, then we have to forcefully change the system to stop the destruction they are happy to reek in their own interests.

Protest to Survive.

The IPPC published its second scientific conclusions as part of their 6th Report cycle last week. The frenzy of war ensured it received no attention. It is an amalgam of more than 14,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers all detailing the very immediate collapse of ecosystems and immediate threat to the very lives of 3,500,000,000 human beings. The destruction of insect life, birds and animals, fish and kelp presents a picture of horror deeper even than war. 

We have passed the Tipping Point and can only mitigate to prevent complete extinction, adapting fast to live systemically differently, limiting all impacts, from now on. 

Little wonder our ruling classes are choosing war, now. The System-changes required to save people and planet require the removal of those who seek to destroy people and planet. Capitalism is a failed system and those who continue to perpetrate it are choosing mutually assured destruction over life itself. 

There are those in the climate movement who perversely welcome the war. They argued this weekend that shutting down the gas pipeline through Ukraine to Germany means less emissions and requires new ways of fuelling society. Europe will have to ration fossil fuels. The “collateral damage” of lives lost is nothing compared with the coming climate cataclysm so “bring it on”, the war can be an opportunity to shut down emissions now, they argue.

To me there is something deeply barbaric as well as impractical about their position. The politics of environment-over-humanity is, and always has been, embedded within environmental movements and is an ideological formation to be challenged and exposed. Indeed, many who espouse being “Beyond Politics” exert a deeply political activism that is anti-human. 

I uphold the ancient political continuum that broadly equates the Left of the spectrum with humanism and mutuality, and the Right with individualism and survival of the fittest. This is not the time or place to examine the deeper philosophical tensions within it.

Fight for Humanity!

There has always been an organised and powerful section within environmental and climate activists sitting on the Right. Those proclaiming Gaia would be better of without humanity, that humans are a destructive virus contaminating an otherwise harmonious Nature, or even that the sooner humanity becomes extinct the better (Nature will return to equilibrium without us), soon disclose a vehement hatred for humanity when pressed. 

Malthusians amongst them, these anti-humans effectively welcome the pain, suffering and death of billions of humans in the name of the Ecology. There is even discussion of the need to save Nature by allowing climate change to destroy all but a few hundred-million humans – “let the humans die!”. The apparent racism of where the billions condemned to death will inevitably be situated is one element of such reactionary if not fascist politics. But the very obvious hypocrisy and contorted thinking they have to go through to maintain this state is eye-watering. 

“Save the Whales” in the name of the sanctity of all life, yet care less for the billions of Krill, octopus, anchovies they eat, all of which have a sentience to one degree or another. Damn humans for eating fish. Feel and express deep love for dolphins at play, but neglect the wars their pods enact one on another. Don’t mention the ferocious attacks seals and Orcas plan against the beleaguered penguins. Territorial wars between lion packs or chimpanzee clans are “natural” for survival, whilst human conflict damns us to being deserving of extinction. The contradictions are absurd.

Humans have always been and should remain part of the Ecology. We are animals, indeed mammals, with the ancestral instincts embedded in the amygdala vying alongside the emotional senses stimulated from our brains’ frontal cortex. We fight and flee, expose and conceal, procreate and share alongside the rest of Nature, and shouldn’t be damned for doing so.

There is a difference between those who look at the war and despair at the human condition, and those who actively condemn humanity for being less than perfect. And, naturally, the vast majority of climate activists care deeply for people as well as planet. Comparatively few if any billionaires give a damn for either, trapped as they are in the system of accumulation for accumulation’s sake.

It is the military industry worldwide that is the highest emitter of global heating gases. For that reason alone the environment movement must target and challenge these profiteers. The pursuance of war is financed and furthered by these industries and their lackey politicians, currently seeking the same weapons to all sides in the wars cited above. And war itself creates more emissions, not less, gas pipeline shutdowns not withstanding. 

Human beings are sentient animals with extraordinarily developed mental and emotional abilities panning a wide spectrum of behaviours and abilities that offer us the opportunity to temper our survival instincts with rational thought and historic perception. I love humanity. We’re amazing. Life is amazing. The World is mesmerising.

Human beings have all the sentience and technology required to Stop the War and rebalance the Ecology in harmony with Nature. Indeed, the two issues go hand-in-hand. We have to fight for humanity to stop imperialist conflicts in order to obtain the necessary global cooperation across our species that is pre-requisite to saving the environment. 

The fact that it will take a revolution to stop war offers us the synthesis of all these contradictions. Fight for People and Planet. Join the Revolution!

Nuclear – the one plant that must be made extinct

As if the latest war isn’t enough, today’s news has deepened an already anxious global sense of uncertainty for the future.

Russian shelling caused fires in the complex of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in the early hours of this morning. Ukrainian authorities reported the fire at a training building to be under control and the reactors not at risk, with normal background radiation recorded. The city in which it sits, Enerhodar, has a population of 53,000.

Russia says the explosion was caused by Ukrainian forces, Ukraine blames the Russian military. In the fog of war it’s never easy to know who or what to believe. But every war breaks all rules, always.

There were 15 nuclear reactor sites operating in Ukraine at the start of Putin’s invasion in February 2022. Russian troops took over the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant early in the invasion, with serious concerns expressed about the management of the fourth reactor there which is still in melt-down following the explosion in 1988. 

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear site has 6 reactors and is the largest in Europe, brought on-line in the 1980’s and possibly highly vulnerable as past it’s sell-by date. Thankfully, sensibly, at the point of Russian military take-over, operators had shut down five of its six reactors. Yesterday there was heavy shelling of the nuclear power plant, finally resulting in fire inside the complex. 

This is the closest humanity has approached, at least in the twenty-first century, to nuclear power becoming integral to warfare and a weapon of mass destruction. If a nuclear core is damaged, the explosion will contaminate millions of people with long term health and environmental impacts as experienced in the accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima. 

It is not that a reactor has to suffer a direct hit or even be targetted. Damage to the infrastructure for operating a nuclear reactor can cause follow-on catastrophe. Nuclear reactors require electricity to run the pumps that supply coolant to stop the plant over-heating. At Fukushima, the diesel-electric generators were housed beneath the ground in an act of engineering idiocy, and were flooded during the tsunami, stopping the pumps and causing the reactors to overheat and explode. They continue to melt down and emit deadly levels of radiation into the air and across the Pacific Ocean, measurable on the West Coast of of the USA. 

The scale of nuclear catastrophe, often talked-down, is wholly overwhelming when faced.

Ukraine’s power stations are being prepared for war. That means shut downs, where the temperature inside the reactor can lower to a point where a meltdown cannot take place. The reactors still require careful management, and a engineers have to remain in place during and after military bombardment. Soldiers certainly are ill-equipped to run a nuclear site. 

Shut down ends the production of electricity. Shutting down the reactors at Zaporizhzhia has been the single safe action to be taken. The consequence for a country reliant upon nuclear power means millions without electricity and often without water and supplies, the loss of electricity making other utilities unable to function, such as water supplies which require pumping. When fully operational, Zaporizhzhia supplies one-fifth of Ukrainian homes, four million households, with electricity. Well, it used to.

The Ukrainian government has accused Russia of “nuclear terrorism”, a concept central to the analysis by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament that nuclear power should be ended, replaced with renewables. Ukraine has called for a 30km no-war zone around each of the countries nuclear plants – an exclusion zone to stop any military actions or infrastructure. 

The question is asked – what can be done to prevent an almost inevitable nuclear catastrophe in this war? Unpalatable to some politicians in the USA and Europe, the reality is that China holds the greatest influence, as a critic but not outright opponent of Russia, and as the largest trading partner of Ukraine after the European Union. 

We may well be reliant upon China to ensure President Putin restrains his forces from attacking nuclear plants. The creation of large parts of the Ukraine as a dead-zone, its wheat inedible and environment unfit for human habitation, would cause long-term suffering to peoples far away from the country itself. Nuclear fallout and radiation does not recognise humanity’s politically constructed national borders. Wheat scarcity of itself would cause basic food prices to soar worldwide.

But the first and foremost criticism by we, the anti-nuke brigade, long chastised and derided, holds true. War is never surgical nor does it run to plan – ask any general of any side.

The human suffering of so-called “collateral damage”, in other words, civilian casualties – in Afghanistan, Libya or Bosnia & Serbia, each of which a war with NATO involvement, or, for balance, in Georgia at the hands of Russian forces – proved to the world that “precision bombing” and “surgical strikes” are false propaganda to appease the conscience of the outside world. Civil society dies in large numbers.

There can be no suggestion, it follows, that nuclear power plants can be rendered safe during war. Not only can guided missiles fly off-target, but the sites themselves can become targets for territorial control. The aggressor may use a contaminated or demilitarised zone to control a region, or a defender may consider the same option rather than lose – war is war. Indeed, the losing-side may well resort to mutual destruction, or blame their explosions on the other side. 

And that’s where nuclear weapons enter the discussion. Both sides – have no illusions, both East and West – have stated there readiness to use “tactical nuclear weapons”. Both Russia and NATO have, independent of each other, the ability to extinguish all life on earth many times over by use of their nuclear arsenals. Amongst these illegal weapons of mass destruction sit nuclear bombs for use on the battlefield, their explosions limited to a smaller circumference than the inter-continental ballistic missiles (about the size of the Hiroshima bomb).

The great immediate danger is the fallacy, believed by most politicians, that current technology offers the ability to use these battlefield “low-yield” nuclear bombs without initiating outright nuclear war. Should there be a rise in radiation levels, through explosions at nuclear power plants (or extensive use of uranium tipped missiles as in Iraq), the use of a nuclear field-weapon or two may be able to be disguised (at least for a while, until any independent scientist can identify the origin of the unique isotopes). 

Nuclear weapons become a tactical consideration for beleaguered generals.

Of course, as documented by the military themselves, the modern technology that is used to ensure inter-continental nuclear weapons are on constant alert is reliant on the algorithms and automatic triggers similar to those that trigger adverts on your mobile phone applications. One sniff of nuclear use by one side ensures immediate and automated counter by the other – the dynamic of nuclear Armageddon. There is no time to think before action if you want to save “your side”. 

So we are now at the most dangerous point in human and indeed environmental history. 

What is to be done? There is substantial evidence that the core reason politicians have not used nuclear weapons against populations since Nagasaki in 1945 is public opinion. In more than 75 years, the countless wars having seen more bombs dropped than in the first and second world wars combined, with an average of one million humans being killed each year in warfare, nuclear weapons have stayed siloed. Warmongers fear mass opposition and potential uprisings against them should they “go too far” (a moveable scale of acceptable atrocities in itself).

We are all, the vast majority of us, sickened and opposed in mind and heart by the potential of nuclear war. That moral as well as physical horror lies mostly dormant but rumbling inside each of us. But now it is time for the passive objections to end. It is time to shout out loud against nuclear war. The brave activists in Russia are protesting to Stop the War despite painful incarceration and threats to life. They deserve everyone’s support. 

But more, they need to see us, all of us, everywhere, on the streets where we are, shouting-out against this and all imperialist war, and especially, no more nuclear weapons be they nuclear bombs or nuclear power plants. Here at home, the current push by UK government for a new generation of nuclear power plants, including Small Modular Reactors to be housed in and around towns and communities, must be stopped.

Join the protests. 

Everyday Crisis

The COP26, with it’s 515 carbon fuel lobbyists and government lackeys, has published its first draft agreement. It is wet and watered down, weakening commitments to funding first made in 2015.

We all knew the COP26 wouldn’t make the grade, but this level of failure is truly shocking. COP is dead.

And as a result, hundreds of millions will be dead, too. The girth of the Earth between the tropics is experiencing catastrophe. There are at least 50 million people in famine, and hundreds of millions more in precarious conditions of heat, flood, landslides, and water and food shortages. None have been properly represented at the COP Out.

In the industrial North, climate is a concern ”for the future”. Yet we are seeing deepening and accelerating extreme weather events alongside a continued decline in the social infrastructure required for safety and protection.

We are heading, within the next five years, to living a crisis each day caused by climate change.

Last weekend I helped run a march and rally of over a thousand people in my small and poor city of Plymouth. Many attended our people’s Assembly focussed upon discussing ”the Future”. The conclusions were stark, the scale of the changes needed so immense.

But the event added numbers to those now committed to making the change.

It occurred to me that such discussions, about the day-to-day reality of accelerating climate collapse, needed to be understood by everyone. So I wrote to my local tabloid rag:

It is no good pretending. The international climate conference in Glasgow, shorthanded to COP26, is not going to do what’s needed.

Despite the politicians from poorer countries imploring the rich and powerful West to help them, despite Sir David Attenborough and the Princes Charles and William taking a stand, and despite the Big Celebrities of Hollywood and Bollywood sharing their statements, for the Capitalist Class its Business as usual.

And still, when 99% of scientists say we are experiencing (not predicted but happening) climate catastrophe on land and in the oceans, press and politicians join forces to fuel the sceptics and poo poo the science.

Many polls show that the majority of people are very worried about Climate Change. 

The “Greenwash” of lies, misinformation and false-assurances is designed to placate us, but, however powerful they think they are, we’re not fooled.

The day-to-day experience of Climate Change for the working classes of the so-called wealthy West are set for endless crisis. The empty supermarket shelves, transport disruption and fuel-price hikes of the last couple of months are nothing compared with the damage set to be experienced because of global heating. 

The impact of global heating is going to raise sea levels, disrupt the seasons and therefore all food production, and induce extreme weather events from flash floods to wrecking winds and high tides.

Transport disruption will force sudden lay-offs, without pay, of millions of workers at a time as the last-minute production and storage strategies of our industries collapse. Energy outages – meaning power cuts – are predicted by the power companies for the very near future. The addition of fuel poverty will make winter heating too expensive for 10-15 million of us within the next 5-years, increasing the already outrageous numbers dying of hypothermia each winter in our country. 

The floods to our houses, where one-in-five of us live on flood plains, will cause continuous suffering and financial ruin. The rest of us live in some of the worst housing in Europe, with poor insulation and unhealthy damp requiring costly repair and renovation.  

But don’t worry, the insurance companies, mortgage companies and financial institutions have already protected themselves against all liabilities – just look at the cladding scandal after the horror of the Grenfell Tower fire.

The Great and the Good implore us to make the changes needed, but what power have we? The scientists focus upon emissions reductions – 8% each year globally from now on if we are to avoid climate collapse. 

However much recycling an individual can achieve has little or no impact given the amount of global heating emissions spewing from factories and offices. The oil and gas companies aren’t going to vote themselves out-of-business.

Just 100 Corporations are responsible for over 80% of all emissions. Many of those are military – arms manufacturing being the most climate damaging single industry of them all. Whatever we do in our personal and family lives, it is Big Business that has to be changed if we are to slow down and stop the catastrophe.

We need a national as well as international governmental body to lay down laws upon the Big Polluters. We need to regulate the emissions towards Zero, not the Greenwashed “Net-Zero”, by 2035 not 2050/60/70/sometime never. 

And for there to be any chance of any of that happening, we have to seize back control. Workers must demand an equal voice over what is produced, why, and how its produced to protect and rebuild the environment and climate. Communities have to take back control from the petit-corruption of ego-centric politicians. The People (we’re overwhelmingly wage-slaves) have to claim back democracy, real democracy, from the Political Class and their fat cat financiers.

The starting point for all this is Protest. We marched through Plymouth City Centre on Saturday.

We have to join together and protest. We have call-out and call upon the business and political leaders to make the changes needed for us all to survive, or get out of our way! We may all have our preferred solution but together we know, we have to protest to survive. 

For me, its System Change not Climate Change. For that we’ll need a revolution!

Tony Staunton

President, Plymouth Trade Union Council

www.plymouthhub4climate.org

You’d Better Think

“You’d better think, (think, think) let you’re mind go, let yourself be free”, to paraphrase Aretha Franklin.

A very few of us handed-out over 1,000 leaflets yesterday, and another thousand the day before that. We were advertising the climate conference COP26 protests next weekend, Here, in Glasgow and Everywhere. We have thousands more yet to distribute using a handful of hands. 

To me its an imperative, simply because, if the protests are small, the passivity will breed further hopelessness. If they’re larger we will have won the argument that things can happen and things can be done to collectively reduce the extremes of the climate catastrophe. 

Handing out leaflets to those who will grab them voluntarily is not a challenging or exhausting job. Some say no or no thanks, and we say thank you in reply. Others are glad we’re here, and many apologise that they won’t be able to attend the protest due to family, work, physical or mental restraints or they simply “don’t do protests”.

But then there are those who oppose. Yesterday whilst half-a-dozen of us gave out fliers, a group of around 40 adults marched around the City Centre with placards declaring both COVID and Climate Change as hoaxes manufactured by a conspiratorial media and political class intent upon limiting our freedoms and declaring a global totalitarian government. 

This is not the Blog with which to unpick the matrix of conceptual, historical, political and philosophical contradictions underlying these libertarian conspiracists. 

They had their own free newspaper with adverts for the next meeting to be addressed by David Ike, a lead article from a health worker declaring she refuses to wear a mask, and other warnings about the NHS as a form of social control. 

I was ready to sell my own party’s paper for a quid, identifying collective protests against oppression and exploitation globally, with pictures from this week’s mass protests against the military coup in Sudan, and build-up to international protests at the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow.

In Plymouth’s City Centre, I brandished a banner demanding “Strike for Climate”. Across the square, another man, dressed, were anyone to be fooled by crass caricatures, like an environmentalist at a peace camp, held his hand-made placard declaring the coming “End of Days and ensuing Rapture, standing arm-in-arm with climate deniers. The apparent contradictions were tied tentatively together by the common threads of opposition to Big Government and demand for individual, I would suggest individualistic, freedoms.

So the experience felt to me like Left versus Right, performed on the stage of a public amphitheatre experienced by an unsuspecting public out on the first Saturday after pay-day to “do shopping”. 

Most people wanted to go about their business unhindered by any of us.

Those of the general public who wanted to stop and talk wanted to stop to tell us what they believed, rather than listen to anything we had to say (which is fair enough apart from blocking our ability to hand out leaflets to anyone else). And most of those proselytisers were clear, with evidence, that 1. “They” (meaning governments) have known about climate change for decades and done nothing; 2. The big carbon corporations are beyond our reach and won’t change; and 3. Global heating has gone too far and there’s nothing we can do. One man actually walked off in all seriousness shouting, “we’re doomed”. 

A number of old people said they were old so it didn’t matter to them. One self-professed grandmother said it won’t be an issue until their grandchildren are old so why should she worry… I pointed to the morning floods in Glasgow caused by extreme weather, where a month’s rain fell in Cumbria and the North overnight. It’s now.

I am surprised at the general thinking amongst those who declare themselves in one way or another, “left-leaning”, once confronted with the scientific facts, conclude that “its too late to do anything”. It is difficulty to discern whether this is pessimism or passivity, or how to calculate the proportion of each. 

The threat of climate collapse is so big it makes the individual feel powerless. The demand to “Act Now” to force change is confronting to the point of causing offence. And, as likely, its all very frightening. 

In the Zoom talks I’ve offered around the country, I start by quoting the gay Black civil rights writer and activist, James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” I read his book, “The Fire Next Time” in 1967, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the USA. He developed the theme: “People find it difficult to act on what they know. To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger.”

In a polarised society where confused ideas are being paraded and screamed-out in city centres, its hard to know what to think. The continuous political “line” from mainstream media and politicians adds to the conundrum. It is the “They” who expect us to rely upon them to solve it all. What to do?

To me, Baldwin’s struggle against racist apartheid at the heart of imperial empire, and to demand the legality of homosexuality by the Ultra-Orthodox Christian State, make today’s struggle appear relatively mild and easy. No-one chases us away, attacks us physically, or organises lynch mobs. So why so little activity?

One possibility is a temporary social and political pacification caused by the COVID pandemic and lockdowns over the past 18 months. We have become afraid to congregate and even afraid of each other. Thinking about it, this has been built upon the years of a childhood schooling that demands deference to authority, and the development of micro-management in the workplace that ensures you behave precisely according to your supervisor’s direction and the timed-deadlines of the electronic conveyor belt. 

We are not encouraged to think for ourselves. And actively discouraged from taking action. Lobbying the Climate Emergency Conference being held at the Plymouth Guildhall yesterday, teenage delegates asked we leafleteers outside whether they were “allowed” to go inside – inside a public building, paid for and owned collectively by the tax-payer! They even had written invitations. Have we become wholly acquiescent to authority? Are the conspiracy theorists correct after all?

In every big lie there is a kernel of truth. Otherwise the lie would be easily exposed. The complaints of the conspiracy theorists are gathering strength because of the sensations, the feelings and emotions attached to contemporary life. We’re being done-to, lied-to, coerced and produced and feel a continuous anomie, as an Object for others to manipulate rather than a Subject with a voice and power in a democratic society.

I would conclude that the individualist far-Right will succeed in picking-up on this mix of passivity, alienation and ennui to develop a mass movement for the survival-of-the-fittest – the petit-nationalist white-supremacist closed minds that have led us towards this suicidal path. 

At the moment there appears little to stop them, given the silence of the Left. It is imperative that the collective, human-loving socialist Left get onto the streets and into the workplaces in numbers and start to offer solutions that empower and activate all.

We’ve all had plenty of time to think. It’s now time to act.

System Change not Climate Change.

Climate of Fatigue

For those who believe in Capitalism, “the poor will always be with us”. For socialists, collective society organised for need not profit can eradicate poverty within a single generation. Globally. Even the World Bank makes clear, the wealth is there: if global annual Net Domestic Product was shared equally, every child, woman, and man would have an income of over £35,000 a year. 

I was reminded of this during the obnoxiously self-aggrandising speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequor, Richi Sunak. He offered nothing for those across the UK out-of-work whilst cutting the tax on “fizzy wine” – Champagne. He increased taxes on the poor whilst cutting those for the rich – who already employ accountants to ensure they pay little or nothing. 

More crucially, Sunak announced tax cuts on internal short-haul flights, encouraging more aircraft emissions ahead of the COP26 Conference next week. This, alongside continued plans for a new coal mine in Cumbria and oil field in the North Sea, proves the real approach of this Tory Government towards the Climate Emergency. 

Their cynicism shouldn’t surprise us. The System they manage and benefit from relies upon exploitation of people and planet. The entire and all-encompassing approach of the global capitalist class towards climate change is one of strategising how to accumulate more personal wealth. What can be done, they ask, to utilise the chaos in order to increase profits?

I have been leafleting every day in our City Centre, organising for the local climate protest on 6th November, co-ordinated alongside 50 others in Britain and thousands across the World to call-out the ill-fated and counter-productive COP26 Conference next week.

Despite the crescendo of “Climate” announcements and programmes across all media, overwhelming in their Greenwash of “don’t worry, we, the great and the good, have the solutions and will sort-it-all on your behalf”, there is little evidence heightened consciousness and public concern.

This is “half-term” week when harassed parents are inclined to bring their children into the shopping precinct to buy the essentials, manage the budget by finding early Xmas present bargains, or maybe just get out of the house. The general mood emits collective fatigue.

There are few signs of joy. Groups look harassed and full shopping bags are few and far between. Despite the Chancellor’s exclamations on how well the economy has bounced-back from the COVID pandemic, the whiff of austerity and poverty is everywhere, not least in the eyes of the passers-by.

So asking people to not only care about the Climate and Ecology but act now to protect the planet does not meet with much enthusiasm. This response can be easily misunderstood. Many polls and research papers identify that the great majority of people, home and abroad, are concerned about climate chaos. The extreme weather events, not least the sudden flash-floods killing people across Europe and the United States, offer material evidence of climate change. The climate deniers are now a tiny minority.

Climate politics is nevertheless polarised and entrenched. The nationalists, of which there are many, argue against our leaflets, saying that China and Russia don’t give a damn and, until they do, there’s no point in the UK sacrificing anything towards emissions reductions. Let me be clear, they have a clear ideological argument with an internal logic that offers ardent and dogmatic assertion. 

Our leaflet, formally constructed by the international COP26 Coalition, calls for Global Justice. The racists, of which there are few, immediately and ferociously vocalise the ancient Malthusian tract that there are too many humans and its time for a cull. Rule Britannia and protect our own shores, with all the genocidal white-supremacy at their disposal. 

I would calculate that one-in-ten take the leaflet. Such a straw poll offers a “straw man” to be shied at. At this point I have no indication of how large or small the November protest will be. But the experience of leafleting does offer some observations.

Firstly, there’s no real hostility – the conspiracy theorists from QAnon to David Ike and Piers Corbyn do not own the Zeitgeist. But they’re there. Were the internationalist humanists and environmentalists not organising and seeking to mobilise, the nihilist ideas of conspiracy and Armageddon could take hold.

Then there’s the Establishment, calculating that they should steer clear of feeding the rabble and showing no support for protest or rallying for climate action. The well-heeled amongst the shoppers (yes, you can see by dress, completion and deportment just what level of income they enjoy) frown and offer their well-rehearsed micro-body language of disapproval. Their benefits and status from the current status quo react against any suggestion that societal change is essential for survival. We should keep calm and carry on.

And, as a third observation, wholly unscientific in it’s presumptions, suggests it’s largely younger people who take the leaflets. Not a majority, although most glance sideways in response to the word “climate”, indicative of recognition and worry. Young people on half-term holiday are in the city centre to enjoy the sheer experience of being young, giggling together and laughing, sharing, playing. 

It feels almost abusive to offer them a leaflet suggesting societal breakdown and climate catastrophe, the extinction of most life on earth, including humans. Many, from the most caring (although probably paternalistic) approach to child care, would say we are scaremongering and should shut-up. 

I’m reminded of the many, ghastly, movies and documentaries I’ve watched where children are playing together and families laughing moments before the atomic bomb explodes above them and all turns to light and ash. Of course, climate chaos is not the same apart from heading towards the deadly outcome in comparative slow motion. Indeed, thousands are dying daily right now from the impact of global heating.

My mantra these days is as simple as this: I’m acting on scientific fact. The emotions of the deepening catastrophe, now apparent and fast moving, feel to be dissolving the importance of personal preferences and sensibilities. The facts are even demoting beliefs, although having a preferred goal does make “the doing” easier. We may come to act to stop climate chaos from a huge range of motivations but the point is to act.

The scientists can prove by simple observation the slowing of the Atlantic meridional Overturning Circulation is already affecting seasons and weather North and South. The Arctic melt has altered the northern Jet Stream to bizarre and unpredictable “behaviours” that is causing the flash floods, amongst many other extreme events. The IPCC 6th Report omits reference to the historically unique levels of methane release from permafrost and, more recently, oceans. 

It doesn’t matter what we all choose to believe, the fact is the climate is passing the Tipping Points that will see current conditions pass. 

How we respond to this is, however, down to personal choice. I’m afraid that the self-reassurance if not satisfaction that comes from recycling, turning the thermostat down, seeking the car and walking more will have no discernible impact given the scale of the challenge.

And the facts offered through the contra-activity of the Capitalists and their Chancellors in government gives evidence that the current powers controlling human society and behaviours cannot and will not protect humanity or Nature.

We can only protest to survive, force fundamental change to human systems or face early and soon-to-come extinction. 

https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/news/plymouth-news/climate-change-activists-protest-plymouth-6088318

Protest the COP26

The COP26 represents the latest in a 25-year failure in the official approach to dealing with Climate Change. We are now in the midst of accelerating and self-promoting climate catastrophe.

Today you can look around the world and signal dozens of disasters that shouldn’t have happened. Extreme weather events, floods, fires and failed harvests leading to famine. Extreme changes to natural systems are also visible, dead-seas and increasing acidification, ice-melt at the poles and glacial melt on the mountains, record temperatures in inhabited areas stretching above 50 degrees celsius (C).

The COP26 Summit has been delayed by a year because of the COVID Pandemic. It will take place under the shadow of the 6th Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which the United General Secretary called “Code Red” for human societies. This is not opinion, it is peer-reviewed, double-and-triple-checked compilation of thousands of scientific papers detailing proven research from across 5 continents over periods of years and decades which, together, prove the terrible danger we face, as does most life on earth – the 6th Great Extinction.

At over 4,000 pages with appendices, I doubt many delegates to the COP26 Conference will bother to read the IPCC 6th Report, let alone digest the very real implications. But the whole world has access to the science, and the whole world will be watching them.

The UN Conference of Parties (COP) came out of the Earth Summit in 1992 held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The COP was supposed to discuss a collective response to the climate emergency. Those attending could be self-appointed and the process became dominated by the Non-Government Organisations, Corporations and politicians from the richest countries of the global North, quashing the voice of the less developed or powerful nations of the Global South. 

The COP process has been a complete failure, and in fact made the situation by creating an illusion of action whilst emissions increase. Even when the so-called “Paris Agreement” offered a legally binding international treaty on climate change, adopted by 196 Parties at COP21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016, Governments di little or nothing. 

The Paris Agreement is much quoted in 2021, its stated goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels (1850). 

COP26 in November will become a major issue far wider than the trade unions and environment movements. Extreme events are becoming worse day-by-day, but also the richest countries that organise as the G7 see COP as a political issue through which they can push a set of ideological, political and economic agendas. 

UK Prime Minister Johnson will be hosting COP26, calling for a Summit of deeds not words, but actually pushing his flagship neoliberal offensive as recovery from COVID through new industry and maximising profits of major corporations.

Is COP26 the “last chance”? That was said for each COP in the last decade, with agreements leading to little or nothing. There have been key moments – Kyoto COP3 in 1997 as an agreement that became a battle ground; Copenhagen 2009 which was destroyed by Presdident Obama’s protectionism of the USA’s global interests; and the COP21 Paris 2015 had large demos which were heavily repressed by the French State…I was there.

All Agreements were based-upon the argument that free-market Capitalism can solve the threats from Climate Change. For example, Carbon trading will allow corporations to cap their emissions and lead to overall decline.

But COP has never been a meeting of informed scientists and politicians. 38,000 delegates to COP21 were either delegates of individual governments or lobbyists from “interested parties” including fuel companies, industrialists, and NGOs, all seeking to bargain there interests. A battle ground for economic and political interests, dominated by the most powerful interests.

The US were able to produce a large number of delegates driving forward their agendas, influencing through economic aid and outfits threats. For example, US delegates to the 2017 COP in Durban offered South Africa funding in return for collaboration. In Poland in COP24 was sponsored by the Polish coal company, and COP22 the main sponsors were the Spanish coal and gas corporations.

COP is also a battle-ground for internal national politics and between sections of their ruling classes. It may see complicated but in the end the tussles, in-fighting, self-interest and corporate greed produce compromises that achieve less than nothing. On current proposals to COP26, not current actions, global emissions will reduce by just 1% by 2030 and we will reach average temperature rise of 4C by 2080. More than half the world’s population will be forced from their sea-edge towns and cities (including London and New York) and the more internal areas will be uninhabitable.

It’s not all hopeless. The Paris Agreement in 2015 limited emissions to a target 1.5C, because the smaller countries formed a large alliance based-upon links with the huge protests outside and globally. Where there are hundreds of thousands of people demanding radical change, they do influence the debates inside Conference. That’s why there is so much concern that so many smaller countries may not be able to attend COP26 due to either the extreme costs or the pandemic threat of travel to Glasgow. Our protests are vital to ensure their voice.

The key focus is that currently the global emissions continue to rise. Naomi Klein’s book, “This Changes Everything” says if at the start of the COP process, all countries had agreed to reduce their emissions by 2% a year the crisis would be now have been averted. Instead, the politics of delay, rivalry, and off-setting has has won horrific pollution levels and models of climate collapse in the near future. 

The IPCC 6th Report most certainly identifies that it will be impossible to halt climate heating to below a 2C average global increase over pre-industrial levels (1850) even if the 8% global reductions in global heating emissions happen every year from now. And there’s no evidence that the COP26 will agree to anything like those levels of reductions.

2C average means some areas experience periods of 0.5C increase whilst others – the Tropics and in-between, experience 4-5C. Afghanistan, for example, is predicted to be 5C hotter by the end of the Century. The 2C could be brought-down again by the century’s end, but at the expense of possibly more than a billion lives lost, and mass forced migration. 

There is a recognition that these COP agreements don’t work, but the large countries don’t want legally-binding requirements forcing governments to act. The UN fails to enforce agreements in any case, just look at the way their declarations for Palestine or against nuclear weapons are completely ignored.

Nevertheless, we must recognise that international agreement does matter. COP26 offers an opportunity to raise the issues and demand better solutions. Especially our calls for just transition of industrial production (including industrial agriculture) away from reliance of carbon-fuels and plastics, and 1-4 Million Green Jobs Now!  The call for Global Climate Justice is also identifies radical but plausible solutions. Even if the Corporate bosses and their tame politicians won’t listen or budge, our voices and protests will win greater public consciousness and increase the calls for system change.

In the trades unions, Unite, the UCU, NEU and PCS unions are already members of the COP26 Coalition, and we need to build anti-racist organisations, Palestine Solidarity, Kashmiri and Bangladeshi, etc. The organised working class has a key and leading role to play.

The demand for reparations for the Global South is an essential ingredient of our campaigning. The wealth of the global North has been created by the exploitation of the South and the overwhelming majority of the global heating emissions that are destroying whole swathes of the poorer regions of the world. We are going to experience a dramatic reduction in living standards and we should prepare ourselves for that rather than cling to the delusion that the western, middle-class lifestyle can be made sustainable. But, for the Global South, the catastrophe will be far worse. 

There is a solution – a vision of the world where we organise the economy in the interests of the Ecology and the interests of the People. We recognise the power of ordinary people to change the world, and the power of workers as the producers at the point of production. These reforms must challenge the structures of fossil fuel capitalism, by taking on its exploitation and racism – and the fossil fuel interests at its heart. 

We cannot plan for an ambitious, long-term program of energy conversion without challenging the power of the big oil companies or the nuclear industry, or without confronting the private lobbies of weapons manufacturers or the communications industry, which are more and more closely aligned into the transnational military-industrial-complex.

Politically, the Corporate class know they’re in the spotlight, and are funding a huge publicity and propaganda exercise to pretend that fossil-fuels can solve the climate emergency. 

Just look into the greenwash of carbon-capture-and-storage, biofuels, carbon-trading, nuclear energy, blue-hydrogen and climate-engeneering and you quickly find they’re either unproven, in their infancy, comparatively expensive compared existing wind, wave and solar technologies, or too distant as projects that could possibly stop the catastrophe. 

There is more than one “Green New Deal”, and many are promoted by the fossil-companies who want to preserve their profits first and foremost, whatever the cost to the Earth. 

It’s equally important to note that the climate and environment movement is not intrinsically left-wing, socialist or autonomist. It is not necessarily on the side of workers. The working class has to ensure it has a strong voice inside the climate demands, and argues for collective organisation and mutual support. 

There are far-right forces at work: a climate nationalism that argues for militarised borders against climate refugees; a return-to-the-land idealism that blames people not the methods of production for the crisis, and condemns technology. A Malthusian hatred of humanity that looks forward to seeing billions dead through the heat, the starvation and the floods, watching billions die on the news channels because humans are bad. And then there are the xenophobic imperialists who argue for invasion and climate colonialism in order to import resources and food from across the globe and leave “the indigenous” their local famines. White supremacy is being stoked-up for a reason.

The final, although not far away result of the right-wing agenda will be global war. War for Water, war for food, war against the desperate refugees, and potentially a range of civil wars. Such modelling of “possible scenarios” is well advanced in the military Capitals of the powerful nations. Society is carefully being militarised, and democracy – in structure and notion – debased.

But such a dystopian and totalitarian future can only happen if the mass of the people are won to such ideology, embrace nationalism and racism or are pacified and disempowered from protesting for people before profit. The collective power of the working classes of the world, united to defend our lives and our futures, is far greater than the power of Corporate executives.

Coalescing the Three C’s

I’ve been asked why I have a blog page when I write so rarely. It’s a good question. First and foremost I’m busy, secondly I’m not a very confident writer, and thirdly, I write to be able to clarify my own thoughts, nothing more.

So why publish personal thoughts? Usually, I only publish thoughts that have arisen from discussions with others who are interested in my take on conditions in this turbulent and complex period of human history. It aids further debate.

I’ve spent the past four months supporting the building of a time-limited coalition to protest at the policies of the G7 group of Capitalist countries. President Biden and other “elected representatives” met in Carbis Bay, Cornwall last week, close to where I live. What else could I do but organise?

The G7, plus invited guest Prime Ministers, we’re continuing the imperialist “Great Reset” carve-up of markets and natural resources on a global scale. The Greenwash “NET” messages for continuing to seek profit from climate catastrophe were highly advertised.

Less publicised was the extension of the Western imperialist alliance against China and Russia, with the launch of the US/UK fleet headed by the new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier towards the South China Seas. Then, the further of lowering standards of Corporate accountability with a perverse dictat for taxation that will actually cut State income from the profits of exploitation. And behind closed doors, the limiting of Aid, including COVID-vaccines, to the Global South, ensuring continuing death and social dislocation directly against the scientific evidence from the World Health Organisation.

I can only rage against these smiling political figureheads as anti-human scum.

We did what we could. Amidst the sudden and infected invasion by 6,500 additional police and military, armed and extremely dangerous into the holiday resorts of sunny Cornwall, we marched upon gated media centres and sought to get as close to the militarised conference centre as possible.

The question of why elected politicians had to have £70 million of security to protect their three-day jamboree hung in the air. Cornwall has seen a four-fold increase in family poverty over the past 15 months, food banks being extended from the local churches to schools, struggling to meet the ever-growing demand in this, one of the poorest regions of Europe.

How can anyone be anything other than incandescent with rage against both the organisation of the G7 and their decisions. This is the elite acting on behalf of the elite, leading humanity into deeper barbarism and all-but inevitable climate collapse.

Talking with justice-seeking representatives from Tigray, Kashmir and Palestine I acquainted myself emotionally with the personal horrors of orchestrated genocide, sponsored communal violence and proxy wars all perpetrated by the continued imperialist quest for power over land and markets at the expense of humanity and Nature.

We are already living in a condition of barbarism, deepening and accelerating.

On our side, the protests were way too small, hampered by the three-C’s of COVID-restrictions and realistic fears, Cornwall’s comparative inaccessibility, and the post-Corbyn pessimism and pacification of trade unions and the Left across the UK and Europe. But at least we were there.

Against all the odds, we built and held together the most improbable Coalition of anarchists, autonomists (nope, they’re not the same), Trotskyists, Corbynistas (yes, they’re still around), Liberals and Stalinists. Bottom-up and Top-down socialists, reformers and State-smashers, individualists and communalists. As a political project it was unique, even if extremely small and vulnerable.

You see, the future of humanity depends upon grassroots activism drawing together sufficient numbers of social activists into the size of critical mass commensurate to the sheer scale of the challenge facing us. Ecological collapse, global heating, climate change, economic crisis, Pandemic and forced mass migration are not predictions f one possible future, they are all with us.

Fighting for a future for humanity has never been more urgent or all-encompassing. We have to find a way of acknowledging each other’s political points of difference, making spaces for disagreement and at times fierce argument about the specificities, yet essentially linking arms in direct action against common enemy – the global Capitalist class.

To be honest, our “Resist G7 Coalition” held together by purposefully not discussing politics, just organising for protest actions. And that led to a lack of cogency, a failure to clearly elucidate our purpose and focus, and continuous underlying distrust that failed to inspire and garner wider forces. But we did produce and broadcast some level of protest that otherwise would not have happened.

It was a brave experiment, and all those who participated proved their bravery. Hopefully we can learn the lessons and do it better next time. But there is one element that remains under-and-ill-considered. The “environmental movement” separated themselves out and largely acted from inside their specific organisations, linking together not at all. This is a terrible mistake.

Whether it was the climate activists from CAFOD or the Extinction Rebellion artists, their protests were purposefully small, singular and symbolic. They showed no desire to raise the organised opposition towards the size of critical mass required for real change, or to link issues other than “environmental” together. Far from it.

This is no use at all. The climate crisis encompasses all issues. Or, from the other perspective, all issues include the need to address global heating emissions. Future planning of the global economy will determine global heating emissions. The international response to COVID exposes the fault lines of the international cooperation needed to prevent climate chaos. The continued and accelerating militarisation of borders and nation states discloses the primary impact of the industrial/military complex upon environmental destruction.

Extinction Rebellion has to extend itself as an anti-imperialist movement for Peace, a force against racism and oppression. The Christians in CAFOD and other activist church groups have to challenge Capitalism as a perverse anti-human system. The Greens and Corbynistas have to recognise the falsehood, fraud and powerlessness of our system of parliamentary democracy, dwarfed and made impotent by corporate power and political corruption.

And, ultimately and most crucially, the organised working class, through trade unionism and beyond, have to unite with this Movement of Movements and take power at the point of production.

There is only one solution, System Change. And that is, surely, what we can all coalesce around, debating and formulating the replacement along the way. At a global scale, it will take the united, organised action of hundreds of millions of human beings to produce the united force capable of stopping climate catastrophe.

And so I write this for my friend and neighbour who suggested it was a good thing that the G7 meets and brings together different nations in common cause. Wrong. The cause is their own aggrandisement and avarice. The solution is their overthrow, disbandment, and the construction in short-time of a new system based upon need not profit. For the many not the few. For the Ecology, not profit from plunder. And most of all, for the survival of humanity. Revolution!

Cannot Hold

Through the final reign

The dividing line:

Polarisation.

Amid contiguous storms,

Arid conflicts,

The drought of expectations.

The Centre cannot hold,

Gutters flooded,

Rotted beams,

Shattered ceilings, 

Stachybotrys chartarum.

Equilibrium tenses

Breathing deep

Fern-shaped patterning

Denying deep-lung

And, oh, the fatigue!

Paisley fractals

Betray chaos

As a future

Ne’re to emerge

And already here.

Through endless rain

The obvious sign:

Alienation.

Imposed inhuman norms,

War contradicts

Individualised emancipation.

The Centre cannot hold,

Children blooded

Toxic dreams

Frosted feelings

Phosphoric Idiom.

Sea Level rises

C Dioxide seep

Surf-caped drowning

Border cities rung-

Out, oh, the intrigue!

Torn-up track tales

Portray chaos

As a suture

Between our urge

And flying fear.

This is new terrain

The sharp incline:

Extermination.

As Nature transforms

Ice pole predicts 

The death of civilisation –

The Centre cannot hold!

Ideology muddied:

Despotic regime-

Forcing mos maiorum

Characterises

Dictatorship creep.

Yet revolt is happening

Powered by the Young

Marching, oh, in league,

Dodging projectiles,

A survival ethos

For a future,

Profit in purge,

Collectively clear.

Proletarian Thoughts

Recently, the social networks across Britain have been full to the brim with derogatory comments about the stupidity, ignorance and apathy of “the electorate”, a term focussed upon the working classes who voted Tory in last week’s elections. Indeed, the spokespeople for the Party of Labour appear to speak of the working class as if we’re an alien species, with many activists repeating this bile.

The emotional bile of these supposedly left-wing supporters of some semblance of socialism in the Labour Party has erupted in a splaying of projectile hatred against working class Tories.

Yet even the most part-time amateur psephologist would be quick to point-out that 70%-ish of the electorate didn’t vote at all, and that only a minority of those who did vote, voted for the Tory Party of the Boss Class.

Whilst much is made of the 52% vote for Tory MP in the one by-election, the focus of the bosses media and the walking dead of New Labour, the proportion Tory votes across the electorate is a minority. And yes, the Tories have a 70-seat majority in Parliament from the 2019 election yet more people voted against them and a third of the electorate didn’t vote at all.

Call this a democracy? No? Then why are you playing the game?

The unspoken and ill-addressed issue for those on “The Left” who choose to engage in the fraud and illusion of Parliamentary Democracy is that the majority of the population consider themselves less-than-enfranchised: “whoever you vote for the self-seeking capitalist supporters win, and they do-for-themselves and their like, not us”.

My experience of a lot of the social democratic left is of higher-educated, largely middle-class, absurdly self-opinionated (rather than fact-based and enquiring) moral-highground self-promoters seeking a place in the current scheme-of-things – plaudits and formal recognition – rather than any real change to the System that is Capitalism.

Occasionally as now, I’m moved by their own arrogance to turn the tables on them. They exhibit all the emotional intelligence of a peasant, seeking to defend their tiny allotment of political life against all challenges. The opposite way of seeing and emotional interpretation of reality stems from the proletarian recognition of strength through the collective, the power for change being based at the point of production. The reformists are forced by position to deny this, promoting instead pessimism and passivity.

As a life-long socialist, the day I lose my faith in the working classes of the world is the day I give-up on life itself. I was born and raised working-class, and maybe that makes a difference. As an under-educated and angry teenager living by my wits I instinctively understood and sought-out collective identity and power rather than the self-promotion and status that I had been assured since birth was beyond my level of entitlement. Being part of Us versus Them was, and remains, not some over-intellectualised ideological position but a question of survival.

My faith in the working class is not an intellectual blind spot for me. Nor is it a metaphysical question of faith over fact.

Everyone is quick to point out the iniquities of the 1% versus the 99%, that’s easy and obvious. Billionaires exist and flaunt their power. Most of us can point to Bezos exploiting the Amazon workforce and the Pandemic, or Gates’ false green washing over NET-Zero. But follow that trail and you quickly end-up recognising the courtiers of the Ruling Class – including those who wish for reforms that maintain their current class position and entitlements – include many activists restraining themselves in spite of any acknowledgement of the science of climate catastrophe.

Contemporary courtiers, every bit as sycophantic as those sucking-up to Henry the Eighth or the Russian Tsars, include the elected politicians of all tiers of government, alongside the small-and-medium-sized business owners, each and all sharing secret aspirations of becoming multi-millionaire partners of the corporate Transnationals. Entitled and positioned supporters of Capitalism, furthering the System, not challenging it.

Social Democrats, including many socialists and Greens, court the courtiers. The idea being that winning the confidence and votes of the middle-classes will build a sufficient vote to get them into Parliament and then do justice for-and-on-behalf-of the masses. Maybe they could even file-off the sharpest edges off Capitalism itself. In all this, their fundamental misunderstanding of how Capitalism works together with a complete lack of faith in the working class is as palpable as it is hypocritical.

Indeed the all-but full-on disparaging damnation of working people on less-than sufficiency-incomes – the bottom 70% of society – in today’s stream of holier-than-thou text outrage at the election outcomes is nothing short of anti-working class.

To those I shout, until there is democracy in the workplace – those who produce having a collective say over how and what we produce, for what good purpose we work and at what life-affirming payment rate we are valued – we cannot say we live in any real semblance of democracy.

Stop playing your silly games! It’s perfectly reasonable to not take part in a sham election where what you actually need, not to mention what you’d actually like, is never on offer. And the pragmatism associated with a vote for the devil-you-know rather than the devil-you-don’t know is, at the very least, recognisable across time.

When life requires all your energy just to get through, pay the bills, raise your kids and get sufficient food and sleep to keep going, the falsehood of a cross on a piece of paper is not worthy of much effort.

I have faith in the working masses because human history offers an unchallengeable pattern of revolts by the producers over those who seek to rule them.

The constant heartbeat of history proves the point. Periods of stasis followed by the severe jolt of a fresh pumping of life blood through the body of society. “The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggle”, wrote Marx and Engels as the very starting point of the Communist manifesto.

Any analysis of the actions of the world’s ruling classes today suggests they’ve read that phrase and understand it’s truth very well indeed. Those born and raised to rule in our rotten class societies are taught such history from an early age – the despotism of Kings and Queens as a blueprint for how to keep the masses in their place.

Of the 12,000 years of large-scale static societies, the struggle for rights, life and liberty has been a constant. Yet only in the last 300 or so years have we experienced any real semblance of democracy – the rule of the people, slaves as well as citizens – and then as a pale shadow, a mere flickering of the light that would shine in a society of full human suffrage, equality and self-determination.

Today, we wage-slaves have no voice, and the self-anointed “citizens” above them don’t care to look at the truth of what it would take to ensure actual universal suffrage. System Change. Revolution.

Indeed, in today’s deepening and accelerating plunge into climate catastrophe, revolution is the only solution.

There have been short sparks that show such potential flame is possible. The most obvious is the short period after the overthrow of the Tzar and his Court in the Russian Revolution, 1917, before it was corralled and, in today’s terms, kettled by 14 invading armies and a counter-revolutionary civil war funded by the international Capitalist Class.

But human history is peppered with such revolts, happening with a constancy somewhere on earth at all times.

This is the real story of today. Right now 250 million small-holding farmers in India are defying the total might of the Indian State machine. Prime Minister Modi operating on behalf of the world’s richest billionaires is facing the largest collective strike in human history, despite his murderous and torturing Police force.

The indigenous Peoples of Canada have stopped, through self-sacrifice and sheer collective power, not one but two gas and oil pipelines. The working class organised into trade unions have come to their call and stood alongside, shutting transport hubs and blocking commerce to a point where today’s Caesars and Pharoes in the earth-destroying carbon industries have had to retreat.

Every continent has its news stories of collective challenge to the exploitation, oppression and repression of its rulers. Even in the UK we have large protests for the Climate – Thunberg’s Fridays for Future and our own Extinction Rebellion; against racism – Black Lives Matter; and against additional police powers intending to further clamp down on the working class – Kill the Bill!.

Yet the social democrats are out-on-the-streets applauding their own efforts to canvass for Labour candidates who have shown in word and action that they will do nothing for the poor, nothing to challenge institutional racism, nothing to put the climate emergency into action, nothing to force through the sexist glass ceiling or challenge all aspects of male-dominance.

And then, when these charlatans lose their seats, those proclaiming themselves as socialists blame the working class for not voting “Labour”. It’s beyond parody.

There is a proletarian consciousness. It does not contain the individualism of the middle classes. We are less judgemental because we see the frailty of others in ourselves. We understand each other’s contradictions between action and intent, all born out of getting-through-the-day, laughing-off our shared rough edges and intermittent bad behaviours. We don’t tolerate high-minded proselytisers promising pie-in-the-sky. We are, above all, forgiving of each other because we share the harshness of insufficiency.

Yes, we are distorted by property-relations that deepen our alienation from Nature, each other and ourselves. But we struggle every day to find solace, to join together in fun and laughter, to shrug off the assaults and find our way through. We are interdependent in our communities and workplaces. We have to rely on our workmates. We don’t suffer fools gladly or put-up with being lied to. And when the baton is wielded too harshly, whether at school, on the streets or in the workplace, we fight back. Together. As a global human base behaviour.

Real socialism does not and cannot come through Parliament. It comes through struggle. Put your limited energy where it counts. Stop putting false hope and faith in representation from above. Build collective fightback from below and the political organisation to organise, agitate and initiate. Time is short.