Resist G7 for Global Justice

The G7 is a meeting of the world’s most powerful political leaders, scheduled for 11th-13th June 2021 in the UK.

These leaders govern the richest countries in the world in their own interests, and the G7 exists to keep it that way. These government ministers will sit behind military security to meet at a luxury hotel complex in one the most picturesque but poorest regions of Europe – Cornwall. Resetting the global economy after the Pandemic will be the key discussion throughout, with the Climate Emergency centre-fold and used to dominate the media with messages of new economic growth through questionable “Green Technologies”, promoted by billionaire Bill Gates and his ilk. Global capitalism – the neoliberal free-market domination of the transnational corporations for agrochemicals, industrial agriculture, biofuels, together with the so-called Negative Emissions Technology (NET) of Carbon-Capture-and-Storage, mini-nuclear power plants and carbon trading – is the default setting. The G7 wealthiest nations, hosted by UK Prime Minister Johnson, has invited India’s Prime Minister Modi, currently assaulting millions of small farmers to enforce corporate dominance of food markets, and Australia’s Morrison, the coal and uranium enthusiast. The headlines from the G7 will be a prelude to what can be expected from the COP26 deliberations in November, once again led by the UK. The Campaign against Climate Change is supporting the Resist G7 Coalition established soon after the venue was announced. Based in Cornwall, England, the Coalition has issued the call for action in every community, town and city with a day of action for Climate on Friday 11th June and an international manifestation of opposition to G7 neoliberalism on Saturday12th. Local protests will take place in Cornwall, with convergence centres and counter-conferences in Penzance and Falmouth. The continuing risk from COVID variants makes the long journey to Cornwall by coach unsafe, and any physical protests called by the Coalition will seek to ensure ensure social distancing and personal protection. The G7+ cannot pass unchallenged. Our planet is on fire. While world leaders dine in a restaurant where the most expensive wine costs £850 a bottle, the climate and ecological crisis rages on. Yet those world leaders won’t even mention climate justice. Countries in the Global South are already paying the highest price in the climate crisis despite being the least responsible for causing it. And these countries, facing climate devastation, won’t even get a seat at the G7 table. The Resist G7 Coalition of grassroots groups is supported by a range of established campaigns for direct action to challenge the political and economic status quo. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Stop the War Coalition nationally are leading the call for exposure of the warmongering still being waged between rival imperialisms represented at the G7 conference. We are clear that barbarous levels of global military expenditure should be converted into investment in the Just Transition to fossil-free energy production by 2030 and the reduction to zero-carbon emissions soon after that. Laying waste to millions of lives and the environment, the current global heating emissions from the global military industry dwarfs all others. The Campaign against Climate Change will be leading the exposure of the inherent racism of current policies towards the Climate Emergency, and demanding Global Justice. Prime Minister Morrison’s institutional racism against refugees in Australia have become a blueprint for Britain’s own border controls against inward migration by people of colour. The implications of Fortress UK, Fortress Europe and Fortress USA for the hundreds of millions of climate refugees predicted in the next 20 years are horrific and require immediate challenge from the entire Movement of Movements. Currently the G7 is busy reaching out to very select representatives of civic society in the UK and internationally to build a Court and a moat of tacit support for neoliberalism around the fortress of their Conference at Carbis Bay. The “G7 engagement groups” of business, charities, NGO’s and trade unions are invited to consult upon economic, environmental, health, trade and “labour” policies, technology, development and foreign policy issues. Supporters of the neoliberal doctrine, the economics of consumerism and privatisation will flock to join, and we must counter their cheers and flag-waving. As well as welcoming G7 leaders to Cornwall in June, the UK will host a number of meetings throughout the year between a variety of Government Ministers from the G7, both virtually and in different locations across the nations, “…ensuring many areas of the country experience the benefits of the UK’s G7 Presidency”. The likely outcomes of the G7+ Conference are already enshrined in the quest for economic growth and exploitation of global markets, raw materials and ordinary working people. We should ensure that no meeting or statement from the G7 goes without challenge. The Coalition is calling for protest wherever the G7 emerges. The Campaign against Climate Change will be taking these arguments to the UK and international trade union movement and climate movements in the coming weeks and months to build as strong and powerful a voice of exposure and opposition the G7 as possible. We recommend your organisation signs-up to the Resist G7 Coalition and takes action wherever and however you can in June. And then on, to COP26 in Glasgow in November! You can download the RG7 Statement of Intent and Code of Conduct here, along with a model motion for organisations to debate and ratify, with a request for sponsorship and donations to help fund accommodation, publicity and convergence. Support the RG7 social media call on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok. Or you can email at ResistG7@protonmail.com

Protect our lands and seas!

Mad Mars

Every few years, the planets get into a position where spacecraft launched from planet Earth can get to Mars with a minimum of time and energy. One such time was in 2020 and now, three robotic craft are arriving to probe Mars. Together they represent investment of billions of pounds and millions of hours of human graft and invention. They’re investing off-world whilst our world is burning. It’s mad.

I feel extremely guilty about being entirely enthralled by these probes. I grew up in the period of the moon landings. I sang along with Gil Scott-Heron’s “Whitey on the Moon” whilst being transfixed by the fuzzy monochrome videos of moonwalks. I shouted out on protests against the genocide of 3 million people through the Vietnam War, and at the same time wept at the immolation of Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee inside the command module of Apollo 1.

Space Men were my idols. Male supremacy was a given then and, outrageously, is still culturally endemic today despite generations of struggle for women’s rights and liberation. Through my childhood of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s it went largely unquestioned. Flash Gordon’s fizzing rocket displayed each Saturday morning Children’s Matinee at the local Odeon Cinema competed with serial cowboy shorties to instil machismo and white supremacy. And we were taught that technology would soon provide us all with a life of leisure and exploration. Space was not so much the final frontier as the symbol of all human progress. I was raised to it.

That’s my way of explaining away why, over the last few years, I’ve kept track of Elon Musk’s SpaceX technology, claiming to start the process of enabling people to live on other planets. Through each day I take efforts to campaign for investment in sustainable life on earth, and in the process damn the billionaires who have exploited all to the point of extinction for their own avaricious pleasure. But every so often I take a sneaky private peek at whether the recyclable Starship rocket has landed successfully or exploded in a fireball worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster.

I console myself by recognising that human beings carry contradictions in both mind and body. Our mood swings between hope and hopelessness span a vast spectrum of emotional states and heavenly questions, with many periods of life demanding nothing less than sheer perseverance. We are constantly excited and aroused by carefully contrived imagery manipulating our emotions and coercing our affiliations.

Unless wholly in charge of ourselves despite all external influences we live in a state of tension between conflicting thoughts and desires. In isolation, such as the self-imposed house arrest against the threat from viral infection, we can begin to think we’re mentally unwell, forgetting that all humans live the dance of internal conflict. As a saving grace, usually, the practical demands of self-maintenance prevent constant introspection.

Without constant self-assessment, a condition in itself that ensures mental distress, we are most likely to hold on to contradictory thoughts and beliefs. We can readily understand that all film and TV is contrived in script-driven studios, yet become emotionally attached to the characters represented. They’re much easier to manage than the people we live alongside in reality.

When we find ourselves losing sleep over what will happen to Jon Snow, or fantasise over the avatar of an online celebrity, we have to disinfect our minds by shouting at the mirror – “they’re not real people!”

Such personal debriefings are far more difficult when dealing with the constant propaganda churned-out on behalf of a ruling class wishing to normalise human traits of competition and avarice to the point of denial of mutuality and compassion.

Our consciousness is split asunder, nurtured to acknowledge the barbaric inequalities of Capitalist society yet still buy-in to its’ cosmetic comforts. The ability to pretend, to substitute our dreams for reality, perpetuates the status quo rather than disrupts. When considering the plight of others we can “thank God its them instead of me”. When considering planetary ecology we can choose to believe that our tiny acts of recycling or reducing plastic use can turn around the destruction. We’re delusional. We might as well believe we can live on Mars.

The internal struggle for fact versus fiction, justice versus tyranny, inclusion versus competition, is today’s common human condition. It’s distressing. Social history suggests it hasn’t always been so nor is it inevitable. There can be a material reality based upon mutual cooperation, self-determination and equality of status and provision. There have been significant periods of peaceful human society. Humanity can rejoin Earth’s natural metabolism and enjoy the synthesis of creativity and sustainability. We have the handed-down know-how.

Another world is possible, here on Earth. In fact, its our only hope. We will have to concentrate our activities as well as our hopes, here. Whilst I appreciate science fiction as a vehicle for conceptual exploration, we have to keep a grip on reality. Break the illusions.

Yet, just as my parents and school teachers encouraged my star-gazing and moon dreams, today’s Tim Peakes’, Helen Shermans’ and Tim Dodds’ continue the same school and silver screen fantasising about the joys of living off-planet. I see little difference between astronauts and soldiers offering whole-school “learning programmes”. It is pure propaganda.

The reality of terraforming Mars is pure myth. The timescale of natural evolution together with the sheer size of a planet makes having humanity create a new home in space quite impossible. Impossible, that is, in the time we have left to rebalance the Earth’s climate sufficiently to ensure we can still live here, rather than drive ourselves to species extinction. It is going to take every effort, much pain and sacrifice to turn the world economy from ecological destruction to carbon-zero repair in the time left to us.

Perhaps that’s the real draw of Elon Musk’s egomaniacal mythologising. Even if we destroy life on Earth he will have been responsible for ensuring humanity migrates and survives somewhere else. A fresh start. The next Adam and Eve. It doesn’t matter that it can’t possibly work, only that it distracts us from the very pressing existential realities of the present day.

Maybe, just maybe, this is the point at which the vastness of the human imagination can win through. Our children are experiencing a consciousness split between one eye on the stars, the other on the environment. One moment of compassion and concern for the dying White Rhino, the next an intellectual flow of facts and figures about the travel distance from here to Mars, and how to successfully land on a dead planet.

The amazing but absurd technology, wasteful and pointless, of Starships, proves nonetheless that we have the ability to transform production away from fossil fuels within a few years. In the mere flash of an eye.

Much of the space programme’s computer technology and gas combustion is of little use in our survival programme. We could turn our gaze away and begin to express wonder and excitement in the more simple but life-affirming technologies of solar and wind power generation. And glory in the reduction of energy use, the absence of explosions! Peace.

Instead, the world is accelerating to the Dark Side. Tuesday’s orbiting of the “Hope” probe launched by the Arab Emirates, Thursday’s success of China’s Tianwen-1 (“Heavenly Questions”) vehicle, and next week’s landing of NASA’s rover, “Perseverance” on Mars via “Sky Crane” is as much evidence of imperialist competition as technological magnificence.

Whilst SpaceX is routinely launching spy-satellites for the USA, NASA is busy testing the massive SLS system designed to take astronauts back to the moon, to “settle” in hermetically sealed anti-viral bubbles. Here in the UK, huge sums of tax-payers hard-earned cash is being ploughed, not into sustainable agricultural food production but Space Ports, allied with the USA, from which to launch social control platforms into space. Tourists will flood to Newquay, Cornwall not so much for the sun, sea and surf as the rocket launch. The real stuff of fantasy.

I’m trying to disinfect myself from this Sci-fi awe. The money, and more, should be spent on Earth without hesitation to stop the Climate Catastrophe. Indeed, why isn’t it? Because the “Space Race” first announced by Kennedy – a man so throughly mythologised into a progressive Peacenik – is well and truly back-on. Space 2039 will be full of laser battles and mineral wars. Earth 2039 will be burning-up.

I am reminded that President Kennedy’s real motive for demanding the US land “men” on the moon by 1970 was solely to compete with and break not only the economy but the hope of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This time it’s China.

I had no illusions in, nor allegiance to, the Russian government or the political system of China back in the 1960’s, nor now. The need to challenge western imperialism remains a practical priority in a world where the military expenditure of the USA is greater each year than the rest of the world combined. It is the Empire of the USA that is driving the militarisation of space, satellites, moons and indeed, whole planets. To pretend that the new drive to Space is in any way peaceful or progressive is to live in the clawing clutches of self-deceit.

For SpaceX read Star Wars.

Net-Zero or Net Profit

The buzz-word of 2021 will be, if it isn’t already, Net.

With both the G7 and COP26 being hosted by the UK this year – the Climate Emergency breaking through the COVID-mist to headline at both – the World’s Establishment are rallying behind Net gains from Net promotion: Net-Zero and NET production.

Arguing that they’re “only following the science”, corporate bosses and their political lackeys are hiring media and communications specialists to build their “Green Credentials”. Pricey advertising and glossy brochures proclaim their shift to lowering emissions as a collective capitalist commitment to “Net-Zero by 2050”.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), charged by the United Nations with the responsibility for collating current science reports of global heating, has declared 2050 as the deadline by which human society should emit no more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the amount that can be removed – Net-Zero.

The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, at 0.04% and increasing at an unprecedented rate when compared to most of Earth’s history, largely determines the extent of global warming. The IPCC’s 2018 Report concluded that we are careering towards the very “worst case scenario”, meaning global heating that will see the collapse of human societies and extinction of the majority of life. For a notably over-cautious and conservative body of the Establishment, that’s hard talk.

Talk that has made the super-rich corporate executives shudder. Not from fear of loss of life so much as fear of loss of profits. It doesn’t require much research to recognise that modern global Capitalism is wholly and inextricably reliant upon a carbon-economy. Coal, coke, oil and gas for energy, transport, plastics and steel production. To be told to move away from the carbon-based economy, even over 30 years, is not only a threat to the future of Transnational oil giants but to the profitable infrastructure of every business.

For decades, oil companies had been the biggest investors in the ideology and propaganda of “Climate Denial”, funding and even constructing entire university campuses based-upon concocting quasi-scientific reports to “prove” that the heating was caused by sun-spots, or just natural fluctuations and nothing to worry about, or actually not happening at all.

Worsening extreme weather events and a succession of record-breaking hottest years in history, together with overwhelming numbers of detailed scientific reports and analysis from across the globe finally broke the contrived impasse. The break-through was helped, to the greatest extent, by a growing clamour from below from school students taking strike action to lead a wave of protest that caught the public imagination and won public sign-up. Everywhere. The World is On Fire!

Oil Executives had already assessed the rising tide of opposition, changing their logos from yellow to green or green-lettering to yellow sunshine, projecting the absurd and openly contradictory notion of “clean carbon”. It worked to some extent, but the scientific facts kept exposing their pretty lures as decoys. Public consciousness was getting away, the bait refused, the holes in the arguments exposed.

It was time, once again, for damage limitation, not so much of the Planet but of the projected rate of corporate profits. The arguments were concentrated into two camps, Zero-carbon or Net-Zero.

Global heating emissions were increasing and accelerating, the impacts on sea, ice, land and air each feeding each to ensure heating would continue for decades if not centuries even if we hit the zero-emissions button immediately.

There is no time to lose!” “Keep the Carbon in the Ground, Keep the Oil in the Soil” sang the protesters as they were arrested. Carbon-Zero by 2025 or face Rebellion ahead of Extinction.

Any worthwhile study of the scientific readings and models would expose the need to stop emissions now, but the facts should not get in the way of money-making. It escaped nobody’s attention that the demands would mean, if accepted, the end of the carbon-based economy and, indeed, complete system change. Heavens forbid, the very end of Capitalism -the system of exploitation of Nature and Humanity for accumulation of wealth by a rich few.

The rich few met as the World Economic Forum in 2021 to defend themselves. Under the guise of promoting a “cohesive and sustainable world” they announced The Great Reset Initiative. In a characteristically perverse charade, they blamed COVID-19 not Climate Catastrophe for the need for urgent economic change. But it was carbon emissions rather than viral aerosols that had their attention.

NET – Negative Emissions Technologies – is their collective proclamation. To achieve Net-Zero by 2050, the oil-guzzling, coal-crunching, gas-spewing companies will come clean. Converted as if by magic, they’re offering the latest sleight-of-hand to ensure business as usual as a much as possible.

Carbon-capture-and-storage, the panacea that will allow coal and gas generators to continue to spit, their emissions to be captured and stored instead of emitted, is no more than a distraction from the coming calamity. At present the capture is in its infancy and the storage is unproven. The very few companies investing in the technology are, to a unit, recycling the stored carbon into new fuel that yes, when used, sends emissions back into the atmosphere. And the scale of capture needed, when currently over 43 billion tonnes of CO2 are spewed into the atmosphere each year (imagine a 20 mile wide and high cube) makes the technology a dream rather than a hope. Capture that!

Other pronouncements, from shift from gas and oil to biofuels (Europe declaring the burning of wood as carbon-neutral) are even easier to discount. And while some environmentalists cling-on from understandable desperation to nuclear power, the cost and length of construction prior to energy production is ridiculously high, in terms of both carbon emissions and the storage of highly toxic and widely-polluting waste.

Carbon-taxes and off-setting are similarly promoted with huge enthusiasm by transnational corporations, their fingers in most pies, to allow continued emissions so long as you fund someone, somewhere else, not to emit. The formula is finite of course. Once everywhere not emitting is “bought” in order to allow everywhere else to continue emitting, the truth will be out – they’re still emitting!

NET and Net-Zero will not work. Even the IPCC is clear that we’ve little chance of stopping 2 degrees temperature rise above the base – not seen in half-a-million years or more. And most projections acknowledge we’re well on our way to 3 degrees, with current emissions if not reduced at all ensuring 10 degrees in a couple of hundred years time. That’s the end of life on earth. Mars.

I repeat, these new technologies – the NET – won’t work, at least not in time. Even the economics suggests that the amount of investment needed for these new technologies, in contrast to the low cost of solar and wind power together with large reductions in energy use, is problematic. Already, the US tax-payer subsidises the oil, gas and coal industries to a tune of $15billion annually, the UK $13billion and some $60billion tax-aid is paid to prop-up the profits of the carbon-based economy worldwide. Now they’re asking for even more government hand-outs for their cosmetic “green initiatives”.

The Great Reset is a Great Lie. Yet most climate and environment non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well as government departments, national and local, are adopting the Great Reset, netted hook, line and sinker. It is embedded into the core of most versions of a Green New Deal or Building Back Better. Most adoptees, at least privately, admit they’re banking on some change being better than no change and hoping that their own tenacity in continually asking for “more” will net some progress.

The pessimism of the NGOs combined with desire to protect the status quo in which they’ve prospered is entirely short-sighted. Only carbon-zero in 10 years offers any chance of any form of social stability. And anyway, to be honest, the only thing to do with a big lie is to expose it before it becomes “common sense” and impossible to budge.

Born in the Age of COVID, the Great Reset promotes the ideological principle of adaptation and adoption – supply a shot in the arm (hopefully at a handsome profit) to protect the infrastructure as it is, after which we should simply learn to live with it. We may well have to live with various mutations of Corona virus, but all the science says that the Climate will not be so accommodating.

Net-Zero will, more likely than not, Net-Nothing.

Momentary

I’m always elated when symbols of the far-Right get broken. The demise of predatory misogynists such as Weinstein, the end of South African Apartheid, the bankruptcy of the British National Party, the defeat of racist Trump – all moments in history offering me renewed faith in humanity and hope for the future.

Actually, they’re not moments at all but events in a continuous process. It took millions of women’s voices to shout out “Me Too” on the streets to have just one serial rapist jailed. The suffering through torture and murder of tens of thousands lead to the scale of global outrage and protest that finally dismantled the Boer’s white supremacist government. The thousands clashing with Police from Cable Street, through Lewisham and Welling to the mass campaign to defeat “Tommy Robinson”, many an Anti-Fa losing their livelihoods and opportunities for life through unjust arrests, altogether ensured that British fascism has never, to date, taken hold.

And Trumpism? There can be no doubt that the tens of millions actively involved in the Black Lives Matter Movement in the USA and beyond, the neighbourhood and community organising to expose and counter his cuts to Welfare and Health services, the teachers strikes for better funding for working class communities, and, not least, the millions on the streets challenging Trump’s Climate Denial, all built the foundation to Trump’s demise.

It is, therefore, simply not true that Biden has won the US Presidential Election, despite all the World’s media shouting the message out this morning. It is a victory, absurdly narrow and momentary, for the people who care so much as to put themselves out enough to build the vote, to campaign tirelessly and to hold their noses in support of another Billionaire figure of the very Establishment they are in constant struggle with. It was only a vote in a ballot, and a moment in time.

All these struggles continue, hopefully unabated, essential to be escalated. The process of seeking social justice for all appears still in it’s infancy given the scale and span of human history, and is certainly far from concluded: organised and institutional racism is still endemic; the scale of abuse against women is pervasive across all societies; and neo-fascism is rebuilding and growing fast on all continents.

This accurately labelled “descent into barbarism” is the product of the crisis of the system capitalism. Capitalism’s reliance upon Debt, corruption and more-than-all-that, exploitation of people and planet, ensures that we are subject to the most amplified and accelerating tensions on all fronts.

Trump’s defeat may offer us momentary pleasure but we can be excused for wondering why we still feel a tension and despondency in our hearts.

It is at this point, all issues, all paths, all fights must be informed by and focussed through the prism of global heating and the urgency of emissions reduction if we are to survive, let alone win the ultimate prize of Peace with social justice, self-determination and agency.

Biden will deliver absolutely nothing of this. My friends, family and co-activists are shouting with joy today that Biden has promised to have the USA sign up to the Paris Accord again, “on the first day of his Presidency”. We’ll see, but in any case the Paris Accord was woefully inadequate to address the threat of climate collapse projected in 2016 let alone in the light of the escalating emissions crisis since that time. It is a weak backstop brought to the fore in aid of Greenwash – the appearance of doing something whilst doing nothing. We should have no illusions.

Biden is a tried and tested protector of the status quo in an era when staying the same is a universal death warrant. For decades he has represented the Washington consensus crossing Party boundaries to protect the interests of Business. He was a backroom architect and ultimately vice-President through a period of the Democrats’ right wing “third way” policies: neoliberal free-trade agreements, huge tax-payers gifts to banks, “tough-on-crime” anti-working class legislation and militarisation of the Police, not to mention cuts to welfare spending and services. His President Obama waged more war with imperialist intentions than has Trump. The Black Lives Matter movement was forced into existence during the reign of a Black President!

His alternative Party of the Ruling Class, boastfully emulating moral and intellectual (as well as financial) superiority, appears to represent the middle class liberals, technocrats and professionals whilst really continuing the project of the financiers and Big Business Capitalists. If that sounds like an allegation from Trump’s populist base its’ because it is. Every Great Lie has to have a kernel of Truth for it to work.

Trump’s speeches this week maintained the Great Lie that his is the true voice of the working class. Biden’s persona of dignity and fair play only fed on the feelings of indignation and anger by a population largely without opportunity, effective healthcare or education. That’s why the vote was larger than ever before, and so many Black and working class people voted for Trump as to make “Biden’s victory” so thin.

Far-right populism isn’t going away, and neither will Trump’s army whether he continues as leader or not. And this climate-denying movement will offer Biden every opportunity to limit and water-down any measures against global heating emissions that could make a real difference. In other words, the two men symbolise the two-sides of the same coin – the continuation of the System that is destroying the world.

Just for this moment, we progressives deserve a well-earned sigh of relief that Trump has lost a second term as President of the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. But, if we remain honest to ourselves we cannot feel joy or satisfaction. We can only gear ourselves up for the inevitable fights against the next President and everything he stands for. The demand has to be System Change, not symbolic change! Our existence depends upon it.

Twee

2020 horror? There are an enormous proportion of tweets and online posts offering the same antidote to this year’s challenges: “why can’t we just talk about positive things and stop all this negativity?”

My instant inner response each time is “Grow Up!”, although I’d never put that in print(!). I have often been left incandescent at the prissy call-outs to “be happy”, alongside what appears to be an all-but anti-human approach of “I know best”.

As far as I can surmise, such arrogance reflects a deeply reactionary self-consumed approach to life and society, a response to the current and ongoing global crisis that ultimately reflects far-Right “survival of the fittest” notions.

Of course, having my own blog allows me to vent and rant away without requiring anyone to listen, and publish my own observations upon the human condition for my own satisfaction. I need this outlet, and I guess that’s the same for others who similarly vent frustration and angst at anomie online.

Yet I can only observe the “Lovely, Lovely” approach to life as, not only deeply entitled, but twee. I perfectly well understand the mental health dangers of constant pessimism and hopelessness, but there is plenty to be pessimistic about, and, as a human emotion depression exists as an alert mechanism – a warning. To present otherwise is surely a descent into a different area of mental illness – asserting an emotional blindness to current challenges and the travails of others.

There’s a lot of such self-centredness around.

Just the responses to the outrageous levels of child poverty in the UK offers sufficient evidence of that. This week Parliament voted not to pay a paltry amount to feed children of poor families with a light lunch during school holidays. To a person, the self-centred spoke out to argue that State handouts create dependency and parents should struggle to stand on their own two feet, taking individual responsibility for their children’s diet.

The fact that more than 1 in 3 children in England and Wales live in poor households where one or more of the human necessities of life cannot be afforded is not to be acknowledged or dealt with. Ask why poverty is widespread, deepening, systemic, institutionalised? Instead, “why can’t they do what I do?”

There are similar reactions in responses to the Climate crisis, often by people who consider themselves progressive and even “Left-wing”.

Firstly, let’s be clear, there is no scientific argument. It is a matter of fact that the 16 clinically observed aspects of environmental and ecological degradation are at or past their respective Tipping Points.

To deny the scale of the challenge is to deny fact, yet the “Big Picture”, or rather, the holistic approach to campaigning to stop runaway climate change is most often neglected or denied.

The facts are too many to document in a single article, but just observe a few visions from the year 2020:

• the release of methane from ocean floors and Siberian permafrost;

• The loss of sea-life as the oceans acidify;

• the record-breaking high temperatures from the USA’s Death Valley to India’s Northern Phalodi;

• the equally never-seen-before scale of fires in California, Australasia, The Amazon and Syria’s Al-Suwayda Governorate; and

• the equally devastating floods in Rwanda, Bangladesh, Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia, Guyana, Italy, Indonesia, and the Adjara region of the country of Georgia;

not to mention the extraordinary pace of extinction of animal and insect life, and the evidence of never-before-seen in the last 3 million years environmental change, at a pace that dumfounds both the scientists and their computer models. This requires alarm, not comfort.

Yet, as an activist, I spend most of my time in online-meetings and reading tracts by well-meaning and equally well informed colleagues and comrades who seek to remain within the cosmetic spaces of day-to-day campaigning.

Each to their own, anyone doing anything is to be valued. I am not arguing that they should stop, only that the numbers who are actively challenging the System are far too few to be effective.

Neither am I arguing an either-or approach, demanding only revolutionary activity and damning all day-to-day reforms. I do both. I simply note that many of my friends and associates remain single-issue and defiant against calls for System Change, “doing” only the “cycling”, “rewilding”, “reuse” or “reduce use” single focus activities.

I don’t mind that it makes them feel better (I only wish they would do for me), but do mind when they pose their chosen hobby as “the answer”: “If only people would refuse to use plastic”, “People [the Others?] should be Vegan”, “oh, personally, I only ever use charity shops – consumerism is an addiction which I don’t have” (think about it).

Of course we need fewer cars, to walk and cycle more, to use less plastic and eat less meat, just as we need to buck the trends towards social intolerance and Fear of Others. But we have very little time in which to act before conditions ensure complete social collapse.

Historically, a deep social, political and economic crisis precedes revolution. This multi-faceted crisis, comprised of pandemic, economic and political corruption, extreme inequality of power and opportunity, war and climate collapse, is not going away.

This is our life from here on in. More of the same, and far worse, is on the way. But, as in all things, what we do matters and can shape the trajectory and outcome of the crisis.

It’s no good pretending. It’s the System! If politicians deny the climate emergency, either by word or inaction, they have to be challenged forthrightly, not politely requested to produce more cycle lanes or sow wild seeds, but to establish laws against global heating emissions, starting with the oil producers, arms manufacturers (the military are biggest polluters) and fossil fuel burners (car users being way down the list of targets).

To bang-on about re-wilding parks and pavements, rave about walking rather than driving, exude moral superiority for riding a bicycle, or pontificate about how nasty some politicians can be, may well be personally reassuring. I know I have my own pet passions. But none of these produce any real change, and certainly not the level of change needed.

As others document well, not least George Monbiot, the honest approach is to own the sheer scale and sonics of the challenge. Effective re-wilding is about ending industrial farming and transforming the management of areas the size of Dartmoor, the Lake District and the East Midlands. Planting tens of millions of trees.

By contrast, letting the football pitch at my local Victoria Park return to Dandelions, Lousewort and Yellow Rattle won’t make a heap of difference (except for the group of young asylum seekers whose use of the well-mown grass football pitch is a rare escape from the fear and tedium of imposed poverty).

Equally, ensuring homes are refitted to zero-carbon emissions will not be aided if the weeds (sorry, wild flowers) are protected and allowed to grow in the curtilages, walls and roofs with the ensuing destructive root damage and water intrusion to buildings. Flowers seed themselves everywhere. Fungus eats wood. We have to protect our homes, de-weed our vegetable patches, kill Russian Vines (the mile-a-minute Fallopia Baldschuanica) before they overwhelm us!

It is argued that these small-scale approaches offer education and patterns of change that add-up to large-scale changes. An oft-offered example is is recycling, now “normal” across the industrialised world. But look deeper and the majority of municipalities still burn or send to land-fill much of that which we have painstakingly recycled at home. Deeper still, smog-inducing tankers ferry our plastics to poor countries with no option but to dump our waste somewhere else. Recycling isn’t profitable enough as a money-making concern for the System to truly adopt it (but lets not talk about that).

Sometimes the twee moralism becomes anti-humanity in its holier-than-thou approach. “The World would be fine if only everyone else lived as I do”. Or worse still, “I hate humanity, the world would be better off without us!” Ugh, I can’t abide it! Humans may well be analogous to a bacteria, but there would be no life on Earth without such a marvellous mix of interactive lifeforms – especially bacteria! We are of vital importance to the Ecology!

Sharing the Planet with Nature requires that we offer management – of ourselves yes, but of other life forms that can be just as intrusive, rampant, predatory and destructive. There’s nothing benign about Nature, and whilst I’d want humanity to be as one with the metabolism of all Life, the notion of a “Return to Nature” is actually an argument for human extinction. We should not be apart from the Ecology, but as part of Life we should act upon it for our own survival.

So we need to be factual and scientific about what works and must be done to prevent runaway climate change. And seize the time. Stop playing around. It is the Capitalist System of production that exploits and destroys the ecology, and exploits and oppresses the majority of humanity in much the same way and towards the same extinction. Either it is ended or we end as a species.

These are Epic times. Why think small?

Practically, ending the domination of the internal combustion engine will not occur because we individually choose to give-up our cars but by laws that ensure oil and gas will, from henceforth, be left in the ground! And the biggest demand right now must be for the restructuring of the economy to produce millions of Green Jobs in this period of recession into economic (as well as emotional) Depression, which requires targeting Government and politicians, Corporations and businesses.

Why would we find happiness in living an illusion?

I’m sure I’m now seen as nothing other than an intolerant old man at these meetings, repeating the above endlessly and showing angst if not overt anger at the paucity of the debate and shallowness of aspiration. But so be it. The issues are of the future of human survival, not personal politeness.

Nevertheless I will now, once again, curb my ire and return to an online politeness in text and Zoom meet-ups. Only because alienating those around me is unlikely to encourage or build a movement of the scale needed for real societal change. Inside I am squirming and seething at the lack of proportionate response to existential threat: “shuffering and shmiling” as Fela Kuti would sing.

The human world is not a nice place in 2020 and isn’t about to get any nicer. Most of us (apart from the top 5% of the world’s wealthy few) are facing deepening discomfort. Rather than seek the soporific comforts of “feeling like we’re doing something”, we may as well make ourselves uncomfortable now and do things that really make a difference. That will require fighting for a different society, not just better cycle routes.

https://youtu.be/Y–5IlljO78

It’s Not You

The current discussion is focussed upon mental ill-health caused by COVID-19. The focus is always upon the individual narrative. Radio and TV programs and newsreels constantly offer Vox-Pops of personal statements expressing feelings, focussing upon emotionality.

There’s much that is political propaganda in this. Immediately, I’m cursed for “reducing” or “denying” the serious impacts of pandemic related disease, sickness, bereavement, Lockdown claustrophobia, financial stress and debt, homelessness, domestic violence, social rage and deepening alienation.

Nope, mine is not a reductionist rant. It’s been months since I’ve felt able to write, the Summer offering some solace from gardening and cautious meet-ups post-Lockdown, but my stress and anxiety levels have been high, and I know I’m far from being alone in feeling alone and powerless. I am not one to minimise mental distress.

The problem with the focus upon the rise in mental ill-health is the dominant quasi-scientific approach of “biomedical psychology”. As my compatriot, Iain Ferguson identifies, there’s nothing wrong or abnormal with a response of anxiety to pandemic conditions – such emotions must be usual and collective human reactions to such stressful circumstances.

Yet the Capitalist propaganda machine identifies “Health”, mental and physical, as our personal and individual responsibility, even though viruses clearly require societal collective responses for mutual safety – masks, hygiene, sanitation, public refuse collection and decontamination, hospitals, ventilators, vaccines – little of which can be reduced to the level of individual production.

The response has to be societal. The current dominant cultural demands of neoliberal individualism and consumerism force us to believe we are at fault if we live in damp rented accommodation, its our fault if we can’t afford a low-fat low-sugar diet, its up to us to beat obesity by running each day, checking our steps and heartbeat on our Apple Watches.

The most scant and blurred check of personal and household income in Britain quickly proves that a huge proportion of us lack any choice in our living conditions, living in various degrees of poverty. Indeed, with the economic crisis stemming not only from COVID-19 but from the long oil-slick of the 2008 banking crash, around 4 million of our children live in poverty and over 1 million households rely upon charitable food banks.

That’s the stuff of stress and anxiety. Its not you. Levels of mental distress were high in this country well before COVID hit. Isolation, inequality, poverty, women’s oppression and racism are all structurally endemic in Capitalist society and each ensures fluctuating degrees of distress response.

The System, based upon judging people on their workability, condemns millions to lack of access, lack of choice, and resulting mental ill health, mostly encapsulating self-blame and self-hatred. It’s such ideology, and the corresponding media propaganda, that condones the cuts to mental health services to minimal levels.

One aspect of the current focus on mental health is now labelled “moral distress”, suddenly exposed and espoused by media from BBC 4’s Women’s Hour to “long-reads” in Guardian. I find it a fascinating revision of any consideration of political dissonance from the ruling ideas of the Capitalist Class.

Without seeking to clearly define this category of mental ill-health, it’s worth referring the outline concept to my friends, colleagues and comrades in the Climate Movement. The more we read the Science, we witness the extreme weather events and their aftermath for swathes of humanity (not to mention the mental anguish generated every time we project forward a few years in our imagination), the more “moral distress” appears to overwhelm us.

The moral distress of ecological and climate destruction leads us to the same self-blame and self-hatred borne of the powerlessness felt in other contexts. Such individualisation of the challenge, promoted by adverts from British Petroleum, The Sun “newspaper”, Prime Minister Johnson and those cleverly distorted journalists précis’ of Attenborough programmes, drives many activists into ever more alienated and pointless, self-denying activities.

It is claimed, falsely, that it is your plastic-use, your method of home heating, cooking, diet, attire, even breathing, that is the root of the problem. All this, despite the fact that you have little control over any of them (air pollution being a case in point).

In short, unless you’re an oil business billionaire (massive land-owner, corporate farmer or arms manufacturer), it’s not your fault! You didn’t create Capitalism. COVID-19 is a collective challenge and requires a collective, societal, pro-humanity response. So is Global Heating. Focus upon the methods of production that create deadly pandemics and emissions. Turn your pent-up emotions outwards, join together, and tear-down the System!

Abusing Entitlements

Yesterday, the latest Domestic Abuse Bill finally passed through the UK Parliament. We’ve campaigned for it for at least the last 5 years and should celebrate despite it having been mauled by misogynist MPs and neutered by the destruction of the Legal Aid system. Clearly Law-making is only ever incremental.

At last, the emotional coercion as well as physical and economic abuse and coercion of adults who are or recently have been living together has been addressed in Law. Children in households where there is abuse between adult family members are, for the first time, recognised as suffering from the same abuse.

The formal recognition of emotional harm caused by abusive behaviours, for example slandering the victim as “crazy” or abusive (known as “gaslighting”), is a valuable addition to the long list of how individual humans can control another and render them powerless. This comes at a time when reports of domestic abuse have more than quadrupled during the COVID-19 Lockdown.

During the same period, the Black Lives Matter protests following the murder by Police of George Floyd in the USA has raised the level of debate about Power-and-Control behaviours, both personal and institutionalised. The knee pressed on the neck until dead is a graphic symbol of illegitimate power, and allows us now to extend our exploration of the more subtle behaviours that restrict or deny our ability to breathe.

At a tangent, the debate about a “Woman’s Right to Choose” and abortion rights continues unabated, with the notion that an individual has the right to be in charge of their own body (and nobody else’s) still ludicrously contentious. Add to that the very loud arguments about whether Transgender people have the right to be recognised as women if they so choose, dividing feminists and misogynists alike, and all issues of individual liberty and human rights remain far from resolved.

We live in ideologically-febrile times, but probably always have. The divisions in the vast array of potential “ways of seeing” across all of humanity have constantly led to camps, ideological groupings, sects, parties and conflict. The human imagination that has empowered us to conceive of ideas, constructions and actions that raise us to the top of the food chain comes at a high cost.

We are able to love and hate, build and destroy, care and ignore. To paraphrase Bob Dylan, we can hear without listening, see without understanding. We are all able to abuse. We therefore have to control and manage ourselves. We simply cannot be free to do what we want, any old time.

This raises questions, not only about the limits to potential freedoms and self-determination, but of human entitlement. In the context of person-to-person abuse, domestic abusers (the vast majority being men) consider themselves entitled to control and manipulate their intimate partner, if not their entire cohort of family and friends, by virtue of their maleness.

Having spent much of my lifetime employed as a statutory social worker intervening in cases of domestic abuse, I have some understanding of the dynamics of power-and-control relationships.

I have explored, through personal experience as well as academic study, the societal mechanisms by which the behaviours of the controller and the controlled develop, accelerate, become enmeshed, maintained and amplified. Belief systems are developed and embedded in order to explain away and normalise the abuse. Crucially, the abuser learns to feel entitled to behave in that way.

I’m in no doubt that all notions of entitlement stem from societal norms and cultural requirements, not innate “human nature”. We are socialised into basic expectations of “acceptable” behaviour, and any scan of different societies can identify the rainbow coloured span of legitimate ways of living. There is no one normal.

So people appear to choose to live under threat and in fear rather than defy the prescribed social norms. At societal level, millions can live under brutal dictatorships for decades, surviving in the shadows enjoying secret symbolic acts of defiance or illegitimacy. Drinking during Prohibition, reading banned books, daring to seek prohibited sexual encounters. Small acts that assuage the death-defying demand to challenge the entire system.

Unequal personal relationships often include similar token defiance. The oppressed and abused mouth-off behind the abusers back, but know to don the false-smile when together. And the pay-offs, usually summed-up by “better the devil you know…”, keep the relationship going. Such co-dependency is a prominent form of dysfunctional relationships, a dynamic that answers the throw away question of “why does s/he stay with him?” The more thoughtful question should be, “what are the barriers that prevent the victim from leaving?

We become locked into habits, familiarities and dependencies however destructive, for fear of the unknown. In this example, in a male-dominated society, a woman leaving her abuser runs the gauntlet of economic hardship as well as isolation and social stigma. The stereotype of the passive, caring and emotional woman is proven by the converse societal damnation of her assertive and challenging alter-ego.

Humans are so fabulously expansive in our potential conceptions and behaviours that we have to learn how to behave in any given society, and adapt to do so. Racism is learnt. Sexism is learnt. Homophobia is learnt. Religiosity is learnt. Good and Bad are social constructs. A deeply unequal and stratified society has to necessarily teach inequality and the righteousness of superior over inferior human beings.

Our base drives, complex in their minute-by-minute execution, come down to the comparatively simple inter-relationship of identity and survival. What I have to do to feel valid and what I have to do to be safe enough. Perception is key. And the “pay-off” – the value of holding on to what is rather than escape into the unknown – keeps us placed in the most extreme and absurd of situations.

If society teaches me that, as a man I have rights over women, or my lighter skin offers me power over people of colour, then I can feel comparatively valued and secure. At least I’m better off than them. “Tuppence ha’penny looking down at tuppence” as my Dad used to say. By this adage we all learn our place in the scheme of things. The abused may well believe that its right that s/he’s abused, because society says so, even if it seriously limits the ability to breathe.

It is Society that invokes our preferred attributes, including any and all human rights and entitlements. There is nothing essential or inalienable about any of them. I am given the “right” to control my partner only if those around me allow it. I can get away with enslaving others for my own benefit, on whatever contrived and spurious grounds, until I’m prevented from doing so. My judgements of “others’ as better or worse than me can only be validated by a society that condones hierarchy and competition.

Which brings us to the horrid quandary of the degree of societal change essential to prevent climate-driven human extinction. It is the class-laden layers of entitlements, seemingly bestowed upon the people of those societies most hectic in promoting global heating emissions, that ensure we maintain abusive behaviours towards the Environment as well as each other.

At a societal level, the most CO2-emitting North Western countries bestow the “Right” to fresh clean drinking water, electricity, housing and health care upon its citizens in return to gross exploitation and oppression. The least polluting peoples, seemingly because they’re the least economically developed, are not entitled to these comforts, even tho’ it is the natural resources within their national boundaries that overwhelmingly provide the entitlements for the better off. Western societies abuse the Global South for our own benefit and at their victims’ abject expense.

On a personal level, the size of diamond displays the validity of his love for me, whatever shackles it also portrays or exploitation it requires before display. My car bestows my status, never mind its CO2 rating and lung-damaging pollution; my employment secures my place in the scheme of things, even if being a qualified aircraft engineer (after 5 years of hard graft for which I deserve recompense and acknowledgement) contributes massively to environmental destruction; the home temperature from my central heating system ensures my comfort, whether the use of fossil fuels is sustainable or not.

It’s difficult to argue that we benefit from carbon-based economies when they are destroying the environment upon which we depend for survival. But how do we end the current individual and collective buy-in to ecological abuse? Society says and structures life to proclaim that I need a car (despite its cost) and makes life harder without one. How can I be strong enough to walk away?

To lower emissions by the mind-boggling scale required to prevent societal breakdown and ecological Armageddon, we have to address and change all current notions of Human Entitlement. If we can challenge entitlements in relation to domestic abuse or white supremacy, why can’t we do the same to prevent environmental abuse?

We don’t need to exert power in order to feel safe and warm in an intimate relationship. Negotiation, empathy and sensitivity offer a far deeper, more enjoyable and rewarding partnership. Children who grow-up appreciating the value, including the true cost, of things tend to have a broader and more cooperative relationship towards everything and everyone around them. Perhaps we don’t need central heating after all.

Environmental destruction is the most powerful of all abuse because it impacts negatively upon all Life. Can an abuser change perception and behaviour? I can authoritatively say “yes” because I’ve seen it happen so many times. Individuals can and do learn, adapt and change. We can learn not to abuse.

By the same token, “survivors” are, by definition, the people who have stood up and walked away from the abuse. The most over-stated cry of the support worker is, “if he’s hit you, he’ll do it again and next time it’ll be worse still. You can’t change him, its time to leave.” The walk into the unknown may be frightening but generally not nearly as fearful as the day-to-day tremble of the abusive home environment.

Yet, through the past five decades the proportion of domestic abuse households hasn’t changed, no matter how many individuals have passed through therapeutic intervention to learn better behaviours. Hence yet another Law. It is clear from history that outlawing domestic abuse will not work unless male dominance as a norm is systemically challenged and unlearnt.

Whilst stemming from different root causes, the same goes for constructs of white supremacy, and indeed for acceptance of global heating emissions. Such abuse should not just be frowned upon, but decried, exposed and constantly challenged, as well as prohibited. But right now, those refusing to comply with the abuse, facing-up to the abusers, challenging and changing behaviours, are still derided and stigmatised by a society defending its’ entitlements.

Can humanity stop abusing the environment? The analogy with domestic abuse suggests not fast enough if left to the slow-burn of one-by-one learning. While one person has unlearnt the abusive behaviours another has just started to enact what society has taught. The bright red Emergency Stop button controlling the conveyor belt has to be pressed, hard.

Ending environmental abuse requires societal change. It probably does mean a period of discomfort whilst building a new normal. It will require strong laws against the abusers – in this case the Corporations who are currently protected in their psychopathy. And, as with the misogynist abusers, they’re likely to fight back against any and all personal liability or accountability.

Progress depends upon the joined-up force of all movements against abuse. At base, the societal conventions that legitimise exploitation and oppression sit alongside the tenets that allow ecological destruction. At all levels of society we must pursue demands for equality not supremacy, cooperation not competition, the prioritisation of sustenance over accumulation, sharing not owning, sufficiency over avarice. But mostly, the end of any provision of entitlement without responsibility.

Replying to Reformism

My recent discussions around Climate, through this period of mass protest that “Black Lives Matter”, have been tense. Meetings and online forums appear to be spinning in repetitive circles much like the swirling weather fronts rumbling across the Atlantic. The impasse created by, on the one side, COVID-19 Lockdown and on the other, spontaneous and death-defying outrage at State murder of people based upon their skin colour, appears to have rendered the Climate Movement almost paralysed.

As a microcosm of all that I have become abrupt and over-assertive (I hope not abusive) during online meetings where the same-old-same-old is being proposed, completely disregarding the febrile and era-announcing social upheavals taking place. The political tensions are enormous and raise the spectre that the status quo cannot hold. We have to push.

Our side must put actions before words, and yet, little is happening other than cleaning plastic from beaches and scrawling names of wild flowers on pavements, the best to save them from Roundup’s toxic glyphosphates. The analogy works out – if we don’t push forward with mass revolt to save the Planet and ourselves, we’ll succumb to being gassed, too.

So below is my response to a well-meaning and honest reformist seeking to build political alliances with local politicians in order to win change: cuts to emissions and the move away from the carbon economy. we share the sense of urgency but my impatience got the better of me and caused upset. For that, I’m sorry.

“Oh dear. I am in a state of almost constant heightened awareness/alert about “things climate”. I’ve read too much, and keep on doing so. My ancient optimism and long-lived positive outlook has been so deeply dented that I have developed an impatience not seen in earlier life. Perhaps I’m simply experiencing the inevitable “Victor Meldrew” grumpy-old-man syndrome. Every reflective experience is one of “Groundhog Day” – how many times must we go round the same discussions and arguments that have failed so dismally for decades? Rather than patiently explain myself, I’ve become snappy, and I sincerely apologise for that. My time with the local Extinction Rebellion Group allowed a completely fresh approach, consciously recognising that “the old ways hadn’t worked” and demanding direct action in order to challenge “The Power”. Along with the school student strikes enticed by Greta Thunberg, they worked. So much so that the conspiracy theorist would argue that the COVID-19 Lockdown was made-up in order to quash the revolt. I don’t think that for one moment, and in any case, as we see with Black Lives Matter worldwide, (or the Hong Kong revolts, or strikes in China) it hasn’t worked completely. Rather, there is a distinct confusion of direction. The protests had their time, so what’s next. And, as someone informed by the Climate Justice group, a radical international organisation engaging India and Africa, and the World Social Forum, an all-embracing global Movement of Movements, I see the debate as testing the most hardened campaigners worldwide. No-one has the answers. As I said at our Zoom meeting, the unquestionable science is of an acceleration of the indicators of climate collapse far beyond the computer models. 12 of the 16 measurements of environmental stability have now passed their tipping points. We’re on the brink. At the same time, there is a worldwide crisis of democracy, rendering the People’s voice and wishes redundant. It is not irrelevant to the discussions in small UK town like ours that there is a huge rise in the number of far-Right governments, oppressive in many ways but united in their Climate Denial. Local municipal political bodies, such as UK elected Councils, are also steeped in corruption and political dogma…and ours is no exception.So I’m over sensitive to reinventing the wheel, repeating the mantra, revisiting lost ground, rehearsing ancient plays (when there is contemporary art full of new forms available), or rolling that boulder back up the mountain side even one more time. The issue for me is the powerlessness of the people, and I get most cross whenever The People are blamed for not utilising the Power they don’t have. The argument of consumer power is the most pernicious. Only those with sufficient independent resources can afford to choose what and where to buy or boycott. The vast majority of us have limited means, our essential requirements owned and controlled in a wholly dictatorial mode (rented accommodation, price of foodstuffs, rate of pay for the job or level of Universal Credit, access to education, even access to healthcare despite the NHS – long ago stripped of any democratic control). The lack of resource is astounding, rendering half the population unable to live outside the very “Now” of life – looking back at our own history is too painful, and looking forward equally distressing – the poorest amongst us just have to get on with coping today, living for today in tiny bubbles of close-horizons and scrimped diet. Best not to think at all about reality, history or generations hence – best live in a dream of TV and drugs. The bottom 50% of UK society shares less than 20% of GDP, the poorest 20% have a disposable income as a household (not person) of less than £13k per year whilst the top 20% average £70k. One in three of our children live in poverty with precarious access to diet, housing, education and health. In the Western end of our poor City, the unskilled working class man has a life expectancy 15 years lower than his contemporary as a skilled male 2 miles to the East .And then there’s the media lies and propaganda concoctions that dull and divert public consciousness away from the things that matter. For example, were we to put a Press Release out today about methane release, our words would evaporate in front of the heat generated by the death of Dame Vera Lynn at 103 years old. More than 80% of all our media (on-and-offline) is owned by 5 individual billionaires who control the messages, to their own advantage, of course. The resulting broadcasts, so dull and banal that most don’t even listen, meaning the small nuggets of fact and reason that we manage to get through the censor’s net often falls on stony ground. So your proposal for mapping where the power lies is, for me, very straight forward but very little to do with seeking-out individual councillors in a rotten borough where Councillors have no freedom of thought or action from their Political Party’s contrived message for short-term electoral gain. We’ve done it to death, tested it to destruction, and by all that is sacred, its a tattered corpse. I’m personally averse to trying again, although I recognise that each generation has to test out afresh and learn the lessons for themselves. I simply wish we could better learn from history. What’ll it take? A critical mass of bodies heaped into death-defying action in the face of overwhelming odds, in a reckless and selfless bid for the survival of humanity in some form? Well, I’m not quite so pessimistic, nor a nihilist. There are uprisings, there is a developing consciousness in a proportion of the young, worldwide, that offers huge hope. And they are tearing down the statues. No more status quo. Not going through the same old rigmarole. Right now the Establishment are trying to incorporate as many of them as they can before they send in the politically-driven Police to round-up the doggedly non-compliant, but there is a huge Movement afoot. I refuse to become oppositionist against anyone trying to do anything towards human progress. But we each have only so much energy and mine is waning. Let a million flowers bloom. I simply cannot have faith in turning or replacing at least 26 local Councillors into hardened environmentalists who recognise that we must cut emissions drastically enough to ensure global cuts to production that result by 2030 in all oil being left in the ground and zero-emissions soon after. With our little town in poll position? Really? I think we need to shout the facts of science and offer symbols of the terrible impact of global heating now, in every way possible wherever we can, in public and with drama. We need to link with an international Movement of Movements to a point where workers collectively take strike action and close down the polluting and carbon-emitting workplaces and transform society root-and-branch. That’s why I like XR’s “speak Truth to Power” although my experience of that organisation (as with most) is the difficulty in determining whose “Truth” predominates. I prefer Facts. Let’s push the facts. Let’s bombard public discourse with climate facts. There’s tons. And tear down the symbols of fossil fuels. The final analysis, tho’, is that Oil and Capitalism are intrinsically linked and inseparable, just as is the System wholly reliant upon the institutional racism currently fomenting protest. I have to observe that you cannot end the one without ending the other. The challenge on all fronts is Capitalism as a System that can and must be replaced, and that means linking all the issues and movements in common cause, not deferring at all to the old structures.

Thanks for your tolerance. Lovely to talk. Love and Struggle, Tony

The Savage Normal

And in other news…the CEO of the oil company seeking to build a pipeline between Edmonton and Vancouver says COVID-19 offers the very best time to start the building work, because protests of more than 15 people are outlawed! I admit to a growing sense of pent-up anger. Must be Lockdown fatigue.

You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to understand that profiteers and gangsters use any and every crisis in order to plunder profit out of human misery. Indeed, since the time of Kissinger and the USA’s war in Vietnam, imperialists as the most dominant Capitalists have recognised the profits that can be made from actively creating crises for which they have already manufactured the most convenient, immediate and lucrative solution.

War makes big money for big business. So can ill health. Make it so.

As an example, the entire class of owners of industries and natural resources are in a frenzy looking at how to use the global pandemic to make more money. Of course, the primary focus may be on the creation of a cure, a vaccine that can be sold to hundreds of millions at a profit. Big money returns require that the Big Pharma provider can set its own price, as opposed to State regulated health services that can set a ceiling enforced by Law.

Little wonder that Bill Gates is investing big-style to capture the private health market worldwide, or that the Chief Adviser to the UK Prime Minister, Dominic Cumming’s visit to Barnard Castle appears suspect when the site is best known as the headquarters of the Big-Fraud-Big-Pharma company, GlaxoSmithKline. The self-aggrandising Corporate State came of age some time ago.

But the crisis caused by COVID-19 is also allowing for a great deal of corruption elsewhere, as well as the obfuscation of “most other news” including wars and plane crashes, but especially in relation to global heating.

A number of records for the Earth’s climate were set in 2019: It was the warmest year without a major El Niño event ever recorded at surface temperature, and the warmest year on record for ocean heat content, which increased markedly between 2018 and 2019. Last year also saw record lows in sea ice extent and volume in the Arctic and Antarctic for much of the period between April and August, while global sea levels and atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations reached new record highs in 2019 and the world’s glaciers continued to melt at accelerating rates.

I’m writing this in a continuing heatwave across Britain, our local reservoirs extremely low although we’re not even at the end of May. Yet there have been snow storms in Eastern Turkey and record temperature rises in the Arctic. Cyclone Amphan destroyed the ecologically fragile region of the India-Bangladesh border, the record sea temperatures of the Bay of Bengal sweeping the super-typhoon inland through the mangrove forest last preserves of the Bengal tigers and destroying towns and homes, displacing at least 3 million people.

So when Alberta’s energy minister, appropriately called Sonya Savage, tells oil-drilling contractors to celebrate, I can’t help my anger. The recommencement of pipeline construction is the hallmark of Business as Usual. The Old Normal.

COVID Lockdown has not reduced C02 levels increasing in the atmosphere because there’s a significant time lag between close-downs of emissions and reduction in global warming gases. The pandemic has shown us, however, that human societies can change behaviours overnight; massively reducing oil use from Internal Combustion Engines, planes and cruise liners; finding thousands of billions of pounds to invest in infrastructure and people. That’s worth reading twice.

Here we are at the centre of the most gross contradictions. One global crisis proving we can change and adapt, the other even more perilous crisis being neglected and denied by Governments and Businesses. All the time the poorer peoples of the less developed economies and the Global South face mounting immiserisation, displacement into crowded and vast refugee camps, trapping them in discomfort and disease and a life shortened and degraded to a greater extent than any virus can do on its own.

It is the Capitalist mode of production that has caused the Pandemic, as predicted, and the Capitalist System’s deep and obsessive reliance upon fossil fuels that has caused this climate catastrophe. It is still the case that we face human extinction within two or three generations because temperatures are rising towards 6 degrees above pre-industrial norms. And it is the case that we will soon see more viruses to live and die by.

As the lockdown evaporates before its time in order for the Capitalists to resume their quest for profit growth rather than human survival, those of us who care about climate and people are re-emerging from our caves. My experience of countless Zoom meetings and web-based social messages is currently all consuming. With the manifestos for Green New Deals across the world identifying how a New Normal, a low-emission, Just and inclusive global economy is now possible, we should enjoy a surge hope and excitement.

The growing Climate Movement, briefly stalled but still with the millions who protested through 2019, is ready once more. Yet I am pessimistic. I’ve probably been indoors too long. All the discussions and debates I’m reading and engaging with state the solutions large and small, on a grand scale and in minutiae. But precious few activists are even beginning to state what needs to be done for it to be achieved, and no-one, apart from the Savages of this world, are recognising that protest is now illegal.

I find it frustrating. How do we achieve the New Normal? Governments worldwide are pushing back human protections and returning to an even deeper and more offensive exploitation of people and Planet as I write. New and draconian laws have been put in place under the excuse of Pandemic but to be maintained to prevent a return to mass mobilisation. And the buzz of oil-guzzling traffic is once again drowning out the new-found songs of wild birds.

I’m tired of talking about what could be. I’m disillusioned with the individual actions to limit plastics, recycle cardboard, collect litter and rewild the verges of paths and roadways. The destruction of life, both the day-to-day enjoyability of living and the extinction of entire species, is escalating exponentially. My conscience cannot be salved through symbolic actions.

What will it take to raise the level of political, economic and social revolution required to beat back the savages and achieve the New Normal? Nothing less than revolutionary leadership, coordinated and general strike actions against the centres of production, and a renewed mass class consciousness and realisation that we are experiencing escalating barbarity that will only consume humanity unless we achieve global system change. This is the fight for life.

Cynical S**t

The ancient Corinthian philosopher, Diogénēs, squatted and emptied his bowels in a well-timed and orchestrated act in front of an, up-to-this-point, rapturous audience. He wished to express his cynicism towards their lifestyles. His expression of contempt was to expose the hypocrisy of the informed and educated elite, happy to live with gross class inequality, slavery, opulence and corrupt personal power, but their sensibilities outraged by seeing another human being shit – a daily basic fact of life for us all.

It’s a basic rule across all classes – don’t shit on your own doorstep. Unless you don’t give a crap. And that appears to be the attitude of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his senior adviser (if not puppet-master), Dominic Cummings. The people who created the Lockdown Rules (against their own basic instincts, it has to be said, and too late to prevent thousands of unnecessary deaths), broke those laws from the very beginning and, when found out, have defended their right to break them.

The Elite are decent people, you see, as oppose to us common drunkards and n’er-do-wells. Cummings has been presented to us as simply a caring father (again, suggesting most of us Plebs aren’t), and did the “right thing” by travelling and walking publicly while infected with COVID-19, which, by contrast, most of us are not responsible enough to be trusted to do.

There is a much needed public outcry. Not just at the act itself but at the attempts by the most powerful politicians as well as friends and family to keep it all secret for months. It’s so good to see people spontaneously turning-up outside the Cummings’ London house and chanting their outrage, let alone the advertising trucks broadcasting Johnson’s original lockdown message onto his doorstep.

But this outcry may be misplaced. Are we simply smelling the Number 2 and not analysing the underlying message? This is the man who has publicly stated that: “Tory MPs largely do not care about these poorer people. They don’t care about the NHS.”

Has Big C carefully choreographed every quote and act in order to cut the crap?

The elite had managed to have The Mob lock ourselves away for the best part of two months, largely lagging behind the responses of most other governments worldwide (apart from the USA). They acted at all times reluctantly because, as ideological eugenicists, they wanted to let the virus become part of public life, the fittest able to survive and the infirm and disabled freeing-up the inadequate social infrastructure by dying.

They knew that having 2-300,000 people die, the projected scientific figure if no action was taken, might threaten their power. As it is, the 80-120,000 deaths they are projected to be liable for appears workable as a compromise. Nevertheless, it is now time to end the pretence and force us all out of Lockdown and back to work. After all, they have a 60+ working majority government and no effective opposition.

Support for Johnson’s government has weakened to that of last December’s election, not exactly a signal of mass revolt. But the carefully constructed mixed-messages from Cumming’s Number 10 haven’t confused the public enough to no longer care. And, most importantly, the campaigns putting People before Profit, developed from the bottom-up to force trade unions and working class tribunes to act, have had some effect.

By last week the Government was on the back foot, fully cognisant of the growing opposition most apparent in the refusenik teachers and parents saying no to returning to schools on 1st June. How to break this inertia in the plan for “herd immunity”?

The first tactic of any Ruling Class is to divide the mass so to rule. So they protected their supporters with tax-payers money whilst herding the slaves back-to-work, carefully protecting the message of staying safe to appease their furloughed base whilst doing nothing practical to keep the workers healthy.

Then they condemned the dissenters and doubters as “becoming addicted to staying at home”, loosening the messages to ensure their right-wing cohort (within the Mob as well as their own Upper Classes) ran to the countryside and beaches in a party frenzy. COVID-19 was back on the loose to be caught and spread for a Second Wave that would do the job that the Lockdown had impeded.

And the Cummings’ controversy? They know it’ll blow over, the small bunch of Tory dissenters exposed to be culled once “all this” is over, with deep questions of democracy and plebiscite left hanging in the air. But how do you finally break the resistance and reinstill an “everyman for himself” (they are misogynists after all) mentality after Lockdown? Best to act by example.

Let’s “leak” the facts about Cummings’ family trips and offer the “any decent father would do the same” message of patriarchy, individual reliance, family-first survivalism and personal choice over social responsibility. Yep, breaking the Lockdown rules was the right thing to do.

But perhaps I’m just being cynical.