Thursday, 31 January 2008


You have given me brotherhood towards the man I do not know.

You have given me the added strength of all those living.

You have given my country back to me, as though new in birth.

You have given me the freedom that the lone man lacks.

You taught me to kindle kindness, like fire.

You gave me the straightness which a tree requires.

You taught me to see the unity and yet diversity of men.

You showed me how one person’s pain could die in the victory of all.

You taught me to sleep in the hard bed of my brethren.

You made me build upon reality, as on a rock.

You made me an enemy to the evil-doer, a rampart for the frenzied.

You have made me see the world’s clarity and the possibility of joy.

You have made me indestructible, for I no longer end in myself.

Pablo Neruda

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1968 and All That / Be Realistic! Demand the Impossible!

How did 1968 affect you?

An international conference and bookfair to celebrate the hopes and dreams of May 1968 - forty years after

Saturday, 10 May 2008, 10am - 10pm
Conway Hall
Red Lion Square
London WC1

Talks | Films | Food | Art | Debates | Books

Speakers from France, USA, Russia, Germany, Eastern Europe and Britain.

Free registration in advance: just e-mail us your name. This event is listed on Facebook where you can make contact with others coming to this happening.

Stalls are £50 if booked before March 1st. Please let us know if you would like to arrange a talk or show a film - there will be facilities for both.

If you have a question or would like to register or book a stall, please e-mail:

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Sunday, 27 January 2008

Lilya 4 Ever


My Space page:

16 year-old Lilya lives in a poor and dreary suburb somewhere in the former Soviet Union. She dreams of a better life. Her mother has moved to the States with a new man and Lilya is waiting to be sent for.

When no letters or money arrive from her mother, it becomes obvious that Lilya has been abandoned. She’s forced to move into a tiny, run-down flat with no electricity or heating. Heartbroken and without money, Lilya’s situation becomes desperate. Her only friend is the 11 year-old boy Volodya, who sometimes is allowed to sleep on her sofa. They hang around together and fantasise to make life a little easier.

One day, hope arrives when Lilya falls in love with Andrei. He asks her to follow him to Sweden to start a new life. Little Volodya is jealous and suspicious, but Lilya packs her bags regardless. Suddenly she's sitting on a plane bound for Sweden not knowing what will happen next…

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Friday, 25 January 2008

Face book update...

Yesterday, I wrote to all of you about the case of Derek Blackadder, the trade union organizer banned from Facebook for ... organizing.
You responded instantly and the word spread like wildfire. Within 8 hours, nearly 2,400 of you signed up to join the Facebook group protesting the ban on Derek.
Facebook has now removed the ban. We won.
Thank you!
Many of you also wrote to me expressing your views -- pro and con -- regarding Facebook.
I wanted to make clear that I was not endorsing Facebook as a tool trade unionists should use. To the contrary, I have published an article entitled "Bandwagons and Buzzwords: Facebook and the Unions" which takes an entirely critical view.
Others have different views. John Wood, who took the initiative to set up the Facebook group to protest the ban on Derek, has written a response to my article, which is worth reading in full. He too is not uncritical of Facebook.
A very large number of you wrote to me yesterday and of course that would be the moment that my email provider crashed. We're trying to recover all those emails now (and yes, I've changed providers since then). Your patience is appreciated.
So, thanks again for your help yesterday. Derek is now back online, doing what organizers do -- thanks to you.
Eric Lee

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Enabling The Transition

Can we Stop Accelerating Climate Change by Creating a Transition Society?

Justin Kenrick 29.12.2007 - 3,666 words -

(republished here with kind permission of the author, a prominent Green activist based in Edinburgh, Scotland).

What would a society which has halted climate change - a society which ensures the well-being of all people, species and ecosystems - look like? What would the transition to such a society look like? Would it, for a start, require a radical rethinking of what it is to be human, and therefore of what is socially and politically possible?

The strategy outlined here is provoked by the scientific finding that climate change feedback loops are accelerating at previously unthinkable speeds; it is provoked by the much repeated argument that we mustn't scare people with this science; and it is provoked by the belief that in extraordinary times, extraordinary things can happen.

The suggestion being made here is that we have to 'tell it as it is', tell people about:

(i) The ecologically accelerating impacts of climate change, and also about

(ii) A clear political strategy to stop this accelerating drive to extinction.

The political strategy being suggested here involves:
Supporting communities to undertake the Transitional Initiatives evident in, for example, community land buy-outs and in projects to reassert local and sustainable livelihoods in place of our current dependence on oil;
Building alliances between these and similar Life Projects throughout the world, through which people are seeking sustainability and autonomy;
Creating a Transitional electoral alliance to create a Transition Society: an alliance of those who are willing to face up to accelerating climate change, and willing to build alliances to protect and enable localities to refuse short-term exploitation in favour of long-term well-being

In a nutshell, current 'affluence' is built on transient and fast diminishing supplies of oil. In effect we each depend on the equivalent of 40 'oil slaves' (we depend on oil doing the work of 40 humans) to get, make, produce, sell, transport and dispose of the necessary and unnecessary stuff we use. A Transition Society would discard unnecessary production, and would make necessary production co-operative and sustainable. It would support initiatives which reject economic growth as an end in itself, and would reject its manufacturing of unsustainable affluence for some, unbearable impoverishment for most, and accelerating climate change for all.

Ecological Collapse, or why it is Rational to be Scared:

(i) that accelerating feedback loops are kicking in climate change decades earlier than previous scientific models had suggested (e.g. an ice free Arctic summer was predicted by 2070, then 2050, and now by 2013);

(ii) that it may take the prospect of extinction to motivate people to get rid of a system which is killing people, species and ecosystems now; and

(iii) that this prospect may be paralysing people into supporting corporate-led climate change 'solutions' which deepen the social and ecological crisis.

Accelerating climate change feedback loops are evident: in the Arctic, which was predicted to be ice free in summer by 2070, then by 2050 and now by 2012; in the Amazon and Southern Europe, where drying out forests are vulnerable to devastating fires; and in the weakening of the planet's carbon sinks – especially the Southern Ocean – to absorb our carbon pollution. Meanwhile we are persuaded that only economic growth can meet our needs. Growth of 3% a year translates into a doubling every 23 years of the use of the fossil fuels which overpowers the ability of the soil, the forests, the oceans and the air to absorb CO2. At the same time the corporate competition driving this economic growth can only increase its profits by further exploiting social and environmental systems and disregarding the consequences. The responses to climate change by corporate compliant governments are the latest examples of this disregard. Here the focus has shifted from denying climate change to promoting carbon trading, something which does not reduce the CO2 going into the atmosphere, but turns it into a tradable commodity. The focus is also on maintaining the so-called 'carbon sink' forests of the Global South so that economic growth can continue unchecked, while justifying Global players appropriation of local peoples' forests and livelihoods [2].

Transitional Movements, or why it is Rational to be Hopeful:

(i) that in managing these resources sustainably, many of these same local peoples demonstrate the viability of Commons systems of meeting human needs that are not based on scarcity, competition and amassing profit, but on ensuring that all have sufficient socio-ecological security to enable them to flourish as creative social beings.

(ii) that the rise of a powerful Global movement of movements is opposing corporations and governments suicidal "business as usual" mentality;

(iii) that this movement draws inspiration from Commons systems of meeting local needs which refuse domination by extractive outside forces.

Such attempts to create, maintain or extend local resilience, take inspiration from many indigenous peoples' Life Projects based on Commons systems in which people share decision-making over land use and political structures. These range from the Zapatistas autonomous zones in Mexico, to Cree regaining self-governance in Northern Quebec, from crofting communities regaining land rights in Scotland, to villagers holding out against the 'developers' bulldozers in Bengal:

"Life Projects are about living a purposeful and meaningful life. In this sense, their political horizons cannot be located in the future, just as living in the present cannot be put on hold in pursuit of a future goal. . . Life Projects have no political horizon; they are the political horizon. They are not points of arrival, utopian places, narratives of salvation or returns to paradise. They are the very act of maintaining open-endedness as a politics of resilience." (Blaser 2004: 48) [3].

In such Commons systems, local people control and determine resource use. The starting point is not a system of competition over resources made scarce by that very competition. Instead, it is a system based on commons sufficiency, in which resources are assumed to be abundant, and are made abundant by ensuring that all people and other species (all ecosystems) have sufficient to meet their needs and to ensure their flourishing. This 'commons thinking' is based on working to ensure sufficiency and abundance, on the notion that my well-being depends on your well-being, and on the assumption that solving problems involves working to restore relationships of trust rather than seeking to impose solutions on others.

Moving towards a society based on Commons sufficiency, requires recovering a commons way of thinking and relinquishing the dualistic problem solving approach that underpins capitalism and non-egalitarian systems in general. Several questions follow from this:

How do we make the transition from a system in which problems are made worse by the way solutions are imposed – imposed by a supposedly superior realm on a supposedly inferior realm - to a system that no longer divides the world into superior and inferior realms?
How do we move towards a recognition that development workers, police, doctors, social workers and teachers are entirely dependent on others poverty, criminal acts, ill-health, social problems and supposed lack of education? How do we recognise that the 'other' is not a problem to be solved, but is part of a relationship that needs mending, one that includes the intervening professional as much as the 'other'. For example, how do we recognise that ending poverty in Africa does not require the supposedly 'superior' wealthy and educated 'West' to intervene with charity, but requires the 'West' to stop building its wealth on forces of extraction and domination that impoverish Africa?
How do we move from a system which depends on creating scarcity and insecurity, to one in which sufficiency and security are grounded in the ability to respond to fear and lack by rebuilding relationships of trust? How do we create a society in which the other's problem is seen as arising from a mutual world, and in which solutions are sought through dialogue and engagement?

A Commons approach recognises the rich resources available to us by starting from ensuring the well-being of locality, and the well-being of others in their localities, rather than by starting from deepening insecurity, scarcity and devastation through pursuing abstract economic growth, which is always at the expense of human and non-human others. "Communal use adapts land, water and work to local needs rather than transforming them for trade and accumulation" (Lohmann 2005: 20) [4]. In the sustenance economy "satisfying basic needs and ensuring long-term sustainability are the organizing principles for natural resource use" (Shiva 2005: 18) [5]. Life Projects are coming into focus not only through standing out as a force to be reckoned with in the Global South and North, but also through their ability to build alliances through which to wrest political space from corporation controlled governments. This is evident in the way indigenous people have moved to take control of national governments in places like Bolivia, to secure degrees of autonomy through legal means in places like Canada, or through creative modes of resistance in places like Mexico.

Here in Scotland, crofting communities' successful campaigns to take back collective control of their communities, led to the Scottish Land Reform Act which secured that right for a whole range of rural communities. Now, in response to the threat of peak oil and climate change, and as a result of seeing national and international governments doing worse than nothing to reduce our use of carbon emitting fossil fuels, there is an emerging movement of Transition Initiatives in villages, towns and cities in Ireland, England and Scotland. Here local people are seeking to enable their communities to make the transition from an oil based economy, to a local economy where local decision-making can ensure sufficiency for all [6].

The State: The Missing Level in Addressing Climate Change?

In order to stop the processes that are driving climate change, and driving human and ecological impoverishment in the present, there is clearly a need to both continue building global alliances and to continue building initiatives that reclaim localities from the ground up. However, both of these approaches miss the middle level of action that we need to urgently engage in if we are to make the space for communities to take back control of their lives, and for such global alliances to mature into an interlinking network of initiatives, which can ensure sufficiency and abundance for all. This middle level is that of nation state governments. A state is a body which is seen as having a 'legitimate' monopoly on violence (in other words, other similarly coercive bodies recognise it as having a similar right to themselves), and the supposed legitimacy of such bodies is crucial to enforcing the unequal system of property ownership on which their power depends, and which provide the framework for the continuing appropriation and devastation of our social and ecological fabric. Such a property system is challenged by communities taking back control of their lives. For example, it is challenged by the possibility of urban land reform, of extending to urban communities the right to own and manage resources that are brought back into local common ownership.

So, how could we manage to make the transition from state supported systems of capitalist appropriation to locality supporting systems of commons sufficiency? How can we make the transition to life projects which can enable us to leave the remaining oil and gas in the ground? How can we refuse to be taken in any longer by the processes so central to capitalism (advertising, commodities, etc) that manufacture wants? How can we begin to look at the money in our hand not as a blank slate on which to write our desires, but as the outcome of social and ecological processes which need our attention? How can we refuse to be taken in any longer by processes so central to state control (education, media, etc) that manufacture fears? Can we reclaim socio-ecological security through reclaiming the state framework so that it no longer stands in the way of expanding local networks built on dialogue and creativity, which can enable us to meet our needs and ensure our collective well-being?

A Transitional Alliance beyond Life Project, Socialist and Green Movements?

Although such a political strategy needs to be based on bringing together the best in the Global Life Project movements (as described above) and in the Socialist and Green movements (as described below), a political strategy like the one outlined below can be embraced not only by those for whom the nightmare alternative makes it a realistic vision, but also by those who see it as completely unrealistic! The logic of "Be realistic, demand the impossible" is that to achieve even a moderate change in a seemingly implacable system – for example, to achieve a mixed economy in which corporations have to abide by the triple bottom line of ensuring environmental, social as well as shareholder benefit - we need to make powerful political demands that force an implacable system to compromise out of fear that the radical alternatives being forcefully proposed, might seize peoples imaginations and seem more realistic than the nightmare currently created by the implacable system. In our current context: state and corporate fear of the radical social change which their inactivity in the face of climate change might bring about, could make them act to curb CO2 emissions in practice rather than just in rhetoric; just as, during the Cold War, Western states and corporations had to accept the creation of social democratic, and even welfare states, out of fear that people would insist on an even more radical alternative.

So, how might a political strategy combine the best in the Socialist and the Green traditions with the Life Projects described above?

Socialists see the human suffering caused by capitalism (the pursuit of profit as an end in itself). They are very clear about the ultimate cause of the ecological crisis. However, their understandable focus on the impoverishment of the many can mean they mistakenly see the solution in terms of the state taking control of the same process of economic growth to enable increased production and a redistribution of material wealth, rather than recognising that it is not the scarcity of commodities that is the problem, it is the structures of inequality central to the process of producing and consuming commodities which drives human and ecological impoverishment.

Greens see the environmental devastation caused by industrial growth, itself the corporate expression of the profit motive through the destruction of nature. They see the environmental devastation caused by material accumulation, itself the individual expression of this pursuit of profit, where ever-elusive security is sought through the acquisition of more wages, more possessions, and more status. However, their understandable focus on the ecological crisis can lead them to mistake the problem as being peoples lifestyles, industrialisation and alienation from nature, rather than see all of these as outcomes of systems of domination, and in particular of capitalism's inherent process of breaking up and remixing inter-relationships (ecological processes and human activity) into commodities to be bought and sold for profit, which is not an end but the beginning of another cycle of profit maximisation.

The need is to bring together a Green focus on the exploitation and destruction of human and other ecologies (the destruction of otherwise infinitely self-renewing interconnected ecological localities) with a Socialist focus on the capitalist process of exploitation and accumulation that is driving that destruction (driving it through the redirection of human creativity into further exploiting and destroying the relations that constitute our socio-ecological reality).

This requires the development of an understanding that challenges dominant ideas of who we are, builds resilient interlinking localities, and calls the bluff on state power:

Three suggestions:

(i) Rethink who we are as humans: including freeing our aspirations, imaginations and strategies from the confines of capitalism and the domination thinking that gave rise to capitalism and is perpetuated by it.

(ii) Reconfigure what is socially possible: including through modelling Transition communities based on the practices of commons sufficiency.

(iii) Reclaim the political space: including through building alliances that reject the insatiable economic growth of capitalism and that hold the political space open for the transition to sufficiency.

1. Ideological – Rethinking who we are as humans:

(i) Rethinking political and social systems based on the creativity of humans. Distinguishing who we really are as human sentient beings from the impoverished form we are forced to take under non-egalitarian systems, and especially under capitalism. Rejecting the mode of human interaction that assumes that my well-being depends on the exploitation of others, and instead, reasserting that my well-being depends on your well-being.

(ii) Establishing a relational understanding: In place of the win/lose ideology of competition in the market/ education/ etc, we need a recognition that causing others to lose, destroys the basis of mutuality and ultimately of survival. What needs to be asserted is a value more persuasive than the profit motive. This value is not simply human and ecological survival rather than extinction; but is also the fact that real value is found in the practical realisation of relations of justice and equality based on ensuring sufficiency, not in seemingly insatiable accumulation.

2. Social - Reconfiguring what is socially possible:

(i) We need to build resilient interlinking localities. We need to rapidly grow networks of communities pushing for autonomy and sustainability whether based in the land reform movement, zero carbon initiatives, or in Transition towns, villages and cities focusing on localisation, community sufficiency and the move from environmental degradation, through zero impact, to positive integration with ecological systems.

(ii) We need to develop localised sufficiency systems: The current Transition initiatives are one example of a way of motivating people in towns, cities and villages to combine their energies to meet the reality of Climate Change and Peak Oil [7] by collectively developing local economies and livelihoods. These involve people collaborating to develop energy systems, recycling systems, food production systems, local currencies, education, care for the elderly, etc., that ensure localisation and ensure interaction between localities based on exchanging to meet needs rather than to increase profit.

3. Political – Reclaiming the political space (or: Calling the Bluff on Power):

We need an alliance that rejects the insatiable economic growth driving climate change, and that holds the political space open for this transition to sufficiency.

This could involve:

(i) Calling on the major political parties to reject economic growth as an end in itself, in favour of ensuring sufficiency, and (assuming they refuse)

(ii) Calling for the formation of a Transitional Alliance (made up of Socialists, Greens and like-minded independents from any or no political party) to contest the next Scottish election on the platform of uprooting the cause of climate change and impoverishment, through rejecting systems based on profit for the few and the exploitation of the many, and enabling society to be re-oriented to ensuring sufficiency and a future for all.

(iii) Implementing Transitional Society Policies that involve:

· Nationalise to localise: nationalise only in order to localise production in community owned processes. This would also involve: creating socially useful and meaningful work; ending jobs that involve the appropriation of ones labour by others; ensuring a basic wage for all and the establishment of co-operative based work places.

· Ending insatiable economic growth: replacing the profit motive with the sufficiency motive. This would involve bringing down the pack of cards that is the financial system, and ending the anti-human and anti-ecological developments it finances. The fear here is twofold: firstly of the financial flight of the so-called 'wealth creators', and secondly of disorder giving the pre-existing state powers an excuse to use force to re-establish itself.

(i) Financial flight and the removal of the money motive. This is the first aspect of the immediate critical moment. It would require weathering a crisis of confidence (since everyone's faith has been placed in capitalism, everyone's well-being is mediated by money). All the financial institutions and investment projects which are driven simply by profit would fall away. This is where people would have to hold their nerve and continue to work if they judge that their work contributes to social well-being (e.g. producing food, driving trains, caring for the elderly, etc.). It's a critical moment, requiring clear preparation to enable processes to be in place that ensure accountability to each other. In addition, there would need to be clear tasks that those who are relinquishing unemployment or what would have become 'useless work' (e.g. financial services, advertising, etc) can rapidly redeploy to (e.g. in Scotland we would need over a million new farmers).

(ii) The Barrage of threats from financial, media and state powers. This is likely to be the second aspect of the immediate critical moment. There need to be clear collective forms to resist the inevitable attempts by capital and the centralising state to overthrow a democratically mandated transition. Here, the potential of new media, of mass mobilisation, of already existing forms of organisation based around resisting exploitation, around social change, and around enabling localities transition to sufficiency, would be the key to resisting the forces that will still be insisting that there can be no other route than capitalism or equivalent forms of appropriation through coercive control.

· Making zero carbon sufficiency an immediate objective:

(i) Firstly, by recognising that current responses to climate change are being co-opted by capitalism to further their profits through providing the excuse to further appropriate local peoples resources such as the forests of the Global South, and to develop carbon trading schemes which move the deckchairs on the Titanic, while enabling full steam ahead with business/ extinction as usual.

(ii) Secondly, by stopping all major activities which cause climate change (air flights, oil and gas extraction, unnecessary car use, etc) and further supporting localities to develop the transition to the local solutions and Commons systems which a zero carbon sufficiency requires and enables.

Has the irresistible force of economic growth come up against the immovable object of ecological limits? Or does this metaphor also come up against its own limits, since capitalism is just one human social system amongst an abundance of options, and ecology need not be a limiting object but our abundant and infinitely complex home?

The persistence and re-emergence of Commons systems and Life Projects, in which priority is given to ensuring the well-being of all, demonstrates that another world than coercive capitalism is not only possible, but has always persisted, wherever people find the resources to resist coercion . The ecological crisis is not only the consequence of coercive and beguiling capitalism, but also creates the conditions that make its demise a certainty: whether through driving us to extinction or through motivating us to re-discover what is humanly, socially and politically possible.


[1] Where in a 'vanguardist' approach to social change a political party claims superior knowledge to ordinary people, this alliance building 'rearguardist' approach seeks to enable and defend people's right to collectively create and pursue their own solutions.

[2] Tom Griffiths (2007) Seeing "RED"? "Avoided deforestation" and the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Moreton in Marsh: Forest Peoples Programme

[3] Mario Blaser, Harvey Feit and Glenn McRae (eds) (2004) In the Way of Development: Indigenous Peoples, Life Projects and Globalisation. London: Zed Books

[4] Lohmann, Larry (2005) What next? Activism, expertise, commons Dag Hammarskjold Foundation

[5] Shiva, Vandana (2005) Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability and Peace. London: Zed

[6] For example, the emerging Transition Town initiatives seek to answer the question: "for all those aspects of life that our community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive, how do we significantly increase resilience (to mitigate the effects of Peak Oil) and drastically reduce carbon emissions (to mitigate the effects of Climate Change)?" See:

[7] Peak Oil is the point at which the maximum global production rate is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. Oil is peaking because the rate of discovery of new fields, and the production capacity of existing fields, are both going down, while the demand remains undiminished.

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Thursday, 24 January 2008

Rachel Corrie

By Plot Tracer

This article first appeared here:

A friend who knows him once told me a story about the actor and director Alan Rickman. He is so upper middle class that when he was filming "The Winter Guest" (an excellent wee film - ) in Fife, he went to a local fish and chip shop with some of the actors and crew and ordered "Salmon and Salad". He couldn't understand why those behind the counter looked at him in disbelief and why his friends were laughing. The fact that he assisted in the editing of a collection of Rachel Corrie's writings has surprised me and made me reassess my opinion of the actor.

Rachel Corrie was 23 when she died trying to defend a family home from bulldozers. Rachel was from Olympia, Washington, USA. "My Name is Rachel Corrie" is a collection of her writings, edited by Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner. The edited writings were presented as a one woman play at the Royal Court Theatre, London, with the actor, Megan Dodds in the lead role as Rachel.

Rachel wasn't killed by a renegade dozer driver in the US, but by an armoured dozer with gun mounts, driven by an Israeli soldier in Gaza in 2003.

This is a play about a young girl growing up in a comfortable middle class home who decided after years of political development that she wants to join the international fight against poverty and exploitation. She joins the International Solidarity Movement before finishing her College degree at the Evergreen State College in Olympia. She, along with people from all over the world, flies out to Palestine to engage in the "Gandhian non-violent resistance" the majority of Palestinians enact every day.

Her writings show the development of a caring, naïve, ordinary girl who worries about friends, family, clothes, boys, writing, painting and how she fits in to middle America.

Rachel is rebellious, like all healthy young people should be. She dreams of returning to her hometown after years of nomadic travel and drive past her former High School, "I'll lean out the window when I pass my old high school and scream, Ha Ha Ha! 'Fuck You! Fuck you!' just for old times' sake." Her rebellion, however, goes further than the, "Fuck you, I'm alright" attitude today's neo-liberal, corporate world encourages. She feels a need to connect with the world outside her small town; to connect to the world she has been campaigning for – the 2/3rds world we take for granted as we wear, eat and play with the products they have created so cheaply to their detriment and a westerners profit.

She comes to the conclusion that the differences between people are situational . she wrote when she was ten, "We have got to understand that people in the Third World countries think and care and smile and cry like us. ~We have got to understand that they dream our dreams and we dream theirs. We have got to understand that they are us. We are them." Later as an adult she says, "privilege shelters people from the consequences of their actions." She questions the US funding of Israel's armed forces (see - ), "It is my own selfishness and will to optimism that wants to believe that even people with a great deal of privilege don't just sit by and watch. What we are paying for here is truly evil. Maybe the general growing class imbalance in the world and consequent devastation of working people's lives is a bigger evil." Rachel explains in letters to her parents about the imbalance between the Palestinian violence and the violence and destruction meted out by one of the worlds largest and modern equipped army. She tells her parents that she has seen people's livelihoods and communities stripped and destroyed and she asks, "do you not think, in a similar situation, most people would defend themselves as best they could?" She criticises the Israeli state and ensures her parents know that it is the state and not the Jewish people, she is criticising.

Not everyone can travel to centres of conflict and place ourselves in positions to protect one violated people from another; but this wonderful, poignant piece of writing should be read by everyone of us who enjoy the trappings of a comfortable western life. Every time we spend our money or pay our taxes, we inadvertently support the kind of violations against women, men and children that are described in the play. People should be aware of what the corporate world does to enrich the few people at the top of the pile. Palestine is a small part in the huge jigsaw of exploitation and violence needed to support the present status quo. Rachel Corrie was one of millions of victims.

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Banned from Facebook


In a moment I'm going to ask you to support the most unusual campaign we have ever launched -- but first, some background.

Blackadder: Banned from Facebook Facebook, the social networking website, is getting a lot of attention these days. In the trade union movement, there are differences of opinion about how useful Facebook actually is. Some of us are making a real effort to find out by using Facebook as an organizing tool.

One of them is senior LabourStart correspondent Derek Blackadder, from Canada. Derek's day job is as a staffer for the country's largest union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). He's one of the people who thinks Facebook is potentially quite useful for trade unionists.

Well, maybe not so much anymore.

You see, a few days ago, Derek was banned from Facebook.

I'll let John Wood from the U.K. tell the story in his own words:

Derek got a note from the good book, telling him he was trying to add too many friends, and should calm down a bit, or else. Now as a union organiser, he’s quite likely to want to add lots of friends - it’s kind of what he does. So he waits a bit and tries again, and is told he can’t add any more at the moment and to wait and try later. Fair enough. He waits a bit more and tries again, same message. By now, he’s probably frothing at the mouth and muttering "must organise, must organise", so he has another go to see if the coast is clear, and promptly gets himself a ban. That being a ban from Facebook itself - no more profile, no access to the stuff he’s built up, no appeal.

John has launched a Facebook group to sign people up to protest the ban on Derek. I am writing to ask each and every one of you to take a moment and sign up to join the group. If you are not yet signed up on Facebook, join the 60,000,000 others who have done so and sign up.

We know that this isn't nearly as important as most of the other campaigns we do on LabourStart -- and if you read all of John's article you'll detect a somewhat light-hearted tone.

Still, as social networks become more and more important, our access to them as trade unionists must be protected. These are early days yet -- I know that most of you are not yet signed up to Facebook. This is good time to see whether we can mobilize the kind of support -- the thousands of names -- that will force the owners of Facebook to reverse course and allow Derek to do what he does so well: organize.

Thanks for your help on this. And spread the word!

Eric Lee

This message was sent from Eric Lee , 51 Briarfield Avenue, London, UK N3 2LG, United Kingdom.

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Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Protests - End the Gaza Siege




End the Siege on Gaza

International Day of Action

Saturday 26th January


Opposite No10 Downing Street

Withehall, London

And please write to your MP asking them to sign Early Day Motions 305, 624 and 698 on Gaza

On Sunday 20 January, Gaza ’s only power station was forced to shut down, after Israel cut fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip.

Israel has imposed a total closure on the Strip's border crossings, even preventing the delivery of essential humanitarian aid. Over 80 per cent of Gaza ’s population rely on food aid from the United Nations or other agencies. Over 70 Gazans have died as a result of Israel preventing patients with serious medical conditions from accessing treatment outside the Gaza Strip.

This catastrophic cutting of fuel supplies is already seriously affecting hospitals, supplies of fresh water and sewage systems, has removed heating and lighting from 800,000 people, and making it impossible for those few factories which have managed to remain open despite the blockade.

In carrying out these actions, the Israeli government is violating the strict prohibition on collective punishment of a civilian population in the Fourth Geneva Convention.

We are particularly appealing to medical staff to join us in uniform to visibly express their opposition to the medical impact of the blockade.

More details: www.palestinecampai; www.endgazasiege. net;

View a short film about the 400 strong protest on the 12th of January outside Downing Street : com/watch? v=BWhBC6hP6cM


This is still being sorted out, but there is likely to be a protest at the Israeli blockade of Gaza on Friday 25th in George Square, possibly around 7 p.m., watch this space for further details.
URGENT! Gaza in darkness as Israel continues bombing raids

The only power plant in Gaza was shut down yesterday - the inhabitants of Gaza, 1.5 million people, now have no electricity, water or functional medical facilities.

Join the protest:
Wednesday 23 January 2008, 5.30pm at the foot of the Mound, Princes Street, Edinburgh

We calls on all human rights groups and campaigns to join the protest and to end the silence on Israel's genocidal actions against the people of Gaza. Please contact us at campaign@scottishps to confirm your support.

"Death and Darkness in Gaza, People are dying, Help us!

A humanitarian crisis is underway as the Gaza Strip's only power plant began to shut down on Sunday, and the tiny coastal territory entered its third full day without shipments of vital food and fuel supplies due to Israel's punitive sanctions.

The Gaza Strip's power plant has completely shut down on Sunday because it no longer has the fuel needed to keep running. One of the plant's two electricity- generating turbines had already shut down by noon.

This will drastically reduce output to 25 or 30 megawatts, down from the 65 megawatts the plant produces under normal conditions. By Sunday evening the plant will shut down completely, leaving large swaths of the Gaza Strip in darkness.

Omar Kittaneh, the head of the Palestine Energy Authority in Ramallah, confirmed that by tonight, the one remaining operating turbine will be powered down, and the Gaza power plant will no longer be generating any electricity at all.

“We have asked the Israeli government to reverse its decision and to supply fuel to operate the power plant”, Dr. Kittaneh said. “We have talked to the Israeli humanitarian coordination in their Ministry of Energy [National Infrastructure] . We say this is totally Israel’s responsibility, and that reducing the fuel supplies until the plant had to shut down will affect not only the electrical system but the water supply, and the entire infrastructure in Gaza – everything.”

After months of increasingly harsh sanctions, Israel imposed a total closure on the Strip's border crossings, even preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid. The Israeli government says the closure is punishment for an ongoing barrage of Palestinian homemade projectiles fired from the Gaza Strip.


180 fuel stations have shut down after Gaza residents to buy gas for cooking.

A Palestinian economist Hasan Abu Ramadan said the current humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip will be deepened by the blockade on fuel and food supplies. He warned that Gaza Strip could go from a situation of deep poverty to all out famine, disease, and malnutrition.

Abu Ramadan said that more than 80% of the Strip's 1.5 million residents have been surviving with the help of food aid from international organizations such as UNRWA for Palestinian refugees.

International condemnation

Most international actors in the region believe there already is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, including the UN's Emergency Relief Coordinator, the Undersecretary- general for humanitarian affairs John Holmes, who said at a press conference at UNHQ in New York on Friday that "This kind of action against the people in Gaza cannot be justified, even by those rocket attacks".

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon expressed particular concern, in a statement issued later on Friday through his spokesperson, about the "decision by Israel to close the crossing points in between Gaza and Israel used for the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Such action cuts off the population from much-needed fuel supplies used to pump water and generate electricity to homes and hospitals".

The UN Human Rights Council's Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied territories, John Dugard, also issued a much sharper statement on Friday, saying that Israel must have foreseen the loss of life and injury to many nearby civilians when it targeted the Ministry of Interior building in Gaza City.

This, and the killings of other Palestinians during the week, plus the closures, "raise very serious questions about Israel's respect for international law and its Commitment to the peace process", Dugard said. He said it violates the strict prohibition on collective punishment contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention, and one of the basic principles of international humanitarian law: that military action must distinguish between military targets and civilian targets."

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Monday, 21 January 2008

Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century

Interesting website...

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Friday, 18 January 2008

Capitalism is a Nasty, Selfish Thing - Shock!,,2234337,00.html

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Tuesday, 15 January 2008


Government attempting to restrict use of National Mall
Take action right now to defend free speech rights!

Dear SLLU,

At a public meeting called by the National Park Service on Saturday, January 12 in Washington, D.C., representatives from the Partnership for Civil Justice, ANSWER Coalition, Nicaragua Network, Grassroots America, and others demanded that there be no new restrictions placed on the right of the people to access the National Mall for free speech activities.

The National Park Service (NPS) is undertaking an initiative similar to that launched to exclude protests from New York City's Great Lawn. It will be used to further restrict or ban protest on the Mall from current levels. This is a component of a nationwide campaign of corporate-sponsored organizations working in partnership with government entities that claim that protests, rallies and demonstrations harm grass or "green space" or "natural resources" and must therefore be restricted or banned or shunted off to designated protest pits.

Take Action

Right now, you can email the National Park Service demanding that there be no restrictions on the right of the people to assemble. We have set up an easy to use mechanism that will allow your message to be sent to the National Parks Service by clicking this link.

It is urgent that people around the country take action to stop the plan of the Bush Administration's Interior Department to obstruct free speech rights for mass assembly protest in Washington, D.C. The Bush White House plans to complete this process and deliver a knockout punch to free speech rights by January, 2009, the very last month that Bush will remain in office.

The National Mall has been associated for decades as the site for mass assembly protest and gatherings. On January 18, 2003, the ANSWER Coalition organized a demonstration of 500,000 prior to the invasion of Iraq. The Nation of Islam led the Million Man March in 1995 on the Mall. The National Organization for Women sponsored the March for Women's Lives bringing more than a million people to the Mall in 2004. A huge gathering for immigrant rights took place on the Mall in 2006 as part of a nation-wide outpouring. From the Bonus Marchers of the early 1930s, to Dr. King's Poor People's March of 1968, and the anti-war Moratorium of 1969, the Mall is the historic anchor for the exercise of free speech rights in the United States.

A lawsuit filed by the Partnership for Civil Justice on behalf of the National Council of Arab Americans and the ANSWER Coalition successfully overturned regulations in New York City that were used to prevent mass assembly protest in the Great Lawn of Central Park during the Republican National Convention. Those planning changes to the use and access to the National Mall have stated that they see structure used to restrict use of the Great Lawn as a model for their activities.

The NPS has set up a "public-private" partnership that allows business interests and real estate developers -- in coordination with the government -- to determine the future of the National Mall. The Jan. 12 public meeting was intended to have low attendance to allow the government to claim public involvement while simultaneously excluding it. When confronted with the fact that they had done no legitimate outreach about the public meeting to the hundreds of thousands of people who have actually used the National Mall, the President of the Trust for the National Mall responded that she had sent notice to the Board of Trade! The NPS issues 3,000 permits a year for the use of the National Mall, but there has been no effort to notify any of those organizations about the proposed changes. Their attempt to exclude people from this process could not be more clear.

At the hearing the officials tried to quiet the outraged voices of the people, to change the topic of discussion, and to dismiss their concerns. They did, however, keep saying, just send us a message on-line. That is what we are asking everyone to do today.

The government is trying to end the public "comment" period by February 1, 2008. The ANSWER Coalition also demanded at the hearing that the sham process of the NPS be halted. We demanded that a moratorium be declared so that the people of this country can be able and informed to weigh in with their opinion. The National Mall belongs to the people. Click this link to send your message to the National Park Service.

Please tell a friend about this important fight for free speech by forwarding this email by clicking this link.

Please Help With a Donation in this Free Speech Fight

Help us in this fight to keep the National Mall open for the exercise of free speech. We are undertaking a major organizing initiative to counter the government's plans. The ANSWER Coalition has an unwavering commitment to defend the free speech rights and civil liberties of the people of this country. But this challenge, which ranges from the streets to the courtrooms, requires significant funds, and we simply cannot do it without your help. Please click this link to make your donation right now.

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-544-3389
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 213-251-1025
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
Chicago: 773-463-0311

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Monday, 14 January 2008

Socialist Activist Recieves Public apology from Times Newspaper

There is redress for slandered comrades...

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Sunday, 13 January 2008

Defend Aamer Anwar

Defend Aamer Anwar

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Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Comment on the IBM strikes in SL.

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Monday, 7 January 2008

Show UK Health Minister The World Is Watching Him

Show UK Health Minister The World Is Watching Him


Register your voice of complaint. Let the UK Health Minister know that
thousands oppose the blood cuts.

Please telephone, fax or email the UK Health Minister outlining your
concerns about the cuts to the National Blood Service. Help tie down
his phone and fax machine on January the 7th with complaints and help
us make an impact.

Alan Johnson MP

0207 219 1305
0207 219 6637
01482 219211

01482 219211
0207 219 5856



The National Blood Service, which filters, processes and distributes
blood to the National Health Service in England and Wales is facing
massive cuts. Bosses at the NBS plan to axe 600 jobs. They plan to
shut most of the country's regional network of blood processing
centres, relying in future on just three centres. The moves have been
condemned by all unions in the service, by several affected city
councils, and by a number of external bodies. The cuts are risky, and
there is no proven need for them. Cuts to the blood service will
affect patient care throughout the NHS, as blood will have to travel
further along the country's road network risking the supply of blood
to hospitals.

With mounting pressure on the government to intervene, and on the
board to ditch their plan, staff and campaigners are confident that a
victory can be achieved. We have already won a review into the cuts

The IWW has been fighting hard within the service to oppose the cuts.
We have a growing presence in the NBS and we are confident we can
achieve a victory, if we can continue mounting up the pressure on the
government to intervene and on the board to ditch their cuts plan.
Together with growing staff militancy we have won a review into the
cuts programme .

The review taking place into the cuts will be published on the 10th of
January. With enough pressure we can see the cuts overturned.

Parliament returns from Christmas recess on the 7th. Help tie down the
Health Minister's phone and fax machine on the 7th and help us make a
big impact.

Points to note in your communication:-

# The closure plans will result in three NBS 'supercentres' in
Bristol, Manchester and Colindale.

# Vital labs in Birmingham, Cambridge, Brentwood, Lancaster, Leeds,
Liverpool, Newcastle, Oxford, Sheffield & Southampton are to close.
There will be over 600 job losses as a result.

# Certain sections of the NBS, and the work that they perform, are to
be phased out. These include specialist services. In most of these
fields the NBS is the market leader.

# Currently the moves have been strongly opposed by Sheffield City
Council, and Liverpool City Council. The restructuring is under
investigation by a number of other councils.

# The NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) Board (management for the NBS)
restructuring plan is justified by a predicted fall in demand for
blood in hospitals.

# There are no convincing projections from hospitals that see demand
for blood stocks fall. Indeed both demand for blood stocks associated
with ethnic minorities particularly, and requirements for specialist
blood products and services, are projected to increase.

# A review into the NHSBT's Board's restructuring plans is underway.
The findings will be published on the 10th January. The review is
being conducted by management consultantancy firm McKinsey's.

# Since changes to the NBS management in 2005, parts of the service
which were previously very comfortably in the black have lost
profitability, as a direct result of poor practice and strategy by the
government-appointed board of directors.

# Currently NBS facilities tend to be no more than 50 miles from the
hospitals they serve. After the restructuring this will more than
double for many hospitals, leading to increased risk of road accidents
and disruption to the blood supply of hospitals.

# In November an NBS van was involved in a road accident in Exeter.
This is likely to become increasingly commonplace.

Further info: /

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Friday, 4 January 2008

Amnesty Action for Jailed Iranian Trade Union Leader

Dear friends,

Jailed Iranian trade union leader Mahmoud Salehi is facing an acute medical emergency and Amnesty and the international trade union movement are coming together to press the Iranian authorities to release him or protect his health.

The Amnesty UK hosted online web action for Salehi is now live at

Please circulate this as widely as possible and create links from you websites - we hope to repeat the success of our joint action in October for Mansour Ossanlu and will keep you updated (as far as holiday permits) of progress....

You can read our full e-comm sent to 40,000 Amnesty activists today here:

We will be circulating this to further networks in the period ahead.

We have also completely updated our Iran Trade Union Action pages at:

On these pages you can find other actions, including how to send a message of hope to Salehi and Ossanlu and their families.

Please ACT NOW

Shane Enright
Trade Union Campaigns Manager
Amnesty International UK Section
Human Rights Action Centre
17-25 New Inn Yard
London EC2A 3EA
+ 44 (0) 20 7033 1569

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