Newsletter No. 51 - July 2015
Links to other Newsletters can be found here.
1. Challenges for Human Civilisation
2. Comments on the Recent UK General Election
3. Comments on Greece
4. Some Pointers to The Future
5. Some Faults to Deal With
6. An Important Annual Event
The need for radical change in the ways of human life - the ways we treat one another and the planet on which we depend - is becoming increasingly evident to forward-looking people and organisations. It is very urgent. But most of our leaders worldwide are ignoring it.
One illustration of this has been how our recent UK general election was conducted and how it has resulted.
Another is the hopeless, wasteful way the Eurozone has been dealing with the financial situation in Greece - an example of the thoughtlessness with which our world leaders organise the world's money system in their own interest.
Those events illustrate the injustice and destructiveness with which rich and powerful people and countries cheat the poorer and weaker majority.
We need to deal with this. But how?
1. CHALLENGES FOR HUMAN CIVILISATION
(1) 'Dear Humanity, We Have a Systems Problem': New project aims to promote deep solutions, radical transformation. 'It's time to talk about alternatives', says a team of thinkers behind the Next System Project. See www.commondreams.org/news/2015/04/02/dear-humanity-we-have-systems-problem-new-project-aims-promote-deep-solutions.
(2) "Humans are creating a sixth great extinction of animal species", say scientists. "Rapid, greatly intensified efforts" will be needed to stop or slow the extinctions currently underway. By losing species, humanity is losing what enables us to have a good standard of living ourselves. See www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jun/19/humans-creating-sixth-great-extinction-of-animal-species-say-scientists.
(3) Pope Francis's new encyclical on 18 June 2015 is "the first ever dedicated to ecological and planetary problems caused by human activities". He addresses both the degradation of the environment and the challenge of climate change along with how this is impacting the poor and most vulnerable. Thus, social and economic justice is an important theme.
See www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/21799 and www.yesmagazine.org/climate-in-our-hands/how-pope-francis-revving-up-climate-action-in-los-angeles.
(4) "Most climate action has little to do with the UN process". Regardless of whether a UN agreement is reached, clean technologies could continue to transform markets and disrupt traditional business models remarkably quickly. See www.greenallianceblog.org.uk/2015/07/03/most-climate-action-has-little-to-do-with-the-un-process.
Moreover, while scientists and politicians argue fruitlessly about the reality of climate change, they fail to appreciate that the measures advocated to alleviate it are undeniably beneficial in their own right. Those measures should be put undertaken for that reason, and if they also diminish climate change that would be a bonus. See www.britain2020.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/the-government-should-heed-the-latest-scientific-findings-on-climate-change.
(5) "We need to save ourselves from fire". In Walt Patterson's latest book, Electricity vs fire: the fight for our future, he asks simple questions such as: "can electricity save us from fire?" and "Would you be surprised to be told that using too much fire is heating up the planet?"; and he tells us that the crucial innovation we need is a new mindset, a new story, a new way to think about what we do and how we do it.
2. COMMENTS ON THE RECENT UK GENERAL ELECTION
Virtually no attention was given to the challenges facing humanity in the manifestoes of the two major parties, Labour and Conservative. Some of the smaller ones, including the Green Party, were rather more enlightened.
The unexpected result of the election was an outright victory to the Conservatives (Tories). They owed it largely to to the fact that, mostly at the expense of the Labour Party, the Scottish National Party (SNP) won 56 seats in the UK Parliament instead of their previous 6 seats.
The Labour Party is now in some danger of collapse. The possibility of Jeremy Corbyn as its new party leader has put it in a spin. His vision is of a more productive and fairer economy for all - see www.politicalcleanup.wordpress.com/2015/07/23/jeremy-corbyn-cuts-are-not-the-way-to-prosperity-invest-in-the-economy.
That may not seem unreasonable. But I have felt for some time that the Labour Party's concept of work is out of date. It is based on most of the population being compelled to work for a minority of more privileged people who don't have the majority's interests at heart. That concept of work ignores the idea that free people should not be compelled to work for others, but should work at what they see as valuable and take personal reponsibility for it. For more, see my book Future Work (1985) - www.jamesrobertson.com/books.htm#futurework.
The unexpected freedom of action of the Tories in government for the next five years may encourage them to take up policies that confirm their reputation as the party of the rich.
I am not myself a Tory supporter. But I was interested and pleased recently to receive the text of what could be A Tory Manifesto for the economy?. It would make common sense for the next election.
James Bruges - www.neweranetwork.info/networkers/james-bruges - wrote it and sent it to me. I naturally support what it says. It is well worth reading at www.jamesrobertson.com/a_tory_manifesto.pdf.
3. COMMENTS ON GREECE
The government of Greece is unable to raise the money it needs to meet its current costs and also to pay off its debts to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank. Its negotiations with those creditors have continued for many months of damaging "austerity" for the people of Greece. That situation continues - with one costly meeting after another of highly paid officials and bankers!
The following reports take the side of Greek citizens: www.globalresearch.ca/on-greece-and-europe-what-is-called-negotiation-is-a-demand-for-total-surrender/5458853
My view is that Greece should drop out of the eurozone. It should stop using the euro and restore the drachma as its currency. The new money supply should be created and put into circulation, not by bankers to interest-paying borrowers as is still the worldwide practice but debt-free by a public agency on behalf of the people as proposed by Positive Money - see www.positivemoney.org/our-proposals.
For an interesting comment from Ronnie Morrison, see www.bellacaledonia.org.uk/2015/06/29/greek-myths.
(2) The Greening of Greece
"Greece's economic woes will never be solved by merely moving money around the banking system. The lasting solution is to restore native forests to her barren hills and mountains, invest in large-scale solar power to energise Europe, and create an exemplar of sustainable development for our global future."
Oliver Tickell writes in The Ecologist about a sustainable alternative - "creating a European powerhouse of renewable energy, a land of milk, honey, trees, rivers and deep soils, and an exemplar of low-carbon, climate friendly development for all to follow."
See www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/ 2936849/the_greening_of_greece_the_ecologic_opportunity_for_ europe_to_embrace.html.
4. SOME POINTERS TO THE FUTURE
(1) The Co-operative Advantage. This new multi-authored book edited by Ed Mayo outlines 50 co-operative innovations to boost the British economy. "In an innovation economy, where knowledge is the new currency, businesses must co-operate to compete. We call this the co-operative advantage". An important book.
Also see Pat Conaty at www.neweranetwork.info/2015/06/15/news-from-pat-conaty-3.
(2) Local Economies Are Developing. Totnes is giving a lead to other localities in bringing entrepreneurs, investors, and other change makers together to learn from each other, form new relationships, and hopefully, to begin working together on new enterprises.
See www.transitiontowntotnes.org/groups/ reconomybusinessnetwork/local-entrepreneur-forum.
Meanwhile the Bristol pound is giving sterling a run for its money. See www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jun/07/the-innovators-the-bristol-pound-is-giving-sterling-a-run-for-its-money.
(3) Cuba's Sustainable Agricultural Revolution. See the recent report by the Schumacher Center for Economics in the USA at www.forhumanliberation.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/1785-cubas-sustainable-agricultural.html.
A few years ago Alison and I visited Cuba and were similarly impressed with what we saw of the Cuban agricultural system: "beautiful, healthy fruits and vegetables being grown on urban, suburban, and rural farms without petroleum inputs".
(4) Keeping Fossil Fuel in the Ground. "Keep the oil in the soil, keep the coal in the hole".
(5) The power of public investment. This should create jobs for the thousands of unemployed across our continent while simultaneously enabling the investment in green infrastructure that is long overdue.
(6) A Universal, Unconditional Income. This would solve problems facing the UK's benefits system, tackle poverty, and improve social cohesion and economic efficiency.
Also see www.thomasattwood.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/swiss-referendum-on-an-unconditional-basic-income-to-go-ahead-in-2016
(7) The Great Acceleration: "What should the UK do to protect Natural Systems".
5. SOME FAULTS TO DEAL WITH
(1) This section begins with an important new series of books by Fred Harrison. They are titled: As Evil Does: Handbook on Humanity 1 - Anatomy of a Killing Cult; and the second Handbook will be on Autopsy of Civilisation: The Great Depletion, and the third will be on Ascent of the Sublime: Divine Right.
As Evil Does is published by Geophilos at £12. More details here - www.amazon.co.uk/As-Evil-Does-Handbook-Humanity/dp/0993339808.
I have only just received my copy so I have not had time to read it fully yet. But I do warmly recommend Fred's call for a broad national debate as a therapeutic process that liberates our minds. From that should emerge a consensus leading to "the democratisation of the public's finances, which is nothing less than the restoration of our humanity".
Previous books by Fred Harrison can be seen at www.shepheard-walwyn.co.uk/authors/fred-harrison. Also see www.shepheard-walwyn.co.uk/product-category/ethical-economics.
(2) American democracy no longer exists. Instead, America's political system has transformed into an oligarchy, with the wealthy elite steering the direction of the country, regardless of the will of the majority of voters. See www.nationofchange.org/2015/04/08/how-america-became-an-oligarchy.
"As American Independence Day was celebrated earlier this month many will have wryly reflected that the country freed itself from one master only to embrace a far more formidable one - the multinational corporate sector, aka "a grubby cabal of privateers". See www.politicalcleanup.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/can-corporate-ruled-america-really-be-described-as-independent-and-truly-successful.
(3) In the UK "building a decent infrastructure is serious, unglamorous work with little political dividend, so our system is hopeless at long-term planning . . .".
(4) "Let's not fool ourselves. We may not bribe, but corruption is rife in Britain". See www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/ mar/18/corruption-rife-britain.
(5) "Predatory capitalism eats away at society as people lose faith in any sense of justice, fairness and democracy". See www.politicalcleanup.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/professor-sikka-politicians-seek-to-serve-corporations-rather-than-ensuring-that-corporations-serve-the-people.
(6) Seeing the people who make most money as the creators of that wealth is wrong. "Wealth creation in the real economy is a much more collaborative activity than we are led to believe, and depends to a great extent on publicly funded services. ... This could be something to bear in mind the next time a politician talks about 'wealth creators'". See www.ekklesia.co.uk/nod of thee/21697.
6. AN IMPORTANT ANNUAL EVENT
10-13 September, Chicago. American Monetary Institute, 2015 Conference. Details at www.monetary.org/2015-ami-monetary-reform-conference.
29 July 2015