Newsletter No. 43 - October 2013
Links to other Newsletters can be found here.
2. UK 2013 Party Conferences: The Outcomes
3. Some Issues Unrecognised At Party Conferences
4. London - A City Gone Money Mad - "frankly demented"
5. The Madness Of Nuclear Power
6 . Monetary & Fiscal (Tax & Public Spending) Policies
7. Local Values and a Participatory Society
8. Standing Up to Global Corporate Power
9. An Event For Next Summer
"Do not adjust your mind, there is a fault in reality. ... Once you have experienced disbelief in the reality and values held by most about you and the organisations you spend your life in, you cannot undo it, no matter how you try."
Gurth Higgin's insight (on page 119, Symptoms of Tomorrow , 1973 - www.abebooks.co.uk/Symptoms-Tomorrow-Higgin-Gurth-Plume-PressLtd/1173567748/bd - is becoming more widely shared.
For example, more people doubt whether:
(1) a money supply created by bankers as debt can provide economic efficiency, social justice and well-being for everyone;
(2) the present systems of taxation and public spending are helping to provide them too;
(3) the greater the number of people working in dependent "employment" for bosses the better for everyone;
(4) present national and international economic policies benefit the people of a world in which "we are all in this together"; and
(5) money-measured economic growth can and must continue for ever.
Some of us are starting to see those no-senses as symptoms of a madness that can lead to violent outcomes ; and - worse - that all of them combined could culminate in the self-destruction of our species before the end of this century.
Fifty years ago Martin Luther King had "a dream" of a racially equal society. Today our dream must be for the survival of our species , with racial equality as just one of its essential features.
P.S. The recent self-organised stoppage of government in the USA seemed like an example of collective madness. For one response to it, see www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-zarlenga/sequesters-shutdowns-and-_b_4086071.html.
2. UK 2013 PARTY CONFERENCES: THE OUTCOMES
Item 2 in my Newsletter No 42 said that the manifestos of political parties in the UK 2015 General Election must reflect new agendas, and their party conferences must start preparing for that in September 2013 . So what have the outcomes of those Conferences been? Here are some relevant points.
(1) The Green Party has only one MP in Parliament now, the distinguished and effective Caroline Lucas. But it deserves more clout in the 2015 general election. The one truly constructive announcement for the future from any of the 2013 party conferences has been www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2013/09/18/green-party-conference-passes-motion-to-end-privatisation-of-money.
The proposer said "In voting for this motion, the Green Party has put in place the third part of a trinity of radical policies to finance the move to a post carbon and equitable economy. Public credit creation joins the Citizen's Income and Land Value Tax as the three jewels in the crown of our economic policy''. I personally believe those three reforms of the money system are essential to the survival of our species .
Also see www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24068318.
(2) Although UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) has no MPs in Parliament at present, its influence on the 2015 general election might be crucial. By taking votes of some traditional Conservative supporters, it might prevent Conservative electoral success ; and by then results in the 2014 European elections might have helped it.
However, accidents at UKIP's 2013 conference may have damaged them. Their leader Nigel Farage appeared on BBC television with a black pixel like a Hitler moustache on his upper lip - www.the-tap.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/nigel-farage-pictured-with-hitler.html; and his colleague Godfrey Bloom , having described African nations as "Bongo Bongo Land" and women UKIP members as "sluts", was sacked from the party - www.channel4.com/news/ukips-godfrey-bloom-biffs-michael-crick.
(3) The Labour Party , the main opposition to the present governing coalition, may have come out of the 2013 Conference season rather better than expected. This may be due partly to Labour leader Ed Miliband 's supporting 'One Nation' against 'rich against poor'; and partly to the public's negative reaction to a Conservative newspaper's attempt to discredit his policies as 'socialist' by insulting his dead father as anti-British - see www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ed-miliband-v-daily-mail-francis-maude-criticises-newspaper-over-pretty-revolting-story-8856146.html.
(4) The Conservative Party under Prime Minister David Cameron had what some Tories must have found a disappointing conference. With the threat of UKIP hanging over them, they seemed also to have failed to shed their image as leaders of the rich against the poor, with a Prime Minister and a Chancellor resembling "two arrogant posh boys who show no remorse, no contrition, and no passion to want to understand the lives of others." See www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17815769.
(N.B. Note that those two last criticisms from Francis Maude and Nadine Dorries were from Tories.)
(5) Finally Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democratic Party leader, has faced a problem. The Libdems want to stay as the junior member of the coalition with the Tories until the 2015 election. But they also want their manifesto for that election to let them join a new coalition with the Labour Party if Labour then had gained more votes than the Tories but not an overall majority.
Meanwhile the Libdems' far-sighted support for tax reform based on Land Value Taxation - see http://libdemsalter.org.uk/en/ - is unlikely to make much progress while their coalition with the Conservatives lasts. All the same, it is shocking to see Clegg's Libdem deputy, Vince Cable, denationalising the Royal Mail to please the Tories - www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/royal-mail-rich-pickings-result-2359844. (He couldn't do that if the present coalition were with Labour.)
3. SOME ISSUES UNRECOGNISED AT PARTY CONFERENCES
(1) Failure of Political Leadership . See www.green-alliance.org.uk/uploadedFiles/Publications/reports/green standard press release_FINAL.PDF.
(2) Might a Better Future be Necessary and Possible? None of the political leaders seemed to be interested in the following ideas.
One is Jonathon Porritt's message for "'ordinary' people and those elected to represent them and serve them" - see www.uk.phaidon.com/the-world-we-made.
It is based on a compelling picture of a truly sustainable world:
- "A world in which 90% of our energy comes from renewable sources, and 30% of our electricity from solar power
- A world in which young people have forced radical changes on governments acting against the interests of all future generations
- A world in which military expenditure peaked in 2017, and has been declining ever since
- A world in which nanotechnology, 3D printing and biomimicry have transformed manufacturing
- A world in which personal genomics allow everyone to manage their own health, live longer and healthier, and die when they want
- A world in which there are still rich and poor, but the rich are poorer but happier, and the poor are richer in so many ways."
A variation of that is seen by Asher Miller and Rob Hopkins as the "Post-Carbon New Normals" that the politicians don't yet recognise. See www.postcarbon.org/report/1882095-climate-after-growth#es.
A similar example is described by Richard Heinberg as "The Brief, Tragic Reign of Consumerism-and the birth of a happy alternative" - see www.resilience.org/stories/2013-07-24/the-brief-tragic-reign-of-consumerism-and-the-birth-of-a-happy-alternative.
(3) Might the Future be Worse than the Politicians Foresee?
(a) Many Climate Wars to Come? See www.billmoyers.com/2013/09/06/drought-helped-spark-syrias-civil-war-is-it-the-first-of-many-climate-wars-to-come.
(b) When Wealth Disappears - "Policy makers simply pray for a strong recovery. They opt for the illusion because the reality is too bleak to bear". See www.nytimes.com/2013/10/07/opinion/when-wealth-disappears.html.
(c) Life after Growth: "200 years of growth are over". A look inside the cover of this book will show what it is about - see www.amazon.co.uk/Life-After-Growth-global-economy/dp/0857193392.
(d) The threat of systemic global crisis - see www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=15577.
(4) Where do we go from here, after party conferences 2013?
See www.compassonline.org.uk/post-conference-statement. Although Compass tends towards "socialism'' against "capitalism" (two terms that now have little practical meaning), its findings are well worth reading.
But the French and Russian revolutions, and perhaps today the Arab Spring, show us that the practical challenge is to make a peaceful transition:
from the breakdown of competition between today's topdown political organisations representing different sections of society,
to more far-seeing system of democratic decision-making that serve people's needs.
4. LONDON - A CITY GONE MONEY MAD - "frankly demented"
(1) The Disease - "London's Great Exodus" is a symptom.
An American living in London for a quarter of a century, Michael Goldfarb, says he "is beginning to feel that the next phase of London's history will be one of transience, with no allegiance to the city". He wonders "whether those just parking their money here by buying real estate will ever be able to provide the communal sensibility to help the city survive the inevitable shocks it will experience in years to come. See
www.nytimes.com/2013/10/13/opinion/sunday/londons-great-exodus.html. A most perceptive assessment, very well worth reading.
(2) A Cure. The UK's present tax system sustains this economic injustice and actually encourages land speculation. The present government's new Help to Buy Scheme will make it worse.
The cure will require a shift of taxation on to Land Value Taxation . See Latest News - Help to Buy won't help - ww.labourland.org/in_the_news/press_releases.php. (Also see Item 2(1) above (Green Party) and Item 2(5) above (Libdems).
5. THE MADNESS OF NUCLEAR POWER
For many years I have seen that nuclear power typifies the dependency culture - see "What's Wrong With Nuclear Power?" in Chapter 14 of my book Beyond The Dependency Culture, at www.jamesrobertson.com/book/beyondthedependencyculture.pdf.
Apart from its other faults, security against the destruction on the scale that nuclear power risks causing allows its management to operate in secrecy against the public.
Today we have the accident at Fukushima to worry about - see www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/oct/15/fukushima-nuclear-power-plant-cleanup. We can see how difficult it is, with the best will in the world, to prevent and avoid all "human error".
The British government is now proposing to subsidise a consortium, led by the French company EDF and including a Chinese company, to build two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset. See www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24604218.
Apart from more general objections, we should see this "investment" by French and Chinese companies in practice as a loan and a debt repayable over the next 30 or 40 years. So it will add to the national debt that the Austerity policies of our present government are supposed to be reducing. A bit mad, surely!
6. MONETARY & FISCAL (TAX & PUBLIC SPENDING) POLICIES
(1) A Response to the Triple Crunch
(2) Monetary Reform
The American Monetary Institute's 2013 Conference. See www.ethicalmarkets.com/2013/10/07/ami-9th-annual-conference-report-an-important-conference. It includes Jamie Walton's Review.
Joseph Huber's interesting new website is at www.sovereignmoney.eu/modern-money-and-sovereign-currency/
Young people's interest in monetary reform. See www.positivemoney.org/2013/09/if-a-10-year-old-can-understand-this
Sustainable Monetary and Fiscal Policies for a Finite Planet - see www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/5/6/2802.
The Bristol Pound was launched in September last year in order to:
* support Bristol's independent businesses,
* strengthen its economy
* and keep the city's high streets diverse and distinctive.
(3) Some tax examples are at Item 4(2) above
(4) (a) Citizen's Income. Malcolm Torry gives many convincing arguments in its favour at www.blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/archives/34269.
(b) The Precariat needs a Basic Income
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precariat - a merger of precarious and proletariat.
Also see Guy Standing , "The only way to provide sufficient economic security is to do so ex ante , through providing every legal resident in society with a basic income as a right", at www.policy-network.net/pno_detail.aspx?ID=4004&title= +The+Precariat+-+The+new+dangerous+class.
Also see www.huffingtonpost.com/noam-chomsky/plutonomy-and-the-precari_b_1499246.html.
7. LOCAL VALUES AND A PARTICIPATORY SOCIETY
Here are three widely varied responses to important aspects of the future.
8. STANDING UP TO GLOBAL CORPORATE POWER
These are a few examples of what is happening and what needs to be done about it.
High Carbon Emissions
"Cronyism" in India
Will government serve its electorate - or friendly corporations?
One law for the rich, another for the relatively poor
9. AN EVENT for NEXT SUMMER
July 29 - August 5, 2014 "Moving Beyond Capitalism" Conference
Center for Global Justice, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Details from email@example.com.
Themes include: the commons, economic democracy, sexual democracy, cooperatives, solidarity economy, democratic finance, indigenous insurgencies, localization, participatory budgeting, preventing ecocide, local currencies, alternative communications & media, 21 st century socialism, steady state economies, horizontalism.
23 October 2013
In the UK, "Plebgate", so called with reference to the US Watergate Scandal in the 1970s - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watergate_scandal - is continuing to attract a lot of time, money, legal and press excitement.
The issue is not whether the then Conservative Chief Whip of the Conservative Party, Andrew Mitchell, used the term "f******" against policemen who prevented him riding his bike out of Downing Street. That has been no problem. The dispute is about whether he called them "f****** plebs", a much more heinous crime!
This dispute, and the public money spent in it, seem likely to run and run. Another little bit of madness!