Daily Archives: 25/01/2011

(Food Freedom) Two articles discuss food speculation as Wall Street continues to starve millions. “Get ready for a rocky year. From now on, rising prices, powerful storms, severe droughts and floods, and other unexpected events are likely to play havoc with the fabric of global society, producing chaos and political unrest. Start with a simple fact: the prices of basic food staples are already approaching or exceeding their 2008 peaks, that year when deadly riots erupted in dozens of countries around the world,” writes Tom Dispatch. Read more…

( The attacks on WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, are a response to an information revolution that threatens old power orders, in politics and journalism. The incitement to murder trumpeted by public figures in the United States, together with attempts by the Obama administration to corrupt the law and send Assange to a hell hole prison for the rest of his life, are the reactions of a rapacious system exposed as never before.

In recent weeks, the US Justice Department has established a secret grand jury just across the river from Washington in the eastern district of the state of Virginia. The object is to indict Julian Assange under a discredited espionage act used to arrest peace activists during the first world war, or one of the “war on terror” conspiracy statutes that have degraded American justice. Judicial experts describe the jury as a “deliberate set up”, pointing out that this corner of Virginia is home to the employees and families of the Pentagon, CIA, Department of Homeland Security and other pillars of American power.

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( United States activist Chris William’s new book, published by Haymarket Press, is an excellent introduction to ecology and socialism. It is well written and, despite being a long-time ecosocialist activist, I learnt a lot from it.

Williams is a professor of physics and chemistry at Pace University, and chair of the science department at Packer Collegiate Institute. He is a green activist and a member of the International Socialist Organization.

The ISO, which formed in 1976, was part of the International Socialist Tendency, the international organisation of socialist groups affiliated to the British-based Socialist Workers Party, until 2001. It is involved in a wide-range of struggles, including against war, for queer rights and environmental campaigns.

The ISO has also been active in the US Green Party. Todd Chretien, a leading ISO member, ran as the Green Party candidate for the US Senate in 2006 in California.

The ISO have a reputation for being the largest and most dynamic socialist organisation in the US, an achievement indeed given the difficulties socialists have organising in that country.

Ecology and Socialismdiscusses the reality and potentially devastating effects of climate change, noting that we are close to a number of tipping points that could unmake much of the natural world — with devastating effects on humanity.

The worrying and often ignored problem of ocean acidification is also mentioned. As carbon dioxide is emitted, some of it is absorbed by the seas, which are slowly acidifying. This in turn could destroy marine ecosystems and lead to the collapse of fish stocks.

Williams also discusses false solutions to the climate crisis, such as carbon trading and biofuels. His book challenges the notion that capitalist economic growth is environmentally sustainability.

But he also shows, in a powerful chapter, why Malthusian solutions based on cutting population levels are authoritarian and will fail to address the root causes of environmental problems.

There is an interesting section on the difficult question of how to build an independent political alternative in the US.

However, a real attraction for me was the way the book, while acknowledging that much has changed since the 19th century, is rooted in the ecological insights of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels.

I was intrigued, for example, to learn from the book that Marx and Engels mentioned water pollution in The German Ideology. They wrote: “The ‘essence’ of the fish is its ‘being,’ water — to go no further than this one proposition. The ‘essence’ of the freshwater fish is the water of a river.

“But the latter ceases to be the ‘essence’ of the fish and is no longer a suitable medium of existence as soon as the river is made to serve industry, as soon as it is polluted by dyes and other waste products and navigated by steamboats, or as soon as its water is diverted into canals where simple drainage can deprive the fish of its medium of existence.”

Far from being “productivists” concerned only with raising the forces of production to super industrial levels, Marx and Engels were highly concerned with environmental problems such as air pollution, water pollution and soil erosion.

The myth that Marx only saw value as created from human labour is swiftly dealt with, by the observation that Marx was well aware of the value created by the rest of nature.

The book builds on the work of writers such as Joel Kovel and John Bellamy Foster, while placing their insights in an accessible and attractive manner.

Chris Williams’ scientific knowledge shines through and it is obvious that he has put an immense amount of work into this excellent book.

He acknowledges that technology, far from being neutral, is shaped by the needs of capitalism is well made. He also makes the important point that recycling is second best to making goods to last and cutting waste.

The resource section packed full of suggested books, websites and films to watch is very useful and includes a link to Green Left Weekly.

Like any text, the book is not perfect and a number of criticisms could be made. In particular, I would have liked to have heard more about the struggles for ecology by indigenous peoples, such as the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (Aidesep) in Peru, and workers internationally.

For example, workers in Britain occupied the Vestas wind turbine factory to try to prevent it closing.

It would also have been interesting to include the example of the “green bans” movement in Australia in the 1970s, when the New South Wales Builders Labourers Federation refused to build environmentally damaging projects.

Likewise, there is a good discussion of the movements in Bolivia but it would have been good to include more about ecosocialism in Latin America.

Interesting thinkers and activists who don’t slot easily into the IST tradition are sadly absent, such as Peruvian indigenous leader Hugo Blanco or the often splendid, if sectarian, green anarchistMurray Bookchin.

Also lacking is how Cuba created a green revolution to overcome oil shortages after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which would have been informative to readers.

These are ultimately small criticisms. This is a very informative and interesting book that should be read by all greens and socialists. The book certainly was a pleasure to read as well as being highly informative.

As the book’s blurb explains, it is a “timely, well-grounded analysis that reveals an inconvenient truth: we can’t save capitalism and save the planet.

“Around the world, consciousness of the threat to our environment is growing. The majority of solutions on offer, from using efficient light bulbs to biking to work, focus on individual lifestyle changes. Yet the scale of the crisis requires far deeper adjustments.

Ecology and Socialism argues that time still remains to save humanity and the planet, but only by building social movements for environmental justice that can demand qualitative changes in our economy, workplaces, and infrastructure.”

by Derek Wall

[Derek Wall is an activist in the Greens Party of England and Wales.
His blog can be read at .]

( In the midst of hacktivists using ECDs (similar to distributed denial of service attacks) to defend Wikileaks, it’s worth having a document that describes how such attacks are planned and executed. Such a zine has recently been released that is written in laypersons terms so expertise in computing or networking is certainly not needed to understand it. If you have the ability to browse the web and edit a Microsoft Word document, you’ve probably got what it takes to understand the ideas it presents.

The zine goes through everything from anonymously scoping out your target to distributing your ECD tools and call-out. It includes a guide on doing research and making online postings anonymously, legal risks you may encounter and analysis of the effectiveness of ECDs as opposed to other large protest tactics. It reviews three popular tools (the Greek ECD Tool, the Low Orbit Ion Cannon, and Slow Loris) and provides step-by-step instructions for configuring and packaging them. It also includes a short section on the history of the use of ECDs by social movements.

Download the zine for printing and online reading at: