Thursday, July 23, 2015

Why I'm Voting Corbyn

Today I paid my three quid to get to vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership election.  As a Green Party member it did take a bit of thinking through.  Here's the train of thought.

Whatever other ills there are in the world, the existential crisis facing humanity is global warming.  If you don't have this at the top of your list you are in denial.

Naomi Klein in This Changes Everything showed us that we will not effectively address this issue if we do not also completely change the way capitalism operates.  Pope Francis in Laudato Si taught us that to tackle climate change we must simultaneously tackle global injustice and spoke of capitalism as "the dung of the Devil".

Capitalism does not have within itself the ability to solve the climate crisis. See my previous blog, The End of Capitalism has Begunabout Paul Mason's forthcoming book and my previous to that blog, Grown Up Economics, in which I explore the incompatibility of the degrowth required for effective climate change mitigation and capitalism.

So, to tackle the most important issue, we must do what we can to lesson the impact of capitalism, to change it into something unrecognisable, even to overthrow it.  That is going to be tough if both the Government party and Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition are wedded to the same cause of neo-liberalism and continuous economic growth of this finite planet.

Jeremy Corbyn represents those who cast doubt on the validity of the current direction of travel being relentlessly pursued by the Tories and, if not actively supported, at least not being effectively opposed by much of the Labour Party including three of the contenders for leadership.

The SNP's Mhairi Black was spot on in her maiden speech when she quoted Tony Benn's Weathercock and Signpost analogy.  To be a leader you do not need to study opinion polls; you need to set out the agenda you think is right and shout "This way, come follow me."  That's what Corbyn has done. I may not follow him down every twist and turn of his path but he is headed in a good direction; the others are Hell-bent 180° to the contrary, heading to what Pope Francis, in his metaphor that is religion, calls Hell.

If my three quid can nudge our country a fraction in a better direction it will have been well spent.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The End of Capitalism has Begun

I've just chanced upon an article in the Guardian by Paul Mason.  It caught my eye as it's by the same guy that wrote the foreword to the new, 2015, edition of Yanis Varoufakis's book The Global Minotaur, that I've been reading this weekend.

Read Paul Mason: The End of Capitalism has Begun

Did you read it? All of it? Do you see the significance? Why Marx was right, why the Transistion Town movement is right, why Varoufakis is right, why the Pirate Party is right, why Occupy is right, why decarbonisation, degrowth, and everything else that you, my friends, hold dear is right?

We're part of the great global transition to postcapitalism. It began for me when the late Dr David Fleming told me about it on a train journey returning from an Ecology Party conference in 1977. 

And we need to get on with it.

(Paul Mason wrote that last sentence but I'm sure he is giving away his intellectual property right to it.)

Paul Mason's book, PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future, is published on 30th July 2015.

David Fleming's Book Lean Logic, A Dictionary for the Future and how to Survive It, was published in 2011.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Grown up Economics - Beth Stratford in Lincoln

This in not so much a review or report as my personal take home messages from a talk given by Beth Stratford followed by discussion in Lincoln on Tuesday 14th July 2015, organised byt the Lincoln Green Party.

Global warming brings humanity its existential crisis. The science is clear for all rational minds. Dealing with it involves more than a direct approach.

Capitalism has within it the requirement to transfer wealth from the workers to the capitalists. This is acceptable so long as there is economic growth, so long as the pie keeps growing and there is hope for all of increasing prosperity. Capitalism therefore requires growth for its survival.

Unless and until there is absolute decoupling of economic growth and resource consumption, growth on a finite and fragile planet must come to an end. Even a modest 3% growth in the global economy would represent a ten-fold increase by about the end of the century.

A steady state economy or even degrowth is a requirement for human survival. But since capitalism requires the transfer of wealth to the capitalists, zero growth implies a fall in the level of real wages, an increasing gap between rich and poor. Since this, beyond a certain point, becomes politically unacceptable, almost all politicians continue to assume that pursuit of growth is required.

The solution to what is otherwise an impossible dilemma is to change capitalism so fundamentally that it promotes greater equality and social justice. It may then not even be capitalism. This is what Naomi Klein in ‘This Changes Everything’ and Pope Francis in ‘Laudato Si’ argue for, that we must work for a change to the global economic system so that it creates equality and social justice if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.

For the Green Party, the debate as to whether to campaign more about climate change or austerity is a false dichotomy, the one goal requiring success in the other.

Global warming mitigation requires an end to capitalism as we know it, or, turning that around, capitalism requires global warming denial.

Beth Stratford is a PhD researcher at Roehampton University and is interested in how house price inflation is affecting our working behaviour and values. She co-ordinated the Transforming Finance conference in London and the Just Banking conference in Edinburgh. She has worked as a campaigner for Friends of the Earth in Scotland and 10:10, an editor and researcher for the late Dr. David Fleming and Lean Economy Connection, and a documentary film maker. She holds an MSc with distinction in Ecological Economics, and a degree from Cambridge in Politics.