Thursday, September 29, 2011

Climate change cost to Canada pegged at billions, new research shows

By Heather Scoffield
The Canadian Press
September 29, 2011
Read report HERE.

Climate change will cost Canada and its people about $5 billion a year by 2020, a groundbreaking analysis for the federal government warns.

Costs will continue to climb steeply, to between $21 billion and $43 billion a year by the 2050s — depending on how much action is taken on reducing global greenhouse-gas emissions and how fast the economy and population grow, the analysis says.

"Climate change will be expensive for Canada and Canadians," says the report from the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, issued Thursday morning.

"Increasing greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide will exert a growing economic impact on our own country, exacting a rising price from Canadians as climate change impacts occur here at home."

Trade unions must join the fight against climate change

Ian Angus
Climate and Capitalism
September 29, 2011

“If we leave this issue to the bosses, to the corporations and politicians who profit from the existing system, the changes will be inadequate – and they will put the entire burden on working people.”

Ian Angus, editor of Climate and Capitalism, is currently in Australia to speak at the Climate Change Social Change conference in Melbourne, September 30 – October 3. During his pre-conference speaking tour, he was invited to address several meetings of trades union members. The following is a lightly edited transcript of the opening comments he made at union meetings in Melbourne and Geelong.


Thank you for inviting me to speak today.

This week, in Canada, hundreds of people gathered on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, to support a civil disobedience action against the environmental crime known as the Alberta Tar Sands, and the related Keystone XL pipeline.

The action was supported by the Communication, Energy and Paperworkers Union, the National Union of Public and General Employees, the Indigenous Environmental Movement, Greenpeace, the Council of Canadians and other groups.

One of the first of more than a hundred people arrested for crossing the police barrier was Dave Coles, president of the Communication, Energy and Paperworkers Union.

This is just one example of the participation of trade unionists around the world in the fight against global warming. I’d like to start off our discussion today with some comments on why a growing number of working people are coming to see global warming as a trade union issue.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

'It's insane': Feds invest heavily in AECL even as they sell off reactor division

By Jason Fekete
Postmedia News
September 27, 2011

This is a July 8, 2009 handout photo from Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. The federal Conservative government tossed more than $183 million into Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. in the first three months of the fiscal year — nearly double the total annual budget — even as it was selling off the nuclear reactor division for just $15 million, plus royalties.
Photograph by: Handout, CNS/AECL

The federal Conservative government tossed more than $183 million into Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. in the first three months of the fiscal year — nearly double the total annual budget — even as it was selling off the nuclear reactor division for just $15 million, plus royalties.

A new report from Canada's parliamentary spending watchdog also shows that while the Harper government is on pace to find its overall expected budget savings, it has seen massive expenditure hikes in some departments as the Tories implement their tough-on-crime agenda.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The System Change Not Climate Change Project

Council of Canadians

System Change Not Climate Change is a multi-media tool for climate justice organized by the Council of Canadians’ Climate Justice for People and the Planet campaign.

The popular slogan: “system change not climate change” has become central to a growing and vibrant global movement for climate justice. But what does “system change” mean? And what does it have to do with the climate crisis? This project features videos from a range of speakers including academics, workers and activists who address these questions, talk about why we need system change, and give examples of new ways forward.

The project aims to build awareness and inspire actions for climate justice in Canada and around the world through the organizing of community-based teach-ins using these videos. is a free, public, interactive website. It is our hope that the speakers’ messages will be shared broadly. We encourage you to use the videos in whatever setting suits you, your organization, union or group. Make sure to add your event to the map of teach-ins.

Geo-engineering Is More about Hubris than Reality

By Glenn Ashton
September 27, 2011

Humans certainly are an enterprising species. Problem is, our discoveries tend to result in unintended consequences.

People have now figured out that we may be able to repair or reduce our unintended impacts on the global climate by intentionally re-engineering it through a set of processes which have been collectively called “geo-engineering.” Besides the obvious moral considerations, there are serious practical concerns that geo-engineering has a high probability of making an already bad situation worse.

When fiddling with such a large, complex natural system the only certainty is that it is impossible to predict the eventual outcomes of our actions. Human induced or anthropogenic climate change is broadly accepted. The impacts appear to be happening faster and are worse than early predictions. Bar some shouting, the debate over.

Cuba: Breaking corporate power allows sustainable development

By Marce Cameron
Green Left Weekly
September 24, 2011

Urban organic farm. Santa Clara, Cuba
Cuba is a world leader in ecologically sustainable practices. It is the only country to have begun the large-scale transition from conventional farming, which is heavily dependent on fossil fuels, to a new agricultural paradigm known as low-input sustainable agriculture.

Thriving urban organic farms feed and beautify Cuba’s cities, strengthen local communities and employ hundreds of thousands of people thanks to government support.

These farms provide about 80% of the fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and medicinal plants consumed by urban residents. They are now being complemented by “green belts” on the urban fringes aimed at local self-sufficiency and ecological sustainability.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Demonstrators arrested at anti-oilsands rally on Parliament Hill

By Mike De Souza and Carmen Chai
Postmedia News
September 26, 2011

Hundreds protest against the tar sands on Parliament Hill in Ottawa September 26, 2011, with many climbing over a fence between them and police in a mass act of civil disobedience. Here, one of the organizers of the event, President of the Communications, Energy and Paper Workers Union, Dave Coles, is the first to climb the fence and be arrested. Maude Barlow (far left) was in the first wave over the fence and was led away by police.

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government blasted critics of its environmental record as "extremists" on Monday as the oil and gas industry launched a new public relations campaign which coincided with civil disobedience on Parliament Hill over a controversial U.S. pipeline expansion project.

If approved this year by the Obama administration, the multi-billion dollar Keystone XL project, proposed by Alberta-based TransCanada, would provide a new 3,100-kilometre route for about 700,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta to 15 refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Why I will be risking arrest tomorrow

By Hannah McKinnon
September 25, 2011

Tomorrow I am going to participate in an event that will likely result in my arrest. I will be joining hundreds of other Canadians in non-violent civil disobedience to protest the Harper Government’s inaction on climate change and demand that they stop the expansion of the Alberta tar sands.

The reactions of family and friends have been interesting as I explain my motivations. Most people struggle to understand how breaking the law could possibly be a good thing. The reality is, I would prefer to avoid getting arrested and instead feel confident that my government was taking seriously one of the greatest Hannah challenges humanity has ever faced. Unfortunately they are not, so I will be risking arrest on Monday.

Here is why;

Ecosocialists should fight for a ‘green new deal’

By Martin O’Beirne
Green Left Weekly
Sunday, September 25, 2011

Newly released figures confirm unemployment is going through the roof, austerity measures are causing global unrest, huge strike action has occurred recently in place like Chile and the biggest strike in Britain since 1926 seems increasingly likely in November with plans for sustained industrial action into the new year.

At the same time, we are becoming desensitised to news of whichever freak weather condition, flood, forest fire or natural disaster has just occurred in whichever country.

In the Pacific Ocean, small islands are disappearing under rising seas, oceans are acidifying and greenhouse gases are being pumped into the atmosphere apace.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Community of Things

By Jon E Wilson
New Left Project
September 23, 2011

Shopping is usually a collective act. Most of the time it is done in groups, in families or with friends. Much of our consumption is for other people; or we have other people in mind when we’re doing it. In the supermarket, we buy for our families. In the high street, teenagers buy the same clothes and music as their peer group. Consumption by children and adults is driven by a sense of what we need to keep our collective lives together; and by the way in which owning the same things as others gives us status amongst our peers.

In their effort to reformulate progressive politics, many on the left have called for the creation of a `post-consumer society’ in which more noble values than shopping lie at the centre of British life. Neil Lawson, Director of Compass, blames consumerism for most of the ills of modern capitalism, from the decline of democracy to climate change.

A similar point is made in very different language on the right. Conservatives like Daily Mail columnist Quentin Letts suggest that our present `orgy of consumerism’ undermines common `Christian values’ and `sensible husbandry’. In public discourse the abstract concept of `consumerism’ almost always describes a bad thing. Consumerism is criticised as a debilitating condition that destroys the sources of solidarity and common life. The critique in each case is that consumption is driven by a selfish desire to infinitely accumulate.

Read more HERE.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ecosocialism: Interview With Ian Angus

Radio Adelaide

Is the Eco-Socialist revolution coming? Ian Angus is a veteran of the Socialist and Environmental movements in Canada.

He is also the founder of, and co-author of the new book, “Too Many People? Population, Immigration and the Environmental Crisis”.

This weekend he will be visiting Adelaide to host the public forum, “Political Solutions to the Climate Crisis: What is Eco-Socialism?” at 171 Sturt Street, Adelaide, at 6.30pm this Saturday night.

Jennie Lenman spoke to Ian Angus about Eco-Socialism, and the “Moving Planet Street Parade“.

Download Interview Here

Henri Lefebvre and ecosocialism

By Adam Whitford 
Socialist Resistance
September 22, 2011

Henri Lefebvre
Henri Lefebvre (1901-1991) is famous for writing about space: not outer space, but social space. He looks at how space is created and used under capitalism, and how different social forces could shape space differently. His influence is apparent in the work of Marxist economic geographer David Harvey, and in the debates about the impact of occupations of buildings and public spaces in the Middle East, Greece, the Spanish State, Britain and Israel.

Here I want to focus on the possible links between Lefebvre’s arguments in his book The Production of Space (1974; translated from French in 1991) and contemporary ecosocialist approaches.[1] Ecosocialism, as it has developed since the 1990s, is based on the twin notions that ecological sustainability is indispensable if we are to achieve prosperity and equality for all human beings, and that such a society would be impossible under capitalism. What, then, can Lefebvre tell us about the spatial relationship that capitalism has constructed with the earth and with its human inhabitants? What alternative set of relationships does he have in mind?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

CD Howe Institute report shills for oil companies

Two kinds of oil royalties: lowering one won't necessarily increase the other.

By Erin Weir
September 14, 2011

The CD Howe Institute is out this morning with a press release entitled, Raising Oil and Gas Royalties Does Not Benefit Provincial Coffers. A complete analysis of the accompanying 30-page paper — featuring many graphs, tables and regressions — will take time. But here is my initial take.


The Institute correctly notes that provincial oil and gas revenues comprise both royalties paid on production and bids paid for the right to explore and produce. There is a trade-off because companies will bid more for resource rights in jurisdictions that offer lower royalties and hence higher potential profits.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Red-Green Alliance on the Danish Election

By Inger V. Johansen and Line Barfod
September 20, 2011 

The result of the parliamentary elections in Denmark means that the right-wing government of the last ten years has finally been ousted. A new government will be formed under the leadership of Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the leader of the Social Democrats. The core parties of this government will be the Social Democrats and the Socialist People's Party (SF), who for some years have formed a close partnership with the aim of strengthening the possibilities for an alternative government.

These elections are historical: For the first time a woman will be the Prime Minister of a Danish government. For the first time SF will be in government.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Video: The Rights of Mother Earth

Planetary Awareness Channel

Video inspired on this manifesto: proclaimed in 2010 at the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (Cochabamba, Bolivia)

Japan’s Nuclear Disaster: Radiation Still Leaking, Recovery Still Years Away?

By Richard Wilcox
Dissident Voice
September 19th, 2011
If nuclear power is so ‘safe,’ why is it that nuclear power stations are not placed where the power is most needed – in or very near large cities? Because they are dangerous. OK, if they’re dangerous, why is it the operators are not terribly interested in safety measures?
– Tony Boys, Can Do Better Blog1
Over six months have passed since the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan. What progress if any has been made to deal with what is surely one the worst industrial accidents in history?

The situation at the Fukushima No.1 power station site is far from being resolved. Although Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has said a “cold shutdown” of some of the reactors may be “within reach.”2 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Opposing “Fortress North America”: Tar Sands Development and Indigenous Resistance

By Dave Vasey
New Socialist
Septembr 12, 2011

During August 30-September 3 a Tar Sands Action took place at the White House in Washington, DC, with solidarity actions in a number of places across North America, and at Canadian and US embassies in a number of places around the world.
The action was part of a campaign opposing construction of the proposed 1,702 mile Keystone XL pipeline that would bring bitumen from the Athabasca tar sands in Alberta to Texas and the Gulf States for refining.

The Washington action was touted as the largest civil disobedience mobilization in decades. Among the protesters was a strong indigenous contingent from Canada. A petition with 617,428 signatures was delivered to the White House. By September 4, the number of people arrested numbered 1,252. In this article, Dave Vasey provides an analysis of tar sands politics with a focus on indigenous struggles to stop the destruction of their lands and way of life. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A call to action: Non-violent civil disobedience against the tar sands

September 14, 2011

A defining moment in Canadian history will take place in Ottawa this month.

On Sept. 26, hundreds of individuals from across the country will participate in an act of peaceful civil disobedience. The objective is to send a clear message to the Harper regime, calling on the government to withdraw its unquestioning support of the tar sands industry and to provide leadership by forging the transition to a clean, just and renewable energy that respects Indigenous rights and gives priority to the health of our communities and the environment. It could well turn out to be the largest demonstration of environmental civil disobedience in the history of this country's climate movement.

Capitalism's environmental chaos

Chris Williams, author of Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis, reviews a new book by Christian Parenti that documents the destruction that capitalism and the free market are inflicting on the planet.

Chris Williams
Socialist Worker
September 14, 2011

WHO KILLED Ekaru Loruman?

Until his recent violent death, Ekaru was a pastoralist from northwestern Kenya, a member of the Turkana tribe. He died when a bullet ripped out the side of his head as he tried to defend his few head of cattle, his only form of wealth and livelihood.

One could respond that a member of the Pokot tribe, a traditional enemy of the Turkana, who live and farm in the surrounding hills and raid across the border from Uganda killed Ekaru. That would, after all, be a factually correct response, and any murder investigation by local police would, with the identification and arrest of the individual responsible, end there.

Christian Parenti, in his excellent, if flawed, new book Tropic of Chaos, finds this a deeply unsatisfying answer. And so should anyone seeking to better understand the world and the twin ecological and economic crises in order to take action to ameliorate the consequences of those crises.

Parenti's book makes an important contribution to that effort--he has written a sweeping discourse on the collision set in motion between the natural and the social world--what he calls the "catastrophic convergence": the confluence of poverty, violence and climate change.

Read more HERE.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Toxic Legacy of 9/11

By Jim Harding
No Nukes
September 14, 2011

So much has already been said about the destruction of New York’s Twin Towers and the deaths of those left inside. Is there really anything more to say? Or are we ready to say and hear more? Is ten years long enough that we won’t just re-traumatize ourselves with the overwhelming images of suffering?

Though American audiences typically “eat up” disaster movies, they apparently aren’t ready to see a real one on 9/11. Collective post-traumatic stress has drawn people to more fantasy and escapism. So-called Reality TV shows, having little or nothing to do with reality, are now big hits.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ecosocialism cuts to roots of ecological crisis

Green Left Weekly
Saturday, September 10, 2011

Derek Wall
British-based economist, activist and writer Derek Wall is a member of the Green Party of England and Wales and is the author of several books on ecology and politics.

Wall will speak via video link at the Climate Change Social Change activist conference in Melbourne over September 30 to October 3. He maintains the ecosocialist blog Another Green World.

He spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Simon Butler about the politics of ecosocialism.

* * *
What are the most valuable insights ecosocialists can bring to discussions about the source of our ecological problems?

Ecosocialism, without being reductionist, cuts to the roots of the ecological crisis. The destruction of the environment is not an accident. It is not simply a problem of false ideas and it is not a product of inappropriate policies that can easily be dealt with by electing a new set of politicians.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

System Change: Naomi Klein from Council of Canadians

Council of Canadians
September 7, 2011

Nothing Exposes the Failures of Our Economic System More than Climate Change, which is not merely an isolated, separate environmental issue, for the effects of climate change are in fact the direct result of our market based model of economic growth and all its various capitalist strategies for profit and exploitation including the most damaging - because transportation generates such massive CO2 emissions - global trade.

One could say capitalism as we know it is destroying the planet.

Who's Behind New Pro-Oil Sands Ad Blitz?

Billing itself as 'grassroots', EthicalOil has close ties to a top oil sands law firm.

8 September 2011

Late last August, began running a 30 second TV advertisement on the Oprah Winfrey Network in Canada, chastising America's dependence on Saudi Arabian oil.

"We bankrolled a state that doesn't allow women to drive, doesn't allow them to leave their homes or work without their male guardian's permission," a female narrator said.

"Today there is a better way," she added. "Ethical oil from Canada's oil sands."  

A YouTube video of the advertisement ended with a plea: "Help keep this ad on the air. Visit and make a donation today."

If the subtext wasn't clear enough, founder and former federal Conservative Party staffer, Alykhan Velshi, later applauded "the grassroots support from across Canada" which had "made possible" this ad campaign.

How should we organize ourselves in the 21st century?

By Michel Bauwens
P2P Foundation
8th September 2011

Harry Halpin and Kay Summer ask the following important question in Turbulence:

How do we organise ourselves to achieve our political aims? It is an age-old question, with the answer often revolving around two poles of attraction, the centralised cadre versus the decentralised loose network.


“Over the last decade, some of the currents of the global movements, particularly those in the global North, have been radically deficient at producing collective intelligence, leading to a genuine gap in passing knowledge and abilities to the influx of people engaged in the politics of climate change and the food crisis.

Collective intelligence requires a commons of collective representations and memory accessible to the network, and so digital representations on the internet are ideal. Indymedia was a step towards this type of collective intelligence for many of these currents, but its focus on ‘reporting’ rather than analysis has reduced its use as a mechanism for passing on knowledge. Again, this seems to have arisen because of a misplaced fear of hubs.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

VIDEO: The Tar Sands Action Was Just Phase One

September 7, 2011
Also read What Comes Next for Tar Sands Action

The Tar Sands Action wrapped up last Saturday, and I have to say it was a truly amazing thing to watch transpire. In all, 1,253 people were arrested protesting the expansion of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
But more than that, they were protesting what the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has come to represent: the expansion of fossil fuels infrastructure in this country at the behest of fossil fuels industries who have used the inordinate influence they have over our political leaders to shape public policy for their own benefit. As RAN’s executive director, Becky Tarbotton, wrote last week: “With these protests, the Keystone XL pipeline has become the current symbol, the line-in-the-sand for the climate movement.”

The Tar Sands Action was just phase one, though. If the Obama Administration approves Keystone XL, or continues to green-light the expansion of fossil fuels infrastructure in general — and last Friday’s stealth attack on EPA regulations does not bode well — we will be back at the White House again in the near future, you can count on that. So check out this video and get inspired for phase two:

The message outside the White House these past two weeks was loud and clear: We don’t want dirty fossil fuels any more. We’re ready and willing to make the clean energy revolution happen, and we want our federal government to do its part. Help spread this video far and wide if you agree.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Green New Deal: Dead end or pathway beyond capitalism?

Turbulence #5
December 2009

A Green New Deal is on everybody’s lips at the moment. Barack Obama has endorsed a very general version of it, the United Nations are keen, as are numerous Green parties around the world. In the words
of the ‘Green New Deal Group’, an influential grouping of heterodox economists, Greens and debt-relief campaigners, such a ‘deal’ promises to solve the ‘triple crunch’ of energy, climate and economic crises.

Frieder Otto Wolf, an ecosocialist and early member of the German Green Party, argues that the challenge for the global movements is to hijack the Green New Deal, rather than reject it. Tadzio Mueller, an editor of Turbulence, and involved in the Climate Justice Action network, begs to diff er. He looks instead to an emerging movement for ‘climate justice’. Turbulence sat the two of them down for a chat, and kicked off the debate by suggesting that a Green New Deal might actually offer a weak looking global left a great opportunity.

An international conference you should not miss

Register now for this important conference!

Friday, September 30 – Monday, October 3, 2011



Is capitalism destroying our planet?

By Bert Olivier
Mail and Guardian
September 4/5, 2011

Before answering this question, it is necessary to give some attention to the widely agreed upon evidence that it has been happening for some time, and, moreover, has accelerated. It is hard to know where to start and where to end when it comes to listing relevant “evidence” in this regard, even if there is disagreement about the “causes” of such “evidence”. In The Enemy of Nature (2002), Joel Kovel lists what must surely count as being among the most important (because most alarming and “un-ignorable”) instances of this, including the melting of the polar ice caps and of the snows on Mount Kilimanjaro — widely regarded as effects of global warming.

In a September 2004 edition of National Geographic, with the subtitle “Global warning — Bulletins from a warmer world”, too, ample evidence is provided that there is reason to be very concerned about the melting of ice in the polar regions and of Kilimanjaro’s snows, as well as about the drastic effects that the increasingly warmer global climate is having on various species of animals, from Adélie penguins to caribou and coral, not to mention the threat it poses to millions of people living in low-lying areas such as parts of Bangladesh, where even a modest rise of the ocean level could be disastrous. Needless to say, when a mainstream journal such as National Geographic devotes the larger part of an edition to the ecological crisis, alarm bells should be ringing loudly.

Read Part One HERE.
Read Part Two HERE.

Monday, September 5, 2011

First Part of Tar Sands Action Ends With Energy and Resolve

Tar Sands Action
September 4, 2011

Part one of the Tar Sands Action came to a close yesterday, with 243 people sitting in and risking arrest to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. This was by far the largest day of action, and a historic statement to President Obama. Protestors stood in the DC heat for over four hours in solemn opposition to the pipeline and the development of the Alberta tar sands.

Yesterday’s demonstration also showed the incredible momentum building behind this movement. Every day of last week’s action was larger than the biggest the week prior. Day after day the sit-in grew – from 72 arrests on Tuesday to 111 Wednesday, 137 Thursday, 166 Friday and then 243 on Saturday.

Along with the sit-in, The Sierra Club, and Interfaith Power and Light led a separate rally against Keystone XL that featured Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, and Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus. The rally was followed by a massive work of aerial art composed by all the participants, who formed a 1,200 person pipeline that snaked through the park, before being dismantled by everyone involved.

At the rally, Bill McKibben announced that Tar Sands Action will continue with a phase two, with details to be announced within 48 hours of the rally Saturday – to stay in the loop, sign up at

Rob Nixon’s Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor: A Review

By Christine Shearer
Left Eye on Books
September 5, 2011

In Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Harvard University Press 2011), Rachel Carson Professor of English Rob Nixon explores the gradual and often ignored violence of environmental degradation, toxins, deforestation, and oil drilling in the Global South and Persian Gulf. The book is a well-written overview suggesting many years of thought, research, and analysis of many important ongoing socio-environmental crises, and the attempts by writers and activists to bring these “slow” issues to light.

I will begin with my academic quibble. The book’s title and thesis, slow violence, is clearly drawn from the research on structural violence – i.e. problems like hunger and malnutrition, inequality and poverty, and unequal access to health care that cause harm indirectly, rooted in the policies and practices of a society. Ignoring these issues or not addressing therefore becomes a form of structural, rather than personal, violence.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Interview with SF writer China Miéville

ISR Issue 75
January–February 2011

China Miéville
In addition to being a revolutionary socialist and longtime member of the British Socialist Workers Party, China Miéville is one of today’s most celebrated science fiction and fantasy authors. In 2010, his genre-busting mystery novel The City & the City won the Hugo Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award—making Miéville the only writer to win the Clarke award three times. His latest novel, Kraken, is a tale of competing Armageddons and religious cults in underground London.

China Miéville recently spoke with John McDonald from Haymarket Books about the importance of science fiction and fantasy in today’s world, and how socialist politics informs his approach to writing.

THE FIRST thing I wanted to talk about is Kraken, since it’s your latest novel and a number of people here in the states are still reading through it. The big question I want to ask is about the power of belief—you might even say faith—in the book. It’s central to both the cosmology and the thematic content of Kraken, and what’s really striking is the way that you look at the various cults, gods, and magics that populate this mystical version of London without falling into the sneering attitude of some of the fashionable new atheism. Can you talk about all this?

IT’S INTERESTING the formulation you use, because I would definitely say faith. I’m not even wholly convinced that belief and faith are exactly coterminous, but I would have to think about that. As you probably know, I’m an atheist, and have been for most of my conscious adult life, but I’ve always been very, very, very interested in faith. I see it as quite a specific thing and not necessarily solely reducible to belief.

I’ve always been very interested in it as a sociological phenomenon, and as an aesthetic phenomenon. For example, a lot of the poetry that I like most is informed by, driven by, and is indeed an expression of faith. I’m quite an admirer of a lot of ecstatic religious poetry. People like Christopher Smart, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Francis Thompson, and others. So I’ve always been interested in faith from that perspective. I’ve also been interested in it from a sociological perspective, the way that faith intersects with political action and rationality and the faux opposition between faith and rationality.

Rally against tar sands oil tankers in Vancouver

By rabbleTV
September 2, 2011

Protesters oppose oil tanker traffic and pipeline expansion plans in Vancouver at a rally called "No Pipelines, No Tankers, No Tar Sands" in North Burnaby on Saturday, August 27, 2011.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Classical Resource: Marx to Engels to Marx

Marx and Engels Internet Archive

Letters on Natural Science and Mathematics 












Click HERE to read the letters.

Fukushima, Mon Horreur

The Dream of Economic Reason Gives Birth to Tremendous Catastrophes

By Elmar Altvater
August 2011

Click here for film info
Co-President of the party DIE LINKE, Klaus Ernst, explained the meagre results of his party in the March 27, 2011 German regional elections (3.1% in Rhineland-Palatinate, 2.8% in Baden-Wuerttemberg) and the two-digit increase in the vote of the Greens after the heated electoral campaign focusing on nuclear policy in the wake of the catastrophe of Fukushima, in which the topic of social justice had been pushed to the background. In his words: “If everything is contaminated with radiation, even a minimum wage does not help”.

That is true. Even the global economic crisis which continues to cause pain and which has manoeuvred some states to the brink of bankruptcy, and the Euro-zone nearly to its collapse, is less often spoken about than the nuclear disaster in Japan, at 9,000 kilometres from Europe.

This is globalisation in its concreteness: supply and trade chains, financial transactions and migration, cultural exchange, the internet and mobile phones, not to mention the formal and informal meetings of the G-8, the G-20 etc., have created not only a virtual but a very real proximity. And now radioactively contaminated material in containers could be distributed from Japan to the entire world. Does the container – the symbol and vehicle of globalisation – have to be abolished, and is it necessary, after the liberalisation of customs and passenger security controls, to introduce new radioactivity controls? Where are the limits of globalisation?

The answer is: in nature, as Frederick Engels clairvoyantly explained in the reprimand in his “Dialectics of Nature”: “Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us … Thus at every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature … but that we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst…”. If the productive and destructive forces are sufficiently developed – and this is the case in the nuclear age –, economic rationality transforms itself not only into irrationality but into catastrophes.

Read more HERE.

The Ecological Rift Reviewed

John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York
The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth
Monthly Review Press, New York, 2010. 544pp., $17.95 pb
ISBN 9781583672181

Reviewed by Matthijs Krul
Marx and Philosophy
August 30, 2011



In the last few decades, there has been a renewed interest in exploring issues of ecology and sustainability from a Marxist perspective. Partially inspired by the ecological movement more widely, partially by the revival of Marxist economic theory since the 1980s, the topic of 'Marx and ecology' has been given wide attention in a range of publications in recent years.

All three of the authors of the present book have earned their stripes in this field of research, and in particular John Bellamy Foster has been influential in putting ecological questions on the agenda of socialist politics, a tradition that had hitherto often been hostile to the claims of (middle class) 'green' campaigners. That capitalism is incompatible with the demands of our ecosystem and the existence of a self-sustaining environment free from exploitation is now taken for granted by socialists of whatever kind in most of the world, even in China; and yet this is a thought that had largely lain dormant since the period of the Second International.

Its revival in recent years is in many ways for a significant part due to the above authors, and this book can be seen as the culmination of their efforts in the theoretical development of the implications of Marxism for understanding what Marx called the 'metabolism' between mankind and nature. The 'metabolic rift' that capitalism has opened is, according to the authors, due to the incompatibility of the drive for perpetual growth and accumulation with the requirements of the environment as the basis for life.

Read more HERE.

Tar-sands protests go global

By Bill McKibben
The Grist 
September 1, 2011 

Protests in New Zealand

Protests against a proposed tar-sands pipeline, which have already mushroomed into the largest civil disobedience actions in America in many years, broke out across the globe today, with solidarity demonstrations at U.S. and Canadian embassies and consulates on six continents.

In Durban, South Africa, visiting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to cross a picket line thrown up by climate justice campaigners. "We were wearing Barack Obama T-shirts," said organizer Patrick Bond. He said the pickets would continue weekly. In Wellington, New Zealand, 35 campaigners carrying signs that said "We Are All Downstream" and "Don't Tar Canada's Reputation" gathered with an oil-stained flag outside the Canadian embassy. "The Embassy shut down for the afternoon rather than deal with us," said Aaron Packard, Pacific director for the climate campaign

Delegations delivered letters to embassies in Rio de Janeiro, Cairo, Bonn, Mumbai, Sao Paolo, and Lima. "The energy here in front of the White House is amazing, so I'm not surprised it's radiating out across the globe," said Rebecca Tarbotton, executive director of the Rainforest Action Network.

 "It's the first truly global problem we've ever faced, so it makes sense we're building the first truly global movement." Today, 144 protesters were packed into police vans in front of the White House, bringing the total number of people arrested since Aug. 20 to 843. The sit-in in front of the White House will continue through Sept. 3.

"I've been amazed every single day of this protest," said Jamie Henn, who helped organize the protest. "Most of the people here have not only never been arrested at a demonstration, they've never been arrested period. It's tough for them to disobey a policeman and get led away in handcuffs, but people are ever more eager to participate -- and the news from around the world charges them all up."

Ten quick propositions on Climate Change

By Cy Gonick 
Canadian Dimension
August 26th 2011

1.  Profit maximization is the iron rule of capitalism, setting limits to ecological reform. A profit-based economy that requires continuous economic growth makes ecological catastrophes inevitable.

2.  Voluntarism, technological fixes and market incentives as they have been constructed cannot achieve even the weak Green House Gas targets gov­ernments have committed to. Even so, many govern­ments such as ours and that of theUSA, haven’t even initiated these market mechanisms like carbon taxes or cap and trade.

3.  We need to accept that we WILL pass the terrible tipping points that climate scientists like James Han­sen have been talking about for at least a decade now. And that the catastrophes they predict will happen, gradually at first and then rapidly as the feedbacks kick in.

At the Heart of the “Crisis of Civilisation”: The Issue of “Living Well”

By Patrice Cohen-Séat
August, 2011

The crisis of civilisation and the crisis of capitalism are thus closely linked: on the one hand, because capitalism is the product of western civilisation and even of its conception of progress inseparable from “the Enlightenment” and that of “Reason” (which led Geneviève Azam to say that the “rational” should not be confused with the “reasonable”).

This conception of progress is likewise inseparable from the sense of what a human being is and from the way in which “society is produced”, the concept of work and its ends – and more generally the idea of well-being and of the modes of life, all of which today are in the spotlight. On the other hand, because the “crisis” is essentially due to contradictions which are insuperable between capitalism and the indispensible transformations of the existing order (except by overcoming the system itself), it is possible, thus, to say that the crisis is that of Western capitalist civilisation, gradually imposed on the rest of the world, starting with colonialism and now with financial globalisation.