WE IN WORLD IN COMMON . . . Realize that only through mutual respect and solidarity among the groups that make up our political sector can we realize our common goals.
TOGETHER WE HOPE TO ACHIEVE . . . A global network of individuals and groups united by our opposition to capitalism and the state and by our search for practical alternatives.
WE HOLD THAT THE FOLLOWING PRINCIPLES . . . represent the common criteria for eligibility to participate in the World in Common project:
- opposition to all forms of Capitalism (past, present, local, global, state or ‘free market’);
- its replacement by a classless, moneyless world community without borders or states and based upon:
- common ownership and direct democratic control of the means of production;
- a free access ‘use’ economy with production geared towards the satisfaction of human needs; and
- voluntary association, cooperation and the maximization of human creativity, dignity and freedom;
- a recognition that such an alternative society can only be established democratically from the ‘bottom up’ by the vast majority of people, without the intervention of leaders, politicians or ‘vanguards’; and
- a commitment to continue the process of contact and cooperation with other groups in our political sector. This does not mean ignoring that which makes us unique, rather that we should devote time and energy to building on what we have in common.
‘Evolutionary “Pseudo” Psychology?’, contributed by TB, 25 April 2010
‘The Gene’s Eye View of Evolution’ , contributed by TB, 10 February 2008
‘Who can we work with?’, from Discussion Forum, 22 December 2007
See also Discussion archive, 23 December 2007
How long can Indian retailers hold out against Tesco?, The Independent on Sunday, 17 August 2008:
‘India: a nation of frustrated shopkeepers:
Tesco may have finally made its move, but infrastructure problems and restrictive rules are holding retailers back.’ By Richard Orange
The Cement Industry and Global Warming , The Guardian, 12 October 2007
The ‘unheralded polluter’ – with no one protesting as they do over aviation – the cement industry is responsible for over 5% of carbon dioxide emissions, and sees no chance of a green-friendly future.
Will anyone stop the rise of Britain's super-rich? The Independent on Sunday, 4 September 2007
‘With petrol supplies running low, the Bush administration is jumping on the ethanol bandwagon. But this supposed wonder fuel derived from grain is barely making a dent within the inefficient US motor industry.’ Article by Rupert Cornwell, Independent on Sunday, 26 August 2007
Deforestation: The hidden cause of global warming
by Daniel Howden, The Independent, 14 May 2007
‘In the next 24 hours, deforestation will release as much CO2 into the atmosphere as 8 million people flying from London to New York. Stopping the loggers is the fastest and cheapest solution to climate change. So why are global leaders turning a blind eye to this crisis?’
‘Australia: the new 51st state’, John Pilger (New Statesman, 5 March 2007)
‘God. Who knows?’ ‘With religion increasingly polarised, is there any benefit in not knowing if there is a higher power? Mark Vernon - an ex-vicar - explains why agnosticism is his creed.’ (BBC News, 4 December 2006)
Rich countries betraying their obligations to help poor countries protect public health: Five years on, most poor people are yet to benefit from the Doha Declaration (Oxfam Press Release, 14 November 2006) http://www.oxfam.org/en/news/pressreleases2006/pr061114_doha
‘Robert Fisk: A terrible thought occurs to me – that there will be another 9/11’ 05 August 2006
‘One Year Left for the Amazon Rainforest? – Recent droughts have severely stressed the Amazonian rainforest. Computer modelling indicates that if things are not better by next year, “Earth’s lungs” may be damaged to the point that recovery is impossible.’ 26/7/06
‘Eating the Amazon – Brazilian soya beans are feeding Europe’s need for cheap meat substitutes, and are now a bigger threat to the Amazon rainforest than logging or cattle ranching.’ 17/7/06
‘The Israeli-Hezbollah conflict threatens to drag Syria, Iran and the US into a regional war.’
By Firas Al-Atraqchi, in Aljazeera.net, 18 July 2006
‘Palestinian voices: Hamas and Israel.’
By Laila El-Haddad, in Aljazeera. net, Monday 29 May 2006
And here are a few topical items (do send in your suggestions for other suitable pieces ):
1. Easter Sunday – the day we start living off the rest of the world. 15/4/06
2. Google In China: Do Capitalists Put Profit Before Principle? 15/3/06
3. Can the planet survive the transition to socialism? 12/3/06
We welcome contributions and comments from members and supporters from our sector, and from anyone interested in, and wanting to explore, our ideas.
The UK uses more than three times its share of global resources – Britain is ‘one of least self-sufficient developed countries’ (The UK Interdependence Report: New Economics Foundation http://www.neweconomics.org)
Easter Sunday – the day we start living off the rest of the world
Larry Elliott, economics editor Saturday April 15, 2006 http://business.guardian.co.uk/story/0,,1754290,00.html
It’s a couple of days late, but the dinner you eat tonight is the last supper. From tomorrow, Britain starts living off the rest of the world. At midnight, less than a third of the way through the year, the UK ceases to be a self-sufficient country.
So says a report by the New Economics Foundation, which illustrates how Britain’s way of life now depends on sucking in resources from the rest of the world. Without the doctors and nurses from Africa and Asia, the NHS would grind to a halt. Supermarket shelves would be bare without the green beans from Kenya, the cabernet sauvignon from Chile, the braeburn apples from New Zealand.
Nor does Britain just have a deficit in medical personnel and food. Three decades after crude started to gush out of the North Sea, stocks of oil and gas are dwindling fast: the UK became a net importer of energy in 2004. And when it comes to our national game, the foreign dominance at the top level is complete. Half the teams in the Premiership this season would have been putting out six-a-side teams if they were forced to choose from home-grown players; Arsenal will fly the flag for England in the Champions League semi-final this week but they will probably do so without a single player born in the United Kingdom or Ireland in the starting lineup.
Does it matter? NEF says it does. If every country had Britain’s level of consumption, it says, there would need to be not just one world but 3.1 worlds to cope with the demand. At just 22 weeks old, an average British citizen will be responsible for the equivalent emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide that someone in Tanzania will generate in a lifetime.
The UK is not quite in the same league as the US; it would take 5.3 worlds to supply the necessary resources if the 6 billion people on the planet had the same appetite as the 300 million Americans. But Britain’s position has changed radically in the past 45 years and, lacking North America’s natural resources, it goes into what NEF calls “ecological debt” long before the US.
Back in 1961, according to the NEF calculations, the UK could manage until the second half of the year under its own steam. It was July 9 before we started to call on the rest of the world to top up our own efforts. Twenty years later, the end of national self-sufficiency came on May 14; the date this year falls on April 16 – one of the earliest in the developed world.
The Dutch and the Japanese are the first to hit the buffers in terms of sustainability. By the first few days in March, consumers in Amsterdam and Tokyo are starting to live off others. Italy comes next, on April 13, followed by the UK. The Germans manage for themselves until the end of May, and the abundance of natural resources in the US means that Americans are self-sustainable for almost half the year.
France’s support for home-grown production, from camembert to Citroën, ensures that it can fend for itself until July 27, while the Austrians manage until October 1 – almost six months longer than we can in the UK.
The report comes at a time when the environment has moved up the political agenda. Gordon Brown will be making a speech on the environment in New York this week, in which he will seek to show that growth and sustainability are not incompatible.
Andrew Simms, policy director of NEF, said the politicians needed to match their talk with action: “Our rising interdependence with the wider world is a fact, and doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But at the moment the UK is abusing its place in the international scheme of things and setting a standard that is fundamentally unsustainable and cannot be copied without disastrous consequences.”
According to the UK Interdependence Report, the Earth’s biologically productive area in 2002 was approximately 11.2bn hectares. That meant there were 1.8 global hectares a person (assuming that no capacity was set aside for wild species). That, however, was not enough to cope with the demands of humanity, NEF said. In 2002 humanity’s global ecological footprint, was 13.7bn global hectares, or 2.2 global hectares a person – and as a result our ecological footprint exceeded global biocapacity by 0.4 global hectares a person. The world as a whole goes into ecological debt on October 23.
“The human economy is in ecological overshoot: the planet’s ecological stocks are being depleted faster than nature can regenerate them. This means that it is eroding the future supply of ecological resources and operating at the risk of environmental collapse,” the report says.
Not every country is living beyond its means. It would only take less than half the capacity of the Earth to cope if everybody consumed as little as the 1.1 billion Indians, while China is still in credit even after the stupendous growth of the past two decades. That may not last for long. Fewer than one person in 100 in India and China now owns a car, but by 2050 the financial firm Goldman Sachs estimates the figure could be as high as four in 10.
In the meantime, the NEF study shows how poor countries are subsidising the lifestyles of countries such as Britain by exporting not just food and raw materials for industry, but people.
One in 10 (at least 12%) of the doctors trained in India now live in the UK, while the big expansion of the NHS over the past five years would not have been possible without foreign-trained doctors and nurses. According to data from the General Medical Council quoted by the NEF report, 60% of the doctors newly registered in the UK came from outside the European Economic Area – the EU plus countries such as Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.
Education tells a similar story. In 2000 there were 3,200 non-UK teachers working in English schools; by 2004 the number had more than tripled to 11,400. From August 2000 to July 2005 there were 18,564 new work permits issued for teachers.
The thinktank produced an earlier report which calculated that once rising crime and environmental degradation were taken into account, levels of well-being (as opposed to material wealth) had been falling for the past three decades. Happiness, it said, peaked in Britain in the long hot summer of 1976.
“The irony is,” the new report says, “that a large body of evidence shows that increased consumption beyond a level that the UK passed long ago, does nothing to increase our level of well-being. So, having a larger ecological footprint is not even increasing our personal satisfaction.”
Mr Simms said: “We’ve got one planet whose limits of environmental tolerance are flexible, but real. By pushing our ecosystems too far, we’re playing environmental roulette. Every day that we live beyond our means we pull the trigger one more time. We have to ask ourselves, how lucky do we feel, and when are we going to change.”
The UK Interdependence Report: New Economics Foundation http://www.neweconomics.org
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From SLP ‘Google In China’ The People March-April 2006 Vol. 115 No. 6
Google In China: Do Capitalists Put Profit Before Principle?
By Diane Secor
“As the West prospers from China’s economic boom, companies stand accused of putting profit before principle.”—Scottish SUNDAY HERALD (Jan. 29)
Western capitalists generally claim to uphold the principles of democracy and free expression. This is particularly true of those that gather and supply or sell information and entertainment.
Now, however, some human rights groups charge Google and other Western Internet firms with “putting profit before principle” by bowing to the Internet restrictions that China demands as a condition for them to expand their share of the Chinese market. Are the allegations true?
It is no secret that Google is eager to expand its holdings in China’s booming Internet market. Google holds a 2.6 percent share in the Beijing firm Baidu.com Inc., according to Associated Press. (Jan. 24) Google wanted a license from the Beijing regime to establish its own search engine in China, but China required Google to block searches on certain topics and to limit access to certain websites as a precondition for issuing a license to the Mountain View, Calif.-based company. According to the Scottish SUNDAY HERALD report, even searches using the search term “capitalism” are blocked.
Google is not alone. The SUNDAY HERALD reported that during the last 10 years such Western firms as San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems, France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom have contributed to China’s “filtering system.” So many search terms and websites have been blocked by China’s censors that this has been called the “Great Firewall of China.” Worse, the U.S.-based Internet firms AOL and Yahoo have collaborated with China’s police state in the surveillance of Internet users.
China’s Internet police routinely scan the Internet for views and information that the regime does not want people to have access to. This system in China has been used to track down and imprison an estimated 32 reporters and 50 bloggers. These Internet patrols are a branch of what is arguably the world’s largest and most powerful police state, where workers can form no organization independent of state control and dissent of all kinds is ruthlessly crushed.
Despite their pretenses of democratic principles, Western capitalists are lured to China because of potentially profitable deals with Chinese government agencies and companies. By agreeing to China’s restrictions, these Western Internet capitalists indirectly provide a service to other Western capitalists with investments in China. They help to ensure a plentiful pool of cheap labor, where unions organized by workers and strikes are outlawed and where workers’ submission is enforced by an efficient police state! What more could a capitalist want?
Without these filters, Internet communications could be a powerful tool for Chinese workers to communicate with each other and to move toward unity in defense of their class interests. This is not only a threat to the PRC regime, but also to a broad cross section of Western capitalists who have made a killing off the status quo. These restrictions on Internet access become more significant as more workers in China gain Internet access. According to a 2005 Human Rights in China (HRIC) field survey, students and workers, both manual laborers and professionals, are accessing the Internet in Internet cafés. Not surprisingly, websites not available at these Internet cafes include the HRIC website and the website for the Hong Kong-based CHINA LABOUR BULLETIN, which claims to promote “independent and democratic unions in mainland China,” according to the HRIC survey.
Nonetheless, the charge by some human rights groups that Google and other Western Internet firms are “putting profit before principle” is wrong and fundamentally unfair. The allegation is wrong because it proceeds from a false premise. The false premise is that Google has or had some such high-minded principle as democracy, unfettered access to information or free expression to sacrifice. Nothing could be further from the truth. With Google, as with all capitalist endeavors, profit and principle are one and indivisible. Profit IS Google’s principle, its reason for being--its raison d’etre, as the French would say. Disseminating information is only the means to that end.
That and only that is what Google meant when it said that “to operate from China, we have removed some content from the search results in response to local law, regulation or policy.” That and that alone is what it meant when it added: “While removing search results is inconsistent with Google’s mission, providing no information...is more inconsistent with our mission.”
Access to information is what attracts users to the Google search engine. Google users are what attract advertisers to Google, and advertisers are what bring profits home to Google. The saga of Google in China is a prime example of how capitalists rarely, if ever, betray the profit principle.
Can the planet survive the transition to socialism?
By the ‘materialist conception of history’, a key concept in Marxist socialist theory, major social change happens in stages: primitive communism, then chattel slavery, then feudalism, then communism, and then socialism and the end of history. By this prediction/prescription, a socialist society comes about when the world has moved past all the previous stages, the currently dominant one being capitalism, under which technology is supposed to be developing such that there is ‘potential abundance’ to support a society without property or money, where each person takes from the common production according to his/her self-determined needs, and each contributes according to his/her capacities and desires. Lovely! But what if capitalism is putting that ‘potential abundance’ at risk by over-exploiting and polluting what we call ‘resources’? (although ‘resources’ are parts of the planet, which may need them for its survival, in particular fossil fuels are carbon sinks, necessary for keeping the planet cool). In particular,
‘Man’s engineering skills have harnessed the world’s waterways. Now we are paying the price.’ (CM, 12/3/06)
Our Rivers are Drying to Death
Man’s engineering skills have harnessed the world’s waterways. Now we are paying the price. By Geoffrey Lean
The Independent on Sunday, 12 March 2006 http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article350786.ece
The delta of the great Colorado River – where once it swept into the Gulf of California – used to be the most wonder-filled wetland in the whole North American continent.
Some 400 species of plants and animals – including jaguars, beaver and the world’s smallest dolphin- thronged its 3,000 square miles of wetlands, lagoons and tidal pools. The local people made a good living fishing its teeming waters. Now it has become a forbidding desert of salt flats and giant heaps of dead clamshells. The fishing boats have been long since beached; the destitute people have to seek what work they can in wheat fields and tortilla factories far away.
The reason for the transformation is not hard to find. Not a drop of the mighty river which once carved the Grand Canyon now flows through the delta to the sea. It has all been used upstream – to slake the thirst of cities such as Tucson, Arizona, feed fountains in Las Vegas, green golf courses and irrigate farmland. Such water as remains in the delta has flowed in from the sea.
It is much the same story in that other great river of the American south-west, the Rio Grande. This does not merely fail to reach the sea: it disappears for much of its length. The atlases tell us it is one of the 20 longest rivers in the world, but in reality it stops some 800 miles inland at El Paso, Texas, which takes all its water. For the next 200 miles or so there is just a dribble of sewage in its old river bed, and even this often dries up in summer. Local people call it “the forgotten river”. The dry channel does not come alive again until a relatively healthy tributary, the River Conchos, joins it from Mexico. For the rest of its length, as it forms the boundary between the two nations, it should, in justice, be called the Conchos, not the Rio Grande. But even this is quickly used up, mainly to irrigate farmland, and often fails to make it through to the Gulf of Mexico.
It is much the same story right across the world. China’s Yellow River, the fifth longest in the world is in trouble at both ends. Its source in the Tibetan plateau is drying up – and for most of the past 35 years it has failed to reach the sea all year round.
Similarly, despite the words of the spiritual, the River Jordan is far from “deep and wide”. In practice it ends at the Sea of Galilee, where Israeli engineers have blocked the outflow and piped the water to irrigate fields and supply Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Such water as flows down the Jordan valley again comes from a tributary, the River Yarmuk. But it cannot really do the job. In biblical times the valley carried a billion cubic metres of water every year; now it has to make do with less than a tenth of that. The ugly truth is that the river – sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims – is now mainly made up of diluted sewage.
It is the same for river after famous river. The lower reaches of the Nile used to carry 32 billion cubic metres of water a year; now they are down to two billion. The Indus in Pakistan – “ Asia’s Nile” – similarly has lost 90 per cent of its water in the last 60 years. Australia’s Murray River fails to reach the sea every other year.
Even in Europe, Germany’s River Elbe has run so dry that it frequently becomes impassable to barge traffic for months at a time – and three years ago river traffic almost completely stopped on the Rhine. In Britain the Environment Agency regularly sounds the alarm about our chalk rivers and streams – which gave birth to the sport of fly-fishing. Dozens of them dry up every summer, and 40 of the 160 in the country are officially under threat.
The writer Fred Pearce, who has published a groundbreaking book on the crisis of the world’s rivers, says: “The maps in an atlas no longer accord with reality. The old geography lessons about how rivers emerged from mountains, gathered water from tributaries and finally disgorged their bloated flows into the oceans are now fiction.”
The UN-backed World Commission on Water for the 21st Century reported: “More than one half of the world’s major rivers are being seriously depleted and polluted”.
There are two main culprits; abstraction of water for rivers – usually after damming them – and global warming.
The world has, on average, built two giant dams a day, every day, for the past 50 years. Now 45,000 of them span the world’s rivers. Every one of the world’s 20 longest rivers is encumbered by them.
In many ways it all began on the Colorado, 70 years ago, with the Hoover Dam, the great symbol of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Today, the dams intercept more than a third of the world’s freshwater as it flows towards the sea and at any one time are holding back 15 per cent of it.
The UN’s triennial World Water Development Report, published for a international conference in Mexico City this week, cautions that damming has “hugely changed the natural order of rivers worldwide.” It goes on: “Humanity has embarked on a huge ecological engineering project with little or no preconception – or indeed full present knowledge – of the consequences. We have sought to redesign and impose a new order on natural planetary systems, built over aeons of time.”
Dams waste massive amounts of water. In hot, dry regions, they lose about 10 per cent of their reservoirs to evaporation every year: much more is lost in irrigation. Global warming is making things even worse. The source of the Yellow River is drying out as glaciers retreat. And a great drought in the southwestern United States – so intense that even cacti are wilting – is exacerbating the crisis of the Colorado and the Rio Grande.
It is even endangering relatively healthy rivers. The Amazon, relatively unencumbered by great dams, was hit by the worst drought on record last year: water levels fell by 10 metres and boats were stranded. And salmon are endangered in Alaska’s Yukon River because its waters are too warm.
This will only get worse as the world goes on heating up, making the desert delta of the Colorado just a foretaste of the rivers of the future.
Length: 4,000 miles
Famous as: Source of some of world’s richest habitats
Problems: Depleted by a record drought last year. Widespread deforestation
Verdict: Largely undammed and rescuable
Length: 2,900 miles
Famous as: Carries most silt
Problems: Source is drying out and river now usually fails to reach the sea
Verdict: Attempts at rescue. Task immense
Length: 104 miles
Famous as: Holy river
Problems: Effectively ends below the Sea of Galilee. Site where Jesus was baptised now a pool of sewage
Verdict: Hardly exists, damage seems terminal
Length: 1,900 miles
Famous as: Border river
Problems: Now two rivers, split by 250-mile dry section