19 Aug 2013
'heads of state, parliaments, tribunals, armed forces, police and mass media are just tools of the big transnational corporations. just tools of the big transnational corporations'
This is an editorial from the indigenous leader Hugo Blanco translated from his newspaper Lucha Indigena (Indigenous Struggle)
THE STRUGGLE IS THE WAY FORWARD
In Peru and other parts of the world the great majority of people are coming to realize that the heads of state, parliaments, tribunals, armed forces, police and mass media are just tools of the big transnational corporations.
Increasingly, they understand that the corporations, with the legal system and media at their service, have no other goal than to amass the greatest possible wealth as quickly as possible. Big capital is aware that this goal demands a merciless attack on the majority of humanity and the environment. Toward this end, the corporations are prepared to exercise a dictatorship that oppresses the people in ever more severe ways, all done in the name of "democracy". They tell us that this must be according to the norms that they set, that only then can the situation be brought under control.
The people's response to this is that it does not and cannot work, and they go into the streets in a great variety of protest actions, sweeping aside the rules set by their oppressors. They show their collective strength and force the enemy to retreat. Turkey, Brazil and Chile are all rumbling.
Edward Snowden unmasks the world's most powerful government, that of the USA. He shows that it spies illegally not only everyone in its own country but on its closest allies' politicians and diplomats. In going after Snowden, the American government tramples on international diplomatic norms and forces the governments on which it spies to kneel before it.
In Peru we see scandalous demonstrations of the corruption of big capital's minions: amnesties for drug traffickers sold by Alan García, Toledo's inexplicable fortune, disbursement by parliament of posts on the Constitutional Tribunal, Public Defender's office and Central Reserve Bank, the payment of millions in bonds from the agrarian reform to the Peruvian Bank of Credit by functionaries of that same bank, etc.
While the millions flow upward, the poor are crushed under laws established by the corrupt. State workers sink under the Service Law -- which would better be called the Servile Law -- which takes away their job security, their right to unionize and collective bargaining. The University Reform Law reduces university to dependence on the executive branch, big capital's servants. They aim to revive mandatory military service, but only for the poor. They claim that there is no money to pay soldiers even the minimum wage, with no mention of the scandalous salaries and privileges of high-ranking officers directly serve their corporate masters.
The term "small and middle businesses" (PYMES) is stretched like rubber to the benefit of capitalists who keep the workers in poverty by taking away their rights "in aid of small and middle enterprises". There is special legislation to decrease the rights of farm workers to a dreadful extent "in aid of agricultural exports". These exports are in the hands of transnational corporations that rob water and land from the small farmers that provide us with wholesome food.
Open-pit mining is one thing that we at Lucha Indígena consistently condemn. This industry, in the hands of huge transnational corporations, represents a savage attack on the environment by depleting and poisoning the water needed by small agriculture. Hydroelectric plants in the service of the mines displace native people and peasants from the land that supports them and feeds the people of Peru. The extraction of hydrocarbons degrades the Amazon and kills native people. Although the International Labor Organization's convention 169 mandates prior consultation with native communities, this is disregarded. The government does not even bother with its usual pretence of compliance.
This corruption and oppression are nothing new. What is new is that the poor are saying "Enough!" and are starting to move. The people are certain that it is their struggle that has forced a retreat in the corrupt distribution of government posts. The poor are increasingly aware that the way forward lies in struggle.
The urban populace is now adopting the approach that has worked against the murderous mining enterprises in Tambogrande, Ayabaca, Hunacabamba, Cocachacra and Puno.
We should note that many struggles have as their goal not just the well-being of the sectors directly involved in their organization. Rather, they stand to benefit the wider society. Workers fighting for safe drinking water are also fighting against privatization of this resource. The port workers are fighting to strengthen state ports. Petroleum workers, likewise, are fighting to strengthen the state-owned enterprise. Medical doctors and others in the health sector are fighting to strengthen health care for everyone.
Some sectors are progressing faster than others, such as the workers in Argentina and other countries that have occupied their factories and are running them democratically for collective benefit.
This is a beginning.
The partial victories in popular struggles are gradually convincing broader and broader sectors of society of where the struggle should go. It must lead to humanity taking the future into its own hands in a truly horizontal, democratic fashion. This will be accomplished by taking power out of the hands of the transnationals that now rule the world and are threatening humanity with extinction.
18 Aug 2013
Lord Howell suggests we should frack in the 'desolate North East'.
Emily Blyth from Sunderland and a member of the Green Party executive has a musical reply to Lord Howell:
Find a world with unlimited water, Where pollution is useful and rare,
Where earthquakes don't pose any danger, And go fracking there
Where climate change won't make a difference, A planet with nothing to lose,
Take your drills and your poisons and go there, And frack all you choose.
find me a planet where there's no other way
No wind and no sun shining day after day
Where the tides may flow out, but they never flow back,
That's where you should frack.
Find a world where there's nobody living, The landscapes are empty and bare,
No habitats needing protection, And go fracking there.
If no one is drinking the water, And nobody's breathing the air,
You can churn up the earth all you want to and no one will care,
So go fracking there.
16 Aug 2013
The local population of the quiet village of Balcombe in Sussex have erupted into protest.
The cause of this upheaval is energy firm Cuadrilla, which has been conducting exploratory drilling in the area.
Cuadrilla is looking to extract shale oil through the controversial process of fracking, which involves drilling into the earth and splitting shale deposits to release oil or gas.
For the locals in Balcombe the environmental consequences are appalling.
A cocktail of toxic chemicals are used in the fracking process and have the potential to get into the water table.
In 2011 fracking in Lancashire, also conduced by Cuadrilla, was halted after earth tremors.
You don't need a PhD in geology to realise that splitting rocks underground increases the risk of earthquakes.
And fracking has even been linked to lung cancer. In the US evidence has emerged that fine sands used in the process can cause silicosis. Workers will die unless levels are controlled.
But there is one fact above all others that clinches the argument against fracking.
In May the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii found that daily atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide had passed the 400 parts per million mark. This is the highest level of the climate changing gas since the Pliocene 2.6 million years ago.
A target of 350ppm has been set by international agreement to prevent disastrous climate change that will lead to extreme weather events like hurricanes, the destruction of crops and a litany of other ill effects.
So how has "the greenest government" responded? What concern has David Cameron shown, given his previous predilections for hugging huskies and advocating ecological energy?
Well he has effectively said: "Burn baby burn," and is seeking to drive carbon dioxide levels even higher.
Cameron and George Osborne love fracking. Osborne has given tax cuts to encourage fracking companies, while Cameron has argued that it is our patriotic duty to support this new energy alternative, claiming that it has the potential to reduce energy imports.
But the promise that it will cut energy bills for families seems unlikely.
We don't own the energy companies - they are run for profit and given a near monopoly in Britain. We know that if costs fall, profits will rise.
Take water companies for example. They provide us with water, which is often plentiful in Britain, but pass the costs on to consumers.
Likewise if rail costs fell, it is unlikely that the first priority for billionaire train operators like Richard Branson would be to pay drivers more and give us cheap tickets.
Quite simply Cameron wants to make sure that we make our contribution to disaster. It is our "national duty" to try and make the future unliveable for future generations.
So do we need to frack? The answer is No.
The TUC has shown with its One Million Green Jobs campaign that wind, waves, solar power and other renewables can produce plenty of clean energy.
This isn't energy which is extracted at huge cost to workers, customers and the environment but energy that is good for us and can be sustained for generation after generation.
Many commentators have argued that fracking is starving the renewable sector of investment.
Even KPMG, which is hardly a bastion of ecosocialism, isn't keen. It has argued that fracking doesn't have much potential in Europe and that shale gas will be more expensive than in the US, where its use has recently taken off.
The simple truth is that to fight climate change we have to extract less carbon.
Britain could lead the way in this - we have abundant wind and waves.
Instead Cameron and Osborne shame us all. Their attitude is to ignore climate change and its ill effects on future generations because they want to appeal to right-wing reactionary Ukip voters.
To halt climate change will require good politics and responsible governance.
In Britain we currently have neither. Politics is increasingly a game for corporate elites who seek to shape the policy agenda for immediate profit rather than long-term benefit.
Governance is an alien concept for neoliberal politicians - if by governance we mean the careful management of resources to maximise shared social benefit.
One gets the impression that if he could get away with it Cameron would give away free packets of cigarettes to 14-year-olds to get them hooked on the habit.
He and Osborne, I suspect, would frack their grandmothers' gardens such is their love of this poisoned power.
The Green Party has long opposed fracking and our South East MEP Keith Taylor has worked hard to support the community in Balcombe.
Our MP Caroline Lucas and our leader Natalie Bennett have also been down to provide support.
And I will be visiting Balcombe this weekend to join the Reclaim the Power camp and debate clean energy alternatives with Chris Baugh of the PCS and TSSA leader Manuel Cortes.
However it is never enough to say "vote Green." I would love other political parties like Labour to follow our anti-fracking lead.
We need to stop fracking by winning the argument and resisting the drillers.
We can become educated to the terrible cost of climate change and the dangers of fracking and also support non-violent direct action.
From the days of the campaign to win the vote for working-class men and then women, direct action has been shown to be important.
Mass non-payment worked to stop Thatcher's poll tax. In the 1990s the biggest roads programme since the Romans was halted from devastating the countryside by groups like Reclaim the Streets setting up protest camps.
Fracking can be halted but this will require focused action - and campaigners in Balcombe are showing the way.
Derek Wall is international co-ordinator of the Green Party of England and Wales
For more information about the Reclaim the Power camp visit www.nodashforgas.org.uk/campinfo/
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