December 20, 2009

System Change - its has started

'El sentido del momento historico es cambiar todo lo que debe ser cambiado'.

Translation: 'The meaning of the historic moment is to change all that needs to be changed'.

The Copenhagen Climate Conference should have been cancelled. After all they have had 20 years to sort out the issues – the meeting should have been merely to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. This sloppy approach of not doing the preparation on so important an issue as the collective future of the human race makes us wonder just how thorough our leaders are in their approach to any other issue.

Copenhagen was not a complete loss. If you read between the lines it is possible to see that change is in the offing. The smaller nations have begun to find their feet; the African nations have at last found common ground and have spoken with one voice; the South American nations have discovered their strength and will not grind under the bidding of their northern continental counterparts. No longer will these groups tolerate the wilful injustice of unfair trade agreements and the absurdly patronising behaviour of the developed world – developed, of course by the sweat and blood of disempowered peoples who have only seen themselves get poorer on the back of aid, the World Bank, the IMF and the rest of the corporate scavengers.

Around the world people who once looked (misguidedly) to the US for inspiration or support are taking matters into their own hands. No one is waiting for the US to save or even support them anymore. The signs are everywhere, but particularly in Copenhagen, where smaller nations and a more organised global NGO community are standing up to the old powers with unprecedented force.

However, nobody in Copenhagen actually mentioned the cause of the problems humanity faces – poverty, or any real solutions such as interest-free loans for all forms of productive capacity.
It is lamentable to see that not one country is prepared to re-route their budget for war and armaments to sustainable energy development aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

There are also interesting signs surround the conflict in the Middle East. The European Union is suddenly asserting its diplomatic weight by demanding Israeli recognition of East Jerusalem as Palestinian, and refusing to support unilateral Israeli border-drawing in the West Bank. Palestinians are slowly taking responsibility for resistance back into their own hands, literally taking apart sections of the Separation Wall piece by piece rather than waiting for Hamas or the Palestinian Authority to make yet another ineffectual move.

Such a multi-layered, often disorganised collection of movements will remain too amorphous and hard to define ever to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. But if this new and subtle attack on the old and outdated systems finds the strength to continue, it just might usher in the paradigm shift that is necessary.

Today's climatologists are fighting major interests such as the oil, gas and beef industries in much the same way physicians were fighting the tobacco lobby in the 1960s. The evidence that nicotine caused lung diseases such as cancer was overwhelming, but the tobacco industry's strategy was to discredit scientists as "uncertain and greedy and full of junk science,"

Many of the most prominent climate sceptics are not climatologists themselves. Steve Milloy, who runs the popular website Junk Science, has ties with the oil, tobacco and pharmaceutical industries. Craig Idso, the founder of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, is a geographer partially funded by energy interests; and the glutinous and patronising Lord Monckton is a business consultant in the UK who studied classics and journalism at university.

Despite the worldwide media attention, however, many of us are still stuck on a very basic question: Is global warming real; and if it is, have humans caused it? Ideology and big industry money fuels much of the popular debate. We only know that humans are fouling the planet on a massive scale, and that this is wrong.

In the scientific community, the consensus is nearly unanimous. Nearly all of the world's scientists say decades of careful study show that climate change is, indeed, a fact, and that it has been driven by human activity.

Delegates may have ‘taken note’ on the Copenhagen Climate outcome, but many would be advised to take note of the change in attitude of the developing nations.

December 12, 2009

Herding Cats

Copenhagen is upon us, and it brings with it an even greater muddle of thoughts than Kyoto.

Our science in the matter of climate change is in its infancy. Yet we are dealing not with pure science, but with a type of scientific materialism enacted by means of a philosophically prejudiced control over the interpretations. *

What we can be sure of is that humankind’s ability to pollute its very foundation of existence – the planet Earth – has been a gathering trend since the advent of the industrial revolution.

Only humans, only humans have invested in the power to create such toxicity, such fearful and hideous by-products of selfishness that they are prepared to create poisons that will pollute the earth for hundreds of thousands of years to come. No-one knows the solution to nuclear waste, yet we are prepared to bury it in the ground, sink it in the sea, and absolve ourselves from any responsibility for it. Who knows whether future generations can discover the way to neutralise this radio-active waste? Who knows if they will even know where it languishes?

The rivers of China are devastated, running orange and filthy for hundreds of miles. The Niger Delta is steeped in chemical waste so foul that the water is undrinkable and the fish are dead. The tar sands of Canada are the world's biggest single industrial source of carbon emissions. The list is endless and the cause is always the same – consumerism. Profit before the planet every time; profit for the few –and we buy it.

The current pseudo-system is no longer tolerable – and it never was viable. Nevertheless those who are currently in power are not inclined to deal with, at root, the global systemic breakdown. Many continue to complain that while the waters, the air and the land are daily becoming more overwhelmingly polluted, that there is some necessary (and action-preventing) controversy to be engaged relative to whether global warming is a reality or not. But the evidence is irrefutable. The Earth is being polluted and the cause is human.*

Glaciers are retreating, seas are warming, ice caps are melting. Does it make sense to keep on polluting?

The solutions to real or perceived climate change are the same as the solutions to poverty and social justice. In a fairer world where individual human beings can share in the same economic advantages, where profiteering at the expense of the poor and the disenfranchised would be minimised, where locally based economies could prosper and retain their prosperity instead of filling the pockets of distant owners, people would be cushioned from the effects of global recession and be more mindful of the polluting side effects of their endeavours.

Vast amounts of untapped renewable energy like wind, tidal and solar power exist in every country, yet investment has been miniscule compared with the trillions put into propping up the antiquated and dirty fossil fuel industry.

The herding of cats to Copenhagen will at best decide a plan to curb carbon emissions and send a charitable financial leg-up to developing countries. But it will never in a month of Sundays solve the root problems of economic and social injustice.

*Taken from Not-Two Is Peace by Adi Da

For more details on the Canadian tar sands:

For more about Shell polluting the Niger Delta:

Out of sight and out of mind?

Military waste is generally toxic and costly to dispose of safely, so the solution has usually been to dump it in the sea where it can keep company with nuclear waste. At the end of the Second World War Britain had over 2 million tons of munitions - artillery shells, phosphorus flares, mortars, incendiaries and cluster bombs and so on, to get rid of.

It was dumped in Beaufort Dyke, and this 30-mile long trench between Scotland and Ireland became a major military dumping ground for 30 years thereafter. 14,000 tonnes of phosgene-filled rockets, 120,000 tonnes of UK-manufactured mustard gas and 17,000 tonnes of the German nerve gas Tabun were just a small part of the wide variety of munitions dumped.
Out of sight and out of mind? But not for long - in 1995, 4,000 phosphorus incendiary bombs from Beaufort Dyke were washed up on Mull, Oban, Arran and other parts of Scotland's west coast. That is just the beginning. Do you eat fish?

For the full story

November 22, 2009

Sustainability is the only issue.

‘Fear not those who argue but those who dodge’

Sustainability is the only issue. It’s up to governments and it’s up to the people to sort it out.

When the House of Commons was debating whether or not to sign up to the 10:10 agreement – i.e. to decrease their organisational carbon footprint by 10% - the debate descended into a party political point scoring exercise which led nowhere and certainly did not lead to a commitment to decrease consumption by 10%. This is arrogance we do not have time for.

Conventional political and economic policies are destroying the very foundations of the well-being of humans and other animals. Our culture is in the grip of a value system which is fundamentally flawed. Humanity has been lording it over the natural environment, blind to the fact that humanity is just another dependent upon it. Soon humanity will be at the mercy of it.

Government policies should see to it that all human activities are indefinitely sustainable and protect the interests of the powerless against the powerful.
The current alarming situation regarding biofuels as a replacement for fossil fuels is merely a symptom of the rot. The clearing of virgin forest for monoculture palm oil production is lunacy. Rain forest is being cleared, ancient wetlands drained and indigenous peoples are being dispossessed of their lands.

Biofuels contribute substantially more to greenhouse gas emissions than is saved by burning slightly less fossil fuels, yet the European demand for biofuels (the EU target is 10% by 2020), coupled with sizable financial incentives to developers, is pushing up commodity prices and encouraging multi-billion dollar investment in infrastructure and refineries linked to large scale deforestation. The impact of this behaviour could be irreversible.

A paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in February shows that the climate change we cause today “is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop”. Around 40% of the carbon dioxide produced by humans this century will remain in the atmosphere until at least the year 3000. Moreover, thanks to the peculiar ways in which the oceans absorb heat from the atmosphere, global average temperatures are likely to “remain approximately constant … until the end of the millennium despite zero further emissions”.

The Copenhagen summit is squaring up to be yet another talking shop. Government has failed us.

We do not have to add to the problem. Sign up at and reduce your own carbon emissions. Where were you when we reached the tipping point? Will you tell your children that you did everything in your power to stop climate change?

November 18, 2009

‘Forty acres and a mule’

The promise of forty acres and a mule was made to freed slaves after the American Civil War. It was a grand promise, but the supply of land was not infinite, and the promise was broken.

The land - the thing which by rights should not be owned, the thing which is integral to our existence. The land is our planet, our food, our home, and the greatest natural resource of all. In itself it is not wealth. It is a necessity.

The UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: "Everyone has the right to own property individually as well as in association with others." There is no ambiguity here. It says ‘everyone’. Yet not everyone has the means to exercise that right.

There's no free land. Does that mean the earth has run out of room? It would, if we could show that all the available land was being efficiently used, but that is certainly not the case. The most valuable land in this mad world offers no mineral riches and will yield no crops: the world's most valuable land (in monetary terms) is urban land. In the wealthiest cities, large areas of valuable land lie idle, as their owners wait for higher prices in the future. Meanwhile, millions go hungry. Huge farms grow feed for animals, or crops for export and fuel whilst their neighbours starve. Agribusiness receives payment to hold fields out of use to "stabilize" food prices. Investors discover that producing wealth is far less profitable than simply holding onto valuable real estate and, later, pocketing its increased value.

The supply of land is fixed. There will never be any more of it. And land is needed for all production. As an economy becomes more productive, as technology and trade allow greater yield for the same effort - the demand for land increases, yet the supply stays the same. We cannot create more land. This means that the share of wealth taken by landowners automatically gets bigger whenever the total economy grows. There is, therefore, a built-in incentive in our system to hold land for speculative purposes.

It is the community which gives value to land - the people who live nearby and who travel past it; the public infrastructure that is built to feed it and the huge demand for resources that lie beneath it. As the community grows, so does the value of the land.

Proximity to transportation is a prime determinant of land value. It's a gift to landowners. All public services and infrastructure and the resultant increased value to land is nothing short of a gift from taxpayers to landowners – a rip off, one might say.

Henry George looked at this problem and saw a solution. As society grows more complex, it develops a greater need for public goods and services and the bill is always shouldered by the hapless taxpayer. If the community has created this added value to the land, it makes sense that the value should somehow be returned back to the community.

He looked at the tortured logic of "broad-based taxation" (such as income tax, sales tax and vat, excise taxes, lotteries, import duties, death duties etc) which impacts more heavily on the poorer members of society than those who are wealthy, and found that there is only one fair and efficient source of public revenue: all taxes must be done away with, and the value of land must be taken for public revenue. Yes, tax the value of land.

A reform such as this would improve efficiencies – it would simplify the tax system, remove the burden of taxation from production and individuals and minimise the waste of unused land.

In this way, full use of existing properties would be encouraged, the practice of people speculating on the price of sites whilst keeping the properties empty or derelict thoroughly discouraged.

Such a reform would be fair – the infrastructure which increases the value of land would be paid for by the owners of the land itself and not through penalisation and taxation of the ordinary woman and man. It would not be taking anything away from landowners, but simply asking them to pay their share towards the infrastructure which is directly making them more wealthy. Profits would rightly come from using the land effectively.

The earth is not owned by anyone. It is precious and must be held in trust for all people, and all life, as a means for survival. Lindy Davis at

November 05, 2009

The White Poppy Campaign

The poppy commemorates those who have died in war. The tradition was started by American teacher Moina Bell Michael, who sold silk poppies to friends to raise money for the ex-service community. In 1920 the poppy was proclaimed the national emblem of remembrance in the US, and in the UK, the first poppy day was in 1921.

Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow famously refuses to wear a poppy on air, reportedly saying he does not want to bow to "poppy fascism''.

Purple poppies are worn in remembrance of the animals which died in war. In World War One alone, around 8 million horses, mules and donkeys died. Today, dolphins and sea lions are trained and employed by the US Government for minesweeping ‘duties’.

White poppies date from 1933, when the Women's Co-operative Guild wanted a lasting symbol for peace and an end to all wars. But the Royal British Legion refused to be associated with their manufacture, and so the Co-operative Wholesale Society took on production. The intention was not to offend the memory of those who died in the Great War, but feelings ran so high that some women lost their jobs in the 1930s for wearing white poppies. The intention today is still supportive of our armed forces, but not of the wrong-minded politics which lead them to war.

White poppies today are a symbol of those who do not subscribe to the hypocrisy of praying for peace while preparing for war. They are worn in Peace and Remembrance and the wearers show an intention to move society beyond the scars of history to a positive future free from war.

They were young and went heavy to battle
They fell, unsure who was the foe
With compassion and love
We transcend the past
To the peace they desired
Our last heroes of war

Move beyond the scars of history with the White Poppy Campaign this weekend, and wear your poppy for Peace and Remembrance lest we forget the way forward.

Wear your white poppy with compassion and love.
White poppies can be purchased at

What you didn’t now about war

October 31, 2009

'Slaves lose everything in their chains, even the desire of escaping from them.

Things have to change, and one of them is capitalism.

The word ‘capitalism’ invokes an ideology which places a higher value on things (capital) than human beings (labour). A tiny number of individuals own the vast bulk of capital assets. The majority own little or nothing except their labour, and the price of that is out of their control. It is a type of slavery.

The earliest form of capitalism was called "mercantilism", and originated the Middle East. Mercantilism is roughly defined as the distribution of goods in order to realize a profit. Arabic cultures living on the great trading routes had a long history of mercantilism. The medieval Europeans essentially learned mercantilism from their Islamic neighbours and the great European voyages of discovery were entirely driven by mercantile ambitions. As time went on, mercantilism gradually evolved into economic practices which have come to be known as capitalism.

We tend to define capitalism as an economic and social system in which the means of production – tools, factories, land and infrastructure –are privately controlled. The use of human labour combined with this means of production produces goods and services which are then sold. The resultant profits are distributed to the owners or invested back into technologies and industries.

Early advocates of the use of markets did not expect the pure market mechanism to be a freestanding performer of excellence, nor did they take the profit motive to be all that was needed. The failure of free markets lies in the things that the market leaves undone. The present economic crisis has been generated by an irrational overestimation of the wisdom of market forces.

However you define it, there are truly serious defects in the existing economic arrangements and a desperate need to reform them. Capitalism is often confused with "free markets" or "democracy," but whatever we choose to call it, the thing we have is little short of an unstable, conflict-prone and class-divided society. The poor are getting poorer, the rich richer.

Marx originally aligned himself with the burgeoning capitalists, but parted from them because he thought they had become too weak.
Martin Luther King wrote: True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
Louis Kelso used the term "universal capitalism" to describe a free market system where capital would be shared by the overwhelming majority of the population.

We need a revolution to fundamentally change the nature of capitalism. Our system is weighed down by entrenched privilege. If we want more of the same all we have to do is nothing. If we want change we have to wake up and get to work.

The successful exceptions give clues as to how we can move forward towards greater economic justice - the co-operative societies and the Employee Share Ownership Schemes (ESOPS) where broad-based asset ownership by the workforce provide profits for all.

Capitalism – or whatever term you would like to use - has put a lot of food in a lot of mouths, but the benefits have not been dealt out equally. This can only be remedied by a sea change in policies. Workforce ownership in the means of production provides a neat stepping stone to a more just economic future. Unearned benefits from land-use can be shared amongst all the community.

But the benefits go beyond economics. Co-operatives, partnerships and ESOPS will also bring greater corporate responsibility because the decision making process would no longer rest in the hands of the elite few who consider themselves above the law. The working woman and man would collectively make more humane decisions. They would identify with the other ordinary working people whom any decision might affect. Would employee-owned oil producers knowingly dump toxic waste on their fellows in another country? Would partnership- owned factories choose dirty power over clean power?

If you don’t stand up, you might as well lay down.

Black communities across the USA have been savaged by the economic crisis. Black unemployment is twice that of whites - that means 40%. Millions of families are going backwards to homelessness and insecurity. Downward mobility is now a mass phenomenon.

"Banksters" are reporting super profits and giving out obscene bonuses. Their lobbyists are blocking new regulations and presiding over the largest transfer of wealth in history from the working poor to the super rich. Today, there are bank branches in almost every area - except the poorest ones where pay-day lenders reign with usury on their mind and in their interest rates.

When it comes to credit, the poor pay more - and the banks know it and profit from it. Fraud is their middle name and they need to be challenged in the courts and in the streets.

October 25, 2009

Wanted - More Thinking Citizens

"We don't fear the unknown. We fear how the unknown might cause us to re-evaluate the known."

Our political institutions cannot progress if we do not produce a greater number of thinking citizens. Everyone can and must decide for themselves whether the education they received, or are getting is fit for purpose. If you are not satisfied, it is up to you to do something about it. COEXIST is opening the doors to thought a little bit wider. We have developed constructive dialogue with many of our members and together we are broadening our horizons and discussing the steps which need to be taken to create a more just world.

At COEXIST we believe that the mainstays to a truly Peaceful society will be economic justice, social justice and environmental justice. Without these aspects in place, living in a world of limited violence will not be sustainable. A society seeking peace, whilst striving to have a positive influence on events abroad, must primarily attend to domestic issues. The individual at the heart of the equation has the responsibility of checking the excesses of their own institutions and encouraging positive attitudes.

We are in this world together – all of us. We have the responsibility of building the future we would like to see. It starts in our own heads.


With so many new people joining COEXIST, we thought it was time for a quick refresher of our goals:

Economic Justice

The ultimate purpose of economic justice is to free every individual from the tyranny of greed and allow everyone the opportunity to take part in the world economy without fear of exploitation. It means the abolition of unfair economic institutions, controlling monopolies and unfair trade. It means creating economic strategies which allow individuals freedom to pursue activities beyond the pressing needs of income generation and to engage in the unlimited work of life-building, childrearing and self advancement. It means protecting the rights of the individual to organize and to receive a living wage for their work.

Social Justice

Bound inextricably to economic justice is social justice. This is about developing fair systems of co-operation which span the generations and enable a bedrock of equality and fairness in all that we do. Social justice also imposes on each of us a personal responsibility to work with others to design and continually perfect our institutions as tools for personal and social development. It means operating within the values of compassion and respect. Society can only be just if individuals and institutions are just.

Environmental Justice

Environmental justice is a matter of life and death. Affluent nations plunder the resources of countries with little bargaining power. Often the result is brutal poverty, poisoned land and polluted waterways. Environmental justice requires that every individual has the same degree of protection from health hazards, and equal access to the decision -making processes affecting them. It means allowing only sustainable developments, respecting the resources we have and treating the natural world with the same compassion we would afford to each other

Veterans for Peace

Mike Ludwig spoke publicly yesterday advocating for exhausted US active duty forces and for the returning vets of Iraq/Afghanistan. There are 18 suicides a day among the veterans; 1,000 additional vets a month attempt suicide; 1 in 3 women soldiers are raped - by their fellow male g.i.'s - and 33% of returning vets need treatment for PTSD and TBI. Think hard President Obama. These are people, not robots.

October 16, 2009

Better to Sweat in Peace than Bleed in War

Hopeless barbaric slaughter

The violent nature and controversial social effects of war raise troubling moral questions for a thoughtful person. Is war always wrong? Might there be situations when it can be a justified? Is war an outcome of unchangeable human nature or of changeable social practice?

War is a phenomenon which occurs between political communities and it seems that all warfare is precisely, and ultimately, about governance. Carl von Clausewitz the (so-called) philosopher of war famously suggested that war is “the continuation of policy by other means”. Governance by bludgeon might be a better way of putting it.

We all had high hopes going into the new millennium in 2000. In many communities the midnight bells were followed by John Lennon’s call to peace -“Imagine”. Within a year Afghanistan was invaded. Within 2 years the US and UK went with the utmost belligerency into a war on Iraq. The Lancet estimated that 601,000 people were killed in Iraq between 2003 and 2006. The rule of non-combatant immunity has been replaced by the heartless term ‘collateral damage’.

Can there be such a thing as a just war when aggression is defined as the use of armed force in violation of someone else's basic rights? Aggression attacks the very spine of human civilization. Is it not absurd to punish someone for an offense they have yet to commit? International law forbids pre-emptive strikes unless they are clearly authorized in advance by the UN Security Council.

The just causes most frequently mentioned include self-defence from external attack and the protection of innocents from brutal regimes. Terrorism is the use of random violence against civilians with the specific intent of spreading fear throughout a population and advancing a political objective. Terrorism is not overcome by killing the same innocents which the notion of a just war is professed to protect.

The nature of humans is formed by their experiences and education. This is changeable. Unless practical and effective alternatives to violence are offered, policy-makers without imagination will always tend to favour the default method (violence), borne from historical teaching rather than future planning.

Military approaches to conflict have limited use and often make the underlying problem worse. They are also very expensive. For every dollar spent globally on conflict prevention and conflict resolution by non-military means, nearly 2,000 times as much is spent on defence and the military. The average direct cost of one violent conflict is $64 billion. With just a fraction of that sum, violence could be nipped in the bud, thousands of lives saved and many millions in post-conflict reconstruction costs avoided.

Since the early 1990s more wars have ended by negotiated settlement than by military victory, and yet the chances of violent conflicts restarting are still almost 50%. Ignition or re-ignition of violent conflict is much more likely where local peace builders are insufficiently mobilised or resourced to engage in the peace process. Non violent resolution to conflict is entirely possible. The only thing lacking is funding.

One organisation which encourages dialogue on the practical means to prevent, transform and resolve violent conflict is the APPGCI. Read more here -

Be the Change

At 16 years old, Babar Ali must be the youngest headmaster in the world. He runs classes for hundred’s of children too poor to attend school from his own backyard. Like many young people today he sees a pressing need, realises that no government, no other individual, is going to fulfil it, and so gets on with the job himself. Money is no longer an issue. Babar Ali does it for nothing; the climate campers do it for nothing, the peace activists, the change campaigners – they all do it for nothing because at last they see what needs to be done. They get on and do it because enough time has been wasted and money is no longer the issue.

CODEPINK in Afghanistan
Afghan women told the visiting CODEPINK delegation that more troops would mean more civilian deaths and more Taliban. Afghan women want peace talks and economic development, not endless war. In Afghanistan most men join the Taliban out of economic desperation. In the UK and the US similar forces are at work with record numbers joining the armed forces. Are these boys really fighting material, or are they just cannon fodder propping up outdated ideology on both sides? Providing jobs will do more for world security than spending billions on warfare.
It's time to change our military focus to a focus on improving the health, education and welfare of the Afghan people. The protection of Afghan women is often used to justify the military presence, but an astounding array of Afghan women said that sending more U.S. troops is not the answer. President Obama should listen to these women and focus on economic needs in Afghanistan, not war.

Imagine there's no pipeline - planned for Afghanistan.
Imagine women are included - in the Brotherhood of man.
Imagine Turks & Tajiks - & Pashtuns belonged to one clan.
You may wonder what the fighting's for,
Who's monster is "the Taliban"?
Born of a committee of the CIA & ISI
Chaired by Islamism not Islam.
Kindly donated by Patrick Parks

October 15, 2009

Perfect Means to Imperfect Ends

In two years' time, the annual growth of the web will be equivalent to all the documents ever written in human history. In the foreseeable future, that same amount of information is likely to be added in a matter of days.

The future is here. The pace of the technological development that we imagine lies in the future is with us right now and changes our lives from year to year, sometimes from month to month. We live the future every day. The problems of the future impinge on the present as only history once did and has a profound impact on the way people think of their own time and their own lives.

The gap between our technical ingenuity and our political and moral capacities to deal with the issues of today is large. One key problem is that we are working with a model of democracy founded before industrialisation when the population of the world was less than 1 billion in total.

We must update our institutions so that there is formal, publicised, long-term advice, which will educate politicians and the public. Education is vital, not just about the menace of an overheated, overpopulated world, but about greed and the selfishness that is integral to current ideas of success.

October 13, 2009

Weapons or Wind?

Arms export jobs make up only 0.2% of the UK workforce and arms exports comprise less than 1.5% of total exports. Arms export jobs are subsidised by at least £9,000 per job per year.

The hasty sale of unwanted Eurofighters to Saudi Arabia was ‘sold’ to the public on the basis of supporting UK jobs. We were told it could mean as many as 50,000 jobs, but it is unlikely to be more than a tiny fraction of that as an assembly line is expected to be set up in Saudi Arabia for the production of two-thirds of the aircraft.

Similarly, 66 Hawk jets were sold to India, but 42 of these are being manufactured under licence in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.

The pressing needs of society are not to make more weapons. They are to create sustainable industries. With a subsidy of £9000 per job, sustainable technologies could hit the ground running. More jobs would be created in the sustainable industries than would be lost from the arms industry. The response to the 'credit crunch' has shown that politically it is entirely possible for the Government to intervene in individual sectors of the economy, and with colossal sums of taxpayer money. A shift in resources from arms to areas that would reduce carbon emissions might be politically huge, but would be financially small. A company like Ecotricity could massively rollout the installation of windmills. The UK has enough wind power to supply 5 times the energy it uses – so what is the holdup?

Climate change is widely acknowledged to be the most severe threat to national and international security, essentially it is system failure. But because a military mindset dominates Government thinking, the financial resources allocated to addressing climate change are tiny relative to those wasted on arms production.

October 02, 2009

Human Rights to the Earth

The Next Economy will deeply respect and value all life on earth. It will recognize that we as human beings are trustees and caretakers of the many life forms that dwell here with us. – Alanna Hartzok

In the Next Economy, money will be issued and circulated as a service for the people as a whole rather than used as a mechanism for the exploitation of the many by the few. The Next Economy will be built upon the highest values of both the Left and the Right. It will be a fair economy and a free economy, using but not abusing the earth and her many resources.

The human body is composed of earth elements. We are walking, talking bags of dust and water; recyclers of plant and animal material as we ingest and excrete, inhale and exhale. There is no ultimate separation between ourselves and the land and everything upon it. Our existence is totally dependent on the land and natural resources of the earth. This earth is given, and every one of us has an equal right to the earth as our birthright.

As far back as the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 the right to land for the common people was denied in favour of the English barons’ right to ‘improve’ the land in order to extract greater rent from the landless. Countless peasants were evicted from their holdings or saw their common lands fenced off. The enclosures appropriated land once commonly held, and redefined it as ‘private property’, thereby giving it the status of a tradable commodity. The vast majority of people were denied access to the land they had once tended.

Throughout the following hundred years, as the land was enclosed the women and men and the earth based religion of the peoples of northern Europe were brutally repressed. Women who practiced healing and agriculture, and who were leaders of their communities were tortured, hanged, or burned at the stake. The Holy Inquisition was a women’s holocaust; about 85 percent of those killed were women. Some say their murders numbered in the millions. The European indigenous women were strong and vibrant and had equal status to their men. They could stand their ground because they had access to the common lands. The imperial forces called them witches, and these independent, resourceful women were hunted to death.

Christianity lost its mission of economic justice when it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. From that time forward Christianity went hand-in-hand with the forces of conquest. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “Before the Europeans came to Africa, we had the land and they had the Bible. We bowed our heads to pray, and when we opened our eyes, we had the Bible and they had the land.”

Only about one quarter of the countries of the world have adequate records of who owns what land. It is always the poor who suffer deprivation and loss when the land they have farmed for generations is taken from them because they have no papers. This continues to be justification for the corporations to take land from native peoples. Because there was no written title to the land, in the twisted logic of imperialism, that made it vacant.

Growing numbers of us are appalled and chilled to our bones at what the World Bank (in which the U.S. Treasury has a 51 percent controlling interest), the International Monetary Fund, and other instruments of international finance and control are doing to our world. The anti-globalization protesters of today represent the voices of the poor, the disenfranchised and the forgotten. Placing ourselves on the firm and just foundation of human right to the earth is one of the most important endeavours of our age.

Land is used not only for the production of wealth but also as an instrument of oppression of human by human. The challenge before us is to bring about change in policy all around the world so that people will pay for what they take, not what they make. The Earth’s natural resources have been pillaged for the profits of a few. Change will not be easy because we are up against the international banking establishment’s plan for themselves – after all, when land becomes more affordable; banks will be unable to capture as much interest from mortgages.

Satellite technology can help us determine if land, water and air resources are being polluted or destroyed. Those indicators can serve as red flags indicating the need to levy pollution taxes or fines. All of these concerns can be monitored by the masses via computer technology. Safeguarding the planet and the people will become the best game on earth.

More and more of us are convinced that the only way to a just, prosperous and ecologically sustainable future is to share the value of Earth’s resources more fairly. Alanna Hartzok is one of the few professional economic writers who understands the crises of our age and provides practical solutions in the form of direct action through mobilized citizens, enlightened earth rights state institutions, politicians who are true representatives of the people, the enlightened vote of the citizenry, and environmental tax reform.

Take a peep inside Alanna’s compassionate and brilliant mind and read her detailed solutions at from which this mailing is unashamedly taken.

Stuck between India and the Taliban

“If someone takes my land there is nothing I can do. If I cannot pay the police or the judges I will have no justice in my life.”

The man is from Pakistan. His home is 50 kilometres from the Afghanistan border. “Now the Taliban are very near, they are beheading people, bombing schools and throwing acid in the faces of our women. No one is safe. Who will bring us justice?”

It is a reign of terror. The Pakistan army is not about to suddenly develop a collective spine and stand-up for the Pakistani people. Pakistan is, after all, a highly mismanaged, corrupt, developing state that has fostered religious extremism for decades while continuing to build a formidable nuclear arsenal. The Taliban, although considered unislamic, were once the perfect solution for Pakistan because they were a proxy-force that slowly killed off any influence from India, Russia and Iran.

The main factor in the Taliban's resurgence is the support it enjoys from Pakistan's intelligence services. However, the prospect of the Taliban getting its hands on Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is the stuff of nightmares. If the Taliban get too close to the nuclear prize, Pakistan will be sacrificed. Pakistan’s war choices are likely to remain contrary to the will of the Pakistani people and migration from the horror is only going to increase in these conditions. It is a complicated and messy region and the US and its hapless allies have made themselves part of the problem.

September 25, 2009

What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority – Molly Ivins

"The evidence that our democracy is failing is overwhelming and yet those with the biggest interest in sustaining the current system - the Westminster village, the media and particularly the political parties - are the groups most in denial about what is really happening to our democracy." says Greg Dyke former director general of the BBC, “They don't want anything to change. It's not in their interests."

These are words echoed around and around the world. Ordinary people are driven to near despair by the ineptitude of their governments. We know that political parties feel beholden to the big money which put them in office, and it’s just not good enough. Democracy is either for the good of the people or an expensive game which the people will ultimately reject.

In the UK Trident renewal is up for grabs. That represents £96 billion of public money and rising. We are not fooled by the shrouded olive branch of trading 4 old submarines for 3. The cost of the new 3 will be far in excess of the old 4, and more to the point is not exactly going to scare Al Qaeda or any other form of privatised terrorism out for whatever they can get. Bulking up a nuclear deterrent is outdated political posturing.

Currently each Trident missile has a range of nearly 5000 miles and is accurate to within a few feet. Roughly 86 missiles with 4 warheads apiece are available at any one time and the destructive power of each of them is estimated to be the equivalent of eight Hiroshimas – what possible use does any country have for that level of destruction?

It is a fallacy that the UK nuclear capability is independent. The blueprints, engines, fuel and guidance systems are American. Lockheed-Martin, a US corporation, is one of the three companies managing Aldermaston. The missiles can't be fired without information from American satellites.

Total UK borrowing has now passed £800 billion and increasing faster than in other rich nations. The economic problem has not been solved, it has simply been postponed. Just to pay the interest on its ballooning debts the Government must find more than £30 billion a year. This money is going to be raised from British taxpayers whether they like it or not.

Trident is a nasty, expensive joke which we neither need nor can afford. Democracy is not a spectator sport. It is up to the people of the UK to either tell their MP’s how they feel and stop the Trident renewal programme before it starts, or bury their heads in the sand as usual. What will you do?

September 18, 2009

Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict– Dorothy Thompson

In the midst of the craziness around us – lavish printing of money to save banks; the dumping of toxic waste on poor countries; galloping climate change; increasing poverty; oil wars and rising unemployment – we could be forgiven for wondering why all this is allowed to happen. Where is the compassion and the intelligence, the wisdom?

Are our leaders not wise? Are they susceptible to ‘groupthink’

Some examples of groupthink:

• The US failure to anticipate the attack on Pearl Harbour, (lets line up all our shiny new ships in one place so we can count them)
• The escalation of the Vietnam war (obviously we will win because we are the worlds greatest superpower)
• The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan based on pre emptive use of military force and the mythical Weapons of Mass Destruction (hello?)
Nice bit about Afghanistan here

Some background on Irving Janis and Groupthink:

They may not have learned, but we have. The groups making the important decisions today are often not made up of particularly diverse people. On the contrary they tend to be made up of particularly like minded individuals. Therefore for the avoidance of further stupidity and pointless waste of human lives, we put forward a checklist for future reference:

1. Decide upon the objectives of your action
2. Create a group of diverse and independent thinkers
3. Thoroughly research the background
4. Carefully examine the alternatives to your proposed action
5. Brainstorm the risks
6. Reappraise initially rejected alternatives
7. Produce solid contingency plans

We have barely made improvements to our thinking since men wasted in the trenches of WW1. Only the weaponry has improved. In future we will ask our leaders to stand up and explain their homework before sending us to the slaughter.

We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future – George Bernard Shaw

The subject of wisdom has given rise to some great and beautiful studies over the millennia. If that knowledge was properly used our world by now would be a fair and just place.
We mourn the paucity of female representation, we are alternatively dismayed and relieved that diversity in belief amongst our leaders is not more apparent. We tend to be discreet about our little fears, but fear is far from wisdom.

Confusius stated that wisdom can be learned by three methods: Reflection (the noblest), imitation (the easiest) and experience (the bitterest).

Buddha taught that a wise person is endowed with good bodily conduct, good verbal conduct & good mental conduct, and a wise person does actions that are unpleasant to do but give good results and doesn’t do actions that are pleasant to do but give bad results. He who leads others by nonviolence, righteously and equitably, is indeed a guardian of justice, wise and righteous

In the Inuit tradition, developing wisdom was the aim of teaching, and said that a person became wise when they could see what needed to be done and do it successfully without being told what to do.

King Solomon taught that wisdom comes from knowledge and understanding. In Proverbs 1:20, there is reference to wisdom personified in female form, "Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares.”

Despite millennia of teaching on the subject we are a fractured and unequal world society. We value wealth more than each other or the fragile environment. We value the acquisition of money more than the suffering we will cause in its pursuit. We value wealth even though every one of us knows it flies in the face of all wisdom.

What Is Money?
Money is merely a measurement. You cannot eat it or wear it. However, money is used as social tool, and like any other means can be used justly or unjustly. It can be used by a few who control it to suppress the natural creativity of millions of people, or it can be used to achieve economic liberation and prosperity for all affected by the money economy.

Read Norman Kurland’s detailed action plan to eliminate poverty. Although this article is from an American perspective, the concepts can be adapted to any monetary system.

September 12, 2009

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable

In a distant Welsh town, a small victory took place this week. But it had global implications.
There had been an application to build a biofuel power plant – one that would use thousands of gallons of palm oil every year. The application had been opposed by several groups – including COEXIST - on the grounds of pollution to the locality, further deforestation of the rain forests, and the disenfranchisement of indigenous peoples.
The planning officers recommended approval.
Although the planning rules were based on purely local criteria and did not allow for any consideration to be given to the global implications of such a development, the arguments put forward were consistent and persuasive. For possibly the first time, a decision was made by local councillors who understood that upon their shoulders sat the heavy weight of global responsibility.
The planning application was heroically rejected.
The needs of this world are tightly interconnected. The people of Newport were making a decision that would not only affect the future of the people of the rainforests, but would add to the overall effect of climate change. Local representatives all over the world are not prepared or equipped for such a burden of responsibility, and local rules are either behind the times in their assessment of the situation, or woefully inadequate.
The events in Newport were a wake up call to legislators. If we are to mitigate the effects of climate change the rules have to overhauled. Local government cannot keep track of the constantly changing body of evidence which seeks to minimise climate catastrophe. Pressure groups are the key to keeping knowledge relevant and their influence must be more than anecdotal. It is time the rules reflected the reality and such groups given legal rights to bring evidence to the debate, and that evidence lawfully included in the decision making process. The world outside our towns and villages is our neighbour, and we have a humane duty of care to consider every aspect of the decisions we make – not least because ultimately it will affect us.