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Tracking toward a greenhouse atmosphere and acid oceans

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/05/2024 - 4:56am in

Where “Two plus two equals five if the party says so” (George Orwell) and when drilling methane wells reduces global warming. Having turned a blind eye to climate science, ignoring the evidence that extreme atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) rise and ocean acidification have led to mass extinctions of species through time, humanity allows Continue reading »

A population policy anyone?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/05/2024 - 4:52am in

Imagine you have been asked by the Australian government to draft its new population policy. You first ask to see the old policy but are told there isn’t one: immigration policy has been the de-facto population policy for as long as anyone can remember. You start to make a list of relevant issues. First, you Continue reading »

Neoliberalism: ‘Capitalism’s Response to Democracy’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 23/05/2024 - 6:00pm in

George Monbiot has spent decades condemning Britain’s political, economic, and media establishment. Comedian Nish Kumar – at an event he described as “designed to give Daily Mail readers a heart attack” – interviewed the veteran Guardian columnist live at London’s Conway Hall last week. Both speakers offered interesting insights into the upcoming general election and the future of British politics – especially relevant to Britain’s disillusioned young progressive population. 

Monbiot may be 61, but the room was packed with young people. As we jotted down notes and held our questions for the Q&A, the pair on stage walked the audience through the decline of British democracy – beginning with the story told in Monbiot’s latest book (co-authored with film-maker Peter Hutchinson), Invisible Doctrine: The Secret History of Neoliberalism. 

Monbiot describes “neoliberalism” – the all-encompassing (and yet somewhat ill-defined) economic dogma of 2024 Britain – as “capitalism’s response to democracy”. Trade unions, regulatory frameworks, welfare systems, and the other democratic limitations placed on capitalism have been subverted because “democracy is a problem that capital is always trying to solve”. 

This now ubiquitous ideology, he claims, posits that “competition is the defining state of humankind” and that “any attempt to interfere in the discovery of the righteous by the invisible hand of the market is illegitimate and should be wiped out”. That includes democracy.

In addition to prompting the US-led overthrow of democratically-elected governments in countries such as Chile and Indonesia (as detailed brilliantly in Vincent Bevin’s The Jakarta Method), he argues that neoliberalism culminated in Western democracies that are “fundamentally unable to answer our questions”, because the real decisions about how to govern have already been made in lofty conference rooms elsewhere. 

The Austrian and Chicago economic schools – the original incubation chambers of neoliberal ideology – first inculcated their doctrine into politicians on the right. Thatcher and Reagan were not visionaries but “cyphers”, Monbiot observes; “channels for a pre-existing philosophy” that had spent decades percolating amongst fringe economists and social thinkers.

Ultimately, according to Monbiot, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton represented their near-total victory over the entire political spectrum. Thatcher, memorably asked about her greatest political accomplishment in 2008, once famously responded that it was Tony Blair.  

The result, in Monbiot’s narrative, is that Britain has been converted – against the public will – into a “rentier’s paradise”, a system built on the monopolisation of land and other crucial resources that “parasite[s] people’s productive activity”. 

Politically, the failure of traditional politics to facilitate meaningful debates has created an “anti-politics” – Monbiot’s euphemism for the rise of Trump, Johnson, Bolsonaro, and a plethora of other anti-establishment right-wing populists around the world. 

From Monbiot’s perspective, the question remaining for the next election is not about the defeat the Conservatives, who hold responsibility for the state of crisis in the UK today, but a much harder question about how to defeat an ubiquitous global economic system and slow or reverse the “commercialisation of everything”. 

Neither Monbiot nor Kumar view Keir Starmer’s Labour Party as a solution to that second dilemma.

Monbiot describes Starmer as a “coward” who “kicks down” the vulnerable and “kisses up” to the powerful, heading a political project that’s “failing by design”. He describes our entire system as “the thinnest and weakest version of democracy possible”. 

When asked what the answer to this, Monbiot observed: “They have a story, and we do not.”

John Meynard Keynes, whose economic theories dominated mid-century politics in Britain and the US, had one. The neoliberals, with their tales of freedom, choice, and liberty, have one. Even the far-right have a rabid and hateful tale to tell. Those who believe in democracy are left mostly just trying to mitigate the damage. 

According to Monbiot, the story that needs to be told begins right where the neoliberal story falls short. Where neoliberalism breeds loneliness, he believes we should emphasise a “politics of belonging”. Where it enclosed land and resources, we should build new and accessible commons. Where it simplifies our social dynamics into unfeeling numbers, we should embrace the complexity of the systems that drive our lives. Where it breeds distrust, trust people. 

"We should preach to the choir – and grow our choir a little bit bigger every year,” he argued.

For Monbiot, “deliberative and participatory” democratic systems in the here and now are the answer, as well as a need to “ignore those in Westminster that have nothing to do with us”. We should simply start creating the democratic world we want to live in, and eventually we’ll reach a tipping point where the entire population gets on board, is his view. 

It’s a powerful message, but I was left wondering what the catalyst for this democratic change is supposed to be, if it wasn’t the invasion of Iraq, the 2008 financial crash, or even the COVID pandemic. Who will be the ones to undertake it? 

Back in 2003, Monbiot penned a polemic on youth politics for the Guardian entitled “Rattling the Bars”. In it, he condemned the zombie governments of the West. The “structures” of democracy still exist, he wrote, “but the life within them has died.” He argued that “the young have not lost interest in politics. Politics, of the kind represented at Westminster, has lost interest in the young”.

Perhaps then, just as the neoliberal system’s own failures could create the nucleus of a new and compelling story, those left out of mainstream politics will be the ones to tell it. Twenty-one years later, we’re still trying to find a way to “rattl[e] the bars of our enclosed and corrupted parliaments without succumbing to their enclosure and corruption”.

As I have written in these pages previously, there’s a lot we could do to bring about a more utopian mindset in Britain; to restore hope and foster the belief that real change is possible. As Monbiot would say, we just need to start 'embodying the democracy’ that we want.

Climate Failure: Eraring Power Station to Stay Open Beyond 2025

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 23/05/2024 - 10:51am in

Tags 

Environment

Climate Council Media Release   The Climate Council has labelled the NSW Government’s decision to keep Australia’s largest coal-fired power station operating well past its scheduled 2025 closure date as a failure of climate leadership. Climate Councillor and Economist Nicki Hutley said: “This decision is a triple failure: it fails policy, it fails climate leadership, and…

The post Climate Failure: Eraring Power Station to Stay Open Beyond 2025 appeared first on The AIM Network.

What’s wrong with carbon capture?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 23/05/2024 - 4:53am in

It sounds wonderful. Politicians and fossil fuel companies love it. But more often than not carbon capture and storage (CCS) is raised as a smokescreen for something that will harm the world. What do Anthony Albanese, Angus Taylor, David Littleproud, Barack Obama, West Virginia senator Joe Manchin and Joe Biden have in common? All are Continue reading »

Hancock Prospecting in Ecuador: Seven Years of Reported Violations

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/05/2024 - 2:31pm in

Tags 

Environment

Melbourne Rainforest Action Group Media Release Research and advocacy organisation, Rainforest Action Group, has just released a new in-depth article covering Hancock Prospecting’s controversial activities in Ecuador since 2017. Hancock Prospecting, through its 100%-owned subsidiary Hanrine, is exploring for copper and gold in eleven mining concessions in northwestern Ecuador. Compiling seven years’ worth of frontline…

The post Hancock Prospecting in Ecuador: Seven Years of Reported Violations appeared first on The AIM Network.

Renewable aviation fuels prepare for take-off in Australia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 20/05/2024 - 5:06pm in

Tags 

Environment

University of South Australia Media Release Aviation experts from the University of South Australia (UniSA) will work with their Chinese counterparts over the next two years to develop a sustainable aviation biofuel industry in both countries. The collaboration, announced by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) on Saturday, comes on the back of…

The post Renewable aviation fuels prepare for take-off in Australia appeared first on The AIM Network.

Australia’s greenhouse targets cannot be met without the conservation of native forest

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 20/05/2024 - 4:57am in

When Labour Governments moved to protect native forest in the past – Hawke, Wran, Gallop, Kirner, Beattie, Carr – they knew that they were protecting irreplaceable natural values and resources. Even as late as the early 2000s however, the role of forests in climate change mitigation was little known. It was certainly not a matter Continue reading »

When the pursuit of ever greater wealth for the already wealthy is the goal of society something has to break

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/05/2024 - 6:04pm in

The Dow Jones Index of traded shares values in the USA hit 40,000 yesterday, for the first time. This is the index over the past ten years:

The blue line is the index and the black line the volume of shares traded. The increase in both over time is apparent.

What is not apparent is the reason for this exuberance.

The US economy is doing better than that of the UK and Europe, but not that well.

The climate crisis is real  and not reflected in this value.

A fascist has a good chance of becoming US President.

The head of Blackrock is discussing whether there will be a US dollar debt crisis (fairly bizarrely, but reflecting market sentiment).

A deeply destructive US trade war with China is under way.

There are two major wars in progress.

The USA is an increasingly unequal society, extracting ever more value from its lower and middle classes to feed the vanity and greed of its rich, as this index indicates.

Ever more resources are being dedicated to totally meaningless speculative activity that adds no real value to society, as the volume of trades shows.

The likelihood that we are looking at a Ponzi scheme is high.

Much of this value is based on the supposed profits to be made from AI, that could destroy many, many millions of jobs in the USA and elsewhere, with no politician as yet comprehending the need to address this issue, and the destruction of value implicit in it.

But, the markets are are at a high.

And Biden is getting none of the  credit.

The disconnect between markets and reality is becoming ever more apparent and yet still all our politicians think themselves able to prioritise is the increase in that blue line on that chart as if nothing else really matters , because the growth in it - as a proxy measure of the increase in the wealth of the already wealthy - is the only goal that politicians in the US and UK now really think matters.

This is what the US and UK share in common. No wonder the political systems, and democracies, of both countries, appear to be so bankrupt.

When the pursuit of ever greater wealth for the already wealthy is the goal of society something has to break.

Government ‘Independent Adviser’ Who ‘Backs Ban’ on Climate and Palestine Groups has Paid Roles with Defence and Business Lobbyists

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/05/2024 - 7:15pm in

The Government’s ‘independent adviser’ on domestic extremism – who has reportedly backed banning certain pro-Palestine groups – is the chair and paid adviser for a defence sector lobbying organisation, it has emerged.  

Earlier this week, extracts were leaked to the media from a forthcoming report of the Government’s so-called ‘Independent Adviser on Domestic Violence and Disruption’, Lord Walney – a former Labour MP who has since worked closely with the Conservatives. 

It will reportedly call for supposedly ‘extreme’ campaign groups such as Palestine Action and Just Stop Oil to be banned, despite the groups themselves being denied access to the report.

Now campaign group Plan B has alleged that “far from being ‘independent, Lord Walney serves vested corporate interests in the arms and fossil fuel industries, whose profits are being threatened by precisely the groups he’s proposing to ban”, after analysing his financial interests registered with the House of Lords authorities. 

The declarations reveal that, among other roles, Lord Walney is:

  • Paid chair of the Purpose Defence Coalition, members of which include Leonardo, one of the world’s largest arms manufacturers, with “extensive links” to Israel’s military. 
  • Paid adviser to lobbyists Rud Pederson, clients of which include the oil and gas giant, Glencore.
  • Paid adviser to the Purpose Business Coalition, members of which include fossil fuel giant BP.
  • Paid chair of the Purpose Defence Coalition, members of which include Leonardo, one of the world’s largest arms manufacturers, with “extensive links” to Israel’s military. 
  • Paid adviser to lobbyists Rud Pederson, clients of which include the oil and gas giant, Glencore.
  • Paid adviser to the Purpose Business Coalition, members of which include fossil fuel giant BP.
  • Lord Walney, whose name is John Woodcock, also visited Israel in January this year, funded by Elnet, an NGO promoting cooperation between Europe and Israel. It was founded in 2007 as a European pro-Israel advocacy group, to counter "widespread criticism of Israel in Europe".

    According to NGO Action on Armed Violence, Purpose Defence Coalition member Leonardo “equips Israel with Aermacchi M-346 aircraft and parts for Apache attack helicopters" while the "company’s site in Edinburgh is responsible for producing the laser targeting system used in F-35 fighter jets”.

    Plan B argues that the revelations about Lord Walney echo a previous attempt by the right-wing think tank Policy Exchange to brand climate activists ‘extremists’ in 2019. Vice later reported that Policy Exchange had been funded by fuel firm Drax and industry lobbyists Energy UK. 

    Tim Crosland, director of the climate justice charity Plan B, said: “Lord Walney’s report is being presented as ‘independent’. But that’s not true. That’s dishonest.”

    He pointed to Lord Walney’s position as chair of the Defence Purpose Coalition, “a group which represents the interests of arms companies, such as Leonardo” – which Palestine Action has attempted to “expose” over providing Israel with military equipment amid the Gaza conflict.

    Crosland added that Lord Walney’s role as a paid adviser to the linked Purpose Business Coalition will be partly funded by BP, “whose vast profits are threatened by Just Stop Oil”.

    “His recommendations are not surprising… [but] it would be a shocking deception on the public for anyone to present those recommendations as ‘independent’,” he added.

    Huda Ammori, co-founder of Palestine Action, said: “Whilst our Government remains complicit in the ongoing Gaza genocide, it is our duty to take direct action to halt the production of weapons in Britain which is being used against the Palestinian people. 

    “It is a sham for the Government to try and claim Lord Walney is an ‘independent’ adviser, who only a few months ago travelled to Israel, whilst families were being massacred a couple of hours away.” 

    Ammon added that “unelected politicians with vested interests in arms companies” should “not be given airtime to dictate British policy”.

    It was originally expected that the full report would be released on Wednesday morning. It is understood that legal issues may have caused a short delay to publication, related to groups being named in the report not having seen it before it was released to the press.

    Lord Walney resigned from the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn in 2018, amid an investigation into his conduct over alleged inappropriate text messages. He denied wrongdoing. 

    The crossbench peer and the Home Office were contacted for comment.

    It comes as a YouGov poll commissioned by Medical Aid for Palestinians and Council for Arab-British Understanding suggested that a majority of British people think there should be an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, and would support the UK ending its arms sales to Israel for the duration of the conflict in Gaza.

    This latest poll found that 55% of Brits surveyed supported the UK ending the sale of arms to Israel for the duration of the conflict in Gaza. Only 13% wanted to see the continuation of arms sales. Of those who voted for the Conservative Party in 2019, the poll found that 40% are in favour of the UK suspending arms sales to Israel, while just 24% opposed.

    This article was amended on 18th May to remove a paragraph included before its intended publication date.

    If you have a political story or tip-off, email josiah@bylinetimes.com.

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