when the controversy about the Islamic cultural centre in New York was raging. Since then, I've posted most weeks and I hope anyone who has been kind enough to follow the blog has enjoyed reading it.
I had for some time wanted to develop my own thinking about green politics and values and hopefully some of my postings reflect that, if at times a bit self-indulgently (although I guess that's what blogs are partly for!). A few of my friends who follow this blog know that in the past I was active (along with some of them) in the Liberal Democrats, including as a parliamentary and European candidate many moons ago. Although I've always been left of centre, my philosophy and politics have only shifted to full socialism (of the ecological variety) over the last 10 to 15 years, travelling in the opposite direction to the rightwards journey taken so eagerly by the Labour Party in its quest for power, followed quickly in train by the Lib Dems.
Before the 1992 General Election, in my capacity as Chair of One World Democrats, I was part of a working group that produced the Lib Dems' aid and international development policy. It sought a radical remission of debt in line with the Jubilee 2000 programme initiated by a friend, Dr Martin Dent of Keele University, and looked to committing the UK to a range of environmental and social justice measures.
By contrast, the equivalent body in the run up to the 1997 election was a very different beast. It started its work with an injunction that we must not say anything that could be portrayed as to the left of (New) Labour. Given that Tony Blair was by then on a full march to the right, it was quite a gallop to ensure our policy was sufficiently anodyne and meaningless to avoid any trouble. When One World Democrats proposed a pretty modest amendment in support of small scale co-operatives, it was hysterically shouted down from the platform at the party conference. In a tour de force that could only be described as a rant, Alan Beith MP, then Deputy Leader, denounced it as "communistic" because we had committed the cardinal sin of referring to "workers and peasants" in the text. Taking the issue to ludicrous levels, a week later in the Guardian, then-leader Paddy Ashdown described how the "green fascist" element in the party had been seen off.
As with that, so with so very many other policies. The two supposedly progressive parties in mainstream UK politics laid themselves down on the altar of power and slaughtered their beliefs, gutting themselves of any challenge to the corrupt consensus on free market politics that dominates Britain to this day. The main parties are now pretty interchangeable and the Con Dem Coalition is the final, dreadful destination of this long, sad and damaging process. It is the apotheosis of neoliberal democracy as described by Robert McChesney in his foreword to Noam Chomsky's "Profit Over People" - "...neoliberal democracy in a nutshell: trivial debate over minor issues by parties that basically pursue the same pro-business policies regardless of formal differences and campaign debate." And the consequence? "A depoliticized citizenry marked by apathy and cynicism."
My personal disillusion crystallised while doing a Masters degree on employment relations and law at Keele University. Taught from a Marxist perspective, its analysis of workplace and societal relations helped me towards an understanding of the inherent conflict between the interests of the majority of people (employees) and the few (owners/shareholders), and how these are reinforced again and again by the impersonal mechanics of capitalism. With the corporate personality so devastatingly critiqued in Joel Bakan's "The Corporation" as deeply psychopathic, global capitalism stood evident to me as the fundamental cause of our growing worldwide problems. A system that functions by producing goods at the lowest possible cost (including the lowest possible pay for workers' labour) and then selling at the highest conceivable price will by its nature never provide the fair distribution and careful use of resources we so urgently need to avoid worldwide catastrophe. Practically as well as ethically, capitalism has failed.
So in this blog, I have written more recently about ecosocialism, which puts social justice at the heart of the environmental sustainability agenda. It is a still forming philosophy, though with long antecedents. But in particular, I am grateful to people like Martin O'Beirne and Derek Wall for their own blog posts, links and longer articles on ecosocialism and how we can challenge the major problems facing us. Ecosocialism, would mean radical changes, but ones that would unleash once more our true, human nature. Contrary to the myths we are taught, history shows the human story at its core to be one of co-operation and mutual aid for the many aeons before the first market was open or the first coin minted. It can be that way again, and without any need to revert to cave dwelling!
My thanks for your time and attention and comments, here and on Facebook and Twitter over the last year. I am taking a short break for the next few weeks - although I will hopefully take in some of the Green Party conference in Sheffield (link here for any who would like to know more).
Though I am certainly not disappearing, thanks and, for September, so long - the posts will all still be here, but Viridis Lumen will be dimming the candle and shielding the lantern, until we meet again on the climate change frontline...