Thursday, 17 May 2012

Book Worth a Look: "Citizens' Income and Green Economics" by Clive Lord

Clive Lord is said by some to be the oldest Green alive; now in his mid-seventies, it is fortunately likely that there are older Greens in terms of biological age, but as possibly the oldest surviving member of the 14 individuals who established People, the predecessor to the Ecology/Green Party of England and Wales, and as such the first established Green Party in the world, he may well be the longest serving Green member on the planet.
     Clive lived in Batley in Kirklees until last year and I worked closely with him on various local campaigns in our area - I was his deputy when he was the Agent for the last Yorkshire European election campaign, where we were rather narrowly beaten to a successful place by the odious but now collapsing BNP. And he he worked tirelessly with me in a determined but slightly ill-starred by-election campaign for a council ward in Dewsbury a few years ago. He is well known in the Green Party for his efforts at elections around the country and he fought nearly every national and local election in Batley & Spen between 1974 and 2011.
     Clive is not a socialist; but at the heart of his many years of eco-campaigning is a belief in sustainability combined with fairness and he has been a tireless proponent of the concept of the Citizens' Income. This policy (once, interestingly shared by the Liberal Party but quietly dropped in its post-SDP merger) involves the state paying all adults over 18, whether working or not, a basic income. The Green Party has this as a policy, though apart from a Pensioners Income of £160 per week at the last election, it has not set a rate for this and there is some tension inherent in how this would work set against the Party's support for a national minimum wage set at the Living Wage level.
     But a Citizens' Income to my mind is crucial in changing the economic paradigm, including in any shift towards a more ecosocialist economics. This is because it creates the possibility for all sorts of productive new activities by citizens. It would not directly reward activities which are currently not valued and therefore not paid by the capitalist economy - such as parenting, or supporting the local community or any number of non-profit-seeking creative activities - but it would free people to have some new possibility of undertaking these without loss. To anyone concerned with a more sustainable society, where extracting the highest possible financial return on our dwindling resources is ended, the Citizen's Income raises at least the possibility of new courses of activity and a renewal of community and citizenship infinitely more powerful than the devious twaddle of Cameron's evaporated Big Society initiative.
     Clive Lord first published a book on the Citizens' Income in 2003 and this year he is about to launch a newly published updated edition, which he has edited with other prominent members of the Green Economics Institute. Using the example of Easter Island to illustrate the propensity of societies to keep on "developing", i.e., exploiting their resources to exhaustion, the book shows how a society with a more even distribution of economic power can calm the drive to accumulate ever more without consideration of the longer term and how we need to shift to a greater emphasis on conservation and sharing of resources. This touches on the "Commons" concept, a matter of some debate between the ecological and ecosocialist wings of the Green Party and the wider green movement; for ecosocialists, the book holds to arguments about possibilities under the market system which we are unlikely to agree with, but it is a valuable contribution to the debate on how we can move to a fairer world.
     The updated book is available now from the Green Economics Institute - details below.

An Age of Green Economics: A ground - breaking  new book:
 Green Economics and Citizens Income
This collection of essays, speeches & articles Introduces Green Economics and the Citizens Income to the general reader!
Edited by Clive Lord, Miriam Kennet and Judith Felton
Just Published by the Green Economics Institute
This fresh perspective on the theme of how to stop mankind over-exploiting the Earth challenges reassurances that scientific warnings are unduly pessimistic. The fate of Easter Island offers new insights into the dynamics driving economic expansion, and why the major players can never know how or when to stop. Lord outlines how a so-called ‘primitive’ tribe solved the problem which devastated Easter Island, and which now confronts us globally, by a cultural shift based on a strategy of sharing necessities unconditionally, allowing other rules for everything else.
Lord explains why such a strategy is an essential precondition for a sustainable world, and how it can be adopted nationally and internationally. Practical measures, however vital once such a shift has taken place, will do more harm than good if used instead to prop up the existing growth oriented mind-set.
Book Overview: 7 parts. No. of pages 337 ISBN: 9781907543074
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Concepts: Tragedy of the commons, etc. 
Part 3: A way out: Making it happen
Part 4: Wider Implications: How the Citizens' Income can form the basis for a paradigm shift
Part 5: Tactical and strategic implications for implementation
Part 6: Case studies of new developments
Part 7: There are no utopias

Normal RRP £ 30.00 plus postage and packing
£20.00 plus p and p if ordered direct from the Green Economics Institute: order via Special introductory offers: 5% discount on all orders
Special Price £14.99 if bought at one of the four Book Launches in Leeds:
  • Central Library, The Headrow 22nd May 10am-12 noon & 2pm-4pm
  • Branch Library North Lane Headingley 23rd May 7pm-9pm
  • Branch Library 106 Harrogate Rd.Chapel Allerton 24th May 7pm-9pm

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