Category Archives: Abiezer Coppe

“Roadkill!,” by Jacob Bauthumley

Road killed meat is good, my friends. Between October and the end of April (remember our English North Sea Coast climate is cold…) I eat whatever I find dead on the road while out on the bicycle for a run: a Muntjac deer (once), rabbits, hares, pheasants (the most common Michelin bounty) and a chicken (once).

Advantages of road killed meat:

1. It did not die by your own hand. If you buy meat, you had a hand in the animal’s suffering and death. There is no getting away from it.

2. It is generally organic, wild and free.

3. You are cleaning up the roads by eating it, and so it is Green and clean.

4. You may bless the dead animal as you eat and thus honour its life and gift to you. Make a point of this.

5. Scavenging thus is honorable as well as safe: I have been dining off the A11, the B1150, the A140, the A1151 and other Norfolk (UK) roads thus for more than 20 years, and never once has the meat thereof affected me adversely in any way.

On the other hand, if you really hate meat then you will not touch roadkill, either!

Veganism is really a lifestyle choice in my view: we must not pretend that it has any political significance, though it may well be of spiritual significance in a non-violent lifestyle.

Vegetarianism, on the other hand, may well be the Tao of nutrition (Vegetarians live longer, etc), as well as politically highly significant (reducing CO2 emissions etc, reducing cruelty) and humane, and I would be a vegetarian…

If it were not for my partiality to roadkill!

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Filed under Abiezer Coppe, Animals, Environmentalism, Guest Posts, Health, Nutrition, Philosophy, Wild

“Drunk and Disorderly: The Joys of Ranterism and Other Topics,” by Jacob Bauthumley

For white English or American readers of this blog, a question.

Who went to church this morning? Go on, own up. Nobody?

Coming home on the bike I passed the Catholic church on the corner of my block (West Earlham). Everyone was of Indian origin, speaking Indian languages! In white Norwich! Not a white Caucasian in sight.

This morning I was up extremely early, and at first light I was worshipping at the church of my allotment, delighting in the alchemy of all life. Yes really! Just enjoying it.

Then, I went scrumping windfall apples, and gathered 150lb of different varieties, which I moved on my bike trailer in an old plastic cistern back to my friend Ruth’s place. I am so knackered now that I have to go back to bed. I’ve been up since 4am, and I’ve had three hours’ sleep. What the hell. Sleep it off, baby. It’s a Sunday!

I rang a friend, a local poet, and he put me in touch with a local cider maker with a press, out in rural Norfolk, in Old Buckenham. My friend John and I plan to turn the apples into ten gallons of cider and sour the cider to make ten gallons of cider vinegar.

Religious views are a very tricky area, aren’t they? The two things you are not supposed to discuss in polite English society are religion and politics. It is clear that I do not have the manners of an Englishman, since I talk about both.

My nom de guerre Abiezer Coppe gives his views on the Christian religion at the end of the piece.

I have been at times an Marxist atheist, an Marxist agnostic, and a Marxist with Christian leanings. In the next phase of my life I shall settle for a Marxist gnosticism, marrying the rational materialist dialectic of Marx, to the otherworldly insights of the Christian Gnostics, starting with Valentinus (3rd Century AD). I am in good company. Ernst Bloch (1885-1977) was also a kind of Marxist gnostic. True, he was a Stalinist, too, but Stalinism is not the main thrust of his remarkable magnum opus on Hope, Das Prinzip Hoffnug, or of his biography of the 15th Century revolutionary peasant leader, Thomas Munzer, which I found in French translation.

Spiritual search: should I give it up entirely? I have tried the Cheshire Cat Buddhists at the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (I swear they all had the same smile) but they gave me the creeps, as every religious group does.

Experiential spirituality is the only type I can connect to: I learned Vipassana meditation once. Ten day silent retreats in Herefordshire, no speaking, no eye contact: it takes a lot to discipline a wild mind. I’ve always been poor, and even the poor can afford it: I gave service instead of cash, and went back and worked in the kitchens on another retreat.

Vipassana was good, and it works, but who wants to spend two hours a day sitting on their arse meditating? It certainly chills you out like nothing else does, the ten day retreat. You come out feeling clean, really clean. A good friend of mine called L–a came on a Herefordshire retreat with me (I drove my totally illegal French taxed, French MOT’d and French insured Citroen BX from Norwich to Herefordshire and back, and around on the roads of the UK for 2 years, and the police never stopped me once). She’d smoked dope and tobacco, and drank alcohol all her life. After the 10 day retreat she just stopped, without even a struggle. No alcohol, no drugs, no tobacco. She just didn’t want them anymore.

Buddha was really onto something, then. Buddhism is a practical spirituality centered on the practice of compassion, and the meditative practices of Buddhism actually renders one more compassionate. It can’t be a bad thing.

I’ve met atheists and Marxists who are – or seem – spiritual, and plenty of Christians who are not. It’s about the being, the beingness of the person, the kind of love they put forth into the world. I’ve met Muslims with a spiritual energy to die for.

Spirituality is? – taking the risk in every moment to be honest, to connect with other beings (it might be a frog, my favourite amphibian) and live and love from my deepest sense of whom I am, from my wild and untamed self. And damn the consequences. It’s difficult. We are English. We are fairly shy. We like dissimulation and subterfuge; it is what, as a nation, we are more comfortable with. At least the chattering classes, the bourgeois, the middle classes. I can only speak for my own class, and I am not Jay Griffiths, though I admire her guts. I am more comfortable with Latins, personally, than the emotionally repressed public school Englishman (I did that. I went to a small private boarding school in Suffolk for six years).

WYSWYG: What You See Is What You Get, in my experience with people of Latin  extraction.

If they don’t like you they come straight out with it. I respect that. In fact, seriously, who would WANT to live any other way once the inner wild being in each of us is brought to light? Who then would settle for the psychic equivalent of suburbia?

Read Wild: An Elemental Journey, by Jay Griffiths, to get an idea of what we have lost touch with, our mammalian, our animal nature, our inner wild being. Once we were wild beings, too.

Wild: An Elemental Journey is a magnificent book, and the woman has bags of courage, lots of cojones, as the Spanish say. Maybe we need to “re-wild” ourselves a bit (if a return to barbarism is all that’s in the offing, barring a socialist revolution: Socialism or Barbarism, Rosa Luxemburg), like Jay, sing from the rooftops, dance naked, and masturbate on a rock in the sun, as Jay describes doing in her book: she was doing a bit of Deep Ecology that day, connecting with nature, worshipping the sun and giving her all to the big O. Her account is in the book.

People are rarely so frank. In fact she was intensely lonely, in a wild place, far from human company. The orgasm brought her back to her sense of self, and reconnected her with her surroundings. Orgasm as sacramental act; I like it. Spirituality is not about going to church, it is not about which imaginary friend you have: it’s about love, love and respect for yourself, love and respect for your neighbours too, even the little frogs who come and visit me when I am harvesting vegetables I have grown.

Social revolutions are carnivals of bacchanalia, festivals of the spirit and festivals of the oppressed (Lenin), explosions of creativity and joy (it is not nice being oppressed, is it? It is often fearful, too): or they are boring barracks socialism, and end in Five Year Plans, the Fulfillment of Quotas, the Meeting of Production Targets, and the ruination of nature. And ultimately, a return to capitalism, consumerism, conformity and fear: China now. So revolutionary politics must include this spirit, as it will inspire the people of this land to rise against their oppressors.

Leftist political parties can be hard work emotionally! I didn’t see much joy and revolutionary fun in the 1970’s British Communist Party: it was a bit dour, a bit too serious, and very English. Yet there was also a real warmth among the comrades. We were en route for a better future, or so we thought…And when we stood up at District meetings and sang Jerusalem, by William Blake, it warmed my heart to sing the words of the greatest English gnostic poet, just as singing the Internationale in French to anyone who will listen does now.

Which Communist country kills 600,000 workers a year from overwork, and has a flexible working day of anything between 20 and 35 hours? China, the West’s new slave empire that produces all our electronic goodies. Someone died of exhaustion on a production line somewhere in China making my laptop…that thought does cross my mind (more here on Chinese workers).

I still identify as a Marxist, but as a Marxist Feminist Gnostic, which is totally unacceptable to the comrades! I’ve done the Communist Party (CPGB, PCF), done the Socialist Workers (SWP), but I couldn’t hack it, organised male Marxist politics (yawn…), so these days I work for the Green Party, campaign for them, but I won’t join. I’ve stopped being a joiner.

At least the UK Green Party do not have the one thousand hang-ups about the Soviet Union that the Communists had, and all that bloody coded language… They mean the things they say, too….it’s prefigurative politics, of the type I’ve always believed in. You carry the changes you want to see into your personal life. If you’ve rubbed shoulders with Stalinists for several years, as I have without ever being one of them, you’ll know how refreshing that is.

Where’s the Libertarian Marxist Feminist Gnostic Party?

That’s what I want to know. I haven’t seen one yet. When I do I’ll sign up.

I struggle with the materialist epistemology of Marxism. I have had a go at being a philosophical materialist, read the books (back in the day it was Maurice Cornforth, now completely and deservedly forgotten, and Emile Burns)  but found it kind of miserable…back in the day I read a lot of Marxists. The only ones I could go for were the outliers, the non-conformists like Ernst Bloch, a German Marxist who wrote a thousand page book about dreams, day dreams, hope and the place of utopia in the human imagination (Hope The Principle, 3 vols). Bad Marxists, utopian dreamers. William Morris and his News From Nowhere. Nowhere is where I live – the name of Utopia!

Philosophical materialism, in the forms in which I have encountered it, rules out as nonexistent that which palpably exists!

I have yet to meet a Marxist, for example, who takes homeopathic medicine at all seriously, and I trained as a homeopath, so I know it works!  They parrot the standard line. One would think that a revolutionary would have had a little more insight than that. If I had breast cancer, for example, a homeopath would be my first port of call. See Dr A U Ramakrishnan’s work in that area: consistent success across many types of cancer, with five year follow-ups, and none of the extreme toxicity and immune devastation of chemotherapy.

Mr Abiezer Coppe was, I imagine, a Christian gnostic sans le savoir, and inspired William Blake, who I think knew he wrote in the gnostic tradition (see historian E P Thompson’s last book, Witness Against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law, which is a brilliant study).

That is why I identify with Blake, too, and especially with The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1793), a text on the dialectic before Marx and Hegel. It is a lot more fun to read than Karl Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach, too!

The English Ranters rejected all forms of spiritual, sexual and religious authority, and insisted that the only church was the human body. They were good chaps, religious anarcho-communists before communism, and more libertarian than Gerard Winstanley’s more puritanical Diggers, the only other Commies on the block at the time.

The Ranters had a endearing habit of preaching naked (if their enemies are to be believed) in the open air, on heaths, and drinking ale and fornicating at religious meetings. Very endearing. The Ranters did not believe in sin. Ranter women are said to have looked for sin in men’s codpieces, and on being unable to find any, declared there was none. That’s a kind of healthy materialism I like. So they didn’t believe in that superstitious shit the Church teaches, either, the Virgin Birth, Original Sin, or the sexual perversions resulting from the Christian, especially Catholic, strictures on the priesthood.

The Ranters were not feminists, but you can’t have everything, and in any case, who was a feminist in 1650? Ranters believed everything should be held in common, including women; they weren’t keen on the legal union of marriage and, I guess, just as in the 1960s, these 17th Century anarcho-hippie Ranter men enjoyed their sexual revolution and their sexual libertarianism while Ranter women got pregnant, had the babies, and were left holding them on the heaths of England, bereft of the men who had sired them. Maybe the Ranter males were indeed “only around for the conception”. Nothing new there, then!

So much for sexual liberation in 1650s England. Did they know about satisfying a woman in bed?

Funnily enough a feminist historian (Alison Smith) of early modern England told me that that there was a generally held view at the time that if a woman did not have an orgasm during sex with a man, then she could not conceive. So, in the beliefs of the time, no female orgasms equaled no babies…Quite progressive really, but did condoms exist then? I doubt it – condoms came in later…18th century, I think. Any condom historians here?

English Ranterism and the Digger movement represented a political dead end. With the Cromwellian Thermidor of the English Revolution after 1649, and the general persecution and ostracism of the Ranters, a lot of them recanted their beliefs, including Abiezer Coppe, stopped railing against the rich (one of their specialties!) and settled down to become Seekers, or Quakers (who are very much in the Gnostic lineage – no priests, no service, no dogmas, no crap, just the Inner Light of Not-God, etc…) or even Muggletonians…see E P Thompson’s book on William Blake (1993) for more. He interviewed the last surviving English Muggletonian. How about that?

More on the Ranters below:

Discussion of the Ranter historical context, and Ranter views.

– Extracts from the writings of Abiezer Coppe

My comments, writing as Abiezer Coppe, on Christianity and gnosticism:

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“Oh Brother Ed, Where Art Thou?,” by Abzier Coppe

I hope my intro makes Johann Hari’s article more interesting to Americans. I’m sure British politics seems just as arcane and incomprehensible in its finer details to you as American politics does to me! The biggest mystery to me in the US Presidential election was how did McCain wind up with a total idiot like Sarah Palin as his running mate? Every time I saw her speak on Youtube, I would start laughing in disbelief.

The gal hadn’t got a clue, but McCain hadn’t much either from what I saw. Had he been elected, he could well have died in office because of his history of heart problems. In any case history was made: Obama is the first intelligent president since Clinton, and less flawed personally than his predecessor. He’s hamstrung by the Republican filibustering minority in the Senate, and I don’t know if there is anything he can do about that. I still want to read Obama’s first book, Dreams About My Father. I’m told it’s a good read. Man, I was celebrating over here when he won, but it seems many Obama supporters are feeling less enthusiastic now.

We had a similar experience in the UK with the election of Tony Blair as Labour Prime Minister in 1997 after 18 years of rule by the Conservatives. “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive”…or so we we thought. But I never had any illusions about that slimeball Blair.

The British Labour Party will elect a new leader on September 25th, 2010. The contest seems to have narrowed to the two brothers Miliband, sons of the Marxist writer and academic Ralph Miliband, whose last study was entitled Parliamentary Socialism (his most well known book was The State in Capitalist Society). The brothers are secular Jews, but neither has any particular attachment to Israel (neither brother is a member of the pro-Zionist pressure group Labour Friends of Israel). Ed, the younger brother, is 40, and David is 45.

David is the continuity candidate and will give us all that was rotten about Blairism redux. If he cannot put any political distance between himself and Tony Blair, he will probably be unelectable in 2015, as the electorate decisively rejected in 2010 all that he stands for – rising social inequality at home, further privatization of the economy, kowtowing to the banks, fawning over the very rich and the expensive and disastrous foreign wars abroad.

The Labour vote has been falling continuously since they were elected in 1997. In 2005 Labour got 35.2% of the vote on a low voter turnout (part of the disaffected core Labour vote stayed at home, or in some cases voted for the British National Party), but because of an iniquitous electoral system, they still romped home with an overall majority of over 60 seats in the House of Commons. This time Labour got 29.1% of the popular vote on a higher voter turnout than 2005: the game was really up for Labour.

Of course Labour no longer had their spinmeister leader Tony Blair, and Gordon Brown, who took the Labour leadership unopposed in 2008 and then failed to hold an election to give himself a mandate, didn’t handle the all-powerful media as well as Blair. There was no decisive outcome of the 2010 election, and certainly many of the 23% of people who voted Liberal Democrat will not be happy to see their party, which held more radical positions than Labour on taxation (some say: I have my doubts), social inequality, defense and the war in Iraq, in bed with the Tories and effectively their junior partner.

I see Blairism as a deviation to the Right in relation to postwar Social Democracy up to the end of the 1970s, and as a direct heir of Margaret Thatcher, the ardent monetarist and disciple of Milton Friedman.

Ed Miliband is more of a traditional social democrat. He also has a real personal warmth not shared by elder brother, and that is a great asset in politics. Ed has a better record than David on climate change, and that is crucial to me.

If the leadership contest is now between David and Ed Miliband, like Johann Hari, I hope Ed wins, but it is David who has all the big financial backers and campaign money, more than the other four candidates put together. No democracy there…

My first choice for Labour on Left policy, her anti-war record, her personality and and her long political experience (member of Parliament since 1987) would have been Diane Abbott, but she hardly has any support from the Trades Unions, so she hasn’t got a chance. As a 57 year old Black woman with no serious money behind her and a campaign team of 2 volunteers (compare David Miliband’s campaign team of 90 fulltime paid staff), she was always going to be real outsider. Andy Burnham and Ed Balls are also running for the Labour leadership.

Johann Hari: And The Next Leader Of The Labour Party Should Be…

At Its Core the Disagreement Between the Brothers Is an Argument About Whether Blairism Is the Best a Labour Government Can Ever Aim For.

Friday, 3 September 2010

The Labour Party is infuriated that the climax of its leadership race has been overshadowed by Tony Blair’s brief break from taking millions off the economy-crashing bank JPMorgan Chase, fawning over his “good friend” and murderous tyrant Colonel Gaddafi, and agitating for the bombing of Iran. But they’re wrong. At its core, the disagreement between David and Ed Miliband is an argument about whether Blairism is the best a Labour government can ever aim for. The entry of the gurning ghost of Tony Blair is a clarifying third act.

Now that it’s effectively a race between the Milibands, it’s easy to ask: how different can two nasal policy wonks who emerged from the same womb really be? Yet this campaign has shown that they want to lead very different Britains.

David Miliband is being funded by exactly the same interests as Blair. To pluck just one, David Claydon, a senior figure at the investment bank UBS, has handed him £50,000, as part of a gaggle of bankers who made it possible for him to outspend every other candidate combined. He is backed by all the senior Blairites because, like Dr Who regenerating in a bright white light, he is the same politics with a less lined face. At the hustings, it has become clear that with David you will get all that was good about New Labour – much higher spending on public services than under the Tories, for example – and all that is bad.

Whenever other candidates pointed out, in the spirit of trying to figure out how to do better next time, that at the end of the New Labour years, inequality was higher than under Thatcher, our emissions of warming gases were up, and there are now 20,000 unidentified corpses in Baghdad morgue alone, he snapped that it’s wrong to “dump on the record”.

It’s not enough to say the debate should be solely “future oriented.” The next Labour leader will face similar decisions. What he did in the past will shape what he does in the future. And David Miliband’s record in government suggests he will always ask: what would Tony do?

As foreign secretary, he aggressively and unrepentantly defended the Bush administration’s actions. He told the BBC’s Hardtalk: “Divide and rule is rightly a maxim one applies.” Perhaps most shockingly, he made extensive and expensive efforts to cover up the British security services’ earlier complicity in the torture of British people abroad.

He went to court to prevent us from being told how judges had laid out in detail how British resident Binyam Mohamed was rendered by the CIA to Morocco where he was subject to medieval torture, including the taking of a scalpel to his genitals, with MI5 feeding questions to the torturers. He says he “abhors” torture – but why then cover up MI5’s role in it? Do Labour members want to see their leader forced to testify on all this before the new torture inquiry?

Ed Miliband is different. At every hustings he said – to tics and tuts from his brother – he’s glad he was against the invasion of Iraq from the start, and when US foreign policy is in future heading in the wrong direction, “Britain should get off the train”. His record in government suggests that this is true.

While his brother was defending the Bush administration’s atrocities, Ed was traveling the world as climate secretary, pleading governments to go much further and faster than the US allowed. At Copenhagen, I saw how he was one of the few politicians who grasped the scale of the climate crisis and sincerely tried to get a deal.

They also differ closer to home. Blair said this week that Labour lost because “it stopped being New Labour” – the argument that David Miliband’s team are echoing. He named two policies that he says lost the party support. The first is the decision to increase taxes on the richest 1 per cent from 40 per cent to 50 per cent. Yet in reality, according to YouGov, some 62 per cent of Brits want to go further and introduce the higher rate at £100k. Only 25 per cent are against.

The second deadly policy, he says, is that Gordon Brown started “identifying banks as the malfeasants” after the crash. Yes: Tony Blair thinks people didn’t vote Labour because the party was too critical of bankers. In truth, again, 76 per cent say Brown was too soft on the banks. Remember: these are Blair’s own examples, not mine.

This is a perfect illustration of the argument that Ed Miliband has been making throughout the leadership debate. He has claimed that New Labour’s initial instincts from 1994 have hardened into “ideological dogmas” that would leave the party “beached by history” in this decade. The more New Labour hardened into a rightwing caucus, the more it shed votes: by 2005, on Blair’s watch, it was down to 35 per cent, and only “won” because of an undemocratic electoral system that may not be there next time.

So what’s Ed Miliband’s alternative? Peter Mandelson and others have offered up a silly straw man, claiming he believes Labour should “abandon the middle classes”. In fact, he has a more subtle point. If you want to appeal to the middle class in Britain, you have to know what it is – and people like Mandelson seem to have forgotten in a blur of yachts and guacamole dips. The median wage in this country is £20,831. Only 10 per cent earn more than £40,000. So Ed Miliband wants policies that help the real middle – not the top 1 per cent that Blair, Cameron and company bizarrely class as “ordinary voters.”

This, the real middle class in Britain, has been stressed for a long time as their share of national income has been steadily transferred to the rich. Over the past 30 years, the proportion of GDP paid in wages has fallen from 67 per cent to 54 per cent, while the proportion going to the rich as income from dividends has skyrocketed. They work the longest hours in Europe, but their wages are, relatively, shrinking. There’s a real redistributive will out there, waiting to be tapped.

Labour has lost 5 million voters since 1997. One million went to the Tories. Four million went to the Lib Dems and smaller parties, or to disgusted abstension. Three million were manual or unskilled workers. So it is basic electoral arithmetic that there are four times more votes to be won back there in winning back liberals and low-income workers than in becoming a Cameron clone. As Ed Miliband put it: “We can neither win an election with the working-class vote [alone], nor can we take it for granted.”

Of course, the Blairites say this can’t win. Yet the polls show it was their totems – Iraq, the deregulation of high finance that made the crunch inevitable and the bank bailouts necessary, and on – that were the last government’s most unpopular policies.

By contrast Ed Miliband’s agenda – to appeal to Britain’s true middle and the lost low-income workers by arguing that they should have a greater share of the wealth they generate, while not killing a million people abroad – polls well. To suggest this is “Bennite”, or a return to 1983, is bizarre: it’s mild European social democracy, of the kind that is pulling Germany out of recession faster than the US.

So yes, we should thank the Ghost of Tony Past. He has reminded us that if you want more of the same, vote for the candidate he calls “my Wayne Rooney.” But if you think this country could do better, brother, there’s an alternative.

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“Apocalypse Now,” by Abiezer Coppe

Climate change is killing 150,000 people a year NOW. That is the 2000 estimate of the World Health Organization, so it is ten years out of date. The once in a thousand year 2010 Moscow heatwave has caused an estimated 15,000 deaths.

For the “we have nothing to do with it” global warming deniers, here is a little primer on the current state of the science:

The science is already in.

One can find a metacommentary on Russia’s heatwave here:

and here:

Climate records are being broken all over the world this year:

This is actuality. It does matter. And it cannot be stopped, but it can (I hope) be moderated to a level where we can survive global warming, by cutting carbon emissions drastically.

“Business as usual” = civilizational collapse.

If you do not care, do not have children. They will not forgive you.

If you wish to be up to date on the subject global warming, read the scientists! I suggest here and the NOAA, plus the climate progress website mentioned above.

I read them, and I am not a scientist.

The human race currently emits 45 billion tons of carbon a year. And we do not do it by breathing or farting alone!

We have multiplied our biological carbon emissions as a species many fold through the development of technology, which required the burning of fossil fuels, the ancient sunlight of antiquity. Thus we become our own Nemesis.

It is difficult to point to any aspect of our current material lives that is not dependent on fossil fuels in some way, from plastic bags to cheap food.

We are changing the climate, and without global carbon emission reductions there is point of no return, where positive feedbacks kick in and carbon emissions from natural processes such as the melting of the subarctic tundra and the burning of the world’s forests, start to exceed annual human emissions, and kick global warming into high gear.

We have a little window of opportunity now. No-one knows how long it is. It seems, from my years of reading on the subject of global warming, that it will certainly be closed by 2030.

And that date is based on the most optimistic of all projections.

When the climate “tipping points” are passed (the scientific consensus – but NO-ONE REALLY KNOWS – is that this starts to happen at 1.5 to 2 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial global temperatures: we are currently 0.8 degrees Centigrade above), we are in for a very rough ride indeed.

That article is from yesterday’s UK newspaper, The Independent.

Given the current levels of urgency regarding this issue on the part of the global elites, runaway global warming is currently more likely than not.

Anthropogenic global warming has the potential to be the new global genocide. A genocide of the poor by the richest countries, with the highest per capita output of carbon emissions. Ask a Pakistani farmer in Sindh province how he is doing at the moment, and what his prospects are for 2011.

With runaway climate change, civilization will collapse, and there will – at some point after 2050 – be a catastrophic collapse in global human population in the “business as usual” scenario (I do not like James Lovelock’s politics at all, but in that sense he is hard to contradict). For more on this, see Anatoly Karlin’s review of Six Degrees, by Mark Lynas

It is a very graphic and a very detailed description, degree by degree of global warming above pre-industrial levels, of how human induced global warming is changing the world we live in. And the précis saves you reading the book.

It’s fun to read! Apocalypse Now!

Please read Anatoly Karlin’s review of Lynas if you read nothing else I reference. It is a glimpse into the uncertain future toward which we are headed, with no stars to steer by.

Global capitalism requires 3% compound growth to continue in existence, as David Harvey explains here in 3 parts. Capitalism must expand, or die. Both natural and institutional limits to the self-reproduction of Capital are a mortal threat to its very being. 3% compound growth, and our additional numbers, explain why the human species has moved from using 62% of planetary biocapacity in 1961 to 144% of planetary biocapacity in 2006. Is your country living within the mercy of its ecological means? Check the ecological footprint network atlas.

Not sustainable, not a good outlook for the species. “No future, no future, no future for me,” as the Sex Pistols once sang.

I suspect, therefore, that the answer to human survival in this century and the next, and a civilizational level higher than that described in the visionary dystopian novel of global warming, Far North by Marcel Theroux, lies in a revisioning and implementation of communism.

Read it and see what you think; then comment.

Despite the 20th century deviation of Communism from its original envisioning by Marx and Engels, and the ecological disasters of the Eastern Bloc, Mao’s China and the Soviet Union, Marx’s vision of post scarcity communism was profoundly ecological.

Cuba is the only country in the world today that lives within its ecological limits (page 14).

I find it very heartening that there remains one country in the world that has, largely by default, found a sustainable way to live, and that it is, with all its human rights and politico-economic flaws, a non-capitalist country.

Cuba is a glimmer of hope in a world ruled by the mantras of greed and growth. But not the only one by any means.

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“E Pur Si Muove…And Yet It Moves,” by Abiezer Coppe

Read this article by Johann Hari. Just read it, and then reflect on how many Chinese produced electronic goods you have in your life.

I don’t care what you call China: communist, capitalist, socialist or state capitalist. Bugger the terminology. It’s academic. It’s a slave empire in my book. Any country that allows workers to work 24 to 35 hours continuously, until they die of exhaustion, or commit suicide, is a slave empire.

Any country that tolerates workers being banged up in dormitories, not allowed to have sex and fed inadequate food, and then fed to the machine of endless production, is a slave empire. And we in the rich and decadent, declining consumerist West benefit from this state of affairs.

Western corporations like Foxconn are unwilling to see things change. They have their claws sunk deep into the necks of Chinese workers.

No one who has the political interests of the working class at heart can support what goes on in China in the free economic zones.

It’s completely barbaric, and it makes my blood boil.

Fortunately Chinese workers will not lie down and take it any more. As Marx once wrote (I’m paraphrasing):

The liberation of the working class shall be the work of the workers themselves.

And the working class is a power that no state can hold down for ever. Even in China.

The Chinese state is immensely authoritarian. Video surveillance of workers’ lives in the urban centres is ubiquitous. The internet is heavily censored. Penalties for political dissidence are severe. There are 3,000 state executions a year.

One would think that nothing could shift in this uniquely dystopian blend of communism and capitalism, held together by Han Chinese nationalism.

One would think that 1984 has finally arrived, and it speaks Mandarin.

E pur si muove…Orwell was wrong. Marx was right. Thank God.

And now for some good news

Johann Hari

We’ll never know the names of all the people who paid with their limbs, their lungs or their lives for the goodies in my home and yours.

At first, this isn’t going to sound like a good news story, never mind one of the most inspiring stories in the world today.

But trust me: it is. Yan Li spent his life tweaking tiny bolts, on a production line, for the gadgets that make our lives zing and bling. He might have pushed a crucial component of the laptop I am writing this article on, or the mobile phone that will interrupt your reading of it.

He was a typical 27-year-old worker at the gigantic Foxconn factory in Shenzen, Southern China, which manufactures i-Pads and Playstations and mobile-phone batteries.Li was known to the company by his ID number: F3839667. He stood at a whirring line all day, every day, making the same tiny mechanical motion with his wrist, for 20p an hour. According to his family, sometimes his shifts lasted for 24 hours; sometimes they stretched to 35. If he had tried to form a free trade union to change these practices, he would have been imprisoned for 12 years.

On the night of 27 May, after yet another marathon-shift, Li dropped dead.

Deaths from overwork are so common in Chinese factories that they have a word for it: guolaosi. China Daily estimates that 600,000 people are killed this way every year, mostly making goods for us. Li had never experienced any health problems, his family says, until he started this work schedule; Foxconn say he died of asthma and his death had nothing to do with them. The night Li died, yet another Foxconn worker committed suicide – the tenth this year.

For two decades now, you and I have shopped until Chinese workers dropped. Business has bragged about the joys of the China Price. They have been less keen for us to see the Human Price.

KYE Systems Corp run a typical factory in Donguan in southern mainland China, and one of their biggest clients is Microsoft – so in 2009 the US National Labour Committee sent Chinese investigators undercover there.

On the first day a teenage worker whispered to them: “We are like prisoners here.” The staff work and live in giant factory-cities that they almost never leave. Each room sleeps 10 workers, and each dorm houses 5,000. There are no showers; they are given a sponge to clean themselves with.

A typical shift begins at 7.45am and ends at 10.55pm. Workers must report to their stations 15 minutes ahead of schedule for a military-style drill: “Everybody, attention! Face left! Face right!” Once they begin, they are strictly forbidden from talking, listening to music, or going to the lavatory. Anybody who breaks this rule is screamed at and made to clean the lavatories as punishment. Then it’s back to the dorm. It’s the human equivalent of battery farming.

One worker said: “My job is to put rubber pads on the base of each computer mouse…This is a mind-numbing job. I am basically repeating the same motion over and over for over 12 hours a day.” At a nearby Meitai factory, which made keyboards for Microsoft, a worker said: “We’re really livestock and shouldn’t be called workers.” They are even banned from making their own food, or having sex. They live off the gruel and slop they are required to buy from the canteen, except on Fridays, when they are given a small chicken leg and foot “to symbolise their improving life.”

Even as their work has propelled China towards being a super-power, these workers got less and less. Wages as a proportion of GDP fell in China every single year from 1983 to 2005.

They can be treated this way because of a very specific kind of politics that has prevailed in China for two decades now. Very rich people are allowed to form into organisations – corporations – to ruthlessly advance their interests, but the rest of the population is forbidden by the secret police from banding together to create organisations to protect theirs. The political practices of Maoism were neatly transferred from communism to corporations: both regard human beings as dispensable instruments only there to serve economic ends.

We’ll never know the names of all the people who paid with their limbs, their lungs, or their lives for the goodies in my home and yours. Here’s just one: think of him as the Unknown Worker, standing for them all. Liu Pan was a 17-year-old operating a machine that made cards and cardboard that were sold on to big-name Western corporations. When he tried to clear its jammed machinery, he got pulled into it. His sister said: “When we got his body, his whole head was crushed. We couldn’t even see his eyes.”

So you might be thinking – was it a cruel joke to bill this as a good news story?

Not at all.

An epic rebellion has now begun in China against this abuse – and it is beginning to succeed. Across 126,000 Chinese factories, workers have refused to live like this any more. Wildcat unions have sprung up, organised by text message, demanding higher wages, a humane work environment, and the right to organise freely. Millions of young workers across the country are blockading their factories and chanting, “There are no human rights here!” and, “We want freedom!” The suicides were a rebellion of despair; this is a rebellion of hope.

Last year, the Chinese dictatorship was so panicked by the widespread uprisings that it prepared an extraordinary step forward. It drafted a new labour law that would allow workers to form and elect their own trade unions. It would plant seeds of democracy across China’s workplaces. Western corporations lobbied very hard against it, saying it would create a “negative investment environment” – by which they mean smaller profits. Western governments obediently backed the corporations and opposed freedom and democracy for Chinese workers. So the law was whittled down and democracy stripped out.

It wasn’t enough. This year Chinese workers have risen even harder to demand a fair share of the prosperity they create. Now company after company is making massive concessions: pay rises of over 60 per cent are being conceded. Even more crucially, officials in Guangdong province, the manufacturing heartland of the country, have announced that they are seriously considering allowing workers to elect their own representatives to carry out collective bargaining after all.

Just like last time, Western corporations and governments are lobbying frantically against this – and to keep the millions of Yan Lis stuck at their assembly lines into the 35th hour.

This isn’t a distant struggle: you are at its heart, whether you like it or not. There is an electrical extension cord running from your laptop and mobile and games console to the people like Yan Li and Liu Pan dying to make them. So you have to make a choice. You can passively let the corporations and governments speak for you in trying to beat these people back into semi-servitude – or you can side with the organisations here that support their cry for freedom, like No Sweat, or the TUC’s international wing, by donating to them, or volunteering for their campaigns.

Yes, if this struggle succeeds, it will mean that we will have to pay a little more for some products, in exchange for the freedom and the lives of people like Yan Li and Liu Pan. But previous generations have made that choice. After slavery was abolished in 1833, Britain’s GDP fell by 10 percent – but they knew that cheap goods and fat profits made from flogging people until they broke were not worth having. Do we?

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“I Still Love You, Frank,” by Abiezer Coppe

Like many artists, Frank Zappa had a juvenile attitude and never really grew up. His anarcho-capitalist politics were puerile. He treated his wife Gail badly. He consumed groupies. His sexual politics sucked. He hated Communism and hippies. He hated a lot of things. He chainsmoked himself, defiantly, to an early grave. He called tobacco his favourite vegetable.
Parts of his early albums like Absolutely Free are almost unlistenable. I still prefer The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s to Frank Zappa’s scathing and justifiable skit on it, We’re Only In It For The Money. His guitar solos can be sterile displays of pyrotechnic virtuosity. Yet there are also passages of astonishing beauty.
So why do I still love you, Frank? Part of it has to do with being banged up in a girl free boys’ boarding school, aged 16 and horny, with no fag inclinations, and listening to Brown Shoes Don’t Make It for the first time. Off the planet weird genius sings about unmentionable sexual acts with 13 year old girls. Excellent. We had to hear more.
We devoured the early Mothers albums. He was the politically incorrect antidote to stuffy English conformism. We the interned and hungry for anything that smacked of life thought it was cool.
He is the greatest satirist in rock music. He can be laugh-out-loud funny. Just listen to Jewish Princess or Bobby Brown Goes Down if you have any doubt. He is the antithesis of Political Correctness, much needed in these PC times.
He produced outstanding concept albums like Joe’s Garage. He is completely unsparing of evangelical religiosity, attacking its exponents with cruelly aimed barbs, often to hilarious effect. He created the greatest satire of mindless American conformism and submission to consumer culture ever written, I’m the Slime, yet he was also an extreme conservative and hated drugs. His targets were pretense, falsity, West Coast hippies and gay men, pseuds, religious evangelists and just about anyone he had in his crosshairs…
He is a great singer with a rich mocking baritone and a highly irritating falsetto. He is one of the world’s greatest rock guitarists, up there with Jimmy Page, Hendrix and the rest. He was disciplined, had a phenomenal work rate and was a perfectionist. He gave his musicians hell. Listen to the production values of the Hot Rats album, or any of the live albums. Who else had such astonishing productivity and variety in 26 years of artistic endeavor?
Finally he had a musical range unmatched by any other rock composer. He tried his hand at most genres within popular music, even country. He crossed over into jazz rock. Along with Chicago he created jazz rock. How many rock composers can you mention in the same breath as Karl Stockhausen and Edgar Varese? I still look forward to my first encounter with his last classical piece, Yellow Shark (1993).

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“Israel’s Key Vulnerability” by Abiezer Coppe

Here is another post by guest poster Abiezer Coppe, Israel’s Key Vulnerability. I agree with several of his points here. First of all, armed resistance to Israel by the Palestinians is clearly futile. What’s the point? They are up against the 4th largest army on Earth with 200 nuclear weapons. These measly rockets are going to beat them how. On the ground, there’s no contest. The Palestinians got creamed in this last invasion of Gaza.

I agree that it is absurd for Hamas to declare to a victory when they just got their ass handed to them in the worst way, but this is how Arabs are. An Arab will never admit he lost. Even if he gets creamed worse than Custer at Little Bighorn, it’s still a Great Victory for the Mighty Arabs.

I also agree that Israel has violated its own UN Charter that it signed in order to be admitted to the UN, and as such, I think Israel ought to be thrown out of the UN on its butt. This will never happen, but it’s a nice fantasy. I can see Abe Foxman and the US editorial pages squirming and writhing like Linda Blair in the Exorcist right now.

Boycotts of Israel are driving the world’s Jews and their media and government Gentile buddies into insane conniption fits, but it’s a great idea. It worked for South Africa. It’s important to note that South African anti-apartheid Blacks who have been to Palestine often say that the Israeli Apartheid regime under which the Palestinians live is worse than Apartheid South Africa. So if it was righteous to boycott South Africa, and I say it was, it is even more righteous to boycott Israel.

The Jews usually say an Israeli boycott is outrageously anti-Semitic because we are not boycotting all the other asshole countries on Earth. Instead we are singling out one asshole country, Israel, and letting the other anal pores off the hook. It’s Intra-Asshole Country Discrimination and dammit, it’s just not fair! Equal protection for assholes!

I really do not know what to make of this bizarre argument, except to ask if anyone ever used it against the South African campaign. To Israel, I say, yeah we’re singling out as one Asshole Country in a world full of Butt Nations. One Buttland at a time, please. We will get to the others later on.

I’ve long been a supporter of Fritz Fanon. The only anti-Semite I have ever met who truly hated Nazism was a Leftist Fritz Fanonist who likened the Palestinian liberation struggle to the Algerian Civil War.

Israel’s Key Vulnerability

Abiezer Coppe

Israel has once more sent out a message to the Islamic and Arab world with its onslaught on Gaza that the struggle for the Middle East will be uncompromisingly bloody and violent. It was the same message in the summer of 2006 with the invasion of the Lebanon, with the Qana massacre of 1996, with the invasion and the 18 year occupation of the Lebanon in 1982 to 2000, and all the way back to 1948.

For those who abjure violence in their personal lives, and for those, like me, who have never carried or used a gun, the boycott campaign is an important tool of nonviolent struggle against the Occupation of the West Bank, and the racist polity within the ever shifting borders of Israel, the borderless state in Occupied Palestine.

I admire Hamas’ and Hezbollah’s armed resistance against overwhelming force, but it should be by now clear after sixty one years that by itself armed resistance to Zionism will not lead to its overthrow. The most these organisations can do to Israel is harass, with as much impact as a wasp stinging a human being.

This in itself is not negligible. The main effect of the missiles launched over Israel’s border is psychological terror, and occasional fatalities, against which the fourth most powerful military machine in the world is powerless. Psychological terror may discourage new Jewish immigrants from arriving in Israel, and that is to the good.

However such tactics do not even elicit a pause from Israel’s political leadership, Right and Left, in the ongoing war on the Palestinians, the Zionist project of clearing the land of Arabs, and the continued illegal settlement by Jews of the Palestine’s West Bank.

Clearly Hamas and other resistance organizations are quite powerless by themselves to stop Zionism in its tracks. In a defensive struggle the Shi’ite organization Hezbollah did succeed in throwing the IDF out of Lebanon in the year 2000, and successfully frustrated Israel’s attempt to reoccupy the Southern Lebanon in 2006. Israeli expansionism was thus contained.

At no point in the last sixty one years have Arab armies succeeded in crossing Israel’s 1967 borders, or even in invading the annexed West Bank. Israel’s wars, including that of 1948, have been fought on the territory of other countries.

The Yom Kippur War of 1973, although a partial defeat for the Arabs, did eventually lead to the return of the Sinai to Egypt (under American pressure) during the Carter administration. The regional military balance has been shifting in Israel’s favour for the last sixty years (Mayer 2008). Talk of Hamas’ “victory” in Gaza in 2009 is in my view self-deluding and misplaced. An unopposed massacre of over 1400 civilians is not a victory.

I do not want to see the Palestinian resistance reduced to the equivalent of the Native American “ghost dances” of the 1880s, as the last resistance of the aboriginal inhabitants of Palestine is vanquished.

I do not think for a moment that this will happen, because the Palestinian Diaspora now numbers more than 7 million, but the weakness of the opposition to the Zionist colonisation of Palestine within Israel is very concerning, and a helping hand from an international citizens’ boycott of Israeli goods and services is its chief, but not its only hope. Arab resistance and Arab demography are other reasons to hope.

Armed resistance to military occupation, as enshrined in the UN charter, is legal: Israel itself is of doubtful legality, as outlined below.

As the infamous Irgun terrorist Menachem Begin and future Israeli Prime Minister remarked the day after the UN vote on the partition of Palestine in November 1947: “The Partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized…Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever.”

Israel has not accepted a single UN resolution on Palestine from Day One, and its founding act as a state was a massive and violent process of ethnic cleansing, illegal in International Law. The current prime minster of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, is a direct descendant of the brand of Zionism represented by Begin.

In order to be accepted as a member state in the United Nations, in 1949, Israel was required to endorse General Assembly Resolution 194, which recognizes the right of return of the Palestinian refugees and commits itself to the return of all “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours” (700,000 in total at the time), to its sovereign territory.

Israel accepted, was made a member state and immediately after announced it had no intention of implementing the UN resolution. Israel thus announced its illegitimacy as a member state of the UN. The Security Council, dominated by the imperialist states of the West, and in particular the UK, which helped to implant Israel in the Middle East in the first place, went along for the ride, as did the Soviet Union.

Israel’s key vulnerability lies in its being a trading state with a highly skilled workforce but few natural resources.

The boycott of Israeli products, coupled with divestment in Israeli companies and a cultural embargo has to be a key way of supporting the Islamic and secular Palestinian resistance (PFLP), as well as a way of applying pressure to the Zionist establishment to moderate its penchant for atrocities, encouraging dissent within Israel and the deepening of existing fissures within Israeli society.

If an international boycott can be linked to the issue of Return for the Palestinians and the cancellation of the Jewish Right of Return, an uncontroversial strategic goal in support of the Palestinians can be flagged up for the movement.

In January 2009 479 Israeli citizens signed a document called A Call From Israeli Citizens calling for the boycott of Israeli products, divestment from and sanctions against Israel as the only way forward to begin the Civil-ization (in both senses – demilitarisation as well – Occupied Palestine to become a civilian society once again rather than a garrison state) of the Zionist military machine and stop the ongoing war on the Palestinian population.

In the 1980s Meron Benvenisti, an Israeli writer and ex-deputy mayor of Jerusalem, ran the West Bank Data Project, which analyzed the interaction of the Israeli and Palestinian economies in the Occupation.

The resulting study concluded that the West Bank had effectively been annexed by Israel, not merely occupied (Benvenisti 1995). As pre-1967 Israel was also an annexation by military force, accompanied by some strong arming of Truman and the infant United Nations by Zionist elements in the American Jewish community, the term “Occupied Palestine” correctly refers to the whole of the land between the river Jordan and the sea.

Any other designation fudges the evidence, which suggests that the military occupation of the West Bank will remain until the post-1948 colonial regime itself is either brought down or collapses under the weight of its own internal contradictions, to be replaced by a non-colonial political order and the re-establishment of political and economic equality between Arab and Jew.

Before 1967 Palestinian civilians of Israel also lived under a military occupation, and were in a similar position politically to those of the West Bank and Gaza now.

The Palestinian American writer Rashid Khalidi uses the term helot (a term from the Greek language of Ancient Greece to designate an indeterminate status between that of a slave and that of a citizen) to designate the position of Palestinian civilians who have neither the civil rights nor the political opportunity to influence the behaviour of the state that dominates and controls their lives in endlessly demeaning and demoralising ways.

Palestinian terror in the form of suicide bombing, a response of the powerless to the removal of liberty and civil rights and the ongoing illegal confiscation of land for Jewish settlements, first arose in Palestine in 1994, the year in which the grotesquely unjust Oslo Peace Process faltered.

In the same year, the Jewish physician and the extremist Kach Party member Baruch Goldstein, who now has a shrine in his honour drawing hundreds of tourists and supporters, murdered 29 Muslims at prayer and wounded a further 150 at the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron.

Israeli Jews who view suicide bombing as a peculiarly Palestinian or Islamic pathology should recall the biblical story of Samson, the first recorded suicide attacker, and ask themselves under what extreme conditions of dispossession and oppression, and under what conditions of political despair, would they themselves consider such an act to be an attractive course of action.

Those who do not like equality before the law and citizenship for all will leave, just as the Algerian French did together with some of the pieds noirs in 1962, helping to solve the problem of housing some of the Palestinian refugees from Occupied Palestine at a stroke.

Frantz Fanon’s two most important books, Black Skin, White Masks, and The Wretched of the Earth, have now been translated into Hebrew as of 2004. I am sure that they have been available in Arabic for a long time, but the political culture of the Hebrews is backward and inward looking, which is to be expected in a colonial state.

Were the champion of the Algerian liberation struggle Fanon alive today (he would be 82 years old) he would certainly support the Palestinians. It is our privilege and  duty as free citizens of the international community to do the same by supporting the boycott of Israeli goods.

Dorothy Naor, a 77 year old Jewish Israeli with whom I have been in email contact since the invasion of Gaza, is a signatory to the aforementioned boycott document A Call From Israeli Citizens, has been an Israeli resident of Occupied Palestine since 1958, immigrating from the USA.

Her activism starts from the premise that the occupation of Palestine, of which she is part as an American Jew, began in 1948, and can be reversed. She is one of a very small minority of historically conscious Israeli Jews. Reversing a colonial occupation, which in this case does not mean throwing the colonists out, is an enormously ambitious project, but it can be done, and the worldwide tide of protest and action is rising.

References

Mayer, Arno J. 2008. Plowshares Into Swords: From Zionism to Israel. London, New York: Verso Books.

Benvenisti, Meron. 1995. Intimate Enemies, Jews and Arabs in a Shared Land. Berkeley: University of California Press.

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Filed under Abiezer Coppe, Anti-Zionism, Guest Posts, Israel-Palestine Conflict, Left, Middle East, Military Doctrine, Palestine, Regional, Terrorism, War, Zionism

Abiezer Coppe “Marxist Reading List”

I don’t usually print stuff like this, but my newest guest columnist  Abiezer Coppe is incredibly well-read. This is a list of the Marxist literature he has been through, which includes most of the seminal works of the discipline. I still maintain that we on the Left have to quit critiquing actually existing capitalism (AEC) so much and figure out some alternatives to AEC that actually not only get rid of the problems of AEC but are workable and viable.

Abiezer is much better read in Marxist literature than I am. I checked out some recent stuff by Meszaros from last fall and it was pretty good stuff. Hungarian Marxist philosopher. A lot of my readers are Leftists and many are also extremely well-read, so they might be interested in this post. They will probably chime in in the comments with recommendations of their own. I agree that Marx is incredibly hard to read. Abiezer’s bio is here.

To call myself a Marxist would be really overegging the pudding! After all around 1872 Karl Marx himself said “All I know is that I’m not a Marxist!”. I’m not a Marxist, I’m a Communist. And I’m definitely a humanist. I identify with Marxist humanism. Obviously I’ve absorbed Marx via membership of the Communist Party, and latterly of the Socialist Workers’ Party (the only Marxist game in the city in the 2000’s), which I quit because of its politics on various issues, and I’ve read Marx at times.

But no-one can seriously call himself a Marxist unless they have read Capital Volumes 1 to 3 and can give an exposition on what they mean. I haven’t.

I tried to read Volume 1, a copy of which sits proudly in my bathroom along with Trotsky’s My Life, Engels’ Anti-Duhring, Paul Sweezy’s The Theory of Capitalist Development, two books of Marxist philosophy by the inestimable American Communist Barrows Dunham (If you haven’t read him, check him out!), Engels’ Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844, Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man, David Shub’s biography of Lenin, Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution, Kent Worcester’s biography of CLR James plus various Marxist books on history (two copies of British Communist A L Morton’s – whom I  knew – A People’s History of England) and literary criticism, but I never got that far with Das Kapital.

I also have wonderful volumes by British Marxist novelists Jack Lindsay (I knew him well and named my son after him) and Lewis Grassic Gibbon. I learn a lot from novelists, especially those writing in the Marxist tradition. And from Marxist poets like Neruda, Hikmet, Vallejo and Yevtushenko.

The 20th century Marxists I’ve read include Gramsci, Trotsky, Lenin obviously, Bukharin (brilliant!), Rosa Luxemburg, Alexandra Kollantai, Mao Tse Tung, Lukacs, Althusser because I was a member of the French Communist Party in the 1970’s, Coletti, Fernando Claudin (his History of the Communist Movement), Meszaros (for whom I retain a great affection despite his dreadful 985 page Hegelian reading of Capital, which I did read to the end and emerged none the wiser. But his Marx’s Theory of Alienation is just brilliant in my view.), Christopher Hill and Isaac Deutscher (I knew his second wife Tamara) and EP Thompson.

Marx’s Theory of Alienation and Marx’s 1844 Manuscripts, plus Lenin’s State and Revolution, The Communist Manifesto, Mao’s On Contradiction and Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution, were the first books I ever read by Marxists, after coming back from India at the age of 19, meeting Indian Communists in New Delhi and deciding the world needed to be turned upside down, as in the song about the Levellers by Leon Rosselson, the greatest British Marxist Jew songwriter ever, and still performing at 75! His albums are brilliant!

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“Why Boycott Israel” by Abiezer Coppe

Abiezer Coppe is the pen name of a British Leftist who is a good friend of mine. His biography is here. The subject of this article has been done many times, but most folks still don’t understand it very well. There is a big debate on the Left about whether or not to boycott Israel. Some say yes, others say no. Here Abiezer lays out the case for boycotting Israel.

Why Boycott Israel

by Abiezer Coppe

In the past the world knew how to fight criminal policies. The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves: its trade relations are flourishing, academic and cultural cooperation continue and intensify with diplomatic support.

This international backing must stop. That is the only way to stop the insatiable Israeli violence.

We are calling on the world to stop Israeli violence and not allow the continuation of the brutal occupation. We call on the world to condemn and not become an accomplice in Israel’s crimes.

The above is part of a document signed by leading Israeli artists, writers and intellectuals and ordinary citizens during the war on Gaza and published on January 7th 2009. It is not the first (see Matzpun.) Matzpun is the Hebrew word for conscience. This IS a matter of conscience.

If you knowingly buy Israeli goods you are complicit with the war crimes of the Israeli state. If you unknowingly buy Israeli goods now is the time to inform yourself, now is the time to stop. Not buying Israeli goods is ethical shopping.

Palestinian organizations have been calling for the boycott of Israeli goods for years. We should finally listen. The war on Gaza was not fought against an army, but against the civilian population with the most modern, deadly and in some cases illegal weapons. 1434 civilians died and over 5,000 were injured. Over 300 children died.

Gaza does not have an army. Gaza does not have an air force. Gaza is an overcrowded strip of land bordering Egypt, contains nearly one and a half million Palestinians, many of whom are the descendants of those who fled southwards in 1948, driven out by the Jewish militias, an illegal act of ethnic cleansing, accompanied by massacres of unarmed civilians in Tantura, Deir Yassin and other villages, over 400 of which were then razed to the ground.

Israel has not changed its nature in the intervening years since its foundation in 1948. Schools, hospitals and police stations in Gaza were repeatedly targeted by the Israeli Air Force in January. Israeli soldiers confronted and killed unarmed civilians in their houses.

Shells containing white phosphorous, an illegal weapon which burns human flesh down to the bone, were dropped on a UN school. A UN compound containing provisions and supplies for Palestinians, which repeatedly contacted the Israeli army beforehand, was shelled and set on fire. These are war crimes.

Illegal Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME for short) weapons were used in Gaza. These weapons shred the body and sheer off limbs leaving a stump that does not bleed. They are illegal. What is more, the killing goes on since the ceasefire. Gaza is now a killing field.

Gazan civilians cannot leave their cage. Gaza has been blockaded for three years. The blockade is illegal in International Law. The Palestinians of Gaza are malnourished for want of food. They continue to die for want of access to hospital treatment. Over 99% of Gazan children examined by psychiatrist Dr Khalid Dahlan have suffered trauma.

Gaza is not allowed to trade. Gazan fisherman are not allowed to fish. The remains of the Gazan economy have been destroyed by the Israeli bombing. Antiquated sewerage systems have been smashed by the bombing. The water is not safe to drink.

What is the word that describes Israel’s treatment of Gaza? If you are in any doubt check out this article by a Jewish Israeli historian, Ilan Pappé. If you knowingly buy Israeli goods you are supporting this. Who can defend this? What am I talking about here? Ask yourself. Can we stand by and let this happen?

Does history have to repeat itself?

Things are not much better in the Palestinian West Bank, illegally occupied for 41 years by the Israeli army. Unemployment is 70% among the 3.1 million Palestinians there. The economy has been stifled by the Occupation.

Over 40% of Palestinian land on the West Bank has been illegally confiscated for illegal Jewish settlements. The illegal Jewish settlers bear arms and harass and kill Palestinians constantly. 500,000 of them now live on illegally confiscated Palestinian land. The Israeli settlements pipe their sewage directly onto Palestinian farmland.

No Palestinian is allowed to bear arms, unless he is working for the Israel state. There is no legal recourse for Palestinians, either for the killings or for the land confiscations. A wall snakes across Palestinian land, isolating Palestinian towns like Qalqiliya, now entirely surrounded by a 25 foot wall, cutting off Palestinian villagers from their own olive groves and farmland.

600 checkpoints on the West Bank staffed by bored, frustrated youths of the Israeli Defence Forces, monitor and control all Palestinian movements. People are delayed for hours at checkpoints on the whim of the Israeli army, and women have given birth at a checkpoint and lost their babies.

Over 11,000 Palestinians are in Israeli jails, many for years without charge. Many of them are under 18. 18,000 Palestinian homes have been illegally demolished on the West Bank since 1967. 30,000 new housing units are planned this year on confiscated Palestinian land around East Jerusalem.

Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank is far worse than Apartheid ever was. South African blacks were part of the Apartheid economy, not a surplus population with levels of unemployment running at 70% in the West Bank and over 80% in Gaza before the war.

There was no question of ethnically cleansing the South African blacks from their homeland. Palestinians are not welcome or safe in Gaza and the West Bank, and increasingly they are not welcome as citizens of Israel.

Arbitrary mass arrests greeted the largest ever peaceful Israeli demonstration of 150,000 people in the Galilean village of Sakhnin. Peaceful Palestinian protests in Hebron on the West Bank were greeted with mass arrests and live ammunition. Who can defend this? Who would tolerate it here? What is this democracy that the EU states embrace with open arms?

We saw the deafening silence of the international power elite, on both sides of the Atlantic, during the illegal war on Gaza. The international boycott of South Africa, coupled with the resistance of the ANC, was pivotal in bringing De Klerk to the negotiating table and ending the formal existence of Apartheid in South Africa. Israel is an even more oppressive case of colonial rule of a subject population, in which the UK has been complicit from the beginning.

I believe that a mass international boycott campaign can bring pressure to bear on the Israeli state to seek a resolution of the conflict with the native Palestinians that is based on the minimum requirements of justice and the International Consensus as represented by the United Nations annual vote on the resolution of the conflict, and the rulings of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, not the US Road Map to Nowhere.

This is the absolute minimum, and can only become an agenda for resolution of the conflict if made a demand of an international mass boycott movement.

Who cannot support this? Do not be complicit! Supporting the boycott in whatever form you can sends out a clear message both to the Israeli regime and our own rulers: This is unacceptable. This must stop.

Here are some resources for further investigation.

The illegal war in Gaza and Gaza war crimes, by Richard Falk, an American Jew.

A campaign started by Muslims

The Big Campaign.

Jason Kunin, a Toronto Jew, on Why Boycott Israel?

Anti-Gaza War by Israelis.

Understanding the Crisis in Gaza.

The Jerusalem Post. Boycott campaigns do make a difference.

Ronnie Kasrils, a South African Jew, on why Israeli treatment of the Palestinians is far worse than Apartheid.

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