Video of conference inside: Speeches verbally translated in English, live. Leaders of several European nationalist parties gathered for the ‘Freedom for Europe’ congress, in Koblenz, on Saturday, January 21. The meeting was the first official appearance of Frauke Petry, chair of the AfD (Alternative for Germany), alongside Front National leader Marine Le Pen. Both were joined by Geert Wilders, founder and leader of the Dutch PVV (Party for Freedom), and Liga Nord leader Matteo Salvini. Dubbed a “European counter-summit”, this first-of-its-kind gathering was organised by the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group from the European Parliament.
Climate march is silly at best - dangerously counterproductive at worst. Candobetter Ed. To cope with climate change, Tony Cartalucci advocates relocalisation and taking advantage of new technology to assist this. At one stage he criticises a top-down imposition of austerity, not to be mistaken for a simpler, more democratic lifestyle. This top down austerity is what is being imposed in Australia via the undemocratic and onerous imposition of a big population and intensive and alienating development. This article is republished from http://localorg.blogspot.com.au/2014/09/climate-march-hides-real-culprits-and.html and http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com.au/2014/09/climate-march-hides-real-culprits-and.html#more
September 21, 2014 (Tony Cartalucci - LocalOrg) - Big business and the big political parties and politicians they own have converged in what is being disingenuously called the "People's Climate March." MSNBC would report in an article titled, "#888888; font-size: 15px; line-height: 21.5599994659424px; text-decoration: none;">The largest climate march in history kicks off in New York," that:
They’re calling it the largest mobilization against climate change in the history of the planet. On Sunday morning, protesters from all over the United States and the world are converging on Manhattan to demand that global leaders take action to avert catastrophic climate change. Earlier this week Bill McKibben, founder of the environmental group 350.org, projected that the march would consist of “hundreds of thousands” of participants.
Not surprisingly little in terms of actual solutions are mentioned by the organizers and instead the march is meant to set the stage for political and financial deals to be made at the 2015 Climate Change Conference in Paris, France. #888888; font-size: 15px; line-height: 21.5599994659424px; text-decoration: none;">Organizing the march are institutions funded by the very governments and corporate-financier special interests that have helped create devastating environmental and socioeconomic disasters across the planet over the past several decades in the first place.
Also involved are profiteers who have taken advantage of the general population's genuine concern for the environment to propose and benefit from scams consisting of everything from #888888; font-size: 15px; line-height: 21.5599994659424px; text-decoration: none;">land-grabbing thousands of acres in Africa to peddling "carbon credits" and other financial gimmicks that make immense profits from doing literally nothing at all in terms of production and by creating a false sense of security, may even be compounding environmental catastrophes.
For those drawn to such "marches" and who are dismayed or disillusioned by the disingenuous nature of those trying to hijack their good intentions to peddle self-serving political and financial gimmicks, what can they do to develop and actually make good on the vague promises being made during this year's "People's Climate March?"
The Climate Always Changes - We Must Always Be Prepared
The climate is always changing, and nearly everything human beings and nature do, both on Earth and beyond it, has an impact on it. A changing climate, like earthquakes and volcanoes driven by the constantly changing geological state of our planet, or diseases that sweep animal and human populations amid a perpetual biological arms race, will be a challenge humanity will always have to face.
Of course, human activity has an impact on the climate. The construction of our cities creates microclimates, emissions change the constitution of our atmosphere - regardless of how much or little - contributing to a much greater array of natural and anthropocentric variables that collectively drive and change the planet's climate, among other things.
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|Image: Late Cretaceous period saw CO2 levels many times higher than they are today, with higher sea levels and Antarctica covered in temperate forests and teaming with dinosaurs. The climate has shifted radically long before humanity rose, and will continue to change regardless of what we do. We can prepare for it, minimize our impact on it, but we cannot stop it.|
Additionally, there is no way to predict with certainty, nor manipulate reliably the climate - at least not with the technology we currently possess - and surely not with the political solutions pushed forward by the very corporate-financier special interests staging stunts like the "People's Climate March."
While reducing humanity's impact on the planet should be one of many goals we collectively pursue, even if we managed to reduce our impact to zero, #888888; font-size: 15px; line-height: 21.5599994659424px; text-decoration: none;">the climate would still change, and would still change for both the better and for the worse of the ecosystems that inhabit this planet. Evolutionary, astronomical, and geological processes have all contributed to massive extinction events. Humanity must understand that the only way to truly protect this planet is not to "stop climate change," which is impossible, but rather hedge and protect against it through innovations that can weather climatic changes no matter what they may be or what may be driving them.
In many ways, agriculture itself is an expression of this. So is exploration and architecture. Continuing along the road of these evolving disciplines will give us the tools we need to always be prepared no matter what the climate throws at us.
Reducing Humanity's Impact on the Environment
Reducing humanity's impact is a topic that in fact does get brought up by the ringleaders of the climate change movement. However, their vision of the future is one #888888; font-size: 15px; line-height: 21.5599994659424px; text-decoration: none;">where the population lives in utter austerity under a planetary regime but a handful control. Left unscathed are the corporate-financier special interests that will create this planetary regime that, not surprisingly, will also bestow upon these special interests, unprecedented power, wealth, and influence. And despite the austerity they have planned for the masses, none of their measures seem to address what will happen if the climate continues to change - as it has for millions upon millions of years before humans walked the Earth.
There is an alternative solution that is often never mentioned - one that doesn't hamstring human progress or demand resource rationing, or the curtailment of energy use or food consumption. It is not political in nature and does not involve one group of people dictating the lives and allowances of others.
It is never mentioned because it would be a direct, coordinated, global decentralization of the big-business monopolies and their socioeconomic and environmentally disastrous supply-chains, factory farms, sweat-shops, and the iron grip they possess over so-called "intellectual property" and research and development in all fields from energy production to biotechnology to medicine and mass transportation.
Local development of, by, and for the people, leveraging technology, open source collaboration, and focusing on pragmatic, technical solutions to our problems, including reducing our impact on the environment and hedging against natural disasters whatever their cause, is indeed the solution.
#888888; font-size: 15px; line-height: 21.5599994659424px; text-decoration: none;">Consider the journey made by a plastic trinket found on the shelf of Walmart. It began in a sweatshop literally on the other side of the planet, hammered, pressed, painted, packed, and shipped off by people working under slave-like conditions using unhealthy chemicals and processes that would be unacceptable in the West.
The trinkets are driven by trucks to docks where they are placed upon ships that traverse the Earth's oceans burning tons of diesel fuel, releasing scorching clouds of fumes behind them as they churn up the sea and all life within it. The trinkets arrive on Western shores where they are moved by trucks, vans, or planes from the docks, to distribution centers, to the mega-retail outlet it is finally destined for.
To pick up your trinket, you must drive your car to Walmart, walk beneath hundreds of lights burning sometimes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week over its warehouse-sized consumerist troughs, purchase the trinket, and drive back home.
Consider an alternative - a 3D printer on your desk. Open source designs can be downloaded and shared over the Internet with anyone in the world. Projects can be coordinated between designers and hobbyists anywhere on the planet. When you have obtained or designed the trinket of your choice, you print it out directly on your desktop. There is no car drive, no ships, no trucks, no burning lights over shelf after shelf in a mega-retail outlet. You print exactly what you want, exactly how many you want, without the waste associated with consumerist-driven assembly lines and mass production.
Even the plastic fed into 3D printers can be derived from plant oils grown locally. Plastic and other materials can also be recycled locally. Gone are the sweat shops, truck convoys, merchant fleets, and all the unwarranted power and influence their existence grants the handful of special interests they serve.
The innovations in manufacturing technology that are placing the means of production literally into the hands of the masses will be followed by similar breakthroughs and paradigm shifts in biotechnology, agriculture, and medical technology. Communities are already developing what could be called local collaborative institutions where technology is leveraged to solve the problems and desires of their residents. And while they are "local," they are by no means isolated. They are connected globally to similar local institutions cropping up across the planet by information technology. Innovations will progress in parallel rather than in secret within the profiteering grip of traditional corporations, governments, and global institutions.
It will be these local institutions that pragmatically put an end to the waste, fraud, and abuse of immense corporate-financier interests and the negative socioeconomic and environmental impact they are demonstrably causing.
Personal manufacturing like 3D printing would do (and is already doing) more alone to undo harmful consumerist practices, faster, and in parallel than any top-down political solution cooked up at the Climate Change Conference in Paris could dream of doing.
What You Should Be Doing Instead of "Marching"
Instead of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the very special interests that have created the current global system devouring our planet, activists genuinely concerned with human progress and the health and longevity of our planet's environment should be shoulder-to-shoulder with local innovators seeking to solve local problems and in parallel with other innovators globally. Local #888888; font-size: 15px; line-height: 21.5599994659424px; text-decoration: none;">hackerspaces or makerspaces, fabrication laboratories (FabLabs), DIYbio community labs, and other collaborative projects are providing the tools and resources needed to solve problems without the "help" of the very troublemakers that created them in the first place - big business and big government.
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|Image: Building solutions themselves, rather than begging corporations and
governments to do it for them - local institutions like hackerspaces and
makerspaces set new precedents in how we organize ourselves to work and
After all, it is local people who understand best the challenges they face socioeconomically and environmentally. They understand the quality of their food, water, and air and what needs to be done to clean it up - not those attending the Climate Change Conference in Paris. And it is local people who will be motivated above all others to truly solve these problems as efficiently and as quickly as possible.
And if we decide not to act locally, and instead defer to politicians to "save us," we can expect the same tricks and unfulfilled promises politicians make in every other regard. People who are willing to march in the streets, but not dirty their hands to come up with actual solutions to these problems are not genuine in their cause. Others who are willing to get their hands dirty should be spending their time exclusively doing so, rather than encouraging hot air from politicians and their self-enriching gimmicks that will cost us, not aid us in moving humanity forward with our best interests and the planet's health in mind.
“If you don’t plan, those folks in Western Sydney will have their worst nightmares come true,’’ Chakrabarti told The Daily Telegraph, threatening that Sydney "would also struggle to create good jobs and fall behind East Asian cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai".
That is the awful benchmark our enemies who call themselves our leaders seek to impose on the rest. It is indeed our worst nightmare, to compete with Hong Kong and Shanghai. Only psychopaths like warlords and corporate landlords would wish such a nightmare on Australians. Good leaders would lead us against it.
Bad leaders stand on a rubbish heap of trashed human rights
How could any self-respecting media dignify such authoritarian drivel as the basis of planning policy? Is this what inevitably happens in a capitalist system that privileges bullies and psychopaths by making them rich enough to dominate the public messaging system? If it cannot be made democratic then we can only hope the system will be brought down. The sole reason most of those talking up development and population growth are even heard is that they stand astride a skyscraping rubbish-heap of trashed human rights which they have helped to bury through land-speculation on an industrial scale.
The mass media that purveys this propaganda and invests in real-estate, keeps any dissenting views to a whisper. The ABC follows suit in a conspiracy to protect the beneficiaries of propaganda. Australians hate what is happening, but because so many still rely on the mainstream media to understand what is happening and to represent their views, they fail to connect on the ground and therefore fail to organise. Most people reading these transparent propaganda tracts marketing population growth and infrastructure explosion as inevitable must feel alone in their horror.
I believe that I have shown in Demography, Territory, Law: the Rules of Animal and Human Populations, that growth is not inevitable and that about half of the first world nations are planning to adapt positively to smaller populations by the 2050s.
Chakrabati is also reported to have said that the selling of airspace to highrise developers is, “a very viable model as areas around train stations are very, very valuable.’’ Fighting highrise development above a local station was where Marvellous Melbourne came into being, with the help of Planning Backlash. Marvellous Melbourne sought to publicise what the speculators who have taken over our government had planned for Camberwell Station, in Melbourne, Victoria. As well as the imposed massive changes to the local visual and experienced environment, there was the abrogation of democracy of local residents. The situation has since greatly deteriorated with VCAT, the Victorian Court system, now imposing impossible costs on citizens to prevent them from exercising self-government.
Coming up from the wings in the two party fixed horse race #fnAirSpace3" id="txtAirSpace3">3 towards impossible living conditions is the growing unaffordability of land-rates. As well as driving up rental costs, elderly residents innocently living in homes they bought and paid for decades ago, find that rates based on speculative land-values are pulling them into debt at a time of life when wages and pensions do not keep up with the related inflation. And it is not just the elderly, young renters and young home-owners face lifetimes of enslavement to debt with little prospect of retaining equity in purchased property as these costs rise.
Of course, this suits the predators who pass for parliamentarians and their friends, because it means that a proportion of those people will be forced to sell-up and move out, creating a dynamic that will favour subdivisions, making housing even less affordable.
"Policies which promise to build low cost modest housing, or any policy which increases density will only drive prices higher and worsen the situation. By reducing dwelling size, the premium paid for land increases and land price increases." (Dennis K in "The Housing market and the death of Australia.")
Whilst building high-rent slums, the person or corporation that buys the 'air-rights' around the stations servicing increasingly congested suburbs will make billions of dollars, far more than is needed to buy parliamentarians and political parties.
We are told that the Planning Department estimates Sydney’s population will increase by 1.6 million over the next 20 years, requiring 664,300 new homes. Chris Johnson, of Urban Taskforce, an organisation that represents the interests of property developers, is quoted predictably as saying that 'Sydney will need to build 100 new high-rise apartment towers a year for the next 50 years to accommodate a third of the increased population.' Only if Mr Johnson and his allies get away with their political push to bulldoze Australians' rights.
Australia's population is increasing at an unsustainable rate, impacting on democracy, the environment, and civil rights, only due to immigration policy at both Federal and State levels. All the states have websites inviting people to come and live in them and all the states pretend they have no control over the situation. The Australian government is trying to induce young people to move to the north of Australia in the context of high unemployment. The aim is to give young people no choice but to work for the predators who are moving in on the north to cover it in mines, roads, dams and suburbs. There will be no natural environment left at this rate. The high immigration that permits all these abuses is not Australia's friend. But it's not terrorism from overseas we should fear most; it is the terrorism of the developers inside and outside parliament who are removing our rights in order to promote growth for their selfish profits.
Probably the only way to change this kind of situation is through a revolution that redistributes land and decommodifies it. With the mass media working so successfully to keep Australians ignorant and isolated from each other, this would be almost inconceivable, except that there is also a good possibility that petroleum depletion and the inadequacy of alternative sources of power and of nuclear will undermine the awful profit system we are groaning under. The result will be a decline in the ability to travel long distances and a return to the family and clan unit, interacting locally. The family and clan unit has an organic power structure, rooted geopolitically in its local environment. #fnAirSpace4" id="txtAirSpace4">4
Did Vishann Chakrabarti, touted as a 'leading New York architect' willingly lend his name to this subversion of democracy by the new Australian squattocracy? Such a man could use his position to denounce the hidious transformation of the world into New York-style ghettos divided by desert, or he can use it to help Australian Prime Minister Abbott to further privilege corporate power and wealth, in an entropic race to the bottom.
#fnAirSpace1" id="fnAirSpace1">1. #txtAirSpace1">↑ Bradfield was a founding member of the Australian Engineers Institute and famous for being the engineer in charge of the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. He was also famous for pushing schemes to turn Australian rivers inland to animate the desert. Someone decided to attach his name to give some ersatz gravitas to this grande bouffe for greedy developers. However, I note that his great great granddaughter, Holly Parker, won a young scientist prize for a kind of packaging that can be replanted after use, which sounds like a generational turn for the better.
#fnAirSpace2" id="fnAirSpace2">2. #txtAirSpace2">↑ See, for instance, article in the Sydney Daily Telegraph: Sydney Harbour Bridge engineer John Bradfield: A great legacy to live up to in our city.
#fnAirSpace3" id="fnAirSpace3">3. #txtAirSpace3">↑ The ALP saw that Bill Shorten, rather than the membership favoured Anthony Albanese, was pushed to the top of the heap after the last election. Shorten, like Abbott, will push population growth on behalf of the ruling and wealthy classes, whereas Albanese actually said he preferred for Australians to democratically decide on immigration numbers. See "Numbers man” Shorten apparently open- ended on Australia’s population numbers."
#fnAirSpace4" id="fnAirSpace4">4. #txtAirSpace4">↑ Demography, Territory, Law: the Rules of Animal and Human Populations
Environmentalists and democracy activists, please watch this video on a new paradigm that could help us be more effective and organised on our issues. When truth exposes the absurd bases of traditional power, it makes us laugh with joy and empowerment. Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert thus penetrate the global financial bulldust in a stellar episode talking about the digital currency revolution underway that will turn the financial vampires to dust and remove the shadows from the rest of us. It is time to learn about the reality of 'non-fiat money, crypto-currencies, crypto-bullion, bitcoin, swarm, crypto-equity, peer-to-peer financing, crowd funding , bit pacer, m pacer,' and all that stuff. They also talk about people taking control of parliaments in the same way. Video inside. The first part is the guts of it. There is an RT program ID in the middle that you can fast-forward. The second half is an interview with Swarm, which describes itself and crypto-equity. Truly stimulating new stuff here!
In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert ask, “What financial system ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what banking system can preserve its liberties if the bankers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?” And while many billionaires and plutocrats worry that the pitchforks are coming, Max and Stacy suggest that the revolution is already well under way, as crypto, blockchain and P2P technologies and systems have put a pitchfork in the corrupt financial system. In the second half, Max interviews Joel Dietz of SwarmCorp.com and Simon Dixon of BankToTheFuture.com about crowdfunding, Bitcoin 2.0 technologies like Swarm and the future of cryptofinance innovation.
In modern Australia there is a “Widespread anxiety about the state of politics” and “the only appropriate response is cynicism” (MacKay 1993 pg 176). The problems are not just local but it is only locally that we can hope to make a difference.
A necessary part of the solution is increasing local control through a shift in the division of power. But to overcome cynicism it needs to be a genuine shift. In Australia we have learned a unique lesson in this regard. In 1900 the federal government was given specific powers with the intention of improving the material circumstances of everyone. These powers related to such sensible responsibilities as: taxation, postage and communication, banking, immigration, external affairs, pensions and matrimonial matters (Clark, 1987). The residual powers: education, health, railways remained with the states (Clark 1987, pg 188). But over 100 years we have seen state powers gradually usurped by federal government due to financial dependence. This dependence arose from a series of gradual changes in the both the size of federal revenues (from around 5% of GDP in the early 1900’s to 30% of GDP by the 1980’s) and proportion (until 1942 income taxes were collected by the states). The evidence of federal power over the states extends to current attempts to effectively take control of education curriculums through the Gonski reforms (I am not arguing whether that is a good or bad thing, I am just pointing out that power seems to lie with those who control the purse strings). As noted by Andrew and Goldsmith (1998) local government has also experienced “an increased use of appointed as distinct from elected bodies as well as increased state or central control of local government activities and finance”. In which case, legitimising local councils constitutionally and strengthening their authority (through referendum) is unlikely to empower citizens locally if those same councils are heavily dependent on federal or state funding (although some believe this could help). The issue of declining democratic representation as a result of appointed authorities is also significant.
One important concern to address is the perceived low level of competence of local leaders and councils. Let me put forward the idea that local leaders are probably no more or less competent than state or federal leaders, in many cases local leadership in councils is the pathway to parliament, with only an election in-between. Decision making at state and federal levels may seem more effective, but I suspect that this is because they have meaningful budgets and real decision making power, thus they are subject to heavy lobbying by various and conflicting organised groups. It is likely this lobbying more than anything else that leads to a higher, but still inadequate, level of informed and conciliatory decision making by state and federal representatives. A shift of power to the local level would presumably lead to a commensurate increase in lobbying and a corresponding increase in the quality of local decisions.
This does not imply that we need abandon the federal system, but rather that we return much power and money to more localised governments. It is only at the local level that the needs of community can be really understood and addressed. And this only if they have both the authority and resources to do so. Furthermore, without major planned reforms this will inevitably occur anyway – as our paralysed state and federal governments become less and less effective at managing our deteriorating circumstances. There is a failure of leadership at the existing state and federal levels. The only strategy they have is to continue development and growth – this will only make the problems worse. The end of the growth based system is now well in sight, and it is not pretty.
In short, we need to face up to the fact that society has changed substantially over the past 100 years, however, our legal and legislative system has not. It is failing and this is reflected in the evident cynicism and lack of confidence as noted above. Unlike the late 1800’s, Australia is now firmly integrated into a globalised trade and political system. So rather than directing our attention towards real or imagined forces that are beyond the ability of citizens and our current governments, to control we need to act locally to help ourselves. And in fact, we are already seeing this occur in many communities across the globe. (eg: local communities banning GMO’s, creating their own currencies and local defence). In case you doubt the ability of strong communities to deal with crises there is good evidence that they can survive even the most dire calamities, as was demonstrated by Cuba’s resilience when the USSR collapsed (for a summary see here). In fact, Cuba’s response demonstrated a case study for division of powers for emergencies: federal responsibility for health, education and food rationing and local responsibility for production and distribution. But Cubans apparently had faith and trust in their government. Is that true of Australians today?
However, there is an answer - communities can take back control. Through a process of local referendums communities can create a new system of regional governments. These governments can replace both state government and local government by combining two or three council areas into a new state. The newly created regional states can then join the Australian federation under the constitutional process for adding new states.
An example of such a new state government would be the combination of Mornington Peninsula shire (LGA) with Frankston city into a new state government called the State of Mornington Peninsula. The new state would have about 270,000 people –slightly less than the state of Victoria had when it was first formed. A proposal for the new State of Mornington Peninsula is available at 8thstate.net.
Creating the State of Mornington Peninsula would lead to immediate significant economic benefits through creation of local jobs and opportunities. Money and jobs that are currently sent to Melbourne would be re-located on the Peninsula as the State of Mornington Peninsula would have its own education department, state and road planning, transport department, courts and police force etc. The flow on effects of this would significantly boost local business and open up very attractive opportunities to the people of Mornington Peninsula State. It is expected that all state systems would be far more responsive to the needs of the people on the Peninsula than the current state services.
In fact, if this process was to conducted across Victoria it would achieve the decentralisation and revitalisation of rural communities that has been discussed and previously attempted by the Victorian State Government over recent decades (see this ABC report).
The conversion of the State of Victoria into a set of smaller regional states can be done via a state referendum. This could result in around 18-20 regional governments and in such a scenario, a coalition of Victorian Governments could supervise and manage the re-organisation of former State of Victoria assets, services and responsibilities.
The creation of one or more regionalised state governments within Victoria would give communities direct control over the natural environment in which they live. For example, communities would have complete control over the use of GMO crops and Coal Seam Gas Fracking.
Thus communities could decide for themselves whether to navigate an energy descent path earlier or later - i.e before or after potentially destroying their farm land and groundwater supplies by fracking.
However, the ability of communities to effectively organise themselves depends on the strength of those communities. Thus regardless of what happens, there is a practical and necessary action every one of us can take: that is to get involved in local community in some manner; whether it be volunteering, attending local meetings; whatever capacity suits you best. This will build social cohesion, and knowing the people in your local community better will certainly help you feel a lot more comfortable, especially in troubled times - which are imminent . We must act now.
References and Bibliography:
Andrew C and Goldsmith M, 1998 “From Local Government to Local Governance - and Beyond” 19(2) International Political Science Review.
Brown L R, 2010 “Plan B 4.0, Mobilizing to Save Civilisation”,W W Norton & Co, p 5. See also, Earth Policy Institute, Providing a Plan to Save Civilisation (Earth Policy Institute) http://www.earth-policy.org/about_epi/
viewed 30 April 2012.
Clark, M 1987 “A Short History of Australia”, Penguin.
MacKay, H 1993 “Reinventing Australia: the Mind and Mood of Australia in the 90s”, HarperCollins.
"This submission does not follow the suggested response questions but sets out to make comment upon what we see as the necessary strategic planning issues for the future of Melbourne... In our previous submissions on planning, BRAG has pushed for a federal population policy that limits immigration to more sustainable levels like we used to have in the 80’s and 90’s of around the 70,000 to 80,000 p.a. mark and we have not moved away from that stance. The first step in any planning is to have a population policy that is sustainable otherwise planning policy will continue to fail....we believe that the general planning powers must be with local councils who better understand their municipalities and those who live in them. Centralization leads to power and power leads to corruption and this is one of the issues we are now facing with developer donations being used to corrupt decision-making." You may not agree with everything, but it's a pretty impressive democracy submission.
Melbourne Metropolitan Planning Strategy Submission from the Boroondara Residents’ Action Group (BRAG)
The Boroondara Residents’ Action Group has a current membership of over 500, mainly residents and small business operators in Boroondara. BRAG also receives strong support from the general residents of Boroondara.
BRAG is registered under the Associations Incorporation Act 1981 N0 A0054624J
P. O. Box 1034 Camberwell Vic. 3124 www.brag.asn.au [email protected]
The Boroondara Residents’ Action Group has been lobbying for a new planning strategy to replace Melbourne 2030 and [email protected] since before the last state election but the discussion paper is a big disappointment because it provides little in setting a strategic direction or evaluated options.
Therefore this submission does not follow the suggested response questions but sets out to make comment upon what we see as the necessary strategic planning issues for the future of Melbourne. Any planning for the future must be accepted by key interest groups but most importantly by the residents and general citizens of Melbourne. Otherwise it will fail, just as M2030 did, because the residents and general public were not really consulted so they had no ownership of M2030 or [email protected]
The Ministerial Advisory Committee has indicated that we must move away from regulation as the primary means of achieving outcomes, which is very concerning, as that would leave planning and construction in the hands of developers who would act in their own interests and not in the interests of the end users, the residents of Melbourne.
The Committee has listed some principles including a Polycentric city linked to regional cities which could be developed further to provide a more realistic planning direction but the Committee has accepted that Melbourne’s population will continue to grow without any indication that it is the escalating growth that is part of the problems we are now facing, overloaded infrastructure, unacceptable housing densification, water and power issues, public transport issues, traffic issues, etc.
In our previous submissions on planning, BRAG has pushed for a federal population policy that limits immigration to more sustainable levels like we used to have in the 80’s and 90’s of around the 70,000 to 80,000 p.a. mark and we have not moved away from that stance. The first step in any planning is to have a population policy that is sustainable otherwise planning policy will continue to fail.
We recommend that the principles set out in *Kelvin Thomson’s 14 point plan are seriously considered and we understand that this is really a federal issue but unless the state governments start a push to review the current policies nothing will change.
( *Kelvin Thomson is the Federal Member for Wills and a copy of his 14 point plan is attached)
Recommendations For a Planning Policy for Melbourne
One of the key issues that residents are concerned with is protection
- for Melbourne’s leafy green suburbs and the increasing amount of opportunistic development that is changing the character of their tree-lined streets. Therefore any plan must contain mandatory protection of neighbourhood character and mandatory height controls set by the local councils after consultation with their local residents.
- Any proposed new suburb in future must first have the necessary infrastructure before any housing is built including roads, drainage, sewerage, water and power, shopping centre, social amenities and transport links.
- A detailed plan to upgrade existing public transport to meet immediate and future needs in Melbourne including a rail link to the eastern suburbs and to existing and any new airports
- A detailed plan to capture and recycle suburban rainwater and build local water storage and distribution capabilities.
- Plan for reducing our dependency upon building houses to keep the economy going and introduction of hi-tech industries and intellectual products – bring back the “clever country concept”.
- Decentralization should be one of the main objectives of any planning policy. In Victoria there are opportunities to create regional cities with one initially in the east of the state where there are resources for power and water and one in the west where there are several suitable sites such as Hamilton or Warrnambool.
- We believe there should also be a plan to develop in the future another major city in Victoria of about 1 million ( or more) and, because Portland has the potential to develop a natural harbour, it should be investigated now as a possible site.
Note : regionalization, with good planning by establishing smaller cities using cheaper land tax and other exemptions, can be surprisingly inexpensive and would strike at the cause of our current urban problems. First build the infrastructure then the people will follow. Fast trains linking to Melbourne will be essential.
- There have been many suggestions, mainly from those in the planning profession, to centralize planning. However we believe that the general planning powers must be with local councils who better understand their municipalities and those who live in them. Centralization leads to power and power leads to corruption and this is one of the issues we are now facing with developer donations being used to corrupt decision-making.
- It will be essential that VCAT be returned to be an appeal body on planning issues ( partly because tribunal members are generally planners or architects who’s professions rely upon the development industry for their income and their decisions continually go against councils and resident objectors). VCAT should only be able to adjudicate on whether or not council has made its decision properly based on its own and government regulations and procedures, VCAT should not be able to act as an “Authorized Authority”. This would return some sanity to issuing planning permits.
- Currently planning permits can be rolled over for a further period and are often traded on sale of the property, which places a value on the permit and makes the property more easily tradeable. Very often large profits are made by such trading. This is undesirable and should be stopped.
Currently planning has been ad hoc and continually changing depending upon the government of the day. This will be the sixth strategic plan for Melbourne in the last 25 years plus many minor planning changes which does nothing for certainty. (That means there are real changes about very four years).
Over this period public consultation has been token and inadequate resulting in planning decisions being heavily criticized by the public. We note that members of the Ministerial Advisory Committee consulted with many who were listed at the back of the discussion paper “Melbourne, Let’s talk about the future” but not one resident or resident group. This is damning but not surprising because that is how it has always been.
It looks to us that nothing has changed. The professionals seem to be saying “we know best” but do they? We don’t think so for in all that time they still haven’t got it right.
President Boroondara Residents’ Action Group.
Any planning policy must contain pointers to the following :-
- A plan made in concert with the federal government for developing a sensible population policy.
(To continue to support population growth in our cities makes no sense when we don’t have enough water, power, public transport or adequate health systems, police, etc to cope with the current population numbers).
- A similar plan made in concert with the federal government for a workable policy on climate change & environmental issues in conjunction with the population policy
- Ensure honest and genuine community consultation processes in developing a new metro strategy. ( Didn’t happen for M2030 or [email protected]).
As well as developing a new planning blueprint for Melbourne it is essential for consultation on a new planning blueprint for coastal areas and consultation on a new planning blueprint for country areas
- Regionalization policy which should include broadband rollout for home office connection and improved train and fast train services.
- A plan for a future airport to service the eastern growth corridor and the Mornington Peninsular.
- Remove dependency upon development as the only way to keep the economy going.(Strengthen manufacturing base toward hi tech. industries and intellectual products. Bring back the “Clever Country” concept).
- Scrap Melbourne 2030. and [email protected]
- Positively protect heritage.
- Protect suburban residential from opportunistic infill development Return planning power to Councils. (Centralized planning V each council having its own say must be in balance). Melbourne is like a giant tapestry with each area having its own character with different requirements and different demographics. Ensure that the Minister for Planning’s plan for new residential zones is enacted to protect the residential suburbs from opportunistic development through his Neighbourhood Character policies.
- Retain third party rights - to be notified, object & appeal.
- Councils to set and control zones in their own municipality.
- Councils to set height controls.
- Councils to identify where any development should occur
- Review Urban Growth Boundaries to ensure they are permanent
- Convert VCAT to an appeal body only.
- Restrict VCAT from acting as a planning authority.
- Limit areas for high-rise development.
- Provide positive plan for protecting public land and open space.
- Provide guidelines for better designed student accommodation complexes that blend with existing residential areas & amenity rather than the current future ghettos that overpower the local area especially in university precincts.
Other suggestions that are not directly related but must be included in policy:
- A Corruption Commission that has the real power to work properly.
- No Political donations (for access and/or favours – especially from developers).
- The role of paid lobbyists must be removed.
Kelvin Thomson’s 14 point plan.
Condensed from a recent speech made to the Malvern East Group.
A lot of people have agreed with me that a population of 36 million is not a good thing for Australia - opinion polls show 2 out of 3 think it is a bad idea. People don’t want it. But a lot of people think it is inevitable, that there is nothing we can do about it. This is simply not true. As I said earlier, the population number we end up with depends on our net overseas migration numbers.
So to show there is an alternative, in November 2009 I released a plan for population reform, a plan to stabilise Australia’s population :
- Stabilise Australia’s population at 26 million by cutting the net overseas migration program to 70,000 p.a.
- Cut the skilled migration program to 25,000 p.a.
- Hold the family reunion program at 50,000 p.a.
- Increase the refugee program from 13,500 to 20,000 per annum.
- Alter the refugee criteria to include provision for genuine climate refugees.
- The revised number of annual permanent arrivals from these programs would be 95,000 – 50,000 family reunion plus 25,000 skilled plus 20,000refugees. Two more factors need to be considered, the number departing permanently from Australia and the number of people arriving permanently from New Zealand. To reach a net overseas annual migration target of 70,000, the number of automatic places available for New Zealanders needs to be restricted to the number of departures from Australia over and above 25,000.
- Reduce temporary migration to Australia by restricting sub class 457 temporary entry visas to medical and health related and professional engineering occupations.
- Require overseas students to return to their country of origin and complete a 2 year cooling off period before being eligible to apply for permanent residence.
- Abolish the baby bonus.
- Restrict large family supplement and Family tax benefit A for third and subsequent children to those presently receiving them.
- Dedicate the savings from the baby bonus and reduced expenditure on family payments fro 3rd and subsequent children towards increased investment in domestic skills and training through universities and TAFE
- the final 3 points go to increasing aid to the U.N. and using aid budget to educating girls for better family planning and putting overpopulation on the agenda for International Climate Change talks.
Today, Wednesday 3 October, Dr Joe Toscano and Dr Jean Ely launched a colourful campaign against a backdrop of Spring flowers outside Melbourne Town Hall. (Video-link below) They made the point that the other 8 candidates campaign as if Melbourne were a business proposition and neglect the 40 per cent of votes that come from non-business people in a uniquely skewed electoral system where some businesses get two or three votes. This vast electorate includes Carlton, North Carlton, Flemington, Kensington, South Melbourne, East Melbourne, Docklands, Parts of South Yarra and West Melbourne. Most public housing is located there but there are many homeless. There are a lot of children but public schools are rare.
Taking the public seriously
Dr Joseph Toscano began the launch by stating that this is a serious campaign for the Lord Mayor Election and the theme is, "Putting Public First."
He said that other candidates talk about running Melbourne as a business, but Melbourne is a community. It is a community of over 200,000 people, with 102,000 on the electoral role. It includes the CBD, Carlton, North Carlton, Flemington, Kensington, South Melbourne, East Melbourne, Docklands, Parts of South Yarra and West Melbourne.
The election should not be about running a business. It should be an election about people, about cities, about how people collectively and individually resolve the problems of having so many people in such a small area - four million in this city.
"We are standing to promote, protect and extend public housing and public schools in the city of Melbourne," said Dr Toscano.
And, "Listening to this election you forget that most of the public housing estates are in the city of Melbourne: North Carlton, Carlton, Flemington, West Melbourne, Kensington. Thousands of people living in public housing."
"So we think that it's fundamental that we look after people through public housing and public schools. What we have seen over the last 30 years is a revolution which has devalued and privatised public housing, public schools and public health."
Ten per cent city revenue to Seed-fund Local Collectives and Cooperatives for secure and satisfying employment
"The second thing is that we are not interested in running the city of Melbourne as a corporate focused city. We want to see the development of an alternative economic system based on cooperatives and collectives, which provide secure, sustainable employment and goods and services for the people of Melbourne. We are not interested in the people having part-time, poorly paid work. We want people to be self-sufficient, to work for themselves, and share the wealth which they create. We would like 10 per cent of the city's revenue to be diverted to provide seed funding to set up collectives and cooperatives, to set up a alternative economic system based on the satisfaction of real, not manufactured, human needs."
Because you do not need billions of dollars to survive, live or prosper. What you need is secure, safe, sustainable employment.
If you go to a bank and say you want to set up a food collective or a carpenters' collective or a plumbers' collective you will find that nothing happens. So 10 per cent of the city's revenue redirected to set up an alternative economic system.
Double rates on multi-million dollar Melbourne properties
Thirdly, some of the richest people and corporations live in the city of Melbourne. Everyone else is talking about reducing rates. We want to double rates for properties worth more than $10m and we want to quarantine the money raised to tackle the perennial problem of homelessness in Melbourne which is swept under the carpet on a year by year basis. We want to use the money to assist the 40 per cent of people who live in the city of Melbourne, who rely on social security benefits to survive.
Monument to honour indigenous people executed in Melbourne
Fourthly, since the last election Dr Ely and myself have been fighting - along with hundreds of other people - for the establishment of a significant monument for Tunnaminnerwait and Maulboyheenner, two indigenous freedom fighters who were executed on the corner of Bowan and Franklin Streets on the 20th of January 1842. Not just as some hsitorical monument, but as a gathering place for indigenous and non-indigenous Australians to learn about the city's unwritten history and to become involved in the struggle to finish the unfinished business that exists between indigenous and non-indigenous Australia. We se this as a tangible way of actually promoting that struggle of kick-starting the stalled reconciliation struggle. We would like to see the whole area with grass, get a monument there, where peple can go and talk and learn about the history.
Re-name City Square "Human Rights Square"
Lastly, want to see City Square renamed "Human Rights Square" to acknowledge the forceful eviction of Occupy Melbourne by police after getting the nod by Premier Baillieu and the Lord Mayor Doyle from that place for peacefully raising the idea that wealth and power should be redistributed.
Obviously we have many other ideas, but these are the five major ones.
Now, why are we standing? Very simply because this statement will be sent to every elector on the Melbourne electoral role, courtesy of the Australian Election Commission, where people can also read the stuff the other candidates put up like, "we want more parking, more or fewer roads ...."
Because we face difficult times, especially young people, because we are moving from a time of relative abundance to scarcity, as Greenhouse increases, human activity increases, as finite resources are used to manufacture goods we do not need to increase company profits and economy is dominated by economically based on the creation of ever more profits irrespective of social and environmental costs, we find that we need radical solutions.
Call to work around the corporate media by using social media
It is very interesting that apart from the local and community media, there is no media here today, despite the fact that we sent over 1000 emails and even some letters.
You are not going to get the government-gelded ABC or the corporate-owned media talking about a public campaign of putting public first. It is unattractive in a corporate dominated world. For us to get any traction we need people here to go to our website at www.anarchistmedia.org, to download the material, send it to your friends, use it for bloggling and in the social media sphere to promote the campaign.
Our statement cannot be beaten. It is a black caviar statement. It is miles ahead of what you will see elsewhere.
Inter-candidate debates ahead
Over the next three weeks I will be debating my colleagues about these issues, but we have two options - we come last out of nine candidates or we come fourth or fifth or third with your assistance on the social media to show people that there is support for ideas, not personalities.
Dr Ely on public housing and public schooling
Dr Ely spoke on the issues of Public Housing and Public Education. She said that there is a lot of homelessness in the electorate, adding that Mayor Doyle had been very quick to take a photo-opportunity with the homeless but that he had actually done nothing about them. She said that Joe and she were determined to give them a voice. She also wanted to encourage people to put more and more pressure on the state government to restore public schools which had been closed under Premier Jeff Kennett. She mentioned that West Melbourne school had been given to the Salvation Army by Jeff Kennett in 1993. "We want it back," she stated. There are children in this city who need government schools."
"That's why we want to campaign to raise rates on properties worth more than 10m," said Dr Toscano.
Dr Ely concluded by saying, "We are the future. We will have to leave the others to wander off into the past. The Fourth Estate is now on the ropes. The Fifth Estate is the Social Media."
Dr Toscano will be debating other candidates (with the exception of the current Lord Mayor, Mr Doyle, who apparently does not debate other candidates) at the Wheeler Centre on 16th of October between 6.15 and 7.30pm.
Melbourne Council's unusual voting system
The City of Melbourne has a very odd voting system where some businesses have two or three votes and it is slanted 60/40 in terms of business votes in relation to residents' votes. It is the only place in Australia where people have multiple voting legally. This system was created was to ensure that somebody from the business community would be Lord Mayor. This is also the only mayoral election where the mayor is elected by the people. In every other city the mayor is appointed by the councillors. The Melbourne system was designed to give the mayor a bit more power than other mayors to promote business interests.
In fortuitous collision of pique, the Greens and Labor have preferenced Radical Independent Dr Joe Toscano ahead of each other in this Melbourne by-election. Toscano has his finger on the political pulse of this nation because he has an in depth knowledge of Australian history and what we have all lost through corporatisation, privatisation, overpopulation and a corrupt public and commercial media. Hopefully many of the public will actually put Joe first. Although Your ABC Radio has shamefully refused to include Joe Toscano or other alternatives in its by-election broadcast from the Victoria Markets on Friday, a parallel but democratic gathering 8.30 to 12pm at corner of Therry and Queen Street, Victoria Markets will give publicity and information about other candidates. Please join it. As the writer of this article and with a strong acquaintance with Joe, I can make no higher recommendation than Vote 1 for Joe Toscano! See below for Joe's platform and how you can help and contact details.
Shameful discrimination against candidates on ABC radio
Amazingly, Your ABC Radio has actually denied Victorians the democratic opportunity to hear Joe or any other alternatives to Greens, Libs and Labor, speak at an ABC organised by-election broadcast from the Victoria Markets on Friday. This writer's surmise is because the powers that be are afraid that the already well-loved long-standing political activist has a good chance of getting in if they just allow the ABC dependent electorate to find out about his existence.
Let's face it; the only reason we are reduced to the pseudo-choice of Lib/Lab/Greens is because of the corrupt media machine that most of us still depend on. Candobetter and other alternatives are so important to break down this monopoly of political messaging.
Two days ago Joe had yet another ABC interview cancelled. Yet Joe is an interviewer's gift. Joe is a medical doctor who visits severely paralysed patients all over Melbourne. He is a leader in events to take back public land, secure housing as a right, and fight the growing economic divide between the poor and the rich in Australia.
Melbourne By-Election Event vital to media democracy
Please therefore come along to the parallel gathering that Joe's supporters will be organizing for 8am to 12pm this Friday 20 July 2012 at the corner of Therry and Queen Street, Victoria Markets. This should be The Melbourne Political Event of the Year but you and I could make it The Melbourne Political Event of the Decade by attending and covering it on every form of alternative media, as well as ringing up the ABC and writing to the papers protesting about their exclusion of a major political force from public coverage.
The title of this parallel gathering is "Government Gelded ABC Sheltered Workshop for the Institute of Public Affairs". If you want to know more about the circumstances that led to this gathering, download today's Joe Toscano podcast. [Check when you go on the site that the podcast is dated July 18; I am writing this as Joe's weekly show goes to air. You may have to wait until later today for the podcast to go up.]
You can verify for yourself Joe's oratorial skills, brains and humour by listening to him on the Anarchist show on 3CR. Anarchism is, as many of our well-educated readers would know, just another name for relocalisation. Joe must be one of few Australian political figures who has an understanding of the importance of different land-use planning systems to democratic and social outcomes.
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act” – George Orwell
There is not one independent in the Victorian Legislative Assembly or the Victorian Legislative Council, let alone a RADICAL INDEPENDENT. Power in a democratic society should rest in the hands of the people, not the State, corporate boardrooms or the Government of the day.
Real power no longer resides in Parliament, it lies in the hands of unaccountable corporations that increasingly dictate the Legislative agenda.
As we move from a period of relative abundance to scarcity as a consequence of the domination of the world economy by corporate capitalism an economic system based on the creation of ever increasing profits irrespective of the human, social and environmental costs, the ever increasing consumption of finite resources, increasing population growth and increasing greenhouse emissions as a result of human activity, we require radical changes to the way we govern ourselves, what we produce, how we produce it and how we live.
- I would use my position in the Legislative Assembly to encourage people to take DIRECT ACTION – protests, occupations, strikes, sit-ins, consumer boycotts, to ensure their interests are put before the interests of the parliamentary puppet masters, that small section of society that currently owns the means of production, distribution, exchange and communication.
- I would fight to ensure affordable housing is a universal right by defending and extending the public housing sector.
- I would use Parliamentary Privilege to raise in the public arena serious issues that are currently ignored because of the threat of legal action if they are raised outside parliament.
- I would support legislation that protects the individual from the arbitrary exercise of State power and protects internet freedom.
- I would agitate to ensure 1% of Victoria’s GST revenue is used to provide seeding funding to set up collectives and cooperatives that would form the basis of an alternative economic system based on co-operation and the satisfaction of real, not manufactured, human needs.
- I would call for a Royal Commission into corruption in Victoria.
- I would agitate for the introduction of a 1% stockmarket turnover tax to ensure the tax base is widened so that sections of society that currently pay voluntary taxation, pay their fair share of tax, so as a society we have enough resources to pay for public education, public health, public infrastructure and public housing.
- I would fight for the establishment of a New People’s State owned Bank to reintroduce competition in the banking sector.
We need to replace Representative Democracy with Direct Democratic institutions where the people make the decisions and elect or appoint recallable delegates to co-ordinate those decisions at a local, regional and Federal level so the collective wisdom of the population as whole can be harvested.
40 OR SO SOULS WITH NOTHING BETTER TO DO FROM 8:00am to 6:00pm on
SATURDAY 21st JULY 2012
I'm launching the “Set the Cat Among the Parliamentary Pigeons” campaign. This innovative campaign is
directed at the people participating in the Melbourne By-election which will be held on the 21st July 2012. The
main purpose of the campaign is to engage with people on one of the few days Australians think of politics.
The enclosed/attached leaflet outlines the position I'm putting across during the Melbourne By-election
The Melbourne By-election covers the suburbs of Carlton, Melbourne, Kensington, Parkville, North Melbourne,
Flemington, East Melbourne and Docklands. There are 14 polling booths which need to be covered on the
. Carlton Primary School
cnr Palmerston and Drummond Streets
. Kensington Primary School
. Carlton North Primary School
Carlton North AWA
. Victoria University - City Flinders Campus
L12/300 Flinders Street
. St. Michael's Anglican Church Hall
14 McIlwraith Street
Princes Hill FWA
. RMIT (Canteen)
Building 8 Bowen Street
. The Hub @ Docklands
80 Harbour Esplanade
. North Melbourne Primary School
210 Errol Street
North Melbourne AWA
. Dallas Brooks Centre
cnr Albert and Eades Streets
East Melbourne FWA
. St. Joseph's Flexible Learning Centre
385 Queensberry Street
North Melbourne AWA
. Mt Alexander College
167-175 Mount Alexander Road
. University High School - Performance Centre
. North Melbourne Community Centre
North Melbourne AWA
. Kensington Community Recreation Centre
cnr Kensington Road and Altona Street
AWA - Wheelchair accessible with assistance FWA - Fully wheelchair accessible
If you are interested in helping by distributing the leaflet at one of the polling booths;
Email: [email protected]
Write: PO Box 5035, Alphington VIC 3078
Phone: 0439 395 489
to discuss what polling booth you want to cover, the time frame you can cover (hours between 8:00am-
6:00pm) and when and where I can drop off the leaflets to you.
It’s important I'm able to finalise these arrangements BEFORE POLLING DAY on SATURDAY 21st JULY.
This is one way you can directly bring new ideas to a significant number of people on the one day and have an impact on their thinking. I look forward to you contacting me ASAP
Nicolas Sarkosi wants to reinforce European business, using the US example of giving public work to American companies. "Why should Europe forbid what America, the most economically liberal country in the world, permits itself? In this way European taxes would support European companies that have chosen to produce and manufacture in Europe." Sarkozi has also called for tighter immigration controls in Europe.
"The Castle (German: Das Schloß) is a novel by Franz Kafka. In it a protagonist, known only as K., struggles to gain access to the mysterious authorities of a castle who govern the village for unknown reasons. Kafka died before finishing the work, but suggested it would end with the Land Surveyor dying in the village; the castle notifying him on his death bed that his "legal claim to live in the village was not valid, yet, taking certain auxiliary circumstances into account, he was permitted to live and work there". Dark and at times surreal, The Castle is about alienation, bureaucracy, the seemingly endless frustrations of man's attempts to stand against the system, and the futile and hopeless pursuit of an unobtainable goal."Source.
You might take K's frightening bureaucratic predicament as a metaphor for a stateless person. And you might say that a state should welcome stateless persons and make them its citizens. But where do you turn when there are no borders and citizenship has no meaning? Then the Castle is everywhere and we are all here on sufferance.
This article is about principles of citizenship within a state.
French President Nicolas Sarkozi wants to shore up European commerce, taking his inspiration from the American model, by investing public money in European companies.
"Why forbid Europe what the United States - the most economically liberal country in the world - [he says with his tongue in his cheek] - permits itself? This way European taxes will reward European enterprises that have chosen to produce and manufacture in Europe."
The message is that France, which leads the European Union in many policies, will no longer reward outsourcing.
Anglophone nations supine to outsourcing and capital movement
The situation is very different in Australia. Anson Cameron writes in "www.yourjob.gone," (The Age, March 10, 2012), about how the internet has made it possible, not just to outsource waged labour, but to outsource professional skills. He describes Australian small businesses using accountants in India, Australian housewives consulting Chinese-based doctors via the internet, and pretentious home-makers sourcing architectural designs from architects in Delhi. He suggests that law firms in Australia will soon be or are already using lawyers from India and China who specialise in Australian law but charge much less than Australian-resident lawyers. Comparing this process to the situation that arose with the battle of the Australian Maritime Union against Patrick and the Howard Government in the late 1990s, he says,
"There will be no brouhaha over the demise of Australian professionals. No feisty rearguard action. No blood. No barristers. The drift is too natural. Too individual. Too invisible. A movement that consists of a million small decisions made right here in Australia. Careers will just turn off, one by one, without fanfare, the same way a city goes dark at night. Not a compelling spectacle. A point of light dies in Sydney and reignites in Kolkata.
It can't even be argued that this is a tragedy. The teaching job exported to Indira Patel of Kolkata will end more suffering and create more happiness for more people in that distant city than it ever did here. And who can begrudge the export of happiness to those who have seen it least and need it most? So, not a tragedy. Just a sad Australian story." Anson Cameron, "www.yourjob.gone," The Age, March 10, 2012.
Whilst he is correct that most Australians would not mourn the passing of unaffordable lawyers, Cameron's assessment of outsourcing as the export of happiness lacks a crucial consideration. He does not look at the difference in Australian property prices for offices, warehouses, factories, shops and housing which are far higher than the same essentials in China and India. As long as Australian land prices remain astronomical, Australian labour and professionals will not be able to compete on that great "level playing field" beloved to Thatcher, Reagan, Keating and Howard and other rich Anglophone despots of recent times.
In Germany or France, however, even with outsourcing, the provision of public housing and subsidised private housing has meant that the unemployed are able to find cheap shelter. Affordable shelter is their right as citizens or legal residents and a state obligation. This is not the case in Britain, Australia, and the United States. Unemployment is not just a political embarrassment for Western Continental European governments; it costs the public sector immediately in the form of rent subsidies. This is as it should be in a democracy. Why would you privatise housing and lose citizen control over shelter if you had the power to prevent this?
Sarkozi wants tighter immigration controls for Europe
Nicolas Sarkozi also want to revise and reinforce the Schengen borders which have established free movement within Europe and control the entry of immigrants from outside.
"We cannot leave the management of world migration entirely in the hands of technocrats and tribunals."
The message is that Schengen borders must be better defined and more firmly enforced or France will reestablish her own borders at a national level.
Open-borders ideology characterises Anglophone countries
In Australia - and other Anglophone countries - the message is, however, quite different. As candobetter readers know, Australia has a massive growth lobby. The growth lobby thrives on open-borders capital, open-borders mass migration, open-borders residency and unprotected labour. The mass media (owned by the growth lobby) continuously brain-washes Australians, Canadians, Americans and Britons with the mad idea that growth is good, open borders is good, deregulation is good. The result is that we have lost control over all of the things that governments are elected to safeguard. In losing this control we have lost real citizenship. If we don't have money to buy rights, then, when it comes to the crunch, rights aren't guaranteed where English is spoken.
How are immigration control and protectionism related?
This article began by citing French President Sarkozi's reelection platform of protectionism and immigration control. But, how are immigration and protectionism related?
Loss of local control over rates of immigration means loss of local control over wages. Loss of protection for local business means loss of control over imports and exports, which can then be taken over by transnational corporations which have much greater capital resources than locally based and operating businesses. Such transnational businesses have become vehicles for international capital which cruises the world looking for cheap labour and cheap resources.
Deregulation of capital has caused loss of citizen control over banks, interest and bank charges. Deregulation of foreign investment laws has given international money more control over assets and resources in Anglophone countries than citizens have.
As well as looking for cheap labour and resources, transnational capital looks for cheap land to invest in. It will drive off local landowners - farmers and villagers - in order to gain control of land. (For Australian examples, see articles about Foodbowl Unlimited.) It also seeks to influence the governments that make laws for that land to serve the interests of capital rather than those of citizens. It does this through financial inducements, industrial blackmail, and by getting control of the media which controls what the public hear about politicians.
Having taken control of land (as well as water, power and other essential resources and goods) transnational capital then drives up the cost of that land (and water, power and other resources) by influencing governments to raise immigration rates and cause inflation of land-costs, which then increases the resale profits on that land for owner-developers and the costs for the purchasers and renters (as well as for water, power and other resources).
Transnational capital also invests in agricultural land and reaps the benefits when overpopulation and the commodification of water, power and other vital resources, drives up the costs of food for local people.
Anson Cameron's article "www.yourjob.gone" (mentioned above) suggests that people in poor countries benefit from exported jobs and relatively low wages, forgetting that the people of poor countries are being driven from their land and their businesses through costs inflated by international capital investment, just as Australians are. (See also, Prof John Kozy, "Abstractions Versus the "Real World": Economic Models and the Apologetics of Greed," at http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29270)
In Australia housing used to be subsidised by cheap loans at fixed rates of interest and the federal government also provided public housing for industrial workers, in part to keep wages low but without impoverishing workers, so as to encourage local manufacture. This kind of policy was also once present in Britain, Canada and the United States, but is no longer.
It still prevails however in Western Continental Europe, where France and most other countries benefited from the Napoleonic system and democracy is stronger than in the Anglophone West.
 Original transcription from France2 News, 12 March 2012:
"Nicolas Sarkosi veut renforcer l'Europe commerciale en s'inspirant du modèle Américaine et privilégier les entreprises nationales pour le marché public.
"Pourquoi ce que les Etats Unis, pays le plus libérale du monde, s'autorise l'Europe devrait se l'interdire? Ainsi bénéficieront de l'argent public Européen les entreprises Européennes qui auront choisi de produire et de fabriquer en Europe?
Sarkosi veut réviser et durcir les frontières de la Schengen
Nicolas Sarkosi veut réviser et durcir les frontières de la Schengen qui établit la liberté de circulation a l'intérieur de l'Europe et contrôle l'entrée des immigrés.
"On ne peut pas laisser la gestion des flux migratoires entre les seules mains des technocrates et des tribunaux."
Le Gouvernement retient donc un gouvernement de Schengen et si la France n'est pas suivie elle pourra rétablir ses propres contrôles.
"Alors la France suspendrait ses participations accord de Schengen jusqu'a les négociations auront abouti.""
Source: France2 Infos, Sunday 11 March 2012.
We look at Dr Katharine Betts's latest graph of ABS statistics on the ratio of working to dependent in Australia, noting that it is both untrue and discriminatory to imply that the 'Aged' are by far the biggest group of 'dependents.' In relation to the graph, we also look at the role of land-use planning and the social division of work in industrial society in creating financial dependencies where none previously existed. We note that established financial and institutional investment in the post-war industrial-contractual model makes it inflexible and resistant to changes in economic feedback, but that change it must as fossil fuels deplete. Left to their own devices, Australians would probably return to the human default social organisation around kin and place, which is flexible and low cost. This will only become possible, however, with cheaper land and an economic system which permits increasing relocalisation and more flexible use of land than the current plans for packed appartments and dense dormitory-suburbs anticipate.
Sources: Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings, Australia 2003, Catalogue no. 4430.0, ABS, Canberra, 2004; Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery, Catalogue no. 6291.0.55.001; General Social Survey 2006, Confidentialised Unit Record File supplied by the ABS.
Notes: The ABS defines a profound disability as one where the person always needs help with one or more of the activities involved in communication, mobility and self care, and a severe disability as one where the person sometimes needs such help.
The data on labour force participation are for December 2009, but detailed age break downs were only available for June 2009. All of the data have been standardised to the age/sex structure of the population in June 2009.
Graph and "Notes" (above) by Assoc. Prof. Dr Katharine Betts, (Swinburne University, Victoria) author of Immigration Ideology, MUP, 1988 and The Great Divide, Duffy and Snellgrove, 1999. She is also the co-editor, with Bob Birrell, of the Monash demographic quarterly, People and Place.
Introduction: We look here at Dr Katharine Betts's latest graph of ABS statistics on the ratio of working to dependent in Australia, noting that it is both untrue and discriminatory to imply that the 'Aged' are by far the biggest group of 'dependents.' In relation to the graph, we also look at the role of land-use planning and the social division of work in industrial society in creating financial dependencies where none previously existed. We note that established financial and institutional investment in the post-war industrial-contractual model makes it inflexible and resistant to changes in economic feedback. Left to their own devices, Australians would probably return to the human default social organisation around kin and place, which is flexible and low cost. This will only become possible, however, with cheaper land and an economic system which permits increasing relocalisation and more flexible use of land than the current plans for packed appartments and dense dormitory-suburbs anticipate.
This is a complicated graph. Rather than start out looking for the greatest number of dependents, it is probably easier to look for the greatest number of full time then of part time workers. What is outside those full-time and part time workers gives you your main 'dependents'. Many of those are defined as dependent simply because they are not working in a paid job or deriving an income from a source in their own name. They may however be receiving support from a partner, such as a husband, while they are rearing children. In addition, many of the students aged 15 and over have paid jobs, some of them full-time.
However the real dependents are those who are literally unable to work.
Dependency is defined economically, by material income and paid work or the ability to participate in getting an income, and it carries a stigma, since it is assumed that 'dependent persons' cost the taxpayer. Although we know that many women do an enormous amount of unpaid work in the home as mothers, partners and grandmothers and as volunteers, if we only count people in paid work as making an economically useful contribution, this unpaid work is overlooked. (The ABS does know about this problem; they don't mean to denigrate domestic work). If dependent means not in paid work, women are the largest 'dependent' category at all ages (even in infancy, because more survive).
How the growth lobby misrepresents the ratio of dependency
Because the growth lobby likes the idea of women having lots of children, there is a tendency to misrepresent dependency as only occurring among the elderly.
We can see, in fact, that the numbers of officially totally dependent people (the red category) remain quite small in all cohorts. These are people who, because of some disability, need help from others in order to cope with tasks of daily living, such as washing and dressing. We can also see that the largest totally dependent category- pink and pale turquoise with border - are not actually classified as such at all. They are classified as infants or students. [Due to possible confusion of similar colours, let us precise here that light blue, as opposed to turquoise with border, represents students who are employed part-time.]
It looks like the government’s and the growth lobby's constant use of 'Aged' as virtually synonymous with 'dependents' is a blatant case of age discrimination, since it implies that elderly people are by far the biggest group of the totally dependent.
There is another group in yellow which isn’t in paid employment. From the age of 60 the yellow category starts to get quite large. That doesn’t mean that it is ‘dependent’. The people in the yellow category are living by some means – probably through superannuation, pension or investments.
Much larger, however, are the pale turquoise and pink categories. These categories extend over the first 15 to 20 years of a person's life. 
The non-dependent categories
The green categories – i.e. the ‘employed’ – both part-time and full-time – are considered to be supporting the yellow, the red, the pink and the pale turquoise with border categories. From a purely financial perspective, it doesn't matter if they are generating taxes to support babies, students, homemakers, disabled people or elderly infirm people.
Some people worry that if the number of new babies dwindles, there won't be enough people moving up from the bottom of the pyramid to carry the dependencies that increase at the top. They forget that if a population has a smaller base than middle, that means that by the time the people in the middle stop working and the smaller population base enters the workforce, the competition for land will have reduced, so the cost of living will be much less. This will reduce the cost of funding retirees.
Positive economic impact of decrease in number of young dependents
Also to be considered is the fact that, as the proportions of pink and pale turquoise infants and full-time students decrease, so will the burden on taxpayers. Schools, child-care and health and welfare services for the young are supported by taxpayers, just as are old age pensions. But children also involve heavy private costs for their parents. And often this means that parents have to forgo earned income, as they stay out of the labour force in order to provide care. Of course children bring many intangible benefits to their parents, but from the point of view of time and money, there would be more resources for other needs if we had rather fewer of them.
With regard to the yellow categories, just because they are not in paid employment, it does not mean that they are not doing something useful. Wives or husbands support their working partner by looking after house and garden, growing food, doing accounts, looking after children, and participating in the community. Many grandparents may also look after children so that parents can work, or they provide knowledge, experience and an example to the community. Elderly people are the eyes and ears in a street where everyone else goes to work all day. There are also so many things which need attention in our society and housewives/husbands and elderly people and the unemployed are among the ones free to participate in groups monitoring the environment and political developments at all levels.
Dependency and Variations in the Social division of work and land-use planning systems
Australia's industrial social organisation and its land-use planning system have also come to mean that the extended family, with which the responsibilities of earning a living, raising a family and participating in the politics of one's community were formerly shared, has become disorganised and dysfunctional. This is not, as is often suggested, simply because Australians are 'selfish'. The early and strong continuing urbanisation of Australian society, with drift to big cities in search of work, harsh expectations of relocation along with one's employer, and migration from one country to another or one end of Australia to the other end, splinters clans from their original location, isolates nuclear families and splits up parents and children. This makes most of us ever-more-dependent on the industrial models of salaried employment, bank loans and insurance, new housing, and, notably, contractual nurturing, caring, and nursing arrangements. The industrial state has adapted to try to mitigate this fragmentation and fracture of human social systems, in formal 'social services', which it finances through much higher taxes than in pre-WW2 years. If these professionalised and contractualised services are privately contracted, they need somehow to make a profit, which also raises the costs of dependency, as we see in child-care centers and private nursing homes.
Established financial and institutional investment in this industrial contractual model makes it resistant to change, but change it must, in the face of declining margins of profit associated with declining availability of cheap and abundant fossil fuels. It is not surprising that the state is concerned about its ability to provide for 'dependent' Australians, but it should be able to recognise how the system it relies on has created more dependency and more expensive dependency. Left to their own devices, Australians would probably return to the default social organisation around kin and place, which is flexible and low cost. This will only become possible, however, with cheaper land and an economic system which permits increasing relocalisation and more flexible use of land than the current plans for packed appartments and dense dormitory-suburbs anticipate.
 This span of years of dependency of youth could well expand in the future if the industrial employment model doesn't last as which have tended to last for something like 20 years.
Note that finishing study, around the age of 15 or 20, does not necessarily mean an end to 'dependence'. Dependence, in the form of 'unemployment' could well expand in the future if the industrial employment model doesn't last as depletion of fossil fuel progresses. Partial dependence could expand through categories if median wages are unable to afford unsubsidised accomodation or food, power and water if land-prices continue and push up the cost of everything else.
Observations on how we are being backed into a corner
The propaganda against the 1/4 acre block started a few decades ago. - appearing as opinion pieces in newpapers. I believe this propaganda was aimed at very ordinary people in or suburbs with traditional blocks. It was to prepare them to relinquish their lifestyle and for their children not to expect it in the normal course of events. I don't think it was aimed at rich people as they are different - a special case. The very rich can actually do the opposite to "urban consolidation." The rich can buy the next door property in Toorak, bulldoze the house and annexe the land for their own pleasure in the form of a tennis court or swimming pool.
The propaganda seems to have been on behalf of those who wanted to effect radical change in values and rights for the sake of population growth, which for various reasons they derived benefit from - usually financial.
Why this is important
The 1/4 acre block affords some local self sufficiency to the ordinary person. 50 years ago it was quite common for people to keep chickens in the suburbs- some still do but I don't think it's as usual. There is probably an economic reason for this . Vegetable gardens were common then and they may be trying to make a return now.
Recently in Sydney I visited a cousin who has built her eco friendly dream home in the suburb of Ryde. The garden was for low rainfall, the house worked on passive temperature control and in the corner of this living arrangement was a chicken house with inhabitants. Area of block- 1/4 acre approx.
As oil depletion continues I believe self sufficiency will become more important. The more land per family we lose the less self sufficient we can be.
How dare we be talked into denying children the rights that we grew up with?
I believe the people of Melbourne are losing their land by stealth and propaganda. I also wonder how people can, on the one hand, be talked into having more children, and, on the other hand, talked into letting go of those children's rights.
In 2007 I made a submission to the Melbourne 2030 review. I made some of the points below. (Now Melbourne 2030 is out of date, of course. They are trying to bring in something even worse. )
Urban temperatures rising, trees and water disappearing
Urban temperatures are higher than those in the country, and made worse by air conditioners. I worry about the reduced ability of land to absorb water with increased concrete bitumen, housing and impermeable surfaces in general. I can see this affecting the water table and possibly having ramifications with regard to street trees and other trees and vegetation on public land. We should be preserving trees to keep the city cool and moist instead of infilling and concreting everything.
I would have thought with all the apartments and townhouses shooting up in the bastardized process known as suburban infill, that we would want to keep backyards full of trees etc. Never mind that I'll never own a $1.8M 3BR house in Hawthorn East, I'm just glad someone owns it so that there aren't twenty people in 6 townhouses there instead.
So God bless those rich people in their big houses!! (Unless of course they are developers and politicians telling the rest of us to go and live in high-rise infills.)
Even if I have hardly any garden at all, I want to protect other people's gardens. They are part of the environment and even if the garden is not mine- I benefit if I walk past or live near it. I breathe the oxygen that its greenery exudes. I am cooled by the transpiration of the leaves. Even if I live in a one bedroom apartment in the same street, I am better off if this house and garden remain than if this house in turn is bulldozed for another block of apartments. I can see what the obvious counter argument is to this - homelessness - but that problem is circular; the root cause of homelessness is rapid population growth.
Urban wildlife is yet another issue - one I feel so deeply about that I can hardly even write of it. Gardens provide some habitat for native animals, birds reptiles, and insects. The more the city is consolidated, the more predictable every space within it becomes and there will be little room for any species other than humans, dogs and cats. And, even then, the dogs must be on leads and the cats must be kept indoors. It would make more sense if we made friends with the neighbourhood possums, but the government has designated them as pests.
If we continue with population growth at 2% per annum- we stand to lose the few advantages we still have very quickly. If we have a population growth rate of 1% per annum we will still lose it but at half the speed.
I do not think that Australian politicians have a moral or any other right to do this to us.
Eureka Rebellion anarchist ceremony 2009
The 3 December Spirit of Eureka celebrations will be a 12 hour extravaganza. Congregate at 4 am at the corner of Eureka and Stawell Street at the Eastern End of Ballarat. Dawn ceremony goes to daybreak. Those present will form a large circle. And, whilst waiting for dawn to break, everyone present will have the opportunity to say why they are there. The celebration ends at 4pm.
Joe reminds us that Eureka was about direct democracy, with mass meetings of 10,000 people, delegates appointed with specific mandates, direct action and, that great thing, Solidarity.
Eureka 2004 - 150th anniversary. (More details and history here.)
Anarchist invitation to Eureka Rebellion anniversary ceremonies
"The Anarchist Media Institute is inviting everyone who is interested in reclaiming The Radical Spirit of the Eureka Rebellion, to join us on Wednesday 3rd of December at the Eureka Stockade site in Ballarat, in Victoria, to celebrate the 148th Anniversary of the Eureka Rebellion.
Friday 3RD DECEMBER 2004
EUREKA STOCKADE SITE
EUREKA HALL - (CORNER EUREKA & STAWELL STREET, BALLARAT)
4AM to 4PM
* 4AM 6AM Gathering at Eureka Park to mark the 150th anniversary of the battle on the site and at the time it occurred
* 6.00am 10.00am Breakfast Eureka Hall (Bring own food & drinks)
* Further details to be announced
JOIN US - Celebrate the Past by Reclaiming the Present and creating a new future. Join us at Eureka Park /Eureka Hall (cnr Stawell and Eureka Streets, Ballarat)
It's time we reclaimed our history."
People for a Royal Commission into Corruption in Victoria
Email or snailmail for correspondence and petition:
E: [email protected]
A: P.O. Box 5035, Alphington 3078
M: 0439 395 489
Listen to the podcast for more or go to the Anarchist Media website
The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) has recently put out an 'alert' about peak oil and the existence of a group it has formed called the MAV Transition Community Working Group. It talks about the need for local governments to lead the adaptation to peak oil.
"To the Council CEO and Councillors (all Victorian Councils).
August 2009, LG ‘ALERT’ from the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) Transition Community Working Group
This ALERT is predicated on four factors:
1. The human race is facing its greatest challenge.
2. Individual communities need to collaborate to address the challenge and transition to a reduced-carbon, sustainable future. The time to act is now.
3. Local government needs to support communities in planning to address this challenge. Local government is likely to bear a significant proportion of the brunt of climate change, peak oil and other related impacts, and the sector is most effective when it collaborates to address major challenges.
4. The Transition Community approach is an empowering local response to crisis situations and offers the hope of achieving an improved local economy and improved social cohesion."
Editor: It will be difficult for local governments to lead people in a polity where all the power is being taken from local communities and they are being plugged into state and national power systems which have been commercialised and which have no obligation to their 'customers' except to submit to some vague 'competition' in prices. The cost of land and resources makes it very difficult for people to act locally as well because corporate style business is the only kind that can survive with those kinds of costs. For this reason we see our corporatised government helping big business to take over farmland. And housing developers are taking over suburban land with high density. This will prevent people from making the best of backyards to produce food and other needs locally. And the supermarkets and transport companies have stakes in preserving the current energy intensive food production and distribution system. Citizens have few remaining rights and no way of reaching a monolithic style government block which is barely, if at all distinguisable from a commercial finance, property and infrastructure development company with State and National branches and outlets in local areas to market projects and population growth.
Still, we folk have to work around this commercial system that has supplanted our self-government. See also this article by Dr Ted Trainer: The Transition Towns Movement; its huge significance and a friendly criticism. He writes:
"It is not oil that sets your greatest insecurity; it is the global economy. lt doesn’t need your town. It will relocate your jobs where profits are greatest. It can flip into recession overnight and dump you and billions of others into unemployment and poverty. It will only deliver to you whatever benefits trickle down from the ventures which maximise corporate profits. It loots the Third World to stock your supermarket shelves. It has condemned much of your town to idleness, in the form of unemployment and wasted time and resources that could be being devoted to meeting urgent needs there. ln the coming time of scarcity it will not look after you. The supreme need is for us to build a radically new economy within our town, and then for us to run it to meet our needs."
More on the MAV Transition Community Working Group
The MAV Transition Community Working Group, comprised of interested Councillors and officers, was formed to assess the Transition Community framework, developed in the UK and now spreading rapidly around the world, and its relevance to Victorian local government and communities. The Working Group has now considered the matter and has determined to issue an ‘ALERT’ to Councils across Victoria. The ‘alert’ refers to the need for Councils and their communities to be aware that:
1. communities will face an unprecedented number of significant (global) challenges in the relatively short term and need to develop the necessary resilience to cope with these issues, which include:
a. water shortages/drought (increasing cost)
b. more expensive energy (including global demand for oil exceeding supply). CSIRO modelling has forecast petrol prices of up to $8 per litre by 2018. Also please see (attached) the recent comment from the International Energy Agency (IEA), a division of the OECD, which is warning that oil prices could reach $200 per barrel within the next 2-3 years.
c. more expensive food
d. the impacts of climate change
e. economic constraints in the wake of the global financial crisis
2. living in a carbon-reduced world will inevitably result in significant changes to the way communities live, including:
a. moving away from a dependency on oil
b. reducing greenhouse gas emissions
c. using resources more efficiently
d. a greater development of the local economy, including more local food, local energy generation, and self-sufficiency in many ways.
3. the good news is that the Transition Community framework provides a positive mechanism for communities to be able to become fully aware of the nature of the challenges to be addressed, and to work together to produce plans to achieve the desired transition to a better future at the local level. The common element of the many Transition Plans that have been produced to date around the world is that they focus on what can be done by acting locally. While much of the discussion around climate change and ‘peak’ oil can be quite depressing, the Transition Community approach offers the prospect that members of a community can connect and plan for a fundamental vision of a healthier, more resilient local community.
4. this focus on ‘local’ revitalisation represents a major opportunity for local government to assume a key role in supporting communities to plan for a transition to a more sustainable future. While individuals may feel powerless in relation to climate change and more expensive energy, communities can act collaboratively and creatively to generate a real sense of hope and commitment.
5. The Kinsale (UK) Energy Decent Action Plan (access via Google) is a good example of a community plan that describes the proposed actions that will take place on an annual basis to enable the Kinsale community to transition from the ‘status quo’ to a reduced-carbon, more sustainable future. The plan includes modules for food, energy, transport, recreation, health, employment and other relevant areas.
6. The Maribyrnong Council has taken a lead position in planning for a reduced carbon future by developing a Peak Oil Policy and Action Plan, as well as Australia’s first local government Peak Oil Contingency Plan. This Plan uses various scenarios to assess the likely impacts on Council operations, and the next step is to assess the community impacts. The Maribyrnong initiative is attracting national and international attention.
Darebin Council has taken a different approach and integrated Peak Oil related issues together with Climate Change adaptation to develop a Climate Change and Peak Oil Adaptation plan which is currently out for community consultation. There are large confluences between the two issues identified in this plan.
7. The MAV Future of Local Government Program has identified the role of local government as being to facilitate the development of strong and successful communities. This is entirely consistent with the need for Councils to be pro-active in these challenging times and support their communities to address the global imperatives. The MAV also convened a Peak Oil Conference in 2007, which highlighted the fact that the demand for oil will exceed supply in the near future.
8. There are now over 500 community plans in place across Victoria. These ‘bottom up’ community planning processes provide an excellent platform to integrate with the Transition Community planning framework. Both planning processes are very similar and it makes sense to link them together rather than operate discrete processes simultaneously. They both aim to improve community sustainability.
All Victorian Councils need to ask themselves a number of questions in relation to the challenges referred to above:
a. Are you aware of the implications of climate change and peak oil for your Council?
b. Does your 4 year Council Plan adequately address the challenges of climate change, peak oil and more expensive resources/goods? There is little doubt that the world will be a different place by 2013 and that those Councils and communities that have planned for that future will be significantly advantaged.
c. Does your Council’s risk management plan/process take account of these issues?
d. Are your communities doing anything to plan and prepare for a carbon- reduced future?
The MAV Working Group is proposing:
e. that each Council nominates a ‘champion’ Councillor and a champion’ officer who can be ongoing contact points in relation to these matters. These nominations are sought before the end of September 2009, by emailing [email protected]
f. Councils work together to agree on a sector-wide approach in support of Transition Communities, and to link existing community planning processes to Transition planning processes.
g. Training and awareness sessions be made available to Council representatives in the near future.
h. Councils act to positively support, via advice and knowledge-sharing, communities that wish to embark on a Transition Community initiative (eg. prepare an Energy Descent Action Plan).
In conclusion, it is worthwhile noting the words of the Maribyrnong Council: ‘whatever you can do to prepare for peak oil, you should do, because you will be glad that you did’.
If you have any queries in relation to the above, please email [email protected]
John Hennessy (on behalf of the Working Group)
The IEA warns of shortages - "The next oil crisis is coming" 27/2/2009.
A shortage of oil could trigger another global recession around 2013 – says the IEA. By 2010 the price will reach new highs. The IEA in Paris is warning of a new, much more severe global economic crisis around 2013. The reason is that investments in oil from new projects are being cancelled by large oil companies. If demand starts increasing in 2010, the oil price could explode, fire up inflation and put global growth at risk.
"We are concerned, that oil companies are reducing their investment levels. When demand returns a supply shortage could appear. We are even predicting that this shortage could occur in 2013." said Nobuo Tanaka, head of the IEA in an interview with Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
He is alarmed, because he has data that shows that the global oil supply capacity is declining and that oil reserves will likely be markedly reduced by 2013. The stronger oil demand will be in a recovery starting in 2010, especially in the US, China and India, the sooner the shortage will appear and strangle global growth.
According to the IEA, the oil price could then exceed the records achieved in the summer of 2008 and reach $200 per barrel. "We could be steering into a new crisis, which could be greater than the current crisis", said Mr. Tanaka
The picture above shows an orangutang rescued from the rubbish heap as a baby, now thriving with its own baby.
But this isn't just a tale of a few sad orangutangs living on the edge...
Willie Smits went back at night to a market where he had seen a very sick baby orangutang in a cage and was not surprised to find that it had been discarded onto a rubbish heap and left to die. He forced it to drink and saved its life. Soon he had 1000 oranutangs and nowhere to put them.
So he found some very degraded land and reclaimed it. In less than a decade the land was reinvigorated and could provide shelter and incomes to many families as well as a healthy population of orangutangs. He integrated this reclamation with empowerment of the local people whose economic fortunes, he was able to show them, were inextricably linked to the health of orangutangs. He was very careful to make government absolutely transparent and describes what was necessary.
They grew a biodiverse forest with seeds planted in orangutang dung. Then many birds and animals found the forest, very quickly. How wonderful!
This is an incredible film, all biologically credible. It occurs in a third world country where the dyak people (the forest people) have been dispossessed and murdered by Indonesian colonists. The people in the area in question had high infant mortality, high alcoholism and lived in misery.
The film gives a quick overview of the science of rain-making in the tropics and says that there is a different dynamic there from dry forest rain. However, rehydrating the forest is a matter of how and what you plant.
Now the rainfall in this area is huge. The continual forest fires have stopped.
This could happen in Victoria.
I found out about this film from Natural Sequence Farming, which is an Australian method for rehydrating land. I have been discussing forest rehydration in Victoria, Australia to stop this place burning up completely.
We are entering can era of severe scarcity
Illustration: Gustave Doré's Don Quixote
We are entering can era of severe scarcity in which centralised and globalised systems will fail to provide for us and we will have to develop highly localized economies. Most people would probably doubt that we could organize satisfactory communities without vast state bureaucracies and corporations. The achievements of the Spanish Anarchist workers collectives in the 1930s show what miracles ordinary people can do.
One of the strong beliefs reinforcing the acceptance of consumer-capitalist society is the assumption that it has to be run by authorities up there somewhere, by governments, bureaucracies, corporations, experts, CEOs, via big complex systems that ordinary people like us can’t fathom and couldn’t possibly run. People take it for granted that there is a vast distinction between our governors and we who are governed, and this is inevitable in a modern complex technocratic society. Our only role in government is to elect our governors occasionally, then submit to their rule. Meanwhile it is best if we devote ourselves to working diligently, consuming, football, celebrities and trivia.
In my very firm view consumer-capitalist society will soon be over. It is extremely unsustainable and unjust. There is no possibility that the per capita rates of resource consumption the 1.5 billion rich have can be extended to the other 7.5 billion we will soon have on earth. The Australian footprint of 8 ha of productive land per capita is about 10 times the area that will be available per capita in 2050. Well before that we will run into savage and insoluble shortages of oil, water, food, fish, several minerals, phosphorus, and the ecological consequences of the greenhouse problem, destruction of soils and forests, and a holocaust of species loss, the social and political impacts of collapsing states, resource wars and massive refugee movements.
Globalisation is over
Whether we like it or not we will localize. Globalisation is over. If complete collapse and die-off is avoided the only viable path will be in terms of mostly small and self-sufficient local economies in which people cooperate to organize their own local productive capacity to produce for themselves most of the things they need with little trade. In the coming age of severe scarcity economies must be mostly focused on needs and not profits, and organized by rational and cooperative control of the economy as distinct from driven by market forces (although they could still have a role.) Above all there can be no economic growth at all, and affluent “living standards” must be abandoned. The goal must be satisfactory but frugal and self-sufficient ways in stable or zero-growth economies.
Most people would probably totally reject this vision, believing that conservation effort and technical advance will enable us to go on pursuing ever-increasing affluence and GDP. In addition they would not believe that an acceptable alternative defined in terms of frugal living standards and no growth could remotely be designed. However I have no doubt that we could easily and quickly build a very satisfactory as well as sustainable and just society…if we wanted to. Its principles would have to be frugal but adequate living standards, high levels of self-sufficiency in mostly small local economies of the kind indicated above. (For a detailed discussion see The Simpler Way website, .) In my view this is the direction we will be moving in soon, whether we like it or not.
Again l think one of the most powerful ideological forces blocking such a transition is the general conviction that a satisfactory society could not be run without all those heavy bureaucrats, experts and CEOs, and rule by authoritarian and complex governments. Well if that’s your view, let me tell you about what the Spanish Anarchist collectives did in the 1930s.
The Spanish Anarchist Workers Collectives
In a period of about six years after 1933, during a civil war, the anarchists got control of large areas of Spain, containing 8 million people. Possibly 1800 collectives were established. Often they were able to take over factories and estates abandoned when their owners fled the war. With remarkable speed collectives made up of workers in these firms formed and organized to continue production. Many very large ventures were quickly put back into operation. For instance three days after a battle in Barcelona the trams were running again.
Attention was focused on the most important needs, for instance the setting up of communal dining halls. The collectives plunged into the reorganization and improvement of industries, for instance combining many previously struggling small firms, coordinating and integrating. In some regions they ran the fishing industry, from the boats to the canning factories and the distribution networks. They actually organized and ran whole regional economies, including public services such as policing, road construction, flood control, water supply, transport, maintenance of parks. They set up banks, flour mills, theatres an aluminium industry, organized international importing, printed their own money, abolished interest payments, and ran railways and telecommunications systems. Entire health systems were established, including medical centres, hospitals and sanitoria. In Barcelona six hospitals and eight sanitoria were built. Dental services and surgery was free, provided by doctors receiving set payments. Schools were free. Ordinary people gained access to medical services they previously could not afford when doctors only served the rich. They even established engineering and optical training institutes, and a university. The city of Barcelona with a population of 1.2 million was run in these ways.
Towns exchanged surpluses. Some towns and collectives abolished money, arranging all production and distribution in terms of needs and vouchers. Abundant things, such as fruit in season, were free, but scarce things were rationed.
The basic format for this “governing” was the weekly assembly of all workers in the factory, reviewing all operations, planning, electing managers, making decisions. Factories would send delegates to meetings handling issues involving several factories, and similar delegations up to larger and more centralized assemblies would deal with wider regional issues. These latter gatherings had little or no power because recommendations would be taken back down to the factory assemblies where everyone had a vote. That’s the essential Anarchist principle; all power is held by citizens and any centralized issues are thought out by delegates but the recommendations are taken back to the citizen assemblies for approval. They refused to resort to bureaucrats, let alone paid or professional officials, managers or politicians. Managers were just more experienced workers elected by the assemblies, recallable at any time. Committees mostly met after work hours or on the weekend. In other words the government of factories, farms, industries and entire regions was actually carried out by ordinary people deliberating in citizen assemblies. Of course in all these domains more experienced people had key roles but were not bosses or privilelged.
From accounts such as those in Dolgoff, The Anarchist Collectives, (1973) the production of goods, the efficiency of operations, the effectiveness of distribution and allocation, and the social welfare and justice consequences were huge improvements on what had prevailed before when control was in the hands of privileged elites and most people lived in poverty and oppression. They reorganized and innovated extensively and quickly. Men and women became much more equal. Large transfers of goods were organised to poor towns, supplies to hospitals were quickly established. A voluntary retirement age of 60 was set. Unemployed people were paid a full wage. By bringing previously idle and inefficiently used productive capacities into operation huge surges in output and welfare were quickly achieved.
Where wages were retained they were made more or less equal. However in many industries wages were abolished, for ideological reasons. Wages are elements in the system where capital hires labour, controls production, and takes the product, and workers have no involvement in production other than selling their labour and they can be dumped at any time at the whim of the employer. Instead in some cases they simply organised to provide all workers with listed necessities, sometimes via voucher or coupon systems. These entitlements varied with need, for instance being greater if there were children in a family. Thus they implemented the basic “communist” principle of allocating according to need not work done or skill.
In his introduction to Dolgoff, Bookchin makes some important observations on the mentality of the industrial worker. A lifetime of taking orders, discipline to often mind-numbing grind, no control or responsibility or concern with the uses of the product or its social value or who benefits, is likely to produce passive consumers primarily interested in their wages, i.e., purchasing power. Workers tend not to think they should do any managing. It is not surprising that in Spain the alternative thrived most in the rural regions because in addition to the collectivist traditions, the peasant way of life involves conditions and dispositions that are foreign to the industrial worker. Small; farmers must be multi-skilled handymen, energetic, thoughtful and responsible. I believe the coming revolution will be led by the spirit of the peasant and homesteader. When your welfare depends not on a wage, but on whether you organise and manage and fix and plan and think ahead and troubleshoot, and plant the beans in time,…and maintain the cooperative relations with the people in your community you depend on…then you are more likely to have the dispositions Anarchism requires.
Marx didn’t grasp any of this. In my view Marx’s analysis of capitalism, how it works, why it has problems, where it is taking us, is of the utmost importance. But what he thought about the post-capitalist society and how to get to it are I think of little value or mistaken (apart from the principle “From each according to ability, to each according to need.) If we get through to a sustainable and just society it will not be via violent revolution led by the working class led by a vanguard party which will rule from the centre until we become capable of communism. None of that can lead to local economies run by local people in participatory ways. In addition Marxists still fail to see that a satisfactory society cannot be heavily industrialized or affluent. But what’s most important here, as Bookchin points out, Marx didn’t think the outlook and personality of the worker was important (except in so far as he would support revolution.) That could be left until after the revolution. All that mattered was harnessing workers to revolution. The Anarchists in Spain had a totally different view, realizing that everything depended on how aware, committed and autonomous ordinary people are. They put a great deal of thought and effort into developing what they called “personalities”. That’s our main problem now.
Achievements were more impressive in rural areas than in the urban and industrial areas. Many impoverished peasants were able to come into larger and more farms. They were not coerced to do this and many remained outside the collectives as independent farmers. These received surprising levels of assistance from the collectives, often enjoying the benefits they would have enjoyed had they joined. They were not allowed to own more land than they could work.
These achievements were made in difficulty conditions, with many able bodied people away at the front, produce sent from regions to the troops, and at times under destructive attack from enemies.
The material I have read does not throw much light on how they were able to coordinate things. How were they able to make sure that enough bolts of the right size turned up at the right factory when they were needed. Remarkably it seems that such things were sorted out well enough just by people organizing to get and send the necessary information and supplies. They did put a great deal of effort into collecting statistics to enable sound decisions, and into research to improve production.
The extremely important point for us in all this is that their achievements demolish the claim that you have to leave the mass of decisions to the workings of the market or to centralized state bureaucracies. They seem to have shown decisively that rational planning carried out by citizens can run an economy at least well enough. Remember that in the coming era our economies will be far less complex than they are now, greatly simplified by the absence of growth, making the control of small and local economies more tractable.
Note that although they did these things without huge professional planning bureaucracies. They did plan and make rational decisions, based on the detailed statistics they continually collected. But apparently they could quickly see what needed doing and then make the necessary decisions and carry them out via grass-roots assemblies and elected managers. Compare that with our bureaucracies where if you are lucky you get a letter back in two months.
So there, we can do it! Ordinary people can run economies via participatory democracy, without states, capitalists, bureaucracies or authoritarian rule.
As I see it Anarchism defines political maturity. For thousands of years humans have tolerated rule by kings, tyrants, dictators, and politicians. Representative democracy does not allow people to govern themselves. They are treated as infantile and untrustworthy. The goal must be citizens taking responsibility for running their own collective affairs directly, with no one having power over anyone else, via highly participatory procedures. In his discussion of the way this was done by the Ancient Greeks, the Medieval and New England towns, Bookchin stresses the educational significance of this, its importance for the development of mature, thoughtful, caring and responsible citizens. When your fate and that of your town depends on whether or not you can help make good decisions in the assemblies you have a strong incentive to develop conscientious thoughtful and caring dispositions.
So it’s a bit more complicated that I have made it appear to be at the start. I misled you by saying that in Spain “ordinary people” achieved all those things. The key to the Anarchist success is to be found in the long history and powerful ideological traditions of the regions. For hundreds of years rural villages had functioned in highly collectivist ways. In addition Bakouknin’s Anarchist theory had been brought to Spain in the 1880s and had been widely influential. The movement had grown significantly in the decades before 1930, so when the opportunity came with the civil war large and sophisticated pre-existing forces sprang into action. Ideas, values land practices that had been in existence and rehearsed for a long time could be quickly put into operation.
The point is that the remarkable achievements of the Spanish Anarchists were made possible by extra-ordinary people. We will not be able to do these things unless the right ideas and values have been widely established. People in consumer-capitalist society are far from the necessary state. Governments cannot do it for them. They cannot develop the new local participatory economies, firstly because they can’t think in any other than centralised, top-down solutions, free markets and capitalist control. More importantly, the required economies of The Simpler Way will by definition be run by the citizens of the town or suburb. Only they can learn their way to the procedures for doing this that suit their local conditions. We cannot begin down that path until people in general see that it is the way to sustainable and just society, and eagerly seek to take that path because they can see that it will yield a much higher quality of life.
We are sadly very far from having anything like the necessary ideology and values among the passive, trivia-preoccupied consumers of late capitalist society. That defines the task before those who want to help solve global problems. We have to work very hard to build the required world view, values, and commitments, and there isn’t much time left to do it.
How do we do it?
In my view the Left has always been remarkably weak on the nature of ideology and how to liberate people from the dominant ideology of consumer-capitalist society. Here are brief notes on how I think we should try, given the global situation we are in. (For a more detailed discussion see.)
Again we are in a historically unique situation because after hundreds of years in which increasing wealth and abundance were taken for granted we are likely to rapidly enter an era of permanent and intense. Especially as petroleum dwindles, people will realise with a jolt that the old systems will fail to provide for us and that communities will have to organise local economies. This is already happening, most inspiringly within the Transition Towns movement. By far the most important step that can be taken by anyone who wants to save the planet, prevent global warming, eliminate Third World poverty, bring peace to the world, etc., is not to join a green party, buy a Prius, lobby against wood-chipping, or learn how to fire an AK47. It is to come and help us start building aspects of the new society, here and now, within the towns and suburbs where we live. This is not just because those are the alternatives that must eventually be built. More importantly it is because working there side by side with ordinary people will give us the best possible access to build the necessary critical global consciousness, that is, to get people to understand that the old systems cannot be made sustainable or just, that vast and radical change is needed, that free markets, growth, competition and acquisitiveness must be scrapped, and that there are far more satisfactory ways.
Dolgoff, S., Ed., (1990), The Anarchist collectives : workers’ self-management in the Spanish Revolution, 1936-1939 ,Montréal, Black Rose Books.
Source of illustration
The only way the global sustainability and justice predicament can be solved is via something like the inspiring Transition Towns movement. However thought needs to be given to a number of themes or it might fail to achieve significant goals.
The Transition Towns movement began only about 2005 and is growing rapidly. It emerged in the UK mainly in response to the realisation that the coming of “peak oil” is likely to leave towns in a desperate situation, and therefore that it is very important that they strive to develop local economic self sufficiency.
What many within the movement probably don’t know is that for decades some of us in the “deep green” camp have been arguing that the key element in a sustainable and just world has to be small, highly self sufficient, localised economies under local cooperative control. (See my Abandon Affluence, published in1985, and The Conserver Society, 1995.)
It is therefore immensely encouraging to find that this kind of initiative is not only underway but booming. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that if this planet makes it through the next 50 years to sustainable and just ways it will be via some kind of Transition Towns process. However I also want to argue that if the movement is to have this outcome there are some very important issues it must think carefully about or it could actually come to little or nothing of any social significance. I want to suggest l below that there is a need for a much more focused and detailed action strategy, giving clearer guidance to newcomers, and following a much more radical vision than seems to be informing the movement at present.
My comments won’t make much sense unless I first make clear the perspective on the global situation my comments derive from. Most people would reject this view as being too extreme.
Where we are, and the way out.
The many alarming global problems now crowding in and threatening to destroy us are so big and serious that they cannot be solved within or by consumer-capitalist society. The way of life we have in rich countries is grossly unsustainable and unjust. There is no possibility of the “living standards” of all people on earth ever rising to rich world per capita levels of consumption of energy, minerals, timber, water, food, phosphorous etc. These rates of consumption are generating the numerous alarming global problems now threatening our survival. Yet most people have no idea of the magnitude of the overshoot, of how far we are beyond a sustainable levels of resource use and environmental impact. ln addition our way of life would not be possible if rich countries were not taking far more than their fair share of world resources, via an extremely unjust global economy, and thereby condemning most of the world’s people to deprivation.
Given this analysis of out situation, there must be transition to a very different kind of society, one not based on globalisation, market forces, the profit motive, centralisation, representative democracy, or competitive, individualistic acquisitiveness. Above all it must be a zero-growth economy, and most difficult of all, it cannot be an affluent society.
However almost everyone in the mainstream, from politicians, economists and bureaucrats down to ordinary people, totally fails to recognise any of this and proceeds on the comforting delusion that with more effort and technical advance we can solve problems like greenhouse without jeopardising our high “living standards” or the market economy or the obsession with growth. Our fundamental problem therefore is one of ideology or consciousness. Most people in this society are a very long way from having the understandings and values required for transition. Most seem not to know or care that they live as well as they do because the global economy is extremely unjust, or that affluence and growth are incompatible with ecological survival. Changing that consciousness is the key to transition.
I have appendixed some of the support for this perspective on out global situation. A more detailed account can be found at http://ssis.arts.unsw.edu.au/tsw/
Given the above view of our situation, we must work for transition to a very different kind of society. I refer to it as The Simpler Way. Its core principles must be
- Far simpler material living standards
- High levels of self-sufficiency at household, national and especially neighbourhood and town levels, with relatively little travel, transport or trade. There must be mostly small, local economies in which most of the things we need are produced by local labour from local resources.
- Basically cooperative and participatory local systems,
- A quite different economic system, one not driven by market forces and profit, and in which there is far less work, production, and consumption, and a large cashless sector, including many free goods from local commons. There must be no economic growth at all. There must be mostly small local economies, under our control via participatory systems.
- Most problematic, a radically different culture, in which competitive and acquisitive individualism is replaced by frugal, self-sufficient collectivism.
Some of the elements within The Simpler Way are, -- mostly small and highly self-sufficient local economies with many little firms, ponds, animals, farms, forests throughout settlements – participatory democracy via town assemblies – neighbourhood workshops – many roads dug up – “edible landscapes” providing free fruit and nuts – being able to get to decentralised workplaces by bicycle or on foot voluntary community working bees – committees - many productive commons in the town (fruit, timber, bamboo, herbs…) – having to work for money only one or two days a week – no unemployment – living with many artists and crafts people – strong community --small communities making many of the important development and administration decisions.
Simple traditional alternative technologies will be quite sufficient for many purposes, especially for producing houses, furniture, food and pottery. Much production will take place via hobbies and crafts, small farms and family enterprises. However modern/high technologies and mass production can be used extensively where appropriate, including IT. The Simpler Way will free many more resources for purposes like medical research than are devoted to these at present, because most of the present vast quantity of unnecessary production will be phased out.
There could still be many small private firms, and market forces could have a role, but the economy must be under firm social control, via local participatory processes. Thus local town meetings would make the important economic decisions in terms of what’s best for the town and its people and environment. Rational assessments of basic necessities would be the main determinants of economic activity. We would not allow market forces to bankrupt any firm or dump anyone into unemployment. We would make sure everyone had a livelihood. The town would have to work out how to adjust its economy in the best interests of all.
Thus only an Anarchist form of government could work. Only if all participate in making the decisions and implementing them without authoritarian institutions will people enthusiastically contribute to effective town functioning. (There would still be some functions for state and national governments.)
Because we will be highly dependent on our local ecosystems and on our social cohesion, e.g., for most water and food, and for effective committees and working bees, all will have a strong incentive to focus on what is best for the town, rather than on what is best for themselves as competing individuals. Cooperation and conscientiousness will therefore tend to be automatically rewarded, whereas in consumer society competitive individualism is required and rewarded.
What we will be doing is building a new economy, Economy B, under the old one. Economy B will give us the power to produce the basic goods and services we need not just to survive as the old economy increasingly fails to provide, but to give all a high quality of life. The old economy could collapse and we would still be able to provide for ourselves.
Advocates of the Simpler Way believe that its many benefits and sources of satisfaction would provide a much higher quality of life than most people experience in consumer society.
It must be emphasised that The Simpler Way is not optional. If our global situation is as has been argued then a sustainable and just society in the coming era of scarcity has to be some kind of Simpler Way.
In my view the contradiction between consumer-capitalist society and The Simpler Way is so enormous that we are unlikely to make it. Nevertheless it is clear what we must try to do. Following are a few of the key points to consider in the discussion of transition strategy.
There is not much to be gained by trying to fight against the present system directly. Not only is it far too powerful and the dissenting forces far too weak, there isn’t time to beat it in head-on conflict. More importantly, even if we could for instance take state power, either by violent revolution or green parliamentary action, it would not be of any value to us whatsoever. State power cannot build self sufficient, self-governing local economies full of conscientious, responsible, creative, happy citizens. If the old industrial centralised system was still a viable model for a post-revolutionary society then maybe coups and revolutions and rule from the top might be relevant – but that model is irrelevant now.
Transition must therefore be a grass roots process whereby people slowly develop the consciousness, the skills, the local systems and infrastructures that will enable ordinary people to come together to run their own local communities. Much diminished state governments could have a valuable although secondary role, but we will have to do most of the thinking, work and learning ourselves in the towns and suburbs where we live. This is a basically Anarchist vision, and given the need for localism, frugality, participation, cooperation etc. set by the coming era of intense scarcity, we will have no choice about this.
The good society can and must be, as the Anarchists say, “prefigured”. We can begin now building aspects of it here within the failing old system, and indeed there is no other way to get from where we are to the kinds of settlements and systems we must have eventually.
There is no chance of significant change while the supermarket shelves remain well-stocked. Almost everyone will stolidly plod on purchasing, watching sport and playing electronic games until scarcity hits with a jolt. However, as the old systems run into more serious problems, people will come across to join us, realising that we are enjoying the benefits of the new ways. When oil starts to get seriously scarce people will see that they must either take up our examples or starve.
This revolution could therefore be smooth and non-violent. If we are lucky the old system will more or less just die away as people “ignore it to death”. The super-rich will resist desperately but without oil and confronted by millions of scattered people in their towns and suburbs doing their own thing they will have little capacity to stop us.
It is therefore of the utmost importance that we get the alternative examples up and running. Nothing will be more persuasive than pockets here and there where The Simpler Way can be seen as being lived and enjoyed within mainstream towns and suburbs.
Until around 2000 the basic pioneering work had been done by the Global Eco-village Movement. It’s possibly thousands of small communities have shown that a better way is possible. However the world’s soon-to-be 9 billion people cannot all form Eco-villages on green field sites. What they can do, however is transform the settlements they are living in into Eco-villages. And this is what the Transition Towns movement is in principle about.
The Transition Towns Movement.
The Transition Towns movement has emerged very rapidly and is spreading around the world. Towns in the UK have led the way, the best known being Totness. Although Rob Hopkins and his colleagues seems rightly to receive most of the credit for getting the movement going, its rapid spread testifies to a strong general grass roots readiness to take up the idea. There are now towns in several other countries joining the movement, including Australia and New Zealand. The website is inspiring, linking to many towns and projects, reflecting energy and enthusiasm. A handbook and other documents have been published.
The key concept referred to is building town “resilience” in the face of the coming peak oil crisis. The kinds of activities being taken up include, “re-skilling” whereby courses are run on things like bread baking, the planting of commons, e.g., nut trees on public land, local food production and marketing, especially community supported agriculture, and the encouragement of volunteering. These are not new ideas of course, but it is important that they are being linked together in whole town strategies for resilience. Notable is the fact that these initiatives have not come from states, governments or official bodies, but from ordinary people.
Despite my enthusiasm, I have serious concerns about the movement and I want to suggest some issues that require careful thought. If we do not get them right the movement could very easily end up making no significant contribution to solving the global problem.
Goals? Only building havens?
First there is the danger that it will only be a Not-In-My-Backyard phenomenon, that it will be about towns trying to insulate themselves from the coming time of scarcities and troubles. This is a quite different goal to working to replace consumer-capitalist society. It is not much good if your town bakes its own bread or even generates much of its own electricity, while it goes on importing hardware and appliances produced in China and taking holidays abroad. It will still indirectly be using considerable amounts of coal and oil in the goods it imports. The wider national society on which it depends for law, postal services, security etc. cannot continue as it is unless it maintains the Third World empire from which it draws so much wealth. Unless we eventually change all that then our Transition Towns will remain part of consumer-capitalist society, and will go down when it goes down.
In other words, given the view of the global situation sketched above the top concern must be to work to make sure the movement is explicitly, consciously and primarily about nothing less than contributing to global transition away from consumer-capitalist society. That kind of society is the cause of our problems, it is leading us to catastrophe, it is not possible for all, it is only possible for us because the Third World is plundered, and it destroys the environment. It condemns billions to dreadful conditions. Our top priority must be to replace it, as distinct from making our town “resilient” in the face of the trouble it is causing. This vision is not evident in the Transition Towns movement literature or in its web sites. If it was the movement would probably be much less popular.
Does this mean I should accept that I want to see a quite different movement, one that is for quite different goals, and therefore I should back off and not lecture the existing movement that its goals are mistaken, and go form my own? Perhaps this is so, but my hope obviously is that the existing movement will be willing to endorse goals that are wider and more critical/radical than they are at present. If it doesn’t then I don’t think it will make much difference to the fate of the planet. I have thought in terms of a Simpler Way Transition Strategy whereby we try to work within Transition Towns initiatives to get the broader vision and goals accepted. The practical involvement in building town self-sufficiency is the best means for doing that.
What are the sub-goals? The lack of guidance.
The website, the handbook and especially the 12 Steps document are valuable, but they are predominantly about procedure and it is remarkably difficult to find clear guidance as to what the sub-goals of the movement are, the actual structures and systems and projects that we should be trying to undertake if our town is to achieve transition or resilience. What we desperately need to know is what things should we start trying to set up, what should we avoid, what should come first. Especially important is that we need to be able to seethe causal links, to understand why setting up this venture will have the effect of creating greater town resilience. But unfortunately people coming to the movement eager to get started will find almost no guidance in the current literature as to what to actually try to do, let alone anything like a suggested plan of action with steps and do’s and don’ts and clear explanation of why specific projects will have desirable effects.
The advice and suggestions you do find in the literature are almost entirely about how to establish the movement (e.g., “Awareness raising”, “Form subgroups”, “Build a bridge to local government”), as distinct from how to establish things that will actually, obviously make the town more resilient. There is some reference to possibilities, such as set up community supported agriculture schemes, but we are told little more than that we should establish committees to look into what might be done in areas such as energy, food, education and health.
The authors of these documents seem to be anxious to avoid prescription and dogma, and it is likely that no one can give certain guidance at this early stage, but that does not mean that advice regarding probably valuable projects should not be offered. The lack is most evident in The Kinsale Energy Descent Plan, which does little more than repeat the process ideas in the 12 steps documents and contains virtually no information or projects to do with energy technology or strategies. It lists some possibilities, such as exploring insulation and the possibility of local energy generation, and reducing the need for transport, but again there is no advice as to what precisely can or might be set up. We need more than this; we need to know l how and why a particular project will make the town more resilient, and we need to know what projects we should start with, what the difficulties and costs might be, etc. Just being told “Create an energy descent plan” (Step 12) doesn’t help much when what we need to know how might we do that.
I suggest some possible concrete projects below, drawn from my tentative thoughts on The Simpler Way Transition Strategy. We might eventually realise this is not a good approach, but they indicate the kind or guidance people coming to the movement must be given. Otherwise we run the risk of people not having much idea what to set up, and rushing into exciting activities that are a waste of time, or becoming disenchanted with the failure to make much difference to the town’s situation.
What should be the top goal? Build a new economy, and run it!
I want to argue that the focal concern of the movement should not be energy and its coming scarcity. Yes all that sets the scene and the imperative, but the solution is not primarily to do with energy. It is to do with developing town economic self-sufficiency. The supreme need is for us to build a radically new economy within our town, and then for us to run it to meet our needs.
It is not oil that sets your greatest insecurity; it is the global economy. lt doesn’t need your town. It will relocate your jobs where profits are greatest. It can flip into recession overnight and dump you and billions of others into unemployment and poverty. It will only deliver to you whatever benefits trickle down from the ventures which maximise corporate profits. It loots the Third World to stock your supermarket shelves. It has condemned much of your town to idleness, in the form of unemployment and wasted time and resources that could be being devoted to meeting urgent needs there. ln the coming time of scarcity it will not look after you. You will only escape that fate if you build a radically new economy in your region, and run it to provide for the people who live there.
All this flatly contradicts the conventional economy. We have to build a local economy, not a national or globalised economy, an economy designed to meet needs not to maximise profits, an economy under participatory social control and not driven by corporate profit, and one guided by rational planning as distinct from leaving everything to the market. This is the antithesis of capitalism, markets, profit motivation and corporate control. Nothing could be more revolutionary. If we don’t plunge into building such an economy we will probably not survive in the coming age of scarcity. The Transition Towns movement will come to nothing of great significance if it does not set itself to build such economies. Either your town will get control of its own affairs and organise local productive capacity to provide for you, or it will remain within and dependent on the mainstream economy, and be dumped.
In other words, the goal here is to build Economy B, a new local economy enabling the people who live in the town to guarantee the provision of basic necessities by applying their labour, land and skills to local resources…all under our control. The old economy A can then drop /dead and we will still be able to provide for ourselves. This kind of vision and goal is not evident in the TT literature and reports I have read. There is no concept of a Community Development Cooperative setting out to eventually run the town economy for the benefit of the people via participatory means. The movement at present implicitly accepts the normal consumer-capitalist economy and merely seeks to become more resilient within it.
The need for coordination, priorities and planning – by a Community Development Co-op
If we focus on the goal of local economic developed run by us to meet our needs we realise we must somehow set up mechanisms which enable us to work out and operate a plan. It will not be ideal if we proclaim the importance of town self-sufficiency and then all run off as individuals to set up a bakery here and a garden there. It is important that there be continual discussion about what the town needs to set up to achieve its goals, what should be done first, what is feasible, how we might proceed to get the first and the main things done, what are the most important ventures to set up? Of course individual initiatives are to be encouraged but much more important are likely to be bigger projects requiring whole-town effort.
This means that from the early stages we should set up some kind of Community Development Cooperative, a process whereby we can come together often to discuss and think about the town plan and our progress, towards having a coordinated and unified approach that will then help us decide on sub-goals and priorities, and especially on the purposes to which the early working bees will be put. Obviously this would not need to be elaborate or prescriptive and would not mean people would be discouraged from pursuing ventures other than those endorsed by the CDC.
My impression from the Transition Town literature is that this is something that needs urgent attention. Often it seems that inspired and energetic people are doing good things, but as independent “entrepreneurs” and according to their individual interests and skills. There will always be plenty of scope for this and every reason to encourage it, but the most important projects will be collective, public works which provide crucial services for the town. For instance the building of community gardens, sheds, premises for little firms, orchards, ponds, woodlots and the commons from which free food will come are whole-town projects that will be carried out by voluntary committees and working bees. Before these projects could sensibly begin we would need to have thought out at least an indicative plan which included priority, logistical, geographical, feasibility, research, resource etc. considerations.
What should the CDC actually do?
Following is an indication of the kind of projects that I think of as making up The Simpler Way Transition Strategy. These are the kinds of actual projects I had hoped to find in the TTR literature (and some are there).
• Identify the unmet needs of the town, and the unused productive capacities of the town, and bring them together. Set up the many simple cooperatives enabling all the unemployed, homeless, bored, retired, etc. people to get into the community gardens etc. that would enable them to start producing many of the basic things they need. Can we set up co-ops to run a bakery, bike repair shop, home help service, insulating operation, clothes making and repairing operation.... Especially important are the cooperatives to organise leisure resources, the concerts, picnics, dances, festivals? Can we organise a market day?
One of the worst contradictions in the present economy is that it dumps many people into unemployment, boredom, homelessness, "retirement", mental illness and depression – and in the US, watching 4+ hours of TV every day. These are huge productive capacities left idle land wasted. The CDC can pounce on these resources and harness them and enable dumped people to start producing to meet some of their on needs, thereby moving towards the elimination of employment. To do this is to have begun to set up Economy B. We simply record contributions and these entitle people to proportionate shares of the output. (This is to have initiated our own new currency; see below.)
This mechanism puts us in a position to eventually get rid of unemployment – to make sure all who want work and "incomes" and livelihoods can have them. It is absurd and annoying that governments, (and the people in your neighbourhood) tolerate people suffering depression and boredom when we could so easily set up the cooperatives that would enable them to produce things they need and enjoy purpose and solidarity. (Of course any move to do this would be rejected as “socialism”, which we all know does not work.)
• Help existing small firms to move to activities the town needs, setting up little firms and farms and markets. Establish a town bank to finance these ventures. Making sure no one goes bankrupt and no one is left without a livelihood.
• Organise Business Incubators; the voluntary panels of experts and advisers on gardening, small business, arts etc., so that we can get new ventures up and running well.
• Organise the working bees to plant and maintain the community orchards and other commons, build the premises for the bee keeper...and organise the committees to run the concerts and look after old people...
• Research what the town is importing, and the scope for local firms or new co-ops to start substituting local products.
• Decide what things will emphatically not be left for market forces to determine – such as unemployment, what firms we will have, whether fast food outlets will be patronised if they set up. We will not let market forces deprive anyone of a livelihood; if we have too many bakeries we will work out how to redirect one of them. The town gets together to decide what it needs, and to establish these things regardless of what market forces and the profit motive would have done.
• Stress the importance of reducing consumption, living more simply, making, growing, rep-airing, old things… The less we consume in the town the less we must produce or import. Remember, the world can't consume at anything like the rate rich countries average. As well as explaining the importance of reducing consumption the CDC must stress alternative satisfactions and develop these (e.g., the concerts, festivals, crafts…) It can also develop recipes for cheap but nutritious meals, teaching craft and gardening skills, preserving etc. The household economy should be upheld as the centre of our lives and the main source of life satisfaction, more important than career.
• Work towards the procedures for making good town decisions about these developments, the referenda, consensus processes, town meetings.
• Throughout all these activities recognise that our primary concern is to raise consciousness regarding the nature, functioning and unacceptability of consumer-capitalist society and the existence of better ways.
One concern the CDC would have is what not to try to do, or not yet. For instance in my view it is not at all clear that in the early states towns should make much effort to produce their own energy. Producing most forms of renewable energy in significant quantities is difficult and costly. Further, its significance for town independence or resilience is questionable. For instance if your town builds a wind farm this will benefit the nation but is not likely to be of much benefit to the town, other than as an export industry (sending surplus electricity to the grid…without which it could not function.) When the wind is down the town would have to draw from the grid.
More significant however would be the effort to reduce energy consumption, as distinct from increase production, by for instance insulating houses, cutting down on unnecessary production, localising work, cutting town imports, increasing local leisure resources and especially increasing local food production. (The Kinsale Energy Descent Plan recognises this.) Town resilience is going to depend more on the capacity to get to work and produce necessities without using much energy, than on whether the town can produce energy.
The introduction of local currencies.
Although the introduction of our own local currency is very important there is much confusion about local currencies and often proposed schemes would not have desirable effects. There is a tendency to proceed as if just creating a local currency would do wonders, without any thinking through of how it is supposed to work. lt will not have desirable effects unless it is carefully designed to do so. I have serious concerns about the currency schemes being adopted by the Transition Towns movement and I do not think the initiatives I am aware of are going to make significant contributions to the achievement of town resilience. It is not evident that they are based on a rationale that makes sense and enables one to see why they will have desirable effects.
It is most important that we are able to see precisely what general effect the form of currency we have opted for is going to have; we must be able to explain why we are implementing it in view of the beneficial effects it designed to have. To me the main purpose in introducing a currency is to contribute to getting the unused productive capacity of the town into action, i.e., stimulating/enabling increase in output to meet needs. (Another purpose is to avoid the interest charges when normal money is borrowed, but this can’t be done unless the new money is to be used to pay for inputs available in the town; it can’t pay for imported cement for instance.)
Following is the strategy that I think is most valuable. Consider again what happens in the above scenario, when our CDC sets up a community garden and invites people to come and work in it. When time contributions are recorded with the intention of sharing produce later in proportion to contributions, these slips of paper function like an IOU or “promissory note” (although that’s not what they are.). They can be used to “buy” garden produce when it becomes available. They are a form of money which enables everyone to keep track of how much work, producing and providing they have done and how great a claim they have on what’s been produced. The extremely important point about the design and use of this currency is that it helps in getting those idle people into producing to meet some of their own needs. Obviously the introduction of the currency was not the most important element in the process; organising the “firm” was the key factor. Also obvious is the way the currency works; you can see what its desirable effects are. So just introducing a currency of some kind does not necessarily have any desirable effect and it is crucial to do it in a way that you know will have definite and valuable effects.
At a later stage we can use our currency to start trading with firms in the old economy. We can find restaurants for instance willing to sell us meals which we can pay for with our money. They will accept payment in our money if they can then spend that money buying vegetables and labour from us in Economy B. But note that the normal shops in the town cannot accept our money and we in Economy B cannot buy from them, unless there is something we can sell to them. They can’t sell things to us, accepting our money, unless they can use that money. Nothing significant can be achieved unless people acquire the capacity to produce and sell things that others want. So the crucial task here for the Community Development co-op look for things we in Economy B might sell to the normal firms in the town.
Councils can facilitate this process, for example by accepting our new money in part payment of their rates—but again only if there is something they can spend the money on, that is, goods and services they need that we in Economy B can provide. Therefore the CDC must look for these possibilities.
Sometimes it makes sense for a council to issue a currency to enable use of local resources, especially labour, to build an infrastructure without having to borrow and pay interest to external banks. This can only be done for those inputs that are available locally. If for instance the cement for the swimming pool has to be imported then it will have to be paid for in national currency, but it would be a mistake to borrow normal money to pay the workers if they are available in the town. They can be paid in specially printed new money with which they are able to pay (part of) their rates. Note however that the council then has the problem of what to do with these payments. If it burns them the council has actually paid for the pool via reduced normal money rate income, and will have to reduce services to the town accordingly. Better to keep the money perpetually in use within a new Economy B, so those workers and the council can go on providing things to each other.
Now consider some ways of introducing a new currency that will not have desirable effects.
What would happen if the council or a charity just gave a lot of new money to poor people, and got some shops to agree to accept it as payment for goods they sell? The recipients would soon spend it…and be without jobs and poor again. The shops would hold lots of new money…but not be able to spend it buying anything they need. (They could use it to buy from each other, but would have no need to do this, because they were already able to buy the few things they needed from each other using normal money.) Again if things are not to gum up it must be possible for the shopkeepers in the old economy to use their new money purchasing something from those poor people, and that’s not possible unless they can produce things within a new Economy B.
Sometimes the arrangement is for people to buy new notes using normal money. This is just substituting, and achieves nothing for the town economy. What’s the point of people who would have used dollars now buying using “eco”s they have bought? Again there is no effect of bringing unused productive capacity into action.
What about the argument that local currencies encourage local purchasing because they can’t be spent outside the town? This reveals confusion. Anyone who understands the importance of buying local will do so as much as they can, regardless of what currency they have. Anyone who doesn’t will buy what’s cheapest, which is typically an imported item. Obviously what matters here is getting people to understand why it’s important to buy local; just issuing a local currency will make no significant difference.
Similarly, currencies which depreciate with time miss the point and are unnecessary. Anyone who understands the situation does not need to be penalised for holding new money and not spending it. In any case it’s wrong-headed to set out to encourage spending; people should buy as little as they can, and any economy in which you feel an obligation to spend to make work for someone else is not an acceptable economy. In a sensible economy there is only enough work, producing and spending and use of money as is necessary to ensure all have sufficient for a good quality of life.
The TransitionTowns movement is characterised by a remarkable level of enthusiasm and energy. I think this reflects the long pent up disenchantment with consomer-capitalist society and a desire for something better. There is a powerful case that the only way out of the alarming global predicament we are in has to be via a Transition Towns movement of some kind. To our great good fortune one has burst on the scene. But I worry that it could very easily fail to make a significant difference. My hope is that the foregoing thoughts will help to ensure that it does become the means whereby we get through to a sustainable and just world.
Appendix: An indication of the limits to growth case re the global
Consider some basic aspects of our situation. I have detailed this case in several sources including http://ssis.arts.unsw.edu.au/tsw/ and will only refer here to a few of the main themes.
• If all the estimated 9 billion people likely to be living on earth after 2050 were to consume resources at the present per capita rate in rich countries, world annual resource production rates would have to be about 8 times as great as they are now.
• It is now widely thought that global petroleum supply will peak within a decade, and be down to half the present level by about 2030.
• “Footprint analysis” indicates that the amount of productive land required to provide one person in Australia with food, water, energy and settlement area is about 7- 8 ha. The US figure is closer to 12 ha. If 9 billion people were to live as Australians do, approximately 70 billion ha of productive land would be required. However the total amount available on the planet is only in the region of 8 billion ha. In other words our rich world footprint is about 10 times as big as it will ever be possible for all people to have.
• It is increasingly being thought that in order to prevent dangerous increase in global warming all CO2 emissions will have to be totally eliminated by 2050. There are good reasons for concluding that this is not possible in a consumer society, firstly because the alternative energy sources such as the sun and wind cannot meet demand, (Trainer, 2008) and even if they could there isn’t time to do so.
The point which such figures makes glaringly obvious is that it is totally impossible for all to have the ”living standards” we have taken for granted in rich countries like Australia. We are not just a little beyond sustainable levels of resource demand and ecological impact – we are far beyond sustainable levels.
However the main worry is not the present levels of resource use and ecological impact discussed above, it is the levels we will rise to given the obsession with constantly increasing volumes of production. The supreme goal in all countries is to raise incomes, “living standards” and the GDP as much as possible, constantly and without any idea of a limit. That is, the most important goal is economic growth.
If we assume a) a 3% p.a. economic growth, b) a population of 9 billion, c) all the world’s people rising to the “living standards” we in the rich world would have in 2070 given 3% growth until then, the total volume of world economic output would be 60 times as great as it is now.
So even though the present levels of production and consumption are grossly unsustainable the determination to have continual increase in income and economic output will multiply these towards absurdly impossible levels in coming decades.
Such enormous multiples rule out any possibility that technical advance can enable us to continue the pursuit of growth and affluence while greater energy efficiency, recycling effort, pollution control etc. deals with the resulting resource and ecological impacts.
The second major fault built into our society is that its economic system is massively unjust. We in rich countries could not have anywhere near our present “living standards” if we were not taking far more than our fair share of world resources. Our per capita consumption of items such as petroleum is around 17 times that of the poorest half of the world’s people. The rich 1/5 of the world’s people are consuming around 3/4 of the resources produced. Many people get so little that 800 million are hungry and more than that number have dangerously dirty water to drink. Three billion live on $2 per day or less.
This grotesque injustice is primarily due to the fact that the global economy operates on market principles. In a market need is totally irrelevant and is ignored. Resources and goods go mostly to those who are richer, because they can offer to pay more for them. Thus we in rich countries get almost all of the scarce oil and timber traded, while billions of people in desperate need get none.
Even more importantly, the market system explains why Third World development is so very inappropriate to the needs of Third World people. What is developed is not what is needed; it is always what will make most profit for the few people with capital to invest. Thus there is development of export plantations and cosmetic factories but not development of farms and firms in which poor people can produce for themselves the things they need. Many countries such as Haiti get no development at all because it does not suit anyone with capital to develop anything there…even though they have the land, water, talent and labour to produce most of the things they need for a good quality of life.
These are some of the reasons why conventional development can be regarded as a form of plunder. The Third World has been developed into a state whereby its land and labour benefit the rich, not Third World people. Rich world “living standards” could not be anywhere near as high as they are if the global economy was just.
These considerations of sustainability and global economic justice show that our predicament is extreme and cannot be solved in consumer-capitalist society. The problems are caused by some of the fundamental structures and processes of this society. There is no possibility of having an ecologically sustainable, just, peaceful and morally satisfactory society if we allow market forces and the profit motive to be the major determinant of what happens, or if we seek economic growth and ever-higher “living standards” without limit. Many people who claim to be concerned about the fate of the planet refuse to face up to the fact that this society cannot be fixed. The problems can only be solved by vast and radical change to some very different systems.
Here's something the Australian Press would probably rather not report on, so we had better, because it is very important.
“Caterpillar management taken hostage by workers in Dijon. New signs of social radicalisation in France”, begins Tuesday’s France2 TV news.
Since Tuesday morning (31 March 09) four Caterpillar managers have been prevented by Caterpillar employees from leaving their director’s office in the Grenoble (France) factory, where 730 jobs are down for the chop.
The report opens with footage of Caterpillar’s human resources manager being allowed to drive out of the factory under medical orders for a cardiac problem after 8 hours of detention by Caterpillar workers.
Meanwhile the workers continued to detain four other managers on the first floor of the factory.
The negotiations began with only about ten workers early Tuesday morning, then, very quickly, a hundred took over the area and confronted their bosses with their demands for negotiations when they tried to leave. The bosses holed up in the offices.
The camera shows a lot of excited workers milling around in the large corridors of the first floor, outside the Director’s office where management has dug-in.
Suddenly the door of the director’s office gives way. The managers are there. They look haggard.
The workers surge in, boo-ing and whistling at them.
“We’re on strike. It’s not unemployment, thug!” a worker calls out twice towards the Director.
The Director General of Caterpillar France, with the almost unbelievable name of Nicolas Polutnik, mumbles incoherently something like, “ In the time to come … free… one could …. wait and see…in order to give a chance ...” It sounds a little as if he is avoiding making any legal commitment by talking nonsense. The press commentator remarks that the director could not come up with anything more.
Someone off-screen calls out, “You’re a thug! You’re a thug!
A worker berates the director from behind: “M le Directeur, you weren’t even capable of calling a meeting to discuss the situation …:”
Caterpillar, the US construction group, announced only two months ago a vast plan to get rid of jobs – 22,000 in the world, 733 out of 2,006 in Grenoble.
This was the only solution that the workers could find - “Taking hostages” - as they call it, in the hope of having their voices heard.
Benoit Nicolas, spokesman from the Workers Federation (Confederation Generale du Travail (CGT) spokesman, speaks through a loud-hailer:
“What we want above all is an equitable sharing of the wealth which has been obtained through the living force of this enterprise, that is to say, the workers!”
Bosses for another night on the office-carpet until they agree to negotiate
Alexis Mazza, representing the employees, said, “Today they [management] refuse to negotiate, therefore they will remain here, they will sleep here, in order to think things over, because you can’t flog workers like that! ”
No negotiation was able to be started on this day (Tuesday 31).
No doubt many corporations like Caterpillar, backed up by the same governments which have thrown taxpayers’ money at banks and big business, will be finding ways to communicate with the Caterpillar management at Grenoble. They will be telling them to hold out at all costs, because, if they give in and negotiate, workers throughout the world will see how easy it is to have the upper-hand on the hachet-men of the power-elites.
After all, there is really no reason to keep the management and owners of these factories. The workers could take over now and simply produce for local needs, or trade modestly where there was a need. The same could be said for most large enterprises like this. Vast profits are only necessary where the cost of land and rent are artificially pushed up by land-speculation, more of a problem in the English speaking countries which have different land-tenure laws from Western continental Europe. (And that problem, of course, urgently needs confronting.)