Friday, 31 October 2014

The Energy Sustainability Dilemma

A fascinating talk by J. David Hughes, a research fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, given at Cornell-5-2-12, "Energy Sustainability Dilemma : Powering the Future in a Finite World". Most of the easy energy is gone. This was from oil which was plentiful, and easy to get, with a very high net Energy Return on Investment (EROI). Now we are pursuing Deep Ocean Drilling, Tar Sands, Fracked Shale Gas, etc.

Are we heading for a dead end? What about Wind and Solar? Can they make up the difference? This talk is somewhat technical, but essential if we are to understand our energy options as our society pushes for more energy.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Labour Party is Losing Support to the Greens – A Campaign of Smears is a Pitiful Response

Take a look at this piece from Luke Akehurst on Labour List to see just how worried Labour is by the Green surge in opinion polls and our party membership that has emerged recently. Every possible smear, real and imagined, is marshalled here in an attempt to dissuade former Labour (and Lib Dem) voters from supporting a party which offers policies that these people actually find attractive.  

Labour do have form on this of course. They put a great deal of effort into defending Bethnal Green constituency in London in 2005, ultimately unsuccessfully, as George Galloway took the seat for RESPECT. Labour regained the seat in 2010 when Galloway didn’t stand, again with a massive effort on the ground from Labour supporters. And Brighton and Hove, where Caroline Lucas won the seat for the Greens in 2010 is now close to the top of Labour’s target constituencies at next year’s general election, when you might have thought they would be concentrating on fighting the Tories?

But no, this is Labour who take any threat from its left much more seriously than the challenge from the Tories. The tactics are all too familiar as well. I remember in the early 1990s musing to a friend of mine who was a Labour party member, that I might vote Green (this after the Greens got 15% in the 1989 European Elections). She was quickly on the attack, telling me that the Greens had a fascistic policy on population control. That was enough to bring me back into the Labour fold.

When I eventually joined the Green Party (in 2006), the first policy I checked out was indeed population. I don’t know if the policy changed in the interim, but I was relieved to find that the policy is quite sensible now despite what Labour people were still telling me in 2006. I have since discovered that there is a tiny grouping in the Green party which still ‘bangs on population’, but they are truly a tiny minority in the party.

Anyway, back to the piece on the Labour List. The writer just doesn’t get it. The reason Labour are losing support to the Greens is because the Greens have proper left wing policies and if Labour were to adopt these, the left leaning voters would not be veering away from Labour in the direction of the Greens.

I was heartened to read the comments section of this post though, where this point is made by many of the contributors. Slagging off the Greens will not help Labour and may even make matters worse. Labour abandoned the progressive left of British politics a long time ago, and just as we saw in Labour’s Scottish heartlands in the indy referendum, these voters now go elsewhere, SNP and Green in Scotland, and increasingly PC in Wales and Green in England.  

Bring it on, let the truth shine through.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Book Review - SOS Alternatives to Capitalism by Richard Swift

SOS Alternatives to Capitalism provides us with a densely-argued and exhaustive review of global practices which might, conceivably, add up to his basic goal of disengagement from a system which, like the titan Kronos in Greek mythology, must devour its own children, with its growth obsession that extinguishes bio-, cultural and human diversity alike.

If the title of the book is excitingly misleading, since it suggests a multiplicity of alternatives to capitalism when most of us would settle for only one, Richard Swift’s advocacy of a ‘democratic ecosocialism’ as an alternative to capitalism is sustained and persuasive. From the earliest formulations of red-green politics, distributive justice was a basic principle: if the assault on the earth is to be contained, sufficiency for all is the first imperative. Swift is particularly powerful when he moves effortlessly across the globe, highlighting inventive local initiatives; what he has in mind is truly international in scope and suggests the power to unite rich and poor countries in a common project. His insistence on those groups of (mainly) indigenous peoples who protect the ‘global commons’ is a potent starting-point for any alternative which protects simultaneously both planetary integrity and distributive justice. His historical overview of the variants of socialism and their shortcomings, although brief, is incisive and to the point.

The ideas he propounds have existed, in one form or another for a long time; and these sometimes echo the prescience of the Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich, whose understanding of the meaning of ‘conviviality’, and whose denunciation of a ‘development’ that had declared war on subsistence, might have formed just such a theoretical basis for that other – and better – world, known to exist, but tantalisingly out of reach, by virtue of the absence of any known conveyance to take us there.

Richard Swift strikes a fine balance between denunciation of an ecocidal commitment to economic growth that is overwhelming the planet, and an elaboration of the thousands of candles of hope that lighten the gloom. His book is full of brilliant ideas – ‘escaping the tyranny of the economy’, ‘surviving progress’, ‘transcending a destabilizing market rationality.’ He also wryly observes that those on the Left who scorn ‘Utopian visions’ should bear in mind the extreme Utopianism of a Right, animated by an impossible Utopia – the dream of perfect equilibrium and harmony that would exist, if only truly ‘free’ markets could be established.

It is sobering to reflect how swiftly what looked like the monolith of state socialism crumbled; and the velocity with which capitalism flooded the vacuum, drowning alternatives, efforts at renewal and practices that were already thriving within the interstices of a failing system. This demonstrated the sheer material power of the dominant world ideology. It has hard to be believe that it is mere chance – and not some providential visitation – that an industrial culture born in one part of the world, should have so successfully colonised virtually all other societies and civilisations which, however resilient, have gone down before the economic ‘rationality’ of the West; and this is why Swift places the recuperation of the global commons at the heart of his project of reclamation of the politics of hope.

It is exhilarating to read of the multiple possibilities that already exist and can serve as an energizing inspiration to action. But the great mobilizing myth that will move the peoples of the world to make the great wager that it is worth risking everything for the sake of something better, remains elusive. We are all familiar with the stories that have been effective in gaining widespread popular adherence – the capitalist tale that everyone can be rich; Marx’s story that History was on the side of the workers; even the religious tale that this world is a vale of tears and we must await our reward in the next one. The formulation of ecosocialism – that we court catastrophe unless we limit our predations on the planet – is too negative, and requires a positive, emancipatory slogan. Richard Swift’s book, eloquent and inspirational, is certainly a movement in that direction.

Written by Jeremy Seabrook and first published at Red Pepper

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Johnny Marr Live at Brixton Academy (23 October 2014)

I went see Johnny Marr open his rather short UK tour to publicise the release of his new album ‘Playland’ on Thursday night. I am a great fan of The Smith from the 1980s when their music painted perfectly the mood of the times in Manchester and much of the rest of the country, outside of the south east.

Johnny Marr (and other Smithees, Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce) went to the same school as me, they were a year below. You know, when you are in the 5th year of secondary school, and there some of the fourth year that you deign to talk to? Well Johnny, Andy and Mike were those type of fourth formers.

I remember Johnny and Andy playing their acoustic guitars in the playground, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was the favourite in those times.

Anyway, great concert it was, Noel Gallagher making a late guest appearance , and I’m really glad I got a ticket. Not all the audience were old rockers like me and my mates, the legend of The Smiths lives on, it is just a shame that Morrissey refuses to entertain any sort of reunion for the band. But we still have Johnny Marr.

The video/song above is ‘Lust for Life ’ from the other night, featuring Noel Gallagher as an encore, and below is 'There is a Light That Never Goes Out' and 'Panic'.

Friday, 24 October 2014

The Return of Occupy London

Occupy is back in London, UK, with a renewed focus on politics and an ambitious vision: to galvanise a mass movement for real democracy and establish a huge People’s Assembly to debate a list of specific demands for radical political reform.

This week, stalwarts of the Occupy Democracy campaign in Britain are continuing to stand their ground in Parliament Square. The heavy-handed police crackdown and evictions may have scuppered much of the plans for peaceful and creative demonstrations, but the re-emergence of the Occupy movement is a welcome sight in an increasingly unequal, stressed and disaffected city of London.

The goal of the new Occupy campaign is laudable and significant: to direct energy from current single issue struggles into “a critical mass that can radically challenge the corrupt unrepresentative [political] system”. Initially staged in solidarity with Hong Kong’s ongoing civil disobedience campaign, the aptly-named #TarpaulinRevolution aimed to galvanise a mass movement for real democracy by transforming the Square into a civic space where activists can re-envision and rethink the fundamentals of our society, not only through protest activity but also with a programme of talks, workshops, community assemblies, music and theatre.

The original call to action makes a compelling case as to why the British political system is unable to deal with the consequences of a social crisis it helped to create. Citing the entrenched problems of the UK’s growing ranks of homeless, hungry and unemployed, it calls on all movements that have opposed the government’s anti-democratic policies to come and join the occupation. “The problem is bigger than the Tories and their austerity program”, it states. “The problem is with our whole democratic system.”

Hence the need for a genuine democracy free from corporate influence is placed at the heart of the campaign, with an aspiration to establish a huge People’s Assembly that can debate a list of specific demands for radical political reform. As the call to action concludes: “It appears that the majority are not able to use the democratic process to improve, let alone protect, the basic necessities of life. And in turn, our increasing sense of powerlessness is mirrored by the increasing power of big business over our lives. It is time we took mass action to stop this.”

The occupation began on Friday 17th October with an overnight vigil to mark the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty, followed by an introduction to Occupy Democracy and a series of short talks by a number of activists. A programme of activities still continues despite the presence of hundreds of police officers earlier in the week, and a 2 metre metal fence that has now been erected around much of Parliament Square Gardens. On Saturday and Sunday, when the ten-day campaign may still conclude if protesters can resist further arrests, talks and workshops have been planned on the theme of ‘Solutions – what would our ideal society look like?’, and ‘Means of change – a better world is nice in theory, but how do we make it happen?’

Moving beyond ‘anti’ to a common vision

One of the talks on Friday by John Hilary of War of Want particularly resonated with these themes, and emphasised the necessity for the emerging ‘movement of movements’ to move beyond reactive protest and articulate a collective vision of change. Drawing on the concluding section of his recent book, Hilary outlined what he terms three principles of convergence that indicate a means for moving beyond neoliberal capitalism and towards a better world: popular sovereignty, common ownership and social production.

Together, these principles reflect the growing spirit of inclusive activism that no longer focuses on a position of ‘anti’, and instead embraces the many alternatives and new visions that are out there today. This includes, in Hilary’s words, the many opportunities we are now seeing for “common ownership, sharing, and new understandings of the commons where we all participate, we all own it and we all control its future.”

A video of the talk can be viewed here, but it is also worth transcribing below Hilary’s discussion of these three principles and how we all need to ‘decommodify our worldview’ and look towards a future that is no longer dominated by the profit motive, which will mark the true liberation of peoples and societies.

“…The last thing I wanted to focus on was how we can learn from what people have achieved in other countries around the world in terms of fighting for a better future. Because I don’t know how you feel but for me it feels that we’re constantly fire-fighting, we’re constantly reacting and resisting to the things that they throw at us. If it’s not an austerity programme it’s a bank bailout; if it’s not a bank bailout then it’s another slashing of welfare benefits; it’s another swathe of unemployment coming in from the public sector. If it’s not that it’s a whole raft of other trade deals, it’s another set of austerity measures dropped down on us from the European Union.
What we’re saying is that we need a change, so it’s not just about us reacting all the time, but it’s about us putting in place new structures, new ideas and new policies, new thoughts that can challenge that for the future. And we’ve seen that not just in Spain with Podermos rising up, in Greece with Syriza, in all of the great, great election victories that you see in democracies across Western Europe where they are beginning to challenge from the left. But we’ve also seen that in Latin America where social movements have risen up and they have created political challenges to the elite – political challenges which have swept away the old elite, and created completely new dispensations for the future – new ambitions, and new aspirations to try and overcome their past, and to create democratic paths away from capitalism. And that sort of move is what we desperately need here. And you can put that around three basic principles, which when you read all of the different programmes of an alternative from across the world, it always seems to crystallise around three particular things. 
The first of these is popular sovereignty, and that means reclaiming democracy not just to the national level of governments, which was the thing when we were talking about this 15 years ago and everyone was saying ‘Globalisation is a great threat; we need to reclaim power for our national sovereignty’ – no, we need to take it much, much deeper and restore democracy at its roots; popular sovereignty. And you can look to the examples of those countries like Iceland or Tunisia or Equador or Bolivia, which have completely re-written constitutions in order to be able to give the people’s aspirations top billing. You can also see it in countries like Venezuala where they have local municipal committees, workplace committees, bringing people in to the democratic space and building from the grassroots. You can see it in the economic policies of restoring power to cooperatives and other collective engagements of people, so that they take control of the economic space as well as the political space. 
So that concept of popular sovereignty could not be more relevant here in Parliament Square, looking across at an institution which denies us that say, it denies us that participation. So I think the first thing we have to work out in our structures [is] how can we reclaim that space. Not just in demonstrations and actions, but much more [in terms of] going through all of the processes that we take part in; whether you’re members of trade unions, whether you’re members of local residents associations, whatever clubs or [forms of] participations you have, pushing that political message through. So, one: popular sovereignty. 
The second big, big issue here is common ownership. If you don’t own the means of production, if you don’t own the commons, if you don’t own and have rights over public services, you can never turn them back to your advantage. And we know that this is so important because the first wave of enclosures that the neoliberal programme brought in was a new wave of privatisation; privatising water, privatising education, privatising health, privatising anything they can get their hands on and not letting it go back into public hands in the future. And that again is another of the really important threats from these big trade deals. 
We know already that our government is selling us down the river when it comes to all those things. If we ever get another government in where we want to try and reclaim those powers, if they’ve already been put into a trade deal you can’t get them back. And we want them back, we’ve seen the type of opportunities for common ownership, sharing, and new understanding of the commons where we all participate, we all own it and we all control its future. You see that on the internet, you see that in car pools, you see that in the massive cooperative movement that lives around the world, you see that in workers collectives, the solidarity economy, the social economy, all of these different models which are still going towards the same basic aim of common ownership and control. 
So number one popular sovereignty, number two common ownership, and the final one is social production. Production not for profit, not so that value can be whisked away by the 1% and stored in their Swiss bank accounts, but production which is there for social need and not treating us as commodities in the system, not treating our public services as commodities, not treating the basic commons that we know and we use as commodities. And that decommodification process starts with each one of us. It starts with our rejection of the logic of capitalism. It says that we want a world that is not dominated by the profit motive. We want a world where we produce things for need, not for profit; for use value, not for exchange. 
And when we can start making that type of change, the liberation, the liberation that that brings to people, to societies, to women who have so often borne the brunt of this neoliberal attack, that liberation opens up all the possibilities that we want for a new and better future. We cannot achieve that without a political challenge to the elite. Turning people power into political power has got to be our first step. And that’s why I’m really thrilled to be here, to be part of this merging of the movement, this ‘movement of movements’ which comes together to challenge on all these different fronts.”
Adam Parsons is the editor at Share The World’s Resources. He can be contacted at adam(at)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Why the cuts aren’t working

The deficit is still rising. After four years of the most aggressive spending cuts in living memory, George Osborne is today borrowing 10% more than he did this time last year - £11.8bn in September alone. Total government debt is more than £100bn higher than in 2013, at £1.45tn. The failure to cut the deficit and shrink the debt is starkly apparent.

What truly beggars belief is that this has been achieved at the same time as economic growth has returned. On the IMF’s figures, the UK is set to be the fastest growing economy in the developed world over this year. Unemployment is falling. Jobs are being created at a record rate. And yet, somehow, the government is still forced to borrow increasing amounts.

The culprit is not hard to find. The amount collected in taxes has failed to grow with the economy. The graph below (taken from here) shows the course of receipts across different taxes since the crash of 2008.

Three things are immediately clear. First, without the ramping up of VAT in 2010, to 20%, Osborne would be in dire financial straits right now. Second, income tax has, despite apparently rising employment, failed to increase. Third, corporation tax, targeted for cuts, year after year, has slumped.

The tax system is increasingly leaning on regressive – biased in favour of the rich – consumption taxes, and failing to deliver fairer taxes on income. This is a result of both government policy, increasing VAT but cutting corporation tax, and the kind of “recovery” we have ended up with.

Consumption is rising. More is being spent in at least some shops. But real incomes for most people are still falling – Britain’s suffering the longest sustained decline in real incomes since the 1870s. Revenues from consumption taxes have therefore stayed solid. But revenues from income taxes – assisted by Osborne’s cutting of tax rates – have, by the same token, fallen.

This doesn’t quite make sense. If real incomes are still falling, despite rising employment, how can people be spending more? Partly this reflects a return to rising inequality: in the last year for which we have figures, the richest 10% saw a 3.2% increase in their earnings, whilst the other 90% saw a decline. If at least some people have more cash, they can spend more.

But it is also the result of borrowing. Borrowing by consumers has been rising since early 2013; in particular, unsecured borrowing – borrowing without any collateral, such as a house in a mortgage – has been shooting up. This includes credit card debt, and store credit, as well as (increasingly) payday loans. It is, in other words, more insecure lending.

The story since 2007 is quite clear. Right up to the crash, people were borrowing more every month. As the crash hit, and the recession broke out, they began repaying their debt. Indeed, one of the major drivers of the recession was this slide in spending by households, since if less is being spent, less must also be sold: and so the whole economy gets pulled backwards. (This is the multiplier effect in action.)

But with the return to consistent growth from early 2013, this pattern reversed. Households began borrowing again in earnest from around January that year. Currently, unsecured lending is increasing at a rate of close to £1bn a month, and has wobbled around slightly under that figure for the last year. That’s about the same rate as the monthly increase in consumer spending over the last 18 months.

This need not be a problem, if it weren’t for two factors. First, people are already substantially indebted. Since the crash they have, as we have seen, attempted to pay down their debts. But this has only removed some of the debt burden created prior to the crash. The total volume of unsecured lending stands today at £162bn, having fallen from a July 2008 peak of £200bn. That’s a decline, but the total amount outstanding has been increasing steadily for the last year.

Second, real incomes are still falling. And debts must be repaid, with interest. You can’t have consistently rising debts, and consistently falling incomes. The two must collide at some point. That means a crisis.

So here’s the lunacy of the situation revealed. Osborne is having to borrow increasing amounts because incomes – and therefore income taxes – have not kept pace with economic growth. Yet that economic growth is, itself, being pulled along by a return to borrowing by individuals. Debt, government and household, is rising.

There is nothing sustainable in this situation. The hope in the Treasury is that taxes from self-employment, deferred by richer taxpayers seeking to duck the old 50p highest rate, will pick up in the next tax year. (Of course, with average earnings from self-employment down 22% since 2008, this may be a forlorn hope.) But that will be a one-off kick. Without a return to sustained income growth, spread across the population, the books won’t balance. We are, on the current course, heading for another crash.

Written by James Meadway and first published at the New Economics Foundation site

Monday, 20 October 2014

Anti Immigration – The Cure to all our Problems?

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has announced his intention to negotiate an ‘a cap on immigration’ on residents from the European Union (EU) coming to the UK, in a desperate attempt to spike the United Kingdom Independence Party’s (UKIP) popularly amongst a significant section of British voters. Whether it will be successful in stemming the UKIP surge is open to debate, as all other similar stunts, such as the offer of an in/out referendum on the EU, have so far failed to depress UKIP support.

Whether even it will be listened to seriously by other EU states is openly questioned by Jose Manuel Barraso, outgoing European Commission President, today. It is highly unlikely that Cameron will get any kind of cap, so this is purely a public relations exercise, as no doubt UKIP will point out. I think this is just another sign of the established political parties pushing the old buttons that have been effective before, but they are just not working anymore.

For many UKIP supporters, as I have pointed out before, it is not really UKIPs policies that are attractive to them, indeed many supporters don’t even know what they are, but it is rather an expression of dissatisfaction with the whole of the existing political establishment (the Greens are profiting from this too, with completely opposite policies to UKIP, in the main). So, I doubt this will have the effect Cameron desires.

I think it is true to say that in some parts of the country immigration from eastern Europe in particular, is unpopular, but in other parts, London for example thrives on immigration, it passes off almost unnoticed. London is of course an ‘immigrant city’ where the majority of the population is of non British stock, and even that which is, tends to be from other parts of the UK.

But the big problem with immigration though, is not the immigrants themselves, as the British are by and large a very tolerant bunch, but it is the lack of resources being put into the infrastructure to cope with their needs and the rest of the population. This all started under the last Labour government, when Labour were quite happy to take the increased growth in the UK economy generated by eastern European immigrants; many took the opportunity to have building extensions and improvements, and at comparatively inexpensive cost. No, the failure of the Labour government in this area, was to neglect to reinvest some of this growth in public services.

Particularly in poorer areas, the pressure for doctor’s and hospital appointments, school places and jobs became quite acute, and the Coalition, if anything, have made matters even worse with their crusade to slash public spending and to cut taxes for the wealthy. 

There does seem to be something of a difference this time around with anti immigrant sentiment, compared to the 1950s, 60s and 70s, where the immigrants to the UK were predominately from the Caribbean and India and Pakistan. This of course being colour.

Now, I come across black and Asian British people who complain about eastern (white) Europeans taking their jobs or under cutting their wage rates, but as always, it is a simplistic scapegoating reaction to a more complex problem.

That problem is with the affects of economic globalisation and an obsession with neo-liberal ideology. Is it any better that our jobs can be transferred out of the country altogether, by outsourcing to India or China? Is it immigration that has forced down wage rates, or government policy on reducing the powers of trade unions and opt outs and the watering down of EU employment rights? Did immigrants invent zero hour contracts?

The idea that by stopping or limiting immigration all our problems will be solved is naive. By demonising immigrants as ‘health’ or ‘welfare’ tourists which just isn’t borne out by the facts and places like Clacton, which has recently returned the first UKIP elected MP, has only 4.3% of its population born abroad. But Clacton, like many areas is economically depressed, as a direct result of government policies, both Labour and the Coalition.

Let’s put the blame for our economic problems firmly where they belong. The economically disastrous one party neo-liberal state that we live in is to blame, and UKIP will do nothing about that at all.        

Friday, 17 October 2014

What is the point of the Labour Party?

It's not often that I find myself agreeing with anything Peter Hitchens says, so I was taken aback when I stumbled across an old article of his in the Daily Mail calling for the renationalisation of British Rail, in which he described rail privatisation as "a huge con that left us with delays, antique trains and a vast bill", admitted that he'd stopped believing in free-trade and asked "What on earth is the point of the Labour Party if it cannot even oppose the mad disaster of railway privatisation?"  

Once I got over the shock of agreeing with something this right-wing blowhard had said (by telling myself that even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day), I got to thinking about the answer to the question: What is the point of the Labour Party?

I know what the point of the Labour Party used to be before Blair and Brown took over in 1994 and replaced the principle ideologies of the party with a Rupert Murdoch approved version of neoliberalism-lite (Thatcherite economic policy with a sprinkling of pseudo-socialist window dressing). The point of the Old Labour party was to maintain a social democratic system in which the public are provided with a social safety net and enough opportunities in life to stop them from rising up and overthrowing the establishment.

In my view the achievements of the post-war Labour Party were the great political legacy of the 20th Century. The NHS, full employment, decent housing, and a more equitable share of the wealth for the bottom 90% of society. The truly incredible thing is that as all of this was being built and maintained, the national debt fell from 238% of GDP in 1947 to just 43% of GDP in 1979, when Margaret Thatcher tore up the post-war consensus in favour of ideologically driven right-wing neoliberalism, since when the national debt has sky-rocketed back up again (especially if you include the deliberately hidden costs of PFI debt legacies and the bankers' bailouts).The privatisation of British Rail has been the most visible failure all of the crony capitalist privatisations enforced by the 1979-97 Tory government. As a result of this ludicrous ideologically driven sell-off, Network Rail (the bit that runs the actual railway lines) has amassed a staggering £34 billion worth of public debt; the UK rail engineering and manufacturing sectors have been annihilated; ticket prices have risen above inflation year, after year, after year; overcrowding has got ridiculous and extremely dangerous on many commuter lines; and the private rail operators and rolling stock companies have got rich on £billions worth of taxpayer funded subsidies.

The subsidies handed out to private rail companies amount to far more than the entire cost of British Rail before it was carved up for privatisation, and where we were once global leaders in advanced rail technology, we now buy our tilting trains from Italy!

After Labour came to power in 1997 they had 13 years to do something about the incredible shambles the Tories had created out of our rail network, but they did nothing. In fact they were busy with their own madcap privatisation scams to rival the incompetence of Tory rail privatisation fiasco.

PFI was introduced by the Tory party in the early 1990s, but Gordon Brown oversaw a huge expansion in these ridiculous one-sided contracts, that have been described by the Treasury Select Committee as "an extremely inefficient method of funding [public infrastructure] projects". The debt legacies from these absurd economic alchemy schemes have already driven numerous NHS Trusts into severe financial difficulties, and will remain an enormous burden on future generations of taxpayers.

Hundreds of billions in outstanding PFI debt legacies may be the most expensive privatisation burden left by New Labour, but the most ludicrous of all must be the Mapeley Steps deal to privatise the Inland Revenue property portfolio. Anyone suffering under the delusion that New Labour was a socialist government, should think long and hard about how on earth privatising our tax collection offices into the hands of a company basing themselves in Bermuda for the purposes of avoiding tax, is in any way compatible with socialism (an economic system based on social ownership).

Labour's track record in office is proof that the party ceased to be any kind of socialist party when it was usurped by Blair and Brown in 1994. Of course there are still good people within the Labour party (John McDonnell, Dennis Skinner, Michael Meacher, Ian Mearns, Stella Creasy, Grahame Morris ...), and a significant percentage of Labour supporters still identify as socialists. However it is absolutely clear that Labour will never go back to promoting social democracy, as long as adherents of the right-wing economic orthodoxy like Ed Balls retain key positions within the party.

The current Labour party energy policy is a perfect illustration that the party is intent on remaining a neoliberal party, but disguising the fact with a dollop of pseudo-socialist tinkering. The vast majority of the UK public want to see the energy companies renationalised, but all "Red Ed" is prepared to offer is the continuation of private ownership of our vital energy infrastructure, just with a short-term energy price freeze as a bribe to the electorate.

Another indicator that Labour offer no real alternative to the Tories is the ludicrous pledge to stick to George Osborne's spending plans, despite the fact that George Osborne's economic plans have been a colossal failure so far. In 2010 he pledged to completely eliminate the budget deficit by 2014-15, but we're on track to borrow an extra £100 billion this year. In fact George Osborne has borrowed more in four years than New Labour did in thirteen. If George Osborne's economic plans have been such an appalling failure so far, why on earth are Labour pledging to stick to them if they win power in 2015?

Another indicator of the fact that the Labour party are more concerned with grabbing political power by whatever means is the way they focus their attacks on the Green Party and the SNP, rather than focusing their efforts on overthrowing the Tory led coalition. The fact that Caroline Lucas' Brighton Pavillion constituency is one of their top target seats for the 2015 General Election tells us everything we need to know. Labour are more concerned with rubbing out parties that promote the social democratic policies they discarded in the 1990s, than they are with actually fighting the Tories. 

Labour fear the growth of a viable left-wing alternative party just as much as the Tories fear UKIPThe Labour leadership seem to think that attacking genuine left-wing parties and offering the electorate nothing more than "not quite as bad as the Tories" will be enough convince the public to vote them back into power in 2015. Even though they've experienced an opinion poll boost on the rare occasions they have offered anything even remotely radical, they're still intent on pushing a Thatcherism-lite agenda in the vain hope that the Tabloid press will take it easy on them. They haven't realised that the Murdoch press and the Daily Mail will attack Labour whatever they offer, as long as Ed Miliband is leader of the party, and that by attempting to suck up to the right-wing press, they're simply driving more and more left-wing people away from the Labour Party in exasperation.

So in answer to the question of what the Labour Party is for? 
The Labour Party has become nothing more than an empty power structure, so far divorced from its founding principles that it exists only to seek and maintain political power. The party leadership isn't driven by any objective other than the pursuit of power for its own sake. The Labour party strategists imagine that the only path to achieve this political power is through eschewing any kind of radical, progressive or left-wing policies, in favour of promoting a Thatcherism-lite agenda designed to appease the right-wing press, and by conning the public into voting for them with a few lame bits of pseudo-socialist window dressing. 

Written by Thomas G Clark who blogs regularly here

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The MIPIM property fair: everything that is wrong with regeneration in London

At a time when millions of Londoners need affordable housing, local authorities are knocking it down and replacing it with luxury flats

If you go down to Kensington Olympia this week, you might be able to peek through a window and watch as London’s skyline is shaped inside. The venue is hosting MIPIM, the world’s biggest property fair, attended by politicians, developers and investors from over 90 countries.

Its participants play a key role in advancing a situation that divides everyone living in London in two: an affluent minority benefiting from a booming property market and a majority struggling under a severe housing crisis.

Just south of the roundabout in Elephant and Castle, the Heygate Estate has become the paradigmatic example of the MIPIM-model of property development – what those profiting from it would like to call ‘regeneration’. Lend Lease, an Australian developer with several stalls at this week’s event, are demolishing the Heygate council estate to make room for 2400 luxury flats. For thirty years, Heygate provided Southwark with 1200 social-rented dwellings; the new development will contain 79 Heygate’s former tenants have been moved out of their homes to make way for their richer replacements. Those who refused were dealt with via a Compulsory Purchase Order. Average compensation for a one-bedroom flat was £95,480; the cheapest equivalents in the new development will cost £310,000. Consequently, the vast majority have been scattered across south London.

At a public inquiry into the process, former Heygate leaseholder Terry Redpath traveled in from Sidcup to describe how he was affected. “I could no longer afford to stay in the area,” he said. “The compensation I was offered plus £45,000 of life savings bought me a terraced property 15 miles out of London.”

Heygate encapsulates how regeneration works – and why social cleansing is a more accurate term. At a time when millions of Londoners are in acute need of affordable housing, local authorities are knocking it down and replacing it with luxury flats. An affluent professional class moves in and, assisted by hedge fund managers with no intention of living in the homes they buy, entirely displaces the existing community.

Southwark Council is far from alone in encouraging this. Opposite Kensington Olympia, an £8 billion redevelopment involves the demolition of 22-acres of council housing to make room for 6000 luxury flats. The starting (and, for most of us, startling) price for a one-bedroom flat in the new development is £595,000. No additional social housing is being built but, on the plus side, a massive 11 per cent of the new builds will meet ‘affordable housing’ quotas.

But what do these quotas actually mean? They limit rental price to 80 per cent of the local market rate. According to the estate agent Foxton’s, the average rent for a one-bedroom flat in Earl’s Court is £476 a week. So a one-bedroom flat in the Earl’s Court development could be rented out at £380 a week – £1500 a month - and still be described as ‘affordable’. Bear that in mind the next time you hear Boris Johnson wittering on about affordable housing.

These examples – and there are many more, including the Carpenters Estate in Newham – mark the first ripples of a wave that is set to engulf London over the next few decades. Londoners reading this have probably heard of Johnson’s decision to turn the Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant sorting office into 700 luxury apartments.

This is just the tip of the breaker: a survey by the New London Architecture think-tank showed that, of 236 buildings of more than 20 storeys that are either planned or under construction, 75 per cent are luxury flats.

Nourished by all this activity, an entire industry has sprung up dedicated to helping developers sidestep planning requirements that are intended to control a project’s impact on the local community. In every instance I’ve cited and more, the amount of social and affordable housing, along with the size of the levy paid to the local authority, has been hugely eroded as time has gone on. Plush consultancies exist solely to help developers circumnavigate specific sections of national planning policy.

In light of this, some local authorities have sought to be stricter about the projects they approve. In Deptford, the historic Convoy’s Wharf caught the eye of the Hong Kong-based mega-developer Hutchinson Whampoa, who drew up plans to build three vertiginous towers on the site.

Lewisham Council opposed the development due to a lack of affordable housing. But this wasn’t enough to stop it. Hutchinson Whampoa simply took their claim over Lewisham’s head and directly to Boris Johnson, who waved it through after a single three-hour session. It’s useful to bear this anecdote in mind, in case you meet anyone yet to notice the real, steel-edged interests glinting beneath Boris’s bobbing straw-topped head.

This, then, is the backdrop to MIPIM’s champagne-soaked debut in London. Boris is the event’s keynote speaker. Southwark Council officials will be out on a jolly, trotting along the South Bank to enjoy a lavish day far from the usual experience of working in local government.

Meanwhile, most Londoners find themselves with no influence over the way their city changes, peeking through the window at a process that is selling off public land and pushing the poorest of them out of their homes.

Written by Toby Hill who is a London-based journalist and writer

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

ISIS: Huge demonstration in London to support the Kurdish resistance in Kobane

Thousands of people march in London to support the Kurdish resistance in Kobane against ISIS. A lot of anger was directed towards Turkey, who are supporting ISIS militarily and logistically, but no-one wants an occupation by Western powers either. The Kurds can take care of ISIS on their own, if they are given the arms and humanitarian aid to do it - and the PKK need to be delisted as a terrorist organisation too.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Something Big is Happening in British Electoral Politics

The results in this week’s Parliamentary by-elections provide further evidence of the turmoil in electoral politics in this country.

UKIP has of course made all the headlines with a stunning victory in Clacton and an even more astounding result in many ways, running Labour to within 617 votes in Heywood and Middleton (Manchester). The margin of victory in Clacton, now a seemingly safe UKIP seat with a majority of over 12,000, is perhaps the only surprise, as UKIP have been making great strides in the east of England, pretty much from the Lincolnshire coast south to Essex and Kent.

But in Manchester? This should be a very safe area for Labour, so to just get home by an electoral whisker, albeit on a low turn-out, must be very worrying to the party. Already there are calls from within Labour to take a harder line on immigration to shore up their vote at next year’s general election.  

But Labour’s problems don’t end there. In Scotland polling suggests that the SNP will win about 20 seats next year, gaining most from Labour in the wake of recent Independence referendum. The SNP is now up to 100,000 members making it easily the third largest party in the UK. The referendum has had a galvanising effect on the Scottish Green party too, more than trebling its membership to over 6,000 and even in England and Wales where Green party membership has risen by 40% in the last twelve months and now stands at over 20,000. Labour are increasingly worried that they are losing support to the Greens in England.

It seems more certain by the day that the general election will produce another hung Parliament and so probably another coalition government. Yougov’s Peter Kellner thinks that UKIP could win 10 seats at least, mainly in the aforementioned east of England and they along with the Ulster Unionists could make up the numbers for a majority with the Conservatives.

Labour might need to rely on the SNP, PC, SDLP and maybe some Greens if we can win a few seats, and three is possible I think. We are regularly polling 5 or 6% in national polls, where normally we would be polling around 2%.

But what of the Lib Dems? They think they can retain around 40 seats (down from 57), although my feeling is they will be closer to winning only 30, with almost half of their seats from 2010 lost . Which way will they jump? I suspect under the current leadership, it is more than likely they will stick with the Tories et al.

I have never known politics in this country to be in such a state of flux, although this has been coming for a number of years, with Labour and Tory shares of the overall vote falling consistently as the ‘Others’ have eaten steadily into their support and it does offer some hope I think of something new being built, to replace the tired old duopoly of the big two.

But most depressingly, whilst the radical left makes gains in countries like Greece, in England the rebellion is led by UKIP. Although this might not be as bad as it looks. John Harris writes an interesting piece about UKIP supporters where he concludes that it is not really UKIP’s policies that are attracting support, but the desire to stick one up the establishment for the varied grumbles the electorate holds against the two big parties.  

I like to think as we grow, and hopefully get more media attention, we can persuade these malcontents to support the Greens in England at least, in larger numbers.

The election next year is too close to call at the moment and the next seven months or so should be fascinating to watch.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Film reviews: 'Tony Benn: Will and Testament' a documentary feature film by Skip Kite.

Tony Benn Will and Testament’ – a documentary covering his life and political activity, including the miners’ strike and his inclusion on a new Miners’ banner.
It showed Benn narrate his personal and political life and his acceptance of his death that must have followed shortly after the film.  It shows his journey through politics and his affirmation that he moved to the left through joining government and not, as everyone else does, to the right.
He explained his determination to become an MP and change the world because of an encounter with one of the Americans involved in dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, eventually becoming the minister responsible for the civil nuclear programme in Britain.  In this role he explained how he was completely kept in the dark about the fact that the plutonium waste used in this civil power generation was sent to supply the US nuclear weapons programme.   More widely he explains that he came to realise that while in Government he didn’t have any real control and that the Labour Party became simple managers of the system when it achieved office.
The film covers many of the class struggles in Britain over the latter half of the twentieth century, from the campaign against nuclear weapons, to  the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders sit-in, the ‘winter of discontent’ provoked by attacks on workers by the labour Government, the miners’ strike and the anti-Iraq war movement in our current century.
His bid for the Labour Party deputy leadership in 1981 against Denis Healy, which he very narrowly lost by barely 1%, does not get the attention it deserves but it does turn the spotlight on Neil Kinnock – the so-called left who abstained in the vote.  He later became leader and was leader during the miners’ strike, which he more or less also betrayed, later being rewarded with a place in the House of Lords.  A fighting leadership of the British labour movement could have made the difference between defeat and victory.  Watching the film I found myself getting angrier with him than with Thatcher, but isn’t that always the way with traitors?
He brings to attention the possibility, since the 1970s, of using North Sea oil to modernise Britain but identifies the failure to do so in the pro-big business policies of Thatcher.  Some on the left today see the possibility of modernising Scotland based on what’s left of North Sea oil. However they base this not on any lesson drawn from recent decades but on nationalist division.  The political leader they in effect followed, Alex Salmond, proclaimed that his SNP “didn’t mind the economic side so much” of Margaret Thatcher, while claiming that “the SNP has a strong social conscience, which is very Scottish in itself.”  So that puts the rest of us in our place.
I remember listening to Tony Benn speak and someone asked him about the idea that socialism could be brought about through parliament and whether the capitalist class and its system would allow such a transition without mounting a violent coup to prevent it.  Ah, he said, the Chile question, referring to exactly such an attempt to introduce reform in Chile at the beginning of the 1970s, which led to the least politically interfering military in South America mounting a coup, deposing the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende and murdering thousands and thousands of workers and socialists.
Unfortunately having identified the question he didn’t give an answer to it and this might seem to be the major point to highlight in a Marxist review of a film of his political testament.  And so it is.  But by his own experience and through his own words he demonstrates these lessons and the film is valuable for showing them.

After recounting how he wanted to become an MP the film a few minutes later shows him speaking in the House of Commons – to row upon row of empty green benches.   Having had the experience of Governmental office noted above he later announced, in a line provided by his wife, that he was leaving Parliament to spend more time in politics.  We then see him on the campaign trail at meetings and demonstrations until his death this year.
So whatever his reformist words his practice in this way became the opposite of the fetishism and ‘cretinism’ of parliamentary activity for which Marxists would criticise reformist politics.
Unfortunately today , it is the so-called Marxist left who argue that the big question is the ‘crisis of working class representation’ and pursue one electoralist intervention after another, like a hamster on a wheel, going nowhere, fed on the most piss-poor politics that they otherwise condemn in other times or in other places.
So it is not just the young that could learn from these two films.  Very straightforward as they are in political terms, there are basic lessons to be learnt from them – the need for unity of the oppressed, workers internationalism, the futility of seeking fundamental change through capitalist parliaments or the capitalist state, and the need for class struggle.
The defeat of the miners’ strike and the experience of social-democratic politics cast a long shadow over the working class and socialist movement today.  We can learn vital lessons from them and their failure.  That we do not do so is partly because we cannot see the shadow, since it is overcast by an even darker one – that of Thatcherism and the rampage of what is now called neoliberalism.  To come out of the shadows we need to come out of both.  
Source: Sráid Marx, An Irish Marxist Blog

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Can the Left and the Greens Cooperate at next Year’s General Election?

Well, it makes a certain amount of sense doesn’t it? Some kind of British version of Syriza (Greece) to take on the virtual one party state of the neo liberal parties, (Conservative, Lib Dem, Labour and UKIP) at the general election. There is a huge amount of electoral ground lying vacant on the left of politics in this country, which as we have seen from the Scottish Independence referendum, is just waiting to be occupied. It is hard to see this void being filled by any individual grouping on the left though, so cooperation by these groupings would seem to be the best way forward.

Desirable then yes, but likely, I don’t think so. I say this in disappointment but from my observations, this simply will not happen, which is largely down to the scourge of leftish politics in the UK, sectarianism.

Take a look at this piece from the Left Unity (LU) website. It is a list of exaggerations and distortions of the truth and distant historical examples of assorted nut jobs who have been members the Green party. All parties get some strange people attracted to them. There is not even the slightest attempt to build bridges between LU and the Greens in this piece. This is just a hatchet job really.

And of course, every time I talk to members of the various left sects, Brighton and Hove Green Council is mentioned immediately as an example of how untrustworthy the Greens are, (despite having some attractive policies to lefties generally).

Now, I’m not going to defend the Green group on Brighton council except to note that they were put into a very difficult position by being elected as the largest party on the council, but without an overall majority. And this in the face of the savage cuts to council budgets from the central Coalition government. Suffice to say that I think the Greens might have managed the situation better, but the idea that a 1980s style Militant strategy was going to be popular with electors in Brighton or anywhere else is pure fantasy.

The Greens in my borough of Haringey (north London) were contacted recently by the local Left Unity branch, with a view to a joint discussion on cooperation at the general election with the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

The Greens offered to cooperate with LU and TUSC at this year’s council elections, but this was rejected by TUSC in a less than comradely way (LU had only just got started up). This was the time to build trust between the parties ahead of the general election but it was dismissed for some reason. LU for their part, publicly supported some TUSC candidates in these elections, but no Greens, even though many Green candidates were openly socialist in their election literature.

In the end, the meeting was re-arranged at extremely short notice, so I was unable to attend but reports suggest only the tiniest amount of cooperation will be possible, this amounting only to working on some of the same campaigns (not even necessarily jointly). 

This was my suspicion all along because, although I knew LU weren’t planning to stand candidates in Haringey’s two Parliamentary constituencies next year, I also knew that TUSC were planning to stand.

The Green party position is that we have a long record of standing locally and some modest success (saving a couple of deposits in Hornsey and Wood Green) and with the very encouraging results in this year’s council elections, particularly in Tottenham, we are the best placed of the small leftish parties. We comfortably beat TUSC everywhere they stood in May, with the exception of one ward (which is the worst for Green votes in the whole Borough). Our membership is rocketing, both locally and nationally (over 20,000 now in England and Wales), and we are level with the Lib Dems in some national polls. We are on a roll.

In a council by-election last week in Woodside ward (part of Hornsey and Wood constituency in Haringey) TUSC gained only 35 votes. In a recent Lord Ashcroft opinion poll for Hornsey and Wood Green, The Green party scored 8% (weighted, the raw data said 10%) with TUSC on less than 1%.

On all logical measures TUSC should not be standing in either of the Haringey constituencies at the General Election, and should instead throw their weight behind two very good Green candidates, to maximise the anti austerity, anti neo liberal vote behind a single candidate.

Will they listen? No chance, they are standing come what may.

Maybe it’s just like this in Haringey, but my hunch is, it is far more widespread. So, don’t hold your breath expecting any cooperation between lefty and Green parties at the General Election, it is business as usual in left of Labour politics I’m afraid. People on the left in the UK it seems, care more about ideological purity than being part of a broader more relevant movement.

The video/song above is ‘Talkin Bout a Revolution’ by Tracey Chapman     

Monday, 6 October 2014

The Lib Dems Must Think the Electorate are Stupid

In a way you have to admire the chupatz of Nick Clegg when he stated in his speech to the Lib Dem conference this week, ‘if the Conservative party were in power on their own they would only ask the working-age poor to pick up the tab for the mistakes made by the bankers in the past.’

He went to add that any post general election coalition with Tories would not allow the working poor to be exploited in this way to fund tax cuts for the better off. All very laudable of course, but this being so, why have the Lib Dems allowed this approach to cutting the budget deficit for the past five years?

The bedroom tax, benefit sanctions, benefits uprated by less than inflation, cuts to public services, privatising Royal Mail at a knock down price, reducing the top rate of income tax and pay cuts for public sector workers, have all been the norm under the coalition government. If Nick Clegg or his party wanted to put a stop to any of this, they could easily have done so. They did put a stop to the Tories gerrymandering the electoral boundaries (although only in retaliation for the Tories blocking reform of the House of Lords).

The Lib Dems must be more deluded than I thought, if they really think the voters are going to swallow this one?

The above video is a reminder, if anyone needs it, of Nick Clegg promising to abolish university tuition fees, and we all know what happened next don’t we?

The ‘Home Office Source’ who last week said that ‘Nick Clegg is a w*nker’, was actually spot on.    

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Why I Joined The Green Party - Authentic Green Socialism

About eighteen months ago, the 'Socialist Unity' blog asked the question 'Can the Green Party become the main party of the left?'. To be honest, I kind of expected some kind of 'yes, it can... but really what is needed is our kind of socialism' etc - not at all, and apologies for my own prejudice. Mind, the comments below the article are pretty vituperative! In a thoughtful and generous piece, the editorial team outline a significant change in focus for the Green Party from total - 'depressing and misanthropic' - focus on the environment to the incorporation of social justice:
‘Green politics and social justice are fundamentally dependent – without environmentalism, the planet will become uninhabitable; without social justice, the planet isn’t worth living on.’
 The article ends with 'Watch this space.'

Well, there's no doubt that the Green Party is clear that this indeed is the direction of travel for the party - the recent conference in Birmingham called for a Wealth Tax (on the top 1%) and for the minimum wage to rise to £10 an hour by 2020. On top of this, there are moves to reverse the calamitous privatisation of the railways and bring the network back into public ownership, as well as keeping the NHS free – no prescription charges, free eye tests and dental care. And opposition to TTIP. And an extremely progressive set of policies on Peace and Defence.

Above all, for me, every time I see Natalie Bennett or Caroline Lucas in action, I am just totally convinced by their passion and authenticity - they genuinely believe in what they say and have the courage of their convictions to stand in solidarity with vulnerable and disadvantaged people country-wide. And this is in such disappointing and marked contrast with the leadership of the Labour Party, who obsess so much on focus groups and sound bites that they forget how to be themselves, trying to mould themselves into something the media might find acceptable. That is not healthy for them as persons, and it is not healthy for our politics. And it's not for me. After many years holding on to some hope of socialism from the Labour Party, I just let go. It's not happening. The Effing Tories and Noo Labour are really just two cheeks of the same arse (© George Galloway) and - look away! - their pants are down showing their true face to the world.

Having met and been impressed by a similarly authentic Green Party member here in Great Grimsby, and then hearing about the startling new policies for social justice, I simply went online and joined the party. And it seems I wasn't alone - during the course of the conference, a number of announcements gave national membership as 17,000 and then 17,500, then 18,000 and then 18,500 ... a near-record. And now there is a new record national membership – 20,000.

I have attended my first local meeting and am very happy to be a part of this growing and very human movement.

The Green Party

Written by Billy Miller who blogs here

Friday, 3 October 2014

Focus E15 - Residents Claim Victory Over Newham Council

“Despite Newham Council’s attempt to evict us, we can today confirm that the E15 Open House occupation will continue until 7 October as planned.

We called Newham Council on the first day of the occupation to negotiate with us. The plan was never to stay indefinitely. They refused to speak to us. Instead they chose to use draconian and expensive legal procedures, threats and dirty tricks. They cut off our water and vandalized the water mains, served an unlawful court summons with only two hours notice and they have repeatedly misled the public.

If Newham had come to talk to us we could have agreed to leave within two weeks. Instead, they refused to enter into a dialogue. We would like to know how much taxpayers’ money has been spent on taking us to court, and how many people that money could have housed.

Our demands to the Council continue to be:

– Repopulate the Carpenters Estate with secure long term council tenancies now
– An immediate end to the decanting and evictions of existing residents
– No demolition of the estate
– The management of Carpenters Estate by the residents, for the residents, no third party or private management

This experience has shown us that there is a broad based movement for council housing in London. There are empty homes in every borough, every town and every city in the country. Focus E15 show us that there are simple, community based solutions to the housing crisis.

We will continue to fight displacement and evictions and to campaign for secure, council housing through direct action, mobilisation and legal means. See you on the streets, in the courtrooms and in our future actions.

This is the beginning of the end of the housing crisis.”

From the Focus E15 campaign

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Seventeen Contradictions Of Capitalism: Interview With David Harvey

Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) below talks to David Harvey about capitalism, crisis and social movements ahead of the release of his latest book earlier this year, Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism.

Harvey is a pretty orthodox Marxist scholar, not really ecosocialist, but I think one of the most important thinkers on the Left these days. In the book Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism he examines these contradictions whilst acknowledging that they are unlikely to bring about the system's demise, without a push from below.

He (prematurely in my view) dismisses the idea that climate change on it's own will end capitalism, but he does see 'compound growth' which is inherent for the health of the system, one of the contradictions he identifies, as perhaps the greatest danger to the continuance of capitalism in the future. 

It is definitely worth a read.