‘A vector of inequality, degradation and violence’

August 31, 2014

Review of The Ecological Hoofprint: the global burden of industrial livestock by Tony Weis (Zed Books, 2013)

The rapid expansion of world meat consumption is (1) an indication that more people are getting better fed, right?

This “nutritional transition” is (2) great news for human health, right?

And (3), notwithstanding issues of excessive cruelty to animals, industrial

... and not only Walmart. (Photo from the Mercy for Animals web site.)

… and not only Walmart. (Photo from the Mercy for Animals web site.)

meat production is just a high-tech version of what humans have been doing since they started hunting, right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong, Tony Weis argues.

Weis demolishes justifications for the global process he calls “meatification” with a rigorous analysis of how it exacerbates inequality, and widens the rift between capitalist economies and the natural environment. It’s damaging and unsustainable.

At a time when academics are forced to focus more and more narrowly, he looks at the big picture.

On question (1) – who benefits from growing meat consumption – Weis unpacks the extent of inequalities: people in rich countries consume more Read the rest of this entry »


‘If, in this country, the way to freedom runs through prison, we are ready to go’

August 6, 2014

Russian anti-fascist Alexei Gaskarov’s statement in court

UPDATE, 18 August: Alexei Gaskarov and Alexander Margolin were today sentenced to three years and six months in prison; Ilya Gushchin to two years and six months; and Elena Kokhtareva to a suspended sentence of three years and three months.

The verdicts on the second group of defendants in the Bolotnaya Square case – brought against participants in the Russian protest movement of 2011-12 – will be announced on 18 August in Zamoskvoretsky Court in Moscow. The prosecutor has asked the court to sentence Alexander Margolin and Alexei Gaskarov to four years in prison; Ilya Gushchin, to three years and three

gaskarov

Alexei Gaskarov in court. Photo from gaskarov.info

months in prison; and Elena Kokhtareva, to three years and three months suspended, with four years of probation. All four defendants have been accused under Article 212 Part 2 (involvement in riots) and Article 318 Part 1 (use of non-threatening violence against a public official) of the Russian Federal Criminal Code. On 4 August, 28-year-old Alexei Gaskarov made his closing statement in court. This is the complete text of his speech.

The so-called Bolotnaya Square Case has been symbolic in the sense that through it the public sees how the authorities interact with the opposition, with those people whose viewpoint differs from the general line.

The first thing I wanted to talk about is something that was not addressed in the trial, but which I think is important: why on 6 May [2012], despite Read the rest of this entry »


John Maclean: the accuser of capitalism

August 1, 2014

To mark the 100th anniversary of the first world war, People & Nature today publishes Accuser of Capitalism: John Maclean’s Speech from the Dock on 9 May, 1918. (Introduction here, text of speech here.) Maclean, a Scottish Marxist, was one of a small number of socialists across
accuserEurope who denounced their governments’ participation in the war, urged workers to resist it, and hoped that it would be superceded by class war.

Maclean was jailed in 1916 for anti-government activity and released after a campaign of support. He was re-arrested in 1918 and charged under the Defence of the Realm Act with actions – public anti-war speeches to big Read the rest of this entry »


World war one and 100 years of counter-revolution

August 1, 2014

A guest post by Mark Kosman

In 1871, Karl Marx wrote that governments use war as a fraud, a ‘humbug, intended to defer the struggle of the classes’.[1] In 1914, that fraud was so effective that not only most workers but also

A detail from Stormtroops Advancing Under A Gas Attack, by Otto Dix. (See "About the picture", below

A detail from Stormtroops Advancing Under A Gas Attack, by Otto Dix. (See “About the picture”, below

most Marxists supported their respective nation’s rush to war. Ever since then, governments have used war to defer class struggle and prevent revolution. But this strategy cannot last forever.

The great unrest and the great war

In all the commemorations for the start of World War One it is unlikely that there will be many references to the huge strike wave that preceded the war. But this strike wave, known as the Great Unrest, created considerable insecurity among Britain’s elites. This was especially the case as these strikes coincided with other disturbing social movements such as the nationalist upsurge in Ireland and the increasingly violent campaign for women’s suffrage.

By the summer of 1914, workers were mobilising for what the left reformist commentators, Sydney and Beatrice Webb, called ‘an almost revolutionary outburst of gigantic industrial disputes.’ The future Prime Minister, Lloyd George, warned that if these industrial disputes Read the rest of this entry »