Happy birthday Azat! #freeAzat

March 20, 2020

On 21 March (Saturday) Azat Miftakhov, a graduate maths student at Moscow State University, will celebrate his birthday in prison.

He has been locked up for 14 months on charges arising from a broken window at an

“The thirst for knowledge is stronger than repression”. A solitary picket supporting Azat Miftakhov at Moscow State University

office of Russia’s ruling United Russia political party.

Azat is a political prisoner. Wherever you are, please participate in the on-line event to support him: write “Free Azat” on a placard, take a photo, and put it on line with the #freeAzat hashtag. There’s more information about the event here on facebook.

Azat was detained on 1 February 2019, held at first on suspicion of manufacturing explosives, and tortured by the police and the Federal Security Service. In the first few days of Azat’s detention, the security forces concealed his location from his lawyer.

Azat had just started his mathematical career: his first paper, “On weak convergence of Read the rest of this entry »

Disaster environmentalism 2: roads to a post-growth economy

December 5, 2019

The disaster environmentalists’ hopes for the future rest not only on “deep adaptation”, but on acceptance that we need to live in a “post growth world”. Rupert Read writes:

It is crucial that we resist growthism, the very widespread drive to keep the economy ‘growing’. For (perpetual) growthism is a perpetual obstacle to collective sanity, to facing the reality of [ecological and social] limits. […] And green growthism is merely a subset of growthism.[1] […]

Society can not afford more growth, Read argues; progress towards understanding this is “glacially slow”. And so:

It still seems, tragically, far more likely that growth will end because of collapse than because of informed decision.

Yes and no, in my view. “Economic growth”, as manifested by global capitalism, is completely unsustainable. “Green growth”, or “socialist growth”, are no substitutes. Our challenge to the

Symptom of growth: a traffic jam in the USA

economic system must open the way for a society based on human happiness and fulfilment, values completely at odds with – and distorted and defaced by – the rich-country consumerist ideology that helps to justify ever-expanding material production. But, unlike Read, I believe that the way “growth” ends is still to play for.

In my view (not new, from a socialist), all this means challenging capitalism, along with the state and political structures that protect its interests. On that, the disaster environmentalists are agnostic. They talk up the need for systemic change, but combine this with tame, almost naïve, claims about how to challenge the system.

A really thoughtful article by Richard McNeill Douglas, in a book put together by the disaster environmentalists, poses a crucial question: “Could capitalism survive the transition to a post- Read the rest of this entry »

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