Posts Tagged ‘extinction’

Socialism is Survival

Friday, May 29th, 2020
Capitalism is Extinction – Socialism is Survival’

In 2008 Richard Wilkinson wrote an opinion in The Guardian, ‘Follow Cuba’s emissions standard‘ in which he states:

“According to the WWF, Cuba is the only country that has managed to combine an environmentally sustainable footprint per head of population with an acceptably high quality of life as measured by the UN Human Development Index. And if Cuba can do that without the latest and most economical technology, how much easier should it be for us?”

Follow Cuba’s emissions standard

Part of the reason for this is, as he also states, that resources in Cuba, though relatively limited are shared much more equally than in market-led democracies such as the UK and the US. He makes the point that material differences between people are destructive, reducing well-being and quality of life and leading to many social problems, and that wealthy societies such as our should be concentrating on reducing inequalities rather than pursuing economic growth.

Cuba Leads the Way

To put it simply, we already have enough, and the important thing is now that everyone gets a decent share. We don’t need exact equality, but we do need to avoid the kind of indecent excess we now see, with the rich with more money than they can ever sensibly spend and the poor unable to afford decent food and safe housing, with too many sleeping on the streets or in overcrowded properties, often with little or no security of tenure and too many in jobs on less than a living wage and often zero hours contracts.

Smach Capitalism! Save Our Planet!

The biggest challenge we face as a world and as a nation is of course not the largely irrelevant matter of Brexit but climate change, and inequality also drives that – both directly by the senseless consumption of the ultra-rich and the poor quality environment of the poor, and indirectly by the encouragement to consume of living in the same society as those who feature most largely in our advertising and media coverage. We are going to have to make huge changes to survive, cutting down our footprint on the world’s resources to perhaps a quarter of the current UK levels, a change that it is hard to see a market-led capitalist system adapting to. And while Wilkinson suggests it should be easier for us, I think our current wealth and political system probably make it impossible. At least without a real revolution.

The Solution is Socialism

The Revolutionary Communist Group put it more starkly and simply than Wilkinson: “Capitalism is Extinction – Socialism is Survival’ but also base their conclusion on the closest we have in the world to a socialist state, Cuba. Despite punitive economic sanctions imposed by the USA (and perhaps sometimes as a result of them) Cuba under communism has made enormous strides in some areas, producing universal literacy and one of the leading health services in the world – and its medical services are one of the country’s main sources of foreign income. Increased life expectancy – to values similar to much rich countries such as the USA and UK – in a roughly static population is now presenting familiar problems. Energy use has remained relatively low with per-capita consumption only around a quarter of that in the UK.

Of course that isn’t the whole story, though it is perhaps difficult to know exactly what is, as all sources of information about the country reflect considerable bias. Many in the RCG have been to Cuba and seen the country at first hand, but what and who they saw will to some extent be affected by their own political affiliations and those of their hosts. Much of the more commonly spread information in the media comes from émigrés who left the country because of their dissatisfaction with the situation and the regime, or from anti-communist individuals and and capitalist organisations.

‘Practically Perfect In Every Way’

Castro and his guerrilla band took the country back from one of the worst and most corrupt governments in history, a dictator who had seized power in a military coup in 1952, but haven’t managed to eliminate corruption – though it is now said to be is the 60 least corrupt nation out of 180 countries by Transparency International. It would be hard not to admire a country which has withstood the sanctions and intrigues of the USA for so many years. Castro himself was apparently the target of over 600 assassination attempts by the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency but died of natural causes in 2016.

You can read more about the protest and rolling picket outside various temples of consumerism on Oxford St at Cuba leads on climate say RCG.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Strength in Grief

Sunday, April 5th, 2020

With so much bad news around I hesitate to write about a funeral, but in October Extinction Rebellion held their ‘Strength in Grief’ rally at Marble Arch to express their profound grief at the extinction of species taking place due to global warming and which threatens the future of human life, and followed this with a funeral procession along Oxford St.

We are now facing another great threat to human life, one we are all personally threatened with, and many of us are at particular risk from, some because they are having to work closely with people suffering from coronavirus, others because they are particularly likely to die should they catch it. As someone in the high risk category, though not with governmental ‘extremely vulnerable’ status I’m worried and also isolating myself as much as possible.

The XR rally and march took place on the anniversary of Colombus landing in South America, truly a black day for the population of that continent, bringing disease and exploitation. While some celebrate Columbus Day, for many others the 31st October is the Day of Indigenous Resistance, and a number of the speakers reminded us of this. Climate Change has already killed many in the Global South.

While in the UK the lack of preparation has been a matter of government policy, part of their programme to run down and sell off the NHS through the back door to private health companies and their more general cuts to public services and local authority spending, for many countries it is impoverishment through centuries of colonialism and neo-colonialism that has left them unable to cope with the current pandemic.

The UK is one of the world’s richest nations – thanks in large part to our imperial past which fed our economy and fertilised the inventiveness of which we can still be proud. I grew up in the immediate post-war period when the experience of the war had led to the realisation that we had to work together as a society. From that came secondary education for all, the NHS and the whole welfare state. I hope COVID-19 will have the same galvanising effect as we can’t afford to go back to ‘business as usual’. The world needs to wake up and ‘Face Up to the Problem’. I hope I’ll still be around to see it starting to happen; at least I’ve not yet had a letter from my doctor with a DNR form, though it could still come.

More pictures at XR Strength in Grief Procession.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


XR Westminster

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

I don’t know who these two men were, striding purposefully with their document cases but I think they had emerged from a government ministry and they were probably making their way to another or possibly the Tory party HQ. It’s possibly quite unfair, but to me they seemed to epitomise the reason why we are in the situation we are in, a determination to carry on ‘business as usual‘ when it is quite clear that to survive we need drastic system change. We can’t trust men in suits.

XR were protesting across Westminster, and it was hard to keep up with what was happening at I think eleven locations, but I did quite a lot of walking around and taking pictures, with a pretty total shutdown of all the roads in the area. Police made movement a little more difficult by setting up some road blocks of their own, which seemed totally pointless but made my job more difficult when they wouldn’t even let me walk across Lambeth Bridge although I showed my press card.

They seemed also to be making the very occasional and almost totally random arrests, picking on small groups or individuals when hundreds were blocking roads. It seemed a simply pique at being unable to control the situation of mass peaceful civil disobedience.

Although it was taking place in London, the XR protest was not a London protest, with the huge bulk of the protesters having come into the city from small towns across the country. XR has been very successful at motivating a largely white mainly middle class and highly educated population but rather less so with the urban working class, and there were far fewer from London’s ethnic communities than at most London protests, and who are well represented in movements such as the Youth Climate Strike and of course anti-racist and anti-fascist protests.

It will of course be the poor and those who have to struggle most to make a living in our cities who will be the first to suffer as the effects of global heating kick in, just as it is the countries of the majority world who are now feeling it most severely. But perhaps it is hard to persuade people who are living in precarious situations of the efficacy of the kind of apolitical and non-violent approach that appeals to XR supporters.

More at Extinction Rebellion occupy Westminster.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Students Strike for climate justice

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

The young get it, and inspired by the actions of Greta Thunberg as well as the words of David Attenborough and the overwhemlming conclusions of scientists, school students around the world are coming out on the streets to demand yhat governments take the necessary action to decrease carbon dioxide emissions and act in accordance with the Paris Agreement and the IPCC report, though many recognise that even these are insufficient to deal with the problems we face.

Fridays for Future London started out as a small group, but now together with Youth Climate Strike and other groups there has been an impressive turnout for protests taking place during a Friday in school terms. Some came with parents or grandparents and there were a few other older protesters, but the great majority were with others from their schools and school classes.

Notable by their almost complete absence were the mass-produced placards of so many protests, produced by left groups such as the Socialist Workers Party or Socialist Party. Clearly the climate catastrophe is now a major inspiration for the work of school art departments as well as many obviously home produced posters and placards.

The protesters are deadly serious about the existential crisis they face, with messages on some posters addressed to the older generations who run our country like ‘YOU will die from old age – WE will die from Climate Change’ but there are many more humorous though also deadly serious.

If the world was run by the youth it would have a future. But unfortunately it is largely run by the old and extremely rich. Billionaires who largely can’t see beyond their immediate short-term interests and are doing very well from business as usual. They’ll be OK in the short-term when the sea-level rises or we get more and more storms and floods, when millions (or even billions) die in the majority world and thousands in countries like ours.

Of course in the longer term even the filthy rich will suffer. They are huge hoggers of resources, particularly those made by the poor who mine the metals, grow the crops etc. The world doesn’t need the rich, but the rich do need the rest of the world to support them.

More pictures at Students Strike for climate justice.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


March to the common

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020
The banner ‘Are We The Last Generation blocks the main road for the march to take place

Lewisham Council’s web site records that Blackheath’s common has played host to more than its share of:

  • rebel gatherings
  • military encampments and exercises
  • royal meetings
  • religious festivals
  • sports
  • fairs
  • circuses

and a host of other activities.

And it goes on to list some of them, including Danish invaders in 1011, Wat Tylers anti-poll tax rebels in 1381, Jack Cade’s rebel yeomen in 1450, rebel Cornishmen in 1497 and John Wesley who preached there.

2009 Climate Camp general meeting at Blackheath

It fails to mention the chartists and the suffragettes who met their, or the Climate Camp with whom I travelled there in 2009, recorded their setting up and later returned to photograph.

Clearly it is an area that has a strong association with rebels over the years and so it was highly appropriate that South East London Extinction Rebellion chose it for the location of their two-day festival  on Global Climate Change.

I went to photograph their march from Greenwich to the festival site, and almost had to leave before it began, as the samba band which was to play a major role in bringin it to the notice of people in Greenwich was around an hour late in arriving.

I stayed with the marchers as they blocked the main streets of Greenwich and made their way up into Greenwich Park, climbing with them most of the way to the top of the hill before I had to leave and run downhill to catch a train back to central London and the next event I wanted to cover.

XR Rebel Rising March to the Common


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


We need an Ecocide Law

Sunday, December 8th, 2019

Though I fully support the aims of Extinction Rebellion I do have some issues about the way they go about things. I’ve mentioned before some of the odder ‘New Age’ baggage, and that was very much to the fore when I arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice with some kind of druid presiding over a ceremony with people bringing water from rivers around the country (and some overseas) to tip into a large cauldron.

And then there’s the yachts. I just don’t inhabit the kind of milieu where people have yachts, though I did once own a canoe, or rather a kayak. I built it myself as a teenager in the pre-glass fibre era, a wooden framework over which some kind of rubberised canvas was fixed. It’s construction took several years,mainly because I had to save up the cash to buy every next step of the construction, first the plans, then the wood and ply and the canvas.

I was proud when I had it finished, built in my father’s large shed – where he and his father had made carts and other horse-drawn vehicles. But I’d run out of money and couldn’t afford a paddle and it was a long way to any water and I had no means to transport the canoe even to the nearest stream where it could be floated.

It was I think around 18 months later that a relative kindly strapped it to the roof of his car and we made our way the the Thames at Runnymede, along with single paddle handmade from a couple of pieces of wood (again from my father’s shed.) Although I’d been in rowing boats and possibly larger Canadian canoes as a Sea Scout, I’d never been in a kayak before, and it wasn’t longer before I wasn’t in it any more, but looking up at it through perhaps ten feet of murky Thames water from the bottom of the river. I think that was the end of my canoeing project, and after that I stayed on dry land and rode my bike.

So my relationship to water was not perhaps the most sympathetic as I watched those people coming towards the cauldron to add their half pint, and things got worse when people were invited to stir the water and make wishes and then to add flowers and other stuff before the cauldron was carried towards the court and then a token libation poured on the ground.

Of course there were other things going on, including speeches (some very sensible and to the point), music etc. But when a man came to speak about how uplifting his experience of being arrested had been and to encourage us all to do it, again I was rather turned off. Too many of my friends over the years have been harassed by police, fitted up and assaulted; arrest isn’t generally a very positive experience, particularly if you are poor and or from an ethnic minority. Like much about XR I think it is very much a class thing.

But of course we should have strong laws that protect the environment – including the Ecocide Law that Polly Higgins, after whom the pink yacht here was name, fought to get accepted for many years. More generally we need laws that get away from the idea of the land as private property and recognise it as a community resource with which we are entrusted rather than we own.

XR call for Ecocide Law


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Hackney XR March

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

On Friday I’d had to leave the Extinction Rebellion ‘The Air That We Grieve’ march as it reached the Hackney border to go to a protest at Senate House, but on Saturday afternoon there was another march as a part of the ‘East London Uprising weekend, walking through the centre of Hackney from Hackney Fields and on to the centre of the event in London Fields.

Before the march in Hackney Fields there were a couple of things taking place, a dance performance which I found less than exciting visually and some kind of meditation thing which was frankly off-putting. There is an odd-ball new age side to XR that I think works very strongly against it appealing to the great majority of people and which certainly turns me off.

But there were the people, the giant bees and the skeletons to photograph, so I stayed and took pictures, and of course I wanted to photograph the march. But it did make me think that perhaps this was a part of the reason why of the several million East Londoners only a couple of hundred were with us for this march. XR has had a remarkable success, but only with some sections of the community and I think rather more in small towns and rural areas than in working class urban communities.

Looking through the many pictures I made on the march it doesn’t really look like a Hackney event, though I’m sure many or most of those taking part were from the area. Official figures show that “around 40% of the population come from Black and Minority Ethnic groups” but these were severely under-represented.

This isn’t a criticism of those that did take part, and I think the XR has been important in raising awareness of the urgency of the enviromental crisis we are now facing. It has performed a vital service and we see its efforts represented to some extent in the manifestos of all the political parties in the current general election – though so far there has been little real commitment by our government – or those of most other countries.

It was a hot day and I’d been on my feet for several hours and I needed a rest by the time the protest passed Hackney Town Hall. I had intended to continue to the festival taking place on London Fields, but couldn’t bring myself to walk any further, and after a brief rest made my way to Hackney Central to begin my journey home.

More pictures at East London Extinction Rebellion March.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Whales, Lions (and Wales)

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

I remember whale meat. Back in the days of rationing after the war several ‘delicacies’ were introduced to the British diet, available ‘off-ration’. These included snoek, spam and whale meat, and women’s magazines carried government propaganda in the form of recipes intended to make them edible.

We got spam fritters in schol dinners well into my youth and they were more than averagely disgusting; many of us carefully removed the pink stuff and ate the batter, hoping to scrape our plates into the pig swill bucket while the dinner lady (school kids back then always said they were trained by the Gestapo) wasn’t looking. We hoped the pigs didn’t object to a little cannibalism.

But whale meat only happened once. My mother cooked it for dinner (what you now probably call lunch) and it was a black day around the table. I don’t think even she took a second mouthful, certainly the rest of us tried this promised delicacy and downed forks – or at least pushed the offending substance to one side of our plates while finishing off the potato and veg. Back then you weren’t allowed to leave anything on your plate, but that day was an exception. Even the cat wouldn’t eat it.

But apparently it is considered a delicacy in Japan, and they have continued fishing for whales under the pretence of ‘research’ but that hasn’t produced enough to meet demand, so they are now proposing to go back to sea, harpoons at the ready to hunt more seriously.

One poster said ‘Eat Kale Not Whale’ and I have some reservations about that. Kale isn’t too bad, but this year it has grown and grown in our garden, doubtless because of our unusual weather (another negative consequence of climate change.) You can have, as I’m finding, too much kale.

The Global March For Whales at least in its London manifestation appeared to be a rather conservative event, with none of the more radical groups who protest against whaling attending, almost as if they had not been informed it was happening. Numbers were low and perhaps it had been deliberately kept quiet to avoid the rowdier elements.

I left before the march – or rather walk along the pavement – to the Japanese Embassy began to photograph another animal event which was supposed to be taking place in Trafalgar Square, and walked around the square without finding it. Then another photographer shouted from across the road and I found a small group in the shade outside a pub.

It was a really sweltering day in the sun, and the organisers had decided it was just too hot to go ahead as planned with a lengthy vigil 4 years after the shooting in Zimbabwe of Cecil the lion by an American trophy hunter using a crossbow.

The man who was wearing a lion costume would have been seriously in danger of heat stroke had they held a long protest in the sun, and was finding it hot even in the shade, so I think their decision was wise.

Instead they were intending to have a much shorter photocall. I took a few pictures as they were getting ready but had to leave before this took place.

More pictures and more about both events:
Global March For Whales
Remember Cecil the magnificent lion


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Dinner of HOPE

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

One of Extinction Rebellion’s slightly odder events was a picnic billed as the ‘Extinction Rebellion Dinner of HOPE‘ outside the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, which preceded a protest as guests arrived for the annual dinner of the Petroleum Group of the Geological Society.

As XR pointed out, there was a “grotesque irony of this cosy industry dinner taking place surrounded by extinct species” under the blue whale skeleton in the main hall, celebrating an industry that more than any other is contributing to the continuing extinction of species, possibly including our own.

I’d met Elsie Luna back in October 2018, at a #Fridays For the Future protest in Parliament Square, the first in London as a part of #FridaysForFuture taking place in many cities and towns across the world, inspired by the action of the then 15-year old Greta Thunberg, who instead of going back to school at the end of the Summer break in August protested outside the Swedish Parliament, breaking the law to start the School Strike For Climate.

Elsie Luna stood out at that small protest, not just as one of two or three school age children taking part, but also because of the card hanging in a plastic holder around her neck with a picture of the Houses of Parliament and the message “Elsie Luna – Journalist – Hear! Hear! – The political podcast for young people in the UK”. The 8 podcasts are still on line.

Elsie Luna, now 10, opened the party. She had tried to get the museum to cancel the event, calling on the museum to take positive action over the climate and ecological emergency rather than hosting those who are most responsible for creating global extinction. But the Museum failed to listen and the event was taking place.

Extinction Rebellion were not the only group to have issues with the dinner and the oil companies who are the main groups taking part and sponsoring the event. They were joined by protesters against BP’s exploitation of Senegal who came with banners and drums, and whose drummers joined together with XR’s.

More pictures at Extinction Rebellion Dinner of HOPE.

Police clear Marble Arch roads

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

I lost count of the number of police vehicles that I saw as I walked along the centre of the northbound carriageway of Park Lane – and not all of them are in the picture. There were more in some of the other streets in the area too, and it was clear that this was an operation on a huge scale

Marble Arch is a key junction in London, with the Bayswater road, Edgware Road, Oxford St and Park Lane all feeding in and taking out traffic from the gyratory system around the arch. The whole area had been closed off by Extinction Rebellion on the morning of 15th March and remained closed over a week later on the 24th. I imagine there was a great deal of political pressure on the Met to clear it.

On the hard standing in front of the Arch, things seemed to be going on much as usual, though there were noticeably fewer tents and fewer people than when I visited the previous week.

But there was a crowd around a ring of police who had surrounded the group blocking the entrance to the system from Oxford St and were clearly intending to arrest them. This appeared to be the last of the road blocks still in place, with a few people still locked together. Police were trying to get those outside the cordon to move away, and were beginning to threaten them and me with arrest, but I managed to take a few pictures working between police legs.

I walked around the area for a few more minutes taking pictures, then began to walk towards Belgrave Square where I hoped to photograph protesters calling on Turkey to recognise the Armenian Genocide. As I walked down Park Lane I passed the samba band and others coming to Marble Arch around 45 minutes after me.

A few more pictures at Extinction Rebellion at Marble Arch.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.