huge protests force chinese government retreat over pollution

By Adam Ford

Shifang demonstrators squaring off against riot cops earlier in the week

Locals are celebrating in the Chinese city of Shifang today, following the government’s decision to scrap its plans for a copy alloy plant which many feared would poison them. This sensational policy reversal was apparently forced out of the Communist Party dictatorship by rioting, followed by a sit-in in support of those arrested. In making this concession, the regime has shown its vulnerability at a time when the national economy is being hit by the economic crisis in Europe and the US. Continue reading “huge protests force chinese government retreat over pollution”

waste disposal – towards zero waste by 2020

Dave Spencer writes on the failed Coventry incinerator project

A number of local Councils, including Coventry, have recently scrapped plans to build new giant £1 billion PFI waste incinerators.  These were being encouraged by the last New Labour government that believed in an “energy from waste” strategy – that is burn waste and turn the heat generated into energy for the National Grid. Obviously the prohibitive cost of PFI schemes has hit home with the local Councils.

To save money by scrapping these schemes is all very well but what is the alternative strategy for waste disposal?  The giant incinerator planned for Coventry, right in the city centre, a few hundred yards from my house, was due to take waste from leafy Warwickshire and snobby Solihull and from anywhere else that couldn’t be bothered to organise their own.  You can imagine the gleam in the eyes of the PFI private firms as more and more bin lorries came trundling down the M6 and the A45.  But Friends of the Earth backed by local residents’ groups campaigned against the plans and we won.  We are now left with the old incinerator about which our local councillor told us, “I’ve been assured by Council officers that the smoke coming out of the old incinerator chimney is cleaner than the air it’s going into.”  Ha, ha, ha. Continue reading “waste disposal – towards zero waste by 2020”

bristol reading group on primitivism and eco-socialism

The next Bristol reading group session will be on Sunday 26th September at 6pm in Café Kino on Ninetree Hill, Stokes Croft, Bristol.

Note that we are back at Café Kino. The session will discuss anarchist primitivism and eco-socialism. Suggested background reading below. All welcome: email for more info.

Continue reading “bristol reading group on primitivism and eco-socialism”

bristol commune forum on ‘localisation’

The next Bristol reading group session will be on Sunday 22nd August at 6pm in The Factory, Cave Street off Portland Square, Saint Pauls, Bristol. (Note the change of venue).

The session will discuss whether localisation is a viable strategy to enable a form of capitalism which doesn’t threaten the ecology of the planet. Suggested background reading below. All welcome: email for more info. Continue reading “bristol commune forum on ‘localisation’”

is ecological struggle class struggle?

Rob Kirby spoke at the London Commune forum in May on the question ‘is ecological struggle class struggle?’:

The short answer is no. The slightly longer answer is that practically, the consequences of ecological policies will be negative for the working class, and theoretically, that ecological ideology expresses the interests of groups other than the working class.

It’s worth saying at the outset that I’m not a climate change denier – I accept the fact that humanity is adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and that is probably causing warming, and that pollution is generally a bad thing. However, my critique is a political one; I think environmentalisms’ one-sided focus on the negative aspects of industrial civilisation won’t help us solve environmental problems, and won’t help us advocate working class politics. Continue reading “is ecological struggle class struggle?”

is ecological struggle class struggle? london forum 24th may

The next of The Commune’s public forums in London will be a debate on the question ‘is ecological struggle class struggle?’ The meeting takes place from 7pm on Monday 24th May at the Horse & Groom, Curtain Road, near Old Street tube.

The discussion will be led off by Rob Kirby, and members of Notes from Below. All welcome: email for more details.

no answers from copenhagen climate summit

by Mark Ellingsen

Climate change rose to the top of the news agenda during the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, only to be displaced by the cold weather spell now being experienced in the British Isles. No doubt climate sceptics will be pointing to this as proof that global warming is a myth, despite the fact that globally the last decade was the warmest since 1850. Furthermore, the upward trend is unmistakeable.

The consequences will have a significant adverse impact on human well-being and the ecology of the planet, which will be exacerbated by social, political and economic inequality. By 2050, increasing areas of the planet will be affected by drought, and water availability will decrease in those areas dependent on melt water from the major mountain ranges which includes one sixth of the world’s population. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimate that between 20-30% of plant and animal species will be in danger of extinction if the global temperature exceeds 1.5°C and 2.0°C. Given that the lowest best estimate is a rise of 1.8°C by 2100 this now seems inevitable. While the IPCC predict that there may be some possibility that crop yields may increase in higher latitudes at this temperature range, it is likely to decrease in lower latitudes which will exacerbate food shortages in these regions. Continue reading “no answers from copenhagen climate summit”

the green party and the left today

an anonymous contributor explores the inner workings and direction of the Greens

Over the last decade, the Green Party has both grown in size and influence, and moved leftwards. It has a membership of nearly 10,000, and realistic chances of winning Parliamentary representation in Brighton and Norwich at the next election (with Lewisham building its chances most likely for the election after next). Outside of these generalities, however, non-Green Party activists seem to be largely in the dark as to the internal politics and ideology of an organisation which boasts hundreds, if not thousands, of activist members. It is the aim of this piece, briefly, to attempt a remedy for this situation. Continue reading “the green party and the left today”

facing hopeless climate macropolitics, it’s time for direct action

a guest article for The Commune by Patrick Bond

In the run-up to the Copenhagen Summit from 7-18 December, the October-November Bangkok and Barcelona negotiations of Kyoto Protocol Conference of Parties functionaries confirmed that Northern states and their corporations won’t get their act together. Nor will Southern elites in high-emitting countries.

The top-down effort to get to 350 CO2 parts per million has conclusively failed. On the right, Barack Obama’s negotiators argue that the 1997 Kyoto Protocol is excessively binding to the North, and leaves out several major polluters of the South, including China, India, Brazil and South Africa. Hence Obama’s early November promise that he would come to Copenhagen to ‘clinch a deal’ is as hollow as the White House’s support for democracy in Honduras. Continue reading “facing hopeless climate macropolitics, it’s time for direct action”

the british direct action movement of the 1990s: part I

The 30th November of this year will mark 10 years since the protests at the WTO summit in Seattle. The so-called direct action movement in Britain had a significant role in the cycle of protests which found its high point in Seattle. Here we tell its story. By Leo Vinicius.


In the late 1990s large street demonstrations and attempted blockades of summits of the World Trade Organisation, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, G8, and other organisations managing global capital, won significant TV news coverage and ensured that these meetings would have to be protected by enormous police contingents and removed to remote locations. In a general sense we saw the contours of a new movement opposed to the management organisations of so-called ‘globalisation’. The blockade of the first day of the WTO ministers’ meeting on 30th November 1999 in Seattle was the moment when this movement attained worldwide visibility, in the mainstream media and principally on TV, coming to be known in these same media as ‘anti-globalisation’. In truth it was a ‘movement of movements’ or further still a confluence of movements. The point of identification bringing together was a common recognition of the systemic organisations to which they were opposed  (although for some of them this system appeared as ‘capitalism’ for others ‘neo-liberalism’ and so on). Continue reading “the british direct action movement of the 1990s: part I”

the commune issue 7 – out now!

The September issue of our monthly paper The Commune is now available. Click the image below to see the PDF, or see articles as they are posted online in the list below.

To purchase a printed copy for £1 + 50p postage, use the ‘donate’ feature here. You can also subscribe (£12 a year UK/£16 EU/£20 international) or order 5 copies a month to sell (£4) online here. If you want to pay by cheque, contact


troops out of afghanistan! – editorial of The Commune

wildcats show how to fight royal mail bosses – by Paul Haste

government pressure on civil service: crunch time for pcs left – by Steve Ryan

wind turbine occupation ends, but struggle continues – by Gerry Emmett

purnell’s new ‘old labour’ is just new ‘new labour’ – by David Broder

resisting redundancy and recession: reappraising the tactic of occupation – by Gregor Gall

amey struggle: burn your bridges, save your dignity – by Mónica del Pilar Uribe Marin

latin american migrants: organising against racism and exploitation – by an Ecuadorian migrant worker

exposed: soas unison, rmt and unite cleaner activists in the pay of the bosses – by Chris Kane

update on the activities of the commune around britain

afghan women bear brunt of hypocritical ‘war on terror’ – by members of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan

yes, chris ann, obama is punking us – by Ernie Haberkern

beyond props for capital – by Allan Armstrong

liberalism, citizenship and democracy – by Mark Ellingsen

the workers’ self-management alternative – by Chris Kane

review of the july/august left press – by Nathan Coombs

building from below: the case for working in residents’ groups – by Dave Spencer

latin america’s future is being played out in honduras – by Roberto Sáenz

libertarian joie de vivre at climate camp cymru

Steve Ryan attended the Merthyr Tydfil climate camp

Climate camps are a new and innovative way of protesting. Set up outside of environmental problems, in this case Ffos -y Fran open cast mine at Merthyr.

The camps are run on the basis of participatory democracy. This is of interest to those interested in self management. There are no “leaders”. The camp is divided into neighbourhoods which meet each morning and elect a facilitator and spokesperson . All issues are discussed and decided by consensus, and hese are reported to the plenary. This is an excellent way of running a society in principle. There are problems however in that decisions, sometimes on relatively simple issues , can take a VERY long time. This is OK at  local level but has the potential to make a wider economy grind to a halt. Unfortunately the alternative would be a command economy, not something those interested in self management and communism groom below would at all desire! Continue reading “libertarian joie de vivre at climate camp cymru”

urgent: vestas eviction due tomorrow, solidarity needed, free transport from london

An eviction of Vestas is planned for mid-day tomorrow (Friday), if you can drop stuff and come then meet at Waterloo station tonight at 22.00pm. Transport will be fully paid for. If the 600 jobs and Britain ’s only onshore wind turbine factory are to be saved then the factory needs to be occupied and defended. Experience at Visteon, the SOAS occupation and Lewisham Bridge has shown that solidarity is needed for successful occupations, and that victory is possible. With more people defending the factory it will be much more difficult for the bailiffs to evict the occupiers, or for the Vestas bosses to remove the blades and equipment. Eviction is pending, the workers inside are under huge pressure, if you can show support then please do… Continue reading “urgent: vestas eviction due tomorrow, solidarity needed, free transport from london”

all quiet on the vestas front

by Adam Ford

It was an oddly relaxed mid-afternoon on the seventh day of the Vestas wind turbine factory occupation yesterday [Tuesday 27th July], as demonstrators in the roundabout solidarity camp listened to a couple of musicians in the Isle of Wight sunshine.


With Vestas going to court on Wednesday in an attempt to get legal backing for an eviction, it was very much a case of the calm before the storm. In the meantime there was apparently little for people to do except lounge around in their tents, and occasionally shout their support to the occupiers when they came out on the balcony. Continue reading “all quiet on the vestas front”