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(en) Britain, SolFed, DA #30 - Sickworld (editorial)

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 18 Nov 2004 07:57:07 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
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Sustainability is an over-used and often misused term, so why
have several articles on it in this issue? As you will see, these
articles on sustainability take a very different perspective from
those you may have come across in the commercial media.
For a start, http://www.directa.force9.co.uk/current%20issue/DA/features1_1.html
Sustaining Lies is really about how unsustainable
governments are (they never last), and how they are desperate to
sustain their privileges and those of their fellow rich and powerful.
After the Hutton whitewash, as I write, snippets of the true story
behind the 45 minutes scandal are leaking out. There was the
apparent dodgy deal behind closed doors where Tony Blair
promised not to call for BBC resignations (which he lied about),
then there was the bullying from Downing St (by Campbell and
Blair plotting together), then there was the actual 45 minutes
claim and, of course, the whole WMD fiasco itself (which Blair
clearly lied about). He is a good politician, in the sense that their
main skill is being able to lie with a straight face - but it is always
unsustainable in the long run.

Meanwhile, 47,000 UK troops were mobilised for the first Gulf
War in 1991 and 45,000 for the second war in Iraq. In the US,
nearly 700,000 troops were mobilised for the first Gulf War;
currently there are 130,000 US troops in Iraq. Quite apart from
Gulf War Syndrome (about which there's news in these
pages), that is a hell of a lot of life, grief and torment being meted
out because of these big lies - and that's not to mention
dead civilians or the army body bags.

Even if the capitalist and state system was rejigged to become
more democratic, and actually take notice of what people want,
one of its fundamental problems is that it will never ask people the
right questions (Phones or Life).
Given the opportunity, would we
prefer to cut down on mobile phone use in favour of more
resources being spent on health provision to save and extend our
lives? Would we rather make/receive one less mobile phone call
(e.g. wait "til we get home), safe in the knowledge that, by
doing so, we are making sure the hospitals are adequately funded?
Would we rather, as a society, value our quality and quantity of
life more, and our "quick fix' superficial consumption
less? We will never know the answer to such questions under the
current capitalist system, because they won't be asked.

This brings us into the centre ground of the debate over
sustainability - the tension between economy, society and the
environment (The Meaning of Sustainable Development).
Official report after report suggests we can have our cake and eat it - i.e.
make all three thrive, but so far all we have seen is more global
warming, more traffic and consumption, and more poverty and
destruction of communities. Any sane person can see that right
now, the capitalist economy is the only thing that these official
reports really care about. So, when we ask ourselves whether the
revised UK sustainable development (SD) strategy makes some
crucial breakthroughs, I think we all know the answer. Even the
green reformists arguing for environmental taxes aren't
happy, as these have declined in total tax terms steadily over the
last decade.

That isn't to say that SD is a nonsense term - it could be
useful, if only we had a system where society and environment
were really taken as seriously as people want them to be.
It's even more stark when we come to car use (Getting from
A2B Sustainably), http://www.directa.force9.co.uk/current%20issue/DA/features2_2.html
where I could sit in traffic taking the kids to
school while listening to the radio go on superficially about fossil
fuel use and traffic congestion, yet I couldn't let the kids
walk or go by bus - the roads are too dangerously crammed with
mad car drivers trying to get to work, etc. If this isn't a
situation crying out for collective democratic decision making
instead of everyone for themselves (and all lose in the end), I
don't know what is. Instead, we have a system set up to get
people accelerating en masse towards environmental oblivion,
with very little real alternatives on offer. Luckily, I don't
have kids so I can cycle to work, but I pity those who do, not to
mention the fact that their queuing cars fill my lungs with benzene
on a daily basis.

All this whinging on about how bad shit we are in because of
capitalism is crying out for some sort of discussion of alternatives,
and luckily, here it is (Sustainability: market vs. society).
Critiques of capitalism are common, as are visions of a sustainable future,
but analysis of actually what ingredients we need to make such a
change are rarer, so this is a must-read. If you haven't time
right now, then, in summary; massive harm has been and is being
done to humanity by the market; solidarity is the only path toward
a sustainable, decent society, and; the market is an obstacle to
solidarity, and therefore to a sustainability and society...

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