New Draft | Manifesto of Revolutionary Solutions | A World to Win
1 Strategy for a global crisis
We are in a global emergency, one that is marked by an insoluble economic and financial crisis, runaway climate change, growing inequality, hunger and poverty as well as the failure of capitalist political systems in every country.
The crises are interconnected. Each feeds the others, reinforcing and deepening the problems facing humanity. Nowhere was this more harshly demonstrated than at the Copenhagen conference in December 2009. World political leaders could not even agree the smallest of cuts in levels of carbon emissions that are the cause of global warming.
While they bailed out the banks in order to prevent the financial system from collapsing altogether, the same leaders were incapable of putting the interests of the planet above profit. Yet it is the unsustainable, profit-driven growth of the last 30 years – the period of corporate-driven, free-market globalisation – that has accelerated global warming.
No single crisis can be solved in isolation, nor by a country acting alone. International solutions are required. The approach has to be: act globally and start locally to create the conditions for universal solutions.
Poverty and hunger cannot be ended while political systems from Washington to Nairobi are inextricably linked to upholding capitalism. Drastic cuts in overall carbon emissions cannot be achieved within the capitalist model of production The drive to war for resources, or the land grab by richer countries, will not halt until the profit system itself is replaced by co-ownership and production for need.
Revolutionary political organisations of a new type should be built internationally to provide the leadership necessary to facilitate this historic transformation of social relations. They will need to learn from history – from the struggles for democracy, national liberation, self-determination, human rights, against Stalinism, for climate justice and for socialism.
They will have to articulate the needs and aspirations of the powerless majority in creative ways, rejecting dogmatic thinking rooted in the past. For new political organisations to win the support of the mass of ordinary people, they have to develop an ongoing analysis of the contradictions of the new world disorder and develop practices that point to revolutionary change.
The uneven development of capitalism, shown in the doubling of the world’s working class to three billion as a result of Asia’s incorporation into the global economy and the rise of Indian and Chinese capitalism, has weakened the old centres of capital in Europe and the United States.
Switching production to cheaper-labour areas, far from solving capitalism’s problems actually worsened them in the long run. The expansion of production required to overcome falling rates of profit (see section 3) depended upon the formation of an unsustainable international financial system founded on creating and recycling debt. This is the essential contradiction behind the global economic crisis.
The loss of influence and authority of the United States is shown by its disastrous war and occupation in Iraq and its military adventure in Afghanistan-Pakistan to prop up the corrupt and dictatorial Karzai regime. Behind the cover of the “war on terror”, and the “restoration of democracy”, NATO forces are waging an unwinnable war against a people fighting for national self-determination.
Far from defeating terrorism, the policies of US imperialism in particular, especially in relation to Israel’s continuing repression of the Palestinian people, drive young people towards misguided and fruitless individual acts of resistance which more often than not kill innocent local people.
At the same time, the absence of a secular revolutionary alternative is a factor in the turn of some young Muslims towards terror groups like Al-Qaeda which, paradoxically, have their origins in organisations funded and encouraged by the US during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
While the US and Britain condemn “terrorism”, they themselves practice state terror or endorse the actions of others, in particular those of the Israeli state against the leaders of the Palestinian movement within the Occupied Territories.
What are required are not-for-profit solutions achieved in struggle against capitalist corporations and governments. The aim is to transfer power to the masses out of the hands of the bourgeois classes and their representatives in every country.
In practice, this means expropriating corporate assets and turning them into a collectively owned and controlled commons, along with all natural resources. These would come under the direct management of a network of People’s Assemblies that replace existing state institutions.
Through these solutions we can achieve a real and practical unity between the ordinary working people of the developed economies and those in the developing countries. Only in a world free of exploitation and discrimination, where people are not suffering from starvation, can we put an end to all kinds of terrorism and violence.
The struggle for revolutionary, democratic change to end the rule of global capitalism and its political agencies can only succeed if it is international in scope and appeal. A World to Win in Britain therefore appeals to like-minded individuals, groups and movements throughout the world to work for the building of an international revolutionary alliance.
It will encourage member organisations to consult and collaborate with each other to develop and strengthen the principles and perspectives outlined in the Manifesto of Revolutionary Solutions. Each organisation would develop revolutionary perspectives and policies in line with the concrete conditions in each country, region and continent.
The global crisis of the capitalist system is certain to deepen. It will lead to intensified attacks on the standard of living of workers in the developed economies and super-exploitation of the masses elsewhere. Now that the credit-induced boom has ended, the epoch will once again reveal itself as one of wars and revolutions.
Conditions for revolutionary change are increasingly favourable. Millions of people in every country no longer believe official propaganda about the virtues of free market capitalism. Equal numbers are disillusioned with political systems that are pawns of big business and finance. Leaders who have held sway with rhetoric and nationalism are losing their grip. We have a world to win.
In concert with other countries, a revolutionary government in Britain would pursue policies to further the objectives set out in this Manifesto, including:
- an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and an offer of unconditional economic assistance to democratic governments
- an end to the “war on terror”, torture and state-organised kidnapping
- support for the Palestinians, the Kurds, Tibetans, Chechens and all peoples engaged in struggles for self-determination
- technological and economic assistance to developing economies free from conditions formerly imposed by the IMF/World Bank/World Trade Organisation
- a new United Nations that lives up to its Charter and represents each member state equally as a step towards a world system of government
- support for the governments and people of Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and other countries pursuing alternatives to the market economy
- opposition to the undemocratic, corporate-dominated European Union and support for alternative non-capitalist Europe-wide models
- the unilateral destruction of nuclear and chemical weapons of mass destruction.
2 Claiming democracy for the people
Full-on globalisation has resulted in an unholy alliance between the state, political parties, corporate and financial power in all the major capitalist countries. From London to Washington, from Berlin to Rome, from Tokyo to Seoul, the reality is essentially the same.
Democracy is reduced to a sham, a façade behind which real decisions are made and power exercised over ordinary people. The right to vote counts for little and the aspirations of ordinary people are denied by state systems that primarily function in the interests of big business.
The financial meltdown exposed the real power relations in capitalist society for all to see. Bankers lined up for state bail-outs, but working people are having their hours and pay cut, or losing their jobs and their homes. Essential services for all are being slashed.
Struggles for jobs, homes, action on climate change and in defence of social and political rights immediately come face to face with state forces acting to defend the existing social and property framework. In Britain, activists are detained under anti-terror laws and their communications intercepted. Occupations, from wind turbine workers on the Isle of Wight to car workers in South Korea, are subject to siege conditions and violent assault by the police. Effective strike action is curtailed by draconian anti-union laws.
Each state more and more resembles the senior management team of a corporation, with the prime minister or president acting like a chief executive. Their role is to smooth the way for transnational corporations and banks to operate as freely as possible and to create new markets and profit-making opportunities in areas such as education, health and pensions.
In fact, it can often look like a merger, with leading lights from the world of business sitting in governments like New Labour and states like Italy under the control of billionaire businessman Berlusconi. In the United States, key state posts are held by ex-bankers from Goldman Sachs. Ministers in Britain leave office and within weeks are sitting on the boards of major corporations.
The state is the lynchpin of the social system of capitalism, holding it all together. It provides the essential ideological, political, social, legal, educational and coercive frameworks without which capitalist society cannot function.
Real power, control and influence lie beyond the reach of ordinary people. Authority instead is concentrated in the hands of permanent structures that rule over, rather than on behalf of, society. These institutions in different countries include central and local government administration, the central bank, legal and penal systems, the police, armed forces, secret intelligence agencies, the monarchy and a whole variety of quasi-state bodies and bureaucracies.
Promoting radical, let alone revolutionary, change in relation to the state is considered a threat to the established order, making it “acceptable” to subvert legal political and campaigning organisations through covert means. Similarly in the United States, the consolidation of state repression in the Department of Homeland Security, exerts the same chilling effect as in Britain.
In major confrontations, like the miners’ strike for jobs of 1984-5, state forces are deployed physically to maintain the status quo. They are used to subvert legitimate organisations and act as agents provocateurs where necessary.
The state has control over formative education, setting out what is taught in schools to ensure that the social contract of capitalism – employer and wage earner – is binding and permanent and that the notion of democracy reinforces the status quo. Organised religion plays a similar role while the mass media can be relied upon to sing the same loyal tune.
The modern state came into existence in the 19th century to allow corporate and financial interests to flourish while keeping society from breaking apart. Corporate ownership of the means of production and property, including land, was enshrined in law. Shareholders and employers got to retain profits from the exploitation of labour. In Britain, a police force was created to maintain the status quo, while the army enforced colonial rule. The machinery of government expanded into every corner of Britain and its Empire.
After two world wars, in the face of popular anger, a welfare state was built in many countries. It seemed to signal a new era of social harmony, with the state mediating between conflicting class interests. Then, following the economic crisis of the 1970s, a tsunami of privatisation, spending cuts, anti-union laws and corporate-led globalisation swept all that away.
Post-war controls over the movement of finance and production were abandoned and the trade unions shackled. The unregulated, free market capitalism that is now in disarray was brought into being by the US and British states, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the European Union.
Because capitalism is now globalised, each capitalist state has ceded power to supra-national bodies like the WTO and is subject to the demands of the transnational corporations and international finance. When the TNCs and bankers say jump, the state does exactly that. In the market/business state we are expected to carry the entire cost of the financial crisis while bankers’ bonuses return to their previous astronomical levels.
Political representation developed out of the bitter and long struggle against the ruling classes for the vote and basic democratic rights. In Britain, it led to the creation of the Labour Party and eventually to reforms like the health service achieved through Parliament. In other countries, workers were able to exert some form of influence through their own parties or in the United States through the Democratic Party.
Now this historically important but nevertheless limited form of bourgeois representative democracy without power is in terminal crisis. Globalisation has reduced the control of the national state over the economy and thus eroded the basis for achieving reforms through elections.
It was this process that transformed Labour – founded on reforming capitalism – into an outright capitalist party. Its leaders have shut down internal democracy and transformed New Labour into a party that promotes war and the capitalist economy.
While MPs have fiddled their expenses, Parliament has failed to protect rights won over centuries, such as habeus corpus and the right to a jury trial. Nor did they defend the right to free education and health care. These same rights are being progressively dismantled by the executive as the welfare state gives way to privatisation and a profit-driven market state backed by all mainstream parties. This has led to huge abstentions at elections, and amounts to a fatal undermining of the right to vote, creating disenfranchisement on a massive scale. It undercuts any claim that we live in a democracy.
It is ironic that in spite of devolution, the British state is more centralised than ever before, and assemblies and parliaments have not brought significant improvements for people in Wales and Scotland. Independence will only improve the lives of ordinary people if it is won as part of a transformation of the whole British state and in a way that nurtures and defends the material unity of the working class in every region and country.
As the state turns more and more to repression, surveillance and foreign wars to maintain its grip, we need to claim democracy for the people. Without a comprehensive revolutionary regime change we cannot breathe new life into democratic achievements and make the right to vote mean something again by creating representation with power.
2.1 Revolutionary solutions
We do not accept that liberal democracy is the last word on the subject, whatever the political class claims. Extending and expanding democracy to give expression to what the term actually means – the power and rule of the people – has to focus on building a momentum which leads to the dismantling of the existing state and all its institutions.
In its place, the people themselves would develop a transitional democratic state that takes forward the achievements of the last 200 years. It would go beyond representative democracy, which actually dilutes and filters the aspirations of the powerless majority until they are acceptable.
A People’s Convention on the constitution should be called which would consider extending democracy in new ways. For example, all workers should have the right to democracy at work, whether in a factory, hospital, call centre, in public transport, civil service, local government, offices, shops, schools, colleges or university. Self-management would replace the present hierarchies of worker/manager/owner.
2.1.1 Framework for democracy
A framework for a new democratic Britain could be built around the following ideas:
- a network of local, regional and national People’s Assemblies with executive as well as deliberative power and control over resources acting within the framework of a Charter of Economic and Social Rights and a Bill of Rights (see below)
- delegates to Assemblies that reflect diversity in our communities, with distinct voices for example for: workplaces, women, minority ethnic citizens, people with disabilities, older people, refugees and asylum seekers, young people, trade unions, progressive political organisations, students and small businesses
- an electoral system in balance with the new participatory system
- delegates to be paid no more than the average national income and subject to recall and removal by local/regional voters at any time
- mass involvement in the new democratic process through the Internet and other media
- extensive and binding consultation with voters on significant new proposals.
A new constitution would enshrine a Charter of Economic and Social Rights based on citizenship for all and should include:
- the right to co-operative ownership and self-management in workplaces
- employment for those who can work and a genuine living wage for those who cannot
- the right to an standard of living adequate for health and wellbeing
- decent housing at affordable cost for everyone
- free education for students at all ages; the right to free continuing education and training
- equal pay and job opportunities for women; free child care
- free health care at all levels and types of scientifically-approved treatment
- dignity in old age through pension provision at average income, and free social care
- safe and nutritious food at affordable prices
- rights to live in an environment shaped by ecological care and basic human needs.
2.1.2 The rule of law
We need to take forward what human society has achieved in terms of law while abolishing the existing class-biased framework of private property and the wage-labour contract. A new courts system would involve lay judges with special training. A commission would investigate what laws inherited from capitalism need scrapping or amending in the light of the structure of the new society. The rule of law must prevail in society, with courts and lawyers guaranteed freedom from state interference and pressure.
A Bill of Rights should affirm affirm in unconditional and positive terms individual rights to liberty and freedom from arbitrary arrest and include:
- habeas corpus, requiring people arrested to be brought to court and charged or released within 24 hours
- free and equal legal representation for defendants and those challenging state decisions
- freedom from state surveillance and interception of communications
- unconditional rights to organise, associate, demonstrate and strike
- access to information
- equality in all areas for minority communities
- the free movement of people based on “no borders” principles.
The criminal law system is not so much about “justice” or even “fighting crime” as a way of reinforcing existing punitive forms of social control and authority. In particular, young people are made scapegoats for the ills of society as a whole. Instead of medieval naming and shaming, retribution, vengeance and punishment, we should emphasise reparation and community self-control and influence. Law should make offenders face up to their responsibilities and their impact on communities.
The existing, barbaric prison system should be scrapped. Where it is unavoidable to detain offenders, a new approach would make rehabilitation the priority alongside the protection of society.
A transitional state should set out to decriminalise the use of drugs as a step towards dealing with the widespread abuse problem that has deepened within our alienated society.
We should encourage the use of arbitration, adjudication and conciliation so that communities come to accept that they have a responsibility for the personal and social development of all of their citizens.
The police force in Britain is incapable of serving communities because of the way it is established, run and controlled. The bureaucratic, secret world of the police means they are often closer to the criminal fraternity than ordinary people and many vulnerable and innocent people end up serving long sentences for crimes they did not commit.
The existing force should be reorganised to serve communities within the framework of the rule of law and democratic system of justice. In time, as society develops along new lines, the community would be able to learn to control and regulate itself.
2.1.3 State within the state
The secret intelligence agencies, MI5 (Security Service) and MI6 (Secret Intelligence Service) together with the police Special Branch would also be abolished. The secretive Privy Council, which has powers to impose rule by decree, will be dissolved. These are the key sections of the state within the state.
The army, together with the navy and air force, which is used to fight wars on behalf of the capitalist state, would be reorganised as a defensive force under democratic control and command as a prelude to their dissolution. All their weapons of mass destruction will be scrapped.
The state administrative machine of departments, executive agencies and quangos is inherently conservative and remote. Expertise is used to reinforce the status quo or vested interests. Many existing government departments function to maintain social control. For example, 90% of those involved in carrying out the functions of the Home Office are attached to the prisons and asylum systems.
Charities that support vulnerable people now bid against the private sector for funds, undermining their whole reason for existing. They have been co-opted into a “value for money” approach and continuous cost cutting. With the end of the market state, they can play a crucial role in a society that is in transition from deprivation and inequality to equality and fairness.
We will be obliged to replace the existing administrative machinery with new bodies under the sway and control of national, regional and local People’s Assemblies. The aim should be the elimination of state administration wherever possible and an end to special privileges and making a career out of bureaucracy. The institution of monarchy would be dissolved and the Church of England separated from the state.
What we have set out are ideas for a transitional state, which will facilitate its own eventual dissolution. The more people get involved in determining their own lives in collaboration with others, the more diminished will be the power of the state and the more unnecessary it will become.
Each country will find its own path to freeing the people from state oppression and creating new democratic structures that reflect revolutionised economic and social relations. In this way, we would open a new chapter in the history of international relations. These would be based on co-operation and collaboration to solve the pressing issues facing humanity in every corner of the globe and the United Nations would mean just that for the first time in its history.
A revolutionary government should:
- end private share ownership as a step towards social ownership of major corporations and banks
- abolish the anti-union laws, giving trade unions independence from the state
- restore basic rights by scrapping the anti-terror laws, database and electronic surveillance and plans for ID cards
- stop repossession of people’s homes and launch a crash housing programme
- draw up plans for a People’s Convention on the Constitution.
3 Transforming the economy
Global systems of production and finance are on emergency life support. Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Iceland, the US and the UK are on the lengthening list of capitalist economies now bankrupt or on the brink. As governments borrow to stay afloat, global loan sharks push up the cost which must be extracted from increasingly restive populations.
Strikes and protests are mounting against the effects of austerity programmes, combining tax increases and slashed public spending, demanded by the hedge fund managers who gamble with government bonds. The social, environmental and political costs of attempting to resuscitate the financial system and restore capitalist production to profitable growth are simply too great to bear.
Capitalist logic means that tens of millions more will have to join those throughout the world who have already lost their homes, their jobs and their futures. Their experience contrasts sharply with the renewed enrichment of the bankers and investors who chase profits around the global exchanges.
Dealing with the crash has drained the confidence from political and economic elites who not long ago were declaring that the world had entered a new “golden age” of limitless, risk-free prosperity. Neo-liberal dogmas about the “free market” now lie in tatters, whilst gargantuan neo-Keynesian intervention has produced minimal signs of success as an even bigger debacle unfolds.
Despite desperate efforts, the patient remains in intensive care. The financial meltdown that began in 2007 froze the credit markets, interrupted trade and led to the closure of productive capacity worldwide. But, far from being over, it has only begun to run its course, with immeasurable mountains of unrepayable debt still to be written off, tied up in financial devices that their creators themselves barely understand.
Attempts to restart the growth engine with near-zero interest rates, car scrappage inducements, and newly-invented trillions of every currency have floundered while sowing the seeds of runaway inflation. Britain leads the world in this respect. In the 20 years between 1990 and 2009 its private and public debt soared from two to five times the value of its annual production. Britain is now the most exposed of all the rich, but heavily-indebted countries, ahead of Japan, Spain, South Korea and France.
Global trade has slumped and the year-on-year growth that is the lifeblood of capitalism has vanished leaving vast overcapacity in its wake. Global corporations are engaged in a new round of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions that mean closing factories and relocating the remaining production to lower wage countries.
Old capitalist powers like the United States are now at the mercy of rising economies like China and India. But China’s export markets – particularly in North America – have collapsed and Beijing is left holding vast amounts of America’s national debt. At the same time, China is using its wealth to buy up land and natural resources in other countries in a neo-colonial venture that will exacerbate military tensions.
3.1 Behind the credit boom
Though many blame the “greed” of bankers and speculators on the money and commodity markets for the crash, their rise to power was the result of the insatiable demand for credit needed to fund the growth of commodity production and consumption.
The real source of the crash is to be found at the heart of the capitalist system of production, in the “real” economy where labour adds value to the inputs. In capitalist society people are employed to produce the commodities and services which are bought and sold in the global marketplace: cars, refrigerators, trainers, mobile phones, laptops, notebooks, netbooks, iPods, food and drink, bus, train and plane journeys.
Only part of the value workers add through their labour is returned to them as wages. The surplus remaining – after the other costs of production are deducted from the income on sales – is distributed to shareholders as dividends, to pay rent to landowners, and as interest to banks and other suppliers of credit.
Competition on price demands increases in the productivity of labour which reduces the hours needed for the production of a commodity. So the value, which is determined by the quantity of labour it contains, and hence the price of, and profit from each commodity tend to decline as a result. To offset the reducing profit derived from each ever-cheaper computer or car, more units of each type of commodity must be manufactured and sold. And, as Toyota’s experience has shown, competition in an oversupplied market forces compromises on quality.
This is the insane logic of capitalism. It pushes for growth not because it can, but because it must. A case of grow or die!
3.2 The limits to credit
Throughout the last three decades of the 20th century and into the 21st, the capitalist economy experienced increasingly frequent and severe recessions, slumps and financial crises that reverberated around the world as the limits to profitable production were reached. Throughout the period new kinds of credit were invented to push down the barriers to growth, accompanying a widening gulf between the rich and poor.
An unparalleled expansion of credit and debt channelled through globalised financial markets in equities, currencies, bonds and a multitude of derivative products funded the growth of transnational corporations and the consumer boom, particularly in the US and Britain.
Driven and liberated by the insatiable demands of globalising corporations, the financial system found new reserves of creativity. It learned to recycle debt into new credit in bewildering ways until it appeared that money could be made from money, simply by pressing a few buttons on a computer keyboard.
The global cloud of credit expanded way beyond the value of productive capacity, goods and services it supposedly represented, engulfing the world in debt. By 2006, around 90% of the world’s credit was effectively worthless, sustained by and sustaining the fiction of endless growth. The boom in foreign currency exchange trading took the billowing cloud beyond measure.
But every process has its limits. The credit boom reached its nemesis in 2006 when the first of many people found that they could no longer service their mortgage and credit-card debt. The consumer boom gave way to a downward spiral that ended the dream of continuous credit-and-debt fuelled growth.
Unemployment is soaring in every country to and beyond the levels seen in the 1930s. By November 2009 nearly 30 million were unemployed in the European Union. By March 2010, the total had soared to one in ten of the working population. For young people the picture is much worse. In Ireland, the youth unemployment rate was 28.7% and in Spain a stunning 43.8%. A million young people are out of work in Britain and an independent study says more than 3.4 million are without jobs, a million higher than official figures.
In the United States, the crisis destroyed almost eight million jobs between 2007 and 2009 and 2.8 million homes were repossessed from people unable to pay their mortgages. Despite claims that the recession had ended in the United States in 2009, repossessions rose by 35% in the first quarter of 2010, against the same period one year earlier, as banks took charge of 258,000 houses and flats – the highest quarterly total ever seen.
Credit-induced corporate-led globalisation created social inequality and poverty on a vast scale, even before the present crisis. The richest 2% have appropriated more than half of all global wealth. In contrast, the bottom half together hold barely 1% of all global wealth. Despite the crash, there are now close to a thousand billionaires worldwide whilst almost half the world – over three billion people – live on less than $2.50 a day. The collective wealth of these super-rich individuals is greater than the combined income of the poorest three billion.
Britain under New Labour became a more unequal country than most other industrialised countries. The gap between rich and poor is wider now than 40 years ago, according to the National Equality Panel. About 15% of pupils in state schools are now entitled to free school meals. Since 1997, the poorest 10% of households have seen weekly incomes fall by £9 a week to £147 once inflation is accounted for. In 2006/08, half of the households in Britain owned 1% of net financial wealth, while the wealthiest 20% owned 84%.
3.3 A system beyond repair
Capitalism is an unsustainable, exploitative, obscene system that is beyond repair and past its use-by date. A handful of corporations – perhaps as few as 100 – have brought us to this emergency in alliance with states and politicians who are there to serve a narrow elite.
We do not advocate regulation as a solution because deregulation was not the cause of the meltdown that has engulfed the world economy. Instead, the inner contradictions of the capitalist system of production are the source, forcing it to expand production, overcoming all constraints. It was this that drove on the deregulation process imposed on national governments by the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
A view into the future
Imagine that you are a member of a global society of communities whose citizens work together, co-operating on the land and in the buildings we own to meet our needs for food, clothing, housing, education, health and transport.
You haven’t got a “job”. No-one has a job. There’s no employer, nor any employment contract. Your work is a contribution to the satisfaction of the needs of our community.
The work you do entitles you to a share of our community’s collective product.
The era of global capitalist corporations organising the world’s production to maximise profit has been replaced by a system of collectively-owned, democratically-controlled co-operatives. Now the global network of communities you belong to can ensure that the decisions we take are consistent with the continuation of life on the planet.
You are not continuously bombarded with enticements to consume more products you never knew you needed. You are no longer addicted to buy-one-get-one-free food products laced with salt, sugar and fat. None of the value you produce is siphoned off for distribution as profits to external shareholders. You are not entrapped by offers of unlimited credit. Any surplus is saved for the future or used to target priority needs agreed by the community. You contribute what you can, and get back what your household needs.
Growth now means increasing local production, including the growing of food, with communities reducing their dependence on goods transported around the world, but exchanging fairly those things that cannot be made locally. Low-energy transport systems fuelled from renewable sources carry people and goods from place to place.
The issue of money for exchange and credit for investment is controlled by democratically accountable not-for-profit service organisations modelled on credit unions and building societies.
Communities meet regularly to review their needs and plan what they collectively will do to improve their lives and the lives of people in other communities around the world.
Because you take part in the decisions which are made, you feel and are in control. Your community sends its delegates to regional, national and global Assemblies, taking part in decision-making at every level.
3.4 Revolutionary solutions
Millions of people already live at least part of their lives on these principles. Some 186 million belong to democratically-run credit unions using members’ savings to fund cheap loans. Millions participate in co-operatives of all kinds. Let us build a movement to replace capitalism with a society working along these lines. We could call it a co-operative transition.
In ending the selfish pursuit of profit we will work with others in a global network of revolutionary organisations to restore the health of the planet’s ecosystem. A not-for-profit system of production, distribution and exchange will optimise local production for local needs. It will build on the revolutions in technology and technique.
Together we will release the potential of science, technology and technique to minimise resource use, creating a society based on co-operation, satisfying the needs of all. By replacing the employment contract with co-operative membership we will overcome alienation of people from their work, from what is produced and from society as a whole.
Extending these relationships and principles throughout society will allow and enable people to fulfil their potential and aspirations, and make health and well-being the single defining social objective for the world’s population.
3.4.1 Solutions: local and global
Specialist lobby companies acting on behalf of the corporations determine the policies that global agencies like the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund impose on the majority of the world’s 190 or so countries.
We will have to dismantle and replace the undemocratic top-down pyramid of organisations that enforce capitalist rule – the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organisation. New and democratised institutions will take measures to ensure that incomes and the standard of living are progressively equalised around the world.
A democratic world body like the UN, but not controlled solely by the interests of big powers and without the massive bureaucracy that goes with it, would debate what global institutions and laws are wanted. Initiatives like the World Health Organisation and the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change could make sure knowledge is shared and offer help and aid.
All productive resources would be owned in common, replacing unlimited exploitation and depletion with stewardship of the land, sea, the air and all of the planet’s ecosystems.
Ownership of the production facilities of the major corporations will shift from external shareholders to a variety of forms of co-ownership under democratic control operating under forms of self-management.
Destructive, resource-depleting methods of production and distribution will be replaced with those that restore and enhance the evolution of ecosystems. They will encourage and support small-scale enterprises, creative workers and farmers.
Property rights in seeds, pharmaceuticals, genes, intellectual products and even water by global corporations will be replaced by collaboration, providing assistance, sharing expertise and technology.
Decisions about the extraction and use of natural resources and the optimum location of facilities for the production and distribution of goods will no longer be determined by the market in cheap labour. Instead, the guiding principle will be the equitable satisfaction of needs in line with the restoration and enrichment of the planet’s ecosystems.
A revolutionary government will outlaw gambling in the derivatives casino and shut down speculative trading on stock markets, hedge funds and foreign exchange as a prelude to the unification of monetary systems into a not-for-profit global system of accounting designed to equalise of the value of labour worldwide.
The entire financial system will be replaced with a not-for-profit network of socially-owned organisations providing essential services. Existing trading platforms and communication networks will become part of a democratically-accountable global system of distribution and exchange. The issue of money needed for exchange and credit for investment will be subject to democratic control. As electronic systems proliferate, digital accounting based on units of labour can replace money.
Local Assemblies will decide which personal debts can be cancelled and which renegotiated. Outstanding mortgages, for example could be replaced by socially-determined payments. All empty properties will be requisitioned and used to house those that are homeless or living in housing that is not fit for purpose.
- Stock markets will be shut down and the majority of shares – those used for speculation by hedge funds and private equity funds – confiscated. Title/ownership will be transferred in trust to the workers in an enterprise. The remaining individual shareholdings will become non-transferable.
- Banks and all financial institutions will be taken over and their operations reduced to not-for-profit services run by committees elected by depositors and workers.
- All mortgage debt will be replaced by socially-determined payment for housing renegotiated according to the ability to pay
- Private Finance Initiative contracts with the public sector will be terminated. Assemblies will delegate teams to re-prioritise and re-finance development projects
- Surplus income from pension funds, freed from speculative investors’ control, will be used to fund the costs of transition
- All those able to work who are unemployed will be offered a job at a genuine living wage or retraining with no loss of income.
4 Creating a sustainable future
The abject failure of the Copenhagen climate summit in December 2009 is an historic betrayal of humanity by leaders and states of the world’s major capitalist economies. They well understood that climate change is a clear and present danger – and yet did nothing.
Extreme weather is increasingly frequent and without dramatic and immediate intervention, global warming will have catastrophic consequences for hundreds of millions of people, particularly those living near low-lying coastal areas. An analysis of global, peer-reviewed science published in September 2009 – just 80 days before Copenhagen – by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) left no one in any doubt that we are in a planetary emergency.
Some scientists are warning that rises of up to 4.3 degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial surface temperatures could occur. This exceeds the threshold for many “tipping points”, including the end of summer Arctic sea ice, and the eventual total melting of glaciers and the Greenland ice sheet. Sea levels could rise by up to two metres by 2100 and five to ten times that over following centuries.
Some regions, populations and eco-systems are already suffering irreversible effects of climate change. Most affected are the Arctic, where the ice cap is melting; sub-Saharan Africa, where drought, and therefore hunger, is increasing; small islands, like the Maldives, which are losing coastline as the sea rises; and the Asian and African mega deltas, where fish stocks are diminished and fertile land becoming salty because the sea is pushing back into the river deltas. The millions of people who live in and around Kolkata are threatened by the erosion of the flood protection from the Sunderbans mangroves following destruction of the surrounding forests through intensive agriculture.
The Kyoto Treaty, signed in 1997, acknowledged the danger from global warming. But all that resulted from Kyoto – which the United States refused to adopt – were international markets in carbon trading and the notorious policy of “offsetting”, whereby richer countries could “export” their emissions. But by the time Kyoto came into force in 2005, carbon emissions were still on an upward curve. Why? The answer is straightforward: world capitalism could not stop itself.
A global economy where profit is the motive, driven by the need to expand year on year to reward shareholders, regards nature purely as a “resource” to be exploited. And this includes the people who inhabit the planet and labour on behalf of the corporations. For capitalism, anything that is not directly related to generating profit is an “external”.
Global emissions were growing by 1.1% each year from 1990-1999 and this accelerated to 3.5% per year from 2000-2007, the period of intense, corporate-driven globalisation fuelled by increasing levels of debt that culminated in the 2008 meltdown. This reckless pursuit of profit led to a rapid increase in the concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
If this was not bad enough, global capitalist activity has polluted whole areas, especially in China, depleted resources and accelerated species extinctions, which are now running at about 1,000 times the “natural” rate. Pledges made at the 2002 Earth Summit in Johannesburg to halt species decline by 2010 have not been met.
Copenhagen failed because the existing political systems are tied to maintaining the status quo. That is why in Washington and London, the cry is not “We must cut carbon emissions now” but “We must return to growth.” This was rejected by 500 organisations who signed the alternative Klimaforum declaration. This declared climate change to be the result “of an unsustainable global economic system built on unequal access to and control over the planet’s limited resources”.
President Evo Morales of Bolivia went further than this. He told the conference:
“The real cause of climate change is the capitalist system. If we want to save the earth then we must end that economic model. Capitalism wants to address climate change with carbon markets. We denounce those markets and the countries which [promote them]. It’s time to stop making money from the disgrace that they have perpetrated.”
Bolivia then seized the initiative and called an alternative peoples’ conference “to define strategies for action and mobilisation to defend life from climate change and to defend Mother Earth’s Rights”, recognising the interdependence of nature and humanity.
The final declaration of the conference held in Cochabamba in April 2010 made a tremendous contribution when it declared: “The corporations and governments of the so-called ‘developed’ countries, in complicity with a segment of the scientific community, have led us to discuss climate change as a problem limited to the rise in temperature without questioning the cause, which is the capitalist system.” Attended by 25,000 people, the declaration added: “Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.”
In Britain, Supporters of Climate Camp and Climate Justice Network are prepared to confront the state and the corporations. The growth of movements like Transition Town confirms that people understand they have to act in concert to create the conditions for change. Communities throughout the world are in a daily struggle against deforestation, agri-corporations and governments.
Sustainable capitalism is a contradiction in terms and is impossible to achieve. Individual actions to reduce emissions, while important, cannot hope to achieve a significant impact when faced with the might of corporate and state power.
4.1 Revolutionary solutions
4.1.1 Sustainable production
Capitalism has usurped our given relationship with nature and is engaged in creating excessive consumption of short-lived commodities, while for large sections of humanity mere survival and subsistence are the order of the day.
A central part of creating a healthy and sustainable eco-system is the need to break this tyranny of profit-driven production relationships. We need new democratic, not-for-profit forms of ownership and management providing the goods and services for people to live life to the full.
These associated producers would develop models of production based on need, establishing pricing structures that truly reflect environmental impacts and requirements, and the need to provide a social surplus for vital public services. Decisions on production would be taken collectively by communities of producers and consumers identifying and meeting peoples’ needs. [See section on Transforming the Economy for more detail]
Production would switch to developing better quality goods which last for as long as possible. The overall amount of resources used would be minimised while maximising the use of recycled materials. Total energy use would be reduced through on-site efficiencies and the remainder switched to renewable energy sources.
Community-based recycling and waste sectors would focus on developing energy and raw material recapture for community benefit. Materials dumped in the past will be revisited to extract reusable materials. A global recycling and waste industry will focus on developing energy and raw materials recapture. In a networked world, the waste of one product can be offered on-line to become the useful material for another product. All enterprises will be required to take back the products they sell at the end of their life for recycling.
Technology in the service of capitalism adopts a one-sided approach, setting out to create new processes and bring new products to market, with minimal concern for wider social or environmental impacts. In a not-for-profit society, technology will serve a social purpose. No novel technologies or new products will be rushed into production without extensive testing of their environmental and social impacts.
4.1.2 Climate Justice
To avoid disastrous climate change, it is estimated that carbon emissions must be limited to no more than around 2.7 billion tonnes by 2030 annually, or a per capita allowance of around 0.33 tonnes per year. The only equitable way of achieving this is through contraction and convergence. Countries like Britain need to reduce emissions to 0.33 tonnes per capita per year, while developing countries increase, until their emissions converge up to the same level.
The concept of climate justice, which underpins the “contraction and convergence” idea, needs to be expanded to include justice within countries and not just between them. To suggest that China, for example, should have unfettered growth because it came late to industrialisation, is to merge the interests of the Chinese elite and the corporations they serve, with the Chinese people. But they are currently facing unemployment and slump, privatisation of land, and a food and water crisis caused by climate change.
A new kind of international co-operation would bring together the peoples of the planet in a democratic forum to plan together to halt the growth in emissions and to mitigate the impacts that are now inevitable. They would draw on all the expertise represented by climate scientists, world food and health experts and support each others’ development towards self-government and economic independence.
4.1.3 Renewable energy
Research published in the Scientific American (November 2009) shows that renewables like wind power can meet 100% of the world’s energy needs (not just electricity) and that it is technically feasible to do so by 2030. A European Environment Agency report found that potential wind power amounts to more than three times projected demand for electricity in 2020 and seven times projected demand in 2030.
And that could be achieved with existing technology and without covering the entire landscape with wind farms. Offshore wind power alone could meet between 60% and 70% of projected European demand for electricity in 2020 and about 80% of projected demand in 2030.
Yet the government and the energy corporations are focused on building more coal-fired and nuclear power stations. Both leave the problem of storing, for all time, potentially dangerous CO2 and nuclear waste, with the cost borne by taxpayers, not the corporations.
Central to achieving emissions reductions, is removing ownership of power generation and of oil, coal and uranium sources, from the transnational corporations. In control of their own resources, the countries and regions of the developing world can rapidly become exemplars in the use of renewable energy, particularly solar power, as they move towards the convergence level.
Not only is the profit-driven capitalist market incapable of delivering a safe and renewable energy supply, that reduces CO2 emissions, it is even incapable of providing more of the same kind of energy supply that we have now. New North Sea oil and gas fields are no longer considered profitable and the government has failed to do any strategic planning to replace old coal and nuclear power stations. Britain is facing an imminent energy crisis. So it is not just that developing alternative energy is the way to halt climate change, it is also the only way to secure future energy supplies.
For developed countries like Britain, action requires putting energy generation under democratic control, creating decentralised local or small regional, energy supply co-operatives. The work done by the Transition Town movement allows us to imagine how this could be structured.
Model for community-based energy generation
- Combined heat and power plants (CHP) to provide electricity, heating and cooling. This will enable waste heat from one building to be used in another that needs it, rather than going to waste.
- Anaerobic digesters transforming the community’s waste, to create bio-gas to fuel the CHPs.
- Combining decentralised CHP with solar thermal panels for providing hot water and photovoltaic arrays, plus using the storage capacity of the ground itself to make the whole community a clean, de-carbonised power station.
- Rural and coastal communities forming community owned not-for-profit energy generating co-operatives to benefit directly from the harnessing of wind, wave or tidal power from within their communities for exporting to urban communities, through unobtrusive cables to reduce grid losses.
- Formation of not-for-profit co-operatives of architects, construction workers, suppliers and product makers, creating all new buildings with energy efficiency as the main driver, not pushed to the margins.
- Crash programme of insulating all existing homes, and firms to achieve agreed standards of insulation and energy efficiency for offices and factories. The firms would participate fully in the energy strategy for their district.
Global capitalism is driving the growth in car use and the privatisation of public transport for profit. In the UK, 27% of carbon emissions come from transport and this continues to grow as car use increases and public transport declines.
A low emissions transport strategy is not just about technological solutions but also about fundamental economic and social change. Existing work patterns have people travelling long distances to get to work (as well as to buy food). A transformation of the world of work – where and how activities take place – and of people’s working hours, is essential.
Public transport can become the norm, if it is community owned and run flexibly to meet people’s needs. In cities, a new generation of planners will put the needs of pedestrians and cyclists first, discouraging individual car use, in favour of urban rail and tram links. Between transport routes, cars can become the new buses, with car sharing and car pools for occasional use.
We should halt flying defined by the community as unlikely to be productive. Ruling out flights importing goods such as cheap flowers and out-of-season vegetables from other continents, and ending military flying, will leave scope for people to explore each others’ countries and have new experiences, using an allocation of air miles.
Climate chaos is intensifying starvation and creating food shortages throughout the world. It has also led to a rapacious land grab. Since 2006, corporations and countries have spent $30 billion buying up 20 million hectares of fertile farmland in Africa and Asia – an area that equates to a fifth of all the agricultural land in the European Union. Just as Ethiopia is facing yet another famine, its government is selling off fertile land to China, to grow food for sale.
All over the world the poorest people are beginning to suffer from hunger, following a 50% rise in the price of staples in 2009. In the United States the percentage of people suffering “food insecurity” ranges from 6% of the population in wealthier states to as high as 15% in poorer parts of the country.
Global food stocks are low; salination, excess cold, drought, hurricanes, floods, late and failed rains, forest fires and heat waves, have ruined crops in many parts of the world. High oil prices have raised the price of fertilizer, leading to lower yields. And of course whole tracts of land and forests are being turned over to production of bio-fuels.
The food we eat is responsible for an eighth of our carbon footprint and the UK exports the same amount of food as it imports, adding to carbon emissions solely for the purpose of profit. Discouraging industrial-scale meat and dairy production and encouraging diets high in grains, vegetables and fruit would reduce greenhouse gas emissions while improving human nutrition and lowering health costs.
None of this is possible while a handful of transnational agri-corporations, seed corporations and supermarkets monopolise the food chain. They exploit producers and consumers alike.
An industrialised system of food production has resulted in a diet of highly processed foods. This has triggered unforeseen neurological and physiological impacts, leading to an explosion of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and behavioural and psychological problems. Corporations like Monsanto, Wal Mart, Tesco, Syngenta and Cargill have to come into collective ownership, and be run by partnerships of employee-owners, suppliers, farmers and consumers.
Common ownership of land in every country is absolutely vital, with farmers’ rights protected. Beyond the capitalist system, the idea that any individual can own an area of the earth will seem an anachronism.
But at the same time, that does not mean an immediate end to people’s right to hold land and use it – either individually or co-operatively. A framework for land use will protect people’s right to continue farming. This must be a local and community-based framework, not a handing over of land to the state. The concept should be of a new Commonwealth.
Farmers and natural scientists will be encouraged to develop solutions to the problems formerly solved by the application of herbicides and nitrates.
Locally-sourced food must become the priority wherever possible. The system of Green Belt land in Britain will be extended to include an expansion of allotment land, to encourage local food growing. These new commons would be sacrosanct for use by the community for ever.
Essential to sustainability is that composting becomes a structured part of the recycling process for the whole of society. Returning waste to the soil is a concrete example of the establishment of co-operation and unbreakable links between town and country.
4.1.6 Advancing bio-diversity
Climate change is accelerating the loss of species. In 2009, scientists report that 21% of mammals, 30% of amphibians, 12% of birds and 32% of gymnosperms (conifers and cycads) were threatened with extinction. Shellfish and molluscs are endangered by the increased acidification of the seas, with serious impacts higher up the marine food chain. The interdependence of species means extinctions can reach a tipping point where life as a whole becomes unsustainable.
There needs to be binding global treaties to halt species destruction and protect remaining wildernesses, and the concept of rights needs to be extended to nature as a whole. The manifesto supports the proposal agreed by the People’s Conference on Climate Change held in Cochabamba, for a binding global treaty recognising Mother Earth Rights. This will protect the rights of indigenous people, who live in wildernesses or other tribal lands, for all time and make the patenting of any plant species illegal.
- Set out a Climate Emergency Plan to achieve drastic emissions reductions; close London’s carbon trading exchange
- Crash programme of insulation grants for all households
- Take rail and bus networks into not-for-profit ownership, slashing fares to make them affordable for all
- Take cars out of city centres with park and ride, and the creation of public transport/ cycle-only boxes in the centre of cities; establish car pool schemes and incentivise car sharing.
- Set upper limits on total flight miles in and out of Britain, distribute them fairly through an air miles system; halt airport expansion
- Halt plans to build a new generation of nuclear power stations.
Freeing culture from profit
The special role that creative workers and performers occupy, their ability to inspire people, enables them to give a powerful impetus to social and political transformation.
Human creativity occupies a special place within late globalised corporate capitalism – the era of the image conveyed through an all-pervasive mass media. And while performers in the arts and sport are subject to the laws of profit they may simultaneously defy those same rules.
The unique quality of creativity gives some exceptionally gifted people the power to call the shots. The corporations need the Midas touch of talent to transform humdrum goods and make people part with their money so that they can share a little of the limelight.
Some creative workers have sought to expose the injustice of the economic and financial system. Others have taken stands against global warming and ecological destruction or denounced dictatorship and oppression. We appeal to all artists, writers, musicians, performers and content creators, sports people, designers and scientists to go further: help liberate and expand the scope of creativity by ending the prison of capitalist social relations that blights culture in pursuit of profit.
Today culture is facing a major crisis. A large proportion of lottery funding spent on the arts is being channelled to the 2012 Olympics. In addition, big cuts in government arts spending are planned by New Labour and the Conservatives. Drastic reductions are already taking place at local authority level. Meanwhile, many corporate sponsors are withdrawing their support.
Thus, three of the chief sources of financial support are dwindling rapidly with grave effects on the arts. Even prestigious institutions like the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert are affected. For many small theatre companies, galleries and arts projects, the loss of a few thousand pounds can spell death.
Savage public sector cuts will hand over more influence to the giant commercial “cross-platform” conglomerates and media empires. These include Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation – the second largest in the world after Time Warner – and companies like Endemol, which is responsible for reality TV such as Big Brother and has 80 companies in 26 countries.
As the recession bites harder, more and more people are reaching out to culture. Membership of organisations like the National Trust has shot up. Attendance at art exhibitions, music festivals and concerts is growing significantly. There is a clear thirst for an alternative to shopping and commodity fetishism.
There is a growing desire to share live experiences and performances with others. Even the success of programmes like Britain’s Got Talent and The X-Factor reveals the desperate hunger to escape from the dead end of life in areas of high unemployment and no future.
The rise of the Internet and digital technology has enabled talented people of all kinds to reach wider audiences for music, film making, writing, photography and other forms of art. Digitisation, file sharing, open access library and museum catalogues are transforming appreciation and making culture.
We need to liberate the creative drive from the profit-hungry conglomerates, not only in the arts, but also in technology, science and sport to open a new chapter in the development of human culture. By widening out public access, education and training, what has been until now “high” culture would stop being the reserve of the privileged minority and belong to all.
Creative work shows the potential of human existence free of exploitation and need to make profit for a boss. Living the life of a full-time performer or artist, unlike that of many other professions provides an inspiring model of how a human being can work in a way that is fulfilling and creative.
5.1 Revolutionary solutions
Cultural workers – artists, musician, actors, film makers, writers and technicians – create the products that generate the revenues of the media conglomerates that dominate much of culture. It is only right therefore that workers in the mass creative industries, organised in their associations and unions, should own, control and manage these resources in collaboration with consumers.
Resources used in a non-commercial, non-exploitative way could widen the scope of cultural output. For example, at present Hollywood moguls dominate the film industry, limiting output to blockbusters and undermining industries in other countries. Resources could be used to tackle a much wider range of issues and allow many more films to be made that are not designed for instant mass appeal.
In the music industry, a small group of artists are exploited, heavily promoted and frequently destroyed in the process, while the majority have to struggle for access to a wider audience. A socially-owned industry would provide the conditions for greater variety as well as the development of music itself.
The handfuls of publishing houses that dominate the industry similarly block the emergence of new writers and poets because they are not deemed profitable. This deprives the public of access to new literature. Co-operative forms of ownership would benefit everyone. Intellectual property rights – which at present are used primarily by corporations to maintain profits – could be phased out as creators and users arrive at mutually-beneficial arrangements.
The Internet has already revealed tremendous potential for people to bypass corporate control. Increasingly, however, big business and governments are moving in to control servers and content. We are against commercial or state interference. Control and distribution of content should be agreed between creators and users, democratically mediated by professional bodies.
Instead of state or government bureaucracies, independent public subscription bodies (such as the BBC and the National Trust) could become a new model to fund or subsidise arts organisations. Artists and cultural workers would then be able to work free of ideological pressures and open or hidden censorship. Local Assemblies could be expected to set aside funds for musicians, film makers and other artists.
Museums and galleries are not luxuries to be starved of resources on a political whim. They and their staff, including conservators, need to be generously funded, especially outside the major cities, and seen as a vital part of everyone’s existence. Special exhibitions often charge prohibitive entrance fees and must be made affordable. Art collections currently held by the monarchy will be taken into public ownership.
The running and management of arts institutions should be democratised, and run with the participation of living artists and performers. The art trade should be freed from the grip of the global auction houses and corporate dealers and placed in the hands of existing not-for-profit national and local arts bodies. Great masterpieces should no longer be bought and sold for vast sums and transferred to public collections instead.
Existing cultural facilities, including local and national centres, trusts, and self-organised bodies such as studios, orchestras, cinemas, film clubs, arts festivals, theatres, and exhibition areas will be developed and expanded. Free training to different levels will be provided in different areas of the arts and crafts such as film making.
Architects will be encouraged to work on sustainable buildings, creating high standards in housing for ordinary people, and in designing public spaces to improve the quality of life in city and rural areas. All trade skills such as construction, joinery, decorating, plumbing, electrics, should be recognised as crafts and be taught, trained and valued in that way.
Public, open air and street art including theatre, sculpture, dance, music and murals will be encouraged. Each community should provide space for artists’ studios. Music recording and film studios should be provided for musicians, film makers and community projects. Cultural workers will be financially supported by local Assemblies and publicly-funded cultural committees.
Minority languages, dialects, literature, arts, crafts and traditions should be supported and encouraged to prevent them being lost from society in Britain and other countries. Those with rare and unusual skills could be encouraged to train new generations.
With the rise of mass air travel, tourism in the UK and abroad has opened people’s horizons. But the holiday and travel sectors have grown with scant regard for eco-systems or the interests of local communities. Leisure and infrastructure corporations are playing an insidious role, harming places of outstanding natural beauty and cultural significance such as the Canaries, the Balearics, and many parts of Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Spain and Italy.
UNESCO as well as environmental and a variety of bodies are trying to protect special places by declaring them World Heritage Sites. But these organisations are often badly run, poorly funded and cannot compete against commercial interests.
Areas affected by mass tourism should become protected cultural and ecological zones, collectively owned and managed on a not-for-profit basis by organisations charged with cultural and biological protection in association with agencies, charities and campaigners working for sustainable and ethical tourism.
Sport has been transformed and sucked into the orbit of the global corporations. Rampant commercialism is the name of the game. In football, the top clubs are owned by billionaires and run as corporations. Clubs like Manchester United and Liverpool are weighed down by huge debts used to turn them into sources of revenues for investors.
Teams and individual players and athletes have been transformed into brands for maximum global exposure. Every aspect of the new brands is then exploited for money. Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, David Beckham and other top sportspeople earn more money for themselves (and their sponsors) as brands than they do as sportsmen.
Governing bodies have become ever more accommodating to the private bodies that profit out of sport. Advertisers, sponsors, agents, merchandisers, equipment manufacturers, PR and media companies and the owners of the clubs, including the new billionaires in football, now control everything from the kick-off times to the price of seats.
Live sport is increasingly in the hands of subscription channels like Sky, denying access to the majority. Football fans find the seats unaffordable and their loyalty to the club spurned and ignored. More money can be made by creating corporate boxes and by encouraging the better-paid middle classes to become the new fans.
The biggest money-spinner of all is the Olympic Games. Current costs of the 2012 Olympics to the British taxpayer stand at around £10 billion, including a contingency fund, with security alone estimated at £1 billion. Television rights for the London Games are being paid in billions of dollars. The games themselves, paid for by the people of the host city and country, become devalued and tainted as the setting for corporations and others to make a killing.
Below the elite level, sport struggles. Local authority leisure centres have been sold off. Most state schools are unable to provide sports environments. Local clubs operate with little support from government or involvement with the community.
5.2.1 Sport for all
On a not-for-profit basis sport can lead to a transformation of lives, with mass participation and a return to sporting codes and behaviour. Resources will be diverted to the grass-roots, to local clubs, schools and universities. The priority will be the free provision of resources such as playing fields and sports venues. Cultural and sports centres will be opened in areas where they have been closed down or where few are available, with the help of funding from local Assemblies.
Sport will be encouraged and resourced at all levels, creating the conditions for democratically-controlled sports clubs, on the model of Wimbledon AFC and United FC of Manchester, where the people who care about the game, own it and run it. Nobody would be allowed more than one share. Managers would become responsible to the fans, the players and the local community.
Children would have the right to learn a sport, with parents, teachers and coaches involved in the development of their potential if they showed an interest and an aptitude. All schools to have playing fields and sporting facilities.
The problem of obesity and lack of fitness will be tackled through these changes in the profile of sport. Adults will be encouraged into sport. Clubs and sports halls will be attractive and affordable. Sports stars will be encouraged to help with the building of a sports culture to help change attitudes on diet and drinking. A people’s Olympics will be organised without commercial sponsors.
- Develop and expand networks of media collectives to advanced a new generation of media activists to democratise culture and communications
- Set up an Alternative Media Commission to support those challenging the corporate-controlled media
- Halt all cuts in spending on the arts, sport and education
- Reduce admission to heritage sites, botanic gardens like Kew, palaces, stately homes, sites and monuments and cathedrals with better public transport access.
- Football to be owned and managed by supporters’ clubs and associations in partnership with players and local communities
- Transform the 2012 Olympics into a Peoples’ Olympics. Finance currently set aside to be placed under the control of sports bodies and clubs, athletes and local communities.
6 A democratic organisation
Our priority is to win support for the strategic aim of a transfer of political and economic power from the ruling elites and classes into the hands of the majority in each country. We will take forward the historic struggles for democracy, human rights, self-determination and socialism.
A major challenge is to think about what kind of organisation could be built to guide the struggle for such revolutionary change. A new organisation has to inspire people to take on the big tasks and become leaders in their community, workplace, school, university or town.
And at the same time, we need an organisation that can draw on the most up-to-date knowledge in every field – and where people feel they can contribute to make a difference in the areas they are passionate about. It must be both a leadership organisation and a democracy, with a constitution that defends members’ rights.
Technology gives us the opportunity to be profoundly networked, not just nationally but globally. It creates opportunities for consultation and voting. But it must also be an organisation that meets, discusses, argues and inspires using art, film, drama, music and social events. Revolution can’t only be in virtual space, it has to happen in actual spaces too!
Our aim is to build A World to Win (AWTW) into effective membership, group-structured, networked organisations internationally that can inspire and offer leadership to the movements struggling against global capitalism and its consequences. Membership is open to all those who agree with this objective and support the policies outlined in the Draft Manifesto of Revolutionary Solutions.
Membership of AWTW ensures that members have the opportunity to participate actively in the decision-making process. Members will pay an agreed regular subscription to help fund the organisation’s work and campaigns.
AWTW will encourage and participate in all initiatives that encourage self-emancipation and independence from the state, such as the Transition Town movement and groups that struggle for community improvement schemes. We will support and take part in demonstrations, pickets, lobbies, direct actions, strikes and occupations. AWTW will aim to show how these diverse struggles express aspirations that lead to a struggle for power itself against the state which can only be achieved by mass, co-ordinated action.
6.1 Group structure
We propose a democratic, interactive, organisational network with specialist groups responsible for developing theory and practice in key areas. From the outset, we would need to focus on Climate Change/Environment; Arts and Culture; Education and Training; International, Communications, Trade Unions; Economy; State and Democracy. Members may belong to any Group(s) of their choice and can suggest the creation of other groups.
Each Group carries out a programme of research/analysis and policy/campaign development as well as detailed work in relation to areas like education, health and housing.
Policy and campaign proposals go to the Co-ordinating Group for wider debate and discussion by all AWTW membership. Group members have the right to minority positions and to have them circulated throughout the organisation.
All materials developed by specialist groups will be posted to appropriate digital locations on sites maintained by the organisation. Each Group will elect two of its members to represent them on the Co-ordinating Group.
6.2 Co-ordinating Group
The Co-ordinating Group is made up of the elected representatives of each group together with the Secretariat and meets at least monthly. All members of AWTW have the right to attend and speak at meetings of the Co-ordinating Group. The agenda and any documents are made available in advance and decisions circulated to all members.
The Co-ordinating Group will formulate the strategy for the development of the organisation, including education and training. A dialectical, non-dogmatic approach to theory and practice will be encouraged and developed. It will co-ordinate research, proposals, campaigns, policies and action across the Groups, deal with membership issues and communicate the organisation’s policies, campaigns and proposals.
New policies will require a two-thirds majority of the membership as a whole before they are adopted. Once agreed in this way, they are binding on all members.
Elected by AWTW conference, the Secretariat is responsible for the day-to-day running of the organisation. It is accountable as well as subordinate to the Co-ordinating Group. The secretariat is made up of: chair, secretary, assistant secretary, treasurer, communications editor and may co-opt other members.