John Loxley

John Loxley has just gotten inducted into the Academy of Science of the Royal Society of Canada (I think that’s what it’s called. They like to stick “Royal” in front of of things in those colonies.) It’s very prestigious. It really cheers me up about moving to Canada.

Can you imagine a radical getting highest national scientific prestige honors in the US? No freakin way.

Really, I’m finally fully realizing how the decades-long Cold War campaign just wiped the US of alternative intellectual and research approaches. I grew up in Minnesota, and back in the day you didn’t see the virulent anti-socialism there that you find elsewhere in the US; so it took me until I had worked my way up to the PhD level before I could really see the crusade in action–where good jobs and prestige are at stake. I mean there was stifling thought and speech control when I worked for corporations, but I thought that was just because they were totalitarian, capitalist organizations. I didn’t realize the crusade was an ongoing secular program.

I see the blanket of bourgeois dogma starkly in researching political measures discourse, and, even more amazing, you see that really brilliant socialist analyses of the economic and ecological challenges facing forests and forest communities–and incisive and innovative policy proposals–were forwarded by forest service employees and leaders at the beginning of the twentieth century.

And then the Cold War hit and these brilliant people were just hunted down for their “incorrect thought” and fully removed from jobs, public discourse, etc. in the US.

What I didn’t realize completely until some new professors started arriving in the Soc Dept at UO is that there are people still taking up the mantle of the decades-long holy crusade against alternative thought and research. Maybe it’s just in the interest of career self-promotion, but they’re full-on crusaders none the less. And they’re not necessarily Beltway neocons.

It’s helpful to get a better understanding of the swampy pitfalls of American worklife, and know where your friends and the opportunities to do good work are. And it makes me more interested in working with folks outside of the US.


Marx voted top thinker

Higgins, Charlotte. “Marx voted top thinker.” The Guardian, Thursday, July 14, 2005.

In a shock result, Karl Marx has been voted the greatest ever philosopher following a poll by Melvyn Bragg’s Radio 4 show In Our Time.

In the public’s poll, which assessed 20 philosophers, Marx, author of the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, got 27.93% of the 30,000 votes. In second place came David Hume with 12.67%, followed by Ludwig Wittgenstein with 6.8%. Plato trailed in fifth place and Socrates at eighth.

capitalist corruption: the NIH doesn’t work for the public

Original reporting by DONALD G. McNEIL Jr. “Review Finds Scientists With Ties to Companies.” Published in The New York Times: July 15, 2005.

Following disclosures that some government researchers were paid thousands of dollars by drug makers, in February NIH agency director Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni banned all consulting deals between agency researchers and drug or biotechnology companies. For the agency’s top scientists, he also forbade owning shares in such companies, accepting gifts worth more than $200 and accepting many research prizes. The rules are not final because Dr. Zerhouni has been concerned that the NIH could lose scientists for not allowing them to profit by drug connections. House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders are urging him to make the rules final.

Since the ban, the government-paid scientists’ conduct has been investigated. Forty-four government scientists have violated ethics rules on collaborating with pharmaceutical companies, a preliminary review by the National Institutes of Health shows. The institutes’ review found that the 44 scientists had either failed to disclose income from outside work, had failed to get permission to consult or had done the work on government time rather than their own.

Nine of the scientists may have violated criminal laws, the report said. The review did not describe what criminal laws might have been violated in the nine cases that were turned over to the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services. No researchers were named.

The review was outlined in a July 8 letter Dr. Zerhouni sent to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is investigating conflicts of interest by government researchers. Because the NIH is investigating 103 people who have been accused of ethics violations, Dr. Zerhouni had asked the committee to keep his letter confidential. But the Committee’s leaders – Representatives Joe L. Barton, Republican of Texas and John D. Dingell, Democrat of Michigan – said in a statement yesterday that they were releasing it because of “the compelling public interest.”

“The ethical problems are more systemic and severe than previously known,” Mr. Barton said.

Battle cry

What do sweatshop workers in Bangladesh have in common with the people who work in your local supermarket? More than you might think, writes George Galloway, Respect MP.

Battle cry for radical change

by George Galloway

The only way to make poverty history is to make the G8 history. I don’t mean simply the annual jamboree for the leaders of the world’s richest and most powerful states. I mean the whole nexus of exploitation and privilege that the G8 and its attendant institutions represent.

They are a gigantic siphon sucking up vast quantities of wealth from the poor — whether they live in the poorest countries or in the G8 states themselves. The G8 is not the solution — it is the problem.

Some of the most dangerous men in the world are in Gleneagles Hotel this week. They are responsible not only for the renewed and terrifying drive to war that characterises the start of the 21st century. They also preside over a system that is itself the biggest killer in the world.

Why does a child in Africa die every three seconds of preventable causes? Why did the tsunami last Christmas devastate so much of south and south east Asia? Because the people there are poor. There is no other reason.

And why are they poor? It’s because a tiny number of people standing at the head of the multinational corporations that bestraddle the globe are obscenely rich.

Not enough

We assembled in Edinburgh, London and many other places at the weekend to make poverty history. But it’s not enough.

You can’t get slim by eating low fat chocolate — it has to be part of a calorie controlled diet.

You can’t make poverty history by writing off some of the debt of some of the countries in Africa and pretending you have made up for centuries of exploitation and injustice.

Most countries in Africa are not included in even the limited debt reduction plan. Those that are included are being told they will have to privatise, deregulate and turn further towards the neo-liberal policies that are impoverishing them if they are to qualify.

Most of the world’s poor don’t live in Africa. They’ve been scandalously disregarded this week.

More than half the world lives on less than $2 a day. Cows in western Europe are subsidised by $2.40 a day. Add to that the cost of feeding the cow, and it comes to $6.40 a day. It’s a similar picture in the US.

Tony Blair and George Bush are pushing for free trade because they know that it favours the already wealthy. Forcing people in the poorest countries to open up to the world market means accelerating the conveyor belt that transfers wealth into the hands of the multinational corporations.

What does this mean in real human terms? I went to Bangladesh this year and visited a sweatshop. There were hundreds of workers, mainly girls of 15 and 16, sleeping in quadruple bunk beds in the sweatshop compound.

They work from 6am to 7pm, six days a week, for 60p a day. Most of them do not leave the compound.

Tesco jeans

What were they making? Tesco jeans. They made hundreds of pairs every day for Tesco, which made £2,000 million profit last year selling things that other people make.

How are their profits that huge? Through the exploitation of workers in Britain, the exploitation of suppliers at the lowest margin and the exploitation of workers abroad, like in the sweatshops in Bangladesh.

Poverty at home and poverty abroad are connected — there is no separation. The hard pressed worker in a Tesco supermarket or depot, deprived of the basic right to sick pay, may not be on the edge of starvation — but they share a common bond with the girl in the sweatshop in Bangladesh.

Did Tesco behave illegally? No. What they are doing is their duty — to maximise profits for shareholders. They are behaving like upstanding capitalists.

In fact, shoring up their power means turning to far more direct methods of killing people.

War and capitalism are interlinked. We are unlucky to live under two of the worst leaders in the world — the messianic, fundamentalist Tony Blair… and George Bush.

But that isn’t the reason for war. War comes from capitalism.

There are five Arabian Gulf countries containing vast amounts of oil, which is very important to the US. It has 4 percent of the world’s population but consumes 25 percent of its energy.

Puppet presidents

That oil is too valuable to be left to Johnny Foreigner. Puppet presidents and corrupt kings might fall to leaders who would kick the US out, oppose Israel and use their money to develop their own countries.

They might also stop buying the West’s arms. In September the arms dealers will be coming to an arms fair in east London.

They’ll sell weapons to dictators who in future our government might oppose, and send British soldiers to fight and die against weapons sold by British arms companies and paid for by the British taxpayer under the export credit guarantee department.

In the old days you had plain, naked imperialism. We went in and took everything we could carry.

In Africa we took people too, in holds of ships to become slaves. Then there came a time when the colonies said, “We want to become independent and free.” Now we are returning to the colonies we were driven out of.

The most significant of these is Iraq. We cannot go on like this. We have to change course, not only abroad, but also at home. For the same disastrous policies are being inflicted on people here in Britain.

It is possible

Take something as fundamental as housing. Constituents are coming to my surgery in Tower Hamlets every week with appalling problems of overcrowding, unfit conditions and endless waiting lists.

The neo-liberal answer from the government and local council is to privatise what is left of the council housing stock. The ineluctable result will be tenants made more insecure and more exploited as they are put at the mercy of private companies.

That will make it easier for millionaires in the City and Canary Wharf to get their hands on the land and housing, completing a process of social cleansing of the East End.

What’s modern about that? What’s Labour about that? This year marks the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Within a few years this country built a vast number of council houses to make good the destruction of the Blitz and end the slum conditions of the 1930s.

Now, with the country much richer, why isn’t it possible to have just such a building programme today?

Of course it’s possible. Just as it’s possible to have a minimum wage set at the European decency threshold.

To accomplish any of this we need two things. The very fact that the issue of world poverty has been put on the agenda of the G8 summit meeting at all is testimony to the tremendous movement to oppose corporate globalisation and war we have built over the last six years.

Unaccountable figures

There are those who want to derail this movement, to blunt its radical edge, take it off the streets and transform it into a handful of unaccountable figures seeking crumbs from the rich and powerful on behalf of the mass of suffering people in the world.

That way lies disaster. No good has ever come of supplicating the likes of Bush and Blair. Progress has only ever come through the mass of people struggling for it.

Confronted with just such pressures to demobilise at the critical moment of the black civil rights movement in the 1960s, Martin Luther King said the key thing was “to keep the movement moving”. We should heed those words today.

The second thing people are crying out for in Britain is political representatives who are of the movement and who seek to crack the neo-liberal consensus of the main parties.

I’ve just been part of an immensely successful speaking tour organised by the Respect party. We held some of the biggest political meetings for many years in towns, cities and at union conferences.

At each there was tremendous enthusiasm for what Respect has to say. The rallies helped breathe life into dozens of local campaigns and the G8 mobilisation.

They were also a significant step forward towards our goal of mounting a major challenge at next May’s council elections.

In shaking up the cosy political consensus at the general election, Respect has added to the sense of revolt in Britain.

We have drawn together pensioner activists, students, immigrant communities, trade unionists, anti-debt campaigners, anti-war activists —people who have been shut out of official politics.

We are a work in progress and we are a vehicle for radical change. The most pressing problem we have is that we are not big enough. You can do something about that.

The last living sensible Anglo American politician


George Galloway’s historic speech is given in its entirety below.

George Galloway, British MP:

It is a misunderstanding created by circumstances that I am interested only in Middle Eastern affairs–notably the struggle for self determination of the Palestinian people and against the horrific effects of sanctions and war on the Iraqi people during Saddam’s vile dictatorship.

I have been, of course, passionately engaged in these issues but my interest in opposing all forms of imperialism – including the fashionable neo-liberal version of Mr Blair – arises from a deep patriotism about my own islands.

Empire resulted in the cruelty and oppression of millions outside these islands but it also helped to sustain the power of a ruling elite whose basic greed and sometimes malice, where it was not mere indifference and incompetence, oppressed its own people first before it turned its gaze on peoples of different hue and faith.

Caring about the Middle East is merely a reflection of my deep sense of moral responsibility as a Briton for the dabblings in the region by irresponsible, greedy and incompetent officials over many years.

We have opposing us, a surprisingly small national elite that hangs on to power generation after generation by capturing every popular movement of resistance and turning it into a junior club member. In the Middle Ages, Wat Tyler’s head was struck off by the King. Today, he would be put in charge of some regulatory Quango.

Empire builders

It is to the credit of Labour that it took nearly a hundred years for its body and soul to be captured so that it could start to expel radicals such as myself, but it is a process that started with the National Government of Ramsey Macdonald and has concluded with that of Tony Blair.

This is the same elite network that once turned its back on Irish Home Rule and thereby split these islands into two, that almost bankrupted the nation to keep high the financial profits of empire-builders and that, when empire proved untenable, sold us, the people, out to a former colony as its aircraft carrier.

These rulers of ours would have been on a plane out of the country or deep in bunkers when the rest of us fried as America’s forward base if there had been a misjudgement in the sixty year war on communism. We owe them nothing.

We, in turn, have been complicit in the deaths of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands or millions, of Asians and Africans since 1945 and we have heard not a word of protest from our ruling family, our media proprietors and the profit-takers in the City.

Harold Wilson did his best and kept us out of Vietnam whereas Tony Blair reflected on thirty years of slow absorption into North American culture, society and economics and responded with his slavish political obeisance to the White House.

Homicidal war

The public is unaware, because it is convenient to some that they should not be aware, that I was condemning Saddam Hussein when he was backed by the anti-communist West in his homicidal war against Iran and using chemical weapons supplied by our Allies.

I met Saddam Hussein twice, the same number of times that Donald Rumsfeld met him.

The difference is that Rumsfeld met him to sell his regime guns and gas and to give them the maps necessary to target them while I met him to try and avert suffering sanctions and war.

If I have said words which taken out of context have upset some people, I refuse to forget that context.

If I appeared to flatter a dictator, I was not. My praise was for the courage, strength and indefatigability of the Iraqi people not their dictator – qualities which have had to be demonstrated all too often in the near decade since I made those remarks I could not oust this Dictator so my first duty was to help his people where I could.


Let’s not forget that the real crimes of Saddam Hussein against his people were largely committed during a period when he was a client and ally of the west; and when I was protesting against him. Most of the suffering of Iraqis in the last decade and more has been inflicted by the White House and Number Ten Downing Street.

So what do I believe in?

Well, first of all, I believe that sovereignty lies in the people and that the English Revolution of 1688 lies unfinished.

Second, that the State should be the servant of the people, transparent and accountable.

Third, that the Defence of the Realm should mean Defence of the People of these islands and not defence of the State or the promotion of special interests in hock to foreign powers.

A strong defence force should not be expended on foreign adventures. No British son should die on foreign shores unless the threat is direct and material to these islands or, as a volunteer, he has signed up to humanitarian action under international law.

Cavalier attitude

These three beliefs alone have placed me on a collision course with a State where monarchical power, cloaked in Parliamentary democracy, has simply been transferred to a Prime Minister whose monomaniacal vision of global intervention, whose cavalier attitude to international law and whose willingness to make sacrifices of other parent’s sons is carried out unquestioningly by a loyal State without moral compass.

Politics today can be boiled down to this issue of the morality and legitimacy of the State.

These beliefs, now shared by many others, have been crystallised by a major grassroots peace movement that covered all shades of opinion on social and economic matters within one grand coalition of dissent.

It was a movement of anger at the pride and arrogance of the State and of the elite behind it, an anger that grew with the contempt shown for its views by Government, with the treatment of Dr David Kelly and with the sleazy contempt for the facts over WMD.

This movement expresses the best of Britain – it is tolerant of difference, it is co-operative, it is enterprising, it is internationalist.

The so-called war on terrorism is indicative of the elite’s strategy of creating tension between communities but not in an obvious way. It is to the credit of the Government that it has not and almost certainly will not use the sort of cheap anti-Muslim populism that is common in Europe.

State terrorism

Instead, it seeks to impose authoritarian and deeply suspect laws to control dissent, freedom of movement and the right to free expression – the war is against the thinking political community, whether Muslim, socialist, libertarian, patriotic, radical or liberal.

These controls on liberty which have been put in place in a time of economic plenty can be used to disturbing effect in a time of economic scarcity.

But let me be clear about this, I condemn terrorism as an instrument of policy.

But with this caveat that, for me, terrorism is the use of force, violence and subversion against civilians and political activists by whoever is wielding the weaponry. State terrorism, including illegal war, puts the terrorism of such organised ideological criminals as al-Qaida into context, as two sides of the same evil coin.

I will not condemn the just war of populations of occupied territories when they resist, in any way that they can, uninvited invaders on to their sovereign soil – the moral rights of the Sioux, the heroes of Warsaw and the Russian Partisan were and are inviolate in this respect. It is a right we have not had to invoke on our own soil for some considerable time.

Arrogant war leader

Arguments about bringing progress to benighted savages did not wash in the nineteenth century and they do not wash now.

I am motivated by two other important beliefs not always accentuated because those who joined me in this antiwar, anti-occupation movement against an arrogant War Leader need not have shared my Leftist ideology. However, these two beliefs will always guide my political action:

* that working people create their own society through collective action from below; and

* that exploitation of labour will always exist and needs community action to correct it through active redistribution of wealth and power.

This was at the root of my throwing in my lot with the Labour Party more than thirty years ago and of my distress at its departure from those ideals. I have fought a losing battle to stay a democratic socialist inside Labour and it is on record that it expelled me and I did not leave it.

But I am not going to hang around outside Labour’s door waiting to be let in. History will not wait. Times have changed. Bevan and Foot were expelled in serious debates on policy which they could fight again another day.

Bloody revolutionists

I was expelled as a result of a manoeuvre by a faction that had captured the Party in a coup and then fixed the rules so that serious policy debate was impossible unless personal permission came from the Wolf’s Lair. I now see that traditional British socialism is not dead but is in danger, being poisoned by stealth.

My socialism is the same socialism that inherited the radical democratic triumphs of the nineteenth century and, working alongside the great Liberal politicians of the turn of the last century, created the welfare state and a national economic infrastructure that was intended to be in the service of the people.

My socialism is not that of ” bloody revolutionists ” or foreign ideological importations. It is rooted in this land and in its traditions of liberty, dissent, co-operativism and trades union action and it is open to every freeborn British person , every faith, all men and women on equal terms.

Politics is about schools, hospitals, roads and jobs as well as about grand theories of democracy, rights, foreign affairs and free trade.

In the drive for the latter on a global stage, New Labour has lost its bearings on national service provision and has turned a vigorous tradition of national democracy into a pale pink ersatz global version for the consumption of foreign elites. In short, we are in danger of losing our freedoms and rights to help foreign elites join an increasingly exclusive international club.

This is not good enough.

Bloodless war

The national politicisation of the anti-war movement is now a necessary next stage in our own bloodless war of national liberation. The reality of the movement means that what we create must operate at two levels.

The first level requires steps towards a mass unifying movement of grassroots radicals to hobble the State, bring it under popular control and complete an unfinished radical democratic revolution. This level will unite Muslims, Christians and Jews, socialists, liberal and conservatives, men, women and the disadvantaged of all types in one movement of democratic liberation.

This is the movement launched in the Quaker’s Friends House in London’s Euston Road on October 29th 2003 and which will fight New Labour in the European elections and the elections to the Greater London Assembly next June.

The second tier is where the battle for ideas and souls will take place in a People’s Britain.

In that battle, I will remain what I have always been – a radical democratic socialist in the Labour tradition – but until power is decentralised and returned to the people, I will work with anyone who shares those first tier values because we need nothing less than a revolution in our national political life.

May 18, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink