Sunday, November 21, 2004

Bristol: Most Green & Most Violent

In today’s Observer there are a couple of articles that mention Bristol. In one it is noted as the best place to be Green. Which is pretty cool, I was, however disappointed with the 'usual suspects' looks at why our city is so Eco: The article mentions the Soil Association, Sustrans, Recycling Consortium, At-Bristol and Future West. The last two raised my eyebrow; At-Bristol is a tourist attraction sponsored by a multinational that can boast the longest running boycott campaign; Nestle. While the other is an arms company, BAE, currently up to its neck is slush fund allegations. That is neither green nor ethical. And Future West? Apparently they have gone belly up. It is also annoying that such articles always take a top-down approach in trying to imply that it is the organisations that are changing the city. I do not think it is that simple. You also need to factor in the pressure that the many activists and radical political groups in the city put into pushing society towards a greener future.

The next mention was in about to alcohol related violence. This mention is not quite so flattering: Of the ten of the areas with the highest levels of violent offences per 1,000 population: Central Bristol was first with 54 incidents. Nice. I would recommend reading the blistering attack on the Government and the alcohol lobby by Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark; "...we are not cosmopolitan as we throw back another breezer. We are under the influence of a rapacious drinks industry and a greedy, spineless government."

Plus: A couple of other things that I find interesting from the papers;

There was an interview with Sir Martin Sorrell, head of WPP, one of the biggest ad firms in the world. He gives in unvarnished capitalist view of something very interesting: communism. He is one of a number of high-powered commentators who offer breathless praise for China's marriage of communism and capitalism; "It's the fastest growing, most interesting, least bureaucratic place around. I'm talking about China and its system of state-directed capitalism. People in the US and UK don't really understand that China is the equivalent to four or five USAs, a place where, for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, they are investing $45bn in infrastructure." He goes on quoting figures and info about market share - never once does he mention the brutal, repressive and undemocratic government there. It seems that many in the elite capitalist class have come clean and are breaking with the PR spin that capitalism needs democracy. Here we see the reality - a state that does not have to even pretend to respond to the people (he calls it 'least bureaucratic') and so can allow the unfettered pursuit of money without boundaries imposed by the environmental concerns or morality. Hurrah!

Also of interest was an article in which the ideas of evolutionary biology are being employed by the Pentagon to help build a system to predict war and terrorism. The irony that evolution, while being forced from schools in the US, can find a home in the same empire's military is not lost on me.

No comments: