Monday, 29 August 2011

'Democracy' - what does it mean, and how can we all get some?

Check out my new piece on Talking Philosophy:

My new book!:

Over fifteen years have passed since Cora Diamond and James Conant turned Wittgenstein scholarship upside down with the program of "resolute" reading, and ten years since this reading was crystallized in the major collection The New Wittgenstein.

Showcasing one piece alternately from each "camp", Beyond the Tractatus Wars: The New Wittgenstein Debate (edited by Rupert Read and Matthew A. Lavery) pairs newly commissioned pieces addressing differing views on how to understand early Wittgenstein, providing for the first time an arena in which the debate between "strong" resolutists, "mild" resolutists and "elucidatory" readers of the book can really take place.

Request a complimentary e-inspection copy


Thursday, 25 August 2011

Joining 'Talking Philosophy' blog

This very-well-read blog has signed me up as its newest regular contributor  :-)
Here's my first contribution thereto in this capacity, on 'green philosophy' in the context of the philosophical canon:


An intriguing and dismaying excerpt from the Guardian's live blog on Libya, concerning our ex-MP here in Norwich Souh and his own closeness to the (now utterly discredited and ousted) Gaddafi regime:   [ ]

>> 7.05pm: Luke Harding has...surveyed the now derelict residence of Britain's ambassador in Libya, which was trashed and looted in March while Gaddafi's soldiers looked on. Among the debris he found signs of the dubiuously close relationship between the ousted dictator and the UK's former New Labour governments:

"The once-attractive art deco building was today a spectacularly gutted ruin. Fire had completely razed the ground floor; debris covered the sweeping marble staircase. All that was left of Her Majesty's billiard table was a charred frame. Pieces of Minton bone china and the bottom of a Whittard teapot lay next to a ravaged dishwasher.

Osama Mohamad, a marine scientist whose son witnessed the destruction, said that Gaddafi's officials had encouraged locals to destroy and rob the property. Osama said he was disappointed by Britain's close relationship with Gaddafi, and by the invitation to Libya's ambassador – subsequently withdrawn – to attend Prince William's wedding. "Gaddafi's been a dictator for 42 years. I don't accept it. I accept it from Italy but not from Britain," he said. He added: "Tony Blair is an adviser to Gaddafi. It's strange."

There was also a menu from a dinner given in honour of Charles Clarke – a sign of Britain's dubiously warm relations with Tripoli under the last Labour government. Clarke enjoyed spiced pumpkin soup with "pan-friend Dentishi" and "North African lamb with couscous and mixed vegetables." The then Labour minister [was also] served a bottle of Chablis grand cru, as well as coffee and truffles."



Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The politics of money - or the money of politics.

My latest piece on framing and values, published today:

Monday, 22 August 2011

My letter on Syria in INDEPENDENT

Just found out that I had a letter in last week's INDY  :-)
Scroll down for it.
Here's the text (and the letter that followed it)...

Syria shells its own people

Years ago, I spent some time in Lattakia. It is a pleasant, bustling seaside town, where one can enjoy typical Syrian hubbly-bubbly cafés, swim in the Med, and so on. Or rather, it was. Now, incredibly, Lattakia is being shelled, day after day, from both land and sea.

How many more outrages is it going to take before the UN Security Council issues a clear condemnation of the Syrian government for criminal violence against its own people? And before our own government and the EU put serious sanctions in place against all Syrian businesses with any connections to the Assad regime?

Rupert Read, East of England Green Party Co-ordinator, Norwich

The murder and mayhem in Syria continue despite vocal condemnation by Britain and other countries. When is H M Government going to demonstrate its outrage – rather than merely talk about it – by, say, expelling the Syrian ambassador to Britain or recalling Britain's ambassador to Syria, and encouraging other countries to do similarly.

Clive Hyman, London NW11

... I am hopeful now, with Gaddafi on his knees, that Assad will be next... but the Syrian people need our support... Please write to your MP, etc.
Rupert Read
Green Party East of England Co-ordinator.
[If you have an urgent email for me while I am away from a regular computer, you may wish to try contacting me instead on rupertread+mob AT]
WHY NOT FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER?: (my 'politician' account) AND on (my 'personal' account).

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Beyond the Tractus Wars

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Green Councillors ask Audit Commission to investigate £170,000 unauthorised spending by Council Chiefs

Big news here. It's on Radio Norfolk and the EDP today.

What's happening is that Green Party councillors have asked the Audit Commission to investigate whether chief officers at Norfolk County Council acted legitimately in spending at least £170,000 of public money between 2008 and 2011 on planning preparation costs that benefitted a private company, without first obtaining formal authorisation from elected Councillors(1).

The work relates to a joint planning application between Norfolk County Council and Ifield Estates Ltd for a business park (Broadland Gate) and a County road scheme (the 'Postwick Hub', a key element of a Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NDR))(2) .  On 17 August, Broadland District Council Planning Committee intends re-confirming the original planning permission given in December 2009(3).

A good friend of mine, County Councillor Andrew Boswell, Green Party spokesperson for Environment, Transport and Waste has said:

"Taxpayers expect their money to be spent in an accountable and transparent way, with large expenditures fully agreed by Councillors.  I am very concerned that a sizeable sum of money has been spent by the Council with benefits to a private company and only authorised by an officer.  Norfolk taxpayers will think this takes powers delegated to chief officers too far. With a District Auditor investigation pending, it would be inappropriate for Broadland District Council to reconfirm planning permission for Broadland Gate and Postwick Hub on 17 August."

Furthermore, Green Party City Councillor Denise Carlo has said:

"Norfolk County Council officers have used public money to carry out and pay for planning works for a property developer as part of their back door efforts to obtain planning permission for Postwick Hub, the first stage of a Norwich Northern Distributor Road (4).  Ifield Estates Ltd stands to make substantial profits from outline planning permission on the back of public funds" (5). Norfolk should stop squandering millions of pounds of public money on Postwick Hub and a NDR whilst cutting vital public services. 

Invoices of the project obtained by the Councillors also show that £100,000 of public money has already been spent on rerouting cables owned Virgin Media, Cable and Wireless, and BT even though the Government has not given the go ahead for the Postwick gyratory ('Hub') scheme(6). 



1.  A copy of the letter and appendices (20 pages) to the Audit Commission from Cllrs Boswell and Carlo accompanies this media release along with a spreadsheet with details of hundreds of invoices paid on the project.

The Head of Finance at Norfolk County Council acknowledges that a decision was taken by a chief officer, the Director of Environment, Transport and Waste, to fund the consultancy work that benefitted of Ifield Estates Ltd. (Appendix 2, page 9).  

Norfolk County Council agreed in 2008 to make a joint planning application, but councillors did not agree to fund any of field Estates Ltd planning costs. 

2.   In early 2009, Norfolk County Council and Ifield Estates Ltd submitted a joint planning application to Broadland District Council comprising an outline application for a business park (Broadland Gate) and a detailed application for major road infrastructure (Postwick Hub). The business park sits within a complex gyratory ('hub')  arrangement of link roads and junctions. 

3.  Broadland District Council gave planning consent to Broadland Gate/Postwick Hub in December 2009. It allowed up to ten years for submission of a full planning application for Broadland Gate.  Lothbury Investment Management Ltd, developer of Broadland Business Park Phases 1 and 2 took legal action in 2010.  Broadland DC has accepted that the process was flawed and in June 2011 announced that the High Court would quash planning permission, but that the district council would re-confirm planning permission at the earliest opportunity once the High Court had signed the paperwork. 

4.  According to the application, Postwick Hub is required to provide access capacity for Broadland Gate. However, Norfolk County Council's real purpose is to construct the first stage of a Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NDR) and open up land for major housing and employment growth to the north-east of Norwich, even though developers involved have stated that growth is not dependent on a NDR/Postwick Hub.  By applying to a local planning authority for an access road serving a business park, the County has avoided a public inquiry into its County road scheme. In a letter dated 27 March 2009, the Department for Transport described Postwick Hub as 'significantly over-engineered' without the NDR in place.

5.  The annual balance sheets for Ifield Estate Ltd for 2008 to 2011 show a company with a small turnover, negative assets and no track record.  The company's annual average administration costs are less than £5,000.  This is an exceedingly low figure for a multi million business park project and suggests that another party has been undertaking and paying for some of the company's work.

6.  Two years ago, Norfolk County Council had clocked up at least £10 million on NDR work since 2001.  There has been additional public spending on Postwick Hub. A list of invoices supplied by Norfolk County Council to Green Party councillors (attached) shows expenditure of £1,880,514 on consultants on the Postwick Hub growth point between 2007 and 2011.  £100,000 has already been spent on rerouting fibre cables owned Virgin Media, Cable and Wireless and BT even though the Government has not given the go ahead for the Postwick gyratory scheme. These numbers do not included public money spent internally at County Hall on staff costs and project overheads.    

Why are the riots happening?: The ignored report sitting on the Met's website that indicates the possible consequences of Operation Trident

It was very striking in Cameron's first speech responding to the riots and looting ( ) that there was not one word – not one – about why this violence may be happening. Cameron was happy to enunciate very clearly that "If you are old enough to commit these crimes, you are old enough to face the punishment", which appears to me to be an incitement to jail children however young they be; but he said literally nothing about why these crimes are taking place.

This is a complete failure of thought and of leadership. Come back Lord Scarman and 'Hezza', all is forgiven?…

Why is the violence happening and spreading? Why is so much criminality so easily sparked? As has been argued fairly convincingly over at LeftFootForward ( ), it is simply not enough to talk about 'copycat' violence. Why is the copying occurring? And what exactly is being copied?

Hypothesis: Part of the copying is not just of other rioters and looters. It is of the rich. As Sunny Hundal put it, here ( "rich people do go out looting; they just do so in other ways." Some of the copying that is going on, I would hypothesize, is of massively wealthy law-breakers and corrupt individuals and companies, be they in tax-evading corporations, in the media, (in) the banks, in Parliament itself, etc. . A society that projects unattainable images of wealth and opulence and then is surprised that, at a time of government cuts to community centres etc., there are lots of young people prepared to risk jail or worse to get their hands on a plasma-screen TV -- or just to thumb their noses at society at large, at get their 5 minutes of fame -- is a society that deliberately is refusing to know itself.

This is how and why a respectable protest against police brutality can morph into a far bigger wave of disorder and disaster.

My philosophical colleague Dr. Phil Hutchinson made some of these points 7 years ago, in a report (see the Appendix to this Met Police report) which you can still find on the Met website!:

His argument that Operation Trident is racist made the front page of the Indy at the time (albeit the reporting on his arguments there was of very poor quality); but his report and his recommendations were greeted with great hostility by the police, and were ignored by politicians.

It is likely that Operation Trident played a substantive hand in starting this trouble in Tottenham, as a BBC reporter put directly to Simon Hughes on TV earlier today. But it did this not just by being a racist targetting of black people, but also, more broadly, by sequestering off 'the black community' as a 'them' and not part of 'us', thereby making it easier for their problems and aspirations (e.g. for what society tells us all is a desirable level of material wealth) to be ignored … at the same time as our society has ruthlessly stoked materialism and generated the fantastic levels of inequality whose natural consequences (in terms of alienation, desire to emulate the rich in terms of material consumption, reduced levels of trust and mutual care, etc.) have lately been documented for instance in THE SPIRIT LEVEL.

Take a look at the key relevant sections of Hutchinson's report: e.g. p.73 (3.11 & 3.12); p.74 (3.16 & 3.17(; p.85f. (Section 7 as a whole). Operation Trident has long been a repugnant mistake, an open wound, an accident waiting to happen: waiting to light a tinderbox.

In sum: Racism seems to have played a significant role in the police shooting that started all this off. Racism and social exclusion is endemic to Operation Trident in a far-wider sense too; in this sense, indeed, Operation Trident is simply symptomatic of elite ideas and practices in a society whose materialism and race- and class- hierarchies generate widespread cynicism and a sense that the only principle that needs respecting is the pursuit of personal profit, whatever the wider costs. The rioters and looters are copying, emulating the practices of the thieves - the banksters, the corrupt politicians, the corporate tax-evaders, the non-doms, the law-breaking media moguls etc. - who are lauded as the' leaders' (sic.) of our (in many ways, indeed) sick society...

The police, the government, and all those who have stoked a rampantly inegalitarian materialist culture bear some responsibility for the disgraceful and repellent looting and destruction that is at present consuming several parts of our country.

'Consuming': much as in rampant out-of-control consumerism…

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Long Live The Arab Revolutions!

Inspiring demo for Syrian democracy yesterday afternoon outside the Syrian embassy in London. (I gave a short speech which was well-received.) Long live the Arab revolutions!

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1. 2. 3. Rupert's Read: August 2011 4. 12. 15. 18. 19. 20. 21.

Rupert's Read

22. 23. 31. 32.