Sustainable tourism – a rare example

In general, if someone is trying to sell you something worthy, it’s worth substituting the word ‘bollocks’ for the word ‘sustainable’. This is particularly true when it comes to tourism. In South Africa, for instance, sustainable tourism is the experience of driving across land that once used to belong to black people, on which they are now less welcome than the giraffes you’re there to see. When activists try to step out of this kind of ugliness by putting ourselves at the disposal of local social movements when travelling, we invariably cause more harm than good, diverting scarce resources to the tasks of babysitting, and chaperoning while shopping.

Continue reading

Feminist economists sing the blues

Not all economists are humourless apologists for the rich. From the feminist economics network comes this chronicle of a flash mob, at a post-Inside Job discussion. Admittedly, the internet has better examples of flash mobs, with better tunes and, frankly, better singing. But the sentiment’s right on, and the organization behind it eminently sensible. Check out Make Wall Street Pay, and get ready for some toe curling below the fold. Continue reading

Hippocrates Reloaded

“Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Medicine Be Thy Food.” Hippocrates offered that wisdom over two thousand years ago. Tried and tested though it is, it’s an old maxim and one with which the public is perhaps too familiar. Luckily, the good people in the life sciences have decided that to reboot the Hippocratic franchise, with new characters and better marketing.

Continue reading

What is British Nature Worth?

The British government has just released a report on the value of ‘ecosystemic services’ in the UK. Nature, it seems, is worth billions. Live close to green space, and the health benefits to you are worth nearly $500. The total benefits to the British public of living near wetlands or the coast – over $2 billion. The services provided by pollinators: $700 million.

Continue reading

The Spanish Revolt

The series of posts that used to be prefaced with “FYI” is now up on my Twitter stream (apologies to the one respondent who didn’t think I should tweet, but I’ll make it up to you, Phil, promise). In following the thread around the revolts in Spain, though, I came across Not Yet Dead NYC, a feminist reading group in New York City. No idea who runs it, but they’ve a great report from the joyful streets in Spain, and also a fine caution about the prospects and possibilities of the Spanish Revolution…

Continue reading

Yo, Tweeps

I’ve been persuaded by @NaomiStarkman @civileater @HavenBourque and @TomPhilpott that I ought really to spend more time on Twitter. It’s an experiment that I’ll start soon, in earnest, if there’s demand. But in the meantime, if you’re on Twitter and want to hear me tweet, let me know. I’m @_RajPatel.

Academic update

Last week, I had the great pleasure of meeting and throwing ideas around with Michael Hardt, the author of, among other things, Empire, Multitude and Commonwealth all written with Antonio Negri. I once had some unkind things to say about Empire, which I wince to read now – being a graduate student brought out the worst point-scoring debater in me. But the reason that Empire kicked off a trilogy of books is because Hardt and Negri were also unsatisfied. To my mind, the trilogy has worked. Their thoughts have been honed over their collaboration and certainly have shrugged off the criticisms I lobbed a decade ago. You can watch our conversation at the Taft Center at the University of Cincinnati when it’s uploaded, likely in the next few weeks. It has been a long time since I had a discussion in which ideas whizzed around so freely, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Continue reading