Archive for April, 2014

Handmade, No Sweat – David Garner – 2009

David Garner is an award winning artist originally from Ebbw Vale
His work is radical and political. I like this installation “Handmade, No Sweat” (2009),
for several obvious reasons related to capitalist exploitation of un-developed countries and child labour, and a satirical swipe at consumerism, materialism and the worship of commodities, but I also like it because of recognising the knitting patterns (inside the Yurt) for young children’s and toddler’s clothes that transport me back to the time when my Mam and my Nan used to make virtually ALL the clothes for me and my Sister.
I still have nightmares about a purple striped cardigan… {{{shiver}}},_No_Sweat.html

Handmade, No Sweat     2009        (213cm x 132cm)

(Small Yurt, Welsh woollen blankets, knitted children’s clothes, rag rug, knitted patterns, felted blanket with knitting needles, yarn)

Art Against Oil Info graphic

(click the link above) Proof that even though BP sponsorship as a percentage of income is microscopic, the fossil fuel industry has MASSIVE influence on the main Art institutions of Britain.


At the end of 2011, BP announced a £10 million sponsorship deal for four of London’s flagship cultural institutions over a five year period. The Culture Clash infographic shows pie charts of the four institutions – Tate, British Museum, Royal Opera House and the National Portrait gallery and breaks down their total 2013 budget according into public funding, trusts, commerce etc alongside the average that each institution would receive from BP if the money was allocated equally over the course of the five years i.e. £500,000 a year.

The research shows that using the £500,000 figure, BP’s sponsorship money represents:

  • 0.3% of Tate’s total income
  • 0.4% of the British Museum’s total income
  • 0.5% of the Royal Opera House’s total income
  • 2.9% of the National Portrait Gallery’s total income.

For the last two and a half years Tate has been involved in a Freedom of Information struggle over its refusal to disclose information over details and discussions over its sponsorship relationship with BP. Despite a ruling from the Information Commissioner in May that Tate was breaking information law on a number of counts in not revealing information regarding to sponsorship discussions, Tate has appealed and the tribunal hearing is likely to place in September 2014.

All figures based on 2013 annual reports.

Based on research by Mel Evans

Design by Hannah Davey

Additional input by Jane Trowell and Kevin Smith

– See more at:

Over 900 people have read this item in United Valleys Action Group

Over 900 people have read this item in United Valleys Action Group
Please keep sharing!
Expose the shortfall that has the potential to ruin a county.

Photographer Nigel Pugh 24 April.

Within the era of scientifically accepted ‘we are the cause of climate change and global warming’ and its inevitable consequences, can we afford new and further exploitation of fossil fuels?

“The world possesses the tools and technology needed to reduce carbon emissions, build a more sustainable economy and end our reliance on fossil fuels.”

Currently Wales and the UK are awash with a tide of new fossil fuel exploitation, shale gas, coal bed methane and new open cast coal mines.
So often cited as bridging to renewables, or replacing imported fossil fuels.

(FYI – I’m the one in the home made zombie mask holding up my  red sign)


Horde of oily Vikings protest at BP sponsorship at British Museum

Viking exhibition hit by surprise protest performance about “looting and pillaging” oil company

Museum-goers applaud as marauding “BP Vikings” ejected from Museum

Today, theatrical protest group the Reclaim Shakespeare Company invaded the British Museum and held a surprise performance challenging BP’s sponsorship of the popularVikings exhibition.

Inequality and Capitalism in the Long Run (November 3, 2011)

Published on Aug 15, 2013
THOMAS PIKETTY, Professor of Economics at EHESS (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales) and at the Paris School of Economics

Sponsor: Social Exclusion and Inclusion Study Group co-sponsored by the Seminar on State and Capitalism since 1800 and the Seminar on French Politics, Culture and Society

Let us not play the populist media game of diverting us from what really matters; inequality. This is the great trick of the “Society of the Spectacle”.

I’ve heard about, and now downloaded this new book that has taken America by storm and is No.1 in Amazon books. I, being tight and anti-capitalist, pilfered the book using The Pirate Bay 😉

Review programme about the book
Book Title: Capital in the Twenty-First Century Book Author: Thomas Piketty
Product Details
Book Title: Capital in the Twenty-First Century
Book Author: Thomas Piketty (Author), Arthur Goldhammer (Translator)
Hardcover: 696 pages (This pdf version has 605 pages, including the covers)
Publisher: Belknap Press; First Edition edition (March 10, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 067443000X
ISBN-13: 978-0674430006
Book Description
What are the grand dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy. But satisfactory answers have been hard to find for lack of adequate data and clear guiding theories. In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. His findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality.
Piketty shows that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have allowed us to avoid inequalities on the apocalyptic scale predicted by Karl Marx. But we have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality as much as we thought in the optimistic decades following World War II. The main driver of inequality–the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth–today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, Piketty says, and may do so again.
A work of extraordinary ambition, originality, and rigor, Capital in the Twenty-First Century reorients our understanding of economic history and confronts us with sobering lessons for today.
A seminal book on the economic and social evolution of the planet… A masterpiece. (Emmanuel Todd Marianne)

The book of the season. (Telerama)

Outstanding… A political and theoretical bulldozer. (Mediapart)

An explosive argument. (Liberation)

In this magisterial work, Thomas Piketty has performed a great service to the academy and to the public. He has written a pioneering book that is at once thoughtful, measured, and provocative. The force of his case rests not on a diatribe or a political agenda, but on carefully collected and analyzed data and reasoned thought. The book should have a major impact on our discussions of contemporary inequality and its meaning for our democratic institutions and ideals. I can only marvel at Piketty’s discipline and rigor in researching and writing it. (Rakesh Khurana, Harvard Business School)

This book is not only the definitive account of the historical evolution of inequality in advanced economies, it is also a magisterial treatise on capitalism’s inherent dynamics. Piketty ends his book with a ringing call for the global taxation of capital. Whether or not you agree with him on the solution, this book presents a stark challenge for those who would like to save capitalism from itself. (Dani Rodrik, Institute for Advanced Study)

Anyone remotely interested in economics needs to read Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century. (Matthew Yglesias Slate 2014-02-10)

The book aims to revolutionize the way people think about the economic history of the past two centuries. It may well manage the feat…It is, first and foremost, a very detailed look at 200 years’ worth of data on the distribution of income and wealth across the rich world (with some figures for large emerging markets also included). This mountain of data allows Piketty to tell a simple and compelling story…The database on which the book is built is formidable, and it is difficult to dispute his call for a new perspective on the modern economic era, whether or not one agrees with his policy recommendations… We are all used to sneering at communism because of its manifest failure to deliver the sustained rates of growth managed by market economies. But Marx’s original critique of capitalism was not that it made for lousy growth rates. It was that a rising concentration of wealth couldn’t be sustained politically. Ultimately, those of us who would like to preserve the market system need to grapple with that sort of dynamic, in the context of the worrying numbers on inequality that Piketty presents. (The Economist 2014-01-09)

Piketty, a prominent economist, explains the tendency in mature societies for wealth to concentrate in a few hands. (Amy Merrick New Yorker 2014-02-06)

Defies left and right orthodoxy by arguing that worsening inequality is an inevitable outcome of free market capitalism…[It] suggests that traditional liberal government policies on spending, taxation and regulation will fail to diminish inequality…Without what [Piketty] acknowledges is a politically unrealistic global wealth tax, he sees the United States and the developed world on a path toward a degree of inequality that will reach levels likely to cause severe social disruption. Final judgment on Piketty’s work will come with time–a problem in and of itself, because if he is right, inequality will worsen, making it all the more difficult to take preemptive action. (Thomas B. Edsall New York Times 2014-01-28)

It is a great work, a fearsome beast of analysis stuffed with an awesome amount of empirical data, and will surely be a landmark study in economics. (The Week 2014-02-20)

Groundbreaking…The usefulness of economics is determined by the quality of data at our disposal. Piketty’s new volume offers a fresh perspective and a wealth of newly compiled data that will go a long way in helping us understand how capitalism actually works. (Christopher Matthews 2014-02-26)

A sweeping account of rising inequality…Eventually, Piketty says, we could see the reemergence of a world familiar to nineteenth-century Europeans; he cites the novels of Austen and Balzac. In this ‘patrimonial society,’ a small group of wealthy rentiers lives lavishly on the fruits of its inherited wealth, and the rest struggle to keep up…The proper role of public intellectuals is to question accepted dogmas, conceive of new methods of analysis, and expand the terms of public debate. Capital in the Twenty-first Century does all these things…Piketty has written a book that nobody interested in a defining issue of our era can afford to ignore. (John Cassidy New Yorker 2014-03-31)

It seems safe to say that Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the magnum opus of the French economist Thomas Piketty, will be the most important economics book of the year–and maybe of the decade. Piketty, arguably the world’s leading expert on income and wealth inequality, does more than document the growing concentration of income in the hands of a small economic elite. He also makes a powerful case that we’re on the way back to ‘patrimonial capitalism,’ in which the commanding heights of the economy are dominated not just by wealth, but also by inherited wealth, in which birth matters more than effort and talent. (Paul Krugman New York Times 2014-03-23)

A landmark book…which brings a ton of data to bear in reaching the commonsensical conclusion that inequality has to do with more than just blind market forces at work. (George Packer New Yorker blog 2014-03-25)

Bracing…Piketty provides a fresh and sweeping analysis of the world’s economic history that puts into question many of our core beliefs about the organization of market economies. His most startling news is that the belief that inequality will eventually stabilize and subside on its own, a long-held tenet of free market capitalism, is wrong. Rather, the economic forces concentrating more and more wealth into the hands of the fortunate few are almost sure to prevail for a very long time. (Eduardo Porter New York Times 2014-03-11)

Piketty’s new book is an important contribution to understanding what we need to do to produce more growth, wider economic opportunity and greater social stability. (David Cay Johnston Al Jazeera America 2014-03-23)

The blockbuster economics book of the season, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, argues that the great equalizing decades following World War II, which brought on the rise of the middle class in the United States, were but a historical anomaly. Armed with centuries of data, Piketty says the rich are going to continue to gobble up a greater share of income, and our current system will do nothing to reverse that trend. (Shaila Dewan New York Times Magazine 2014-03-30)

Rarely does a book come along…that completely alters the paradigm through which we frame our worldview. Thomas Piketty’s magisterial study of the structure of capitalism since the 18th century, Capital in the 21st Century, is such a book…As leaders from Pope Francis to Barack Obama have proclaimed, growing inequality is the defining issue of our time. Much indeterminate discussion has swirled around its key causes, from job-displacing technologies to wage-deflating outsourcing of jobs. Capital in the 21st Century clears up all the confused thinking and presents us with the most compelling analysis to date of the key dynamic that drives ever-increasing inequality. This book is more than a must read. It is a manual for action that provides a fresh framework for the new politics of the 21st Century. (Nathan Gardels The WorldPost 2014-03-24)

[Piketty’s] thesis is simple. The growing concentration of capital in fewer hands has enabled its owners to keep it relatively scarce and thus valuable…Continuing high inequality is socially and economically destabilizing, though it need not lead to Marx’s apocalypse. So what we need is another bout of social democracy especially in the form of progressive taxation. You many think that it doesn’t require 600 pages to get this message across. This would be wrong. The strength of Piketty’s book is his close attention to the different sources of inequality, the massive documentation underpinning his history and conclusions, and his impressive culls from sociology and literature, which exhibit the richness of ‘political economy’ compared to its thin mathematical successor that has attained such prominence…Piketty’s book is a timely intervention in the current debate about inequality and its causes. (Robert Skidelsky Prospect 2014-04-01)

Over the last decade or so, economist Thomas Piketty has made his name central to serious discussions of inequality…Piketty expands upon his empirical work of the last 10 years, while also setting forth a political theory of inequality. This last element of the book gives special attention to tax policy and makes some provocative suggestions–new and higher taxes on the very rich. (Joseph Thorndike Forbes 2014-03-26)

It’s a brilliant, surprisingly readable work that synthesizes a staggering amount of careful research to make the case that income inequality is no accident. Indeed, Piketty argues that it is a feature of capitalism itself–unless governments take action to rein in capitalism’s excesses…But the value of Piketty’s work is that it shows that capitalism’s postwar heyday–in which incomes at the bottom and the top actually converged–was a historical anomaly. Piketty’s analysis of the last two centuries makes the case that capital in its natural state does not tend to spread out or trickle down, but to concentrate in the hands of a few…He has starkly and convincingly outlined the stakes for future generations. Either we’ll have a new birth of reformed capitalism…or we’ll have wealth concentration on such a colossal scale that it will threaten the democratic order. (Ryan Cooper The Week 2014-03-25)

Thomas Piketty’s new book, Capital in the 21st Century, painstakingly details the dynamics of wealth and income inequality throughout the last two centuries, and offers a somewhat grim picture of the future of economic inequality. Along the way, Piketty also offers his theory of the cause of exploding executive pay and how we can successfully combat this destructive trend. (Matt Bruenig The Week 2014-03-20)

In Capital in the Twenty-first Century, Piketty sums up his research, tracing the history and pattern of economic inequality across a number of countries from the eighteenth century to the present, analyzing its causes, and evaluating some policy fixes. Spanning nearly 700 densely packed pages, it’s a big book in more than one sense of the word. Clearly written, ambitious in scope, rooted in economics but drawing on insights from related fields like history and sociology, Piketty’s Capital resembles nothing so much as an old-fashioned work of political economy by the likes of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, or John Maynard Keynes. But what is particularly exciting about this book is that, due to advances in technology, Piketty is able to draw on data that not only spans a substantially longer historical time frame, but is also necessarily more complete and consistent than the records earlier theorists were forced to rely on. As a result, his analysis is significantly more comprehensive than those of his predecessors–and easily as persuasive…Capital is a consistently engrossing read, encompassing topics including the stunning comeback that inherited wealth has made in today’s advanced economies, the dubiousness of the economic theory that a worker’s wage is equal to his or her marginal productivity, the moral insidiousness of meritocratic justifications of inequality, and more. But the book’s major strength lies in Piketty’s ability to see the big picture. His original and rigorously well-documented insights into the deep structures of capitalism show us how the dynamics of capital accumulation have played out historically over the past three centuries, and how they’re likely to develop in the century to come…America’s twenty-first-century inequality crisis is, if anything, even more daunting and complex than the one we experienced a century ago. But as Piketty reminds us, the solutions to this problem are political, and they lie within our grasp. Should Americans choose to deploy those solutions, not only would we be doing the right thing, we’d be living up to our deepest traditions and most cherished ideals.” (Kathleen Geier Washington Monthly 2014-03-01)

The most eagerly anticipated book on economics in many years. (Toby Sanger Globe and Mail 2014-03-11)

[An] enormously important book. (Doug Henwood Bookforum 2014-04-01)

How does a rigorous, seven-hundred page economic history become a lionized hit? Through the canny voice of professor Thomas Piketty, and his demystification of inherited wealth, Karl Marx’s true legacy, and what we mean when we talk about monetary ‘growth’ and ‘inequality.’ (Barnes and Noble Review 2014-03-26)
About the Author
Thomas Piketty is Professor at the Paris School of Economics.


If you like this then I think you’ll like journalist & writer Paul Mason’s review “everything you need to know about Thomas Picketty’s: Capital” LINK


Amnesty International – freedom candles – art & activism

The world of art and activism beautifully come together with our new limited edition candles. Each one represents a gross injustice, but hidden inside is a symbol of hope. Help spread our story or bid at  ‪#‎freedomcandles‬

Michael Gove is concerned about teachers promoting science in schools. Yes, really.


The Daily Mail reports today that education secretary Michael Gove has expressed “concern” about a study which accuses “activist” teaching staff of trying to turn pupils into “foot soldiers of the green movement”.


According to the study carried out by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a climate change denying think-tank set up by former Tory chancellor Lord Lawson, “eco-activists” in the education system are urging children to use “pester power” to force parents to adopt green lifestyle choices.


“We find instances of eco-activism being given a free rein within schools and at the events schools encourage their pupils to attend,” the report claims.


Gove “read the report with concern”, according to a spokesperson for the education secretary.


“Schools should not teach that a particular political or ideological point of view is right – indeed it is against the law for them to do so,” the spokesperson added.


Unlike most of the content found in the Daily Mail, it’s actually worth taking a closer look at this piece, if for no other reason than to understand just how loopy some on the right have become over the issue of man made climate change.


What exactly is it that the GWPF- and by extension Micheal Gove – are objecting to here?


According to the GWPF, telling kids to “avoid polluting the world”, “recycle” and “reduce their carbon footprint” is “brainwashing” carried out with the express intention of turning children into “foot soldiers of the green movement”.


But hang on a minute. What exactly is objectionable about teaching children to safeguard the environment? If you can avoid doing so, don’t go around polluting the world – it’s hardly revolutionary advice.


And perhaps, when the GWPF talk about “brainwashing”, they ought to consider who is attempting to brainwash who here.



Read the rest of this report about Michael Gove’s most recent freakishness, Here

Celtic Christianity and the controversy surrounding the date of Easter.

Easter is a the Christian festival celebrating the resurrection of Christ on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary. It is a moveable feast in that it does not fall on a fixed date, rather it is determined on a lunisolar calender as the first Sunday after the full moon following the March equinox. However the Celtic Church of the Early Middle Ages had developed its own method of the dating of Easter.

It is thought that the foundations for the Welsh church had already been laid in late Roman Britain and “The Age of the Saints” refers to the 5th and 6th century “Celtic Saints” who journeyed along the western seaways between Brittany, Cornwall, Wales and Ireland spreading the Word. It is often described as the golden age of Celtic Christianity. Over 400 inscribed tombstones and crosses have been found from all parts of Wales, with dates ranging from the 5th century. The earliest examples are quite plain and generally served as tombstones or grave-markers. Later monuments include the “Samson Cross” at Llantwit Major (pictured), and the fine pillar crosses at Carew and Nevern.

The Age of Saints began in Wales with Dyfrig (Saint Dubricus), a bishop at Ariconium in the kingdom of Ergyng in the middle of the 5th century,who kept Christianity alive in Wales at a time when Roman introduced Christianity was waning in England and paganism was revived. Dyrfig was followed by Illtud, an abbot, who established a school in Llanilltud Fawr (Llantwit Major), which drew scholars from across the Celtic world: Ireland, Brittany and Cornwall. Gildas, author of “De Excidio Britanniae”, one of the few historical records we have of Britain at this time, was a scholar at Llanilltud Fawr. In the early sixth century, many of the Welsh Saints retreated from society and settled in isolated areas to lead lives of prayer and communion with God and unlike the Irish missionaries, made very little attempt to convert the pagan Anglo Saxons. Christianity only reached the English with the coming of St Augustine to Canterbury in 597 and on a mission to Britain as a papal-appointed archbishop, Augustine expected obedience from the bishops of Wales, but they rejected his claims and also refused to conform to Roman practices on matters such as the system for calculating the date of Easter.

Over the following century, when most of the churches in the Celtic-speaking lands came to accept the Roman Easter, Wales was the only substantial territory still refusing to conform. When the English historian Bede was writing his Ecclesiastical History of the English People in 731, he claimed that the Welsh had possessed no desire to Christianize the pagan English, saying of them that for the most part they have a natural hatred for the English and uphold their own bad customs against the true Easter of the Catholic Church.