I really wish I could share this article with a former politics lecturer of mine. An unreconstructed Stalinist, with a Hemingway bandana and jeans that belonged to another age, I tried to give him apoplexy by writing an essay asserting that Marx was an anarchist, but didn't succeeed - he just marked it down. (I tend to still believe Marx was an anarchist, actually, although the fact that he was a politician who often wrote for the moment means you can find almost anything you want in his theoretical positions...) But on that lecturer, I'm sure this would have given him the shakes:
"I would have loved to have lived in Manchester in the 1840s," says Schofield, "and possibly to have met Engels, who sounds a lovely man, even though he rode with the Cheshire hunt. Marx sounds like a lazy fat man who took Engels' money and his best ideas."
In the weird and wonderful medical category, scientists seriously think that hookworm might cure asthma and hayfever. Human trials have started, after the scientists tried out the treatment on themselves.
If the whole Danish cartoon controversy is getting you down, read The Religious Policeman's take on it. It has the virtues of being funny, and if Belgium finds itself the next boycott target, you'll know why ...
Finally, a small piece of good news: feminist fair-trade co-ops for women coffee growers in Peru.
In order for a woman to join the co-op, she must show that her own name is on the deed to the land she works. Since the coffee income is greater with the Cafe Femenino fair-trade program--the women make about 17 cents more per pound, or about 30 percent more than the average coffee farmer--it benefits the whole family, a persuasive argument for the husbands to cede land to their wives.
Latorre also sees to it that the money generated by Cafe Femenino is given directly to the female farmer. Another portion--the income from the two-cents-per-pound surcharge--is devoted to the co-op, for all the women to determine how it will be spent.
Cafe Femenino sent its first shipment in August 2004. Those 19,000 pounds of coffee brought in $27,000 to the women's co-op. The first year's extra income has been invested in coffee production, but the psychological effects of the higher income are already rippling through the communities. Now women are meeting together independently to talk business, and the men are not preventing them from doing so.