Culture, Economy, Ecology and Climate

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The Seriousness of Career Review

Since my teenage years I’ve retained the following unshakeable certainty: that seriousness is an attitude we adopt, when we have a need to remove thought.
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I think that other species can summon it too – for the posturing of rival males, for instance.
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Politicians, gang leaders, career-chasers, journalists… all summon seriousness to increase the size of their posturing and to remove doubt.
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We cannot argue with someone in a serious state, because they will have no means to find a thought in response. Only someone with a larger seriousness to their own can draw their attention.
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There is a tragic irony, in that those we most look to for the quality of their thinking, are often most adept at subjugating thought. The worlds of art and science are almost rigid with thoughtlessness. Schools of thought draw themselves up in dignity, clear their collective throats and then also clear the decks of unruly intelligence – ready for action. Here is the school and there is the schism. Clearly anyone seeking an art, or science career must be schooled to thoughtlessness. Otherwise, they may fall into schism.
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This has become so extreme in recent times that once-useful peer-review has mutated to the far simpler and more direct concept of career-review. Professions have become enclosed monopolies, who’s central purpose is not to profess, but to show discretion – otherwise we are seen as unprofessional. For discrete professional advice within closed walls, we must pay rent.
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For myself, I no longer trust serious (of course thoughtless) papers on ecology, climate heating, economy, soil science… Nor do I trust a word of the string of IPCC reports – every one of which has used models, which have been wildly off the mark (optimistic) on sequestration, life cycles, photosynthesis and CO.2 emissions. Every model has been disproved by subsequent events and every model has been far too kind to the status quo of politics and power.
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Many, wait for new, revised models to guide their practical actions. They’d do better to let the seriousness evaporate and for the whole human creature to return. We have sensual evidence, which is unavailable to the serious. We have pragmatism, intelligence, companionship, joy and grief.
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Look at this mass of burning coal and then at this same mass of burning forest – both of which are burnt for energy. Ah look – the CO.2 released from both is more or less the same and the energy gained also.
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IPCC consensus warms its hands and professes – The tree is renewable. The tree is good. Another tree will grow. Coal is not renewable. It is bad. IPCC pronounces timber burning to be carbon neutral, because after thirty years the tree will photosynthesis again at a similar rate. IPCC is serious!
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Any ordinary person with sensual intelligence can see that the IPCC is talking nonsense. Yet nearly all defer, because surely IPCC must be in possession of an esoteric knowledge to which they cannot ascend?
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The truth about biomass burning is pragmatic. It is not esoteric. Neither is IPCC judgement scientific – not remotely. It is merely serious.
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Firstly, where has all that lack of photosynthesis gone in those thirty years – certainly not into IPCC’s ledger and certainly not into soil, into re-growth and into the species dependant on that tree.
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Now, let’s burn the coal, but not the tree – allowing it to grow leaves, shed leaves, increase in both soil and plant biomass and photosynthesis. Which is the better, burning coal, or burning trees? The answer is plain.
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We must stop burning coal, but burning trees is far, far worse. Biomass burning removes life from the soil (sequestration), oxygen from the air and removes future photosynthetic effects. It follows that had we time for a planned transition towards atmospheric balance, then first we’d stop burning life, then second, we’d stop burning fossilised life.
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Of course, we have no more time and all must be instant.
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Biomass burning from land which has not changed its use – arable -oil-seeds, sugar cane, wheat, maize… and from existing forests is accounted zero carbon in all IPCC reports.
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How on Earth did the scientific consensus come to believe (I think belief is appropriate) in nonsense? It can only be because it is serious and serious about protecting a doctrine – a doctrine which is tied to careers and to peer-reviews/career-reviews in their hundreds of thousands. Don’t forget that climate-related “scientists” will wildly jet from global conference to global conference in serious defence of their careers – fully aware of the harm they do, yet also in the certainty that the integrity of professional and discrete status must always come first. The august must not be embarrassed. *
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Authors note – As a humble farmer, my thoughts have been refused by reputable organisations such as resilience.org , who ask for my “sources”. That they are my own would seem to protect anyone else from ridicule, but nevertheless, it seems, I remain without appropriate peers.

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Utopia is the Last Remaining Realism

We can find sufficient solar, hydro & wind energy for the current needs of the electricity grid, but for the new needs of domestic and commercial heat and of manufacturing (ceramics, smelting…) – we’ve not a hope in hell unless we dramatically reduce demands to at least a tenth. Transport, either electric, or hydrogen? – impossible. Renewable systems have not the capacity. Hydrogen is not a source of energy. It is a means to store surplus electrical energy.
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Meanwhile, any further use of either fossil fuel, or biofuel means climatic suicide. We neglected to apply planned descents from fossil-burning ways of life, many decades ago. Today is too late. We must instantly quench the fires. Impossible? – Yes. But, since we have squandered all others, the impossible remains our only choice.
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So, what do we have? – the return of personal intelligence, ingenuity & dexterity – people-sized technology – agriculture integrated with its ecology, sail-trade, river & canal trade, vibrant towns & villages, sizzling with revived skills of the trades – all within walking distances. Renaissance.
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Utopian renaissance is the only choice remaining – Choose it, or we choose the end of human cultures. It is simple.
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Governments have not the power to make such changes. Only immediate reclamation of dynamic commons from the static powers of the enclosures can liberate renaissance.
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These tax-generated cultural commons, though often decayed, remain in place – roads, streets, bridges, harbours, canals, navigable rivers, weirs, market squares and halls, libraries, concert halls, theatres, playing fields, parks, allotments, sewage systems, flood defences, sluices, drainage, lakes and reservoirs, hospitals, electrical grids and water supplies, monetary systems, town halls and parliament buildings… These are all basically communistic systems – financed by the commons, which recent UK governments have sought to enclose into private hands. Of course, some canals, harbours and so on and also theatres, cinemas…, were built by private finance, but today their maintenance has usually returned to the common. To change that, means enclosure (privatisation) and rent.
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People as tax payers and citizens have ancestral right to manage them on the common. Current enclosures bleed commonwealth into private hands. By rent, they shrink the common good, by increasing private good and without returning obligation.
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Then, we have Earth Commons, which no one made and from which we receive all that we have – soils, seas, rivers and biomass – gifts which, if we live within their laws, will be self-renewing.
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We also have minerals, fossils and salts, which do not remain in their original state if we use them – the original state is gone forever.
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This is the case for burnt fossils, agricultural minerals and salts and aggregate for construction. We now have a disbalancing surplus of gas and energy produced by fire and chemical reaction (fossil engines, artificial fertilisers, cement making…) and a deficit of biomass (critical) and mineral mass (less critical).
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Yes. We have a massive deficit of what we may call “cyclic nature” and a massive surplus of dangerous and linear human effects.
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The current UK general election has thrown a selection of artificial choices before us all, so that we must choose one artifice from the rest. No party stands on the premise that Utopia is the last remaining realism, or that societies must arrange that work and pleasure are within the walking distance of every citizen. Yet, choosing one party or the other will make a profound difference to our singular abilities to reclaim the common and to reclaim those ends.
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The current UK government’s entire motivation has been to enclose the last commons into the private hands of a small elite. Some other parties have become entranced by the seeming enlightenment of the European Economic Union – even though it is founded on enclosures and monopolies and the complacent dependency of consumerism. Both those neo-liberal impulses are towards ecological destruction and climatic catastrophe.
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Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has become the only political choice for Westminster. It (or Jeremy) can do nothing for us, but it may allow space to personally act – in time instantly – in space, shrinking till we fit our personal allotment of this lovely Earth.
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Given that all other reasonings are now too late, give me one reason not to choose Utopia?
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Politics

While we are busy, building real economic islands on the common, we are hindered and distracted by the contrary powers of enclosure – so we must also engage with those powers.
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In that engagement we must remember that our primary purpose is to rebuild the common. Soon, both common and enclosure will be swept into chaos by collapsing ecologies, storms and rising seas – and of course, by collapsing monetary systems. Only the utterly-changed personal behaviours of everyone can prevent what is, after all – doomsday. It is not true, as most people say, that one person can do nothing. We have come to a unique moment, when only the actions of everyone – one by one, can pause our crazy trajectory over the brink. Governments have not the power.
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Is my personal behaviour utterly changed? It is not. So I don’t begin with the “grief” that some, rather narcissistic “climate activists” claim, but with deep, nearly overwhelming shame.
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Of course, we are a social, clan-forming, flocking species. Our identities are tied to others and our roles are integral to other roles. So, personal change becomes much more difficult, but also, more effective, because it ripples through the larger clan of family, friends and work-places. How else do social fashions spread so quickly?
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You say, no, they are spread by television and popular newspaper personalities – political and otherwise and by the subversive power of political propaganda and commercial advertising. You are right. But that is the world of enclosure. We are transitioning to the world of the common.
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In a world of enclosures; in the ballot and in the market-place, we can choose least worst options and on rare occasions, those which are good. For the most part, we choose those which do least harm.
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Let’s return to our theme – a society, in which both work and pleasure are walking distances from everyone’s door. In the currently overwhelming world of political, journalistic and commercial enclosures, how do we ease small roads of exodus towards that hopefully attractive common?
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1 – Never ever fly. That is easy.
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2 – If we can, we –
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No longer shop in super markets, but instead find proper trade’s people and market stalls. Find people.
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3 – Learn human-sized technologies and shed those powered by coal, gas, oil and biofuels. Such technologies need the intelligence, ingenuity and dexterity of very many people, not the blind dependencies of oil. So, again, find people.
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4 – Vote for the least-worst political party.
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Here in the UK, that choice is so obvious and so viciously opposed by monopolies of every kind, that it is very odd to have to mention it. The Labour Party is still tainted by its electorally-successful, corporate-backed departure into monetarism and war, but nevertheless the almost miraculous rise of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters – the ghosts of Clement Atlee – should be embraced by all our hearts and minds as the miracle it is – an ordinary, incorruptible, egalitarian, green, moderate politician, somehow and against all odds, close to “the seat of power”!
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In the UK there are two political parties with similar policies, to those of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour – Plaid Cymru (The Party of Wales) and the Green Party.
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The Scottish National Party is close to Plaid, Green and Labour, but is tainted by love for Scottish oil. We cannot avoid such taints in politics – The Green Party is similarly tainted by its love for statutory consumer-rights, exchanged for protected corporate supply, embodied in European Economic Union. Since the same contract also exists inside Westminster, Plaid Cymru (and SNP) have more legitimate claims to the Greens, to remain in the Economic Union.
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Of course, corporate/media-backed, old/New Labour politicians are a threat to the integrity of the Labour Party. Even so, it remains the only party to have a chance for power in Westminster. We should embrace it.
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There you have it, an innocent’s guide to power in politics.
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Don’t knock innocence.

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Islands in the Flood

This is expanded from a conversation with my virtual friend Michelle Gambia about the pleasures we find in necessary hiding places from the truth. Michelle writes with a beautifully clear eye. https://www.animasoul.org/2019/10/20/the-speech/
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You’ll often find me hiding in the shade; in refuges from the truth, and our own farm is a long way off course – in its various hiding places. The loveliest refuge is the present – in companionship and pleasures – sights, sounds, scents… in little projects and jobs we have in hand – the sight of freshly weeded rows of vegetables, or newly-pruned orchard trees. But when I step from the timeless present to time again, the horror would overwhelm me, but for the utopian light, the other side of darkness. Utopia is not fanciful. Our lives are that. It is imaginative and true. Utopia is possible. It is our weakness which makes it apparently impossible. That leads to another journey – companionship in our common folly – in forgiveness, charity, comedy and tragedy. That journey is one of utopian compromise.
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However, nearly all “green” and egalitarian solutions, which we find in places such as resilience.org are compromises, on the last debunked compromise. I’ll not have that! I say, we must return to the original Utopia. That is, we compromise the beautiful and true.
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Living in the timeless present, we find sensual evidence of the truth. That innocence is most receptive to the only true evidence – that is sensual evidence. Sensual evidence must always pass through the senses of someone. It is always solitary. But, when we contemplate our next footstep through that sensual landscape, we re-enter a world of time and consequence. We cannot remain innocent. Both future and past consequences intrude. We must judge. We step into a moral world. Whose morals? – mine, or yours? – mine, or the consensus, the law’s, the elite’s, the ancestors? Prudence, expediency, fear, anger… all intrude.
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The academic title we have for the study of those moral questions is economics. Because uncovered moral truth is a danger to what we may call “the powers”, economics is no longer studied in UK universities. Instead, the study has been narrowed to the limits of an accepted landscape – or rather, people-scape, of unchallenged enclosures and assumptions. In that people-scape, people who call themselves economists, study what remains inside an enclosure – rent and the necessary freedom of rent – that is the necessary amorality, which liberates what they call, the market. Enclosed mediums of exchange, become property, which generates rent (money interest), enclosed professions, become property which generates rent (lawyers, GPs, architects and so on). Enclosed land becomes property… Enclosed ideas become property…
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In all those cases the near-infinitely complex physics of soil, fungi, bacteria, plants, animals, forests, rivers, people… are excluded from study to be replaced by the simplicity of amorality and rent. Because people pay rent for something which does not exist (property is an idea), it is thought that an “economy” can sustain infinite growth and defy the indisputably finite nature of labour, resource and the land.
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Everywhere, good housekeepers understand that finity. It is apparent through every sense – taste, touch, sound, sight… It must be prudently managed and wisely shared. A good housekeeper must follow, or learn codes of behaviour, by distribution of fair shares of what we can have and what we can do, in food, clothing, toys, chores and pleasures. That is, she must regulate both what her family does and what it can have. She must budget today’s income for the days ahead. In short, she must study economics. Readers will know that a housekeeper and an economist in the same sentence make a tautology.
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So, as Brian Davey notes, there can be no conversation between a householding economist and an “economist” of the enclosures – or between ordinary pragmatism and university guide-lines, peer-reviews, or career reviews (another tautology). http://www.feasta.org/2019/10/03/the-school-of-economics-as-a-suicide-academy/
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All enclosures have been first achieved by violence. Their powers are then extended by rent. The fence lines, become castellated by law and by peer-review/career review. Schools and universities further consolidate an enclosed future by education.
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Without increasing spending (GDP) there can be no rent. Fellow real economic writers would say debt, but it is not only debt. It is wider – it is rent. Money as property is not the only enclosure demanding rent. A world of enclosures will collapse without expanding GDP. University “economists” almost exclusively focus on rent/debt and the maintenance of perpetually expanding spending. Any child can see that such economists have no clothes. Plainly, children must be swiftly educated to imagine them dressed again. Professional monopolies of law, bank, medicine, pharmaceuticals, architecture and so on, utterly depend on the educated illusion. Otherwise they’d lose the means to charge such fabulous rents for their professional status. An ordinary householder would no longer be compelled to pay a rent of £300 per hour, from her own wage of £10 per hour. That £290 per hour can only exist by the means of fantasy money – casino money – true economy bleeding money. Even university economists, who calculate, only the odds of a casino, can see that the world of real resource and real labour is incapable, on its own, of paying such massive rents. For that, money flow must accelerate and GDP (spending) must expand.
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A so called, steady state economy, or a circular economy, also means the end of professional monopoly and the end of rent. Money flow must shadow the transformative power of what people can do, which means it is limited to just that – with none to spare for the fantasies of enclosed monopoly. This author, who has no career review, thinks that the end of growth means the total collapse of the casino. Though that collapse will bring havoc to most people’s lives, he cannot see a way forward, but to first pass through the tragedy to gain the light on the other side. What’s done is done. The currently massive money-flow hovers above a much shrunken and mismatched energy-flow and will in any case explode, sometime soon. He has no Chrystal ball, but until it does explode, it gives time to build islands of a real economy which can emerge more or less intact from beneath the smoke and embers. After all, it is a fantasy, which will have collapsed – a gamblers dream. The physics of the world – people, fields, woods, rivers… will all remain.
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We return to the ancient conflict between commons and enclosure and to a sentence which my virtual friend Michelle singled out – But when I step from the timeless present to time again, the horror would overwhelm me, but for the utopian light, the other side of darkness.
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Yes – the loveliest refuge from the horror, which is to come, is the timeless present – in companionship, fields, woods and so on, but also in work and companionship of work – each to her skill, to build living islands, which may survive collapsing casinos, rising seas and violently defensive enclosures. From time to time though, we must step back into time with a steady eye for both the Utopia ahead and the tragedy, which surrounds us.
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Sovereignty

It’s a fine thing, we say, to take back control of our seeds, our food production and our lives. It’s plain that consumerism has brought us to a cliff edge. Ordinary people must gain sovereignty over methods of production, because dependency on the sovereignty of others had brought chaos. We have not been acting on the evidence of our senses, instead we have been lobbying that others – our providers – act on that evidence. We pay for the produce and ask for it to be just as we like. That is the consumerist contract.
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Many in Extinction Rebellion are asking just that – that governments and corporations change their provisions to be just as they’d like. It may be that the bulk of people in the protests form a consumerist rebellion. The UK Green Party and the “educated” middle class are at the heart of that dependant outcry.
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They demand the better behaviour of banks, oil companies and governments. Prominent journalists and so on have made sure that they have been very publicly arrested. The one demand they do not make is to take back sovereignty. Unlike true commons movements, such as the diggers, who simply, elegantly and truthfully dug, they demand nothing more than the changed behaviour of existing monopolies.
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Yet, if people did not buy oil, oil companies would evaporate. If people did not fly, no aeroplanes could take off. Such a movement would be in the commons tradition. That tradition remains in our intrinsic morality. It is easily understood and could be inspirational. If we all shopped at market stalls, or the proper shops of skilled trades’ people, then the super market would close. Sovereignty of skill and ingenuity could be returned to the commons and life would return to our half-dead towns and villages.
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If the Extinction Rebellion was rebellion against ourselves and our current ways of life, then it would prove a true rebellion. I’ve seen little evidence of that.
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The School Strike for Climate asks that adults take control of their lives, their trades and their work-places – and that they begin to behave properly as adults should. It could have provided the spur to a real commons/real economic movement. Instead, we adults have cleverly betrayed the earnest eyes of children and have shrugged responsibility from ourselves to the abstract shoulders of an abstract idea – a government; a corporation. Extinction Rebellion has betrayed the School Strike, to fight what does not exist – only people and their resources exist. A corporation is an abstract idea, made physical by the very many purchases, which we ordinary adults make. To truly see the fabric of a corporation, watch a que at a super-market check-out, or count the clicks on their web sites. Viva School Strike! – but it seems to me that Extinction Rebellion, remains locked in consumerism. It expresses the outrage of the green consumer. Already corporations are re-writing mission statements to include those new “green” markets. If it’s the coming thing, then it’s theirs to be exploited. Does Extinction Rebellion ask for that exploitation? – Plainly, yes, since it asks for those corporate/government changes.
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But then again, some may demand sovereignty without caring what they’d have sovereignty over and how – my life? your seeds? Do they ask for a simple transference of power from old vices to a new, but ill-defined virtue? If I have a skill, then it is natural to want sovereignty over my workshop, my farm, my mill, or my potter’s wheel. What we do creates the culture and what we do is specific. But undefined sovereignty is dangerous. It creates a new enclosure.
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Every little sovereign, over every little field, or baker’s oven must be bound by the greater law – the law of the commons. Over centuries, commons have been broken and scattered in the spoil heaps of enclosure. In an enclosure, my field, or my work-place becomes my sovereign castle, in which I can behave as badly as I choose, and in which no trespassers may be lawfully permitted to say otherwise.
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Here is the true rebellion – as the children say – of ancestors and descendants, embodied in contemporary behaviour. As the children also say, behave! By all that’s holy, dig like a leveller! Sing the joy of the ol’ sun ‘n moon illuminating a durable, responsive culturing of our mothering soil. And they say, be kind.
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Manifesto

Should I make a manifesto for a society in which work and pleasure are all within walking distances? That is, a society in which human-sized tools replace fossil-fuelled machinery and in which commons of perceptive good behaviour replace the imperceptive amorality of power’s enclosures. Do I need a banner to mark where I stand? If I criticise the banners of others, then I must show where I stand, so that I too can be criticised.
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Horticultural Society
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I say that cultures must retreat and so let the wilds expand. Of course, hunter/gatherer cultures have integrated with the wild as one species among the rest, but that is a far-off dream for us – of paradise before the fall.
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Although we cannot have a secure food supply, without also creating surplus to carry from good years to bad and between the scarcity/surplus of regions, we must grow food within as small a space as we can. That is, we must think of both time and space.
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What is humanity’s ration of soil? Thinking of rations is more helpful than thinking of limits. We shall explore that later.
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What is humanity’s ration of oil? We consumed it many years ago. We should think of it as zero, plus a large measure of shame. We cannot think of it as zero, plus dispensation for negative emissions. Only the wilds can “draw down carbon”. That is why we must shrink our culture to just humanity’s ration within the larger ecology.
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Many, on the green side of arguments make large sequestration claims for a variety of growing systems (negative emissions). These views are often held with a passion, because they provide personal dispensation. With regards to fossil fuels, what’s done is done – no dispensations, pardons, or indulgencies can remove that shame. In all cases, those negative emissions are a fiction.
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Religions have existing frameworks for dealing with shame – stories of agriculture’s Fall from God-given nature are almost universal. They are deeply embodied in cultural tradition – and have been repeated forever. Now, after thousands of years of repeated misbehaviour, we are faced with a final reckoning, which asks of us, and of atheists like me, just how far can we continue to fall?
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We continue to fall too fast if we:
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1 – Fail to replace oil-sized tools, with human-sized tools.
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2 – Continue to replace natural systems with designed systems for the subjugation of nature, by fossil fuels, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and artificial fertilisers.
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3 – Continue to claim false dispensation for our various niches through “organic”, “permaculture”, “vegan”, “pasture-fed”, “agroecology” and “agroforestry” virtue signals. None of those systems will “draw down carbon” further than an optimum point – although they can restore soil vitality to that optimum point of balance. Often, husbandry mistakes, combined with a naturally par-blind human understanding, will bring us to the wrong side of that balance. Nevertheless, organic and etc are the cyclic systems we must follow, but accompanied by less hubris and more uncertainty.
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4 – Continue to disconnect elements of agricultural economy. A field, a town and a monetary system are all parts of the same whole. Organic, permacultural and agroecological organisations, have all been guilty (and dangerously so) of that disconnection. For instance, we find organically-grown produce in super markets, retail parks and internet-based box schemes. How can that be?
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5 – Continue to think that we can escape the fall. Agriculture is the fall. We can go a long way to diminishing its ill effects, but never entirely. For atmospheric stability, we must depend on the complex efficiencies of the wilds, while shrinking cultural footprints as much as we can – That is, a shrinkage towards our central goal – a society in which both work and pleasure are within walking distances, in which husbandry becomes human-sized (horticulture) and in which energies of tide, sun, wind and gravity propel a far less powerful culture. We must do without much that fossil fuels and biofuels have provided. They cannot be replaced. We must quench nearly all our fires.
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While accepting that hunter-gatherer cultures provide the true lesson, large-population agricultures can only continue indefinitely by:
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1 – Integrating with the wider ecology as much as they can.
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2 – Accepting a limited agricultural ration of that larger ecology, in which husbandry is observant, quick to adapt and efficient. Optimum crop yield from an allotted volume of soil and water must be accepted as a moral necessity. In that way, human-controlled acreage can be reduced, so that the wilds can expand. We must accept this moral statement – Only the wilds can draw down further carbon. Good husbandry can only aim for balance, while accepting that it will often fall short of that balance.
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That means a change from an agricultural to a horticultural mindset, in which large numbers of people with human-sized tools, replace the prevailing and now impossible mindset of very small numbers of people with very large and powerful tools. That greater number of people, also means a greater capacity for perception, ingenuity and quick adaption.
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3 – Arrange for work and pleasure to sit within walking distances, by re-centring suburbia, into towns and villages interspersed with productive fields, gardens and orchards and by reviving the ancient home of trade and the trades and also of pleasures – existing towns and villages.
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Without fossil fuels and biofuels, we shall have no energy to spare for transport. Wind, solar, hydro and tidal powers will prove sufficient, only for domestic and commercial heat, light, refrigeration and cookery. Don’t forget that such a demand will more than double – perhaps triple, current electricity demand.
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Of course, wind will provide truly-renewable power for sail-trade and similarly, wind, tide and water (gravity) can provide truly renewable power for direct traction of pumps, mills and manufactories.
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Once upon a time, every large town and city was built on a shore line, estuary, or navigable river. The early industrial revolution solved the inland problem by building canals. Those structures, though decayed await revival. Not only by canal and river, trade has also been by shore-hopping between small harbours along every mile of coastline. Can we have the electric railway? I may be wrong, but I think not. Electricity will have many more essential demands – principally heat and cookery.
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This manifesto will prove schismatic to most, because it proposes that bio-fuels contribute far more to climate heating than fossil fuels. It says that they diminish both biomass and biodiversity, while also massively reducing the power of photosynthesis to “draw down carbon”. I include the innocent-sounding domestic log burner, or biomass boiler in my list of evils!
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It follows that for ceramics and metal working (or rather, reworking) it would be better to use coal, gas, or oil than both timber and charcoal. Such uses for fossil resources would leave biomass and diversity to live and breathe, but would also require the use of yet untried carbon capture and storage. CCS would, in any case, be needed for biomass, or charcoal burning. CCS has provided the great excuse for those wishing to continue the current (suicidal) status quo, so I present the possibility with diffidence and with insufficient knowledge. It remains true that burning coal with effective CCS would be far less destructive than burning timber with effective CCS.
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There is one exception to the biomass rule – that is anaerobic digestion of wastes to produce useful methane, while also returning biomass “digestate” to the soil. The burning of methane emits carbon dioxide, but the digestate grows compensatory photosynthetic biomass. I don’t know if anaerobic digestion will end the right, or wrong side of a carbon balance. But consider this – fermentation of some kind must happen anyway – in soil, or out of soil – plants need the simple minerals, which fermentation provides. I suspect a balance depends on both efficiencies of production and efficiencies of agricultural return. Certainly, we cannot dedicate crops for gas production, since our difficulty is to grow enough food on as small an acreage as we can. Gas production can be used as an alternative to aerobic composting of wastes – not as an end in itself. It may prove valuable, on a small scale, for domestic cookery, or heat.
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Grassland and animals.
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Even though ruminants convert grass that people cannot eat, into food that they can and even though well-managed grassland can undoubtedly prove to be a more, or less balanced system, nevertheless the acreage will be too extensive. Such a system cannot “draw down carbon” beyond an optimum point, as many proponents suggest. Such grassland will be better used for re-foresting, or re-wilding – that is for photosynthesis, biomass, biodiversity and some timber production. Communities will have a greater need for timber than for meat. Such a reversion may also provide the settlement of an ancient social injustice – that is a return of the commons from the vicious enclosures of past centuries, which turned people from the land, in return for the wealth of a few in the golden fleece. Woodland provides more employment than sheep ever could.
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Even so, grassland as green manure in crop rotation is ancient and effective. Animals for milk, meat and eggs, can add to, rather than diminish crop rotation. They do not increase the horticultural acreage. Rather, they diminish the considerable energy needed for cutting and mulching the same acreage of green manure. Green manure will prove essential for a regenerative agriculture and animals are an energy-efficient way to use it. Don’t forget that horticultural acreage will include cereals and the considerable manual labour involved. Will we have the energy for regular cutting and mulching of green manure? – I suspect “dog and stick” will prove a welcome physical and dietary relief. In a ratio of two acres of green manure to one of cropping, we can still have eggs, milk and meat – but rationed for feast days, weekends and holidays.
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With regards to the new wild, which we hope will re-find its evolutionary balance of plant to animal, hunter-gatherer codes of good behaviour may guide a new and rationed supply of wild meat for settled communities.
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I think a weakness in vegan agriculture is that it ignores the lessons of that evolutionary balance. Even so, I respect vegan goals to tread lightly and vegan crop rotations are valuable lessons in similarly treading lightly. Those vegan goals have made us think more productively about perennial systems – beyond orchards and nut trees, we can also consider perennial cereals (the Land Institute). Considering perennial cereal cropping, we’d also have to think (paradoxically) of rotation. Since we’d remove both seed and straw, a harvest would remove a lot of soil vitality. We’d still need that two to one ratio – and again, grazing would provide a productive respite from the scythe – not that the scythe is an unpleasant tool – in good company on a sunny day.
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Commons, or enclosure. Rations, or limits.
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Let’s consider this – Enlightened, peer-reviewed education has brought us to a cliff edge of utter catastrophe – the end of human cultures as we’ve known them and the extinction of very many species, which have accompanied our common evolution to this point. Yet still, people will declare, “What we need is education” to educate farmers, builders, fishermen, climate change deniers… Listen to the science! say campaigners.
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Yet, it is plain that education has taught farmers the efficacy of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides… and has made the educators rich and both farmers and their lands, very much poorer.
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Only a handful of farmers have survived that educated, peer-reviewed invasion and they continue to disappear.
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Architects have replaced the functional, elegant and appropriate work of builders, with inappropriate, ugly, but educated design. In the process architects have become rich and builders, poor. (I do not speak of builders who have become rich by idle accumulation of land value). Is there a single architectural design that can match the beauty of a simple parish church – or almost any house before the seventeenth century? Almost no beauty and none of the ingenuity, dexterity and deep understanding of a builder, for her terrain and her materials has survived the manipulation and rent-gathering of architects.
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In short, the real economy of households and the trades has bled dry by education. Enclosed professions demand terrible rents for their professional status. GPs, solicitors, architects and consultants of all kinds will commonly demand £300 per hour from the ordinary wage of someone who earns £10 per hour.
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Status enclosure, money enclosure (interest is rent), land enclosure and intellectual property enclosure will eventually bring any economy to its knees. Educated opinion has created the idea of austerity, so that remaining money-flow can remain in those same hands.
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Anyone, who writes of stories such as this, will be asked for peer-reviewed sources from within that same rent gathering, educational system.
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Here’s a thing – There are many fine permaculture practitioners. But we must beware of permaculture designers. They are educators extracting rent. Let them emerge from the enclosures to become practitioners – otherwise they may inflict the same old educational harm.
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Thinking of species extinction and climate heating, almost all influential ideas – that is, those accepted by news sources, governments, politicians and NGOs, come from the peer-reviewed, or rather, career-reviewed people of educated status. That status has no senses – it is truly senseless. Of course, true science must remain sceptical and outside moral preconception. It can have no application, because every act has consequence and every consequence must have a moral. Sadly, I see little evidence of that true science, although, of course it has survived as history has always depicted – not in shiny laboratories, or hallowed halls, but in dusty attics. Meanwhile, leaving true science to her studies, it is up to those who act, to morally decide what to do. The pragmatic ingenuity of a trades’ person may be curious for the science, but nevertheless, it is the trades’ person who must decide how to act. Of course, any householder is in that same position.
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This manifesto calls for householders and trades’ people of every kind to shrug off the enclosures and to apply the love, skill and ingenuities that only they can find. We cannot “improve” the enclosures. We must abandon them and if we can, step back onto the common. We have very little time.
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Enclosures have limits – thin lines within which behaviour can be as we choose. Soil, resources and bad behaviour can remain undefined within them. Trespassers will be prosecuted.
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The common has rations – of both time and space – of what we can do and of where and how we can stand. A ration can be loved and shared – it has qualities – tastes, touch, scents, sights and sounds – it is distributed in fair shares of both chores and pleasures. It is received from ancestors and must be bequeathed to descendants. Such commons survive in the household, where they are easily understood. I behave by a filial code. But in the work place they are lost. This manifesto is largely a call for their revival. If we can behave well in the household, then we can also do so at work. A culture is what people do, not who they are, or claim to be.
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Population
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I will not speak of population statistics. Overpopulation is here and now, just as and because of our wild use of fossil fuels. There are no remedies, but to leave fossil fuels in the ground and to personally consider the need to bring more babies into an over-crowded world. I will not engage with those who use over-population as a means to ridicule attempts to find ways to integrate cultures into the ecologies which must sustain them. The currently tragic effects of both fossil fuels and too many people are what they are. What’s done is done. We must endure them, while living differently and so not adding to those problems. The present creates the future. Our present of over-population, species extinction and catastrophic climate heating was created by the past – including our personal pasts. We cannot change the past, but we can change the future. That may seem obvious, but studying social polemics, plainly it is not. That it is unlikely we can reverse catastrophic climate heating, does not make attempts invalid. Rather, it makes the attempt, romantic, beautiful, egalitarian and essential to even a temporal happiness. Mention of sail-trade and the scythe will attract ridicule from nearly every green and educated NGO, and yet truly, there is no other way. The educated must be ignored, or more hopefully, de-schooled, to be re-awakened to the soil, sun, wind and rain and also to true happiness.
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Choosing Tragedy

Previously, we had chosen the bonny road and so we must, but that road also leads under the hill through good and evil; through an over-dose of truth.
We’ve also explored the problems of de-growth, while using GDP as a measure – as though we could degrow to an optimum point without consequence.
We cannot. De-growth will have terrible consequence. We cannot but pass though that terror. We must endure it.

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The current casino of currency manipulation, usury and advantageous/disadvantageous roulette wheels of stocks, bonds, shares and futures, will crash without growth – that is: without the hopes of punters. That is how the casino spins – not by reason, but by the faith and dreams of punters. Once that faith and the possibility (the odds) of dreaming shatter, then the whole casino shatters.

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Plainly the casino is so destructive that we must somehow remove it. But, I say we cannot remove it without tragedy. And so it is that we must pass through tragedy, if we are to reach the other side of the hill.

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The casino and the real economy of households, work-places and pleasures are currently too entwined to separate without pain. Yet, we must somehow remove the casino, so that the economy can function properly in its terrain again. I say, again, because the remedies we have, live in our cultural histories – awaiting adaption to the times.

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As the casino shrinks (degrows) towards its terminal cascade, so companies will fold, unemployment will soar, tax revenue will wither and social infrastructures will wither accordingly. That means people will be without both wages and unemployment relief. I leave the collapse of other infrastructures to your imagination. It is very simple to understand. Let’s hope we are brave enough to face its darkness.

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If we do not choose that tragedy, then the end will be far, far worse – the extinction, or near extinction of human life as we know it. That extinction is approaching faster than all educated models had predicted. I’ll not make a prediction to add to the noise, but I know this, unless I change instantly to a life without oil, it will prove too late. That is the only truth.

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As the casino collapses – as banks, employment and other means to a living collapse, there will remain an underlying miracle. The physical world will remain untouched – soils, crops, water, fungi, plants and animals – new possibilities for trade and the trades – all will remain in their physics. Human casino fantasy will also remain and human obstacles to that physics will remain to be overcome, but nevertheless all that can be physically sensed will be just as apparent as before the collapse.

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So, we return to our theme that both work and pleasure must be walking distance from everyone’s door. If we can build such connections by reviving population centres of towns and villages – by supporting each other’s trades, and by evacuating the trades of the casino, then we can, with a large dose of luck, provide real economic islands in the storm of the crashing casino.

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It’ll be a close-run thing, because those larger storms are fast-approaching, just as the lesser, but still terrible storms of collapsing casinos will be impeding much of what we try to do. We must de-school and de-educate ourselves and listen to the new evidence of our senses and of each other. Look into the eyes of children. Feed on the skills of your trade and delight in the skills of others. Beautiful music and literature are threaded through with tragedy. We can carry words and music in our hearts. Best foot forward. Stiff upper lip, old thing. Is that over the top? Well yes, precisely. Don’t forget that comedy and tragedy share identical plots. Look at our lives. We are comic. We cannot but be comic. Comedy is a useful sheltering arm. I’ve quoted this from Patrick Kavanagh before: “Tragedy is comedy not fully born.” We may as well add W B Yeats – “a terrible beauty is born”.

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