Culture, Economy, Ecology and Climate

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Hey Ho, we’re bound for Rio

Since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, man-made carbon emissions have risen steadily, dipping slightly in economic recession to resume as Gros World Product continues to expand.
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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has achieved nothing. In truth, it has achieved almost universal complacency that something is being done at the highest level. Targets are very useful for the complacent. They mean we can change tomorrow – not today.
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Meanwhile, democratically-elected governments focus on expanding their Gros Domestic Products as a measure for the success of their governance. GDP and climate heating follow identical trajectories on a graph. They are cause and effect.
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Today, for all the climate targets of the past, the moment has finally arrived – the terrible moment, when all targets have become too late. Action by governments, corporations and citizens, must be instant. Otherwise, humanity’s brief four thousand years or so of agricultural settlements is certain to come to a horrible end. Readers may be surprised that modern cultures – cities, towns, roads and railways – are agricultures. They shouldn’t be surprised.
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Yet still, nearly everybody says – This is too big for me. I must lobby corporations and governments. I must earnestly study the latest IPCC document about how we might change tomorrow. Then I must mention it to my friends, while wisely casting my vote in the ballot.
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Dear Everybody, it is too late for that. Faith in national and international institutions, commercial corporations and NGOs has pushed us to defer personal responsibility from ourselves to others.
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Yet how do those others exist? – By ourselves – by our purchases, donations and democratic requests. In short, we pretended to buy redemption. Instead, we bought cascading ecologies on which we all depend and catastrophic climate heating. We created the monster. Now we attempt to negotiate with it. Instead, why not de-create it – stop the purchases, donations and democratic requests. Instead, we can buy and sell between ourselves – butcher, baker, candlestick maker… We can think for ourselves, rather than through the conduit of a favourite NGO. We can begin a new political process. Of course, all those actions can only be done in transition from one place to another. Even so we must immediately make a start. We’ll make mistakes, but mistakes are where new truth is revealed.
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This is not too big for me. On the contrary, it is too big for governments, political parties, corporations and NGOs. We created all those things – those abstract ideas – and we created the physics of catastrophe. Abstractions such as governments and corporations can cause nothing, but through the physics of me. Yet our subscription-touting NGO send an endless flow of emails bosting of their expertise, requesting more money and saying not a word of our personal ways of life.
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NGOs and political parties argue about targets. They speak of the future, but the future does not exist. All we can know of the future, is that it is created by the present. The present makes the future, whichever way we choose. Zero carbon by 2030, or 2045 is a distraction from our almost universal moral failure to act as the times demand – that is, immediately.
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Unilateral action is all we have remaining. We can hope that others do the same, so that it becomes multilateral. But to negotiate multilateral agreement before we personally agree to act is suicide. Just as multilateral nuclear disarmament has led to the opposite, so it is on climate heating. The above is applicable to citizens, parishes, national governments and trade blocks, such as the EEU.
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I find it tragic that nearly all my friends, just about every left-leaning, or “environment-leaning” NGO and even the UK Green Party prefer to lobby from a multilateral “position of strength”. Strength itself is a problem, when every answer to the hubris of the times should be towards weakness – the utter dependence of the species on all the other species; the dependence of ourselves, on others. That essential new vision is also an old one, which is quite fitting for the flow of 1,500 years of UK cultures – has no one read of Christianity? We don’t need to be Christian to understand the truths it contains, or the ways it is woven into modern understanding. As an atheist myself, and one with a tendency to ancestor worship – the flow of inherited and bequeathed commons – I can also see that the best of Christianity (not the worst) has nurtured that flow – in sacred springs, local saints/ancestors – in the common follies of being human.
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Such a common ethics can guide personal change, while at the same time stimulating multilateral change by a shear mass of people – accumulating one by one.
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So called, unilateral change works right through the system. Personal change becomes simpler, when we are disentangled from the lives of others. Parish changes become simpler, when it is disentangled from government restrictions and advise. Government change becomes simpler, when disentangled from international agreements. In other words, change can be far more rapid when we act alone and others act alone also. Of course, all those things are tangled anyway from personal to government entanglements – we are obliged, concerned, contracted… So, what do I mean?
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This may seem to be high falutin’ or deliberately obscure, but this is what I mean – To consider our next footstep, we consult inner moral commons and shrug off the obfuscation of the enclosures – the trade agreements and so on. Thus, we remain entangled at the deepest level, but are disentangled at the ephemeral level. That deep entanglement can be contagious, because everyone is a part.
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If the UK government disarmed its nuclear arsenal, other governments would be more inclined to follow suit. It is a moral act and we all have morals.
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If the UK government decided to act on climate change by (as it must to succeed) nationalising or severely regulating the adverse behaviours of corporations, banks and profligate citizens – and by creating avenues in which citizens could participate, then other governments would be more likely to follow suit.
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We’ve seen how international climate agreements have led to increasing carbon emissions (the evidence is irrefutable). Less obvious to most, the EEU’s introduction of negotiated environmental and consumer protections has, in the same way, led to increasing emissions, increasing corporate power and increasing consumer dependency on that power.
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It is plain that to act quickly to limit environmental degradation and to reduce carbon emissions, UK must act independently of the EU, just as UK citizens must act independently of UK government. It is certain that the EU would vigorously oppose actions by its member states, which undermined its consumer/corporate contract by applying protectionist measures. In truth, any attempts to shrink national GDP, would also shrink the money flow of the Euro and so also the power of the EU. EU is obliged, by contract, to oppose the common good.
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Remember, we seek weakness not power – by shrinking our effects into just a part of the whole of every species under the sun. We must learn to be fitting. No one can do that for us. How do we join the evolving flow of common humanity, while shrugging off the ephemeral madness of the times? For that, only my reader can know. The moral is universal, but the physics of life is specific in all its parts and is peculiar to every one of us in particular ways.
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The Coup

The brutes are closing in and shutting down broadcasting, newspapers and what has remained of democracy. It is a coup, which has been gestating for an indeterminate time, but which has emerged into adulthood with extreme rapidity. In much of the world – particularly in both South and North America it has strutted for a while, but here in the UK, it has been quietly subversive until now, when the jackboots march through every TV channel, nearly all radio and every one of our mainstream newspapers. Of course, there are chinks of light, but those are for the most part quickly obscured by far the larger light show of authorities, experts, pundits and TV breakfast sopher narcissists. In the shadows and backstreets some of us gather murmuring of better times …
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To say it is a corporate coup would be inaccurate, but I do think we can say that it is a coup by a small group of men (mostly men) who are the so-called leaders of those corporations and whose source of fabulous wealth is sucked through those corporations. Spinning round the gold dusted light of the billionaires are widening rings of dancing acolytes – the millionaires; the power seekers; the mercenaries… not as moths to the flame, but as jackals around the kill of the pride.
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Such is UK commerce today. Stand still and you can hear the sucking sound as the good soil beneath our feet, the minerals in the ground, the biomass of Earth, the balance of atmospheric gases and also tax-generated assets of roads, railways, canals, bridges, town halls, market squares, hospitals, libraries, government buildings… are all drained upwards into the quietly sequestering levitation of the coup.
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Science fiction has materialised and materials (capital) are fast mutating into a planetary blanket of monetary soup. Soon, life will be too hot to handle and solid ground will be hard to find. How? – because we believe in fiction.
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And here’s a funny thing – instead of seeking solid ground and then living on it, while inviting others to join them there, people march in the street to persuade coup leaders to behave better. People want to be dependent on the coup and to remain in the pages of a fiction. Extinction Rebellion, Green Peace and the Green Party, spend all their time in a one-sided petition – a unilateral consumerist submission to the coup – we your dependents would like you to behave better, because we’re worth it.
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Meanwhile rivers, fields, woods…
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That the coup could take control so easily inside the European Economic Union, is no accident. The EU is founded on the premise of benign corporate control, with built in consumer protections. The coup will be happy, inside, or outside the EU, to provide for whatever the people will spend. Forward thinking billionaires will happily green the coup, so long as the capillary is maintained. For all its professions on biodiversity and climate change the EU is contracted to maintain the capillary. Attempts at public ownership and assertions of a commonwealth will meet the full contrary forces of the EU, just as they’ll meet the full contrary forces of the coup. Brexit, or Remain add drama to the fiction and the coup is happy to stir the passions of both camps. Divide and rule.
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Expanding GDP and expanding CO.2 emissions are cause and effect. Consumerism is essential to both the EU and the coup. The coup cannot seek a steady state economy, because such an economy will generate no surplus to feed its parasitic intent.
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Meanwhile, we cannot reduce emissions without shrinking our needs. Shrinking our needs will shrink the powers of both the EU and the coup. Shrinking to fit, just so, in our loved plot of Earth will deprive both EU and Coup of their life-blood – our spending. The jack boots may come to prevent us, but the sooner we make a start, so the sooner the thugs will lose strength to oppose us.
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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, as with all enclosures, 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 “carbon draw-down” 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, time for that planned transition has passed, 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. It is also accounted as “carbon negative” in targeted futures (2030/50) by the use of yet untried “carbon capture and storage”.
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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 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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