Patrick Noble’ Books

For new posts (& old) click on “Archives” to the right

Patrick is the author of a number of books, which are available from both best & worst bookshops, or from the author.  The archive to the right will hold new posts of his writing.  His day job is that of farmer.

Towards the Convivial Economy was published by the Smokehouse Press in March 2017


It is available from the author, or publisher for £7.50 plus postage & packing, or of course, from any good bookshop.

Patrick’s other books include –

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2014)

A Potent Nostalgia (2013)

The Commons of Soil (2011)

The Lost Coefficient of Time (2011)

Romantic Economics (2010)

Notes from the Old Blair and Bush (2008)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream was published by Smokehouse Press in November 2014

“Could we dream of a better world? Do we have the imagination to link happiness to places, people closely to our planet? These are epic times, and Patrick Noble sets out how to explore the routes to conviviality we may have forgotten we desire. Creating greener economies will take remarkable effort. Here, then, are some brave solutions.”  Professor Jules Pretty

“Patrick Noble’s writings preserve the organic movement’s authentic radical spirit” – Dr Philip Conford, author of The Development of the Organic Network.

From the author – 350 pages, £8.50 plus postage & packing


Here’s a paypal link –

Or from Smokehouse Press –

Review of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. by Dr Philip Conford, courtesy of the Organic Grower – journal of The Organic Growers’ Alliance –



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Status Enclosure is also Parasitical to Economic Activity

Enclosure – property – (outside flood, famine, storm and war) is the single greatest drain on economic vivacity. The effects of land property are well documented – that is, it accumulates fruits of productivity in rising land value and increasing rents, while also contributing nothing to that economy. Land owners sleep, while their wealth increases (J S Mill). The creators of wealth, become increasingly poor to the same degree. Plainly this process leads to economic collapse.

The solution is also well documented – from Tom Paine to Henry George – property holders should pay ground rent for the land, which they’ve removed from the community – to be re-distributed as simple social justice, via a universal citizen’s dividend.

But enclosure-wealth also buys political and so judicial power. All developed economies are guided by property owners, who will resist and have always resisted Tom Paine’s remedy.

Property brings a fortressed defensiveness (home as castle) which is deaf to reason. Taxes on property are more fiercely fought than taxes on income. Yet taxes on income restrain productivity. VAT is even worse, in that respect. The poor pay a higher rate of tax (through VAT) than do the wealthy by all their taxes.

But land is not the only property. Other enclosures include money-creation, intellectual property, seed monopoly, resource monopoly and another which is seldom mentioned, but is equally pernicious – that is status property.

Similar to land property, status property accumulates wealth generated by others – accumulating at precisely the rate that economies are hollowed.

There is no reason for a lawyer to charge £250 per hour, other than that of rent (extortion) for her monopoly. If I need a lawyer, I must take my £4 per hour to somehow pay that £250 per hour. Plainly the transaction wrecks my economy. In macrocosm, it wrecks the larger economy. This is plainly malicious behaviour, but custom has numbed the truth. We accept the custom – so much so that our lawyer has come to see extortion as a protected right.

All these trades have bred status racketeers – law, medicine, dentistry, architecture, parliamentary representative – and then a wild plethora of “consultancies” – food, farming, planning, political…

Does this mean that as it tends to decadence, the middle class itself becomes an economically destructive racket? Is it the grandest of all enclosures, which accumulates wealth as it sleeps and so collapses economies as it sleeps?

Plainly my local GP works hard and responsibly and so her extortion becomes extortion only at the point where it exceeds a proper wage.

Custom is a powerful thing – so powerful that it’s maintenance comes to be seen as a common fight.

Home as castle, status as castle, custom as castle – all monopolies as castles – are customs, which unite rich and poor in fear of the unstable and the unaccustomed. Even though poverty sinks into deeper poverty and the rich to become richer by it – rich and poor together, vote for that status quo. Nationalism as castle, racism as castle… have been cynically sold to the property-less by the propertied through newspaper headlines – so that the dispossessed have illusory castles to defend. Of course, those properties will finance neither rent, not the weeks shopping. Nevertheless, they may explain both Theresa May’s parroted phrase and the weird popularity of such economically-destructive far right politicians. As infrastructure crumbles, so castles in the air unite us, as we fling missiles at scape-goats from the castle walls…

A politician who encloses the idea of customary home life, can suck the lifeblood from that home and yet still receive the passionate vote of the householder. That home contains what is human – tender relationships, loyalties, joys, sorrows, memories… – home as castle.

Because those loyalties are deep – truly profound – they can overwhelm the truth. Post truth (strong and stable) has an easy ride. Statistics; physical truth can have no counter-effect. There can be no discussion at the castle wall.

Those yearnings are held by what is currently a majority heading to the polls for the general election. That majority will vote for its own destruction. We cannot reason with it. We can only hope for a larger yearning and a deeper and expanding loyalty – to community as castle – to lovely Earth as castle – to justice as castle.

We don’t need the economists – (though we could do with proper economists, because genuine economics is a branch of moral philosophy)

We need the unacknowledged legislature of the poets.


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Thought Six

We’ll not find hope’s light, flickering, even faintly, through the signs of the times. Ecologies cascade, resources are pillaged, economies hollowed and people dispossessed. Man-induced climate change will soon make chaos of the works of Man and what’s more, 99.9% of us in the UK have had a hand in causing that chaos and in removing the possibility of a settled life for our own children.

The intelligence of our senses must come to that conclusion. All that I’ve mentioned is plainly visible, while it’s also apparent that a personally-induced acceleration is intrinsic to all those tragedies.

Yet turn on BC Radio Four, open the Times, or Guardian newspapers and we’ll find quite different anxieties. Those anxieties are to maintain the ways of life, which have caused that tragedy.

The only course to escaping the coming chaos is to utterly change how we live and to abandon the ways of life advocated by BBC Radio four, the Guardian newspaper, mainstream political parties and so on.

We’ve become accustomed to seek change – not by changing ourselves – but by our consumer choices, casting votes, lobbying governments, petitioning corporations and by posting comments below internet articles.

This is crazy. Corporations, governments and internet articles are all three, ideas – abstractions. They have not the physics to cause anything. They lobby us to live as they wish. It is foolish to lobby them to behave as we wish, since they can only behave through us, who one, by one, are composed into a society.

To be sure we can cast a vote to change the direction of government and corporate coercion, and that may create fewer obstacles to behaving properly, but each action I take is morally attached to me and not to governments.

If enough of my friends and neighbours choose to stop shopping in super markets, and instead seek out proper shops and market squares, then the local super market will close and new opportunities for trades’ people will open. If most of my friends come to cancel their holiday flights, because they see it (which it is) as child murder, then many, who were careless of such thoughts and may also be fashion-conscious will cancel theirs to be seen as a part of the new fashion.

If gossip in town becomes suddenly much louder, because of a fashionable evacuation of retail parks and a new love for diverse shops, pubs and so on, then the coercive voices of newspaper, internet, radio and television will become muted to the same degree.

If the impulse spreads (and the power of fashion is a powerful thing), then corporations will collapse along with the voices of the politicians which they’d “employed” in New Labour, Tory, UKIP and Liberal parties.

These truths are irrefutable.

Maybe, says the comment column soon to appear beneath this article, but pigs might fly, people won’t change and so all the above is pie in the sky. The comments, for the most part, won’t say my proposition is untrue, but that it lives in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

Flying pigs eating pies above Cloud Cuckoo Land, are what tamed corporate politicians most fear. They are the innocent truth. Imagine that innocence. It is delightful and it is possible.

Now imagine the weary “realism” of the commentators. It delusively denies the place to which it heads – that is cascading ecologies, crashing economies, flood, drought, storm, famine… The weary realism urges acceptance of the end of civilisation. So, the weary realism is a delusion and my flying pigs are the truth.

The weary realism of Radio Four & the Guardian is persuading us that personally we are meaningless and that we must cast our vote in the coming general election for the realism that will sack economies, pillage resources, forget the ecologies upon which all economies depend and also forget the mother of all human catastrophes, which is climate change.


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Thoughts Three, Four, Five & a Frivolous Thought

(Author’s Note – I’ve placed the first two, previously-posted thoughts at the start for coherence. Please scroll down to Thought Three.)


We measure climate change as an abstract idea balanced against the real problems of our lives. We see the truth of climate change, just as we understand that Earth is roughly spherical. We laugh at both flat-Earthers and climate change deniers.

We also understand that our ways of life cause climate change, but in the scales, living as we do has weight, while climate change, being but an understood idea – such as, say, Murphy’s law – has none.

But the truth is that we live by delusive ideas, while climate change is reality.


That’s one thought. Here’s another.

We currently measure that weight of our lives (whose mass of problems out-weighs the problems of climate change) as insignificant relative to the vast weight of corporate and political power.

The truth is that governments and corporations are abstractions without weight, while our lives (though pursuing delusion) have weighty footsteps. We create the effects of the will of governments and corporations by our own actions. They have no physics to do so. Governments and corporations do not cause climate change. We do, one by one.

So, we use the abstract thought that corporate and government power seems vast to make it conveniently purposeless to act morally ourselves. We sign petitions to corporations and governments to improve their non-existent behaviour and we vote in democracies for the least-worst candidate for utterly abstract power.

Al Gore’s – An inconvenient truth remains and it rules our lives.

We are deluded, because –

Firstly – we ordinary people are the causal physics of climate change.

Secondly – only ordinary people and one by one, can stop causing climate change.


Governments, corporations and their disseminators – the BBC and our particularly chosen newspapers – are voices in our heads – coercing bad behaviour.

Why lobby governments and corporations to behave better, when it is only through us, the lobbyists, that they can behave at all?


Once upon a time, church; temple; mosque… – that is, perennial, ancestral tradition – out-weighed the ephemeral coercion of power.

We cannot conjure those social commons from thin air. Neither can we easily revive them from enclaves of dying embers.

It all points to ourselves – as Tolstoy mentioned, The Anarchists are right in everything. And as another religious leader similarly advised, the kingdom is within you.



Cultures are not the state of things, managed by elected representatives. They are methods of settlement managed one by one by ourselves. Culture stops when people stop culturing.

Currently, developed economies are cultured by monopoly-controlled tools of retail park, ring road, family cars, industrial agriculture, centralised networks of procurement and distribution and similarly centralised networks of politics and information. Even so, it is only by, and through real people, and one by one, that monopolistic (mostly oil-powered) systems can be applied.

So-called mainstream political and information networks (such as the BBC) are the political and information networks of those tool-controlling monopolies.

People have, for the most part ceased to consider themselves as cultural contributors and instead – by both employment and purchases, have become vehicles – conduits or carriers for the culturing suggested by those networks of politics and information. A bargain has been struck. Consumerism provides networks of bottom up requests – in exchange for top down responsibility. The transaction asks that citizens shed responsibility for the culture in exchange for statutory rights to quality of cultural supply.

The flaw in the contract is that the top down responsibility is actually a top down right. Responsibility has been shed from the contract. There is no-one responsible for either the helm of the ship, or for the sailors’ application of instruction from the bridge.

It remains true that people, one by one, apply the tools, which make the culture. Without that application of one by one, the whole monopoly infrastructure of super market, retail park, family car, suburbia and so on, will collapse. That network is an idea. People provide the physics, the market signals and the money.

However, the consumerist pact has shed ethics from actions by acceptance of the ethics of a network, which we pretend has ethics, but in our hearts, know has none. It is a common misconception that rights carry a balance of responsibility. They do not.

Since all our acts have consequence and so a moral, the shedding of that moral leaves our acts bereft of meaning. We become defensive, confused, belittled and cynical. We have rights, but are nostalgic for responsibility. Responsibility is the source of self-worth. It places us in the larger world. Without it, we cannot be happy.

The network is unaware of the physics of its actions, because all physics passes through the intelligent senses of people – one by one – all of whom have signed the pact –firstly by the ballot of shed responsibility and secondly by accepting the consumer right of purchase.

People are unaware of, or are at any rate, are contractually careless of the physics of their actions. Democracy and consumerism have merged as a single entity.

The vulnerability and dis-placement, which comes from punctured self-worth have been easily exploited by political and information networks. The use of scapegoats by both politicians and journalists is an ancient technique to bond a vulnerable “us” against shadowy causes of that insecurity. It removes our gaze from the true causes of our unhappiness to a fictitious place, where all can be well. By nostalgia we can be worthy and great again – today we are an anachronism in a sea of immigrants, work-anxiety, red tape and liberal-left spongers.




We are unhappy because we have shed responsibility – that is personal ethics – in exchange for extensive statutory rights. Many have sought an answer in accumulating further rights – that is permission to vilify scapegoats of immigration and red tape. Having expelled immigrants and having shed social and environmental responsibility, will we find happiness at last? – Since we’ve not expelled the cause of our unhappiness and have also accumulated still more of its causes, we will, of course, become still more unhappy.

Plainly the road to happiness is the road towards regained responsibility, in which we have – not a right to a new Great Britain– but the ownership of our own small and intimate actions. Those small actions are just human-sized – of personal responsibility. They are fitting. They are curious and interesting. They directly involve those we love. They contribute to the whole.



Thought Four is the inconvenient truth that the political/corporate/media/consumer partnership is hell-bent on suppressing.

Since Thought Four is both simple and true, every mainstream newspaper and broadcaster has reverted to ancient devises of irony, or sarcasm to suppress it. That is how we diminish truth. Of course, the distraction of post truth has also proved useful.

In politics, we’ve seen how injection of some simple truth by Jeremy Corbyn has stimulated that reaction of all three – irony, sarcasm and post-truth from New Labour and Conservative politicians and most tellingly, from the BBC. The same treatment is given to truths voiced by Plaid Cymru and SNP politicians.

Here’s a curiosity – that vilification has not been directed to the same degree at truths voiced by the Green Party.

Is that because the party is thought to be firstly- an insignificant threat, secondly a cross-party and so party-less concern, or thirdly because the truth is just too difficult to answer? Inconvenient truth is generally vilified. Have we a tiny chink of light? – a still, small voice?



Here’s a frivolity – the happiest peoples in a recent survey –

1st Norway – population 5.314 million

2nd Denmark – population 5.58 million

3rd Iceland – population 332.5 thousand

4th Switzerland – population 8 million

5th Finland – 5.5 million

Now Scotland has 5.37 million, while Wales has 3.06 million.

Scotland and Wales seem to have very good population sizes to achieve happiness as independent nations.

Plainly the UK is much too big to ever achieve happiness. It’s heaving mass of people are insecure, xenophobic and nostalgic for what they cannot achieve – that is a population “about the size of Wales”, which shares common values. Now, if London should break from the UK as a new city state, its population is 8.67 million – on the large side, but still – just about possible for happiness.


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Two Small Thoughts on Behaviour and Climate Change

We measure climate change as an abstract idea balanced against the real problems of our lives. We see the truth of climate change, just as we understand that Earth is roughly spherical. We laugh at both flat-Earthers and climate change deniers.

We also understand that our ways of life cause climate change, but in the scales, living as we do has weight, while climate change, being but an understood idea – such as, say, Murphy’s law – has none.

But the truth is that we live by delusive ideas, while climate change is reality.


That’s one thought. Here’s another.

We currently measure that weight of our lives (whose mass of problems out-weighs the problems of climate change) as insignificant relative to the vast weight of corporate and political power.

The truth is that governments and corporations are abstractions without weight, while our lives (though pursuing delusion) have weighty footsteps. We create the effects of the will of governments and corporations by our own actions. They have no physics to do so. Governments and corporations do not cause climate change. We do, one by one.

So, we use the abstract thought that corporate and government power seems vast to make it conveniently purposeless to act morally ourselves. We sign petitions to corporations and governments to improve their non-existent behaviour and we vote in democracies for the least-worst candidate for utterly abstract power.

Al Gore’s – An inconvenient truth remains and it rules our lives.

We are deluded, because –

Firstly – we ordinary people are the causal physics of climate change.

Secondly – only ordinary people and one by one, can stop causing climate change.


Governments, corporations and their disseminators – the BBC and our particularly chosen newspapers – are voices in our heads – coercing bad behaviour.

Why lobby governments and corporations to behave better, when it is only through us, the lobbyists, that they can behave at all?


Once upon a time, church; temple; mosque… – that is, perennial, ancestral tradition – out-weighed the ephemeral coercion of power.

We cannot conjure those social commons from thin air. Neither can we easily revive them from enclaves of dying embers.

It all points to ourselves – as Tolstoy pointed out, The Anarchists are right in everything. And as another religious leader once advised, the kingdom is within you.


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The Confession

It is right to hold sorrow in check, so that we can fulfil our roles, unburdened. To consider a task properly we need unbroken intelligence of receptive senses and an unfettered imagination. Yet, a dead weight of mourning must also rise by the evidence of those senses. What do we do with it? We are wounded and must heal if we are to whole-heartedly contribute to the task. Denial of sorrow may cause denial of its causes, so that we start with a diminished view. Open-hearted acceptance can easily break the heart, so that we become morally indecisive.

Snow has fallen, covering all our tracks – primal beauty of the folly of aspiration? Branches of last Summer’s green wood – each laden with white. Thoughts branch, seeking sunlight, but are cut off. By what? What is my sorrow? Collapsed dreams are, for the most part, accepted as lessons, so where do lessons lie in trackless snow? Since the snow is mine, it is for me to discover.

I limp from the scene that broke my heart and return through the drifts with insufficient or insufficiently contrite speed. Broken cycles falter – life and leaves – but the linear goes on – gravity pulls snow over my lack of response and sunlight falls without photosynthesis. Sap of the species and white lace of mycelia, pause beneath snow, but there’s older, structural grain in the wood – you’ll observe my economic metaphor.

Horned scapegoats like branches with breath – defined, they make struggles, hope, despair and tracks – undefined and they feed narcissistic dreams of snow power before the linear wind. Snow tosses its hair like history recurring and curling in drifts – you’ll note my political metaphor.

There’s artificial mist before the scapegoat in Murdoch’s headline. You can’t quite make it out, because swastikas spin Catherine wheels by Guy Fawkes’s fire – Front page pageants of fear draw us from the torture – by hateful incantations, flames and wheels, but you can’t see much. It’s the national interest. It’s a bon -fire. A wooden cross against drifting smoke and planted in snow is my lazy historical metaphor. The rude tree.

They try quantitive easing of money into the money flow but money ends where money lies in still pools of property and rent, which further hollows the heartwood of economic assets. Towns, villages and farms are hollowed trees. Ingenious dexterity should rise in the cambium, but instead, it’s a conduit for usury, land value, rent, stock casinos – weird sisters. Round the heartwood cauldron they go – the dance of full and never empty.

This is a landscape of hollow trees – the tree of Man as Rude Tree. The cauldron wood is called GDP. Its gas returned by Summer leaves. That’s the old dance of sun and leaf. As gross domestic flames increase, so sunlight falls to fewer leaves. Some rising gas exceeds the dance. It’s a marching column in the entry – atmospheric CO.2

Consider this – economies are primarily photosynthetic.


Economies are hollowed as the rich grow richer at the rim – in unresponsive enclosures of status, property value, rent – photosynthetic value is increasingly sequestered there in anaerobic layers. The aerobic, cyclic, responsive, photosynthetic economy is of people living, working and keeping house. But what should be verdant land, has become the hollowed land. Unemployment, falling wages and lost identity foster lost thoughts in search of lost identity. Nationalism turns hollowed to hallowed.

From the gated sequester-lands, a newspeak has been devised for headlines sold to the Hollow Lands, for the protection of hallows.


Towns, roads, bridges, market squares and parliament buildings are emergent properties of the efficiencies of entirely photosynthetic woods and fields. Often, they’ve been the properties of fossilised photosynthesis, but what’s important, is that they need not be.

What are emergent properties of millions of Summers of burnt, fossil photosynthesis? – Man posing as god? Yes, but also certain men with god-like tools and most others without. Money flow is replicated in energy flow.

When energy was manual, combined with ingenious use of gravity, wheels, screws, wind, water and also animals, then money flow (or barter flow) passed between economic actors. Tax and tithe were drawn to the edges – but much of that became assets of church and cathedral, or the protective moats of military and legislature. Culture remained at the centre, not only in labour and ingenuity, but in gossip, pleasuring and holiday. The economic actors knew what was what. Of course, after the Reformation, (though there were earlier enclosures) land enclosure began to bleed the centre. Nevertheless, it was the centre, which generated every ounce of wealth.

When fossil-powered tools became economic actors, people began to know less and less of what was what. Perversely, they had a narrower gossip (knowledge) and far, far fewer holidays. But as oil and coal became monopolies, they removed tools from the centre and sent surplus wealth to store in increasing land value – that is out of the economy and into the casino lands of the Edge. Protection of the casino of land value and its rent, oil value and its rent, status value and its rent became imperative as they became increasingly vulnerable. The restlessness of the dispossessed at the tool-less centre became the spur for the headlines on Mr Rupert Murdoch’s front page. Climate change, species loss, resource depletion, inequality, poverty, unemployment – all threaten the legitimacy of those monopolies and so the Front Page twists them into causes – not effects. They joined the shadowy scapegoats.


Of course, holding the centre will become necessary as oil departs and monopolies crumble. But that does not mean bringing centrism into today’s governments and corporations. It doesn’t mean bringing the system to its senses – that is – to attempt the sustainable development of a system which is in all cases, bound to collapse. Something for nothing is designed to collapse.

It means that enough people must step economically into their ecologies and together learn to live by what remains. That work must be curious, open hearted and well-adjusted to failure. In any case, as David Fleming teaches us, highly complex reciprocal obligations weave the fabric of all economies. The larger part of an economy is beyond measure.

Our hollowed, fossil-powered economies are shedding those obligations and with them the self-belief of their citizens. People attach lost morals to an older time and have been manipulated by the unscrupulous to blame the loss on fictitious contemporary ills. It is dangerous. Hate is blind. It is a blizzard in the wind. The drifts cover conversation – even by the fireside – but if there’s substance then there’s some good in everything.

After all, that sense of loss is deeply true. It’s an injustice that had been maintained by both the American Democratic and the British New Labour governments – just as much as by Republican and Tory.

How do we penetrate the drifts, when we are polarised in banners and barricades?

Here’s something – It may be easier to find convivial conversation with a Farage supporter than with an enlightened and liberal believer in social mobility, economic growth and technological futurism. Social mobility must approve the hierarchy in which we become mobile. Further economic growth is ridiculous. Future technology is a fantasy.

Those blizzard voices are hateful to be sure, but they are the voices of loss – though they have no substance, they have the lack of it. Find what’s lost and we may find common ground.

As we’ve explored in other essays, seriousness is the means by which we remove thought and feeling (intelligence), so that we can accomplish a task. Leaders exhale seriousness to remove intelligence from their senses. I think that pack and herd leaders of other species do the same. There’s a leaden stupidity to the corridors of power. There’s nothing new in that. That is the purpose of comedy and of course, tragedy – to reconcile disorder into the ordering of things.

Comedy is of the mind. Tragedy is of the heart. The plots are the same. Our predicament is not grand, or serious – seriously engage and we’ll be lost from the start. It’ll be found in commons of suffering, delight, laughter and tears. A blinding snow of serious hate provokes reciprocal and serious rage – alternative bon-fires in the national interest.

It’s not much of a solution, but bear this in mind – Nothing of importance is serious.


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The Joke

It is a great joke, that the deepest commons have been passed on in daylight, unnoticed by thought police, secret police and dragoons.

No disguise, samizdat, remembered whisperings; no underground… These commons are bequeathed in a code that anyone can read – elegance of architectural design, fine lines of a boat, laughter and tears extracted by good verse and prose…

Ancestors speak and are heard, in spite of ephemeral yet despotic newspeak of a particular time. The soul of culture – liquid notes of blackbird, the blue bell wood in sight and scent, stitchwort and campion guide a lane to unspoken tenderness of generations, settled in one ecological space… – generational echoes – once heard, become rites of passage to adulthood and personal mortality. Become the echo, and we may claim a birth right – to be human, despite the coercion of power. A spade, chisel, needle, shuttle… well-sent, are enough.

Subjects of tyranny have called to the echo; to natal soil; to the vivacity of it; unseen by defilers and so undefiled. Yet it is not esoteric – the code is egalitarian – and simple – a pub chorus – hop gardens and barley fields apparent in a pint glass – touched shoulders imply Mesolithic ancestors brushed past too – a nod and a wink from Orwell’s Moon Over Water, or Falstaff, babbling of green fields, or from the curled sliver of oak from the careful and quieter stroke of the plane… expressed in the wood. And as Orwell also noted – subjugate a people and you must first remove their history. (That was the cue for Mr Rupert Murdoch and his tamed politicians)

All this is ordinary – the mysteries of nature are perennial to all times and so the mystery is an ordinary mystery. The mystery of skill is ordinary and perennial too. What is marvellous is ordinary.

Belonging – longing – of course we are dispossessed, commons are enclosed, means to livelihood removed; that stroke of the plane denied; responsible contributions denied…. Nevertheless, inherited human senses remain. The social impulse remains. Our companion – the mouse in the prison cell, is beauty – a shaft of moonlight through the bars. I don’t much like that last, but let it stay for an ancestor, while detention centres close steel doors and torture my ridiculous and fallible imagination for a while…

Everyone is sometimes the butt of the joke.

And the deepest part of every established religion is also inherited – it is where ancestral voices – the holy blissful matyr for to seeke – that had them holpen when they were weake – evoke the common. Older shrines and springs gain Christian names and chapels are built where people would have gathered, in any case.

If we reverently list the names – Dowland, Monteverdi, Bach, Haydon, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert… or similarly of painters, poets, or philosophers, then we should understand the impulses that built those earlier passage tombs, where ancestral bones were displayed. Ancestral commons over-rule the temporal imposition of personally-convenient rule. Will any music exceed the extra-ordinary expression of both beauty and truth in Monteverdi madrigals, or those late, Beethoven quartets? Of course, not. Some music may match them and join the chamber tomb of ancestral pleasures. Why should tombs be solemn memorials, and not archives of pleasure? Chamber tomb music – submerge to emerge to what’s perennial, resilient, common, sad, funny and deep.

And devotion to – and gratitude for – place and for an ancestral cultivation of it – a fitting and elegant arrangement of fields or houses, is not nationalism. If we think of commons, then nationalism evaporates. Nation states have come with violence of enclosure. Such violence is always ephemeral, insensitive and – stupid. Property and borders are ephemeral and stupid.

These times house an epic drama. Ancestral commons are ineffective in today’s political conversation, though they remain effective to guide our own good behaviour. We’ll not bring good sense to Theresa May by performance of Beethoven’s op. 135. Even the old balance of church and state was long ago sacked at the Reformation. Theresa’s high heels; Boris Johnson’s tossed locks fit neither a chamber tomb, or church. They click and strut polished corridors of tax-haven UK towards… – a balance of political influences – who is in? Who’s out? How will Mr Rupert Murdoch respond?

Earth’s atmosphere is unbalancing, natural resources vanish, a casino of usury and rent expands at precisely the rate that real economic assets are stripped and real people suffer – but that is only partially at the hands of administrative and corporate power.

Those things are by what we ordinary people do, one by one. We commute from an impossible suburbia, in an impossible family car, for a wage to pay rent, or mortgage in a property casino, which so exhausts our self-respect that we must holiday by impossibly profligate jet aeroplane (using idly-accumulated property value)– all – and it is in plain view – to remove a civilised future from our children. That is what we do.

We consume too much for the future to withstand. We know we do it. We say that we are coerced to do it and are trapped. So, we lobby the coercers, we donate a subscription to Friends of The Earth, or Greenpeace and sign petitions to governments and corporations. Yet, we exist. We cause climate change, while governments and corporations do not – they are abstractions. They have not the physics to cause climate change. They are voices in our heads, coercing us to behave badly.

For most of human culturing, people have behaved more or less properly by the guidance of ancestors – by proper use of the gift of inheritance. I propose that until about 1500BC (late Bronze Age), ancestors would have a larger influence than kings. Since then, and until the Reformation, they’ve probably had an equal voice. Today, where influence rides, they are unheard. It is time that we listened again. It is probable that the first impulse towards property enclosure was to silence ancestral voices – that is, the power of social commons.

As I began, the joke is that the voices remain in past trials and errors that produced the near perfect shape of a tool; the lovely balanced arch of a simple river bridge and there, in a shock of surprise, we may come upon evidence of a living ancestral representative in skilfully-pruned rows of orchard trees.

There’s currently a publishing production-line of affected footpaths into dialects of nature. They win literary prizes. Happen, there’s now’t awry fossicking in the liminal – but people drop such code words, twitch an eyebrow, pause, as if to say – I have the code, though I’ve not the tweed, or stout brogues. I’ve mooched in the Edge Lands – the good lands before climate change. Enough! Culture is what we do. That is the joke. Those books scoot the surface meniscus among other enclosures and prizes. There is no eclectic society of the commons. Ordinary is best – it is also, the deepest.

Of course, when we square up to our tormentors it can only be on the shallowest ground. The words, or bombs which pass, though often devastating, do not have meaning, because the powers live in an ephemeral world of personal advancement, where points scored, points lost, bombs restrained, or bombs dropped have become the meaning. Actually, only powerful ancestral commons can properly restrain a tormentor. Violence to answer violence has been temporarily effective, but is always improper – and is generally followed by further violence.

The tormentors are the voices in our heads. If we listen, then we’ve ourselves to blame. The ancestors endure – they are in our souls – the voice of our hearts. Even so, the tormentors of these islands have also endured – Bronze Age Brutus (of legend), Iron Age Caesar, early medieval William, reformation Henry VIII… then, Tony Blair, Theresa May… Here’s the thing, ancestry apparent in a terraced hillside, or a folk melody, lie in too deep a strata to encounter those on the surface. Of course, Teresa could sink though the accumulated layers of herself to find that common humanity. It is probable that she does – outside politics, but unlikely within.

Without, or forgetting those deeper strata, we are incomplete – and so liberated to misbehave. We can consume without guilt, while suggesting that a cast vote in the ballot is a good enough substitute for personally-proper behaviour.

That deeper moral is neither masculine nor feminine, yet it can be fierce. If we attend to it, we attend to our pre-enclosure inheritance – the inheritance to act – to shoulder, in our passage of time the duty to maintain the good life. We have what we need – that is ourselves. It is very ordinary – we need experience and judgement. No-one else can supply those things – not the latest research paper – nor dignified press releases by authorities in their fields… With regards to crashing casinos and climate change we know what we have to do without advice – we must live within our ecological means. Only I can know precisely how I live.

The continuation of culture is expressed in us as we come to adulthood. First – Is how I live replicable in the lives of my children? Second – Is how I live, similarly possible for my neighbours?

The first considers how an economy settles its ecology. The second, social justice. The difficulty is that as soon as we consider those very simple questions – the answers to which are no and almost certainly no – we enter the complexity of our life lived with others. At the depth of our being, we become less an individual of the species and more the species itself.

Some decisions are easy – Should I cancel the holiday flight? – Yes.

Should I stop shopping in super markets and instead, look for proper shops and trades’ people? -Yes.

Should I farm/garden organically? – Yes.

Should I buy electricity generated by wind, hydro and solar power? -Yes.

There are no (or very few) obstacles to deciding yes in those four cases. Remember, that failure to various degrees is pre-written in all adventures. All those yeses also lead to happiness.

If we have surplus money, then happy decisions should become easy – shares in, or donations to an energy scheme, sail-trade venture, land for allotments, or corner shop, pub, library, post office…

Should I instead, hoard my wealth in the rising value of property and rent? – No. That decision is easy.

Should I buy organically-grown food? – Yes, but I may find none nearby and my current wage may be insufficient.

Should I ditch the family car? Yes. But I may have no public transport to my distant work-place and can find no work nearer to home.

Should I cancel my business flight? – Yes, but that means, I may be sacked.

Such yeses remain true. They are also imperative. We should choose to be sacked. We’ve not the resources to power suburbia, the family car, aviation, profligate agriculture and so on. Those things not only contribute to climate change, they will also lead the current monetary casino to an impossible fantasy land and so collapse and with that collapse – economic and social collapse. We could argue that hastening collapse will reduce its eventual magnitude, but I think we should be urgently building a community network which is disconnected from that casino – one formed enough (by our contribution) to emerge alive from beneath the rubble. Collapse will come. We must also divest our lives from the causes of climate change.

Much can only be achieved in cooperation with others and so personally simple decisions mingle with the highly complex. But social systems are always complex, and so in finding complexity, we are at the entrance to a road to finding our way.

The ancestral joke is that we have inherited an understanding of right and wrong. That is intrinsic. By that inheritance, we form social systems. It is the bond.

How do we form a whole social system – its economy settling nicely inside its ecology? We don’t. Everyone does. Where economy meets ecology, is precisely where a tool meets its materials – that is by the fingertips and grasp of one pair of hands – that is – one’s own intelligent hands. My work is the most critical work, because it is mine. Everyone else must think the same. I listen, learn from others and so on, but the application is mine. All the other goings on of culture are in trust – about which we can put in a pennyworth – in gossip, admiration, even disapproval. But the complexity is beyond us – or should be, if we trust. The trust is inherited, accepted and then, in turn, bequeathed. Culture flows through the metabolic and nervous systems of ourselves. There is no one else. At adulthood, we take the trust. Our species has evolved, less by advantageous individuals, and more by advantageous groups. We are hard-wired to altruism.

Flocks packs and herds have leaders and so we’d be foolish to think that we can avoid human leaders. The thing about human leaders is that they are not supposed to hold tools, or to undermine the success of those who do. It is a perversity of our time that they do hold tools and undermine the success of tools. (oil monopoly, land monopoly, information monopoly) They are supposed to oversee the order of a social system, in which all the rest maintain the culture.

I caught a small voice through a chink in time.

Take back your tools – as quietly as is possible, remove them from the incompetence of parliaments and boardrooms. You are adult. If you live well enough to claim it, then the rows of skulls in my chamber tomb have space for your own. But it is your children, faced with a future that you have made, who may, or may not, place you there.

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When we call our current anti-capitalist casino of neoliberalism capitalist, we evoke a train of thought, which seeks remedies for the wrong sickness. Capitalism was dreamed by Adam Smith as a counter-measure to the emerging illnesses of rentier profiteering, currency manipulation, usury and the use of bonds and shares – not as a means to finance and so capitalise a venture, but as chips in a trading casino, which is careless of that venture and of the complex mutuality of social systems.

Today, the effects of rent, usury and stock and share casinos have laid waste essential commons of soil, biomass, biodiversity and water and have even upset the balance of Earth’s atmosphere. Properly-applied capitalism would have remedied those ills.

Capitalism will not function without inherited and bequeathed commons. Actually, capitalism is confined to the pages of a few evidently-forgotten, or at any rate, misapplied books. The probity of the skilled was essential to Adam Smith’s thoughts on both the exchange and maintenance of capital. Probity lives on the common and is passed from ancestors to descendants by codes of apprenticeship and of the goings on of life – gossip, storytelling – by what binds a culture.

Capitalism and monopoly are fundamentally opposed.

Capital and common are fundamentally conjoined.

That is why we cannot rail at the ills of capitalism, because it has never existed. It remains ethereal – a lost idea seeking the physics of application.

We can however, rail at what Adam Smith identified as ills. These things are parasitic to the wealth of nations – the casino of bonds and shares; of usury; of rent; of currency manipulation. Adam wrote for the readers of his time and in some respects, is time-bound. Deeper truths are universal, but shallower fashions have greater physical effects. That’s a difficulty – we wring our hands to address ephemeral, yet physically-powerful fashions, which are deaf to deeper reason. We speak to contemporary perversities, which often lead us perversely off-course. Deep truth is timeless, but unheard – unwanted in the politics of power.

As the casino expands, capital assets are stripped. Nevertheless, as spending slows, like a bloke on a bike, the casino meanders. When growth in spending stops, the bloke falls off. (Image from David Fleming) Because collapsing casinos cause economic chaos, governing officials seize on the virtue of increased casino-flow. When casinos fall, businesses collapse, unemployment soars and tax revenues wither. Societies find insufficient revenue for unemployment relief, healthcare and maintenance of essential infrastructures. Who, in authority wants such a legacy as her memorial? Such doubt is regularly defeated by an adopted religious (actually cult) fervour.

Meanwhile, the cult (the applied minds of governments and corporate employees) continues to strip casino restraints and so also to strip real capital and common assets. Some, fear being the one who says, enough and so must deal with the real economic consequences, while others are happy believers, because rentier effects and careless trade in currency, bonds and shares have made them personally very rich.

Growth in spending (GDP) is not a measure of increased assets, or of economic growth. In many respects, it measures shrunken assets. Everywhere, in developed economies, capital is shrinking as both natural commons (biodiversity, biomass…) and institutional commons (healthcare, roads, harbours, bridges…) also shrink. Casinos expand. (land rent, intellectual property rent, rent for status, money rent) Wages shrink as rents increase. The rich become richer and the poor, poorer. Such decadence would crumble any civilisation, but the new ingredient of fossil fuel has extended ours far beyond its proper span.

All this is so simple, that once upon a time, a little child would have noticed that the casino had no clothes. It is certain that many little children, have many times, done so, but simple truth is not for political discourse.

My green friends continue to blame a non-existent capitalism for environmental degradation and climate change. We temper non-existent capitalism with carbon trading schemes, which are immediately and gleefully snapped up as gamblers’ chips in the casino. We introduce eco-system services and true-cost accounting – which are swallowed as value-added commodity. To value an eco-system service, we first enclose it. We enclose what capitalism would have left untouched on the common – because the purpose of a common is to maintain a source of capital through generations.

All capital has limits. It has particular shape, size, mass, scent, sound, energy… so it has specific form – a form we can love, share, study, nurture, preserve, bequeath – about which we can sing. Cultural assets ripple through the delights and worries of gossip, good housekeeping and storytelling. Remove any one of those activities, or sensitivities and the economy will weaken. Yes. Music, elegance of architectural design, the re-telling of stories, a hand shake, a good joke, erotic intimacies, a walk to the hilltop… are things for which we pay no money and yet by which economies are cemented.

Instead of promoting true cost accounting of eco-system services, why not promote capitalism?

It is where shape, size, mass and so, on exist and are accounted. They can be accounted by weight and measure, but they can be accounted spiritually. And that is the ground where the convivial and lean economies coexist together with the winding caravans of transition town, permaculture, agroecology/organic, new economics, alternative currency, renewable energy, conservation… movements.

Capital is an enclosed common. But the act of enclosure must be by common rules of behaviour. The behaviour carries reciprocal obligation to maintain the source of that capital – that is natural commons of good air, good water, good soil, vivacious biomass and thriving biodiversity.

Capital and common are one binary system – each exists, because of the other.

However, perhaps we should separate natural commons from social commons. Humans are one species, utterly dependent on the vivacity of the rest – many of which, though ultimately connected, will evolve and interact beyond the ripples of human contact. What’s more, natural commons can and should, in some respects, escape definition of commons, because they have no connection with capital and thus no need for a binary common. The common is that place inside an economy (human house-keeping), which restricts economic behaviour to that which is sustainable. So, we could define much of a natural system as beyond commons – beyond the justified hand of human activity.

Anyway, natural commons, such as soil and water, which appear as capital inside an economy in the form of cabbages and tomatoes, remain very different from the tax, or tithe-derived commons of roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, market halls, harbours, churches, cathedrals, standing armies, nuclear submarines and parliament buildings.

Perhaps we do need new terms to separate the two.

However, in all cases, those commons regulate temporal behaviour, so that descendants receive the same quantity and quality of a common economic resource. Such an understanding of commons is also a capitalist understanding of the maintenance of capital.

Of course, much of the capital held by an oil-powered economy is tied to oil. As oil departs, that capital must depart. Internal combustion and jet engines are sources of major parts of our ways of life. They will vanish and with them – air travel, the family car, suburbia… That very much shrunken economy is one where people can more easily find each other’s qualities and also more easily find a cultural symbiosis with the living Earth.

Beyond climatic suicide, the vast energy resources needed to power current ways of living do not exist. It’s a good start, to look about, to value what capital we can have. If we – and we’ve evolved to do so – care for our children, then we must make sure that the means to such capital are replenished. Every ounce of capital is attached to ancestral directives to maintain the common ounce which supplied it.

The common requires human energy and human ingenuity to engage with it. That engagement provokes much more than this simple sum – common wealth minus enclosed capital equals zero. It provokes ingenuity, dexterity, curiosity, delight, fulfilment, humility and a need for each other. That is, it provokes a more fulsome, diverse and so resilient culture.

One day, quite soon, the dams of the casino will collapse, releasing torrents of tumbling economic assets and swirling human emotions. If we are previously engaged in large enough numbers with casino-divested ways of life, then with a lot of luck we can look, one to the other, to turn the wheels of a lean and convivial economy as islands in the flood. As we’ve just explored, much of the capital in that economy is human capital for which we pay no rent.

We’ve no choice but to begin as soon as we can to devise the liberty to behave well . We are restrained by wage, mortgage and so on? Yes. It will take some devising. Statistical analysis suggests that it would be more honest to live with despair? With regards to both climate change and cascading casinos – Yes. Often, we will. Nevertheless, a self, or anthropological analysis suggests a greater truth in hope – it is an inherited imperative. Doing the right thing makes happiness. Should we choose the displeasure of doing wrong to confirm an addition of statistical likelihood? Failure? It is perennial to everyone, and to all history. It is unproductive (and this fool thinks foolish) not to hope that we can stand on solid enough ground after the Fall – to emerge with some capital – both weighed and measured and immeasurable – that is spiritual.

Think of this – the sanctity of the bedtime story – How would you begin? Where’s the greatest good? Perhaps here, we can unearth the deeper integrity. You are the adult. What do you tell the child? – Once upon a time…

Once upon a time, a child of consumerism grew up, and looking down, saw the faces of her children looking up, to her and to her alone…


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