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.  http://www.bryncocyn.wordpress.com

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

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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

Contact onfo@bryncocynorganic.co.uk

Here’s a paypal link – https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=SLUE2BSRZ4VXG

Or from Smokehouse Press –  http://www.smokehousepress.co.uk/patrick.htm

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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The Tyranny of Enlightenment

Pursuit of further knowledge of the causes of climate change can grow a false sense of urgency – an urgency to become enlightened, which distracts from the true urgency – which is the moral question, – What should I do?

My way of life has become so destructive, that the pleasurable distractions of latest research papers are a waste of fast-diminishing time. The clock is approaching midnight.

Further accumulation of knowledge does not help with the question, what should I do? Without further enlightenment, we know that we must stop burning both fossilised biomass and living biomass. Our fossil fuelled way of life is impossible.
Fossil-fuelled ways of life are wrong. Burning things is wrong and the ways of life which depend on burning things are wrong – that is suburbia (commuter culture), ring roads, retail parks, super markets, air-travel, fossil-powered agriculture, the family car…

Discovering which ways of life are right will be a matter of trial and error – both personal and communal – but we can begin by imitating the pre-fossil-fuelled ways of life of our historical communities – communities which lived in the same terrain – within the same coastlines and with more or less the same cultural histories. Those ways of life are much like our own in every deeper sense. Many are nostalgic for them. They are a part of our inherited, intrinsic moral being. Current ways of life, which we must abandon, have not yet evolved that moral commons. They are shallow, brash, only a hundred, or sometimes two hundred years old and exist in our yet half-formed extrinsic being.

For inhabitants of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the change must be dramatic. Firstly – a reversal of the enclosures, which lead to mass evacuation of the countryside and occupation of what often became city slums. Then we can re-centre suburbia with towns and villages. Factories and workshops must be in walking distance for those who work there. Town centres and villages can revive as a central gathering-place for both the trades and the pleasures – pubs, theatres, libraries, churches, temples, mosques, council/parliament buildings and so on.

That’s a tall order? – Cloud Cuckoo Land? It’s an order that we must face. It’s right. What’s more – It’s easily understood. Furthermore, many are already nostalgic for it. To say wearily, – It’s Cloud Cuckoo Land, is to say that it’s ridiculous to work for a civilised future.

To live within our ecological means also means asserting lost sovereignties – in reclaiming commons and denying enclosures. Consumer dependency on monopolistic supply (however green) will end in human chaos.

The true Cloud Cuckoo Land is to believe that the way we live today can be powered by renewable energy; by yet unthought ingenuities and by a more enlightened agriculture – what we might call the new green super market – entirely agroecological; entirely electric; entirely re-cycled… That is the future pursued by many environmental NGOs, such as the Soil Association, Sustainable Food Trust and so on.
Earth does not provide that much energy.

***

The notion that economics (good or bad housekeeping) is a branch of moral philosophy has only become obscure in the last century. Previously, it had been an assumption.
Societies are held together by common beliefs. Good and bad behaviour – effective and ineffective tools are knit into those commons. Economics is the study of human causes and effects. Every action and every application of a tool has an effect and so also a moral. Let’s consider soil – a common to pass through generations – Are we succeeding or failing in our duty? – What of agricultural tools and their effects? These are supremely moral questions. They cut us to the heart, and also ferment in the head.

What are the effects of monetary systems and the manipulation of money systems? We learn techniques and tools by pragmatic trial and error – just as we do with the tool of money – but the effects of those tools always end with questions of justice, injustice, value, worth…. Of course, the words value and worth travel easily between aesthetics, scales of justice and weights and measures.

With regards to climate change, our primary questions are, what should I do, and what should my community do? The search for knowledge is a pleasure, but we already know enough to act effectively. The questions are, what is right and what is wrong?
When we speak of right and wrong we engage with both the head and heart. We become included, or excluded from the good life. We hate to be excluded – the remedy for exclusion is better behaviour. The remedy for climate chaos – for ecocide – is better behaviour. Ecocide is not only economically foolish – it is wrong.

How do we discern good from bad behaviour? – by inherited laws of commons, which have been traditionally bequeathed in religions; in songs and tales; in gossip. They’ve been expounded from soap boxes; inscribed on tablets of stone; in customs – in commons of soil-use, water-use and their just distribution in space (between neighbours) and in time (between generations).

What happens, when we have a fragmentary inheritance? We can add to it and reconcile some fragments by our footsteps. We can become actors in the myth. It’s our responsibility to be mythic! If we fail or not, in gaining meaning by the intelligence of our senses, we become placed – if we belong in a landscape – in a social scape – we can be happy.

For inhabitants of the so called developing world, change will be less dramatic. It will answer the question – Do we need to live as foolishly as our developed neighbours?

 
***

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There is no Magic Capital Tree. The Household is the Economic Model.

Of course, there are many magic money trees – but on the contrary, there is no magic labour tree and no magic resource tree. We can still say, wagging a Theresa-like finger, “There is no magic capital tree.” We can mention it to Theresa, who needs the lesson.

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Contrary to the view of many on my side of the fence (that is, those who pursue least-destructive de-growth & so on), I say that economies are visible in the microcosm of a household. If we lose that simplicity we wander from the truth. The movement of money is another thing – and is a related, but quite different story.

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In the microcosmic household, we can explore the pursuit of resilience, sufficiency, conviviality and the good life. In that household, everything has limits. Because it has limits, it also has form, mass, scent, sound… things we can value both spiritually and by weights and measures. It is within the household that we learn the primary lessons for macroeconomics.

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There, we find capital in both labour and resource and can also pursue the sources of that capital. If future capital is to be maintained, current capital must emerge from commons of good behaviour. Capital and common are one binary system. Each exists as an idea, because of the other. Commons define the house-dweller’s proper behaviour. They define duties for maintenance of capital of future households.

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Let’s not forget that the study of economics is a branch of moral philosophy. Manipulation of the casino is quite another thing. Most who adopt the job-description of economist today, study the casino of money flow, money creation, rent of money, movement of shares and bonds – and so the ebb and flow of imports, exports, wages, and spending. But let’s not also forget that study of the casino is the study of human emotions – for instance, casinos (which some call economies) collapse neither by scarcity, or by mismanagement, but by the collapsing belief of punters. As cult fervour fades to anxiety, or ennui, so the edifice crumbles.

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Money is a useful tool and an interesting study. What is most interesting about money, is that it can be used for peace, or violence – for justice and injustice – and so even the study of money remains a branch of moral philosophy.

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Calculating the odds of the casino for the lucrative manipulation of individuals, companies, corporations and nation states is an anti-social act – it defies commons of behaviour – it mal-uses otherwise benignant tools and is the central admonition for Adam Smith’s, Wealth of Nations. Adam’s original capitalism was designed to reign-in the malignity of the casino, and to release the dexterity, ingenuity and (importantly) the probity of labour capital to understand and best-use resource capital. Probity, trust and commons are essential to the best use of capital. Adam would regulate (by law) rent, currency manipulation and trade in shares and bonds. His comparative advantages of let’s say, two neighbouring cultures would be very much apparent in the microcosm of two households within those cultures. For instance, a surplus of wine and a lack of wheat flour in one house could create a beautiful relationship with a house in the neighbouring culture, which had the opposite economic problem… If that microeconomics does not inform macroeconomics, a society becomes vulnerable. After all, intelligence of scarcity and surplus arrives through the senses of individuals.

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We should keep this simple thought in mind – money is a tool. Where it becomes an asset – where it becomes “capital”, it always becomes malign – and parasitic to the wealth of nations. That truth is simple – and also, old as the hills. The wise householder should keep it mind, when bamboozled by the complexity of macroeconomics.

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When we speak of the labour which transforms resource capital, we could note that money flow (labour wage and its spending power) should be directly related to energy flow. Amoral casino money flow has lost that relationship. All acts have consequence and so have a moral – it follows that all energy flows have consequence and a so, moral. So those who study economics, that is moral philosophers, must conclude that in this, case, amoral becomes immoral, and so should, in any proper argument, become illegal.

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***

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Economics is very simple. What is the good life? How do we achieve it for ourselves, our descendants and our neighbours? How do we behave personally, parochially and nationally to best-use the resources we’ve been given?
But, once we act, the complexity of reaction begins.

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The casino of usury, rent, share and bond markets and so on has expanded to a mass, greater than the energy, which can sustain it. How can a solicitor maintain (solicit) £250 per hour rent for her services, when the productive labour which supports her can command no more than £4 – £10 per hour? The source is the magic money tree. Nevertheless, her rental demand destroys economies. It leads, by a slow bleeding process, to a withered economy. Her spending power is pillaging power. Of course, the magic money tree was originally born from land enclosure and the original blood-letting of land rent. Other enclosures followed, such as our solicitor’s status rent. A magic energy tree in the form of many millions of years of sequestered photosynthesis (fossil fuel) allowed the magic money tree to continue to expand beyond ordinary dreams. That energy tree was itself enclosed.

Magic trees become extremely complex within their structures, but their extent, energy and mass is very simple indeed. The magic money tree (debt capital and so on) can expand no further than the magic energy tree which drives it. Even so, in economies such as the UK and USA, the money tree has been wildly mismanage. It has grown beyond even the unprecedented, mass-giving power of fossil fuels.

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Casino collapse is inevitable. When casinos collapse, companies fold, unemployment soars, tax revenue withers and so support infrastructures – hospitals, schools, support payments, pensions… – also wither. When casinos collapse economies will also collapse. I leave it to readers to imagine what that means.

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The end of fossil fuelled economies also means a massive economic shrinking. But when modern casinos stop growing they instantly collapse. No powerful politicians can face the truth – that somehow together as a community, we must retreat to a solid and much reduced economic ground. We must accept the consequences of casino collapse. Only then, can we find ways to mitigate the effects of collapse.

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The model remains – the household.

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There is no magic ecology tree; no magic atmospheric tree; no magic resource tree; no magic labour tree; no magic ingenuity tree; no magic energy tree.
However, there is an ecology – in which we can place our economy, so that life’s respirations can maintain an atmospheric balance. We have friends, family and neighbours with a variety of skills and insights. We have historical social models of lives lived more or less happily without fossil fuels. As we shrink back from fossil fuel, so we shrink back into history – incidentally a history which needs to be re-written to explain our arrival at this pinnacle of utter folly and then, hopefully, for descendants to narrate how we’ve begun to descend to solid ground.

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Lairds, lords, squires, princes, nabobs, politicians… have never, ever had the smallest hand in the design and use of tools, and only disruptive hands in the formation of social systems. That history will resume. People, one by one make the culture. What’s more it can only be one by one, and in concert that we can find better ways to live – the good life – in the good household.

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***

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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.)

TWO THOUGHTS

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.

***

THOUGHT THREE

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.

***

 

THOUGHT FOUR

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 FIVE

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?

 

A FRIVOLOUS THOUGHT

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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