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

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 Marriage of Basic Income and Land Value Tax

Get real, say basic income evangelists from symposiums and podiums with robotic futures on prophetic tongues. Automation and increased leisure need a reciprocal and productive arrangement between producer and consumer.

Yet, their culture of driverless cars and robotic manufacturing is only decades old and will soon lose the sources of energy which power it. Such thinking is street – consumerist – of hip products in on-line, high and democracy street.

The story on Consumer Street says that by paying for the product we create the need for it and so have right to a participant’s share of the profits. The robots make profits, but need no wages, beyond cost of materials and the protective intellectual property right claimed in design. Anyway, social security relief payments are more costly to administer than a simple basic income for all. Moreover, a consumer of robots, who is equipped with a basic income, may find monetary liberty to use that understanding to design better robots herself.

Well, it’s true that automation is the natural progression of the oil age.

However, it is not the natural progression of the digital age.

Fossil fuel has created the digital revolution. It is surplus energy – not human ingenuity, which truly powers robotics.

If settled cultures are to survive we have to face this truth – we have no surplus energy – we have an extreme deficit.

Renewable energy cannot power fossil-fuelled ways of life. We only know that it can power a well-organised pre-fossil fuelled way of life.

Fossil fuels had made manual labour largely redundant. We employed fossil fuels and sacked people. Now we must employ people and sack fossil fuels.

Our primal renewable energy will be man-power. Other sources are bound to absolute physical limits. Those limits make these things redundant – suburbia, the family car, air traffic, industrial agriculture, super markets and internet shopping. Those things have been powered by millions of years of fossilised photosynthesis – from outside our time and space. All happy futures will be bound to the limits of each, particular and singular season as it passes – and bound to particular places – soils; resources…  We must change our ways of living to sit happily in time and space.  Only then can we look about for available energy supplies.  We put the cart before the horse, if we think firstly of green energy and afterwards of how to use it.

Places are mutable by personal behaviour and by the unpredictable passing of time and seasons. As Ivan Illich says, soils are enriched, or diminished by our traces…

Basic income will be productive in quite another way – As Tom Paine proposed – in restorative justice. Depraved yeoman farmers and aristocrats, enclosed ancient commons, forcing settled, convivial self-sustaining communities into wage dependency, city slums and further rent extraction by city landlords. Every proprietor owes the community a ground rent for the land which he holds. Basic income is that ground rent.

The pillage of the Reformation had also imposed a state doctrine. Protestantism replaced shrines, festivals, gossip and holidays with a totalitarian new-speak. Complex, evolved cultures were displaced by brutalist, unremembering austerity. That imposition has survived through every turn of post-reformation history and remains as our cultural narrative today.

Literature and music easily recall that lost pre-reformation complexity – Falstaff babbling of green fields – Farwell, rewards and fairies of which the moping owl doth to the moon complain…

The cultures we’ll need to survive without oil, sit within just the means a landscape supplies – alongside trades of scarcity and surplus with similar neighbours. We’ll not build such a culture without shrines, festivals and holidays, which were the punctuating memorial repositories of pre-enclosure times. We need complexity. But there’s no recipe. David Fleming reminded us that large scale tasks need small scale systems, working within that large system. Today, we have large scale tasks employing large scale solutions, which compound the magnitude of the task. I met a fool in the forest. The beauty of the only sort of society that can survive and mitigate resource depletion and climate change is that it is small scale and includes every one of us. If we can respond instantly, intelligently and ingeniously to our personal mistakes, then those mistakes remain just as small as we are. But our solutions is connected to the larger community. For I am come with broom before – to sweep the dust behind the door…

We’ll be bound to place – to responsibility for it – for the passing on of soil, water, biomass, songs, morals, ancestral adventures… Basic income is reparation for enclosure of those commons – for replacing ingenious culture with idle sheep and then the stupefaction of the factory gate. Little people can reverse big history of oil and land monopoly with personally-identified intelligence, ingenuity and dexterity. Basic income can have a part in re-centring suburbia and repopulating fields.

That is – a massive migration of people – an epic change of culture – and an unprecedented wave of irresistibly contagious happiness can only be made possible by all of us – one at a time.  Only small, locally intelligent systems, which communicate together, can create a properly-responsive, large-scale change.

That will never happen? – That’s probably true. But if it is true, then young women today would be wiser not to bear children.

Meanwhile, an intellectual property rent, reimbursed as a productive cycle through the pockets of hipster robot masters is not the basic income I’d choose.

Since the Reformation, rent has bled production dry. Through passages of empire, advantageous trading and industrialisation, wealth has been sucked from the acts of economies into acts of enclosure. Cultures are what people do, and yet wealth has been extracted from the value added by good work to be sequestered in the pockets of idle monopoly – principally land monopoly. Others are status (lawyer, medical practitioner, politician, banker and so on), resources such as coal, oil and intellectual property in seeds, medicines, chemicals, machinery… The better people work, the more the values of those properties are enhanced and the higher the land rent extracted. Rent extracted by doctor, lawyer & etc. also increases, while doctor and lawyer gain surplus wealth for the purchase of further land property. Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, where wealth accumulates and men decay.

Even now, the rich grow richer by sitting idly in their properties, while the poor grow poorer in waiting on them – laying drains, building roads, growing food… Nearly five hundred years is a long time to hold down a festering injustice. I think we may have seen the pot boiling over in the Trump/Farage phenomena – the unpleasant side of reaction.

A better side may be celebrated in a Spring festival with a fiddler, a song and a marriage ceremony – for the marriage of Land Value Tax and Basic Income. When that Summer with his sunne softe – has the Wintre wedres over shake…

Donald Trump is Lord of Misrule for a day, but tomorrow…

Even black-hatted John Milton sang –

Rough satyrs danced and fauns with cloven heel, from the glad sound would not be absent long, And old Damaetas loved to hear our song.

Of course, those who hold monopolies never have, and never will agree to be taxed, although many have proposed it. Most certainly, it will prove the same today. But this decade is probably the most epic of all human times. It is likely that human cultures will not change and instead, step blindly forward into the havoc of climate change.

Grasping at straws is the best, most realistic, most convivial and most hopeful thing to do.

Take a straw.

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Lords of Misrule

We fall out more vociferously with our friends than with our enemies.   Old enemies are defined and safe. Enemies within are dangerous – they defile sacred ground. For instance, I would feel more “at home” reviling “New Labour” than I would “Tory”.   Similarly, the “organic movement’s” very New-Labour-like embrace of the same super markets, which have sacked and emptied organically-evolved town centres and villages, is to me “a sin” worse than any committed by those same super markets – which are what they are – that is “other” – the old enemy.

Many leaders have rounded on scape goats as tools to power – bonding safety against fear – leading to a holocaust “in the national interest” – surely the foulest episodes of all history. But then Stalinist communism comes (in its effects) very close to that stench. So, what unites those tyrannies is scape-goat-ism. Trump, Farage, Le Pen, Daily Mail, Sun, Express and Fox News newspapers are united in that respect with Henry VIII, Oliver Cromwell, Stalin and Hitler.

We cry that Trump, Farage and the so called, alt. right should be labelled properly as fascist. Well, le Pen, Hitler, Mussolini, Franco… are fascist – they have a fascist cultural vision. Trump and Farage have not. What unites them all is not fascism, but thuggery, narcissism and scape-goat-ism.

Both left and right can be united in humanity against that brutalism (with apology to innocent brutes). From my market stall, I’ve witnessed, ordinary “decent” people voice the brutalism of Daily Mail, or Sun front pages. Many of those people are my customers. They unite round a front page, with their hands to the fire, because of a lost way of life – they like street markets for instance – and then proper shops and real tradespeople. They don’t like the “thought police” of dietary health advice, safety regulation and political correctness. They choose to shop at my organic market stall, because, like them, I’m a little man – in my case, doing his best to grow good food in competition with corporate supply. They voted UKIP because they see Farage as their little man in politics. So – I can like what they like – it is defined, while disliking (hating?) their scape-goat-ism. Those scape goats are less well defined. In truth, shadowy, ill-defined figures have been the baddies, demons, bogeymen, goblins… of most cultures. It is easy to evoke them by group incantation – huddled around the fire. But define them and they become real and the shadows are gone in a puff of smoke – some of them.

So, the populist yearning for lost culture, which has led to swelling support for Trump and Farage, is the same yearning which could also swell a green and socialist movement. Socialism and fascism have been closer than we suppose. They share the same spring. The green movement has been even closer. Some founders of the UK organic movement in the 1930’s and 40’s, were openly fascist. They supported the small man against the state; the dexterity and ingenuity of the trades – from finger-tips of respected skills to the soul of culture. Many supported proposals for social credit and restorative justice in land rights and defined commons. They supported labour value against usury… – with Usura, hath no man a house of good stone

Past cultures have been regulated – drawn back from extremes by common ethics of ancestry, sweat lodge, mosque, church, temple synagogue… Common ethics are made potent by vivacious gossip. Today, our common is newspaper and internet news. The tragic merger of church and state had handed moral authority to an amoral media. Gossip in town is all of the nine or ten world news stories that have been selected, then touted and sold by central news agencies. The almost infinite goings on of life – however profound, have been sorted into the basket named, trivia. Questions in parliament, for the most part, raise those same nine or ten sold stories. Gossip in town is also of those stories. Search twitter and it’s the same.

How do we coalesce into a broad consensus that makes convivial society? Past communities have gathered round the receiving and passing on of ancestral commons and a common view of history, the land and our places in it. Religion has woven roles into both work and pleasure – dignity of trades, festivals, shrines, holidays…

How do we set up the warp for a weft of the times? We’re unravelled by oil, neoliberalism, consumerism and consensus politics. Political parties are marketed in the same way (and by the same agencies) as pot noodles. We’ve no appetite for either pot noodles, or current political parties. We’ve also few common purposes, or sanctities.

The confused cultural yearning that leads to support for Brexit, Trump, Farage, Le Pen and so on, is similar to that we’ll need to cement a common cultural understanding, as money markets and growth “economies” of neoliberalism collapse around us. The isms are blurred – left and right, socialism and fascism… Here are some opposites that are never blurred – cruelty and kindness, inclusion and exclusion, peace and war, conversation and contumely, poverty and wealth… How do we bring those ordinary things back into both political conversation and the ordinary gossip that binds societies? What is happiness?

Our liberal support for labour rights, land rights, gender rights and so on, have become necessary to counter the essential amorality of free market liberalism. It has also led to a perverted support for those that promote those rights – such as American Democrats and the UK New Labour Party.   It is perverted because those parties pursue enclosure, corporate monopoly, rentier profiteering, debt-created “capital” and the levelling of protective barriers. They have created the need to fight for those rights.

New Labour/Democrat pursuit of unfettered economic growth is a cause of both inequality and climate change. Yet how can we not rush to the barricades with anyone at all at the sight of a Trump or a Farage? Bernie Sanders fell into that very human trap in his rush to the barricades with culturally-destructive, neo-liberal, Hilary Clinton.

Everyone is looking for the unifying phrase that matches – make Britain/America great again…

Yet culture is what we do. Actually, New Labour/Democrat governments have caused neither climate change, nor inequality. They’ve lobbied for them. They’ve legislated for them. It is we little people, one by one, who have been coerced to cause them.

Only we little people can find a way back. My one empowering thought!

The whole of contemporary politics is inappropriate. That is why we have Trump and Farage. Those of us who argue for least worst options in the ballot, because they are the only surviving options, have been defeated by Trump and Farage. Trump and Farage supporters are not clones of Trump, or Farage – far from it. But there is no conversational nuance, because there is currently no reason to politics. They yearn for something deeper – in the soul – beyond reason – towards a yet undefined reason. They’ve been nastily manipulated by an utterly-cynical, corporate press, which noting the yearning, has misused it. But then we’ve also been manipulated, who voted for a Hilary Clinton, or an Ed Milliband.

I’ve a vision of the convivial society, but no vision to convey it to others. But I’m convivially connected to the Farage supporter at my market stall. They buy Welsh Black beef, pass on recipes, and discuss the virtues of Ribston Pippin, or Adam’s Pearmain. I’m grateful for the money. We are morally closer than I am to the leaders of super-marketed Soil Association, or to the corporate status quo of New Labour Party. To my customer, I am far left, and to me he is far right. I think we are friends. We happily argue. Racism? Sexism? Homophobia? – He denies it. Immigration is population density – numbers – resources – finite space.

What does this mean? Well, if we are not sure – and if none of us are sure, then there’s a comic beginning to a unified society.

There are many (such as Thomas Pinketty) who note the destructiveness of neo liberalism. They see the need for protective borders to specific cultures and specific needs. They see the need to act on climate change. But their proposals to improve and adapt the free market, end by prolonging and endorsing it – and so endorsing both accelerating inequality and accelerating climate change. They see the free market as simply there – as much as seas, rivers, mountains and the breath that follows breath are there. They see the super market, the family car and cheap holiday flights as similarly there – as though those things were the natural projections of human nature.

In microcosm, much the same thinking destroyed the organic movement in the UK. I suppose it did the same in the US. It is easier to visualise in microcosm.

The yearning; the ill-defined nostalgia, which has (for some) swollen the ballot for Trump and Farage is for a pre-free-market world of full employment and defined roles – corner shops, stores, family firms and trades – grocer, builder, joiner, stone mason, baker, butcher, miller, tanner, shoemaker, milliner, weaver, blacksmith, shipwright, woodsman, sailor, fisherman, farmer… The free market has brought a post-identity world, which delivers consumer right to the limit of production cost on the one hand and to the limit of purchasing wages, on the other. Those wages are shrinking and becoming more scarce. People want their identities back. People with lost identities can easily be pushed into gangs of them and us – which round on scapegoats.

People with lost identities could equally be enthused to a role in re-building what they yearn for – actually the very world which green thinkers would also love to create.  Capitalism, communism, fascism, localism… share the same spring – social justice – but each in differing reaction to differing times, politics and places.

Remove the thuggery, the scapegoats, and the party-political monopolies and all those ideologies can come together like voices of the ancestors. For ourselves we must grow a philosophy by the trial and error of what we do. Every ancestral voice is utterly contrary to the free market casino. Those voices are at our backs as we step forward. In truth, they were, without exception, specific moralities created to counter the amorality of specific power. They are bound to time and place. When power over-steps commonly accepted ethics a new counter-ideology must emerge. We are bound to a new time in perhaps, if we are lucky, the same places.

That thugs have waved ideologies as flags in the slaughter is not the fault of the ideology. Many blame capitalism for our destructive behaviour, but actually, like communism it has never existed. Adam Smith’s was a moral philosophy which, if adopted, could undermine the frivolities of kings, stock casinos and currency manipulators – that was its purpose. It was never adopted. Similarly, Marx’s communism and Kropotkin’s anarchism have never been adopted.

Ah well. Perhaps it’s as well that we don’t follow the books. The powers have used the books for their own ends – & the worst are full of passionate intensity…

The free market is very young. It has not matured. It has failed. A few have got very rich by it. Most have become poorer and many have starved, or been killed in the oil wars. It is a brief perversity. It has invaded ordinary life and ordinary responsible roles. Since amorality is its foundation, it has not replaced that responsibility with its own. Ordinary life – ordinary house-keeping, which Everyman (sexless term) understands, must return to fill the void. To be blunt – there is no one in control.

Those who voted for Trump and Farage (if we remove the thuggery of Trump and Farage) may lead us more quickly home, because they are not deluded by the passionate intensity of the neoliberalists. We may also stay safe if we are not deluded by the passionate intensity of the Alt. Right.

Meanwhile,

That blessing comes by pure accident from a very dark place. Narcissistic clown, Donald Trump, was born into fabulous wealth, educational opportunity and above-the-law privilege. His money comes from idle rent – from land enclosure – dragon’s gold. He is consumed by, or affects to be consumed by hate for what threatens that hoard – namely poverty, women and foreignness. That leads him to protectionism – for import tariffs to protect “domestic industries”. Like many in possession of great wealth, he sees himself as the little man against the modern institutions. Pacing borders finds enemies and scape-goats in every direction. Mexican walls are in the imagination before a breeze block is laid. His little man rhetoric is attractive to those who’ve lost something precious – meaning and purpose.

Hitler, Stalin and Henry VIII were similarly ridiculous. The terrible nightmares they created began as narcissistic dreams. They were made real by ordinary, serious people – many in fear, many in delusion – until delusion in the national interest normalised the most hideous cruelties.

Governments, in diplomacy, are speaking of Trump as a serious, democratically-elected leader. They are very wrong. They should use the evidence of their ordinary human senses and converse with him as a democratically elected clown.

We can both respect and empathise with the nostalgia and sense of loss, which many of his and Farage’s supporters hold, but we must treat the clowns as clowns, or we’ll end by colluding in the creation of reality from a mere nightmare.

 

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The Dark Mountain

I have not stopped pretending. I’ve not joined the winding caravan to the valley beneath Dark Mountain – nor descended from her peak, confident as rock and ocean. Yet I sort of agree with the eight principles of the Dark Mountain Manifesto, copied below. Sort of? What kind of proposition is that? Well, sort of is what’s missing from the manifesto.

THE EIGHT PRINCIPLES OF UNCIVILISATION

“We must unhumanise our views a little, and become confident as the rock and ocean that we were made from.”

I’ve started badly by disliking the quotation – confidence is the problem, not the solution. I’ll consult the principles one at a time.

1.We live in a time of social, economic and ecological unravelling. All around us are signs that our whole way of living is already passing into history. We will face this reality honestly and learn how to live with it.

My “sort of agree” finds disagreement in that there is insufficient guilt at our personal contributions to that unravelling. I agree with the first two sentences. But facing reality honestly doesn’t have the healing power of contrition and reparation. We have a social problem. I distrust presented honesty. It proposes personal achievement – achieved integrity – superiority – hubris.

2.We reject the faith which holds that the converging crises of our times can be reduced to a set of ‘problems’ in need of technological or political ‘solutions’.

It’s true that technological and political solutions which maintain or “green” current ways of living are futile. We must change how we live. However, the tools we’ll need do present a “set of problems”. Reductionist and holistic thinking are both essential parts of all settlements and of all thinking. We’ll need to be very busy with very many problems. Solving particular problems in particular ways is a delightful thing. We love our garden sheds.

3.We believe that the roots of these crises lie in the stories we have been telling ourselves. We intend to challenge the stories which underpin our civilisation: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’. These myths are more dangerous for the fact that we have forgotten they are myths

I agree.

4.We will reassert the role of storytelling as more than mere entertainment. It is through stories that we weave reality.

We also weave lies, political illusions, excuses, pedestals, messianic visions, false incantations… Cultures emerge and narratives follow. Where narratives emerge and cultures follow has been evident in the failures of communism, fascism, capitalism – in the myths of economic growth and progress.

Meanwhile, real footsteps meet surprise, pain, delight, comedy and tragedy. We can tell the tale of the footstep only after the step has been taken, weaving moral spirit into both right step and wrong step. (We will take both) We can weave tales of inheritance and ancestry, but we must collide with reality – finding surprise, delight, bruised shins and punctured egos – to find reality – and before beginning to weave with it.

6.We will celebrate writing and art which is grounded in a sense of place and of time. Our literature has been dominated for too long by those who inhabit the cosmopolitan citadels.

Pure brutalist, scapegoat fascism

7.We will not lose ourselves in the elaboration of theories or ideologies. Our words will be elemental. We write with dirt under our fingernails.

Once, I attended a Dark Mountain gathering and met none with metaphorical fingernail dirt. I found theory and ideology. True, I met musicians of a skill that could only be built by hard work, but for the rest, the above (principle 7) has provoked me to react that I found lost souls, without skills to impart. How fulfilling (for lost souls) to find that elemental, cut-stone words might build fields and towns of resilient culture! Druidic catalysts – word on stone make primal citizens of dark mountaineers. But faced, first with stone, and then with words, I reckon that ordinary, frail, diffident, curious, doubtful, convivial Everyman might find better solutions to both dressing stone and discussing the work than a proudly elemental dark mountaineer.

8.The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. Together, we will find the hope beyond hope, the paths which lead to the unknown world ahead of us.

Agree – because it contains the word unknown, which connects to another, doubt and also to the phrase, sort of… In that unknown, a culture may emerge, where three anciently-embedded words have been tentatively saved as seed and then re-sown. Landing by chance on both fertile and stony ground, they are faith, hope and charity.

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The Borderline and the Footstep

Peer review is not a source for curious and diverse perceptions to enrich and steer academic courses towards a new, or revised fruitfulness. On the contrary, it is more likely to bring curious and diverse perceptions back on the old straight and narrow to dignified, serious, unresponsive consensus. Its harvest is winnowed, dried, graded, bagged and stored – and thus more likely to be well-paid. Of course, that dignified consensus will often, and we might say shadily, coincide with established, commercial consensus.

That’s not how it should be, but how it is.

Fields of research sown with questions and harvested with answers? On the contrary, many are sown with answers to harvest the dried illusion of questions – peer reviewed research has shown that our technologies are…

In a similar way, research funding steers academies prudently towards reticence, enclosure and intellectual property. It is quiet out there in the scientific field, where commons of life perform ever-present diversity, as William Blake sings – silently, invisibly – where scientific peers are most usually technologists – that is – influential imposters – harvesting what they need and not what they don’t – that is product endorsement, money and silence.

Of course, William Blake held in his heart, what he had not told – and these things can be held in a scientific sceptical heart, where they remain for both hypothesis and later – after the day job is over, for both celebration and perhaps some useful tinkering in the garden shed. Most technologies and tools have emerged from amateur (of those who love) garden sheds. The scientist as technological amateur may be a useful addition to any culture.

After that nine to five, the whole of a scientist contains the whole of what is human. During the nine to five, the scientific contribution is valuable, but limited. It cannot tell us what to do.

When a “scientist” steps out from her sceptical role to comment upon technology, she must shed her scepticism and adopt the morals of citizen. When she enters the public realm, it is an affectation (& a mistake) to maintain the scepticism necessary for her scientific work. For instance, those dry pronouncements on apocalyptic climate change are the oddest affectation. It would be more appropriate, to ordinary human behaviour, to ascend the mountain and lean against the winds of the times like a proper prophet of legend – not jetting to the next climate change conference to speak of a minor adjustment to the data. Of course, absolutely no one, who understood climate change, and with her humanity intact could possibly jet to a climate conference.   It is an uncontroversial truth that anyone who jets to a climate change conference is in climate change denial. In consequence, I hold to this statement – More than ninety percent of climate change authorities are in climate change denial.

Here’s another statement – Science can usefully observe and note atmospheric, terrestrial and sea changes – temperature, mass and so on, but she cannot contribute to how we change our tools and adapt ways of life to mitigate those changes.

Deference to authority – scientific, economic, judicial and political is holding us back from our essential inheritance as trade’s people and citizens – probity, personal judgement and plain duty to act on our knowledge and to contribute as parts of the whole. It is stifling the ways of living we must devise to sit happily within reduced resources. It is supposed that tool-makers make tools. Today, (as a significant economic effect) they don’t. Those who do are tool sellers not problem solvers.

We need to rewrite history to suggest how and where to begin and for what and where we stand. This is a mythic place in an epic time. We’ll not begin such a journey without a maternal and paternal hand of history on the shoulder – a ruffling of hair. We could be actors in a play which has been written to the point where we learn our role, for better, worse, comedy, tragedy… Where’s the story? We’ll not set out without the reassurance of others – both living and dead – ancestral footsteps receding back from the point where we embark. The dead have passed on commons of soil, water and so on – laying down their roles for us to inhabit. That generosity is also an inheritance. Tyrannies of dependency, consumerism and misplaced science – have stifled bequeathed responsibility.

Without characters to inhabit, we’ll not become actors in the cultural drama of settling within much-reduced means, while facing climate change – roles pre-written as cultural part of the whole. We are social creatures. It is not vanity to long for a recognised part.

Modern history has been coerced from pens of the sycophants of power. They narrate war, invasion, marriages and treaties of power. Today’s newspapers and other media do the same – as though the goings on of life which create a culture (the 99%) were forces of nature which politicians and corporate boardrooms steer to the advantages and disadvantages of nation state and empire.

Poet Douglas Dunn speaks of those who “inhabited” the Glasgow tenements, while others (of law, state and bank) “resided” elsewhere. Well, inhabit is not a bad term to reclaim for settlement, as those who reside in the corporate illusion cause collapse.

The home truth is this – Climate change is accelerating, not because of the foolishness of governments and corporations, but because of the foolishness of ourselves. That governments and corporations are foolish is inherent in their abstract nature – they have no senses – no means to intelligence. We (ordinary people) have both, and yet still we defer to the abstractions that are governments, research institutes, think tanks and corporations. I have proposed in previous essays that this deference is unique to modernity – to the Oil Age. The remedy is simple and in plain view. We attend to our senses and deal with that intelligence, because there is no one else who can.

Francis Fukuyama was right that history had ended, but he was wrong that culture could continue without history. Many millions of years of fossilised photosynthesis had negated (in the imagination) the passages – the seasonal migrations of hope. Spring and Autumn migrations have passed overhead, while human settlements have paused – outside time – fed by those fossilised years. It will be our ancestral inheritance; duty; delight to turn history’s wheels back into motion. Humanity has fallen behind and apart from evolving webs of species which together make the ecological and economic whole. She lives in anachronism – in a fossil-powered crystal cave – a narcissistic cult of achievement, progress and democracy. Only when cultures synchronise with living (not fossil) time, can climate change and economic chaos decelerate to fit their evolving spaces.

Here’s an old sophistry of mine – When economy and ecology are seamlessly enmeshed, then both can run at optimum speeds. When they are not, then friction between them will slow both their cycles, grind down biomass and release wasted economic heat.

That fossil-fuelled pause over which we must leap to the present has left a similar gap in space – in resources – pillaged heartbeats, levelled ecosystems – the photosynthetic capacity of Earth.

In leaping time, we must accept gaps in space – and shrink our needs to fit the islands which remain.

Some still jet the Earth, speaking to the powers about climate change. They remain where history paused – in anachronism. I hope they might cancel the next flight and quietly consult themselves – the chair they sit on – the species of tree which gave up the wood – the grace and dexterity of the chair-maker. Cultures reveal past lives like tree rings through Summers of memory; tools; architectures – while inheritance flows on through skilled fingers like the grain in the wood.

Through time, the powers have sat on wool sacks and thrones – they’ve never, ever made thrones, tended forests, baked bread or saved seed corn. They make laws, enclose commons and charge rent. They cannot think of climate change. That is the province of those who make chairs, save seed corn, pass on commons and so on – those who note the effects of their causes. Past powers knew that the populace would take care of everything. Today’s (uniquely-perverse) powers have come to know that fossil fuels or substitutes for fossil fuels will take care of everything. They need a science priesthood to write (or underwrite) their doctrine of messianic new technologies to similarly take care of everything.

That enclosed science has become a terrible thing – a priesthood without restraint. The merging of church and state in the English Reformation led to depraved enclosure, the sack of social commons, starvation, mass migration and city slums. A merger of science and state may prove far worse.

The truth is simple – Unless we return to the ordinary course of history, in which the populace does take care of everything, the destruction of what we know as civilization is almost inevitable.

The bad news is – In an ordinary historical period, we could hope for the future and ride out the present, but with regards to climate change our hopes must be for the present. Nothing is presently happening.

The good news is that returning to the ordinary course of history need overturn only the small weight of an extremely brief perversity of time. It will feel like coming home.

At home, it goes like this – everyone has a trade and is respected for it. A joiner understands species of trees, which come from woods, to be re-planted as harvested. Languages of tools connect – the growing, felling, seasoning, transporting and uses of timber. Shop windows tell the passage of seasons and the passing of hands – scarcity, abundance – the fruits – strawberries to cherries, plums, apples – tomatoes and peppers to roots and kales. Nothing becomes as it is without a chain of hands.

Climate is changing because we are burning fossil mass and biomass at a rate which releases more gas than remaining biomass can absorb.

True, sceptical science notes rising atmospheric carbon dioxide, melting ice, rising seas and temperatures. It notes the volumes of burnt oil, gas and so on. We value that contribution.

But it is not a scientific, but a technological problem and we don’t need scientific advice to fix it. Climate is changing by how we live. We must stop, or at any rate, dramatically reduce our burning. In some ways, tools come closer to the truths of nature than science could ever achieve. Yet we adapt them to work without proven hypotheses. It would be more accurate to say that nature adapts tools, through the errors in our trials, to become more or less appropriate.

Like other farmers. I know how to farm. Why write of it? But how farmers integrate in a culture, is problematic to me, so I write about that. How multi-national corporations enclose farming techniques is also problematic – another subject. My role as a citizen is similarly difficult.

Modern education is a dangerous thing to an open mind. I’ve no wish to add to that clutter by some dignified pronouncements on farming. Conversation, admiration, curiosity, sanctity, probity lead towards the good life. If we are connected, then a conduit opens to story-telling and identity. Walking the footpath in a barley field at dusk connects beer and conversation to the doming wheel of the night sky around the radius of our particular eyes – an optical illusion, suggesting that the soil beneath our shoes is the fulcrum around which the emerging view of the heavens may quietly revolve. One by one another star appears. Which educator would not be silenced by such a beauty? – every step at dusk is on sacred ground. We cannot pronounce words such as Evening Star, Venus, or Hesperus, but in church tones. My Palaeolithic ancestor would speak the same.

All this is ever so ordinary and ever such a relief. We could easily choose it. Who needs a peer review for a footstep?

Every essay of mine becomes a replica from a fractionally different angle. There is a border between dependency upon that soon-to-vanish corporate supply and participation in a new and old as the hills culture. Anyone can step over it. Occasionally, it recedes from the mind, but never from the heart or inherited human soul. That soul is pre-written to survive. It is a mythic line. It is my storyline.

***

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There’s Much that Don’t Matter a Fig

There are no new ideas.

There is new circumstance.

Tools are adapted to changed circumstance using unchanged, inherited thought processes.

Artistry such as storytelling, song and depiction, recasts inherited, immutable morals to fit newly-revealed circumstance.

There are no new morals.

There is a continuous flow of new moral circumstance.

Contrary to modernist beliefs, art cannot break boundaries of thought – or introduce new ways of thinking.

Most of us resist new circumstance, and so the finest art is the skill (the cultivated humility) of accepting new circumstance (a rare skill) & then of the knowledgeable application of ancient morals to explain it.

That is how human cultures settle their unchanging humanity in a changing landscape – how economies settle in their ecologies. Inherited thinking can change only by a genetic mutation of the species. I’m not inclined to wait. In any case, it will not be me or you (dearest reader) who has mutated.

My Palaeolithic ancestor thought exactly as I do. There is not a new thought under the sun, but tools have been devised and improved, by trial and error of generations. Science? Science is a pleasure, but has no physical application. The cultivated humility of the artist (Keats’s negative capability) is much the same as the cultivated scepticism of science. But science diverges from art in attempting to remove the ancient moral to more easily discover the contemporary physics. The difficulty comes when science is taken too seriously. Three problems –

One – As we move beyond collection of data, hypotheses become a form of storytelling. They can easily be “corrupted” by moral thinking. A grand hypothesis looks much like a work of art. The value of its scepticism is lost. In that case, it should be treated as a work of art. Masterpieces such as the Origin of the Species have become religious texts and for some – evangelical religious texts. In that process they have lost both scientific and religious virtue.

Two – Every hypothesis, without exception has been proved, by a later hypothesis, to be wrong. Today’s commonly-accepted hypotheses will also be wrong.

Three – Often and perversely, technologies use “amoral” science as “moral” justification. All technology has consequence and so must have a moral. Yet it is commonplace for “technologists” to use the amorality of science to perversely “justify” the removal of ethics from technological ventures. For another example, citizens may wait for the advancing science of climate change, which can change nothing, to avoid the personal, cultural change necessary to avoid an already-advancing change in climate.

In short, science is a pleasure. Where it ceases to be a delight – a library of wonders – it has lost its function. And where it gains a function – such as tool-making, it will have lost its value. Tool-making is the province of skilled and moral tool-makers, who will know scientific literature as a pleasure and not as a function. At work they will be ruled by the twins – Trial and Error – where contemporary circumstance surprises, blunts and then, remodels accepted techniques.

***

Archaeology uncovers the strata of toolmaking and has defined eras by their advancing tools.

That has led to some problems in archaeology – largely by the distorting influence of historians, who have equated advancing tools with advancing cultures – and by subliminal implication – advancing thought.

Our view of history remains overshadowed by the history of powerful elites. How cultures have constructed roads, bridges, houses, harbours, ships, terraced hillsides, agricultural and industrial machinery, such as pumps, cranes, wind/water mills, churches, mosques temples… – how they have baked bread, made lutes, fine fabrics, gardened, holidayed… all that is obscured – because apart from consuming it, and exchanging it by war, inter-marriage and treaty, the powerful had no part in creating it.

Literature is a problem – the chronicles of the powerful remain and historians present them for archaeological verification. It would be more appropriate to say this – that since the chronicles are fictions, they should be presented for archaeological refutation.

A wildly distorted “British” history remains the normal view today. The story goes like this – in periodic waves – tidal surges of invaders. Perhaps gentle hunter-gatherers (ancestor worshipers) remain after the flood (of Doggerland), until Neolithic star gazers move in bringing agriculture and seed. They are followed by metalworkers – the Celts, or Beaker People – gold torqued, water god charioteers of Bronze and Iron Ages. Then the Romans come, bringing order, roads and towns and eventually, a decadence, which is displaced by Saxon & Viking – Northern warrior gods drive Romanised Celts into the West…

After the final invasion of 1066 the land becomes an island set in a silver sea – repelling invaders, but beginning new conquests of its own. The regions of Wales, Ireland, England and Scotland lose nationhood but retain racial characters – Brython; Geoidal; Saxon; Viking; Norman…

My hypothesis, like all hypotheses will be flawed – and will be plain wrong at many points, but it narrates a journey, which explains, to me, the time I think I live in. Archaeologist, Francis Prior has most influenced my leanings. He reconstructs the past by considering what is common to humanity – not by what is extra-ordinary to a particular time, or a particular elite. He considers that what can be understand now, can be most easily and correctly applied to our understanding of then – such as family, home and so on. My personally-distorted tale, the truth of these islands of Britain, is something closer to this –

From ancient times and until the brief episode of fossil fuels – the sea has most influenced the cultural leanings of settlements. British hunter gatherers remain as ancestors. They were neither ethnically cleansed, nor assimilated into a larger invading mass.

Eastern Britain looked to the Channel and North Sea and was familiar with those overseas neighbours. Western Britain looked to the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Over millennia, East and West grew apart – culturally separated by their sea trades – drawn apart, rather than repelled. The same cultural and racial ancestry remained – but evolved to adopt new languages, fashions, styles, tools, and religions to explain it all. Trade and international conversation invaded – not waves of violent settlers. Current division of Western Celt, Northern Pict, Eastern Saxon and enclaves of Viking (with regional variation evident in both literature and place names) is a racial fiction.

My story has inter-marriage of elites and small warrior incursions bringing some new genetics, but it has settled populations remaining, coping and looking on. I see Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages as internationalist. There were small “kingdoms” – but no binding nationhood. Iron Age villagers would be well acquainted with the city state of Rome – wine from Gaul and the tales of traders and travelling tinkers. Sea farers would bring sea farer’s tales and exotic sexual relationships. Those ages are convenient for cultural change – we could choose other dates or design other ages, but they are not the ages of new peoples – at the most they are the ages of new tools.

Educated elites reading Homer and Virgil and backward villagers, who can’t? – with regards to creative culture the opposite would be the case. Of course elites had the wealth to purchase manuscripts and the idleness to peruse them. But it is likely that ordinary people had far greater leisure and greater autonomy than we can dream of today. Historically elites have demanded their right to helplessness – the tradesmen we call bards, must sing cattle raids (such as Siege of Troy, or Battle of Hastings) as epic adventures. Keeping royalty sweet is a prudent thing to do. We have the beautiful evidence of medieval monastery, church and cathedral, which aristocracy points to as its own – but little evidence of the masters of arts, who actually built them.

History books speak of successions of powerful people – skirmishing, drawing treaties, marriages… but even those don’t narrate how Romans, or Normans arrived en-mass – or that tides of Americans swept to proudly defeated “British” beaches bearing their Coca Cola Culture. Yet, they do so for “Celt”, and for “Saxon”.

The Battle of Hastings was a tournament with spoils to the winner – both sides by code of brute honour accepting the fall of the dice and a claim to the throne. Handfuls of mercenaries were granted manors. Meanwhile, the same people continued as best they could, to plough fields and bake bread. Those new aristocrats appeared – militaristic, vain and ignorant as the last and had no hand at all in the continuation of culture.

My history lesson is – that facing resource depletion and climate change we’ll leave elites to play in parliament and telly screen. We’ll ignore those cattle raids, sung as epic adventures by the Paris Accord and tamed, ambassadorial bards of newspaper and newsroom… We’ll ignore the Iliad of the “scientific” toppling of carbon dioxide emissions and then the Odyssey of a journey towards green technologies as powerful as oil – to a culture which need not change to meet its circumstance, because that brave new world will be composed of brave new ideas.

We return, where this article began – There is not a new idea under the sun and – Most of us resist new circumstance, and so the finest art is the skill – the cultivated humility – of accepting new circumstance (a rare skill) & then of the application of ancient morals to explain it.

Well, even the finest artist can achieve the finest art only intermittently. For most of the time and for most of us good enough is sufficient. In a culture, trial and error of others refines and adapts our own shortcomings. We have evolved together with others. Like those helpless elites, we are helpless apart.

All I ask is for the return of ordinary history. Let them jet from podium to telly screen, to podium – who by invasion, inter-marriage and treaty, would rule our lives. Leave them be.

Culture was always ours to build and maintain. If we, as ordinary citizens, don’t adapt tools and ways of life to settle the circumstance we’ve each been given, then nothing else can. We have all we need – principally each other – and we’ve not had instruction in the past – indeed none, until recently, has ever been asked. Mr Ambassador, Mr Rupert Murdoch carries his instructions from the boardrooms (thrones) of energy, chemical and agricultural commodity corporations.  He grants audience to the supplicant prime minister of the commons of the United Kingdom – who (to keep her small throne) will swiftly ignore her elected position as leader of the House of Commons to fulfil his demands.

It don’t matter a fig.

***

A Note in the event that confusion arises with regards to two proposals – There are no new thoughts – and – There are no new morals.

I am speaking of the species.  Individuals; families; communities will stumble (perhaps delightedly) on both new thoughts and new moral perceptions. I am tempering the hubris of the times with the truth that there are no new ways of either thinking, or moralising.  Every thought and every moral position will have previously occurred to someone, somewhere within our ancestry.  Ways of thinking and moralising are inherited.  Circumstances are unique to our times and require what will be a unique moral and thoughtful adjustment of both individual and community – but using the same ancient patterns of thought and balancing of morals.  Our particular times ask for a radical adjustment.  Given the new circumstance to which they are applied, the thoughts and morals that arise will be utterly new to those that find them.  However they will have broken no barriers of thought, or perception.  Most importantly – they will have done what we all find most difficult – moving with the times.

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Casino Collapse and Economic Collapse Need Not be the Same (How my convivial economy and David Fleming’s Lean Economy converge)

Here are some simple ideas.

If both work and pleasure can be a walk or short cycle ride from our doors, then the energy demands of a culture will suddenly become much simpler and will also shrink. The time demands of a culture will also shrink, while the emotional connections of neighbourhood (what we call home) can expand. Those emotional connections hold deep pleasures in which we can spend more time and yet for which we pay no rent.

This is the ordinary historical and geographic state of most cultures, including city/urban cultures. Although decayed, some of its infrastructures remain – corner/village shop, workshop and proper shop, market hall and square, harbour, pub, library, museum, theatre, church, mosque, synagogue, temple…

I think a kind of evolved, inherited rightness of such an infrastructure is less decayed – It lives in us. What’s more, we have become anxious by our separation from it. The family still holds it, but that short walk from our doors has been ruptured – at the door the rightness ends and amoral demands begin. House door closes on affections, memories and promises, and car door opens to stolen time; to white lines and traffic signs into lost identity.

Only a hundred and fifty years ago, the first middle class suburban and so commuter cultures were created by the railway. They became ubiquitous only more recently. Now, ordinary courses of history are overlaid (often concreted over) with oil ephemera – super markets, ring roads, retail parks, centralised procurement/distribution, air travel, the family car and distant work-places.

Those oil infrastructures use vast quantities of a citizen’s time – both in travel time and work time needed to earn money to pay for that travel time. Few would call those things a pleasure. Moreover, that vast effort of road construction, policing, insurance, car manufactory, car parking and so on has achieved nothing but that waste of time. We can also note a considerable waste of resources. Two pot noodle manufacturers’ lorries – one travelling from London to Manchester and the other from Manchester to London pass each other on the motorway built for just that purpose. They seek each other’s markets. Their “efficiencies” of production cut costs, until one manufacturer cuts as far as bankruptcy. Now the lorries travel one way on the massive motorway built by tax on every citizen’s income. The Manchester manufacturer (who succeeded) is placed in the edge of town industrial park, built once again, by taxation. It has received large development money enticements to “come to Manchester” – more taxation. The “workforce” comes, for the most part, by a transport system (family car) which uses a large chunk of its wages. Meanwhile, no-one particularly wants pot noodles.

Now we must face the truth that the end of fossil fuel also means the end of suburban and commuter cultures. In that, we’ve no choice – no renewable energy source can power them. I think it is a liberating truth.

It liberates the possible return of ancestral commons and personal histories, in which we (as individuals) are transitory actors who’s love of place provides the energy to pass it on. Those deep pleasures have been enclosed by consumer right, consumer dependency and infrastructures of edge of town super markets and so on.

It liberates time to give to personal moral choices.

It liberates the glimmer of a possibility of combatting climate change.

It liberates time to think; to play; to holiday; to dig the garden; to practice the fiddle; to drink with friends; to study the world around us. It is a sigh of relief – a return to a time-rich and ordinary cultural state.

It follows that a return to ordinary historical ways of life will cost less in both time and money, while increasing common leisure to choose innovative routes to happiness. It is easily understood. No authority need explain it. Our grandparents lived something like it. The tools remain (albeit rusty) for re-adoption. The extraordinary (and extraordinarily brief) Oil Age is over. Ordinary courses of history must resume. If the Oil Age (or the oil-replacement Age) continues to struggle on, it can only be to the cliff edge.

***

Economic growth is essential to the current post-capitalist casino. Without growth it collapses like a pack of cards. Yet, it is also plain that finite resources cannot supply the casino’s demand to infinity. So collapse is pre-written. Plainly, economies require de-growth, shrinking to settle in landscapes which feeds them.

In truth, capitalism has never existed. Markets have not responded to either scarcity, or surplus – to the needs of communities. They have responded to currency manipulation, stock casinos and to the influence of enclosure (monopoly) – the three influences, which Adam Smith proposed should be strictly controlled by legislation. Don’t forget that he dreamed of capitalism as a means to maximise and more fairly distribute the wealth of nations and to undermine the parasitic influences of kings, monopolies and casinos.

If economics is not discussed as a branch of moral philosophy, then alarm bells should ring – church bells from parish to parish, muezzin from minaret, social realist from soap box, pub chorus from Hope and Anchor to Stag’s Head… and all together at the barricades.

As Richard Douthwaite points out, money supply and energy supply are directly related. Cultures are what we do. The energy of what we do has been vastly expanded by fossil fuel. As we leave fossil fuels in the ground so money supply must dramatically shrink to just the size appropriate for a renewable and manual energy supply. That is a recipe for an equally dramatic casino collapse. Of course none of us like the casino much, but casino collapse will also bring economic chaos. We all need good house-keeping.

Although one may affect the other, casino collapse and economic collapse may not be the same things.

When casinos collapse, they take economies with them. Companies fold, unemployment soars, tax revenues crash, leaving insufficient for unemployment relief, schools, hospitals…

And consider this – The casino grows, or shrinks – not by economic signals; not by scarcity, or abundance – not by capitalism (which currently does not exist) – but by the growing or diminishing belief of its punters. Boom and bust are best represented – not by scarcity and surplus, but by cycles of a gambler’s religious fervour, or religious despair.

There is no arguing with religious fervour, but there may be conversation with religious despair.

Achieving de-growth towards an optimum economic/ecologic size will obviously be through a minefield of unresponsive (even disresponsive) monopoly and religious fervour.

***

Let’s get this straight – I don’t think cultures can thrive without the binding of religion or a common moral storytelling of how culture and our place in it came to be. Let’s get this straight too – Neo-liberalism, neo-conservatism, monetarism, capitalism, communism… become more religious as they become more effective. But none of those isms is sufficiently religious to maintain a culture. They are lacking the depth of inherited moral commons, of sanctities of place and of ancestry.

So can we redirect religious casino fervour towards more rounded and convivial solutions? – Emphatically no.

Cultures evolve by trial and error and at a variety of depths – from deep and perennial human commons to shallower adoption of cults and fashions. What we may call the great religions – Ancestorism, Classicism, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism… have evolved from deep roots and are integrated in the goings-on of life, from shallow to deep – festivals, commons, law, behaviour… A life-affirming Atheism will also have festival, commons and a narrative of a community’s evolution and settlement. It will grow from the same roots as all the other religions. A culturally evolved Atheism is (in my terms) a religion.

Cults may be defined by their rootlessness. It is notable that those who have lost cultural roots are more likely to be swept away by a substitute for lost ancestry; lost religion; lost family; lost conviviality; lost market square, pub and corner shop. We see that shallow fervour for a single idea, or for a shallow, singular, wildly-evangelical understanding of an existing religion in both contemporary small-scale terrorism and the massive fundamentalist over-reaction by the contemporary state to that terrorism. We see it in cults of progress and – where we began – of economic growth – both cults fervently presented to justify the cultural hole in lonely, disconnected lives.

Healthy cultures are too complex for precise unravelling. For instance, music draws people together to a social common, which can only be found in music. It is less unspoken, than sung. This page cannot express it, but fling open the window to the busker on the square and he may sing what you mean. Tenderness for places; for seasons defies physics of time and space. Yet that affection passes between generations and neighbours too quietly to express. Nevertheless, it binds generations and neighbours in unspoken contracts to pass it on.

When we open our door and step not to the car door but to the street, we encounter traces of previous encounters. We note weather, seasons and places that evoke old conversations. Memories provide way marks, changes provoke questions, people have answers and footsteps connect.

That intricate, both tangible and intangible web of lives can be shattered by crashing casinos, but it also provides the resilience to survive. Those connections may certainly be called economic connections and yet involve no money at all.

***

Right. We return. Collapse is intrinsic to economic growth – not entropy – just a physical cliff edge. Of course an economy measured by spending (GDP) holds within the word, that same premise. Historically, cultures have followed cycles of romanticism, classicism, decadence and collapse. Contemporary economies have passed the decadent stage, surviving collapse by the power of fossil fuels. Ours is a weary ennui – dragged out in supermarket aisles and white lines of motorways, only relieved by decadent pleasuring. And there’s little time for that. As David Fleming points out in his Lean Logic, A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive it (slack economy), the medieval economy maintained a balance – less by efficiencies of production, and more by large stretches of leisure time in which deeper social commons were maintained.

Climate change could have come as a relief – as truth – as permission to care – as a catalyst to accept both collapse and romantic re-building. Since the current casino is preventing proper behaviour, watching and not preventing casino collapse could be embraced as a communal delight.  That collapse could be noted from the solid ground of an underlying economy, in which people we know by name take part.  It could be noted in the same way gatherings huddle to gaze at awesome phenomena of the night sky, such as meteor showers.

It is easy to misplace – to misuse the romantic impulse by engaging with what currently has the greatest effect – corporations and their tamed national governments. But corporations and national governments are abstractions. They don’t exist. People and their effects exist.

The monetary casino combined with monopoly supply, which we may try to “improve” is set on a course to self-destruction (self-consumption). We lobby to insert human rights, labour rights, land rights, nature’s rights – to legislate limits to amorality – but we cannot lobby for morality. Amorality has no conception of it. For instance, if we seek to “green” a super market by lobbying and market signals, to stock more fair-trade, recycled and organic products, then we give it a false credence. Worse – that false credence may induce more people inside to maintain green market signals, while deserting and diminishing their more convivial and resilient proper/corner shop, street markets and workshops.

We must evacuate the super market and hope for its slow and least destructive trajectory of collapse. Collapsing too wildly will ripple too destructively through a community’s attempt to rebuild a more self-determined culture.

Unlike governments and corporations, which are but abstract ideas in the heads of real people – people, one by one, have driven their currently perverse thinking into ring roads, motorways, super-stores and the big agriculture of deserted fields. Those applied ideas cannot survive and they cannot be greened. The thinking is contrary to ordinary laws of physics, nature and inherited commons of human nature. It is extraordinary thinking. Ordinary thinking, which does fit those laws should come easily and as a relief.

The extraordinary power of fossil fuel has fuelled a cult craziness with which there is no argument. We cannot green the craziness.

An extraordinary thing about that extraordinary power is that instead of increasing leisure time it has dramatically diminished it.

Extraordinary things that can no longer be, and cannot be greened – suburbia, air travel, super markets, family cars, fossil-powered shipping and agriculture…

Ordinary things that can – villages, towns, theatres, pubs, libraries, churches, temples, mosques, meeting houses, street markets, workshops, harbours, repopulated fields – and dramatically, romantically and emphatically – a large increase of leisure to look about, play, mess about, study and discuss these things.

So I say, the romantic social (eusocial) impulse can be fused with footsteps as we leave our particular door. Immeasurable economic effects of gossip, ritual and festival remain powerful effects. What’s more they are perennial to human nature. The genius of both community and terrain emerges in street markets, stages, shrines and terraced hillsides. As the casino collapses (it will collapse) the rebuilding need not be from its ashes, but – shrugging off the ashes, from an evolving human settlement – a settlement already alert and responsive to its particular terrains, skills and resources.

We’ll not build such a settlement without the romance of it.

***

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A Challenge – Four Critical Questions About Burning Biomass

“When short-term biomass is burned, such as annual crops, the amount of carbon generated can be taken up quickly by the growing of new plants. But when the biomass comes from wood and trees, not only can the regrowing and thus the recapture of carbon take years or decades, but also, the carbon equation must take into consideration carbon the trees would have naturally stored if left untouched.” Earth Institute, Columbia University

The hypothesis that “carbon generated (by burnt biomass) can be quickly taken up by the growing of new plants” has been accepted without question. It was proposed once upon a time by a naked physicist. It is now the consensus. Although it is usual for a hypothesis to receive both scrutiny and testing, I can find no evidence, anywhere at all, that this hypothesis has been either questioned, or tested. Yet it is central to the IPCC and the Paris Accord.

I propose that it is a fallacy, which (applied) will contribute to the destruction of human cultures.

The Earth Institute and others calculate other critical influences, such as land use change, arable techniques, regrowth time and so on, but the consensus holds firmly to the Naked Physicist’s central fallacy.

Any farmer or gardener has the means to refute the hypothesis.

If we grow a crop in season one, returning no biomass to the soil, then the harvest in season two will be smaller. Harvest in season three will be considerably smaller – in season four, five six – it will tend towards the negligible. As soil fauna (soil carbon) shrinks, so the crop shrinks, along with both its leaf area and photosynthetic power.

We can maintain cropping and photosynthesis by importing biomass from a neighbouring cycle. (such as local sewage for a local willow coppice) In doing so, we transfer our problem elsewhere. (We diminish a food cycle to feed an energy cycle) The problem remains.

Of course, some assume the import of manufactured fertilisers (from finite holes in the ground). Artificial fertilisers will continue to shrink soil biomass. Their problems, (run-off and gasification) are also noted by IPCC.

Four questions –

1 – Can anyone defend the Naked Physicist’s hypothesis?

2 – Has the hypothesis been tested?

3 – Why have we accepted the solution of a physicist, when the problem was never in the physicist’s realm?

4 – Who is/was the Naked Physicist?

***

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