Government’s (and corporation’s) proposals for dealing with the climate and energy crisis are expressed and frozen within the serious, incurious language of property and state. The status quo is assumed as a first principle and solutions to the times are thought to lie in methods which might maintain that state. So questions presented by the powerful are, how can we replace coal, gas and oil by something of equivalent power? – not, how can we find ways to live without them?
Once upon a time the serious language of property and state could be spoken by governors and squires, while the rest of us spoke in the curious, convivial language of tools. I think this is normal, evolved human behaviour – the state governed, while the people made the culture – baked bread, built houses, ships and churches, husbanded fields, traded scarcity with surplus, delivered cargoes, wove cloth, forged steel, stitched clothing, made music, performed plays, painted portraits….. None of these things can be expressed in the language of state and historically the powerful have not had the smallest urge to do so.
Consider today’s MPs. Few have a thought of thought (although being human are capable of it). Yet today’s parliament is for the most part occupied with thoughtless legislation of trades which require continuously-adjusted thought.
In a perversion of evolved social behaviour – the language of state has distorted the languages of tools into a static anachronism. There is now no-one running the kingdom.
There is only one course for the good citizen to follow – to feel the weight of tools in her hands, while conversing in the language of tools. That is no revolution. It is a reversion to properly-evolved and evolving human behaviour.
She may also feel the weight of words on the tongue and come to see that we are cultured by what we do, not by who we are – by the method, not the state. It is comforting that methods are as fallible as we are.
These thoughts are as old as the hills and can lead to some old dangers – for instance a fascism that leads to racism. A proudly-protected culture of cuisine, language and so on can sink imperceptibly into the protective, exclusive, incurious language of a racial state.
Localism which begins with food-miles and is protectionist with regards to invading commodity markets can become protectionist in other cultural ways. Applied ideas are always dangerous. We must be careful to learn by the error of our trials – from the curious world revealed from behind the delusions which have lead to our mistakes.
Meanwhile, as that fine poet Douglas Dunn tells us, A plough is what I drive on my typewriter, though that is to imitate an Irish friend (Seamus Heaney) who lifts his pen and says he’ll dig with it.