The travelling moon casts tree shadows across my field in time and space – time crossing space. Time passes. Space mutates. Though my hand moves space, time is unresponsive. Often, there is insufficient time for my hand to mould sufficient space. Considering time/space, the night takes my energy and its morphological contribution. Hearts beat towards atrophy despite sea anchors of space – property, status, well-framed sentences… Climate change accelerates, resources shrink – whatever I’ve done remains in either matter, or energy, but still, I think of inexorable time and malleable space.
You never enjoy the world aright, till you are clothed with the heavens and crowned with the stars… and perceive yourself to be sole heir of all the universe – and more so, because all others are sole heirs also… wrote Thomas Traherne
Consequence steps at a rigid pace. What’s done is done. I’m sole heir to what I’ve done – and all others are sole heirs also. That’s where the passage of commons melds mutable culture to immutable passages of time. Property freezes time into brittle and defensive stasis, in which consequence and moral understanding are excluded. Property will decay despite its patrolled borders and still, ancient commons will pass between generations. The vitality of present commons unfurl cotyledons for generations. That is, if enclosures have chinks in them – like chinks in denial for the acceptance of time.
Meanwhile, existence, life as we live it, advances as time advances, conjoined to all the sensations of space…
Here’s something – The study of economics (house-keeping) is an exercise in moral philosophy. It asks, what is social happiness? And then, in what ways can we achieve it? Yet they adopt the identity of economist, who study or manipulate the odds of house values, share values, interest rates, status, currency exchange and rent – the very things that Adam Smith (the moral philosopher) proposed to regulate and tax, so that the true moral commons of economies could find true capital values – in valued labour and resource. Modern “economists” live in the very same casino that Adam Smith would have banished to more easily liberate the wealth of nations. Of course, they are imposters.
Here’s another thing: the deeper we go, the more we become the same. Individualism – the search for self-expression can find only the trivial, because it is only in triviality that we are different – sex, wealth, status, race, nation-hood, skin colour, job description… Self-expressive art is always trite. Enduring artistry searches for and then attempts to express what is common to all.
Property, the most trivial of attributes, has had a power to change modern societies, which is in tragically inverse proportion to its triviality. All enclosures are the same – land, ideas, seeds, status… – they halt the flow of time inside a brittle enclosure, where there is no social judgement, or physical consequence. Cultures are not states to be protected. They are what we do. Enclosure is the right to deny that truth. Enclosures also drain the flow of time (and so mutable space) in what we do, by charging rent. That rent is gathered from the productive movement of time and sequestered in the stillness of space. All, whose wages are above the ordinary, bleed the flow of culture – landlord, lawyer, banker, medical practitioner – all charge rent for a variety of enclosures: land, status, signorage…
The consequence of that lack of consequence is evident in climate change. Responsibility notes it, but the propertied need not. Thames water will lap at the feet of Big Ben and at the seat of a parliament, which cements the power of property and denies the powers of good work. It cements the state of frozen time and is blind to methane rising from the tundra and ice sheets melting into the heat-absorbant sea. Property is outside time and cannot note the rising water. After all, the chancellor of the exchequer will present his economic well-being figures to parliament – not as a presentation of assets, but as a simple addition of spending.
Step back into time and we step outside our properties and into flesh and blood and rhythmically time-bound hearts – our common humanity – and ultimately our common biomass with all the species of Earth. Our heartbeats embody both time and space. If we engage in time and with space, then we must shrug off the sequestered spaces of enclosure. We’ll not spend the common. Yet we can live it.
Anti-capitalists rail at the wrong target, because capitalism has never been applied. Find me a corporate energy, ag commodity, or chemical company, which values capital… They should rail at the casino of bonds and shares; at the currency manipulators; at the idle rent gatherers.
True cost accounting & ecosystem services both strive to place capital in the casino. But the casino has no means to register capital. Worse – the illusion of capital falsely endorses the casino. Capital exists in labour, energy, soil, water and so on. All that exists has effects and so every engagement with capital has moral consequence. Morality lives on the common. Here, on Earth, as the moon swings tree shadows across “my” grassland, Thomas Traherne reminds me that I am sole heir to all the universe – and more so because all others are sole heirs also. The produce of the field is mine and I exchange it for money – but that exchange is impossible without trust. Trust lives on the common. I enclose the common inheritance of soil in its produce, but have moral responsibility to maintain and pass on that common. So, I grow capital and maintain a common, which can grow generations of capital. It follows that without a moral common, capitalism collapses. What’s more, without trust, every premise of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations will also collapse.
Capital and commons are conjoined. Commons are the means to maintain the just flow of capital. Outside moral philosophy, capitalism can have no meaning.
The capital we hold issues from and returns in tribute to the common. The exchange of enclosed capital for money is also interwoven with the common of trust. You see, solid capital becomes a liquid flow from and to the common.
Moral regulation, or restraints to the casino fail, because the casino is designed for amorality – It has not the means to note the regulation. The morality implicit in organic, recycled, fair-traded (& so on) products in a super market gives false moral credence to an amoral market. True cost accounting and ecosystem services do the same. Similarly, the social justice sought in social mobility, must accept and engage with the unequal hierarchy through which it would rise.
The casino, or rather the governments, corporations and citizens, which live by it, have not the means to note climate change, resource depletion and rising social inequality – that is they are unaware of the sack of the commons – and also of possible roads to the future wealth of nations.
David Fleming’s lean economy sits quietly on that common, valuing its capital. The wild gambler’s dream – of increasing the spending of diminishing resources – is bound to collapse. It responds to neither capital, nor the common – ancestors, or descendants. It will collapse when punters grow unsure of their punts and of each other. The trouble is that cascading casinos collapse communities of people – wages and tax revenues evaporate, leaving insufficient for social security relief. Infrastructures crumble.
If David had his way, we’d have rationed energy – we’d have thought of finite, palpable capital and how to restrict and fairly distribute it. We’d have remained on the moral common. Food rationing was very effective in the 1940s and 50s and it was fair. He did not have his way – applied energy restraints have used the mechanisms of the casino and have utterly failed. They’ve been used as gambling chips by traders.
The sooner the casino collapses, the smaller will be the cliff edge over which it falls.
The later the casino collapses, so the more time may be had to gather in the convivial market square of the lean economy. We’ve become culturally disconnected by the overwhelming provisions of the casino. If we can re-connect sufficiently, then together we’ll stand on culturally-prepared ground as the confused prodigals of the collapsed casino blunder destructively into forgotten laws of physics and of nature. After all, the casino is an abstraction. Corporations are abstractions – and governments also. People exist. Soil exists – and water, sunlight, biodiversity, biomass… Prodigals may howl at the moon, until they come to love the silver light. The common releases delicious, delightful, useful capital in exchange for efficient return of wastes. Biomass to human-mass to biomass again. That’s where ingenuity must live – not in the provision of driverless cars, agricultural robotics… Of course the casino is precariously held up, far beyond its natural span, by the simple, but perverse energy of oil.
Sooner or later? – we can only watch and wait. The casino will blow like wild weather. Meanwhile, we may as well gain some pleasure watching the moon, while keeping a weather eye on the displeasure of Trump, Farage and Theresa May. Their trite ambitions are perennial to human nature and to history. Think of this – they serve the casino and the casino is doomed.
The doomed casino may drag what we’ve worked to maintain into its own chaos – real economics, organic economics, convivial economics, lean economics, romantic economics… At any rate, crashed casinos don’t consume much energy. They’ll end like thin smoke without flame from the heaps of couch grass – and if we can arrive somehow, still culturally joined, we can aim to go onward the same, though dynasties pass.
At any rate, happiness is, and always was, wanting what we have, not having what we want. This particular tree shadow across those particular blades of grass, points to the passage of a uniquely-timed moon. It is a good particularity to want, since my retina has it imprinted- that’s for a start. All others can have something similar – but shining to their particularity – as Thomas Traherne says.