Brexit

Just to keep us focused, dear Reader – Much of the Arctic is currently, in the heart of Winter and in total darkness, measuring two degrees centigrade above freezing. It is thawing. Just about every ancient, and nearly all modern cities are built on a shoreline. Sea level will undoubtedly rise faster than all previous climate models. It will rise over streets, harbours, railways, houses, factories, parliament buildings, pubs, cafes, museums, libraries, concert halls, theatres, mosques, temples, synagogues, churches, casinos, economies, ecologies, people, people’s ideas, animals, invertebrates, plants, fungi…. It will rise over every concern about Brexit.
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In the face of both the climate change and ecological/resource catastrophes, we must urgently and dramatically reduce consumption – that is, shrink spending (GDP), massively cut energy-use in personal travel and trade and manufacturing and look about our landscapes and our cultures – to what they can and cannot produce – and to value, maintain and fairly distribute what production can remain.
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Those that campaigned for Brexit in UKIP, Conservative and White Supremacist Parties, campaigned for the opposite – that is, a New Cool Britannia for world markets with stripped environmental protections and a bonfire of human rights. That is the path chosen by the UK Conservative government – to an area, ring-fenced against regulation and yet with an unquestioning open border for undemocratic corporate interests and banking. That open border simultaneously lets in the rising tide, plus unprecedented storms, droughts, precipitous rainfall, failed harvests, mass evacuation…
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The Conservative government’s chosen path is to wild ecological cascades, accelerating climate change, increasingly-resented wealth gaps and a crashing economy. That particular Union Jack will shatter the culture.
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Even so, Brexit is also an ideal first step for any Green, or socialist transition to a stable future. Remain in the European Union and we remain with obstacles to that future – to de-growth; to parochial ingenuity; to alternative and localised currencies and the ethics – the inherited moral commons, of the communities they serve. It will be essential if any culture is to sit within the resources which supply it, to shrink its demands to fit those resources. More than likely, this will cause the casino to crash and cause dangerous ripples throughout world currency and share and bond markets. But consider this – the casino will crash anyway. The infinite growth in spending on which it depends, was always a fantasy. It has far out-spent resource and so economic limits. Current money flow and the flow of fossil fuels are directly related. Now, as we divest from fossil fuels, the casino will be stretched to breaking point. Government intervention – quantitive easing and so on, will only increase the eventual magnitude of that crash. Whichever way we turn and whichever path we take, there is danger.
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We need to urgently build a culture, which is divested from currency, share and bond markets. We need to build a new and benign relationship for every aspect of economic activity, which can emerge from beneath the corporate rubble. It will be helpful to begin by divesting from the European single market.
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The single, greatest, cultural danger is climate change, the second, ecological pillage, the third, economic growth. Of course, those three are directly related. Each will influence the other. All three are the trajectory of every developed economy – of every EU member state and in particular of the UK. On the other hand, and on the contrary, economy and casino are not at all the same – they influence each other, but they are by no means, directly related. Remove the casino and we can emerge with some sort of an economy.
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I say, some sort, because when casinos crash, companies fold, unemployment soars and tax revenues wither. There will be insufficient revenue for unemployment relief, healthcare and infrastructure maintenance. But if we have built sufficient and localised relationships, divested from the casino, then they may be similarly (at least partially) divested from the crash.
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We’ve come to a point of human folly that every we path we take will be met by a certain amount of human tragedy. The longer we delay, so the tragedy increases. Here’s the truth, in 2017 humanity as a whole burnt more carbon than any year in history. In 2017 we collectively chose maximum tragedy. Yet every government professes to act on climate change.
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I must come clean – I voted to remain in the European Union, because I could not stomach the dis-convivial company of those who campaigned to leave. Yet in an untainted ballot, I would have voted to leave. Should I have been so fastidious? I now think that I was very wrong to vote as I did.
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We’ve seen how the European powers thwarted the efforts of the government of Greece to remedy chaos caused by the pillage of the previous government. The sole concern of the European powers was to maintain the fantasy of an ever-growing monetary casino.
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Those that campaign for a second UK ballot to return to the EU, such as the Green Party, do so for the environmental and human rights protections embedded in EU law. Polemically (and tragically) they also point to the de-growth, which will follow isolation from EU markets as a malign thing. I say that de-growth, properly managed, can be benign. It is an opportunity to begin what we are all reluctant to begin. De-growth is an essential first step. The Green Party is seizing populist advantage and in the process is abandoning its own first principles. We see from the Greek example that EU member states, above all else, will protect the casino – the Euro. That comes before Greek and anyone else’s labour rights, human rights, environmental protections and accepted responsibility for climate change.
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