Stepping onto the Common

How do we find universal truth? – by shutting our eyes and looking within. I am Everyman. At the deepest level I find not a unique self, but common human experience. That deepest level can only be found in ourselves.
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There we find strata where myth is harvested. I think we also find layers of moral commons, which have guided the behaviours of centuries. Presented in society, both myth and commons have a child-like quality which is easily dismissed as fairy tale. From behind the fence-lines of enclosures we wryly smile. The holy innocent and the child are comic in their certainties and so we ruffle their hair but turn from the truthful gaze back to the problems of either paying or demanding rent.
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Status enclosure makes a breeding ground for ridicule. By status I mean the monopoly-rights of lawyer, GP, dentist, “scientist” climate scientist… Peer review takes spores of ridicule and cultures them into the exact form and limits of a particular discipline’s enclosure. They are levelled to existing contours within the fence-line. Abandon commons all who enter there! – also abandon truth – and of course, hope.
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However, at the deepest level I can express myself and know that I also express anyone else who similarly descends. When we express horror at contemporary culture’s pillage of ecosystems and wild combustion of resources, ours are the voices of children and holy innocents and also of ancestors. People ruffle our hair, avoid eye contact and continue in a grown-up way, to cause catastrophic climate change.
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William Blake carried heaven with him by the symbol of a wild flower, or grain of sand. Mocking laughter followed those footsteps – from behind hedges, on those long lawns down to the Thames.
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So it is with universal truths, such as households and regions living beyond the means of their houses and regions. It is simple and in plain view. We need no scientific paper to confirm it.
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Here’s a sadness – private property, such as that scientific paper, my status as solicitor, or GP, the state of my lawn and jasmine-muffled lattices, will always take precedence over the accepted truths of climate change. Climate change lives on the common. Our teenagers speak of it and we ruffle their infuriated hair but turn back to important news that the chancellor is about to raise interest rates by half of one percent. My properties of job status and intellectual property owner first demand my attention.
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Climate change is an interesting addition to my store of knowledge, but that is where it remains – sitting idly in pages. I’d go as far to say that climate change cannot exist in an enclosure. It happens on the common. That is why climate “scientists”, sure of their status, will jet to multiple climate change conferences to maintain that status. Meanwhile their deeper selves, which live on the common may be screaming. It is a child who screams and so they ruffle the hair of their younger selves and suppress the scream. The common has no age and no status.
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Time – once and future time; common time flows on. We can join the flow or not. We cannot change an enclosure from within an enclosure. We must evacuate, sink into the river of inherited humanity, and release the inner scream. Well-meaning, but enclosed environmentalists look on with a wry smile. World-weary activists who tinker with rules of enclosure, (carbon taxes, tradeable indulgencies, true-cost accounting, ecosystem services…) end only by legitimising them – by improving the enclosure and further suppressing the “innocence” of the commons. Property levitates outside time – truly above and so at the end of history. At the end of history we find these things carelessly reclined – the family car, super market, centralised procurement and distribution, ring road, retail park, aviation… grotesque, stupid, slow-footed and muscle-bound with drip-fed anaerobic strata of fossilised years.
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Commons have all of history at their backs and all of future to their fronts. Children and holy innocents can see them – they know that ending the flow is an outrage – and we all know it, being equally human, but through veils and filters of suppression. Rules of enclosure steal our time and they steal humanity’s time. They steal knowledge of right and wrong. If we sequester time, we sequester obligation.
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On the common, I know this – it is very simple – my imprint must be just my shape and size. That physics is a delight – it is all of delight. Someone must settle in my place to receive the same pleasure, just as I have lived in the shape and size of another. We are one – the species. That is the common.
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A farm or garden which follows the rule of return is a heart-beat in the common. We cannot take from soil without feeding it in return. If we take without return we slow the flow and accumulate dead time – dead time is a property right – right to amorality and a garden fence that says, “Private – trespassers will be prosecuted.” and also, “Abandon time, all who enter here.” We gain the right to be a class apart – to levitate above ancestral commons of responsibility; above climate change; above heart beats and intelligence of heart beats, above the poverty of others and certainly above the judgement of holy innocents and children.
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The battle to restrain climate change, is a trumpet call to a sleeping species, curled just where she fits in the physics of her soil – not to shake the lapels and ear drums of badly behaved property holders.
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I am myself, but mostly I am the species and we are all the same. Anthropogenic climate change is a reaction to private property. It swells by the actions of climate scientists seeking peer review (career review) – that is more private property – in international conferences. “Respected” climate scientists probably burn more oil than any other profession on Earth, putting aside the super-rich, who profess nothing.
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That is the tragedy of enclosed expertise – the tragedy of enclosure. It freezes time for private peace. Professional is not to profess, but to be taciturn and discrete. Soon shall the high midsummer pomps come on – soon will the musk carnations break and swell, soon shall we have gold-dusted snap dragon – sweet william with his homely cottage smell – and stocks in fragrant blow – roses that down the alleys shine afar – and open jasmine-muffled lattices – and groups under the dreaming garden trees – and the full moon – and the white evening star…
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Is that garden, dreamed by Mathew Arnold, enclosed or common? We can choose.
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Is my knowledge of ecological cascades private, or common? My childhood of butterflies and songbirds is not the childhood of today. How is it that a universal thing such as childhood could ever change?
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Commons are moral spurs to act – to profess; repair; heal, but in my property, or profession I’ve earned the right to sleep, consume, accumulate…
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Only that inner child, will save modern cultures from blind self-destruction. We don’t say, come on children, let’s gather at the river! One, by one – in solitude we step back onto the common, until we find the species there…
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Of course, I write this from behind a variety of enclosures. It is a letter to myself and for Everyman (sexless term).

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