We are the Cambium

Climatic catastrophes will continue to accelerate beyond all predictions, because no-one has changed the model, which produced the old predictions.
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Similarly, those who remain inside the economic model, which has brought us to this moment of climatic and ecological collapse, will not prevent that collapse, or the economic collapse which must also come.
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Improving the model from inside the model does not change the model. That is why the planned de-growth of the model does not change it – it merely limits its appetite. Limiting the appetite of an already fragile model will lead to implosion (starvation) and death.
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We currently follow the human construction of economic and climatic models. We add to them what we think of as scientifically-obtained data. That we add genuine data to a fallible model does not improve the model. What’s more, it corrupts the data.
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Moreover, adding genuine data to a corrupt model evokes an illusion, in the eyes of many, of a genuine model.
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This is our predicament. The whole of academia, much of commerce and nearly every government of every developed economy is rigidly set on improving, de-growing and greening a model that is destined to fail. Of course, parts of commerce and governance see no need even to improve a model which provides the source of their wealth and authority.
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Plainly, we must learn a new economic vision, which fits both the genuine data, while allowing for a far more modest human settlement.
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When I say data, I mean intelligence of nature – the evidence of our senses. Science, to be science, must be sceptical – that is amoral. So, science is no help in guiding what we do. What we do as a group is the culture of that group. Scientific knowledge can advantageously add to the accumulating mythology – to the assurance and pleasures, of a culture, but scientific knowledge is not the culture. What we do is the culture – that is tools for settlement are the culture. Tools are always moral, because all actions have wider consequence. To return to my recurring metaphor, where a tool touches its material is a spark of truth, which immediately becomes a moral truth, because that touch may produce better, or worse reactions.
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Thus, experiences of individuals within a culture are vital to a common settlement of its terrain, because experience is always solitary – even though it may echo the experiences of others. Shared experiences add to the binding of cultural mythology, through gossip and interest in another’s skills, tools and areas of application. Where a tool (or a hand) touches its materials is the primary source for cultural (common) intelligence.
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Where is governance, or rather where should it be? The oldest governance is the common – the accumulated and accumulating voices of both ancestors and ourselves. Ourselves are the current embodiment of ancestry. Thinking of the culture as a living organism, let’s say, a tree – we are the cambium, but we only stand by the heartwood of ancestry. We grow around and by those ancient trunks and branches. I think many ancient cultures functioned purely in that way.
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The purpose of enclosure (of property) is to remove ancestral guidance (the common) to replace it with the guidance of a hierarchy.
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Religions (for the most part) have been sanctuaries for the commons, against the ephemeral and usually destructive behaviours of hierarchies. Of course, religions have often been flawed by hierarchies of their own. Nevertheless, a balance of church, temple mosque… and state has provided some protection to eroded and eroding commons.
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Today, developed economies have achieved the mass enclosure of what they think of as everything, into private properties – of status, money and land. Property is amoral – that is its purpose – to escape the moral judgement of the common. Enclosure’s tools face no scrutiny. To obscure that obvious flaw, it creates what it hopes will prove a contagious cargo cult (sham religion) of Progress, Enlightenment, Education…, for all of which, we must pay considerable rents.
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Fortunately, there is also a flaw in that thought – “mass enclosure of everything” – because moral guidance – that is laws of commons – are alive and well in the household. Family, friendship and common interest groups behave by their own rules. Fair shares rule. Money and status do not. What’s more, I think our lives are centred round that common. As I say, we live primarily in the household and only expediently under hierarchies.
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Let’s consider the opening paragraph to this chapter –
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Climatic catastrophes will continue to accelerate beyond all predictions, because no-one has changed the model, which produced the old predictions.
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Plainly we must evacuate the whole thing. We must evacuate the amoral enclosures and re-settle the moral common. We shall not be stepping into a strange land, because as families and friends we are already settled there. We can begin from that heart-wood and then begin, by new relationships; by leaf and branch, to reclaim the common
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To be sure, we’ll enter a world of frugality; of rations; of consequence – but for palpable, immediately sensual reasons, and for the very great beauty of it all. We are the cambium – the green, photosynthetic leaves of the species.
Ah well, we cannot be photosynthetic beyond the metaphor, but nevertheless, we can grow appropriately into both our times and spaces. Let’s be fitting.
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