The Barbarians are at the Gates

In 2006 I started a web site called “the-coming-war” to document my concern that a succession of increasingly Right-wing US Presidents would only lead to one conclusion: a world war. The phrase “the coming war” was lifted from a book written in the 1980s concerning a war between Japan and America. [Today it is more associated with John Pilger’s work “The Coming War on China“.] When I became actively involved with the communitarian post-carbon movement in 2008 I folded that web site into my blog and thought little more about it. Obama replaced Bush and we all breathed a sign of relief. The European Union, China and America finally came together on the Paris Accord on Climate Change and it looked as if my concerns were unnecessary. Then came 2016. We are now firmly on course for a massive period of scary instability in world affairs that we have not seen for 80 years. If you are not terrified by this you either want it to happen or have no idea what is going on.

Continue reading

Dangerous Ideas Lead to Dangerous Places

At time of writing (October 2016) the British economy and its political classes are undergoing the shit-storm called “Brexit” – the British exit from the European Union. The referendum that lead to this catastrophe was marked by the most blatant use of post-factual politics this nation has seen since the 1930s. All reason was abandoned. Like turkeys keen on Christmas a small majority of voters were convinced that life outside the European Common Market would be like riding unicorns and eating candy-floss. Events were to rapidly tumble out of control as the bubble quickly burst: big business and the big guns of the British economy greeted the outcome with horror. What madness lead to such a self-induced conflagration? Why were people so desperate so as to believe ANYTHING would be better than what they had? The blame lies not with immigration policy [for Britain never had an immigration problem]. The “crisis” was invented by the extreme-right-wing media as a cover for a different root cause: the UK Government’s policy of “expansionary austerity” – the concept that you can starve an economy into being successful. Continue reading

Dead Ideas Walk Amongst Us

If there is one thing we learnt from both UK EU Referendum Result (“brexit”) and the Chilcot Report (on the war in Iraq) it is this: we live in a time of post-factual politics. Facts no longer matter and ‘framing’ is everything. The truth no longer matters in Economics either. It fashions itself for the convenience of power. Facts don’t sway voters, facts don’t count. All the evidence and experts do not amount to a whole lot of anything when humans act upon instinct – instinct carved by the media in a thousand subtle ways inside a debate carefully buffered between ‘acceptable’ extremes. Such ideas become impregnable to reality and gain a life on their own such that nothing can destroy them. They are, as John Quiggin describes in his 2010 book “Zombie Economics”, “dead ideas that walk amongst us“. From Privatisation to Trickle-down economics – the landscape is beset with beasts that no facts can lay to rest. It remains a damning indictment of our democracies, our cultures and our politics. The Enlightenment playing second fiddle to un-reason. Continue reading

Brexit as Amnesia: Waking up with the Wrong Bride

IMG_20160626_173544Britain has awoken to find that, what it thought was some vote about membership of the European trade club, quickly morphed into musical chairs for the Eton-educated elite. Exiting the EU was never more than a flag of convenience for the tea-party fringe of the Conservatives. “Taking back our country” was a rallying cry – a big idea, but it was always about semantics. To truly enact Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty would be national suicide leaving Britain on the wrong side of history. The Leave campaign never imagined they could win. There was never an execution plan. It was a playground stunt – a power game, the sort of grand posturing that reminds one of a recent election broadcast by the Green party. Our political classes courted a pretty bright young thing on the dance floor last night in an intoxicated haze. Today they pulled back the sheets to find their latest conquest was a geriatric – missing teeth and sporting Swastika tattoos. Continue reading

Brexit: A Very English Civil War

maxresdefaultWhat happens on June 23rd if the UK Referendum (on leaving the European Economic Community) is a dead heat? Civil War? A War of the Roses? Absurd?! Yes, but so much about this referendum is absurd. Its very nature is nonsense: as if we can choose to “leave” Europe. It should never have been framed. Yet a small world away on the other side of Europe there exists a country in turmoil. A modern industrialised nation just like Britain. In this mirror-image nation of the Ukraine half the people wanted to be part of comfortable old Mother-Russia whilst the rest wanted to be part of prosperous, modern, progressive Europe. It tore that nation apart. What will we do? Continue reading

Brexit would be a costly divorce for us ALL

boaty_mcboatfaceIt sometimes feels like the British public rank a vote for Brexit as having as much impact upon them as voting to name a research ship “Boaty McBoatface”. You know, a bit of a laugh – sticking it to the man. Yet polling shows that in issue after issue we know that Brexit will be a disaster. The economic argument has been won. Yet 58% of voters think that Brexit will have no impact upon their standard of living. We live in economic-denial. We entertain a fantasy where we know that the economy will be poorer but it will be alright because, magically, it will only effect somebody else. Bremain camp have won every battle yet still look like they could lose the war against indifference.

Continue reading