The Barbarian who came to tea

The movement towards a wiser, more enlightened, society comes in instalments complete with agonising setbacks. History is that eternal tension between action & reaction. For all our progress & enlightenment there will always be that other tribe, just over the hill, envious of what we have achieved. There is always some section of society “left behind”…. for every Roman Empire there are the barbarians waiting to tear it down. The lessons are not always what we could wish for. It’s too easy to shrug and pretend that it’s impossible to understand WHY progress gets squashed. Yet each destructive barbarity, each anguish, each ungodly setback, has an origin. To see it we should entertain a little uncomfortable history. “History” as seen through the eyes of a monster who was, himself, history. The world seen by a barbarian. Continue reading

Can we be happy?

What makes us unhappy? Are we even capable of being happy? These fundamental questions take second fiddle in an economy that seems to intrinsically know the ‘right’ answer. Happiness, apparently, is not even a metric. If all happiness comes from having money, then wealth generation is all that counts. Or so we should believe. Hence the size and growth of our GDP remains the only game in town. Most of us know instinctively that this assumption is wrong. Money may motivate some but not all, maybe not even a majority of us. If it did, our economy, our society, our civilisation would have ceased to function since so much economic activity earns not a penny in salary. There is more to life, they say, than money. But if this is self-evident to most of us why does the economics profession ignore the fact? We are in a mess – pursuing objectives that bring no satisfaction – only able to follow the all pervading dogma that serves the wishes of a minority. Why are we here? How did we get here? What the heck is going on? Continue reading

The Corruption of Capitalism

Neo-liberal thinkers used to deride the State enterprise. They claimed a Government could conjure up a sand-shortage in desert. Maybe. Nowadays we have a weight of evidence to testify to what happens when you take such platitudes too much to heart and for too long. A vast experiment has been underway. It has waxed and waned over the centuries with its latest incarnation arising over forty years ago. The concept is always the same: how do we justify the indefensible injustice of an unfairly unequal society? The 1% relabelled themselves as “wealth-creators” and voila! Greed was good. Some even believed that it would overcome corruption. Since corruption could only happen within the State apparatus then, logically, if the State was shrunk there would be less corruption. However, corruption, like the poor… has proven to be always with us. Continue reading

Explaining the Stoopid Impossibility of Brexit to Children

Brexit is nothing but a great big fat lesson for our children. It plays out like the tale of “The Emperor who had no Clothes”. What would such a modern morality tale look like? Well, something like this:

  • Once upon a time there was a Great Nation
  • The people of that Nation worked hard 5 days a week and enjoyed their hard earned weekends.
  • Every weekend the people headed to the beach, swam and bought ice creams
  • The Ice Cream and Swim Suit industries got together and agitated to make the weekend longer Continue reading

The Church of Brexit – Come Praise Thee

At the Battles of Asculum (279 BC) & Heraclea (280 BC) king Pyrrhus of Epirus suffered such appalling casualties that he would eventually be overwhelmed by the Romans he was fighting. He won the battles but lost the war. This episode in ancient history gives us the concept, still in common use today, of the “Pyrrhic victory”. Never has the phrase been more apt today than in when it is used to describe the Leave victory in the British EU Referendum of 2016. A year later, as we enter negotiations with the EU to leave the single market, we are reminded of how much we have to lose. Thus it is that Remainers never tire of telling victorious Leavers that they too have lost. They just don’t realise it yet. Continue reading

Ending Politics to Restart Democracy

Ask yourself: what is democracy? You would think that would be a simple one. For most of us “democracy” is voting, but dig deeper. Voting itself is meaningless if you do not have genuine choice. Cuba is a vibrant, healthy, democracy with lots of choices of candidates to vote for. It remains a one party state. You could also vote for different Communist Party candidates in the old Soviet Union. It was not CHOICE between different ideas. it was a choice of candidates. We like to believe that Western Democracies have pluralism because we have more than one Political party. Yet these organisations require wealthy sponsors. Thus it is that your choices are carefully edited down to only those that are deemed acceptable. Politics remains, at best, a “pretend choice”. It is faux-democracy. Continue reading