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
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
Britain 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
What 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
It 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.
In an early genesis of post-carbon living in 2008 we were influenced by a project called the “Yellow House“. It was a run-down, former council-house, in Oxford that had under-gone a drastic make-over to make it a (self-styled) “environmental dream home”. It’s influence upon us was formative – the work done was so drastic as to turn a home into (what we perceived as) a science experiment. We were so aghast we actually specifically stated that Superhome 59 would NOT be a science experiment. To his credit the home-owner at Yellow House was some six years ahead of us and we came to credit him as somewhat of a visionary. His name was George Marshall. But he wasn’t all about crazy DIY and we soon signed up to his “Climate Denial” blog and soon saw him as the deep-thought on the topic of why we don’t think about Climate Change. Six years later and George has not only re-located to Wales but has written a book about the topic of just why we cannot deal with Climate Change. It is an important read for anyone who wishes to communicate in this area. But is it any good? Continue reading