Islands in the Flood

This is expanded from a conversation with my virtual friend Michelle Gambia about the pleasures we find in necessary hiding places from the truth. Michelle writes with a beautifully clear eye.

You’ll often find me hiding in the shade; in refuges from the truth, and our own farm is a long way off course – in its various hiding places. The loveliest refuge is the present – in companionship and pleasures – sights, sounds, scents… in little projects and jobs we have in hand – the sight of freshly weeded rows of vegetables, or newly-pruned orchard trees.

When I step from the timeless present to time again, the horror would overwhelm me, but for the utopian light, the other side of darkness. Utopia is not fanciful. Our lives are that. It is imaginative and true. Utopia is possible. It is our weakness which makes it apparently impossible.

That leads to another journey – companionship in our common folly – in forgiveness, charity, comedy and tragedy. That journey is one of utopian compromise.

However, nearly all “green” and egalitarian solutions, which we find in places such as, are compromises on the last debunked compromise. I’ll not have that! I say, we must return to the original Utopia. That is, we compromise the beautiful and true.

Living in the timeless present, we find sensual evidence of the truth. That innocence is most receptive to the only true evidence – that is sensual evidence. Sensual evidence must always pass through the senses of someone. It is always solitary. But, when we contemplate our next footstep through that sensual landscape, we re-enter a world of time and consequence. We cannot remain innocent. Both future and past consequences intrude. We must judge. We step into a moral world. Whose morals? – mine, or yours? – mine, or the consensus, the law’s, the elite’s, the ancestors? Prudence, expediency, fear, anger… all intrude.

The academic title we have for the study of those moral questions is economics. Because uncovered moral truth is a danger to what we may call “the powers”, economics is no longer studied in UK universities. Instead, the study has been narrowed to the limits of an accepted landscape – or rather, people-scape, of unchallenged enclosures and assumptions. In that people-scape, people who call themselves economists, study what remains inside an enclosure – rent and the necessary freedom of rent – that is the necessary amorality, which liberates what they call, the market. Enclosed mediums of exchange, become property, which generates rent (money interest), enclosed professions, become property which generates rent (lawyers, GPs, architects and so on). Enclosed land becomes property… Enclosed ideas become property…

In all those cases the near-infinitely complex physics of soil, fungi, bacteria, plants, animals, forests, rivers, people… are excluded from study to be replaced by the simplicity of amorality and rent. Because people pay rent for something which does not exist (property is an idea), it is thought that an “economy” can sustain infinite growth and defy the indisputably finite nature of labour, resource and the land.

Everywhere, good housekeepers understand that finity. It is apparent through every sense – taste, touch, sound, sight… It must be prudently managed and wisely shared. A good housekeeper must follow, or learn codes of behaviour, by distribution of fair shares of what we can have and what we can do, in food, clothing, toys, chores and pleasures. That is, she must regulate both what her family does and what it can have. She must budget today’s income for the days ahead. In short, she must study economics. Readers will know that a housekeeper and an economist in the same sentence make a tautology.

So, as Brian Davey notes, there can be no conversation between a householding economist and an “economist” of the enclosures – or between ordinary pragmatism and university guide-lines, peer-reviews, or career reviews (another tautology).

All enclosures have been first achieved by violence. Their powers are then extended by rent. The fence lines become castellated by law and by peer-review/career review. Schools and universities further consolidate an enclosed future by education.

Without increasing spending (GDP) there can be no rent. Fellow real economic writers would say debt, but it is not only debt. It is wider – it is rent. Money as property is not the only enclosure demanding rent. A world of enclosures will collapse without expanding GDP. University “economists” almost exclusively focus on rent/debt and the maintenance of perpetually expanding spending. Any child can see that such economists have no clothes. Plainly, children must be swiftly educated to imagine them dressed again. Professional monopolies of law, bank, medicine, pharmaceuticals, architecture and so on, utterly depend on the educated illusion. Otherwise they’d lose the means to charge such fabulous rents for their professional status. An ordinary householder would no longer be compelled to pay a rent of £300 per hour, from her own wage of £10 per hour. That £290 per hour can only exist by the means of fantasy money – casino money – true economy bleeding money. Even university economists, who calculate, only the odds of a casino, can see that the world of real resource and real labour is incapable, on its own, of paying such massive rents. For that, money flow must accelerate and GDP (spending) must expand.

A so called steady state economy, or a circular economy, also means the end of professional monopoly and the end of rent. Money flow must shadow the transformative power of what people can do, which means it is limited to just that – with none to spare for the fantasies of enclosed monopoly. This author, who has no career review, thinks that the end of growth means the total collapse of the casino. Though that collapse will bring havoc to most people’s lives, he cannot see a way forward, but to first pass through the tragedy to gain the light on the other side. What’s done is done. The currently massive money-flow hovers above a much shrunken and mismatched energy-flow and will in any case explode, sometime soon. He has no Crystal ball, but until it does explode, it gives time to build islands of a real economy which can emerge more or less intact from beneath the smoke and embers. After all, it is a fantasy which will have collapsed – a gamblers dream. The physics of the world – people, fields, woods, rivers… will all remain.

We return to the ancient conflict between commons and enclosure and to a sentence which my virtual friend Michelle singled out – But when I step from the timeless present to time again, the horror would overwhelm me, but for the utopian light, the other side of darkness.

Yes – the loveliest refuge from the horror which is to come is the timeless present – in companionship, fields, woods and so on, but also in work and companionship of work – each to her skill, to build living islands, which may survive collapsing casinos, rising seas and violently defensive enclosures. From time to time though, we must step back into time with a steady eye for both the Utopia ahead and the tragedy which surrounds us.

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