Tuesday, 22 June 2021

The Booklist


A dizzying amount of information is currently circulating throughout all our households. It takes the form of articles, You Tube presentations, Zoomed discussions and, last but by no means least, thoroughly researched and well-written books. With so much excellent material vying for our attention, how do we make sense of it all? How can we, as individuals, use that information to inform our personal choices? How do we share the insights we gain with others who come from different perspectives but share the common concern with the chaos that passes for political economy?

As we sift through the latest news stories, evaluating their authenticity as best we can, it becomes apparent that economic theory and practice are in the doldrums. Career economists, if they are perfectly honest, will admit that their paid employment leads them to spend their time comparing and contrasting the second-hand ideas of dead economists whose works they have never read through in the originals. For those who have read around the subject, Marx's Capital is a good, entertaining read. But few social scientists, even those claiming to be Marxists, can begin to explain what Marx was all about. Much as in E.M. Forster's futuristic novella The Machine Stops, ideas on arts and sciences are bandied about in a meaningless mumbled jumble.

In the light of the above thoughts, the Yorkshire Education Association (YEA) has emerged to provide men and women of all ages, creeds and walks of life with the basics of individual and group study. The draft programme for the YEA offers a basis for individual and group research into a viable future for humanity and the living world of nature. It is both a discussion document and a resource.

Central to the whole YEA Programme is The Booklist (topic 8). Over 300 books are listed, some dating back into the 19th century, some first published within the last year. The Booklist opens the door to an exploration of the mass of excellent, inspirational work that has been written in the past, and is being continued for future generations. All can be researched via the Internet for price, availability, content, reviews, and cover illustrations. For example, John Ruskin's Unto This Last:Four Essays on the Principles of Political Economy, published in 1862, gave rise to the Ruskin Comic book Bloke's Progress, published in 2018 by Knockabout Books. It is the story of how Daren found new meaning to life with help from John Ruskin. According to the cover blurb, Ruskin, the internationally acclaimed art critic, was "possibly the greatest in any language".

"The Book: Darren Bloke is an ordinary, hard-working stiff until a lottery win changes – and ruins – his life. He squanders his windfall and loses everything but his beloved dog, Skittle. Then he is visited by the spirit of John Ruskin, who shows him the true meaning of Wealth – not how to acquire it, but what is the right way for an honest human to deal with it.

"Further visits from Ruskin’s spirit take him on a journey into Perception – how to look at the world through a more creative filter, and finally, he learns from Ruskin the true value of Work, and how it can enrich his life above and beyond a pay-packet. Darren discovers the meaning of Ruskin’s favourite saying – There is no wealth but Life.

"A reviewer commented: "Not only did I find the story and the discussion of Ruskin’s views fascinating, I was also very moved by Bloke’s Progress and what it says about modern life. It’s a rare thing for a comic graphic novel to achieve the kind of emotional impact this story had on me.

Offering a positive, funny and intriguing journey through Ruskin’s work, Bloke’s Progress is very much recommended.

"The Authors: Kevin Jackson is a writer, broadcaster and film-maker, and is a committed follower of Ruskin. Hunt Emerson is a cartoonist, and a committed follower of his dinner."

The above comments were taken from the internet. Most of the books listed in The Booklist can be researched in the same way. If you are an author listed on The Booklist you may like to contact us to explore ways to promote access to your work.

See ESSAYS\YEA Page of https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Towards Utopia


Luddite is a term that has come to mean one who is opposed to industrialisation, automation, computerisation and/or new technologies in general. The term originated in the early 19th century, when hand loom weavers saw that mass production methods were making their cottage industry lifestyle unsustainable. When spinning and weaving was based in the household, kitchen gardens could be tended. Waged slavery in the mills and mines brought great misery and threw the 'unemployed' onto the streets. To this day the 'unemployed' continue to be thrown out of work because the new technologies render their labour superfluous. In Life and Money: Being a Critical Examination of the Principles and Practice of Orthodox Economics with A Practical Scheme to end the muddle it has made of our Civilisation, (1933) Eimar O'Duffy explored the flaws in conventional economic thought and practice. As he explained, amidst the plenty of our modern world:

" ... we have our work cut out for us in providing the hungry, the naked, and the homeless with food, clothes, and houses. Remember that men, women, and children are suffering the agonies of poverty now. Remember that mankind are one flesh. That poor old woman selling matches in the rain is your mother; that pale widow addressing envelopes to keep her children is your widow, and her children your children; that plucky little chap I read of the other day who supports his invalid parents and his eight brothers and sisters, is your own little chap; that girl, driven by despair to prostitute herself, is your sister; and that-broken man carrying a sandwich-board is your brother. Let us open the golden gates and call them in to the gardens of plenty. ...

"These considerations, of course, are not economics, but ‘man doth not live by bread alone.’ It was in an effort to inspire his disciples with his own deep sense of this mystic oneness of humanity that Jesus told them in his last discourse that ‘I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you,’ and begged them three separate times, with something of despair at their failure to imbibe his spirit, to love one another. If we could but see our own joy and sorrow in those of others, there would be no more poverty.

"The alternative to taking the course which I have proposed [in Life and Money] is to go on as we are going at present, leaving the vicious circle I have described unbroken, with poverty spreading wider and wider as time goes on. Unemployment is increasing in every civilised country, and must, unless man loses his inventive power, go on increasing. If we continue our present policy in regard to it, the logical end of the process would be a small band of wealthy people enjoying the benefits and luxuries of civilisation, produced in overflowing measure by a small number of workmen, with an immense poverty-stricken multitude looking on in helpless idleness. But before that end could arrive, one of two things would have happened. Either Parliament would have yielded to an irresistible popular clamour to suppress all machinery; or the whole of civilisation would have been smashed in universal warfare or revolution." (page 116)

In the so-called interwar years (1918-39) many writers, like O'Duffy, tried to make sense of the political economy that brought war and poverty amidst plenty. Over the intervening century, very little has changed. As the film I, Daniel Blake demonstrates, a practical common sense economics has yet to emerge. In the meantime, the business-as-usual political economy continues to devastate human society and the natural world upon which we all depend.

O'Duffy's analysis of the workings of corporate capitalism has stood the test of time. It is available for individual and group study. See on SOCIAL ART page, https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/ The Works of Eimar O'Duffy, Life and Money. See also his Goshawk fictional trilogy exploration of the same themes.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Progress and Poverty Part 2

In his novella entitled The Machine Stops, E.M. Forster asks the fundamental question: Where is scientific and technological "progress" taking humanity? That was in 1909. Today, Jeremy Naydler observes:

"We are now witnessing the transformation of both our urban and our natural environments from a condition of technological innocence to one in which they are electronically despoiled as they are tied into the ever more sophisticated 'information ecosystem'. A rapidly increasing number of digital devices are being embedded in the world of physical things, with Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) detecting and measuring diverse physical conditions in order to give us greater control of our environments; and the deployment of technologies for endowing more and more things with electronic identities. One crucial component for accomplishing the latter is what is known as Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) technology, which ranges from simple barcodes to more complex facial recognition technology. The ubiquitous RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip or tag falls under this category. ... With more and more things and creatures (no doubt eventually including human beings) equipped with these miniscule identifying devices, from cows in the field to leather boots in the shops, from buildings and automobile parts on the assembly line to the pet cat or dog injected with an RFID chip, less and less will escape the electronic information net that is being cast over the world. Equipped with wearable computing devices, and armed with the appropriate dedicated software programmes, those who wear them will be able to lay claim to information about objects, creatures and perhaps other people in their immediate environment, otherwise inaccessible to those who are not so equipped. This is not because they will have developed a personal relationship to them, or a greater insight into them, or love or understanding of them, but because their wearable computer will have given them the power to access relevant information held on an electronic database. Here, then, we see the way in which the electronic information ecosystem can revolutionize human interaction with the earth and all living creatures, as well as inevitably altering the social and political climate in which we live." (Naydler 2020, page 56-7. See YEA Booklist.)

The present world social order evolved from the political-economic thought of the final decades of the 19th century and the early 20th century. The rapid growth of industry based on the division of labour, and the rise of banking and financial institutions, brought in their wake far reaching changes in working and living conditions for the vast majority of humanity. These changes in the institutions of the social order came about as humanity finally abandoned traditional, land-based economic practice.

In traditional societies roles and rules are clearly set out, as on a chessboard. The Pawns know their place in the overall scheme of things, whilst the King and Queen Mother are identifiable individuals. When things go well, the leaders are showered with good things: when things go wrong they pay the price and are replaced. All have rights and obligations assigned to them. In such circumstances nobody is left outside to starve to death, or to seek charity in the Poorhouse. The community as a whole may suffer deprivation, but families do not live in poverty amidst plenty. Enclosure changed all that. As land became property owned by private individuals, the landless labourer, his wife and their children, were driven by fear of starvation into waged slavery on terms dictated by the propertied class. Where fear dictates the social order, you might, quite literally, be as well hung for a sheep as for a lamb.

For over three decades, from 1879 to the onset of World War I, a lively public debate took place on the subject of the social order. Close study of the literature of the period reveals the extent to which ordinary men and women from all walks of life read books and articles on politics, economics, science and issues of social justice. Key texts available for popular study and debate included the works of Henry George, John Ruskin, William Cobbett, Karl Marx, Charles Dickens, Thorstein Veblen and many others.

Henry George's single tax proposals are, perhaps the most intriguing. Through taxing land values, society could make land common property and so recover the value of its common inheritance, raise wages, foster socially and ecologically sound land use, and eliminate the need for taxes on ethically sound productive activity. (See (Y)EA material on Monopoly and Triopoly)

This was no single-issue movement, providing simple cut and dried solutions to individual social problems that resulted from a fundamentally corrupt system. On the contrary, it covered a wide variety of issues. Foremost amongst topics for discussion are issues of war and peace, justice and human dignity, exploitation of the earth's resources and its people for private gain, community provision of the basic economic infrastructures, the operations of fiscal and taxation policies, money creation, banking and national deficit reform, basic income, copyrights, patents and the common cultural heritage. A topic that now must be added to this list is the ‘Internet of Things’.

The vast world-wide network of objects - the 'Internet of Things' relies on a vast army of waged and salaried slaves who have no choice but to serve it from fear of starvation.

For more on this theme (including the Booklist) see ESSAYS\YEA Page of https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/


Monday, 14 June 2021

Progress and Poverty Part 1

From the time of Nietzsche (1844-1900) onwards, many poets, philosophers, literary figures, dramatists, and writers in the fields of science, medicine, technology and sociology have wholeheartedly embraced every advance in science and technology, arguing that the past is a dead weight that needs destroying to make way for the future. Others, like Nicanor Perlas (see the (Y)EA Booklist) argue that we need to take immediate steps to ensure that digitised technology is aligned to human values and priorities, if Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) is not to transform humanity into its own image.

As Jeremy Naydler has explained in, The Struggle for a Human Future, since the 1890s, increasingly sophisticated electronic technologies have become inexplicably interwoven into the very fabric of modern human culture.

"On smart motorways your car will drive itself while you, wearing your VR (Virtual Reality). headset and haptic vest (a garment that can create an experience of touch by applying forces, vibrations or motions to the user), play interactive computer games in the back seat; and in your smart house your fridge will autonomously order more eggs, milk and cheese for you via a wireless connection with a supplier. When we eventually wake up to the new reality that has been created for us, we shall find that the Internet of Things is itself the precursor to what has been called the 'Internet of Thinking'. In the Internet of Thinking, human beings discover that the conditions of life on our planet have become such that we all have to live in relationship to a global electronic intelligence, which will be active everywhere in our environment, We shall be obliged to interact with it in order to accomplish the simplest of tasks. But what actions will we then be able to perform that are truly free? In the current drive to establish a global electronic intelligence, or Global Brain, it is not hard to see the preconditions of electronically supercharged totalitarian states (or a World Government), with unprecedented control over the minutiae of individuals' lives. To step out of line by enacting a truly free initiative may be to risk economic or social exclusion. ..." (page 85, read on, see details on YEA Booklist).

We are presented with a range of consumer goods that have been designed for us, but not consciously by us, to ends that we but dimly perceive. For want of economic alternatives, young people across the world are drawn into the design, production, distribution, marketing, consumption and use of the products so beautifully described in this book. The world of the machine age monitors the mass production of food and the other necessities of life. The increasing sophistication of electronic hardware and software is sold to us in the name of unstoppable progress from Neanderthal Man to Scientific Man. But, as Elon Musk and the other leading global entrepreneurs set about dismantling the remnants of a sustainable social order based on economic democracy, they recognise that the Earth will 'eventually' become uninhabitable. Hence the global elite steam ahead with plans to leave the planet and become "a multi-planetary species".

Developments of this type have been anticipated for well over a century. In 1909 E.M. Forster wrote the science fiction novella entitled The Machine Stops. according to Will Gompertz:

"The Machine Stops is not simply prescient; it is a jaw-droppingly, gob-smackingly, breath-takingly accurate literary description of lockdown life in 2020. If it had been written today it would be excellent, that it was written over a century ago is astonishing. The short story is set in what must have seemed a futuristic world to Forster but won't to you. People live alone in identikit homes (globalisation) where they choose to isolate (his word), send messages by pneumatic post (a proto email or WhatsApp), and chat online via a video interface uncannily similar to Zoom or Skype.

"The clumsy system of public gatherings had long since been abandoned", along with touching strangers ("the custom had become obsolete"), now considered verboten in this new civilisation in which humans live in underground cells with an Alexa-like computer catering to their every whim."

If it already sounds spookily close for comfort, you won't be reassured to know that members of this detached society know thousands of people via machine-controlled social networks that encourage users to receive and impart second-hand ideas. "In certain directions human intercourse had advanced enormously" writes the visionary author drily, before adding later: "But humanity, in its desire for comfort, had over-reached itself. It had exploited the riches of nature too far. Quietly and complacently, it was sinking into decadence, and progress had come to mean progress of the machine."

For more on this theme (including the Booklist) see ESSAYS\YEA Page of https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/


Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Toad Hall and the Washerwoman: Part 2


When the Mole is tired of spring cleaning he can afford the luxury of "simply messing about in boats". As he meets up with Ratty, a hamper of food appears from nowhere, filled with "coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinsaladfrenchrollscressandwidgespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater..." and chicken. This is "only what I always take on these little excursions", explains the Rat. When the Mole gets lost in the Wild Wood, he and Ratty land unexpectedly upon Badger. They are kitted out with slippers, dressing gowns and a bed each for the night, and supplied with an ample supper from the "large, firelit kitchen". And later, when Toad Hall is recaptured from the stoats and weasels, the band of warriors look around for something to eat. They are able to lay their hands on "some guava jelly in a glass dish, and a cold chicken, a tongue that had hardly been touched, some trifle, and quite a lot of lobster salad; and in the pantry they came upon a basketful of French rolls and any quantity of cheese, butter and celery".

When Toad is in prison we catch a glimpse of Toad Hall, the stately home of the English landed gentry. The gaoler's daughter has befriended Toad, bringing him tea and toast, and listening to his life story.

"She tripped away, and presently returned with a fresh trayful; and Toad, pitching into the toast with avidity, his spirits quite restored to their usual level, told her about the boat-house, and the fish-pond, and the old walled kitchen garden; and about the pig-styes, and the stables, and the pigeon-house, and the hen-house; and about the dairy, and the wash-house, and the china-cupboards, and the linen-presses (she liked that bit especially); and about the banqueting hall, and the fun they had there when the other animals were gathered' round the table and Toad was at his best, singing songs, telling stories, carrying on generally. Then she wanted to know about his animal-friends, and was very interested in all he had to tell her about them and how they lived, and what they did to pass their time. Of course, she did not say she was fond of animals as pets, because she had the sense to see that Toad would be extremely offended. When she said good night, having filled his water-jug and shaken up his straw for him, Toad was very much the same sanguine, self-satisfied animal as he had been of old."

When the girl introduces her plan to help Toad escape, telling him of her aunt who is a washerwoman, he comforts her, saying "never mind; think no more about it. I have several aunts who ought to be washerwomen".

In 1908, when Wind in the Willows was written, an army of servants supplied middle class households and their guests with their everyday needs. Those who had enough money to employ servants were looked up to with respect. As always, money spoke volumes. Generally, however, although those who had to seek employment as servants tended to be socially inferior, good work was respected by all. In total, more people were employed as domestic service during the 19th century than were employed in the mills, factories, offices and mines. The question now arises - are we better off now that we must give service to the vast worldwide corporate Machine than when we ran large households directly from the land, using our common cultural heritage? Are we not increasingly confined to our 'little boxes', powerless to determine and design our own food, clothing, shelter, education or even medicine? To face the facts, we are dependent upon foods from vast, chemically-saturated fields, factory-farmed animals, all processed, packaged, transported and accounted financially by a mass of waged and salaried employees who have no say in the processes of production and the conditions of their work. Even those of us who fight free to some extent, rely completely on that vast army to keep the corporate show as a whole on the road.

In her forthcoming book, Re-defining Rich, Shannon Hayes quotes Wendell Berry:

“Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming? And always the answer is: ‘Love. They must do

it for love.’”

If we want to apply ourselves, body and soul, to creating a world where ecological sustainability, social justice, family, and community life all are vibrant and in balance, we ned to take heed of Shannon Hayes and other present-day lateral thinkers.

For more on this theme see ESSAYS\YEA Page of https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/ .

Toad Hall and the Washerwoman: Part 1


In The Enchanted Places, Christopher Robin Milne wrote of The Wind in the Willows:

"A book that we all greatly loved and admired and read aloud or alone, over and over and over: The Wind in the Willows. This book is, in a way, two separate books put into one. There are, on the one hand, those chapters concerned with the adventures of Toad; and on the other hand there are those chapters that explore human emotions – the emotions of fear, nostalgia, awe, wanderlust. My mother was drawn to the second group, of which "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" was her favourite, read to me again and again with always, towards the end, the catch in the voice and the long pause to find her handkerchief and blow her nose. My father, on his side, was so captivated by the first group that he turned these chapters into the children's play, Toad of Toad Hall. In this play one emotion only is allowed to creep in: nostalgia."

Nostalgia, a longing for past circumstances, events, places, home and family, has now come to mean opposition to all forms of change. Reluctance to be swept along by scientific and technological change-for-the-sake-of-change has come to signify failure to relate to reality. The times are changing, and there's nothing to be done but go along with change in the name of something vaguely called 'progress'.

In The Country of Larks, Gail Simmons relates her walk through the countryside of the gently rolling Chiltern Hills. The book has been described as "both a lyrical account of a walk through place and time, an elegy to a very special part of the English landscape - a part now threatened in the name of progress". As she follows the path taken by Robert Lewis Stevenson in 1874, she notes:

"Wisteria frames doorways, verges are neatly mown. Parked outside, Range Rovers have replaced the haywains. You can quite see how stressed-out city folk and tired retirees want to retreat into this dream of an unchanging England. The careful tending of flowers, the mowing of lawns, the trimming of hedges is a barricade against external forces they can no longer control: forces such as HS2." (p45-6)

The time has come to question the assumption that projects like HS2 do, in any sense of the word, represent 'progress'. And that can best be done, perhaps through revisiting children's literature.

In his latest book, entitled an enchanted place, (Hawthorne Press, 2021) film producer Jonathan Stedall tells the story of an imaginary Middle England NIMBY protest through a set of characters based upon the childhood stories of A.A. Milne (father of Christopher Robin cited above). The skilful notes of humour in Stedall's book are so very welcome in these dark days. The charming book, delightfully produced in hardback, facilitates discussion of the major issues of our times by drawing our attention to the importance of children's literature.

For more on this theme see ESSAYS\YEA Page of https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/ .

Monday, 7 June 2021

About the (Y)EA

An association is a group of people having a common interest. The (Yorkshire-and-everywhere-else) Educational Association is a group of authors, journalists, activists, academics, artists, farmers and homemakers with a common interest in the development of a sane and sustainable social order.

Way back in 1957 Richard Hoggart observed:

"We all need to remember, every day and more and more, that in the last resort there is no such person as 'the common man'. If we do not, we may in the end have allowed individual decision to slip away in our dutiful democratic identification of ourselves with a hypothetical figure whose main value is to those who will mislead us. We need to hold fast to the basic facts about the nature of popular publications — that they are now the products of large-scale commercial organizations, that they belong not to the history of the Press properly speaking, nor to affairs, nor to politics, but to entertainment; that their handling of opinion' is a largely irrational manipulation for the purposes of entertainment, that when one of these papers says, 'We give the facts. . . astounding. . this is not so much a statement of their attitude as an entertainer's patter, of the same order as, 'There's nothing up my sleeve.'

"Writing in the latter part of the last century, William Morris regretted the lack of a popular art and looked forward to its revival: 'Popular art has no chance of a healthy life or, indeed, of a life at all, till we are on the way to fill up this terrible gap between riches and poverty.' If that gap were closed there might be an end, he continued, to: 'that fatal division of men into the cultivated and degraded classes which competitive commerce has bred and fosters'. " (Hoggart 1957 p242. See YEA Booklist)

The question is, who are "those who will mislead us"? In the decade following World War II, Hoggart studied the ways in which the mass media were opening new worlds to new readers, at the same time as they were exploiting and debasing standards and behaviour. Have the magazines, books, films and internet technology 'for the millions' proved on balance a social benefit or a social danger?

The questions Hoggart raises, and his study of the assumptions, attitudes and morals of the working class of the North of England, remain as pertinent as ever. Hence the inclusion of The Uses of Literature in the YEA BOOKLIST. Read on... 

See ESSAYS\YEA Page of https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

 Matters for All

At the start of Lockdown in 2020, an overwhelming majority of the population had no idea what was going on. As it progresses many are finding the speed and extent of the changes incomprehensible. A host of new rules and regulations come at a time when the climate crisis, unemployment, hunger, poverty, armed conflicts and forced migrations demand our attention.

It is all too easy to forget that the social sphere of life is not something 'out there', constructed by specialists in geopolitics, and nothing to do with us personally. On the contrary, as we go about our daily business, we are each one of us an integral part of the world economy. So it concerns us all. And, since absolutely everyone is a part of the whole, we must all take the time to develop an understanding of how it functions, so that we may rightly have a say in the way it is ordered.

As a recently circulated discussion document, entitled ‘Memorandum-Easter 2021' and written by Dr Michaela Glöckler and Andreas Neider, observes:

"Many people are asking themselves, what kind of future is in store for us? What kind of citizen participation is needed to keep democracy viable in the face of this changed overall situation? How can civil society be concretely involved in the process of a necessary rethinking – also in Corona politics?"

The authors note five different reactions to the Lockdown measures. These can be broadly summarised as follows:

1. There is a deadly virus that has spread worldwide. It must be eliminated by the full force of modern mechanistic-materialistic science and technology.

2. Health is a complex balance between the generation, degeneration and regeneration of living organisms. The task is for individuals to use all the resources to hand to maintain a healthy balance for their families and society as a whole.

3. Isolation, restrictions on movements, disruptions in education, curtailments of social interaction, all these measures are counterproductive to well-being because they escalate malaise.

4. Authoritarian regimes can be imposed from above when fear is let loose in society. Citizens of all ages and all walks of life must guard their freedoms by entering into discussions with others of differing viewpoints.

5. The mechanistic world view presently dominating the social order serves to obscure the spiritual dimension to life. Yet humanity is rooted in the wider worlds of nature and the life of the spirit. The cycles of life, death and rebirth facilitate appreciation of the spiritual science dimension of the social order.

Over the decades following World War II humanity worldwide threw itself into the zero-sum game of monopolistic materialism. By unthinkingly following the rules of the game, as taught in schools and colleges during childhood and adolescence, we create poverty amidst plenty, an endless series of devastating wars, rampant disease, ecological catastrophe, widespread migration, homelessness, endless waste, artificial intelligence and blanket ignorance. In these circumstances democracy goes by the board. Global corporations, and the governments they control, design, produce and market the basic necessities and luxuries of life. Through the financial system of waged and salaried slavery, food, clothing and shelter and an infinite range of internet toys are supplied in standardised packages to meet the demand artificially created by the corporate world. Entertainment, information, education, sport and medical care come ready-made and packaged, to be consumed regardless of any detrimental effect upon ourselves or others, or on the natural living world. Goods and services that were once designed and produced by households set within their local communities, are now determined by their financial profitability. The current crises can only be solved if men and women of all ages and all walks of life, in their local communities, recover responsibility for their thoughtlessly given proxies.

To the extent that we seek to carry on as normal, we merely endorse the decisions made by a corporate world that is intent on imposing mechanistic materialism over every state on the planet. In doing so we forget that the state, like the human being, is a threefold entity. First, there are the individual functions that each individual citizen contributes as a creative spirit. Through religion, art, inventive genius and the world of education these activities form the cultural sphere. Second, there is the economic sphere through which individuals cooperate in community to create the commodities necessary for physical, intellectual and cultural life. And thirdly, balancing the two, is the independent body-politic of the rights sphere, where the legal rights and responsibilities of individuals in the other two spheres are moderated.

Whether we know it or not, we and our families are presently, totally dependent upon a social order, dictated from above, that is fundamentally flawed. The task ahead is to explore the history of those social institutions upon which we currently depend for our everyday needs. What inalienable rights do we have? How do we care for the lands and the natural world that provide our daily bread? What responsibilities do we have towards fellow human beings currently forced into waged labour by a financial system based upon greed and self-interest? The time is right for us to come together in our local communities and talk round the table. We need to seek out others, not of like mind, but of many and varied points of view, to explore ways to create a sustainable future. And we need to remember that there is no time like the present.

Dr Frances Hutchinson