Thursday 31 March 2022

The Landlords Games

When Charles Darrow first offered Monopoly to the Parker Brothers in the early 1930s (see Blog for 30 March) it was turned down because of its 56 "design faults". However, the game was never intended as a teaching aid for the development of global corporatism. On the contrary, it was one of a large number of games created by local communities exploring the problems that arose from private monopoly control of land. The games were handmade, circulating among members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) in Atlanta City and elsewhere. They were devised to stimulate discussion of the evils of private monopoly landholding. The idea was to move beyond protest towards practical alternatives based upon social responsibility. The Single Land Tax was based upon the teachings of the popular American economist, Henry George (1839-1897).

A powerful speaker, Henry George was moved by the evidence of dire poverty amidst affluence in the New York of the 1860s and 1870s. His observations caused him to turn his journalistic talents to the relationship between private property in land and the necessity for labourers to subsist on wages offering no more than a basic living. Poverty and Progress (1879), his major publication, was translated into many languages and was debated far and wide. His proposals to replace taxation of labour with taxation of privately held land still attract the attention of reforming legislators in the US, Denmark, and elsewhere.

The Georgist system of land taxation was designed to be introduced gradually, in stages, following informed public debate. The idea was that local economies run by the people and for the people would be placed on a firm footing politically, economically and culturally. In an address delivered in 1889 at Toombridge, County Derry, Ireland, George drew a distinction between production and creation. People may hew coal from the rocks, catch fish in the seas, bring together timber, stone and iron to shape a house, produce cloth from the wool of sheep or the fibre of plants, and produce crops by tilling the soil. Labour on the land brings forth the necessities of life. It does not, however, create. For George, God as Creator of all, gives equal use of the land to all. No individual or powerful organisation can justly commandeer the reservoirs of nature, or the property of others created by their own labours.

Incomes derived from the ownership of property in land were, according to George, unearned incomes derive from social change such as occurs when a city expands. Economic growth causes a many-fold rise in the value of city-centre sites and nearby land. In these circumstances speculation for private gain prevents the land from being used for the benefit of the community as a whole. Yet it is from the community as a whole that the rising value of land occurs. A tax on land at or near its full rental value would, George argued, reduce the price of land. The tax would rise as the value of land rose, and fall as it fell, eliminating the motivation to speculate in land. Land would be held for its use value, not for speculation in its scarcity value.

Under the Georgist system, owners of homes and properties who make improvements would not have to pay higher taxes on rents based on improvements because they are presumed to be benefiting the community as a whole. Hence farmers who improve their land would benefit, while commercial speculation in land would be discouraged, opening up the possibility for creating agricultural zones near cities. Under the present system it pays farmers to sell their lands to developers for huge profits.

The Landlord's Games remain an intriguing starting point for discussion of practical economic alternatives to corporate capitalism. Their creators had a profound faith in the human capacity for action based upon reasoned argument. Designed to be played cooperatively, the games provided a focus for discussion. The three phases of the games suggested the potential for communities to regain access to the land. Monopoly was developed from the first two phases of the original games. By eliminating the 'design faults', the original 'win-win' game was turned into a 'zero-sum' game where there are winners and losers. The games still offer much food for thought. Nevertheless, in the 21st century players must let go of the desire to win, in order to settle to thoughtful discussion.

In the next Blog we look at Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit, an intriguing Guild Socialist variation on the original Georgist theme.

Wednesday 30 March 2022

Monopoly as Zero Sum Game

Once upon a time children played by the roadside, chanting traditional rhymes in a long-established pattern. Games flowed in a natural progression, one following another as the mood took the group. The question of who had 'won' and who had 'lost' in the playing of the games was of little interest. Play was a social occasion, a chance to test out one's personality as an individual and to learn the roles and rules of operating as a social being. The fun was in the playing, in the process, not the end result. Through games children learned to work together, developing the social skills they would need to participate in the adult community. By contrast, modern games foster the desire to win at the expense of the other players, preparing children to operate in a very different world. Monopoly is one such `zero-sum' game. The Penguin Dictionary of Economics describes a 'zero-sum 'game as "...a game in which one player 's gain is equal to another players losses, whatever strategy is chosen. The players can only compete for slices of a fixed cake: there are no opportunities of overall gain through collusion. The sum of gains will always equal the sum of losses, the whole summing to zero.

Monopoly is an excellent teaching aid for the development of the mass mind of global competitive capitalism, where individuals maximise their own benefits and minimise their own costs. Community, kin, friends, family and locality are eradicated from this 'real' world of competitive fantasy. Like the internet, Monopoly enables people to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time, ignoring social and environmental reality. All that counts is staying in the game, playing to win and forcing opponents (other people) off the board. The 'selfish game' of Monopoly is a best seller. Since its reproduction by Parker Brothers in 1935 the game has sold over two million copies and is available in 80 countries. Five billion little green houses have been built, and a person who has never heard of the game is regarded as a curiosity.

Although the game is translated to portray the familiar street names of the capital cities of different countries, there ends the concession to locality. Players buy and sell the land and buildings with no respect for the local culture of the region where they operate. Players compete as 'rational' individuals seeking personal gain, free from any restraints of tradition that might balance rights with responsibilities. Geography, ecology, flora, fauna, folkways, everything relating to place and community is eradicated. The game is played in a timeless continuum, where people are neither sick nor old, there are no young to care for and questions of food, fodder, fuel and fertility of the land do not arise. As a teaching aid for the 'real world' of the global capitalist economy, Monopoly is excellent. As a blueprint for operating in the non-fantasy real world of the natural economy and the real-life community it is terrifying.

Like an old-fashioned fairy story, Monopoly presents a scenario which encourages 'right' moves while discouraging 'wrong' actions. It is all the more effective for being played rather than merely listened to. The question is, how did Monopoly originate? Was it the brainchild of a single individual inventor, or the product of teamwork? Was it snapped up at once by a toy manufacturer, or was it repeatedly rejected? Monopoly has a fascinating story of its own.

Charles Darrow has been credited with its invention. He took the game to Parker Brothers in the early 1930s, but they turned it down because of 56 design faults. In 1933/4 Darrow went ahead and produced 500 handmade copies of the game selling them through a chain store. The game was immediately popular. Unable to keep up with the demand, Darrow approached Parker Brothers again, and the rest is history.

Less well known is the start of the story. The 'design faults' were scarcely surprising, since the game was never intended to illustrate the smooth working of the capitalist economy. On the contrary, it was initially designed to demonstrate the inherent flaws in monopoly control of the land. The game taken to Parker Brothers was one of a large number of versions circulating in the States, the UK and elsewhere under a range of different names. The 'Darrow' game was painted on an oilcloth used for covering a table, and is reputed to have been stolen from a Mrs Elizabeth Magee Phillips in the late 1920s.

The games were devised as teaching aids to portray the evils of the selfish system of monopoly land holding and financial exploitation. The idea was to move beyond mere protest towards practical alternatives. The socially responsible view of land holding, and proposals for a Single Tax based on land ownership originated in the work of Henry George.

The early 'win-win Georgist games circulated in the USA and the UK around the turn of the 19th century. Their creators held a profound faith in the human capacity for action based upon reasoned argument. The games were designed to be played cooperatively, providing a focus for discussion and following a common pattern. Monopoly was developed from the first phase of the game which demonstrates the effects of a greedy, selfish pattern of monopoly land-holding. The later two phases, which form games in themselves, demonstrate the potential for communities to regain access to land. It is ironic that a game first devised to move away from monopoly land holding should have come to serve continued exploitation and degradation of the land.

In 2006 a group operating under the name of Planetwatch Communications, re-drew an early version, which had circulated in the UK as "Brer Fox an' Brer Rabbit" just before the First World War. Despite the title, this is not a children's game. However, a major obstacle to the thoughtful playing of this original version is familiarity with the selfish, zero-sum game of Monopoly.


Monopoly has been played by families in every corner of the world since it was first marketed by Parker Brothers in 1935. It is a board game that teaches the values of global corporatism as if there was no other show in town. It teaches children to value money above all else, to win, to think of self first, to be the winner. In short, "the object of the game is to become the wealthiest player through the buying, selling and renting of property" and, in doing so, to drive all other players off the board and into the ditch of destitution. A close study of this familiar board game reveals many curious features that have come to be taken for granted, and hence have passed unremarked by generations of players of this game. Over the decades of its existence, Monopoly has changed very little. Although Monopoly boards using place names of a variety of towns and cities across the globe have been marketed, the basic rules and board reflect an anonymous no-man's land outside the real-life economy of the living world. An early version of the game describes it as follows:

"THE IDEA OF THE GAME is to BUY and RENT or SELL properties so profitably that one becomes the wealthiest player and eventual MONOPOLIST. Starting from "GO" move tokens around the Board according to throw of Dice. When a Player's Token lands on a space NOT already owned, he may Buy it from the BANK: otherwise it is Auctioned off to the Highest Bidder. The OBJECT of owning property is to Collect Rents from Opponents stopping there. Rentals are greatly increased by the erection of Houses and Hotels, so it is wise to build them on some of your Building Sites. To raise more money Building Sites may be mortgaged to the Bank. Community Chest and Chance spaces give the draw of a Card, instructions on which must be followed. Sometimes players land in Jail! The game is one of shrewd and amusing trading and excitement, often contributed to by the Banker-Auctioneer."

In a later version of the rules, the object of the exercise is stated simply as "to become the wealthiest player through buying, selling and renting property". But there is no indication of where the money comes from to enable players to take part in the game. Looking at the familiar board we see properties of all sorts, including railways and other infrastructure sites, even "INCOME TAX". But no BANK. According to the rules, the Banker is appointed before the game commences, and he keeps the . The Bank is described as follows:

"Besides the Bank's money the Bank holds the Title Deeds, and the Houses and Hotels prior to purchase by the players. The bank pays salaries and bonuses. It sells and auctions properties and hands out the proper Title Deed cards when purchased by a player. It also sells Houses and Hotels to the players and loans money when required on mortgages.

"The bank collects all taxes, fines, loans and interest, and the price of all properties which it sells and auctions. The bank 'never goes broke.' If the Bank runs out of money, the Banker may issue as much as needed by writing on any ordinary paper."

That last sentence is particularly interesting to the student of political economy. Note also that it is recommended that the person selected to be Banker should be one who would make "a good Auctioneer". Furthermore, it is the Banker who starts play.

On the Monopoly Board itself, there are houses, hotels, public utilities and a jail, but no farms, factories, shops, offices, schools, hospitals or places of work. Players collect a £200 "salary", doled out by the Banker, as they pass GO.

Virtually everybody I know has played the game at some point in their lives. Yet few - myself included - have paused to consider how the game was constructed. A close examination of the rules raises many questions, in addition to those already mentioned. What assumptions were made in drawing up the Community Chest and Chance cards? The rules relating to payment of Tax give pause for thought, as do the rules relating to getting in and out of Jail. Does the game give an accurate reflection of the finance-driven global economy of present times? Do banks conjure money out of thin air when it runs short?

Sunday 27 March 2022

On the Council

In the early decades of the 20th century guild socialist notions of giving service to the community could be taken for granted. In all walks of life, people set about doing the things that needed to be done in the household, on the farm, in the small and medium-sized business, in schools, medical practices, churches and faith communities of all persuasions, on magistrate's benches and within the council chambers of local government. Outside the mills and mines of the waged slave-driven mass production economy, there was no sharp distinction between paid and unpaid labour. Traditional notions of giving service to the community at large continued to permeate local provision of goods and services. In the Spring 1946 edition of The Countryman, for example, the following thoughts appeared under the title "After One is on the Council":

IT may interest those who have received invitations to stand for their rural district council, and think that the duties of a councilor begin and end with attending the monthly (or fortnightly) meeting, to consider the diary of a man who is by no means the most active member of a council of twenty-four. First, meetings; council (from home from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.), general purposes committee (9 a.m. to 3.30 p.m.), sub-committees (11.30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 12.30 p.m. to 6 p.m.). Meeting in village 7 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. Then callers and letters, not including routine correspondence from council officials: man complaining that his small boy had been unmercifully beaten at school; woman complaining that her child, sent to school clean, came home with lice every night; man complaining that children taking school meals were not supervised and that his own little girl had forgotten her table manners. Man, newly demobilized, with trouble over a housing site. (Action, telephone conversation with surveyor, appointment made with town planning officer, and notice given of a question to be asked at the next meeting.) Member of Men's Guild asking for a date for a talk on local government. Two villagers with a demand for larger council houses. One of them also demanded transport for school children. The other, having been told that a certain orchard was once common land, demanded that it should be taken over by the council and made into a playing-field. Woman with a long and involved history of family troubles asking for help in obtaining an allowance for a grandchild living with her. (Action, report written.) Local builder (six times) with appeals for help in remedying injustices. Almost daily questions and reports on requisitioned houses. Caravan-dweller wishes a complaint made that the coalman with whom he has registered has failed to deliver 'even a spoonful of coals'. Star turn: A young soldier, home after four years in a German prison camp complaining that our council houses still have bucket lavatories and saying: "Even in the old Stalag we had flushes". This is a rough record of three weeks. Letters and telephone calls on routine matters have not been included. Extract from The Countryman, Vol XXXIII No 1 1946, p 99-100.

We cannot put the clock back. But we can certainly study our local history with a view to putting economic and technological 'progress' into perspective. That will make it possible to lay the foundations for a realistically sane and sustainable social order of the future. Presently, the Nanny State provides the waged and salaried worker slaves necessary to run the global corporations world. We may have more money that we had when the councilor wrote of his experiences way back in 1946. But are we better off in any others sense?

The 1940s, 50s and 60s were a period of local community building. Education, welfare, transport, health and public libraries, museums, art galleries, parks and allotments were provided by the local people for the local people. Springing from nowhere, the Local Government Act of 1974 set about taking financial powers clean out of the hands of locally elected councilors, placing it instead with central government. As a result, we now have a National Health Service, a National educational curriculum and national welfare services administered by faceless bureaucrats in the pay of centralised administration. The system leaves many families powerless, destitute and confused, incapable of both receiving or giving help to others. Fortunately, a host of questions are being asked by well-informed 'ethical individuals'. (See Maria Lyons, "Living With Intention", The Social Artist, Spring 2015 on the website at Spring 2015.

Thursday 17 March 2022

Local Parliaments

Over the past two years the Coronavirus crisis has given rise to a great deal of reflection on the spectacular ability of the corporate 'powers-that-be' to erode civil rights in democratic countries. A world-wide precedent has been set for: the tracking of people’s movements at all times; the suspension of freedom of assembly; the military policing of civilians; extrajudicial, indefinite detention; the banning of cash; dumbing down of the news media; censorship of the Internet; compulsory vaccination and other medical treatment; and the classification of all activities and destinations into the expressly permitted and the expressly forbidden. We have seen the closure of all theatres, places of worship, community centres, schools and colleges, accompanied by the replacement of journalism with false propaganda. These measures have established the state's sovereignty over our minds and bodies, creating a brave new dystopia.

In Village Democracy John Papworth (1921-2020) makes a powerful plea for local people of all walks of life, wherever they happen to be, to prepare the ground for local democracy so that they can effectively counter the dystopian forces presently at large in the world.

"This is the backdrop of our plea for village democracy, for assemblies consisting of local people who will devise their own means of taking local decisions on local matters. Any attempt to establish them will no doubt be strongly resisted by those in whose hands power is now held: it is resistance which will be deployed in a variety of ways. But first, what is it they will be resisting?

"These new forms of authority will need to be what are in effect new parliaments, local parliaments, peoples parliaments, nothing less. As a kick-off there is nothing at all to stop any group in any community setting up its own local assembly and distributing offices among themselves. In the nature of things at present much of such activity will seem unreal and involve an element of role-playing, but it would be role-playing with a difference.

"Such changes cannot be expected to be implemented overnight; ideas travel at their own pace, time is needed for them to gain acceptance and for people to establish local structures which can cope with the consequence of the breakdown of central authorities' functions. It was the authoritarian Fabians who coined the phrase 'the inevitability of gradualness' and some such element will surely be operative here. But let us not ignore that human affairs are in crisis and that crisis elements are likely to impel some major adjustments very swiftly indeed. A breakdown of food supplies, for example, will necessitate its own emergency measures as a matter of course. Any local governmental role-playing will have as its long term aim to assume for the village assembly real power to make decisions, with proper elections and other procedures that ensure the supremacy of local democracy. The role-playing would involve a powerful element of radical education as members sought to discharge their duties.

"It is not difficult to conceive an elected local education officer tackling the present school authorities on what is being taught and how money is being spent. Or on why there is so much emphasis on teaching computer skills but none on how to grow food. On why there is no instruction on the dangers of junk foods and why they are dangerous to good health. On the lack of instruction in hand skills such as carpentry, tailoring, leatherwork and so on.

"Another elected member for finance might be making it his/her business to question local banks about the quality of their services, their profit margins and their loan policies; he/she would also be to the forefront in promoting local credit schemes, local pensions and savings banks, and a local currency; whilst a Member for Positive Health would be campaigning local doctors to promote fresh, organic food, and sound dietary practice. The embryo assembly would be constantly concerned to educate by example as well as precept how a new order of local control of local power would operate and in what ways local power could be established and entrenched. Not least it would become a beacon of light and hope against a backdrop of ever deepening crisis, where the likelihood of a collapse of centralised controls is not just a remote possibility, but an event already beginning to unfold."

Like so many socially committed individuals over the course of the past century, John Papworth predicts total breakdowns in finance, food supplies and civil liberties. Like the Guild Socialists before him (See What Everybody Really Wants to Know About Money), he argues passionately for radical decentralisation of power as the only answer to the emerging crises in politics, trade, ecology, and international affairs. Over his lifetime, unnoticed and almost entirely unremarked, fundamental changes in local government have been steered through the same centralising forces (See February Blogs, e.g. The Bradford Revolution). The above paragraphs are full of highly quotable quotes that cry out for informed debate by ordinary people everywhere, especially those entrusted with the care of children.

Wednesday 16 March 2022

Barking Up the Wrong Tree?

 A sleepless night found me musing over my three decades-long exploration of the political economy of corporate capitalism, and the books and people I have worked with over that time. It left me wondering what it is all about. What on earth is going on? The covid lockdowns worldwide, with the imposition of rules and regulations by unaccountable authorities in the name of health and safety, seem to defy logic. As the financial and economic implications of such policy upheavals come into focus, the time is ripe for ask what is driving political and economic policy? Is it possible that we have evolved a social order that is rendering human beings superfluous? Now is the time to reflect on a series of seemingly unconnected policy decisions that have occurred over the past half century, and to ask some fundamental questions.

In The Struggle for a Human Future: 5G, Augmented Reality and the Internet of Things (Temple Lodge 2020) Jeremy Naydler provides detailed documentation of the course of the digital revolution and the developments that are bringing ever closer union between humans and machines, whilst distancing humans from the natural and spiritual worlds. Naydler draws our attention to developments that have been a long time in the pipeline. His work follows that of a host of scientific and technological whistle-blowers, not to mention writers of dystopian fiction. As Mae-Wan Ho explains:

"Gene technology is fundamentally flawed. It is driven bv a mindset that recognises no moral values, is contrary to scientific evidence, doesn't work the way it claims, and is oblivious of the grave dangers posed by the technology. That is bad science. This bad science, working hand-in-hand with big business corporations under the banner of free trade and free choice, will effectively, take control of every aspect of our lives. In the process, it may well ruin our food supply, destroy biodiversity and unleash pandemics of drug and antibiotic resistant infectious diseases."

Mae-Wan Ho's Genetic Engineering - Dream or Nightmare? The brave new world of bad science and big business, was published by Gateway Books 1998. It followed a whole raft of publications raising questions about the connections between human embryo research and cross-species genetic engineering. From the the early 1970s it was becoming apparent that IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation), and the new reproductive technologies in general were going to be used on women. Ethicists, scientists, doctors, theologians, lawyers, policy-makers, social scientists, psychologists and politicians debated the medical, legal and moral questions raised. Old and new moral concerns were raised, including 'egg donation', the taking of eggs from women's bodies. Committees were set up by hospitals, private foundations and governments. At issue were such matters as the status of the embryo, interference in marriage, fears the scientists might "disrupt the ties that bind society such as the meaning of paternity and motherhood". As Pat Spallone explains, in Beyond Conception: The New Politics of Reproduction (Macmillan Education 1989), the scientists who argued that it would be wrong to hold up scientific progress won the day hands down. The repercussions of the new reproductive technologies reverberate across the whole field of household, family, domestic science, and early years care to the present day.

In the decades immediately following World War II, state education in working class urban centres provided a high standard of domestic science, home economics and practical arts and craft skills. These included woodworking, metal-working, DIY and rural studies for the boys, alongside cookery, health care, child care, household management, needlework, dress design and dressmaking. From the 1970s onwards these provisions were abandoned, to the distress of boys and girls alike, their parents and their dedicated teachers who appreciate the urgent necessity for such skills to be taught, especially in very deprived areas. Increasingly, girls and boys were encourage to focus upon acquiring the professional qualifications necessary to pursue a well-paid career in the service of the corporate world. Time spent on domestic duties was considered wasted, time, unnecessary in a world of mass production of food, clothing and labour-saving machines. Increasingly, over the coming decades, many mothers found themselves pregnant and floundering as it became apparent that the demands of motherhood, and the need to care for the chronically sick and elderly, could not be comfortably accommodated alongside professional career commitments.

At the same time, changes were taking place in the relationship between mothers on the one hand, and the medical establishment on the other. It became increasingly difficult for mothers and midwives to arrange for a home birth. In some cases midwives have been threatened with dismissal or even prosecution, for seeking to help mothers to give birth at home. It is increasingly difficult to understand what is happening, as birth ceases to be regarded as a normal part of human life, becoming instead a medical procedure fraught with danger. Abortions are offered as a matter of course, elective Caesarian births become routine, and the numbers of emergency Caesarian births has rocketed. Meanwhile, children are vaccinated as a matter of routine, with little attempt being made by the medical profession to explain the the ros and cons of the various vaccinations so that parents can give informed consent. In some cases GPs have been brought before the General Medical Council for suggesting to parents that they might do their own research before bringing their children in for vaccination.

As the restrictions on civil liberties continue to grow, one cannot but ask some fundamental questions. What is going on? Who needs 5G, augmented reality and transhumanism? Who benefits?

Tuesday 15 March 2022

Which Path to Village Democracy?

'A civilisation that genuinely reflects all that human beings long for and aspire to can only be created on the basis of each person's freely acknowledged power to decide on each of the many questions that affect his life.'

In the 40 years since he wrote those words in the first issue of his journal Resurgence, John Papworth has not wavered from that belief. Village Democracy passionately restates his argument for radical decentralisation of power as the only answer to the current crises in politics, trade, ecology, and international affairs. What follows here is an extract from Village Democracy:

*  *  *  *

It is one of the ironies of contemporary events that in some relatively well-to-do countries some well intentioned idealists have helped to popularise a slogan abjuring 'Make Poverty History'. They appear to be quite unaware that we are on the threshold of one of the most devastating disasters ever to have afflicted humanity in all its history, a disaster in which millions, and probably billions, are going to be victims of famines, wars and diseases. This is not guesswork but a reference to events already in train, the work of forces far too enormous to be controlled by anyone for anything. How? This raises the question 'If localisation is our route, how do we set, about traversing it?' It is indeed the question of the hour.

How? How, for that matter do we proceed to make any changes at all that are likely to prove effective in checking, far less reversing, our current Gadarene rush to a precipice of unmitigated disaster? It will help perhaps if we take note of our current practice in seeking change. Anyone seeking to act today can be counted upon to be invited, indeed urged, to join an organisation. Since it will generally be a national, centrally organised, mass organisation, he will at once be confronted with all the dangers, failures and ineffectualities of any mass organisation as indicated above.

Or he will be invited to subscribe to a publication, one with such a huge readership it will carry all the same considerations of one individual as a member of a mass seeking to influence a centrally run body. Or it will be one of such tiny outreach it only reaches a limited body of those already converted to the cause and who essentially are simply talking to each other.

Or he will be invited to join massive street demonstrations of protest concerned to express disapproval of a particular, and generally transient, governmental policy move, perhaps a war, a new tax, a new weapon, genetic engineering or whatever. Often these protests

are focused on some abstraction such as 'peace', not something likely to gain much attention from the passive millions of our mass membership societies, or to be of more than passing effect.

Such moves spring from an essentially 19th Century mindframe, as do proposals for letter-writing campaigns to members of parliament, or for mass parliamentary lobbying. They are akin to seeking a cure for a diabetic condition with a sugar-based diet. Another recent move involved urging M.P's to set up a special ministry of 'peace'! One having all the gallant insouciance of a request to the Federation of British Butchers to establish a branch of The Indo-Pakistan Vegetarian Society.

All such moves are the product of countless individuals who are aware of the dangers we now confront, individuals often imbued with an uncommon degree of disinterested idealism and of a readiness freely to devote time, resources and even their lives to the great cause, whilst lacking the most rudimentary appreciation of the real nature of the problems confronting them. They seem to share a common assumption that in political and economic affairs the shortest distance between two points is always a straight line, and they proceed on it in defiance of all the lessons of failure and ineffectuality that now stare them in the face.

They fail to grasp that the problem is not in itself war, or capitalism, or global economic brigandage, or this or that president or prime minister. Is a crisis of power, power of such huge aggregates that it is beyond our control. It is running amok and defying all moral principles that may check its course, defying all the accumulated moral wisdom of former ages, defying rationality, common sense or regard for the well-being of the planet and its inhabitants, both present and of all generations to come. And since it is above all a crisis of power it needs to be at the top of the agenda to determine how power may be restored to human control if events are not to provoke a general nemesis over all our endeavours.

Extract from Village Democracy, John Papworth (12 December 1921 - 4 July 2020)

Sunday 13 March 2022

Paradigm Shift

"The day after 9–11, a person whom I respect and care about a great deal said to me, 'George Bush was anointed by God for a time such as this.' He then asked me what I thought. I said that I thought that the Bush family was anointed by financial fraud, narcotics trafficking, and paedophilia. Stunned, he said, 'If that is true, then it’s hopeless'. I replied that things were far from hopeless, but that for me solutions started with faith in a divine intelligence rather than affirming a dependent relationship with organized crime."

So wrote Catherine Austin Fitts when she reviewed Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth in 2008. In her review article (see The Social Crediter Spring 2008), she suggested that if we, as responsible citizens, seek to respond to global warming we must face the fact that we support criminal activity by our governments because we do not call them to account. Equally, "we as consumers, depositors and investors support the private banking, corporate and investment interests that run our government in this manner". When we recognise that in order to save and rebuild our world we have to withdraw from our dependence upon a rotten system, we are overwhelmed by the difficulty of understanding how to set about system-wide action for positive change. Over past decades people from all walks of life have insisted that solutions to social and ecological questions must be found within the present system, i.e., within the socially acceptable boundaries laid down by economic orthodoxy over the past century. We must follow the rules and play the game.

In order to do so, we must refrain from asking key questions. We must ignore the correlation between environmental deterioration and the growth of the global financial system that has resulted from the world-wide centralisation of economic and political power. The fundamental questions we all need to tackle include:

  • who is doing this?

  • who has been governing our planet this way and why?

  • cui bono? Who benefits?

  • who has suppressed alternative technologies, resulting in our dependency on fossil fuels? Why?

  • who has generated how much financial capital generated from this damage?

  • how did things get this bad without our changing?

  • how much was related to fear generated by those in charge?

  • how do we recapture resources that have been criminally drained and use them to invest in restoring environmental balance?

Fitts calls to account the people who are intentionally killing the planet.

"Their power is their ability to offer all of us ways of making money by helping them kill it. Hence, understanding how the mechanics of the financial system and the accumulation of financial capital relate to environmental destruction is essential. If we integrate these deeper systems into an historical timeline, authentic solutions will begin to emerge."

By "making money" Fitts means working for money in order to acquire the basic necessities of life for ourselves and our families (see What Everybody Really Wants to Know About Money"). The task ahead is to come to grips with the history of the global financial system that currently dictates policy across the world in all three spheres of the social order. And the first step is to recognise the difficulty we face when we acknowledge that working for money is the root of all current evils.

In 1883 John Swinton (1829-1901), for ten years editor of the New York Times, delivered at a press dinner the speech he is most famous for today:

"There is no such a thing in America as an independent press, unless it is out in country towns. You are all slaves. You know it, and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to express an honest opinion. If you expressed it, you would know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid $150 for keeping honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for doing similar things. If I should allow honest opinions to be printed in one issue of my paper, I would be like Othello before twenty-four hours: my occupation would be gone. The man who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the street hunting for another job. The business of a New York journalist is to distort the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to villify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread, or for what is about the same — his salary. You know this, and I know it; and what foolery to be toasting an "Independent Press"! We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are jumping-jacks. They pull the string and we dance. Our time, our talents, our lives, our possibilities, are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."

The same can continue to be said for a host of waged and salaried workers across the board in politics, academia, medical and scientific research, health care and education. It is time to move beyond a willingness to work for a financial system that is based upon "organised crime", exploitation of labour, destruction of local communities and devastation of the natural world. What is called for is no less than a paradigm shift, a change in our understanding of the role of the individual within the social order.


Catherine Austin Fitts served as Managing Director and Member of the Board of Directors of the Wall Street investment bank, Dillon, Read & Co., Inc. She served as Assistant Secretary of Housing/Federal Housing Commissioner at HUD in the first Bush Administration and was the President and Founder of Hamilton Securities Group, Inc. Catherine has a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, an MBA from The Wharton School, and studied Chinese at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She serves on the board of the Gold Anti– Trust Action Committee and publishes a column, Mapping the Real Deal, in Scoop Media in New Zealand. See Solari eg

Monday 7 March 2022

A Matter of Love

Some two decades ago I met Linda, Lili and Doran. Linda Scotson, famous author of Doran, Child of Courage, had written a play based upon Michael Rowbotham's The Grip pf Death: A Study of Modern Money, Debt Slavery and Destructive Economics, and my What Everybody Really Wants to Know About Money. The play, entitled A Matter of Interest, was performed and filmed locally. Linda introduced me to her family's life's work, the promotion of health through love rather than the profit motive. In the years that followed we maintained contact. The recent film Breathe, about the Advance Centres Clinics, is a tour de force.

The film portrays the quest of families seeking appropriate help in caring for brain injured family members. They know there must be some alternative to putting a much-loved child away into the residential care of strangers, to endless surgery and invasive drugs. Over the years many such families from all over the world have found their way to Linda's family, where they have received the loving care and support needed to provide for their children. So far, resistance by medical professionals to taking these methods on board has resulted in families having to endure lengthy periods of frustration and despair. In the quest to put their work onto a mainstream footing, Linda embarked upon the time-consuming exercise of researching a PhD thesis to establish the scientific basis of her therapies. When the solid evidence of the thesis was finally rejected by the scientific establishment, Linda embarked upon a different tack. The film Breathe is the result, and there is a book based upon the thesis in the pipeline. More details in due course.

Linda's first book, Doran, published by Pan Books in 1985, was translated into many languages. It carries the following cover text:

"Linda Scotson's son was born with severe brain damage— he was deaf, dumb, blind, and his limbs were totally uncoordinated. Doctors told her he would remain forever a wheelchair-bound human cabbage. 'Are you sure you want to keep him?' they asked. The answer was never in doubt.

"A chance conversation led her to the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia where she found an evangelical zeal to match her own. Doran's life, it was revealed after extensive tests, could literally be re-made.

"The controversial programme of treatment was exhausting but effective. By the age of three Doran was taking his first steps and beginning to talk. One year later he was reading aloud and could count, write and spell. His remarkable progress was duly recognised when he was presented with the Woman's Own Child of Courage award by the Queen Mother and Prime Minister.

"By her example, and through her continuing efforts, she has provided hope for other parents of brain-injured children—and much food for thought for the medical profession."

Breathe includes historical glimpses of younger Linda, Lili and Doran, offers hope and inspiration to all carers of loved ones struggling to navigate the medical establishment wisely. See also Bernadette Meaden's Illness, Disability and Caring, published by Darton, Longman and Todd in 2020.

Friday 4 March 2022

Dig For the Victory?

The call is for the whole of humanity, to work for the victory of peace over war, of common sense over crass stupidity, of poverty amidst plenty, of healthy living over 'hapitalism', of local finance over the CBDC of global corporatism.

Inevitably, this call to arms will be answered as follows. I can't dig. I'm to old, I don't know how to. I don't want to. It's not necessary in this age of technological progress. And anyway, what's it got to do with you? Or anyone else for that matter? I'm busy leading my life as I see fit. You need to do the same.

Rather a long ramble? But it is now necessary to recognise that we all need to do a great deal more than a little green-washing as we wait to see which way the wind blows. A letter appeared in the March edition of the popular Kitchen Garden magazine under the heading Allotment Food Bank. It read as follows:

"Alisoun Gardner-Medwin's suggestion of allotment growers linking up with food banks (February issue) is a good one, but it takes some organising. Here at Thingwall Park Allotments, Bristol we have been growing and donating produce to a food bank for the last two years. This food bank called St Luke's Lunch is a project that, during the school holidays, provides food for families living in poverty.

"We now have a food bank plot on our site manned by volunteers and we rely on donations of plants and seeds. Obviously this one plot does not produce enough to feed a lot of people so allotment tenants are asked to donate spare produce once a week during the school summer holidays. This is collected and taken by bicycle trailer to the food bank. The vegetables have been welcomed but favourites for the children are raspberries, plums and apples.

"This connection with the food bank is leading us into other community projects where we can share. Irene Blessitt, Allotment Site Rep."

The letter raises several very discussable points. Not least is the question of why are some families living in poverty when there is so much plenty all around us? And what are "allotments", those plots of land allotted by local authorities for historical reasons? Which raises the whole history of the right to be able to grow one's own food if one so wishes. The allotment of land to families so that they could grow food first arose when small scale peasant farmers were deprived of their rights of access to land through enclosures. Today, many peasant farmers across the world continue to lose their land as cash crops are used to supply our urban supermarkets.

We all need our daily bread to stay alive. But until misfortune strikes, often in the form of mental or physical illness, most take it for granted that the supermarket shelves will supply us with the everyday basics we 'demand' from them when we produce cash or our plastic cards. However, every morsel we eat, every mouthful we take into our bodies, is produced because somebody, somewhere has done our digging for us. Not only the digging, put the harvesting, processing, packaging, transport, banking and administration necessary to move the food from soil to table.

I other words, we are totally dependent upon an economic system, a political rights system, and a cultural belief system that very few of us can understand, let alone take responsibility for. We may, of course, assume that the system will continue to supply us with our needs. But that does not stop us from investigating our role in supporting a crumbling social order.