The Negation of Negation

Reality doesn’t feel good

We live in truly horrible times. Capitalism is eating us all alive, wealth and resources are being sucked out of the the land and its people at an alarming rate. Indeed, Matt Tiabbi’s Vampire Squid is busy sucking everything the rest of us need even just to survive out of us. Drug companies don’t want you to get better, they want you to survive until the next shot of the palliative they have designed so you can keep pushing at the neoliberal wheel, charities that help the poor treat the symptoms but are legally bound not to go for the cause because that would be political. Bluntly, even if you’re doing alright at the moment, it’s a shit show for the desperate majority. Things are much worse if you live in the global south. In the other half of the globe we can hold on to what little illusion of plenty is left, but even here the inequities are growing and social mobility came to a halt many years ago.

It’s as if life in early 21st century Earth were a game of monopoly where most of us live on a board where every square is charging rent, there are several go to jail squares, and passing go does not give you $200 but instead a hard kick somewhere sensitive that brings tears to the eyes. We’ve been conned into thinking There is no alternative to what we have now.

We’ve also been sold an approach that is nothing more than another commodity at base. That’s how the world we live in now works. Most every solution that gets out there is limited and turned into a way of channelling the anger into places where it can be expressed but not acted upon. The idea of working collectively to solve problems without some wealthy individual holding the purse strings seems odd. Simple solidarity is now a commodity and the concept of caring for others because they are our friends and neighbours is alien. When people try to make something happen a smiling politician will vomit comforting word salad and make it seem alright for five minutes until the chance of change is quietly buried at a cross roads with a stake in its poor heart.

So, give up then? Turn to a life of crime or hedonism and don’t plan on living long? Or call this clear analysis cynical and carry on donating to Oxfam?

Escaping the vampire castle

We live in an abusive relationship. While all the suffering, depredation and rapine goes on our abuser is telling us everything is fine as long as we carry on and do what they say. The reality doesn’t make it into the news bulletins unless it supports the idiot consensus or the current batch of war mongering.

Despite this I don’t believe there is any reason to despair. The first thing you need to to is be clear about how things work. That doesn’t make things hopeless, however. Our owners tore up the post-war consensus that kept us quiet. In the UK there was a cynical phrase from the cradle to the grave, which was the surface promise of the welfare state. It meant abdicating responsibility to our betters, and no-one saw the trap. Our owners already look after themselves from the cradle to the grave, we were supposed to accept their largesse and do what they told us to. The UK’s class-riven society hid itself in a cloak of egalitarianism, but the real power relations never went away. If you watch any documentaries about that period the poshness of most of the accents is very noticeable. We will give you the things you need to survive as long as you shut up and don’t rock the boat.

The key lie we have been sold is scarcity. In fact we live in abundance. The defining feature of capitalism is that it has managed to abolish scarcity. The great wealth some people have comes from this lack of scarcity. What capitalism did was socialise how things were made, but the ownership of the products remained that of the individual capitalist. The wealth and power got funnelled to a very small number of people. However, there are a couple of things that stop the socialisation of ownership this being realised.

  • The anarchy of production. I talked about this in the TINA disease. We have warehouses full of fidget spinners and shortages of things we actually need. It doesn’t matter that companies might be very efficient internally, the market makes anarchy, and not the good kind. In the UK Creating markets in services like health, transport, water and power has created decades of under investment, and short-sighted decisions that have ended up costing ridiculous amounts so that share holders can take dividends and pocket subsidies. Behind the neoliberal nonsense about private enterprise being more efficient we see the casino mentality and public bailout we have all come to know and love. This isn’t singing the praises of the old nationalised industries, they were badly run in many cases, new organisational forms with democratic control and accountability will also be needed.
  • Distribution for profit. Why do we make enough food for eleven billion people, there are only seven billion of us, and people are starving? Simply, capitalist logic means that food is destroyed so that profit is preserved. We’ve all seen pictures of supermarkets spraying the food they’re about to throw away with bleach to stop people eating it. We need to rid ourselves of this nonsense. It’s not just food, it’s also having equipment that wears out quickly and the cost of repair is more than buying a new one. Food is the most obvious example but there are others, such as housing.

The old Marxists used to say that if we had a planned economy this wouldn’t happen. This was mocked because the systems back in the early 20th century were poor at doing this, and the organisational models uses were centralised ones that removed local autonomy from the decision making processes. The interesting thing now is, if you look at the big supermarkets and distribution networks like Amazon, we have the basis for a planned economy that works very well already. The problems around working with demand and unpredictable changes have been dealt with very successfully. Taking workers’ control and creating democratic accountability wouldn’t be that difficult if the will was there.

So, we have an interesting situation:

  • Human needs can easily be met without changing how we do things that much.
  • Resolving the anarchy of production will make dealing with the climate crisis much easier and even possible.

It may be rough and difficult, but it’s all very possible. The cynical blaming of individuals will not fix anything, there needs to be a collective response, and it can happen. We live in times where we have been atomised and separated from one another for many years, but things change.

Part of the point of taking these toys away from their owners, by the way, is to make them meet people’s needs even better than they do already. The needs become the why of the organisation instead of profit.

How does change happen

Change comes from different forces in society in conflict with each other producing what eventually gets called history. The somewhat silly view that it’s all great men (and a few women) making decisions that change the world isn’t in fact the case. An individual may be able to shape what happens if they’re in the right place at the right time, but they don’t make those things appear by magic. Opportunities to change things come and go. Laws are only meaningful if someone enforces them.

Cradle to the grave is long over. The old complacency is being beaten out of us by people with very short memories who forget they are a tiny minority. It’s deeply sad that the forces that will cause change, the material conditions, are built on human suffering, but there’s nothing we can do about that in the macrocosm. In the microcosm there’s nothing stopping you working with charities, or campaigning to prevent health service cuts. How else to start rebuilding the sense of solidarity? How else to help people realise who actually has the power and they don’t need to ask permission?

Do things but with your eyes open. If someone seems ready to engage then engage. Remember that a clear eyed view of how society works puts you at odds with the consensus. Acting like you’re from Mars won’t win anyone over. Remember the old saying that most people need to hear something several times from different sources before they might start to change their minds. Be the person that lives on the other side of this as best you can and work in solidarity with others. Demonstrate what democracy actually looks like.

New structures and ways of doing things should come from the people who need them. For example, when Iraq fell, the local people elected their own councils and started to govern themselves. The first thing the US invaders did was remove these councils and appoint people they knew would toe their line. This is why the Iraqi government, and the now defunct Afghan one, have no legitimacy. They didn’t come from the people they rule over and the change was forced upon them. Without the participation of people who know what they need and why structures have no legitimacy. This is why the war lords started doing their own thing – it was the only way to ensure they had a voice. This is the irony of how the UK is governed: everybody knows a government that has a thumping majority and yet no mandate is illegitimate and nobody knows how to fix it.

I can see we need to create co-ops for housing and health that go around the politicians and leave us in control. They need to be structured so speculators can’t buy them and use them to screw people over. The old top down structures based on city councils are too easily broken and sold off to spivs and speculators. I have no idea how you would do this, and that’s fine. It would only be a start. The same goes for food autonomy and other things I think are necessary and important, other people might not agree.

There is no point in having a detailled programme worked out to every line. That’s a recipe for paralysis. The new ways of doing things will come from doing them, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, just what people find when they look. The key thing is to take initiative, and not be blinded by the old way of doing things. Please, no more calling for or demands for the useless political class. We need to take back control, but properly, this time. We need to go around the existing structures that are designed to stop us and demonstrate they are in fact a pantomime irrelevance and have been for a very long time.

Externalities and Affordances


In the study of economics, at least in the current made up nonsense of economics, an externality is a factor outside of an enterprise that isn’t something the enterprise need concern itself with. For example, profit comes from coal mining, using the local river to wash the coal and fill the river with dust that kills the fish is an externality. The microcosm of the mine is viewed solely on its own terms and is making a profit and working fine. The macrocosm of the surrounding environment does not figure in any calculations. Downstream does not exist.

This willful ignorance is part of the human condition. It’s also, when you think about it, just the way animal populations behave. The future doesn’t exist for a deer that’s eating all of the vegetation. Without predators there will be a collapse. We are lucky, we can observe and think things through, we can think of better ways of doing things.

It’s also been said, but I haven’t yet researched this, that all capitalist profit comes from abusing externalities. The enclosure of the commons that began the accumulation of capital in the hands of a few, the industrial wastelands where dumping waste carelessly into a lake caused an ecocide and so on being the results of this. The profits from the processes were made, and the damage carried by everyone else.

As we sit now at the beginning of the phase change for the climate this forcing externalities is becoming ever more obvious, but it’s not hard to see that it goes way back to the beginnings of the industrial revolution and the processes that had to happen as a precursor to it.


I came across this term in the past few years in my job writing software. It’s used by the User Experience (UX) specialists to mean the way in which software encourages the user to behave in particular ways, that guide the experience so that it is easy to get what you need from the software without much friction. It promises accurate information entry, and happy customers.

It’s interesting to think about this. If you don’t have a mental model that matches that of the software designer it could easily be a hostile and unforgiving process no matter how much effort they’ve put into designing it. We’ve all seen messages like error 46 at line 5, which are no use to the end user of the software but might have been to the original developer.

We live in an intensely bureaucratic society. There are electronic and physical forms we have to fill in all the time to get anything done. Clever algorithms that are replacing humans in decision making are every bit as biased as the humans were because the assumptions behind the data used to train the algorithms was also biased. In the USA skin colour is never mentioned explicitly, but the ghettoising of people of colour means that algorithms that check addresses and social environment are carrying on the racist assumptions that they are supposed to prevent. We have the same thing on a smaller scale everywhere.

For a UK-based example, children from deprived areas who couldn’t sit exams because of Covid 19 found themselves marked down because of the area they went to school in, not because of anything to do with their actual potential to pass the exams. Let’s also draw a veil over the better-off privately educated children sitting slightly easier exams that still count the same when allocating university places, which has been a scandal for years.

Our owners have done this for several reasons:

  1. Dealing with a complicated mass of individuals is expensive, so reducing them to form filling and a couple of easily managed metrics means they can control us without us even realising or being able to do anything about it if we did.
  2. They control the bureaucracy. This means the rules only affect people like you and me. You can see this arrogance when Covid rules were being applied in a partial and biased way.
  3. You don’t get to see your oppressor, they’re on the other side of the forms, and the poor stooge policing the form has no authority to do anything other than insist it’s filled in correctly, whatever that means.
  4. Reducing people to forms also means their human needs, not addressed by the forms, can be safely sidelined and left unnoticed and unresolved.
  5. You can police people solely by whether or not they have certain documents, and whether those documents have the right things on them. This allows mass discrimination without having to actually deal with the individuals. Suffering can be automated and kept invisible to the people that ultimately cause it.

So we have affordances that lock oppression in at very low cost, and we have affordances for our owners that keep them distant from us. We have affordances that mean no-one has to engage with us as human beings with needs. It’s all very tidy.


The biggest wheeze the owning class came up with was the fiction of the corporation. Originally the idea was a group of people with a common interest, say creating a canal from Liverpool to Leeds, would get together and raise finance to do this mutually beneficial thing. So we had corporations creating and running infrastructure. It also meant that the infrastructure was managed and paid for in a way that benefited the people using it. The recent concept of selling these assets to financial institutions so they can screw us all out of cash wasn’t thought of.

The next step was the idea of limited liability. A corporation has assets, materials etc. that it uses. If it causes some damage or death then only these assets can be used to pay for any repairs. The owners of the corporation are not personally liable and neither are the directors because their only legal concern is making a profit.

I think we can all see where that one is going. We now have corporations that rent everything, own nothing, do enormous damage, and then shut up shop without the people who did the actual rapine facing any consequences. We have long supply chains where the minerals are torn out of the ground in grossly unsustainable ways by poor peasants but the damage isn’t the fault of the companies that buy them, at least those companies like to pretend they have clean hands, but do they?

I have discussed this elsewhere in my review of the book Ecocide

The idiot consensus

Another interesting point is that the post war boom had what seems like eye wateringly high taxes compared with now. If you were a ticket clipping share holder who had no personal income from a job but a lot of what was bluntly called unearned income you paid a lot of tax. Similarly corporations were taxed highly and had to put their profits to work reinvesting in actual research and development or plant because they would be similarly punished with heavy taxation. This was a deliberate forcing of growth to recover from the war.

We have had forty years of financialisation since then. Corporate taxes are far lower, rich individuals’ income is now subject to the pretense they earned it, even if it came from non-productive investments like property. Executive bonuses now depend on share prices so profits are put back into buying shares in the company so they will make their bonuses as the share price rises. This benefits nobody but a tiny number of people who will make money from the rising prices. There is a similar non-productive sea anchor that comes from spinning property prices and forcing the poor into rent and debt peonage.

I have read that there is a balance between financial services that allow the economy to run, and the financialisation that solely works to enrich a very few people gambling (or pretending to gamble – if they lose we pay through bailouts) with shares and property. The figures I saw suggested this balance was reached as long ago as the 1970s, at least in the UK. All the subsequent growth has done is act like a parasite on what might be called the real economy and caused crashes from speculative bubbles.

We have an idiot consensus that happily carries on with this fantasy. Our banks have been rendered too big to fail. The services we all need have been privatised so that their new owners can make money from things the rest of us need to survive. Somehow this engine of inequality and ecocide running along is deemed to be fine, even though by any human measure it is not.

New affordances

What do people actually need?

Let me quote myself from my Eco Socialism or Annihilation article.

In order to say we live in a world that is equitable, moral, and worth defending everybody must have unfettered access to these five things:

  1. Decent shelter
  2. Food autonomy
  3. Health care
  4. Education
  5. Meaningful work

Mixed in with this there must also be the democratic ownership and control of resources by the people who need and use them. The nonsense of nationalisation as it was originally done still kept the old structures of hierarchical companies. Rethinking how things are organised is a fundamental part of this. Otherwise it’s back to creating systems that can easily be stolen and sold again. Making it almost impossible to undo this work by organising it so that undoing it cannot be done is paramount. The organisations that provide the things we need must be incredibly democratic and well run, and also incredibly difficult to steal from us again.

We need affordances that give us the five pillars of human dignity without any fuss or ceremony. We also need to start undoing the damage caused by unthinking bureaucracy. Capitalism is perfectly logical in its own narrow terms. You can’t reform it, if you remove the corporation’s immunity and start working on ensuring the five are everybody’s without fear or favour then most of modern capitalism, with its silly market fetish and redirection of resources into the pockets of the few will be undone. As I discussed in the TINA disease the artificial scarcity from capitalist productive anarchy would have to be brought to an end. If they still need it, we can let our former owners build themselves a casino to play their bloody games in without beggaring the rest of us.

Thinking Downstream

In the first place we need a philosophical shift to always think of the downstream for whatever you do. For example, one of the things Trump did was relieve mine owners of the obligation to stop waste getting into the water table because it was burdensome and made it hard to make money mining. The obvious idea, of maybe doing something else that wasn’t so destructive never entered their tiny minds. Downstream destruction is their problem, whoever they are, and for some reason this went unchallenged.

Similarly, in the UK, the Environment Agency isn’t allowed to pursue cases that may damage growth. Plus it’s also tiny compared with the size it should be. Yet no-one questions this.

Look for the downstream, look for who is affected by what you do, and make sure everything still works properly. This is simple humanity and it isn’t even hard to do. We need to let go of the idiot consensus and create a new one that includes all of us. We must make sure all of us have the affordances we need to live a decent life. We must stop listening to the short sighted fools who pretend there is no downstream, no macrocosm that needs attention.

The TINA disease

Capitalist Realism

The late theorist, Mark Fisher, coined the phrase Capitalist Realism. He used it to mean the way the discourse has changed so that we now live in a world that, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, does not appear to have any viable alternatives to capitalism. We have the world catching fire and we have been sold the old Thatcher phrase there is no alternative or TINA.

This is bunk.

Humans have been around for hundreds of thousands of years. We’ve organised societies in hundreds, if not thousands of different ways. People got fed, kids got raised, blah blah. We now have the technical know how to create a just world without poverty and hunger, a world that can release the potential of billions of human beings, but the millstone of our restricted vision prevents us from realising it.

There is an alternative, you just have to be able to conceive of it and see how the new is folded deep into the structures of the old. It often seems to me, looking at how we know full well how to feed far more people than actually exist, and distribute things so effectively, that all we need is the will to do it better. A gentle tug on the old way of doing things and a better world will unfold like some magic origami. This is the old Marxist dialectic, there’s nothing magical about it, the new can just unfold and the world be a different place.

Capitalism is moribund, dying, its over-arching success is a burning world. The group consciousness it creates that has been so successfully undermined by our owners we accept their lies about no alternatives. It was a great engine of effectiveness and change a century or so ago, indeed up to the 1960’s technological change was racing ahead. There have been no significant discoveries since about 1970. You might scoff at this, but no-one has discovered or invented anything like the transistor since then. What we have now is simply endless refinement of those old ideas with better and better quality control. The central ideas that were used to create the phone you’re probably reading this on all originate at the latest around 1970, most of them far earlier, and most of them came from government funded research.

Our owners hate having to do any work, or take any risks. So they socialise the risk in order to make sure they don’t pay for it. When viable technologies emerge they’re taken out of the commons and turned into products, based on the ownership of things that should belong to all of us. We’re so used to this we can’t see how ridiculously unfair and wrong it is. The billionaire parasites are not entrepreneurs, they’re just lucky, and are making sure things stay the way they are while the rest of us are fuel for their supper.

Stealing the commons is a centuries-old way of making wealth for the few. First the common land was enclosed and people (particularly women) driven off, eventually the hyper exploitation of women became the new commons when they were driven out of wage labour into subordinate positions, eventually wars meant re-organisation and changes undid at least some of this and the patriarchy is more subtle in some parts of the world. Now we have a commons in the internet that’s slowly being monetised again. Underneath all this endless capital accumulation and over production fill the world with useless crap and hunger in the vain pursuit of profit and growth.

The TINA disease

Being caught by TINA is a disease. Look around you, why have stories about dystopian worlds come to dominate the arts? Why is it becoming almost impossible to see anything that isn’t a warmed-over cliche from the past or a re-make of something that was OK but not great even when it was new? Why has there been yet another revival of discredited Malthusian and eugenic ideas in the past couple of decades? Why have discredited and dangerous concepts such as austerity become current again? Why have racists suddenly found their voice again? Why are apparently radical movements like the greens worrying about the very existence of human beings, rather than the owner class?

Our owners are desperate.

The old saw about if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail comes to mind. If all you have is hyper reliance on some meaningless platitudes about markets that were dubious when they were first mooted, no long-term strategy other than grimly clinging to what you’ve stolen from everyone else while lying through your teeth about it, then what can you do? Well, all you can do is make pap like Love Island and promote meaningless but ultimately harmful things like Brexit or irrational nonsense about immigrants or some other made up enemy to keep people distracted. Then you keep mouthing platitudes about markets and business expertise and hope no-one realises you’re actually in emperor’s new clothes territory.

The rest of us should take a breath, and think a bit more about who benefits from the way things are. It’s not us, is it? There are plenty of alternative ways of organising how things are done, but if everything gets turned into yet another project to rescue the unsustainable nonsense that we’re faced with, for example a green new deal that isn’t, or pretending fracking is green because you don’t count all of the emissions it creates, or defending jobs building disgusting weapons that are being used to blow children to pieces, then we’ve missed the real problem.

Recovering from TINA involves consciousness raising. Like the early feminist movement discussions that created conditions where women could see that they were all suffering under the same dead hand of patriarchy, and work together and support each other, we need to re-find our class consciousness. The great victory of our owners in the past few decades is not the propaganda of their market rubbish, but our forgetting the power we have and used to know how to wield. As the poet said: Ye are many, they are few. Our owners only own us because we let them.

It’s time to change that. It’s time they stopped thinking they can sell things that belong to all of us to force profits out of our suffering. It’s time to make them too afraid to take things we need to live and survive like housing, education and health care. It’s time to grow food everywhere it can be usefully grown, it’s time to completely rethink how things are done, and only we can do this.

We don’t need permission.

We already have permission, after all who already gave permission? It was us.

Over production – not scarcity

The other great lie, which is sadly one the Green movement have been taken in by, is scarcity. Marx pointed out that as well as a drive for endless accumulation, capitalism is driven by chronic over-production. It is unplanned and extremely inefficient – each enterprise may be a paragon of efficiency in and of itself, but the whole system of production is complete anarchy.

The old Soviet Union tried to fix this with bureaucratic central planning, but that didn’t work very well with slow paper-based systems and the technologies of the early twentieth century. In 2021 we have well-understood systems for just in time manufacturing and demand prediction that were unavailable to them. We can remove over production and make sure everyone has more than enough without burning up the planet to do so. It still wouldn’t be easy, but it is very possible.

It starts with not taking what we now have, and how we do things now, as givens.

Similarly, there is plenty of useful work to be done fixing the things our short-term profit driven masters have allowed to break or fall fallow. Just because they couldn’t make a profit, or enough of a profit, doesn’t mean things need to be left broken or human needs unmet. It’s the same with the overproduction of food, unused food is destroyed to keep profits intact. Despite small L liberal hand wringing, this has nothing directly to do with morals, but it is very much a function of the screwed logic of capitalist production. When you see people saying how silly this is and getting angry they need to get angry with the right thing, capitalism itself, in its own term its internal logic is faultless, but it doesn’t look after people’s needs except accidentally.

Bullshit Jobs

David Graeber estimated that up to 40% of jobs don’t serve human needs or wants and coined the phrase bullshit jobs. When you add in all the people who service the infrastructure supporting those jobs the number of empty jobs jumps to at least 50%.

Is it any wonder we have a climate crisis? Instead of pursuing hobbies, or meeting actual human needs, a vast proportion of us are simply burning resources so our owners can perform a pantomime that lets them extract value from us at no benefit to anyone but themselves.

Some people doubt Graeber’s analysis. Ask yourself, does the world need another e-commerce site selling the same stuff as everybody else? What does a commercial lawyer actually do? Have you notice there are a whole tier of jobs our political class had before they decided to pretend to be something other than human dross – PR consultants, financial analysts who do what a computer does better, assistant to a parent’s friend? The people at the sharp end get paid badly and treated badly, living in fear, the useless detritus thrive on networks where they wait for the largesse to fall from their fellow place men and women. None of them are honest enough to admit this.

The whole concept of work needs to be rethought. The idea of a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay needs to be looked at critically.

Taking the fight to the parasites

Societies ebb and flow. After the second world war the systems were broken and worn out, destroyed by bombing in some cases. The owning classes were quite afraid of the working class taking control from them and remodelling society so they created the welfare state in the richer countries to keep their local populations quiet and obedient. Of course, this was paid for largely with colonial plunder, a fact carefully obscured or ignored by the empire socialists of the time.

It took nearly thirty years for things to recover and for the boom of rebuilding to finally ebb. That’s when the new thirst for money and allergy to paying for things infected the ruling class. In our complacency we didn’t notice how things we had paid for (but did not control) were slowly sold off to speculators and other forms of short-term financial carpetbaggers. Everything from water to telecommunications now costs far more than it did thanks to this faux quest for market efficiency.

The 40 years since have seen the replacement of class consciousness with an individualistic view of the world that makes the very idea of solidarity seem completely alien to so many people. Well, a solidarity past signing a meaningless petition or retweeting a clever meme. Collective action is uncomfortable, and people think about themselves first. Success is something individuals have, and the rewards coming to the minority, the nominal owners, seems to be the norm. There was a time when increased productivity meant at least some increase in wages, but now any benefits stay in the pockets of the owner.

TINA means that this new way of living and thinking, with its hard edged selfishness and lack of empathy, now seems to be the only way of doing so. The Bezoses, Musks and Bransons claim the vast fortunes they lucked into are the result of an individualised hard work and nothing else. The thousands of people who work for them and billions in state subsidies that their success is actually built on don’t exist in this fantastic con trick. They have conned the rest of us into thinking we could be them, even if we weren’t born into privilege and able to take risks like they were, as if potential failure would have had zero cost for us as well.

The bezel is the golden moment (for the scammer) when the victim of a con hasn’t realised the thing they hold in their hand is an empty chimera. We’ve been holding the bezel in our heads so long we no longer realise what empty nonsense it really is. We have been conned out of the commons, out of our human birthright, and taken to the slaughterhouse, all the while thinking the farmer is nice because we had a few scraps from their table.

This needs to be discussed and understood.

What we were given to keep us quiet in the developed nations is being slowly stolen from us because the distribution of power shifted and our owners no longer feel the need to buy us off. Our owners think we can no longer hold them back while they turn our countries into fire sales at the end of the world. The wholesale funnelling of funds into bogus projects that fill their friends’ pockets isn’t new, it’s just never been so brazen.

To even keep them at bay we must always be reaching for better. Merely holding on means all you can do is eventually lose what you have. Every loss pushes you backwards. Our enemies are always trying to take things from us. Merely keeping them back is a losing strategy in the long term. We need to become as ruthless as they are and always be looking to get more than we have. This is why there is no room for kinder, gentler politics we need implacable politics. Kind and gentle to our own, for sure, but the parasites should know their days as parasites are numbered.

Brighter Future released on Kindle and paperback

Been a bit quiet for a few days putting the finishing touches on the first Brighter Future collection, making it ready for Amazon.

If you’d rather not buy from Amazon, there’s a slightly out of date version of the full text here.

Welcome to the anti-dystopian collection Brighter Future, volume 1. It’s the first three parts of what was originally a projected six novella venture where I wrote on various themes set in the near future, looking at how people escaped the ecocide and built a fairer world where everybody got fed, educated and housed. I have no idea if I will create the other novellas or move on to other things.

So you hold here the end result of several years’ work. I wanted to create an alternative to the dystopian doom and gloom that seems so prevalent in fiction at the moment. I am a socialist and I think the final death throes of late stage capitalism finally running out of its own tail to eat have created a strong current in our society that makes people think the world is going to end. The world is going to end, if by that you mean the late-stage capitalist world. As Rosa Luxemburg said, it will descend into Socialism or Barbarism. A more modern take is Eco-socialism or Barbarism. The current way of doing things is unsustainable. It’s not up for debate.

I wanted to create a place where we could start having a conversation about living in a better world without just mouthing platitudes like a better world is possible. Yeah, fine, even a better world is necessary. But where do you start and what would things look like after you started the transition?I got into a discussion with someone who said what I was writing must therefore be utopian, rather than anti-dystopian. But the problem is utopian writing is perceived as having an undercurrent of impossibility.

I’m simply advocating for a world where people’s needs come first, and the evil god of endless accumulation is buried, after having its heart torn out and eaten by the hungry millions. A world where our understanding of complex systems is used to help us carefully create something beautiful and worthwhile that doesn’t waste human potential or destroy the things that sustain us. A world that’s beautiful and loved by the people living on it.In the 20th century, and even more so in the 21st, humans have finally gained the tools to understand how to build systems that work properly, starting from needs and making sure nobody is left behind. But we have a society that is unaware of this, and is a living demonstration of a dictum often attributed to Einstein: Doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results is a sign of madness. A tiny number of lucky mediocrities lording it over the rest of us is indeed madness.

This work is unabashedly anarcho-socialist in bent, and doesn’t take any prisoners in terms of people who want apologia for capitalism. We know there is a better way, and I know we can find it if we work together. The world does not spring fully-formed from one person’s vision, but if we can share stories that help us understand change is possible, and even relatively easy, then I have achieved my goal.

Emotional labour and the paradox of ownership

The late, lamented, David Graeber talked about emotional labour in his book Bullshit Jobs. We live in a society that’s in thrall to ownership. If you own an enterprise, or are a director of it, you don’t have to make any effort to understand what your employees want, or even think. On the other hand, they have to understand you, because in a real sense their lives depend on it and you could discard them if you felt like it.

Of course, this is taking the idea to an extreme that’s probably not been as evident since Victorian times. But if you think how power hierarchies work it’s a very cogent thing. If you look how corporations work, with the lower-ranking employees scurrying around to avoid offending their masters and avoid showing initiative that could result in being wrong, it’s still very apparent. Particularly now, when trade unions and collective approaches to running society have been so traduced and neutered compared to the ridiculous cult of the individual and the leader.

It also explains why so-called leaders in corporations are always bemoaning how they can’t get people to own problems and solve them for the company. Well, bluntly, why the fuck should you? The owners keep the rewards and you get the ulcers. Doesn’t sound like a good deal to me.

This forced, insincere, emotional labour, pretending to give a shit about what some dickhead boss wants, is at least part of what Marx called alienation. I believe that it’s what is causing the rising tide of mental illness in the West.

Marx pointed out to us that we are slaves. Wage slaves. Instead of being fully owned like the chattel of old, we rent our labour out for fixed periods of time in exchange for tokens that we can use to get the necessities of life. If you aren’t a member of the owning class (and very few people are) then this is where you sit despite all the freedoms you have on paper. As an individual you have very little power. This is why our society makes a cult of the individual, it means the powerful few keep control while the rest of us wander around with nothing. The freedom you have is the freedom to own things, or the freedom to starve if you don’t and can’t get to place where you can rent your labour to someone who does.

The paradox

If you’re human you can’t help being emotionally involved with the enterprise you work for. You identify with it, and even feel that you want it to succeed. This is why being made redundant can hurt so much, part of your humanity is being thrown away by people who don’t value it. It’s also why the saying it’s not personal, it’s business is such a load of crap. It’s personal all right, business won’t work without both kinds of labour. Now we arrive at the point of the title of this essay: the paradox of ownership.

Say if you work for a company that’s very successful, that you put a lot of effort into, and it’s bought by someone, your contribution does not belong to you. Your owner has taken it and turned it into money, but it has nothing to do with you any more. Unless the original or new owners decide to acknowledge you with some kind of thank you (financial or even just verbal) you may not even have a job. You own your labour, and emotional labour in particular is hard, separating your feelings from what you do is damn near impossible.

The ownership of the company and the ownership of the work mean different things. The emotional labour you may have put in is necessary, may even have built something that can be sold by your employer, but if the company is itself sold it’s been taken from you to make a commodity. This is the quintessence of capitalism, everything you have, even the things that make you feel human, perhaps even love, become things.

A company is all of the people who work there, all of the things they did to make it better and help their customers. All the folks you enjoy working with and want to succeed. All that stuff, that human stuff, can be sold from under your feet and you will get nothing unless there is some kind of contract or the owners are willing to share.

A cynic would say that you shouldn’t give too much, if anything, to avoid being hurt. Just the time you’re paid for and that’s that. Is this what will work for you, though? It’s right to want human contact, and right to want to help others. Neither of these things is pathologically bad. However we live in a society with a bad pathology. Where the accident of ownership means you can do what you like to the people that work for you and they can’t do anything about it. An owner isn’t even obliged to understand the thing they own and how it works – think about it, it is absolutely mad when you get down to it. This bad pathology hurts us inside and out, it dehumanises and makes hurting other people seem acceptable. This is why dangerous nonsense like the enterprise destroying concept of shareholder value is acceptable if all you want is to play games with money – what the enterprise does, what value it brings, is overriden by who owns it.

This is why the rest of us need collectivism, and why we need each other. It’s why we need to reject the cult of the individual, the arsehole, and work together on things. It’s also why our owners have spent the last fifty years undermining trade unions, why the legal recourse for discrimination has been so restricted, why things like zero hours contracts have been created, and why the billionaire press is so hell bent on persuading us to hate even the idea of unions or collectivism and be suspicious of each other. The destruction of the post-war consensus was deliberate. It’s now almost impossible to remember what it was like when virtually everyone was in a union of some kind and your employer couldn’t pick on you if they felt like it. It happened so slowly nobody noticed, but the world is fundamentally different.

If an enterprise is sold, then there is a really weird assumption that the workers go with it. But what was sold, really? The mechanical thing. A business is a means of organising people and materials in such a way as you put resources in, turn a handle, and profit comes out of the process the handle initiates. So what the new owner bought was the process and the handle, possibly the brand if there is one. But they didn’t buy the workers, the physical labour was bought. Selling time for the use of your hands doesn’t mean you’re obliged to do the emotional labour as well, that would mean you worked for some kind of cult. So a business being sold generates a deeper conflict in the people that work for it. After all, chattel slavery finally disappeared a long time ago. They didn’t buy your heart, but they like to pretend that they did.

The other strange import from the USA, at least if you live in the UK, is this bollocks about family. Somehow the accidental combination of the people you work with and your employer’s limited largesse has created a family and you’re automatically a member. People you choose to be with vs. people you need to hang out with so you can earn a living. Bosses that assume you will go to out of hours virtual meetings and play pub games with strangers you didn’t choose as friends, whom you may not even like particularly.

When I worked for a big database company and 9/11 happened the billionaire boss sent an email round saying the folks we knew who died trying to take down the planes where all family. Maybe this was the harbinger of a new attitude where we all pull together and the wealth is shared along with the risk etc. etc. Six weeks later he was back firing people and doing all the aggressive stuff the MBAs told him to do to make even more money. It wasn’t a lie, as such, it just wasn’t a sentiment that lasted more than a week. Well, we aren’t dogs, our loyalty isn’t automatically given when someone shows even slight affection, and why should we pretend? Hey billionare narcissist, it’s just business and we don’t love you.

The cult of the individual also serves to isolate us from one another. You can find yourself in a situation and not realise that most of the people you work with feel the same. It’s what Marx talked about, what a class actually is, a group of people united by having the same needs and circumstances having the same perspective on what matters. Our owners are outnumbered and very weak, so they have to pretend our class does not exist. They have to turn us into individuals because it makes us easy to control. They create bureaucracies to hide from us so we can’t see their hands behind the puppet show.

This is also where the whining about people wanting free stuff comes from: nope, workers demand recognition of who they are and what they do. Their interests do not coincide with the owners. In fact the owners’ interests don’t necessarily coincide with those of the enterprises they own, they just want the profit and don’t care how it happens. This is why capitalism is destroying the planet – profit-driven ownership, rather than stewardship, is a very stupid idea when it becomes world-spanning monopolies that are wrecking the environment.

But if you look carefully it’s pretty easy to see, and then the paradox resolves itself by taking the ownership back from the people who only ever borrowed it, whatever they may pretend to.

The great reckoning

Various loons on Facebook and Twitter a pushing yet another narrative where they promote a helplessness in the people that follow it. They call it the great reset. Essentially Covid and the climate crisis are a deliberate thing that comes from yet another inaginary cabal far away and a great many people are going to die to keep the cabal in power.

Like a lot of these narratives you can’t do anything about it. It’s related to the whole QAnon farce, where shadowy forces are taking over the world. Lunacy with a nice side-order of anti-semitism and hate directed at places where it can do no harm to the established order.

To be honest, I don’t want to talk about this any more than I already have. It’s brain-melting rubbish designed to keep you afraid and passive. You can google it if you want to go down the rabbit hole.

Instead, what do we actually have?

As I live in the UK, let’s start there:

  1. We now have the highest per-capita Covid death rate in the world, largely down to idiots trying to save christmas and not even attempting to implement a zero Covid strategy. More infections also mean more opportunities for the virus to mutate, which is a great win, for the virus. At the time of writing over 1,000 people a day are dying.
  2. A government department openly and blatantly bullied the people who work there to keep turning up for work even if they’d been told to isolate. People were also ordered to turn off the track and trace app or ignore it.
  3. Brexit restrictions mean that food is rotting before it gets delivered, but the government is trying to spin that into a story about Covid even though there weren’t any problems last year when there wasn’t any Brexit paperwork.
  4. Our crony-driven government still doesn’t have a working track and trace system, which makes even attempting zero Covid almost impossible. It has managed to channel millions to its failed private sector friends, though.
  5. Thousands of jobs in the fishing industry are probably already lost due to Brexit.
  6. The benefits system, in particular the murderous farce that is Universal Credit, pays too little, discriminates against people with larger families, and is designed to trap people in poverty. Who can forget the picture of the former minister exhulting when the former Chancellor announced even greater cuts? UC was temporarily increased to help people during the pandemic, and it has been reduced again even though the pandemic hasn’t gone away.
  7. UC is structured to give the money to the male partner in any relationship. This is because the fruit loop in charge wanted to keep families together, no count has yet been made of the number of women killed or injured because they couldn’t escape abusive partners. It also infantilises women, which is an amusing irony for a man who married money.
  8. There is evidence that 130,000 people may have had their lives shortened by inadequate benefits and benefit sanctions. This is disputed, but what is not disuputed is that it has cost lives, the argument is about how many. The department stopped collecting the figures to make it harder to work out.
  9. Our leaders continue to allow the supply of weapons to the ongoing war in the Yemen, despite being asked to stop and recently being able to vote on the policy. The humanitarian disaster is entirely man made, and our rulers’ bloody hands are all over it, including our arms-dealer queen.

These are merely a few examples of the ongoing murderous catalogue of actions and policies, from the bogus nonsense that they called austerity to the hard-faced attacks on the poor that have resulted in the deaths of thousands, both in the UK and elsewhere in the world. We are losing our jobs, having our health service privatised under our noses. We have been lied to over and over again, about everything, no-one believes a word our leaders say any more.

9/11 caused the death of around 3,000 people. The benefit “reforms” have already cost around 40 times that before we even start adding in the Covid deaths. People at the bottom of the socio-economic pile in this country are dying at an unprecedented rate, particularly if they are BAME people, who tend to be clustered in low-paying, low-status jobs where employers are particularly nasty.

The Western powers wrecked Afganistan over 9/11. So where is the outrage here? Why aren’t we going to war with these killers? Why are they still walking free, their lies unchallenged?

The killer isn’t at the gate. The killer lives in your house and eats at your table. You let them in, and let them lie to you and sing you to sleep.

The Great Reckoning

We need a great reckoning, forget the nonsense about the reset, or the racist crap about the replacement of white people with what is in fact their descendents who may have darker skin.

Every one of the dead should be counted, every politician involved in their deaths should be accountable.

Some people say that you sometimes have to make decisions that may result in resources being allocated in a way that means people will die and it’s unavoidable.

That’s true, but not in this case.

  • There are other places in the world where the UN hasn’t come into a nominally rich country to feed poor children.
  • There are other places in the world that correctly implemented track and trace and zero Covid strategies and have almost no cases now.
  • Others didn’t take the austerity pill and their economies recovered very quickly
  • There are other places where an advisory referendum is advisory
  • A large majority of the population want to see their NHS properly funded, not cut past the bone and sold
  • Other countries haven’t had the number of food banks go from a half dozen to out number the number of McDonalds in 10 years

There is no excuse for this, but at the moment our owners think they won’t face any consequences.

We need to start campaigning to disabuse them of that delusion.

The great reckoning needs to happen, or all of the nonsense about unity and healing is no more than hot air.

Footnote (March 2021) Naomi Klein has a great article on the Great Reset from the perpsective of the Davos group. A group which has itself made just about everything far worse.

Tales of a Brighter Future Volume 1 published

I’ve been working on Tales for a long time. The first book was started in Google Docs in June 2017 I had the last novella Zerø Day in what felt like a finished but not quite ready state for a few months and hadn’t pushed it out as a separate project onto Leanpub because I just wasn’t sure. In the end, just do it. If nobody reads it, fine. If some folks read it and get something out of it, fine. If it makes some reactionaries get all worked up, even better.

For the record:

  • The Retreat A story set in the South Atlantic on an autonomous ship that is cleaning up the plastic mess. Set about 50 years into an imagined future.
  • Better Way Set slightly earlier. Story of the collapse and how people escaped it with some mayhem added for versimilitude.
  • Zerø Day Set some time around now. How do we get armies to surrender and help rebuild the countries they’re occupying?

I spent most of new year’s eve putting them together and fighting with Leanpub’s new formatting engine. Managed to get it working but was seriously close to losing it with some of the recent changes on Leanpub about their formatting of markdown. After a lot of swearing I discovered I could go back to the original markdown engine and all was well. I’ve started writing using the vim editor, which breaks lines at line column 67. This is easier to read and look at differences than using very long wrapped line per paragraph.

Leanpub’s new wizzy engine was putting line but not paragraph breaks in and it looked awful. This will apparently become some kind of an option in future.

One of the things that surprised me when I was looking at Zero Day is how angry I am at the dangerous stupidity of our masters. I recently launched an independent project called No Mandate that has some articles and things looking at the problem of Empire Socialism and other things that are gonna kill us if we don’t get a grip on them. This is why I’ve been quiet on here for a while: I couldn’t stop myself writing this 17,000 word piece, it came to me over the course of a few days and I was waking up early with it in my head shouting at me to get it written. Then I’ve probably read it through and refined the arguments it uses a hundred times since it first came out of my editor.

Then I wanted to put it into its own site, and as it is a quite long piece also give it a page per section to make it easier to read online. This involved a fair bit of programming and chin stroking that kinda ate my creative energies for about six weeks at least. In amongst being really depressed because lockdown and the world filling up with even more avoidable suffering paralysing me a bit.

Inside Zerø Day there is a chapter called The No Mandate Manifesto that contains many similar ideas but expressed as angry rhetoric asking my fellow slaves to think about the situation they find themselves in. I don’t remember writing it. It must have been part of my drive to write 1000 words a day and I just wrote it almost on automatic. It’s not really a manifesto, it’s a call to action, a docmentation of the rage I feel when confronted with the vicious capitalist machine.

It’s quite shocking to me that I was unaware of how angry I am. On the day to day surface I don’t seem to feel the fury that’s obviously deep in my heart. Recently I have noticed that I’m far more willing to tell people who are too deluded to reach, and who are doing things like running anti-mask groups, or pandering to whatever ridiculous racist, sexist, homo or trans-phobic shite the alt-right trolls are pushing now just to fuck off. Mainly because it’s better to spend your energies on people your love can reach and let others grow until you can actually converse with them sensibly. I don’t engage to be honest, and leave the fucking off to people who try to have a go at me.

This is the hardest part. My world view is based on an intense love for this world and everything in it. Watching people deliberately hurting themselves so they can stick one on the lefties or whatever is fucking hard, and makes me even angrier that some troll has managed to damage them so much they think this is a good way to live. Humans are not stupid, whatever the cynics say, and watching people act in ways that will hurt themselves as much as anyone because of a weird hatred is deeply saddening.

I will probably use the software I developed to turn the Empire Socialism piece into a coherent website on the three novellas and put them up on a TOABF site linked from here. I want people to read stuff and argue and think about it.

The problematic thing is if I turn on comments on this site I get overloaded with spam and I just don’t have the time. I might start up a Discord server where I can converse with people without the overhead of spam. We’ll see.

If you want to read the book and are skint please get in contact. I can send you a link where you can download it for free. I don’t want any barriers in the way, but it would be nice to start getting support for this work as it takes a lot of my energies.

Oh, and

Happy New Year 🙂

Eco-socialism or annihilation

What follows is some notes for discussion. Please read, make some comments, let’s try and make this better. Also, please be kind, I have lost patience with people who criticise when they have nothing to offer. (Note – this is still being written and is in draft)

Covid-19: A better world is not only possible but necessary

In the Left is that there’s a lot of aspirational talk, and one hears phrases like a better world is possible. But seriously, that’s a bit wishy washy. It’s not only possible, but necessary. There is a collection of Rosa Luxemburg’s writings from many years ago that posed the question Socialism or Barbarism. That is where we have always been even during the boom periods, but our owners have been very good at keeping us passive and confused about that reality. One of the things the pandemic has done is tear that mask away. A hundred years later, in the twenty-first century, we now understand that the health of the ecology is paramount, so this needs to be rephrased: Eco-socialism or annihilation, the choice is that stark.

It’s also brought home how the climate crisis is real, not something twenty years away that we have the luxury of ignoring because right now we have to worry about things like putting food on the table and whatever new crazy is being forced on us, whether that’s declining health services, or whatever benefits we can claim to help us being reduced to nothing, or no pay rises in over ten years. The virus jumped from bats to people because of crowding, and stressing animals in closed, dirty environments. It’s not surprising this happened, just that it took so long. It will happen again and again as conditions worsen, too, unless something is done about it.

You could run around saying that the world is doomed. Indeed, back in the 80’s it was a favourite of occupation of some factions of peace activists to give into the nuclear nightmare and live in a waking dream of death and mayehm. Fortunately they were wrong, but it burned a lot of energy and drove a lot of nihilism. We need to say, very clearly, the world is not doomed, but we have a lot of work to do.

One of the things that has emerged from the pandemic is that we can see the hints of that better world now. Far less traffic on the roads, a lot of unnecessary “work” simply not being done. Also, people are looking very hard at the nature of work – why do you have to sit in an office when you can work from home? Why is the idea of limitless growth a good one? Why do people have to do jobs that have turned out to be unneeded, why should we all not be able to live in comfort without fear? How can we be free when we’re forced to work in what are very dangerous conditions, when we’re hostages to capitalism’s non-choice of risk your life without equipment to protect you or starve?

When we all stop consuming for its own sake our masters start having a breakdown because their billionaire lifestyles depend on it – but where’s the benefit for us?

So, what should we do?

First we need to identify what we need to make sure everybody has, then we need to make sure they have it:

The five things humans need

In order to say we live in a world that is equitable, moral, and worth defending everybody must have unfettered access to these five things:

  1. Decent shelter
  2. Food autonomy
  3. Health care
  4. Education
  5. Meaningful work

Mixed in with this there must also be the democratic ownership and control of resources by the people who need and use them. The nonsense of nationalisation as it was originally done still kept the old structures of hierachical companies. Rethinking how things are organised is a fundamental part of this. Otherwise it’s back to creating systems that can easily be confiscated and sold again. Making it almost impossible to undo this work by organising it so that undoing it cannot be done is paramount. The organisations that provide the things we need must be incredibly democratic and well run, and also incredibly difficult to steal from us again.

We hesitate to use words like “empower” because they imply that some group or person higher up the hierarchy has given their power to you. This means they can take it back if they don’t like it, and no, that’s not going to happen. Instead the people holding the reins of power are the ones directly affected by its use. There is no hierarchy, politics can be almost done by lottery to pick from a list of qualified people, for example. There are many better ways of ensuring things are done by properly qualified people than holding beauty contests every few years.

Decent shelter

Somewhere to live that isn’t a half destroyed slum maintained by sociopaths, where the other people living there aren’t going to make your life a misery, but instead make it better, and your family won’t feel afraid to step out of the front door. It’s not exactly hard, is it?

In the UK, and most of Europe, and the USA there are in fact more empty homes than there are homeless people, by far. In the UK more land is taken up with golf courses than housing. Whenever some fool starts braying about the country being full, it’s as well to remember this. It’s not full at all, the distribution of resources is skewed away from the majority, and has been since the peasants were driven off the land two hundred years ago. They did this to create a class of people who had no choice but to work in their factories and begin the accumulation of wealth.

Driving people off the land also removed food autonomy, the next topic.

Food autonomy

Put simply, enough decent food to eat, preferably grown at the end of your street, that anyone who needs it can access. No more work or starve choices forced on us. So forget money as the only measure of wellbeing. Food autonomy and shelter are the two things we need first.

There are eight billion people on this earth and we make enough food for ten. If there is no profit in it food is thrown away. It suits the capitalist system to waste like this. In the great stock market crash in the 1920’s food was thrown away after hoarding had created scarcity and driven the prices up. Feeding people would have made the price drop and the speculators didn’t want that. We, human beings, must break this. We must be able to literally walk out of our houses and find enough to eat without trouble, and speculation in food and energy brought to an end.

There is a point to make here; why did humans start with relatively modern approaches to living like agriculture if it wasn’t to feed everybody in their communities? Why should a small number of people who want to make profits be allowed to starve the rest of us if they deem fit?

Health care

Health care is a right, not a privilege. We need decent, well run health systems, staffed by motivated people who aren’t exhausted or paid badly, and we need them right across the whole world. There is nothing to debate about this.

There is a debate about how the demand for health care could appear to be infinite, and “we” (as in our owners) can’t afford to serve everybody. An agreed minimum standard of care must be met, and developments in health care must be shared as widely as possible. We are far from the infinite demand scenario, at the moment it is a false story being spread to justify cuts, and there are more than enough resources to meet people’s needs, but they are being used instead to line the pockets of the already obscenely rich.


Again, education is a right. Cynically it’s also an investment in people. The better educated they are the more they can help others, and the easier it is to understand and work with democratic systems. It’s hard to understand issues properly without being educated enough to also understand what’s in front of you and understand how things are put together.

The way education is done, with serried ranks of zombified people chained to desks being drilled in the ways of conformity must also change. People need to know that they don’t need to hold back, they don’t need permission to do things. This is a fundamental part of the better world, everyone can and should contribute.

Meaningful work

This is quite simply working enough on the things needed to keep society running, and working on things that help and make the world a better place. Also, art, science, making music, making pottery, anything you can conceive of, and ties back into all the education you might need or want.

There are vast untapped reserves of human intelligence and capability currently being crushed by capitalism. There is an unprecedented number of people, yet the number of outstanding prodigies doesn’t seem to be any greater. Those people are there, and there are a great many of them. Currently the system robs them of what they could be and give, which is a great crime.

Moving forward

The green new deal

Our politicians are still mired in the capitalist reality. The green new deal they push is a last gasp attempt to keep capitalism afloat by growing and greening their way out of the damage caused by capitalism itself. You can’t clean your face with a brick from a falling house.

Any deal needs to also end capitalism, or it will be pointless. A system that still thinks endless growth is possible, or desirable, is no use. The world is finite, and we must stay within the energy and resource budgets to preserve what we have. Again, this isn’t difficult, it just requires the political will.

As soon as one individual can accumulate money and own it they are also accumulating power. The drive is to centralise everything and suck the life out of the things we all need in common, and, indirectly, us. This is why capitalism has to end. At the very least there must be an upper limit on wealth.

Dual power

This means building the alternative institutions and approaches mentioned above. The existing institutions don’t work, if anything they’ve created the situation we find ourselves in now. The only way to do this by doing it, by building services that start with people’s needs. Once those needs have been met then we will know what resources they need and how to improve. Using budgets to decide who gets what is a political decision, and we all know that the needs of actual people tend to come after the needs of the wealthy.

Once we take power back, possibly even by funding schools and hospitals collectively and independently, then there will be the old undemocratic institutions and ones that actually work. There will be two sources of power. We will eventually only need the one that works and doesn’t run on money.


The climate has changed. Events that would have been unusual and rare, say happen every hundred years or so, now seem to be happening every ten or so. We have a situation where our governments have been selling off the things we need to cope with these events and not spending what they should. In particular with Covid, we have this demonstrated directly. A study a couple of years ago highlighted how unprepared the NHS was, and it was quietly hidden because of Brexit and the nominal cost. Putting aside a relatively small amount of money every year to be prepared for such contingencies is only common sense, but any spare pennies in this case were lost behind the back of the sofa. You can’t run a society on that basis.

We also have the absolutely ridiculous situation where upland farming practices were changed in order to make it more profitable for grouse shooting. These changes directly made downstream flooding more likely and were paid for with government subsidies.

The concept of once in a century events also needs to be understood. It doesn’t mean they will happen in a century’s time. It means they will happen and you need to be prepared for it. This is where the idea of resilience comes in. It means that steps are taken to preserve things and minimise the damage caused by floods and other events. It can be done, and done well, but people need to think about what might happen and how to cope with it. Our current crop of carpetbagger politicians are simply not up to the job, they’re solely in it to sell things off and enrich their friends.

Local, renewable, global

The systems we suffer under at the moment are all run from far away. They have no knowledge of the wants and needs of the people who suffer under them. The slogan from Brexit was take back control. We need to do this; but we need to take control back from the people who are far away, who give subsidies to people who make the floods worse, who have no idea what our needs are.

This slogan means local control based on people’s needs, using renewable resources, but with a global touch, sharing what is learned across the whole world.

The engine of change

The civil rights leader Martin Luther King met with the president. The president was very sympathetic to King, and agreed with his demands. He also had other people pressuring him not to make it happen. So what did he say to Dr King?

Make me

We need to remember this if we talk to the elected politicians. They are generally cowards and like to run away from things. They like to stand under our banners when we’ve won, but are often hard to see when we’re fighting for our rights or against injustice.

Change comes from organising around things that need to be done, without waiting for permission. Change is legitimised by the people who need it making it happen. No-one will give it to us, we have to take it.

Zero growth

Zero growth after zero unnecessary suffering

Zero growth is the goal of the eco socialist movement. It is the complete opposite of the current craze to dig up everything from the earth and burn it, until there is no way left to expand because it runs out. The goal is to stay within the annual energy budget from the sun everywhere and restabilise the climate. Ultimately this isn’t up for debate. We still have a lot of work to do, though.

We must lift the other six billion of us out of poverty in the medium term. To do otherwise is completely immoral. Of course, this also means those of us in the so-called developed nations must also change our lifestyles too. This isn’t as hard as it may sound, simply changing the way things are made so we stop throwing everything away would go a long way to fixing this, using the technology we’ve already discovered works quite well. It does mean that you may be eating a mostly seasonal vegetarian diet sourced within a few miles of where you live, and that tea and coffee become luxuries again. But if it’s that against burning most people would probably be quite happy with it.

So some development will still have to happen, but a lot of things we do now will have to stop. Balancing and controlling this must be done by the people who are affected by it.


We must build systems that meet the five human needs, without rationing or equivocation.

Some bad outcomes are on their way anyway so we need to channel resources into creating resilient systems instead of lining the pockets of the rich, need to come up with ways of keeping people healthy and alive when bad weather events happen as they will with greater frequency.

We need to start creating ways of doing and owning things that are run by organisations under our control.

The organisations that provide the things we need must be incredibly democratic and well run, and also incredibly difficult to steal from us again because of the way they are put together.


Some of these things are discussed in more depth in the Tales of Brighter Future series that you can access elsewhere on this website.

Stay safe.

Love, thine enemy

Another seemingly small thing is dignity. We’ve all got to let everyone have their dignity. It was hard coming from a place where controlling other people was a normal and even approved of us all being controlled. A place where a tiny number of people who owned everything got to say what happened to everybody else. The deal was, if you were nobody, and usually a man, you would still have one place that you were in control. Your home. When the original research was done on what was called brain washing, the techniques for breaking people’s will and bending them to what you wanted to happen the researcher came up with a list of about ten things. Breaking the will often didn’t involve physical violence, just undermining, destroying confidence, isolation creating an extremely strong dependence on the breaker.

Do you recognise this, yet?

The entire owning system is built on this and its victims so blinded to it that they can’t see the harm it’s doing to them. Look at the objective world carefully you can see very clearly that the systems are failing, food will soon be expensive and maybe even hard to come by, the mad dependence on fossil fuels is unsustainable. So why was nothing done? The abusers trapped you, convinced you a bunch of trivial nonsense they had manufactured was what actually mattered, and then left you there. You could see there were problems, but you wouldn’t believe in them.

Believing that the world is different from the actual harsh reality is a fool’s game. It’ll kill you and all the things you love eventually. But slowly, ever so slowly, and you won’t see death until its skull face looks back at you from a mirror and you realise whose face it is.

The worst part, the most painful part, is that the trap is made with love. When they break you and stop all the questions, the thinking, they make you love and trust them. You start saying we when it should be they. You think your owners care about you and will help you if you are in trouble. You fool. There are thousands of you, all interchangeable, and they will replace you faster then the time it takes the door to close on you when you leave.

So your love for them is your enemy if you want to survive. They’ve told you not to believe there’s an extinction level event coming, or to welcome it because of some idiot religious fervour they beat into you when you were too young and dependent to realise what it really meant. Your heart, the blood rose, you are hypnotised by its thorns. You can’t lift your head and see what they’ve done to you, the tracery of your own suffering is so fascinating. All the endless trivia they surround you with is designed to keep your neck down, eyes on the floor.

I can’t help you. If you can’t see I can’t help you. If your feelings have been numbed I can’t help you. If you don’t understand what empathy is because everything’s been turned into a spectacle I can’t help you.

I want to, but I can’t.

Winners means losers – work in progress

Rewarding people is always a bit fraught. Several things can happen, sometimes at the same time. First the rewards can come to be expected, so they aren’t rewards any more, then people get very pissed off when they don’t happen for whatever reason. Then you could be the kind of idiot who rewards some and not others, makes them compete for your largesse. That’s even sillier. If there are winners then there will be losers. No-one likes to do their job and be a loser. Everyone expects to be rewarded, and given a gold start a plus rating. But the thing is, who created the environment they have to work with?

You did. You unwittingly set the limits on what they can do because it’s a straight jacket that will hold them and forever limit what they can achieve. If you’re lucky, maybe ten per cent of the time they will make a difference, the ten per cent you can’t control. The bigger the organisation the bigger the anomaly. Big organisations need consistency before they need great performance or they can’t plan, don’t know what to do with the extraordinary, and can’t deal with it. The extraordinary doesn’t scale. Everything is very fair, and nobody gets what they need. While all this nonsense is going on you’re losing out to much smaller organisations that aren’t limited by the drive for normal.

Some idiots think they have understood the dance of numbers and say you must always lop off your worse performing people every few months. This would be funny if it wasn’t so mad. If they perform badly it’s your fault. No amount of bullying and threatening will make them any better. The human cost of this stupidity is also astonishingly high, you will never get the best out of folks who are always worried they’re going to be fired for things that are completely out of their control. This is because your system prevents them from doing so. You’re punishing, and getting rid of people who are perfectly good at what they do. It also means that the only evaluation score anyone should have is adequate – most things are out of their control, so adequate is all they can be.

Think about it.

So, assuming you believe that humans can do truly amazing things, and indeed don’t have to just be some hideous version of a corporate adequate how do you square this circle? How do you even recognise that it is a circle?

You must start from three things. First, recognise that what you do is part of a system of things that you can’t always control. Second, you must be brave enough to let the system belong to everybody who is affected by it. Third, you must start with people’s needs. The needs of the people you’re serving come first. The cheapest, most effective, blah di fucking blah system you can build starts with the needs of the people who are served by it.

When you know the needs you know what to do, and you also know what a true version of adequate is. This means that an idiot politician can’t just announce services will be cut (or even given more resources). First you must identify the needs, identify what the bare minimum is and codify it in some measurable way. Not targets, just knowing that the right things are happening.

Only then can a system be built to meet those needs, and only then can it be improved upon.

It isn’t hard, but it’s also not the trivial task people pretend it is.