On greatness

Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that generation. Let greatness blossom. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela “I think continually,” the poet Stephen Spender wrote, “of those who were truly great.” Personally I often find myself thinking of something else, but there are certainly people, living and dead, who I would considerContinue reading “On greatness”

Book review: Going to Seed

Going to Seed: A Counterculture Memoir by Simon Fairlie (Chelsea Green, 2022), ISBN: 978-1-64502-061-5 You might know Simon Fairlie’s name from his previous book, Meat: A Benign Extravagance (Permanent Publications, 2010), which rather remarkably caused George Monbiot to change his mind about veganism. Perhaps you’ve come across the magazine he founded, The Land, if youContinue reading “Book review: Going to Seed”

On disagreement

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. S.G. Tallentyre, The Friends of Voltaire Disagreements have been with us for as long as people have had opinions, which is to say for as long as there have been people. What is interesting about this historicalContinue reading “On disagreement”

On rationality

Of all the ways of defining man, the worst is the one which makes him out to be a rational animal. Anatole France As a culture, we are unusually fond of rationality. I blame the ancient Greeks. Economists are very keen to stress how rational everyone is, all of the time, and yet this fliesContinue reading “On rationality”

On the end of politics

Man is by nature a political animal. Aristotle, Politics I.ii When Tony Benn retired from the House of Commons in 2001, he said he was doing so in order to spend more time on politics. Certainly the body which is supposed to represent the mass of the population has increasingly detached itself from reality overContinue reading “On the end of politics”

On denial

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed Everybody knows that the war is over Everybody knows the good guys lost Everybody knows the fight was fixed The poor stay poor, the rich get rich That’s how it goes Everybody knows Leonard Cohen, “Everybody knows” There is rarely much pointContinue reading “On denial”

On the war in Ukraine

War is hell. William Tecumseh Sherman Industrial civilisation treats war the way it treats everything else: as an industrial process, and as a money-making opportunity. War has always been a horrible business, but these days we have the technology to make it more horrible for more people, so of course we do. And of courseContinue reading “On the war in Ukraine”

On being a modern employee

Live the behaviours! An actual manager at my step-daughter’s workplace Before the media became obsessed with how evil Vladimir Putin is, there was a fair bit of hot air given to the phenomenon known as the Great Resignation. This is not, as one might suppose, some sort of renaissance of Stoicism in which large numbersContinue reading “On being a modern employee”

On spring

In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of civilisational collapse. Alfred Lord Tennyson (slightly amended) As I write these words, it’s the Spring Equinox up here in the northern hemisphere. From today onwards, the days will be longer than the nights. The clocks will be going forward. The birds are singing,Continue reading “On spring”