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 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 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”

Book review: Guns, Germs and Steel

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond (Vintage, 1998), ISBN: 978-0099302780 I want to approach this book by means of its subtitle. Specifically, I want to contrast its subtitle with that of another classic text. This may seem perverse, but bear with me. The subtitle of this book is –Continue reading “Book review: Guns, Germs and Steel”

Book review: Overshoot

Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change by William R. Catton Jr., University of Illinois Press (1982), ISBN: 0-252-00988-6 / 978-0-252-00988-4 I believe it was Mark Twain who defined a classic as a book that nobody wants to read but everyone wants to have read. This is a book that everyone ought to have readContinue reading “Book review: Overshoot”

On taking the long view

In the long run we are all dead. John Maynard Keynes, A Tract on Monetary Reform (1923) How long is the long run? At one extreme, there is a principle attributed (perhaps wrongly) to the Iroquois that decisions should be taken in the light of their possible effect seven generations hence, which is at leastContinue reading “On taking the long view”

Predictions for 2022

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past. George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-four Well, it’s that time of year again. In this post, I’m going to re-examine my predictions for 2021 and indulge in some equally ill-founded speculation for the year to come. We’ll see how well I do… SoContinue reading “Predictions for 2022”

On the failure of imagination

What it will be Questiond When the Sun rises do you not see a round Disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea O no no I see an Innumerable company of the Heavenly host crying Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty… William Blake, Vision of the Last Judgment One of the many crisesContinue reading “On the failure of imagination”

On tipping-points

“How did you go bankrupt?” “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.” Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises Imagine heating a pan of cold water over a flame. Soon, you will have a pan of warm water; then it becomes hot and begins to smoke. After a while, small bubbles begin to form around the edge. AndContinue reading “On tipping-points”