On borders

Nations, like individuals, tell stories in order to understand what they are, where they come from, and what they want to be. National narratives, like personal ones, are prone to sentimentality, grievance, pride, shame, self-blindness. There is never just one—they compete and constantly change. The most durable narratives are not the ones that stand upContinue reading “On borders”

On accountability

It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts. Mahatma Gandhi I would go further than the Mahatma: it is impossible to escape the consequences of one’s acts. But this is is of course not the received wisdom amongst our elites. Of course one can escape the consequences of one’sContinue reading “On accountability”

On political authority

There are no governors anywhere. Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, The Illuminatus! Trilogy We live in an age of problems, or more precisely, of predicaments: that is to say, issues that have no actual solutions, and which can at best be mitigated. To a greater or lesser extent, this has always been so forContinue reading “On political authority”

On being disconnected from reality

Take a holiday from reality whenever you like, and come back without so much as a headache or a mythology. Aldous Huxley, Brave New World One of the things that makes human beings as adaptable as they are – and therefore so numerous and widespread – is our ability to ignore inconvenient facts. When IContinue reading “On being disconnected from reality”

On markets and competition

The free market is a myth. Everybody knows that. Just very few people say it. If you’re in the position like I am and do business all over the world, and if I’m not smart enough to know there’s no free market, I ought to be fired. The reason we don’t call it socialism isContinue reading “On markets and competition”

On the longest day

If eternity had a season, it would be midsummer. Autumn, winter, spring are all change and passage, but at the height of summer the year stands poised. It’s only a passing moment, but even as it passes the heart knows it cannot change. Ursula K. Le Guin Edward Gibbon begins his epic history of TheContinue reading “On the longest day”

On supply-chains

Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains. Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto Until quite recently, many people lived their lives in blissful ignorance of supply-chains. Unless you happened to work in logistics, you would just order stuff and it would magically arrive. There would be thingsContinue reading “On supply-chains”

On processed food

“Eating is an agricultural act,” as Wendell Berry famously said. It is also an ecological act, and a political act, too. Though much has been done to obscure this simple fact, how and what we eat determines to a great extent the use we make of the world – and what is to become ofContinue reading “On processed food”

On living in interesting times

Far-called, our navies melt away; On dune and headland sinks the fire: Lo, all our pomp of yesterday Is one with Nineveh and Tyre! Rudyard Kipling, “Recessional“ Everyone, of course, has heard of the Chinese curse, or the supposedly Chinese curse. And it’s hard to deny that the times we’re going through will make interestingContinue reading “On living in interesting times”

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”