Month: December 2008

Yes, we are all completely out of our minds

Derbyshire loonys in pub (c) Nick Delves, Monster Raving Loony PartyDoes anyone else feel like asking the powers that be: “Excuse me, what exactly is going on? Where do you think you are taking us? Are you all completely out of your minds?

“Why else would you pretend not to notice that our civilization is systematically killing life on Earth?”

It’s astonishing that things can get this bad and still be largely sidestepped by mainstream media and governments. And, for some reason, it’s still not ‘the done thing’ to bring it up seriously in conversation. Why? We’d hardly hold back out of deference if a surgeon mentioned she would be whipping out one of our healthy kidneys just to improve the hospital’s transplant figures. It’s mind-boggling that we button our collective lips while the capitalist juggernaut mows down the planet’s life support system – just to prop up GDP.

What a very strange state of suspended animation this is. (more…)

Schools are preparing children for the wrong future

Lucton School

Parents searching frantically for places in a decent school for their children – one that gets good results and values a happy atmosphere, say – are failing to spot that even the best schools fail to offer an appropriate education for their pupils at all.

Why? First, because of the future our children face. Remember, modern society is founded on an abundance of fossil fuels (mainly oil), which has produced an economic and social web of such complexity that for many of us life is very far removed from its underlying connections with the natural world. This era is coming to an end, compounded by unfolding planetary crises that are taking us into a transition that will affect how we live, eat, travel and work and the skills we will need to do these things. (more…)

Telling it like it is: news from the dead centre

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Flemish painter © expiredThe industrial growth civilization may have no central command — but it behaves as if it does. VIVID thinks it should come clean and set up a reality newswire, which declares in straight-talking, plain-speaking English what is being decided at its hypothetical, brain-dead centre. This month we’d have:

From the DKCTRL (Department for Keeping Children Thinking along the Right Lines): all pupils in UK state schools will be told how to conform more readily to society’s standards and avoid inappropriate use of drugs, alcohol or sex – especially where such use might result in costs to the national economy, e.g. from treating drug addiction, supporting young mothers, and in terms of the opportunity costs of not having these mothers and drug addicts working and contributing to GDP. Chief Minister of the DKCTRL said: “Of course, the DKCTRL would also like to help young people in our society live happier, healthier lives but there is a limit to how much we’d like that. (more…)

News from the frontier

“On colonial frontiers, where different and often rival ways of living meet, the underlying elements of our society become more clearly visible …  you can see certain kinds of economic exploitation, aggressive greed, missionary zeal, and racism. All these are disclosed at the edge. What they disclose, of course, is not the edge but the nature of the centre.”

From the Open Democracy interview with anthropologist Hugh Brody.

RainforestWhat do the latest developments at the margins of our society reveal about the nature of its centre?

The UN climate summit in Poznan, Poland has ended with small signs of progress but little genuine ambition for serious change. Its delegates could learn a thing or two from cultures that have been plugged in to natural cycles for thousands of years, who are still so connected that they can tell us what’s changing as fast as the science can, and who, because of where they live, are suffering the worst effects the earliest. Yet our own culture remains determined to treat them with disdain. (more…)

Thoughts from the heartlands (on money)

Night Stories by Rudolph Carl Gorman

A native American elder and her grandson gaze over to the towers of high-rise finance from a reservation on the margins…

Grandma, why is everyone over there so worried about their money system, and why do all those government bail-outs of trillions of dollars not seem to make any difference?

Grandson, they can’t see that money is the problem, not the solution. Money has come between people and life. It was meant as a medium of exchange but has become distorted so that modern society now sees it as a store of value. This is wrong. How can pieces of paper or numbers on a screen have value? How can chopping down trees and polluting water create value? (more…)