COVID-19 may be at the forefront of our minds, however for the British the idiocy of Brexit remains very much a live issue.

Since 2016 there have been a good number of individuals who have articulated the political, economic and social impacts of the UK shooting itself in the foot. Key amongst those writers who have consistently delivered blog posts, on Twitter, in journals are Professor Chris Grey at Royal Holloway with his Brexit blog, Professor Steve Peers at Essex on EU, Human Rights & World Trade Law, Ian Dunt with his weekly review Politics@lunch , Dmitry Grozoubinski on Trade Negotiation, David Allen Green at the FT plus plus plus.

Early on in the Brexit debacle Professor Michael Dougan Professor of European Law at the University of Liverpool stood out as a clear thinking academic on the Brexit issue. He brought to attention the Vote Leave’s lying on an “industrial scale”. His attendance at House of Commons committee stages, his vlogs on the University Liverpool website all helped to understand the legal and economic setting of Brexit.

For those in the so-called Remain camp you felt these academics had your back. In March 2020 Michael Dougan released a draft copy of his detailed analysis of the EU-UK Brexit package. Interestingly on page 57 he wrote:

“… the UK’s is increasingly abrasive approach to the future relationship also poses serious challenges for the EU itself. Above all: the risk of an aggressive competitor on our very doorstep, …..”

I wrote to him on Twitter asking did he mean “their doorstep” not “our doorstep”. He responded by saying the Journal he was writing for was an international journal and “Plus I’m an EU citizen. So I definitely meant “our”.”

Michael Dougan comes from Northern Ireland and presumably has dual citizenship. It’s quite disturbing to feel one of your “clan” is pointing out their position as now “other/us” to your “them”. The continuing damage to social relations both within the UK and outside is profound. It’s feels like the 48% have been further put out to grass.

When the vote came through in June 2016 it was a real body blow to my identity as a European and my understanding of the world.  Since then numerous events have continued to knock my sense of identity including my son welcoming me to “his country” in 2019 in Melbourne Australia!  As a dual national it felt very much an affront to my sense of internationalism.

And so to Michael Dougan and a clear step towards “otherness”.  It is no surprise perhaps when you note the wish the Scots have for independence and the seeming bitterness of the Welsh towards the English.  So now the Northern Irish have been sold down the river by Johnson and Irish patriots rebuff the English.  Scotland to leave and create a rUK?  More like we are stepping towards a rump-England.  The butt of all jokes.


The Henry Doubleday Research Association was the go to organization back in the 1980’s for all things about organic gardening.  One of the items I kept from that time was Lawrence Hills paper showing what you can achieve on a vegetable plot with a little planning.  On a snowy day in March it seems a constructive thing to publish he document to another generation of gardeners.

Dig for Survival HDRA

In this video Tomas Pietrangeli MD of Arla UK speaks about the approach Arla UK and in Europe are taking towards Brexit. Interestingly he speaks about how Arla established a task force straight after the Brexit vote to establish key priorities for the business and their suppliers – free movement, agricultural policy, especially subsidies, continued access to the single market etc.etc.
Like many organisations, both here in the UK and worldwide, these “task forces” are attempting to juggle an amorphous being called Brexit without any “givens” from the policy makers. This is pure insanity. Pietrangeli admits, in closing the video, that the UK Government is changing its negotiating position even now (and indeed will continue to do so).
I do not see how any person can structure an argument over the way ahead for their business in this context. The number of presentations at this weeks Oxford Farming Conference accepting there will be Brexit beggars belief. They have neither evidence, methodologies or political frameworks in which to structure their arguments. It really does seem to me that Brexit has become such a titanic event it will sink when the iceberg of political, economic and financial reality hits. Rearranging the deck chairs on this vessel is all people have left. Sad.

Good read found in MacPherson’s “The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism”

Annoyingly as ever cannot recall how this book popped onto my radar but certainly has helped tease out the roots of modern economic theory.

Without going into another critique of the critique of Locke, Hobbes, the Levellers I just wanted to record MacPherson’s conclusion about the cohesion brought about in market societies by war.  Writing in 1964 he acknowledged that in the 20th century the ability to cohere societies through war can no longer considered due to Man’s ability to now totally obliterate themselves through nuclear war.

In the latter half of the 20th century we have seen an “equality of insecurity” such that the nationstate is losing its validity as the focus of obligation. That said the re-emergence of populism today is a harking back to a society that can no longer exist.

If nuclear weapons instigated an “equality of insecurity” then perhaps the worldwide web is a precursor of a new vision and landscape of “equality of security”. This is perhaps a utopian ideal/vista for the future but one that I endorse and hope for, set against petty nationalism.




Creative by Nature

yugen 2014

“Yūgen is an important concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics. The exact translation of the word depends on the context. Yūgen is not an allusion to another world. It is about this world, this experience…

“To watch the sun sink behind a flower clad hill. To wander on in a huge forest without thought of return. To stand upon the shore and gaze after a boat that disappears behind distant islands. To contemplate the flight of wild geese seen and lost among the clouds…” ~Zeami Motokiyo

Japanese aesthetic ideals are most heavily influenced by Japanese Buddhism. In the Buddhist tradition, all things are considered as either evolving from or dissolving into nothingness. This “nothingness” is not empty space. It is rather a space of potentiality.

If the seas represent potential then each thing is like a wave arising from it and returning to it. There are no permanent waves. There…

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The Utopia of Rules

David Graeber’s new book The Utopia of Rules has the following snippet on organised violence which I feel can be taken as a general view of violence:

“…violence….insofar as it is a form of communication, is one that radically strips down, simplifies, and ultimately prevents communication; insofar as it is a form of action, it is really a form of anti-action, because it’s ultimate purpose is to prevent others from being able to act(either to act in certain ways, or, if one kills them, to ever act in any way ever again.” P163

This succinct appraisal of violence offers a valuable contribution to understanding male violence towards others, whether other males or females for that matter. See Rebecca Solnit’s “Men Explain Things to Me“.

Time perhaps to reread Slavoj Žižek’s Violence



This quote is taken from Individualization [reprint 2012] by Ulrich Beck p183

It speaks of the type of barbarity perpetrated by ISIL – a stateless grouping – in “the condition of savages”. It also highlights the desperation of Syrian’s caught adrift in the Mediterranean who cling to their identity in the hope of continued “social existence” – that identity as much for them as for all Europeans helping them.

“A civilization that abounds in war produces tribes of placeless barbarians: people without a state who, stripped of all civil rights, are reduced to their mere physical existence. ‘The danger is that a global, universally interrelated civilization may produce barbarians from its own midst by forcing millions of people into conditions which, despite all appearances, are the conditions of savages.'” [Quote from Hannah Arendt The Origin of Totalitarianism]

Stateless persons must experience talk of inalienable human rights as a sick joke. The abstract nakedness of their being nothing but human even appears as their greatest danger. Hannah Arendt writes of the fear of those without rights, who still cling desperately to their nationality because it is their only hope of ever being able to live a social existence again. ‘Their lack of relationship to the world is like an invitation to murder, since the death of people who stand outside any legal, social and political references does not have any consequences for those who survive. If they are killed, it is as if no injustice or even suffering is inflicted on anyone.'”[Elemente und Ursprünge pp453-470]

Love and the World – a guide to Conscious Soul Practice
Robert Sardello
This piece is taken from Chapter 5: Grieving, Love and the Soul
I have never seen such clarity in expressing the differences between the ego and the I. It appears as something quite tangible for your being to work with, on and through.

“What then, is the nature of self-love if it is not the same as the affirmation ” I love myself”? It is not a consciousness of oneself from the outside, looking, as it were, at oneself and affirming what one sees as good and worthy. Rather, self-love is equivalent to self-consciousness, and self-consciousness is not a consciousness of the self but a consciousness in the self.

Clarifying the true meaning of self-love helps to bring understanding to the relation between the ego and the I. Ego and I in fact refer to the same quality, the quality of self-consciousness, which can function in two directions; the I gives and the ego takes. The I is creative, turned outward, while the ego is possessive, turned inwards. The I knows itself through its capacity to create awareness. The ego knows itself through the desire to feel it’s own awareness, the desire for self-feeling, which must come from the outside. Because it comes from the outside, this feeling can never be guaranteed, and when had it lasts only for a short time and has to be repeated endlessly. This is what makes the ego by its very nature an addict. Self-love, seen from the side of the I, on the other hand, is nothing more than a description of the operation of the I in its awareness of others and the world; that is to say, self-love is self-consciousness that encompasses the world. What then determines whether self-consciousness is turned creatively toward the world or addictively toward feeling itself?

The ego is always orientated toward the past, trying to hold on to what it has received from the past. It acts like a “finished” structure of consciousness, one that is complete; but since it is really not complete, it must continually seek affirmation that it is by acting like an is rather than a becoming. The I lives as an orientation toward the time current from the future, and thus knows only awareness, but not an awareness of itself. The ego is habitual, repetitive, and uncreative. The I can be imagined as a capacity rather than an entity, functions through improvisation, has no fixed form, and creates what it knows.

In other words, a strengthening of love is needed within consciousness. This strengthening must come from within consciousness and not from outside, which then would be a strengthening of the ego. Such a strengthening can come about only indirectly, through learning to work with fear and grieving.”
Page 101-102 [emphasis in the original]