Monday, 29 October 2012

William Cobbett

Local production for local consumption, the sustainable tending of the earth, its plants and animals, sound educational practice and a healthy, thriving cultural life based on sufficiency rather than endless growth and consumption of material goods: at present, all these policies must be justified financially – or they cannot be put into practice. The need to be on guard against the growing power of finance was apparent to William Cobbett early in the 19th century. At the time – and since – Cobbett has been dismissed as hopelessly out of touch with modern life, as trying to live in the past. It now appears that Cobbett was far more clear sighted than many zealous reformers realised.

Writing in 1925, G.K. Chesterton wrote a life of William Cobbett. He observed: “In one thing he was a very lucky and lonely mortal:

“He could see before he could read. Most modern people can read before they can see. They have read about a hundred things long before they have seen one of them. Most town children have read about corn or cattle as if they were dwarfs or dragons, long before they have seen a grain of wheat or a cow. Many of them have read about ships or churches, or the marching of soldiers or the crowd cheering a king, or any other normal sight, which they have never seen. By a weird mesmerism which it is not here necessary to analyse, what people read has a sort of magic power over their sight. It lays a spell on their eyes, so that they see what they expect to see. They do not see the most solid and striking things that contradict what they expect to see. They believe their schoolmasters too well to believe their eyes. They trust the map against the mountain. Cobbett was a man without these magic spectacles. He did not see what he expected to see, but what he saw. He liked books; but he could not only read between the lines but through the book.
“Now, in nothing is this more vivid than in his vision of history. Most of us know what was the accepted general version of English history when we were at school; at any rate when I was at school, and still more, of course, when Cobbett was at school-in so far as he ever was at school. England had emerged out of a savage past to be the greatest empire in the world, with the best balanced constitution in the world, by a wise and well-timed progress or series of reforms, that ever kept in mind the need of constitutionalism and of balance. The Barons had extorted a constitutional charter from the King, in advance of that feudal age and a foundation for parliamentary freedom. The Commons came into the struggle for parliamentary freedom when it was waged against the Stuarts. By that time the Revival of Learning had led to the Reformation or sweeping away of the superstition that had been the only religion of the ruder feudal time. This enlightenment favoured the growth of democracy; and though the aristocrats still remained, and remain still, to give dignity to the state with their ancient blazonry of the Conquest and the Crusades, the law of the land is no longer controlled by the lords but by the citizens. Hence the country has been filled with a fresh and free population, made happy by humane and rational ideas, where there were once only a few serfs stunted by the most senseless superstitions. I ask anyone if that is not a fair summary of the historical education in which most modern people over forty were brought up. And having read it first, we went to look at the towns and castles and abbeys afterwards, and saw it or tried to see it. Cobbett, not having read it, or not caring whether he had read it, saw something totally different. He saw what is really there.” (FN G.K. Chesterton William Cobbett, House of Stratus, 2008 edition, p49).

Monday, 22 October 2012

When You're Lying Awake

When life gets too much, and you can't sleep because of all the doom and gloom flying around the internet - try learning this song. It should be sung, or read aloud, very fast - until the very last line. Worth a try.

When You’re Lying Awake

From Iolanthe
Libretto by William S. Gilbert, Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan
Sung by Lord Chancellor

When you’re lying awake
With a dismal headache,
And repose is taboo’d by anxiety,
You conceive you may use
Any language you choose
To indulge in, without impropriety;

For your brain is on fire—
And the bedclothes conspire
Of your usual slumber to plunder you:
First your counterpane goes,
And uncovers your toes,
And your sheet slips demurely from under you;

Then the blanketing tickles—
You feel like mixed pickles—
So terribly sharp is the pricking,
And you’re hot, and you’re cross,
And you tumble and toss
Till there’s nothing ’twixt you and the ticking.

Then the bedclothes all creep
To the ground in a heap,
And you pick ’em all up in a tangle;
Next your pillow resigns
And politely declines
To remain at its usual angle!

Well, you get some repose
In the form of a doze,
With hot eye-balls and head ever aching.
But your slumbering teems
With such horrible dreams
That you’d very much better be waking;

For you dream you are crossing
The Channel, and tossing
About in a steamer from Harwich—
Which is something between
A large bathing machine
And a very small second-class carriage—

And you’re giving a treat
(Penny ice and cold meat)
To a party of friends and relations—
They’re a ravenous horde—
And they all came on board
At Sloane Square and South Kensington Stations.

And bound on that journey
You find your attorney
(Who started that morning from Devon);
He’s a bit undersized,
And you don’t feel surprised
When he tells you he’s only eleven.

Well, you’re driving like mad
With this singular lad
(By the by, the ship’s now a four-wheeler),
And you’re playing round games,
And he calls you bad names
When you tell him that “ties pay the dealer”;

But this you can’t stand,
So you throw up your hand,
And you find you’re as cold as an icicle,
In your shirt and your socks
(The black silk with gold clocks),
Crossing Salisbury Plain on a bicycle:

And he and the crew
Are on bicycles too—
Which they’ve somehow or other invested in—
And he’s telling the tars
All the particulars
Of a company he’s interested in—

It’s a scheme of devices,
To get at low prices
All goods from cough mixtures to cables
(Which tickled the sailors),
By treating retailers
As though they were all vegetables—

You get a good spadesman
To plant a small tradesman
(First take off his boots with a boot-tree),
And his legs will take root,
And his fingers will shoot,
And they’ll blossom and bud like a fruit-tree—

From the greengrocer tree
You get grapes and green pea,
Cauliflower, pineapple, and cranberries,
While the pastrycook plant
Cherry brandy will grant,
Apple puffs, and three corners, and Banburys—

The shares are a penny,
And ever so many
Are taken by Rothschild and Baring,
And just as a few
Are allotted to you,
You awake with a shudder despairing—

You’re a regular wreck, with a crick in your neck, and no wonder you snore, for your head’s on the floor, and you’ve needles and pins from your soles to your shins, and your flesh is a-creep, for your left leg’s asleep, and you’ve cramp in your toes, and a fly on your nose, and some fluff in your lung, and a feverish tongue, and a thirst that’s intense, and a general sense that you haven’t been sleeping in clover;

But the darkness has passed, and it’s daylight at last, and the night has been long—ditto ditto my song—and thank goodness they’re both of them over!


Monday, 15 October 2012

Heaven and Earth

At this time of year we have a problem. Too many apples. We inherited an old orchard with the house we bought thirty years ago, and have been on a steep learning curve ever since.
Like everybody else of our acquaintance, we thought, if we thought about it at all, apples came in two types – eaters and cookers. And that all apples were used for desert. Gradually, we have learned that apples encapsulate a whole culture.
According to a little book published over twenty years ago, by Common Ground, “you could make an apple pie every day for 16 or more years and not use the same variety twice, eating your way from Stirling Castle to Exeter Cross in the company of the Reverend Wilks and Bess Pool.” What is more, apples are traditionally used for savoury dishes. Apple sauce is served with pork. Apples form an essential ingredient in the red cabbage dish which accompanies rich poultry such as duck and goose in Scandinavia.
“The German kitchen has some particularly good potato recipes,” we are told by cookery writer Elisabeth Luard in The Apple Source Book”, including delicious pancakes made with raw grated potatoes and served with apples or stewed fruit: and an excellent dish known as “Himmel und Erde” which mixes boiled potatoes with apples and crisp fried bacon. This mixture of fruit and vegetables, sweet and sour, is characteristic of northern country cooking – Holland, Belgium, Alsace, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Scandinavia all have similar mixtures.”

To make the Heaven and Earth dish, use firm but sweet apples like reinettes. This makes an excellent supper or light lunch dish.

2lb (1kg) potatoes
2lb (1kg) apples [such as King of the Pippins]
8oz (225g) slab bacon in ¼ inches (6mm) thick slices

You need a large saucepan and a small frying pan.
If the potatoes are new and small, you merely need to wash them. If they are old, peel them closely and quarter them. Put them to boil in plenty of salted water. Peel and cut the apples into chunks the size of the potato pieces. Add them to the potatoes after 10 minutes. Finish cooking both together. By the time the potatoes are cooked the apples will be soft but still holding their shape. Meanwhile, dice the bacon and fry it in its own fat. Drain the cooked apples and potatoes. Pile them into a hot dish and scatter the crisp bacon, with its cooking juices, over the top. Serve immediately.

Other recipes in the book include Grilled Sausages with sage fried apple rings, and Devonshire Rabbits. Vegetarian options include Orchard Toasted Cheese, and Leek and Cockpit Quiche. The book includes information about the growing, harvesting and storing of apples from a number of well-known chefs, gardeners and writers.
As far as I can tell, this book is no longer available, which is very sad. As things stand, people are so busy that they have ‘no time’ to use apples from local gardens – preferring to buy them from the supermarket, in the form of jars and packets of ready-made apple sauce mix – whilst the apples are left lying on the ground beneath the trees. Something is not quite right.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Ring of Power

Ring of Power
Why is Lord of the Rings so popular?

Review of Patrick Curry, Defending Middle-Earth. Tolkein, Myth and Modernity (1998)

The publication of The Lord of the Rings more than forty years ago was greeted with cries of derision by the literary establishment. Nevertheless, sales have topped 50 million copies, and are still going strong, with public library lending total exceeding 300,000 per year. Despite the book’s steady popularity – it headed a poll of over 25,000 readers as the most important book of the twentieth century – it continues to be shunned by the “clever” world of adult literary fiction.
The popular success of The Lord of the Rings lies in its relevance to the contemporary struggle of “community, nature and spirit against the modern union of state-power, capital and technology”. Noting the “domination of financial and technological magic” over “God’s enchanted world”. Curry concludes that root-less science, existing beyond history and locality, becomes inseparable from science and power.
Curry has arranged his book around the three interrelated worlds of the Shire, its culture, politics and society, Middle-Earth, its nature and ecology, and the spiritual and ethical world of the sea. Each “world” is inextricably intertwined with the others, creating a powerful sense of specific and recognizable place. In Curry’s view, by setting the Shire in pre-modern England Tolkien gives his tale universal appeal. Itself not “Europeanized”, the Shire is invaded by modernizing Mordor. Within the state, the Hobbits who share a strong sense of community and of decentralized bioregionalism resist.
Although he omitted specific reference to religious practices, Tolkien perceived The Lord of the Rings as “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work”. Curry argues that decisions based upon pure utility yield the centre ground to the forces of destruction: “the things, places and people we love will be saved for their own sakes or not at all; and that is ultimately a religious valuing.”
“The choice”, Curry observes, is between myths and stories that are liberating, and those that are destructive and debilitating.” The Lord of the Rings emerges as a major contribution to the former. Tolkien’s purpose was to challenge the myth of “progress” from primitive squalor to global civilisation based upon science and technology. His work echoes the ancient mythologies of a fall from a past golden age. It also rejects the inevitability of “progress” in favour of a belief in individuals as free agents capable of determining events good or ill.
Tolkien’s mythology contains hope for “the re-sacralization (or re-enchantment) of experienced and living nature, in the local cultural idiom”. Escape from the prison of enforced modernity is presently barred by its ”intellectual and cultural warders…the realists and rationalists” who declare “progress” is not only good for us, but also here to stay regardless of the trail of devastation left in its wake. The fatal charm of the Ring of Power leads its servants to feed it, rather than control it.
The book presents no simplistic division between good and evil: “one of the glories of Middle-Earth is its messy pluralism.” People with very different cultures, languages and habits, linked in a tenuous alliance, oppose the modernistic magic which is Mordor. Writing under the shadow of the “ongoing holocaust of the natural world” in the name of global capitalism, Curry quotes Ruskin:
“To watch the corn grow, and the blossom set: to draw hard breath over ploughshare or spade; to read, to think, to love, to hope, to pray – these are the things that make men happy; they have always had the power of doing these, they never will have the power to do more. The world’s prosperity or adversity depends upon our knowing and teaching these few things: but upon iron, or glass, or electricity, or steam, in no wise.”
Curry suggests that the Ring has affinity with the most powerful economic and political forces in the material realm. Three Elven Rings, capable of creating beauty, understanding and healing are ultimately under the control of the One, which can transform and destroy their potential but is devoid of ability to create. The magic of the One Ring is its capacity for illusion. Evil, the lust for complete power in the world, arises from apparently innocent intervention in life in all its forms. In Tolkien’s works, “frightful evil can and does arise from an apparently good root, the desire to benefit the world and others – and speedily according to the benefactor’s own plans”, This magic has been appropriated and transformed by modern science and technology.
Curry reminds us not only of the dangers of abandoning the lessons of history, as encapsulated in myth, but also of the good sense and good faith of the vast mass of ordinary people and the capacity of small individuals to stand against great evil.

This review was first published in Resurgence, No. 196, September/October 1999. Patrick Curry's book remains as relevant today as when first published. Frances Hutchinson

Monday, 24 September 2012

Waged and Salaried Slavery

A.R. Orage, editor of The New Age, was one of a number of writers in the early twentieth century who portrayed the truth about the employment system. Better to put oneself into the position of the owner of land and capital, and thereby work on one’s own terms, than to place oneself in a position of waged or salaried slavery to an employer. No matter what the perks, total dependence upon a wage or salary from an employer or employing body is wage (or salary) slavery. The capitalist can be an individual entrepreneur, but today is more likely to be an employing body, a private or state corporation. Either way, the employee serves the capitalist in a position of servility. As Orage explained in An Alphabet of Economics (1917), published during the First World War:
“The capitalist owns one or other or both of the two only tools employed in the production of wealth: elemental tools—part of the land, water, or air; or secondary tools—the implements of production: ships, machines, houses, etc., or legal promises of them. Now as, without access to the elemental tools or the use of the secondary tools, labourers, however skilled, can produce nothing, it follows that for permission to use them they must be prepared to pay, unless the permission is given them. But it is of the essence of the character of the Capitalist that he will not give permission to workmen to use the tools he possesses. He will only sell permission to them. And again, he will not even sell to them, if he can help it, but he will only lend to them. And, still again, he will not lend to them if he can help it, but he prefers that the labourers should lend themselves to him. This lending by labourers of their energy and skill to the capitalists who own the main tools of production is called working for wages; and in England four men out of five belong to this class. They are slaves of the tool-owner, since without his permission—who has, be it remembered, both classes of tool in his possession—they can produce absolutely nothing. This lending by men of their energy and skill to the owners of the tools of production is disguised in the case of the clerical, managerial, and professional classes in various ways—by calling a job an appointment, or a wage a salary, or by being permitted to wear a bowler and a white collar on work-days. In fact, however, all men who do not possess one or other of the tools of production are proletariat, depending upon the sale of their energy and skill for a living.”
Easier said than done? Watch this space! And see The New Home Economics Study Guide, published in The Social Crediter (Autumn 2012), available on

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

What is Capital?

Since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, industry has been governed by the profit motive, that is, by production for the sake of profit. Throughout the twentieth century the most profitable form of production has been the manufacture of armaments for export. There has been a constant development of weapons, fighter aircraft, rockets and other delivery systems, as salesmen equip both sides in an actual or potential conflict. Good wages and salaries are paid to the workers who design, make, market and use weapons. All this is registered as positive economic growth by the tenured orthodox economist.

In 1917, during the First World War about a century ago, A.R. Orage, Guild Socialist editor of The New Age, wrote his An Alphabet of Economics. He sought to clarify how capitalism works through the wages system. This is what he had to say about “capital”.

capital.—If Land can be said to be the elemental tool by the proper use of which Man can produce articles of utility (for his own consumption or for exchange or as means to further production), Capital may be said to consist of man-made tools or, as we should prefer to say, of implements. A plough is an implement of production, while the land through which it is driven is an instrument of production. A plough thus belongs to the class of Capital tools, while the land is an elemental tool. A fishing-boat, again, is a man-made implement for the production of fish from the sea. It is therefore a Capital tool, while the sea itself is an elemental tool. But these simple man-made tools are only elementary forms of Capital. Man is the tool-making as well as the tool-using creature. He has made many elaborate tools for the production of wealth. Not only a plough is a tool, but the road that leads to the field in which it is used, the granary in which the corn is stored, the factory in which the plough is made, and, finally, the whole created system by means of which the plough is brought to the field and the corn to the factory, are tools. The sum total of man-made devices for pro­ducing wealth from the elemental tools—the sum total, let us say, of secondary tools, if we call Land the primary tool—constitutes the first form of Capital or what is usually called Fixed Capital. Even this, however, does not exhaust the forms of Capital. For Capital consists not only of tools visible and tangible; but, since it is man-made, it may equally well consist of whatever man can count upon as certain to become visible. Thus a plough is a tool visible and tangible, but it is obviously of no use unless it is believed that men can and will use it and that access to the land can be found for it. But for this belief or Credit the plough would be useless. Capital thus consists not only of the actual tools, but of the Credit men can establish for themselves that the tools will be usable and will be used. Most capitalists deal mainly in this credit rather than in the actual tools concerning which the credit exists. This form of Capital is an I.O.U., backed by all the existing tools and endorsed by the tool-users. It is their credited promise to produce what they undertake to produce: and it may be strictly defined as the latent usability of the existing implements of production, given the will of the labourers to use them. (A.R. Orage, An Alphabet of Economics, 1917, p7-9.)

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

How the Division of Labour Creates Labour

Consider buying a packet of apple sauce mix in a supermarket. The packet is weighed and priced, giving the two items of information most central to the decision to make an ‘economic’ purchase. The packet may also contain some information on the source of the apples, perhaps the country of origin, South Africa, France or New Zealand. The packet may show the name of the store selling the sauce, but is unlikely to give much more information about the fruit.

Somewhere, a plot of land has produced an apple tree. The tree has been tended by people whose subsistence needs have been met from the environment. The apples have been harvested, sorted, crated, processed, packeted, transported and documented through a complex administrative process, passing through a series of complex social relations which lie outside the weight/price axis. As an economic commodity, the apples can be considered from different viewpoints:

To the purchaser in the money economy, the sauce is uniform in quality. From the cash economy view, the commodity has weight and price.

The product can also be viewed as part of the reward for the waged labour of the purchaser. The commodity draws the purchaser into the social relations of exchange.

To the person eating the product it assumes use value. The natural world viewpoint links the social world with the body. It is also possible to trace the apple from hand to hand, from the original growers through the processes bringing it to the hand of the eater. The integrated view establishes a direct relationship between the lives of each person in the growing, processing, transport, wholesale and retail chain.

The process can be reversed, or started at any point in the chain linking producer to consumer. Once the process of purchase and sale is taken out of its purely monetised context, new theoretical vistas emerge. Notions of service and social responsibility can enter into consideration. For example, in the UK parents are advised never to allow a child to eat an apple without first removing the peel because of its toxicity. To what extent should the grower/producer ensure that poisonous pesticides should be avoided due to their ill effects on the health of consumers? To what extent should the consumer insist that the use of toxic substances in the production and processing not only of apples but of all food, fuel, fibres and so on, does not adversely affect the health of those supplying the labour along the chain of production, and those living under the shadow of the pollution left in its wake? To what extent can the waged labourer or the consumer materially affect outcomes?

These questions cannot be grafted artificially onto mainstream economic theory. The New Home Economics initiates a whole new ball game by asking an entirely different set of totally relevant questions. A packet of apple sauce mix may provide plenty of employment all along the line, increasing the economic value of the product and hence registering as growth in the economy. But what is the real value of the product purchased, in comparison with the taking of a fresh apple (from a known local source) and popping it in the oven to bake in its skin, resulting in a totally delicious experience?

Friday, 31 August 2012

Social Credit and the New Home Economics Part II

Practical proposals, such as a National Dividend based upon a Just Price system, have been put forward by ‘social crediters’, and can be justified once the relationship between the real and the financial economies is fully understood. Such proposals have their strengths and their weaknesses. The main strength is that they accord with no political faction, whether of the left or of the right, where party leaders can be subjected to external pressures. For example, a National Dividend paid as a right to all citizens could be a means to strengthen civil liberties, the theory being that an independent income would offer the individual the right to refuse to be exploited at work. (Yes, it is true that, in theory at least, there are laws about minimum wages and conditions of employment. In practice, however, in the UK as I write, workers in care homes are being hired for, say, 15 hours per week, but expected to work any number of extra hours unpaid if asked to do so, under threat of losing the job.) The main weakness is that, as things stand, the administering body offering the National Dividend could be centrally controlled, hence would itself potentially threaten civil liberties.

In a sane and sensible world, it would be possible to face the fact that, throughout the twentieth century, ‘the economy’ has veered from crisis to crisis, with bouts of war, and bouts of depression alternating seemingly beyond rhyme or reason. ‘It’, i.e., mainstream economic thinking, plainly is not working. Or, to put it another way, it is serving to produce increasing uncertainty. As finance grinds from crisis to crisis, it leads to military conflicts, environmental degradation and poverty on hitherto unprecedented scales. Yet ‘it’ – mainstream theory – is the only show in town. Whenever alternatives are raised - merely for the sake of discussion, as a way to think laterally - they have been silenced by being labelled ‘heretical’. Most notably, all discussion of Social Credit theory, of the history of this massive popular movement, and of its success as a democratic political alternative to the corruptible party system, all discussion has been banned in the academy. A tenured economist at a university cannot even raise the subject for free and open discussion and retain any chance of security of tenure, let alone promotion (See my Understanding the Financial System for details.) As a result of the stultifying of debate, economist jokes abound:

Q: How many economists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. They all assume it doesn’t need changing.
Economist jokes are humorous because, like all forms of jest, they contain a crucial element of truth. And the truth of the matter is that mainstream economic theory is not designed to relate to economic practice. In economic theory there are invisible hands, divisions of labour and a quest for general equilibrium. In economic practice there is a banking system based upon debt, taxation and employment laws passed by governments and backed by the full forces of law and order.

Economist jokes abound wherever economists congregate, because, deep down, economists know that they are employed to create plausible illusions about how the financial economy works. Like Christopher Columbus, they need lucrative government grants to ply their trade.

The New Home Economics distinguishes between the facts of the real economy and the fictions of the financial economy. All that glitters is not gold. See the New Home Economics Study Guide in the current issue of The Social Crediter, available on .

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Social Credit and the New Home Economics Part I

“Christopher Columbus was perhaps the first economist. When he left to discover America, he didn’t know where he was going. When he got there, he didn’t know where he was. When he returned, he didn’t know where he had been. And it was all done on a government grant!” Economist Jokes, www.

Ever since I started to research and write about Social Credit, the reaction has been, “Yes! Sounds fine! But would it work? How would it work?” And I heartily sympathise with Clifford Hugh Douglas in his frustration as he first presented his analysis of the economics of the First World War in 1918. What do people mean when they say, how would it work? What is ‘it’? Social Credit is not in essence a set of proposals for reform. Rather, it is an analysis of the relationship between the real, tangible, material economy and the elusive, will o’ the wisp of the financial economy. Once that is clear as a starting point, all manner of schemes could be dreamed up. Social Credit analysis can be used right across the political spectrum, from far left to far right, and all the gradations between. Before proposing practical institutional change, it is essential to grasp how the existing system works. Only then can discussion of particular reforms be soundly based.

The New Home Economics distinguishes between the facts of the real economy and the fictions of the financial economy. All that glitters is not gold. See the New Home Economics Study Guide in the current issue of The Social Crediter, on  

Monday, 27 August 2012

Diversity of Income Streams?

In Cottage Economy (1822), William Cobbett argued the case for hand-crafting within the household as a means of supplementing the family income. He saw the teaching of practical skills at home as providing sound learning opportunities for children. He deplored the mounting economic pressure for parents and children to sell their very souls into wage slavery in a factory, mill or coal mine:

“One of the great misfortunes of England at this day is, that the land has had taken away from it those employments for its women and children which were so necessary to the well-being of the agricultural labourer. The spinning, the carding, the reeling, the knitting; these have been all taken away from the [cottage out-workers], and given to the Lords of the Loom. But let the landholder mark how the change has operated to produce his ruin. He must have the labouring MAN and the labouring BOY; but, alas! he cannot have these, without the man’s wife and the boy’s mother, and little sisters and brothers. Even Nature herself says, that he shall have the wife and little children, or that he shall not have the man and the boy. But the Lords of the Loom, the crabbed-voiced, hard-favoured, hard-hearted, puffed-up, insolent and bloody wretches of the North have, assisted by a blind and greedy Government, taken all the employment away from the agricultural women and children. This manufacture of straw [Cobbett was describing the ease with which fine straw hats could be produced for the local home market] will form one little article of employment for these persons. It sets at defiance all the hatching and scheming of the tyrannical wretches who cause the poor little creatures to die in their factories, heated to eighty-four degrees. There will need no inventions of Watt; none of your horse powers, nor water powers; no murdering of one set of wretches in the coal mines, to bring up the means of murdering another sort of wretches in the factories, by the heat produced from these coals; none of these are wanted to carry on this manufacture. It wants no combination laws [by which trade unions were made illegal so that workers were rendered powerless to negotiate their terms of paid employment]; none of the inventions of the hard-hearted wretches of the North.” (Cottage Economy p181)

Cobbett’s basic argument holds true to the present day. Instead of going out to a place of paid employment, it could ‘pay’ to make a cost/benefit, time and motion analysis of the real value to each household of seeking paid employment in a place of work. Going out to a place of paid employment engenders costs, in terms of time, money and the real resources of the earth. Weighed, measured and balanced up, much of that expenditure could prove, on reflection, to be a waste of time, money and resources.

Going to work (i.e., into paid employment outside the household) normally involves travel and other costs. Be it car or public transport, that means money is spent by the worker, fuel and means of transport have to be produced by other workers, and the whole costs in terms of environmental wastes. Similarly, suitable clothing has to be bought, housing, leisure, sports, holidays and so on paid for, produced and consumed. The task is to evaluate the total ‘satisfaction’ gained within an individual household, when the total ‘disutility’ (dissatisfaction, waste) is taken into account.

Moreover - and this comes out elsewhere in Cottage Economy – children given responsible tasks to perform in a well-managed home derive lifelong advantage from acquiring practical skills, with their inherent satisfactions. Such benefits are denied the inmate of the formal school classroom. Cobbett himself was living proof of the argument that book-learning can come later, to great advantage.

However, for parents of today, the big question is how to put a roof over the head of their family. And that means going to work to earn the money to provide the necessities of life so that their children can go to school in their turn to learn how to go to work … etc, etc, etc.

See Home Economics Study Guide, by Frances Hutchinson (forthcoming).

Saturday, 25 August 2012

To be free or to conform?

“We all need at times to discover again what is beautiful about ourselves. We stultify our beauty by trying to model ourselves on the images that are set for us by others – the way we think we should look, the way we should feel, the way we should dress, walk and talk.

“If we are to nurture our own particular beauty, we must nourish our bodies with healthy food and drink; nourish our minds with literature, art and good company; nourish our spirits with silence, stillness and prayer. This way we can rid ourselves of anxiety, anger and negativity, and replace them with peace and joy and positive energy.” Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, Gardening the Soul.

In all aspects of our lives today, the pressure to conform is all but overwhelming. It is just not worth the hassle to break conventions of dress, procedures or modes of thought in our places of work. At home at our leisure we are constantly drawn into the stories of politics, economics and personalities as they are presented to us by the electronic media. Even the seemingly spontaneous informality of Facebook and the like has its codes and conventions, offering the illusion of freedom. But it is all illusion. With our iPads and mobiles we are everywhere – and nowhere.
It is, perhaps, through children that we catch glimpses of the truth. As their bodies, minds and spirits are crammed into the classroom of electronic gadgetry the whistle blows – but nobody takes any notice. As parents and grandparents, who dares to hint at the possibility of saying “NO!” on behalf of the child’s future quality of life?
To be free is to claim the right not to conform. But to claim that right one needs more than a passing sense of unease.

To find out why things are the way they are, see the New Home Economics Study Guide (forthcoming).

Monday, 20 August 2012

On William Cobbett

By seeming chance, last year I came upon William Cobbett’s A History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland. It completely changed my understanding of the political economy of the twenty-first century. Although written in the 1820s, apparently on the subject of the religious changes following from the reign of Henry VIII, it is in fact an economic history of the Agrarian and Industrial Revolutions of the modern era. In turn, seeming chance led Cobbett, in his early youth, to study read Swift’s Tale of a Tub. At that time, two centuries ago, the enduring relationship between faith positions and political economy was more clearly understood. This is what Chesterton had to say in his 1926 biography of Cobbett:

“The critics were all wrong about Cobbett. I mean they were especially wrong about what he represented. Cobbett was not what they have always represented him as being; not even what they have always praised him as being. Cobbett was not merely a wrong-headed fellow with a knack of saying the right word about the wrong thing. Cobbett was not merely an angry and antiquated old farmer who thought the country must be going to the dogs because the whole world was not given over to the cows. Cobbett was not merely a man with a lot of nonsensical notions that could be exploded by political economy; a man looking to turn England into an Eden that should grow nothing but Cobbett’s Corn. What he saw was not an Eden that cannot exist but rather an Inferno that can exist, and even that does exist. What he saw was the perishing of the whole English power of self-support, the growth of cities that drain and dry up the countryside, the growth of dense dependent populations incapable of finding their own food, the toppling triumph of machines over men, the sprawling omnipotence of financiers over patriots, the herding of humanity in nomadic masses whose very homes are homeless, the terrible necessity of peace and the terrible probability of war, all the loading up of our little island like a sinking ship; the wealth that may mean famine and the culture that may mean despair; the bread of Midas and the sword of Damocles. In a word, he saw what we see, but he saw it when it was not there. And some cannot see it – even when it is here.” (William Cobbett by G.K. Chesterton, p5).

That was written nearly a century ago. And still, to this very day, Cobbett is dismissed as a dreamer longing for a bygone age that never was, rather than the prophetic figure of the times to come, if the trends he noted towards resignation of the powers of self-determination to the powers-that-be were to continue apace.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Working for Godot

 A series of pictures of a brand new prison gave rise recently to comparisons between the prison environment and that of the workplace.

In Prison you spend the majority of your time in a 10X10 cell.

At Work you spend the majority of your time in an 6X6 cubicle/office.

In Prison you get three meals a day fully paid for.

At Work you get a break for one meal and you have to pay for it

In Prison you get time off for good behaviour.

At work you get more work for good behaviour.

In Prison the guard locks and unlocks all the doors for you.

At Work you must often carry a security card and open all the doors for yourself.

In Prison you can watch TV and play games.

At Work you could get fired for watching TV and playing games.

In Prison all expenses are paid by the taxpayers with no work required.

At Work you get to pay all your expenses to go to work, and they deduct taxes from your salary to pay for prisoners.

In Prison you spend most of your life inside bars wanting to get out.

At Work you spend most of your time wanting to get out and go inside bars.

In Prison you must deal with sadistic wardens.

At Work they are called line managers.

When one considers that “Poverty, wars and environmental desecration continue unchecked because people are paid to produce those results” (Blog motto, top right hand of screen), one must ask WHY do people voluntarily enter into contracts of employment?

It would seem we are all content to continue working for Godot, beyond rhyme or reason.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Government Explained

Every day a barrage of information pours into our homes and workplaces via the internet. Some of it is trustworthy. However, a great deal of the informal news is suspect. The following was sent on a circular message from a trusted source in Australia, but I cannot vouch for the set-up from which it originates.

The video is about an inquisitive alien who visits the planet to check on our progress as a species. He gets into a conversation with the first person he meets. The alien discovers that we live under the rule of a thing called "government", and wants to understand more about what "government" is, what it does, and why it exists.

Quite thought-provoking, and highly discussable.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Real Economics versus Finance

The Question
Some time ago a colleague asked me to spell out, clearly and simply, the difference between Social Credit and Monetary Reform. To which I gave the following answer: To every difficult and complicated question there is an answer which is simple, easy to understand – and wrong. Nevertheless, after long deliberation, I think I may be able to give a better response.  

The Answer
Social credit theory draws a clear distinction between the real economy and the financial economy. Since there is no necessary, i.e., proven or scientifically established, relationship between the two, it follows that reform of the money system will not, on its own account, result in reform of the real economy.


Although the answer is not wrong, it may be difficult to understand. So steeped are we in the ways of the world as we are taught in schools, colleges and the experiences of everyday life, that it is difficult to sift fact from pure fiction. The fact is, there are two economies, the real economy and the financial economy. When we are told by the news media that ‘the economy’ is doing well, it means that the financial economy is doing well. Hence we are led to assume that the real economy is doing well, when it may well be doing very badly indeed.

The real economy consists of all the goods and services available to humanity within a given area on the earth’s surface, in a town, a county, a province, a country or the world as a whole. Material goods produced for sale on the market form a part of the real economy. But they form only a small part of the real economy as a whole, an economy which comprises the land, the seas, the sky, the rainfall, the minerals under the earth, and all plant, animal and human life forms. Although the real economy can exist without the financial economy, the reverse does not hold true.

The financial economy is the money-value economy. It accounts only those things which are exchanged for money. Thus the gifts of nature, the forest trees, the growing plants, the sunlight, have no value unless or until they come into the supply chain of the financial economy. Two curious facts follow from this. Firstly, the financial economy fails to take into account the existence of certain goods and services vital to its survival. These include not only the gifts of nature, enormous in themselves, but also the vast swathes of the labour of human hand, eye and brain which falls outside market forces. And secondly, the financial economy does put a high money value on certain ‘financial products’ which have no real value whatsoever.

Monetary reform which does not reform our understanding of the true relationship between the real and the financial economies is a waste of time and can only result in frustration.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Abortions on Labour Wards –the Law

News, Midwives must take charge of abortion says court
29 February 2012: Judgment was handed down today in the case of two senior midwives from Glasgow who have a conscientious objection to working to procure abortions. The midwives have been told that they must accept the decision of their hospital management that they must oversee other midwives performing abortions on the labour ward.

From website of Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child.

Note also SPUC's recent campaigb to publicise the nature and extent of sex education in junior schools.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Peter Maurin Industrialism

How much more significant is the comment of Robert Lewis Stevenson (1850-94) on education than when he originally wrote it before the end of the nineteenth century, or even when Peter Maurin quoted it before the mid-twentieth century.

by Peter Maurin, Catholic Worker, 1946

It Started With England

Lenin said:
“The world cannot be
half industrial
and half agricultural.”
Lenin made the mistake
of industrializing Russia.
Lenin industrialized Russia
because the Japanese
industrialized Japan.
The Japanese industrialized Japan
because the Americans
industrialized America.
The Americans industrialized America
because the Germans
industrialized Germany.
The Germans industrialized Germany
because the English
industrialized England.
It started with England.

A Few Englishmen

R. H. Tawney said
that the Englishmen wear blinkers.
Because they wear blinkers
the Englishmen
lack vision.
Because they lack vision
the Englishmen
are very strong
for supervision.
And supervision
is not a substitute
for vision.
A few Englishmen
got rid of their blinkers.
Among the Englishmen
who got rid of their blinkers
one can name:
William Cobbett,
John Ruskin,
William Morris,
Arthur Penty,
Hilaire Belloc,
G. K. Chesterton,
Eric Gill.
The best of all
is Eric Gill.

Legalized Usury

“The sex problem,
the marriage problem,
the crime problem,
the problem of armaments
and international trade,
all those problems
could be solved
if we would recognize
the necessity
of abolishing
trade in money,
and especially
the international trade in money;
that is to say,
the usury,
the legalized usury,
practiced by the banks
under the protection
of their charters
with the support
of the so-called
orthodox economists.
That is the first thing
to be recognized.”

God and Mammon

Christ says:
“The dollar you have
is the dollar you give
to the poor
for My sake.”
The banker says:
“The dollar you have
is the dollar
you lend me
for your sake.”
Christ says:
“You cannot
serve two masters,
God and Mammon.”
“You cannot,
and all our education
is to try to find out
how we can
serve two masters,
God and Mammon,”
says Robert Louis Stevenson.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Hollie Demands Justice

Robert Green Case 

For the latest news on this fight for human rights see:

and try to attend the High Court, The Strand, London on March 2nd, for the Robert Green Case.

The same case is set within the civil liberties scene:

WARNING: This is highly disturbing material on the evaporation of human rights and civil liberties in the United Kingdom. One can walk away and forget it. Or take action.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Cash Free Economy?

The Citizens’ Advice Bureaus nationally are raising the question – how do you access your cash if you have no bank account? The Survey, conducted on the internet, asks “How do you access cash?” - if you don’t have a bank, building society or post office card account?

“The information you provide will help us to work to ensure everyone can access their own money quickly, easily and cheaply.”

Now that that the Post Office is summarily closing its Easy Access Savings Account facility, the only readily available access to cash, i.e., to notes and coins of the realm, may be through a single banker’s card. This could have profound implications for constitutional rights. Is the cashless carbon currency economy only just around the corner?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Judge Napolitano and the USA Constitution

Judge Napolitano is one of the most articulate and powerful anti-establishment speakers in the USA. An overt supporter of Ron Paul, he has been dismissed from Fox Business following this speech, which he gave on air.   

This second speech ends with the statement that “When the people fear the government, you have tyranny: when the government fears the people you have freedom.”

Brilliantly presented.

For solid constitutional facts see Share the Inheritance by David Abbott and Catherine Glass, and the work of Clifford Hugh Douglas on

Friday, 10 February 2012

The Grey Gentlemen (2)

The Grey Gentlemen (2)

Today we work for, and consume through, a financial system from which real money has been eliminated. Nobody has any time any more, because nobody has any money. All money comes from officially recorded sources. Wages and salaries come from an officially registered employer, while pensions and benefits are paid into registered accounts. Sums of ‘money’ which appear to be registered in cash terms – a pound, euro or dollar – can be paid into savings accounts, and the results withdrawn through a bank. But it is becoming exceptionally difficult for a citizen - as a citizen, not as an employee or ‘owner’ of an officially registered organization – to acquire money from trading or casual work, and to pay that money into a bank account or building society as cash.

As citizens, we no longer control money/legal tender/that which must by law be accepted in settlement of debt. Of course, we can still go to a hole-in-the-wall and take out cash. But where else can cash be obtained? A quibble? The NS&I has just announced out of the blue that it is closing the Easy Access Savings Account on 27 July 2012. In answer to the question, “What if I still want to use an account at a branch or with a cash card?” with the bald statement: “We’re sorry, but from 27 July 2012 NS&I will no longer have any savings accounts that you can use at Post Office branches or with a cash card, so you may want to consider …”

What the options boil down to is that ‘money’ can ONLY be paid in to an account from which you can draw CASH, if it comes from an official source, i.e., some other bank account. It is being made increasingly difficult to put in or take out cash. Our ‘money’ is reduced to blips on computer screens. Yes, we can manoeuver those blips. But only according to the rules of a pre-determined game. We are selling our TIME, our land, our heritage, to the ‘Grey Gentlemen’, to the Machine, to Big Brother. How long before it becomes impossible to accept cash for garden produce, second-hand items, a little cleaning, baby-minding or gardening? Who is making the rules?  

Stories like Michael Ende’s Momo (also translated as The Grey Gentlement) may lead us out of the spellbinding maze of the present social order, if enough of us read them, and share them with others.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Grey Gentlemen (1)

 The Grey Gentlemen (1)

"What we would like to do is change the world - make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended for them to do..." (Dorothy Day)

The story of The Grey Gentlemen by Michael Ende is the story of Momo, the mysterious child who mysteriously puts things right when the rest of the world has sold itself to Satan.  Written in German in 1973, it has been translated into several languages, reprinted several times, and made into a film. The following review was published in 2001:

Michael Ende
Reviewed by Sarah Meador in Rambles, 2001

Michael Ende's The Neverending Story is rightly famous as work of fantastic literature. Unfortunately, his other work is almost forgotten. In the case of Momo, there may be a reason. It's easy and popular to give lip service to the idea of imagination, after all, but who wants to be against efficiency?
Like Ende's more famous work, Momo creates myth out of a modern concerns: the duties of life are multiplying, and everyone's trying to find ways to save their precious time. The grey men of the Time Bank offer their customers just that -- a chance to save time, even accrue interest on it. It's easy enough to cut out all the unnecessary diversions of the day, for what purpose do time-consuming distractions like friends, long meals, entertainment or children truly serve? Thrifty timesavers are promised a return of several lifetimes over if they can just be practical for a few years, and none of the converted timesavers realize how their time seems to be disappearing faster the more they save, or how much else in their lives is disappearing with their lost hours.
The only threat to the success of the men in gray is the children, especially a girl named Momo. Time is the only form of wealth children truly have, and they use it too well to try and save it But even the children are soon trapped in the timesaver's world, shuttled into "child depots" where they learn to be effective, timesaving citizens. Only Momo is left free. She has help, from a strange entity and a tortoise, and she has her own special power: that of listening. With only these slim aids, she must save the world, and she has only one hour to do it.
Ende showed his skill at world building in The Neverending Story, and Momo's world is no less rich and fantastic. But the town Momo lives in is like our own, or one we used to know. Its citizens are like family, and even the most fantastic locations may after all be just around the one corner we never thought to explore. The conventions of the timesaver movement are daily realities, from the rush-through diners to the child depots so familiar to anyone ever caught by the school "efficiency" movement. Momo herself lives very squarely in the old suspended world of childhood, where the important things are clearly defined but reality easily reshaped.
The most impressive aspect of Momo's story is how hard it is not believe in. Anyone who has complained about the pace of modern life will find it hard to laugh off the idea of the men in grey, and may soon be slowing down on purpose to frustrate their cold plans. This is only natural. Momo's gift, after all, is to help people take back their time.

In our world today, it is blatantly apparent that nobody has any time. Children, their parents, friends, colleagues, grandparents, all are locked into a system which deprives them of their time. It is, amazingly, four decades since Michael Ende foretold the present plight of humanity if warnings and signs of the times were not heeded. We kept right on working for a financial system which took our lives because it was beyond our comprehension, and hence beyond our control. (To be continued … )

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Social Interaction More powerful than Rules

Social Interaction More powerful than Rules

Imagine what would happen if you took down road signs and traffic signals. More accidents would surely result, or at least significant confusion and slower traffic. Or would it? The surprising thing is that a number of cities around the world have actually done this, and experienced dramatic declines in traffic accidents.

The idea is based on an urban design philosophy known as “shared space.” When drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists are forced to develop their own natural ways of interacting with each other, goes the thinking, they work out better read more

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Protest at Protesters

Protesting at the injustices of the socio-economic system under which we live has almost become a way of life. Whether we take to the streets, or merely mutter imprecations under our breath, the sense of malaise is endemic. Yet the commentators or analysts rarely get to the heart of the matter. Decades ago, Peter Maurin (1877-1949), co-founder of the Catholic Worker, wrote:

Modern society has made the bank account the standard of values.
When this happens, the banker has the power.
When the banker has the power, the technician has to supervise the making of profits.
When the banker has the power, the politician has to assure law and order in the profit-making system.
When the banker has the power, the clergyman is expected to bless the profit-making system or join the unemployed.
When the banker has the power, the Sermon on the Mount is declared impractical.
When the banker has the power, we have an acquisitive, not a functional, society.[1]

Peter Maurin’s “Easy Essays” are freely available to be quoted “for the greater honour and glory of God and the furtherance of the lay apostolate to which the author’s life was devoted”.

[1] Quoted in Far East: Magazine of the Columban Missionaries, December 2010.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Hollie Demands Justice

If you follow this link, you will find a story that needs to be followed up by all who would defend constitutional rights in the UK:

Perhaps you can get to tomorrow's hearing at Stonehaven Court?

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Fighting Like the Flowers

Fighting the Sexual Revolution – is it Possible to?

In autumn last year I shared a platform with Judith Reisman, bought her book Sexual Sabotage, and reviewed it in the Winter 2011 issue of The Social Crediter, at . Later in the year Dr. Reisman addressed the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) in London: see
In her lectures, Dr  Reisman introduces a host of complex, inter-related issues, each of which requires study and thought. For the parents and grandparents of today, Judith Reisman’s work is essential reading, revealing as it does an alarming agenda which would otherwise pass us by.

However, so alarming is this information that it could leave us feeling helpless and disempowered. What, after all, can we personally, as individuals, do to protect youngsters from the onslaught to which they are currently subjected from infancy to adolescence?

Far from just happening, the sexual revolution has been deliberately engineered, backed by solid financial interests since the 1940s. A materialistic ‘brave new world’ is the result, where personal gratification over-rules not only morality, poetry and literature, but also all rights of citizenship and responsibilities of parenthood. Poetry is for sissies – real men play football, and expect sex on demand. We cannot fight this with a barrage of moral teaching, still less can we put the clock back. Rather, it is necessary to look in unexpected places for the signs of a new spring. Quietly, underneath it all, something is happening. Over the past century certain men and women have sown vital seeds for the future. If each individual seeks, they may well be surprised to find nuggets of pure gold.

In this quest I was reminded of the work of men and women who have faced challenges in amazing ways. For a random example, the autobiography of Lawrence D Hills, entitled Fighting Like the Flowers, makes reference to the scientific work of Henry Doubleday and Rachel Carson in challenging the pharmaceutical, military- industrial complex by presenting sane alternatives. We need to turn from action packed desperate reactions to the so-well-documented specific ills, ranging from 9/11 mysteries, through GM crops, sexual sabotage, nuclear and financial meltdowns, in order to see how individuals can enable the desert to bloom as in Sekem .

Peter Maurin, synthesiser of history, based his teachings on ‘Cult, Culture and Cultivation’ (see blog entry for Friday 2 December 11). Stanley Vishnewski explains:

“By Cult, Peter meant the Liturgical Cycle of the Church with its yearly cycle of festivals and ceremonials.
“By Culture, Peter meant the cultivation of the mind through the study of literature and the great classics.  
“By Cultivation Peter meant the return to the soil through the establishment of Community Life in a strongly individualistic society.”

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Raw Milk Supplies

A news item in a recent edition of the Yorkshire Post (3 January 2012) carries the information that people have been queuing to buy unpasteurised milk from a newly-opened dispensing machine at Selfridges in London. The milk is delivered in a stainless steel tank which slots into the machine. Customers can buy a bottle to fill at a cost of £3.50 a litre or £2 for half a litre. The machine comes from Italy, where there are hundreds like it. The idea is also popular in France.

Steve Hook, the Kent farmer who runs the machine sells thousands of pints per week all over the country from his organic herd of Holstein Friesians, through a courier service. The minimum mail-order delivery is six pints for £13.40.

Mr. Hook said: “We started selling raw milk in 2007. We now sell about 1,800 pints to local doorsteps and about 3,000 all around England and Wales and most of Scotland, plus about 1,000 pints, and cream and butter, at four farmers’ markets at the weekend.”  

The Yorkshire Post article, entitled “Expensive raw milk sales put law into question” continues: “The Food Standard Agency commented: ‘The current controls are intended to ensure an appropriate balance between public health protection and consumer choice.'
“The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency have asked Selfridges for further information on their sale of raw milk and discussions are continuing.
“ 'Pasteurisation kills dangerous bugs such as E.coli, TB and salmonella, that may be present in raw milk. This is why there are strict rules.’
“A Selfridges spokesman said: ‘We have been through all this with the Food Standards Agency already and we are confident we have good answers to their questions.’
“Mr. Hook said: “I think the law is about right. Our milk has to meet certain standards before we can sell it raw. And people are entitled to a choice.’”

See  (note lateral thinking on wider issues of food, farming and society, e.g., )

The issues surrounding consumption of pasteurised milk are introduced on:

Readers familiar with the issues surrounding raw milk will be aware that EU law has restricted sales of raw milk as part of a world-wide campaign to control food supplies by denying customer choice on grounds of ‘health and safety’ being for-your-own-good.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


Yesterday, someone in deep despair reminded me of this text. Although it has been around for decades. Yet it is as fresh as ever as Christmas ends and we move on through the New Year.


People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centred,

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives,

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies,

The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow,

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable,

What you spent years building may be destroyed overnight,

People really need help but may attack you if you help them,

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth,