#137: Malice in Wonderland


“Show me a man who can join in a laugh at his own expense,” says a character in Nicolas Blake’s 1940 novel Malice in Wonderland “and [you] show me one of nature’s gentlemen”. Blake’s writing often hits the spot – not surprisingly, perhaps, since ‘Nicholas Blake’ was the pseudonym of poet laureate Cecil Day-Lewis – and I hope that my experiences over the last week or so pass this particular test. Laughing, as the saying goes, was the only alternative to tears.

Though few articles here are composed in the first person, what follows necessarily runs from the personal to the general. Whilst the “wonderland” of the title refers to the island where I live, the “malice” has no human agency, referring instead to the workings of the weather, and of inanimate objects.

This story begins with an inanimate object – recognition that my computer, which gets extremely heavy use, was in the process of falling to bits. Its replacement having arrived, I set aside last Saturday for installation, only to discover that the new machine was faulty, and required return and replacement.

So far, so bad, but much worse was to come. On Sunday, the temperature here dropped from a balmy 25°C to an unseasonal 11°, accompanied both by torrential rain and by winds which, over the coming week, were seldom to fall below gale force. Midway through that morning, a tornado took out a key part of the electricity distribution system, leaving most of the island without power. By Tuesday, the authorities had installed generators in some of the main conurbations, though even this was hardly trouble-free, with several of the generators reportedly bursting into flames, apparently under stress of excessive demand.

Obviously enough, this event denied me, not just light and power, but music, hot water, computing and hobbies. Things didn’t end there, though. Water supplies failed through lack of pumping, and even the front gates remained shut until I could figure out how to open them manually. First task after that was to find out which, if any, shops (one) and restaurants (none) had backup power supplies. The presence of mind of one bar-owner enabled locals to revel in Barcelona’s 5-1 annihilation of Real Madrid, though this generator didn’t extend to hot drinks, let alone meals. Fuel in cars had to be used sparingly, because lack of power shut down the filling stations.

Put simply, normal life ground to an almost complete halt. Almost all business and official premises remained shut, depriving the public of postal, banking and most other services. Loss of internet connection deprived me of contact with the outside world. I didn’t miss television (since I never watch it), but I did miss my music, my DVDs, my books, and working on my latest project (a 1/72nd exact scale model of a Type 12 frigate). All that one could really do was to eat snacks, fight an impending cold with soluble vitamin C, sit around in the cold darkness – and think.

Since I’ve contended for very many years that the economy is an energy system with an artificial financial adjunct, I should have been less surprised than most at the near cessation of all normal activity by the simple interruption to the supply of electricity. Even so, the lesson taught by this event was the sheer totality, and the rapidity, too, with which the absence of energy brings normal life to a halt.

Let’s, then, summarise the predicament of the population of the island during the power hiatus. The immediate effects were loss of domestic electricity supply (and, with it, light, power, cooking facilities, refrigeration, water supply and communications). In the business sector, activities in almost all categories ceased, most obviously including financial services, retailing, distribution and the supply of energy. Most aspects of government, including administration, revenue raising, defence, policing, health care and social services, seem to have kept going, but only by courtesy of generators.

The nearest generator to me had to be refuelled at intervals of between five and six hours. This particular generator was kept supplied with fuel by tankers small enough to negotiate some very narrow streets, and generators sited in broader thoroughfares might have been serviced by larger vehicles, extending the resupply interval somewhat. Presumably, the generating capacity itself was supplied, by sea, either from the mainland or from a much larger neighbouring island, neither of which was affected by the outage.

Ultimately, three factors made the situation survivable. First, the community here has particularly strong social cohesion. Second, the loss of power was always known to be temporary, and unlikely to extend for as much as a week. Third, and critically, outside help was available, because the power loss was strictly localised to most of one small island.

It doesn’t take much imagination, though, to picture what might have ensued if none of these favourable conditions had prevailed. Even with outside support, the duration over which anything approximating to normality would prove sustainable is strictly limited – and this brief and incomplete sustenance of normality could not have happened had the rest of the country been affected simultaneously. It takes little imagination, either, to envisage the erosion of social cohesion had neither limited duration nor nearby support characterised the outage.

Let’s be quite clear about this. If energy supply is cut off, and is cut off in way that is of unknowable duration, and for which there is no outside help, economic and other normal life ceases to be possible.

Could money solve this problem? Well, if you will, imagine that, whilst unable to offer physical succour, Madrid or Barcelona had been able to supply the island with money – you might even picture airdrops of bank notes by the air force, or the delivery of millions of euros by naval auxiliaries. You will appreciate that this purely financial support would have had absolutely no positive effect on the situation. All that it might, conceivably, have achieved would have been to trigger massive inflation, with more money chasing an extremely small supply of goods and services.

Let’s be clear that weather-related outages like the one experienced here are not going to deprive even a sizeable national economy of energy, and neither are we, in any meaningful sense, going to “run out of” energy. There are, though, two very real threats which we should consider.

The first of these is a simple inability to purchase energy, even if global supplies remain generally accessible. This is what happens to an economy if the value of its currency collapses. Picture, if you will, a country relying on imported energy (or, for that matter, imported food, itself an energy product), and imagine that the country’s currency experiences a sudden 75% fall in its international value. What this means is that the local cost of energy has quadrupled. A variation on this theme is a situation in which the country’s currency ceases to be acceptable to foreign suppliers, who perhaps see reason to question its viability. Both scenarios are distinctly possible, given the sheer scale of credit and monetary risk adopted, as a sequential matter of policy, over the period since the late 1990s.

The second (and likelier) scenario involves an erosion of surplus energy, a situation which arises when, within any given quantity of accessible energy, the amount available for all purposes other than energy supply itself becomes squeezed by a rise in ECoE (the energy cost of energy). We don’t have to imagine this scenario, because it’s already happening – according to SEEDS, world ECoE has now risen to the point where global average prosperity per person is in decline.

Thus far, we’ve done a pretty good job of collective and official denial over this reality. We have poured huge amounts of debt – and, latterly, of cheap money as well – into the system in order to retain a misleading semblance of economic normality. We’ve told ourselves, along the lines of a bedtime story for frightened children, that renewables will rescue us from the economic and environmental follies of burning up fossil fuels at the maximum rate possible, heedless of the future.

In short, what happened here this week may, in itself, have been a freak occurrence – but it is no less unreal than the stories we tell ourselves about infinite growth on a finite planet.



272 thoughts on “#137: Malice in Wonderland

  1. Sunburst of Light
    Check out

    See the talk by Zach Bush, MD about the innate healing capacity of the human/ bacteria/ fungi/ virus system. Pay particular attention to the thriving populations of voles and wolves at Chernobyl. Bush’s message is that it is imperative that we reconnect humans with the natural system which is perfectly capable of healing chronic diseases (in most cases). If we don’t do it, then chronic diseases will continue to increase and we may see one out of three children born autistic within the next couple of decades.

    This is not at all the message that Mcfadden and Al-Khalili tell. Let me be clear. I strongly recommend that if you don’t know much about quantum physics, McFadden and Al-Khalili are an excellent place to start. But where I come out is that awe and appreciation of how nature already does it (in the absence of screwing up by humans) is the main gift. Thinking that we are going to manufacture nanobots operating with quantum principles to clean up arteries from eating bad food may solve one problem, but is likely to be expensive and also generate collateral damage. All the discussion about the multiple harmful effects of glyphosate should be abundant evidence on that score.

    Near the end of Bush’s talk, he refers to fusion and fission happening inside plant cells. This syncs with McFadden and Khalili, at least in general terms, because one of the miracles of photosynthesis is that the plants are able to maintain quantum coherence at room temperature in a noisy environment long enough for biological events at Newtonian scales to happen. One key is that inside the cell we are talking angstrom distances. Thus, a little bit of electricity is able to have a tremendous effect. It’s not at all like a nuclear power plant a hundred miles away. The general principle is that anything which can be accomplished by the elemental processes of respiration and photosynthesis are vastly more efficient than industrial substitutes.

    Dr. Bush leaves us with a good taste in our mouths. Grow or buy a head of cabbage and ferment it at home. A couple of spoonfuls before each meal and your life will change for the better.

    Don Stewart

    • The nano-bots for health and Utopia people might as well be on crack cocaine: the system which supports such experimentation is itself heading for collapse.

      What are the thoughts on cider vinegars these days, Don?

      I noticed the Romans that their armies fell ill in large numbers if deprived of vinegar,and it was regarded as an essential military supply.

  2. I know this if OT but just finished watch the Peter Jackson documentary ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’. It’s astonishing and brings the past to the present.

    The conversion of grainy jerky black and white film of the first World war to full colour with smooth frame rates is astounding. The film itself is a stark warning of the folly of war with both the human and economic costs highlighted.


    • There’s an excellent film on Youtube ‘The Somme , then and now’, which splices original film from 1916 with shots of the same locations today.

      Very moving for anyone who had relations there – as most in Britain will.

    • Thanks I’ll have a look. The mud around the trenches was lethal if you fell into it – a form of quicksand if you like.

      Trench warfare must have been pure hell for the soldiers .

    • Thanks – quite a few of my forebears were at the Somme.

      Though opinions about this are divided, I continue to believe that Britain could have won the war using the blockade alone.

      Typical calorie intake in Germany was reduced to 1000 per person per day, whereas the normal adult needs 2000. Whilst estimates of loss of life caused by this range from 420,000 to 600,000, this doesn’t capture the broader effects of malnutrition, reduced work output and impact on morale.

      I’ve never understood why my forebears had to die on – and, in at least one case, beneath – the fields of Flanders when the blockade might have done the job.. Lord Fisher’s plan to “Copenhagen ” the High Seas Fleet before a declaration of war might have worked, too, worsening the hopelessness of the German sense of their plight under the blockade.

      Of course, the whole war itself was an exercise in insanity.

    • “Brexit” reminds me increasingly of the definition that “a camel is a horse designed by a committee”.

      That’s not much more one can say about the sheer folly of how this process is being bungled – after all, the Czechs and the Slovaks managed to turn one republic into two in just six months. If “Brexit” is to happen, then those charged with implementing it ought at least to be people who believe in it. Would anyone put a soccer legend in charge of a rugger team?

      Meanwhile, unnoticed behind the “Brexit” bluster from both sides, the economy is crumbling. This is happening, too, at a time when the global situation is worsening. It’s interesting that the FAANG stocks are falling, market as well as policy rates are rising, and support from debt-financed stock buy-backs seems to have evaporated.

    • Hi Tim

      I think you’re right about crumbling. There’s an interesting article by Ambrose Evans- Pritchard in the DT about how the French are now openly calling for a European empire to save the project, recognising that the EU economy may be on the cusp of a downturn and that this will imperil the survival of the Euro. To propose the construction of an anti democratic empire to save a dysfunctional project seems to me to encapsulate both hubris and insanity at the same time.


    • Two thoughts about “Brexit”.
      1). The aim was to go for a “hard Brexit” all along, but the government could not come out and say that directly, so they put some Fudge in charge of “Negotiations”, to wither away 2-years in slobbering about nothing, and then spring the Hard Brexit” upon the UK public, telling them it was all the fault of the big bad EU who refused to negotiate.
      “Brexit” is not going to happen. ( well BINO if anything )
      The government is stalling for time, and softening up the UK for a second referendum on the subject.

    • @Johan

      1. I can’t see this. If that were the case then “no deal” wouldn’t have been the subject of Project Fear and the preparations would have been much more in evidence. I think there has been a desire for a deal all through but the civil service and the diplomatic corps are, I would imagine, largely “remainers” and would be fronting the futile shenanigans we have seen. I don’t fear no deal and I believe it is potentially the best option for a clean break.

      2. I think it will happen and I agree it could be BINO. As for there being a second referendum I have my doubts.

      If we get either BINO or a second referendum there will be ructions amongst the populace at the betrayal that these would represent and could unleash some quite unsavoury forces.

      Frankly what concerns me is that the tectonic plates within the EU are starting to shift. If we get an economic downturn and financial crash, both inevitable in my view, then this is really going to put the pressure on the EZ and its totally inadequate structure and this, together with rising populist sentiment, is going to open some quite substantial fissures in the edifice.

  3. Spent fuel ponds is one modern horseman…. here’s another:

    Soil that is farmed using petro-chemical inputs — will support no crop once the additives are stopped – without years of intensive rejuvenation involving organic inputs

    Effect of Pesticides on soil fertility (beneficial soil microorganisms)

    Heavy treatment of soil with pesticides can cause populations of beneficial soil microorganisms to decline. According to the soil scientist Dr. Elaine Ingham, “If we lose both bacteria and fungi, then the soil degrades. Overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides have effects on the soil organisms that are similar to human overuse of antibiotics.

    Indiscriminate use of chemicals might work for a few years, but after awhile, there aren’t enough beneficial soil organisms to hold onto the nutrients” (Savonen, 1997). For example, plants depend on a variety of soil microorganisms to transform atmospheric nitrogen into nitrates, which plants can use. Common landscape herbicides disrupt this process: triclopyr inhibits soil bacteria that transform ammonia into nitrite (Pell et al., 1998); glyphosate reduces the growth and activity of free-living nitrogen-fixing bacteria in soil (Santos and Flores, 1995) and 2,4-D reduces nitrogen fixation by the bacteria that live on the roots of bean plants (Arias and Fabra, 1993; Fabra et al., 1997), reduces the growth and activity of nitrogen-fixing blue-green algae (Singh and Singh, 1989; Tözüm-Çalgan and Sivaci-Güner, 1993), and inhibits the transformation of ammonia into nitrates by soil bacteria (Frankenberger et al., 1991, Martens and Bremner, 1993).

    Mycorrhizal fungi grow with the roots of many plants and aid in nutrient uptake. These fungi can also be damaged by herbicides in the soil. One study found that oryzalin and trifluralin both inhibited the growth of certain species of mycorrhizal fungi (Kelley and South, 1978). Roundup has been shown to be toxic to mycorrhizal fungi in laboratory studies, and some damaging effects were seen at concentrations lower than those found in soil following typical applications (Chakravarty and Sidhu, 1987; Estok et al., 1989). Triclopyr was also found to be toxic to several species of mycorrhizal fungi (Chakravarty and Sidhu, 1987) and oxadiazon reduced the number of mycorrhizal fungal spores (Moorman, 1989).


    Organic inputs will be hard to come by considering nothing can be grown – and most if not all animals are killed and eaten.

    Less than 1% of all farmland globally is farmed organically.

    Get ready to starve. No matter where you are:

    https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/08/which-countries-have-the-most-organic-agricultural-land/ (note – most organic land in Australia is rubbish and supports sheep only)

    • A great deal of fuss is being made these days about ‘re-wilding’, I read an interview with the Tetra-Pak heiress Lisbet Rausing about this the other day.

      What I’ve noticed, is that these experiments -mostly hobbies of the very, very rich – seem to be carried out on very marginal, low-value land, where in any case, historically, life was incredibly hard and not very desirable.

      Prime land is still being farmed to death industrially or grabbed for concrete fantasies of wealth-creation.

    • The new fashionable veganism also wants to eliminate animal husbandry, the prime source of fertiliser in historic agriculture -very bright move……..

  4. Tim Jackson on Solar and DeGrowth

    Just a couple of points. Jackson points out that the solar energy we receive every day is vastly more significant than energy resources…even at our current breakneck speed of using those resources. He also points out that solar energy is very diffuse.

    In my earlier comments here I made some points about the efficiency of photosynthesis which is enabled by quantum physics and the ability of the plant to maintain quantum coherence long enough and at distances great enough to have an effect in the Newtonian world. I observed that, while overall efficiency of photosynthesis (as it would be measured by a solar electricity farm) is not great, it is nevertheless sufficient to grow a vigorous green cover on all the land which isn’t desert and also in the sea.

    It seems to me that we have two extremes in terms of strategy, with lots of room for mixing and matching. At one extreme, we simply use the biomass that nature provides (16,000 tons per second, I believe) and live within that budget. At the other extreme, we engineer an artificial photosynthesis, probably using quantum physics in the process, but having an overall efficiency much greater than the production of biomass.

    It would be foolish of me to make any dogmatic statements about which course, or mixture, humanity should choose. Seeing the dysfunction which surrounds us, my current favorite is the village model with a biomass processor such as Albert Bates saw in China, which can produce many useful products including biochar and electricity. The Chinese system is modular, and can be adopted incrementally.

    Don Stewart

  5. Kris DeDecker; Circular Economy
    DeDecker’s article should be read as a companion piece to Tim Jackson’s article:

    I think you will understand, but may disagree with, my point that what we actually need to do is move many of our activities from industrial back toward passive solar and photosynthetic. I should also add radiation.

    For example, most of what we build with and most of what we eat should come very directly from photosynthesis. The way we mostly stay warm should be from passive solar and personal insulation devices (e.g., coats). The way we cool ourselves should be from exposing lots of skin to radiate to the cold night sky. If we have one of the Chinese bioreactors, we can use some very valuable electricity to drive very useful devices such as rice cookers, which can cook any grain without the necessity of watching and stirring. If we can manage a battery, we can even have the rice cooker get up well before dawn and have a hot breakfast ready for us.

    The world I have described in that previous paragraph does not lend itself to finance. Debt will be a shackle which prevents adaptation.

    Don Stewart

  6. And Yet A Third Article worth reading to appear in the last couple of days:

    ‘I think that consuming less is the ONLY solution we can take, and within the next decade or two it will be involuntary, since declining oil means less goods can be made and delivered.’

    The ‘art’ of science is sensing what needs to be compared to what else. When we try to do a “Business as Usual in the United States in the Year 2000” compared to a ‘photosynthesis/ passive solar/ radiant cooling’ scenario, we obviously end up concluding that everything is hopeless.

    One the other hand, suppose we compare a ‘photosynthesis/ passive solar/ radiant cooling’ scenario using the best science and technology we can muster against a ‘worst, most ignorant, and poorest village in India in 1950’….then things might get more hopeful. We have to give up notions of ‘to the Stars’, and we probably can’t be squeamish about all the early deaths, but it is just possible that we can imagine a world where we would enjoy helping to raise our grandchildren.

    Don Stewart

    • Jackie
      Thanks for the link. RR has followed most of the rabbits which were going to save us until they reached a dead end. McFadden and Al-Khalili are physicists, and thus are very familiar with thermodynamics. They view the world in 3 layers:
      Quantum physics
      Thermodynamics of gases and liquids
      Newtonian Physics

      They model a stable ship in a Newtonian storm with one that has a keel deep enough to reach down to the quantum world.

      At the present time, I believe the plants can utilize quantum effects vastly more effectively than physicists in laboratories have been able to accomplish. But they seem optimistic that the physicists in laboratories are going to outcompete the plants in the next few decades.

      I’m preparing to live with the quantum partnerships provided by nature.

      Don Stewart

    • Jackie
      Perhaps I should add a little more to my description of Mcfadden and Al-Khalili’s model. While the world of thermodynamics is governed by randomly colliding Newtonian particles under the influence of heat, the underlying quantum world is governed by coherence with randomness arising from quantum tunneling. The quantum world is able to influence even the Newtonian world on Schrodinger’s principle of ‘order from order’. It even turns out that the quantum world is able to use the instabilities of the thermodynamic jostling to provide energy for quantum changes.

      So the quotation by RR of the laws of thermodynamics do not prove that no quantum solution exists.

      (but history suggests we aren’t as smart as billions of years of evolution). (Also, Mcfadden and Al-Khalili say that the question of whether Life discovered how to use quantum physics, or alternatively that quantum physics is just along for the ride, is hotly debated in quantum biology circles.)

      Don Stewart

    • Thanks Don, very helpful and interesting. You may know, but Jim Al Khalili has a very interesting weekly programme on BBC radio, for which he interviews other scientists. I’m going to look back for any historical podcasts on this topic.

  7. Tim very interesting that a blockade could have worked in reducing German moral.

    In general what were the British commanders thinking sending their troops over the top with bayonets at the ready against lethal machine guns. It’s almost as though they had the psychology of warfare from several hundred years previously.

    • There seems strong evidence that Germany was falling apart under the blockade (which, incidentally, Germany cited to justify U-boat attacks on merchant shipping). The German population was malnourished, disease was rife and morale seems to have weakened. The German Fleet mutinied in late 1918, and Germany was wracked by revolution in 1918-19. During and after the war, Germans had to be pressed into farm work, not just the armed forces.

      Germany’s genius on land had no equivalent at sea. The High Command had no inkling that a distant blockade was possible, thinking only in terms of a close blockade which could be countered by swift attacks, concentrating numerical superiority near German ports and eroding the RN in piecemeal attacks.

      If you look at things historically, the reverse applies to the British/English, with a genius for sea warfare not remotely matched on land. At sea, the roll-call runs through Raleigh, Drake, Hawkins, Frobisher, Anson, Howe, Nelson….. there’s nothing equivalent on land. If Napoleon’s army, or Hitler’s, had crossed the Channel, the result would have been a foregone conclusion. In one battle (against the Scots), the English army didn’t even turn up. Much was made of Agincourt, but it wasn’t a major battle. Britain’s best general in the Napoleonic Wars, Wellington, was Irish, and, at Waterloo, his best troops were Germans and Scots. The Crimea was a fiasco, and British Army started the Boer War campaign in scarlet coats.

      My point is that the British should have stuck to sea warfare, certainly the blockade and perhaps doing a ‘Copenhagen’ on the High Seas Fleet, as proposed by Fisher. Instead they let a bunch of idiot generals throw away huge numbers of lives in Flanders.

    • Thanks for reply Tim – I need to look into the economic impact of WW1 in Great Britain.

      I know a fair amount about the impact on Germany.

      Of course some of modern warfare now consists of disinformation (which apparently is a translation of the Russian word dezinformatsiya). Brexit was full of it and I think a recent broadcast on the BBC sum things up in terms of it’s getting more and more difficult to know what the actual truth is.

      So in many ways although we’re better informed about economics – especially the problems of EROEI (which rarely appears in the mainstream press) there’s also much that probably isn’t true (GDP – prosperity etc).

      You will know that when I’ve mention EROEI – debt ridden fracking firms – the decline of prosperity etc in the mainstream press websites – I’ve often been met with hostile responses – yet all the evidence is there.

      Back in the 1970’s I was told to never really trust the press – but now we’ve got 1000’s of websites – posts on popular media platforms all geared up to spread lies and half truths in order to confuse us.

      Also as computers now have the power to adjust videos (look at the alleged assault by a reported on one of Trump’s aids) we can actually change visual recorded history too.

      In the future I would speculate that any video – sound recording – photograph will have to have some form of quantum signature to ensure its not been tampered with.

    • I agree, though I’m not sure how new (in principle) this is. Back in the days of the Tudors, and earlier, weren’t ballad-singers and bards the forebears of spin-doctors and ‘fake news’ peddlars? The importance of the English victory at Agincourt, for instance, was promoted by royal ‘spin-doctors’ from Shakespeare downwards, who even tried to present Harfleur as a triumph. To this day, “every schoolboy knows” about the Spanish Armada, but how many have heard of the English Armada of the following year, an event of comparable magnitude with a very different outcome? It’s worth looking up the Marconi Scandal (1913, I think), and the Profumo case, to remind ourselves of shenanigans swept under the carpet.

      Re. the BBC, it might amuse you to know that just the other day their website carried a link to an article about Waco and cult leader “David Kosher”…..

      More seriously, with SEEDS now showing that global prosperity per capita has turned down off its long plateau, it’s interesting to reflect that the consensus view remains that real “growth” will resume soon, that the financial system is “safer” than it was in 2008, and that “populism” is just some kind of fad. Markets look to me very exposed, notably in the US, where the “tech” stocks are crumbling and share buy-backs are ceasing to support the market. I’m sure Louis XVI and Nicholas II were no more complacent than the current elites.

    • Yes so disinformation – propaganda has been with us for a long time – but when the price of oil starts reaching the stratosphere – or runs out altogether because its price wasn’t high enough for it to be extracted – then it will be one truth that cannot be denied although I’m sure someone will be blamed.

    • I might need to write something about oil prices here, but meantime it’s worth remembering that any given price has to be affordable for consumers whilst sufficient to fund producers’ capital and operating costs, and cost of capital. As ECoE rises, the ability to reach a strike price satisfying both is by no means a given.

      Oil might well be left in the ground because producers can’t afford to extract it at a price which consumers can afford to pay. If this happens, we’ll have crossed a major threshold on declining prosperity.

      I remember, when oil prices spiked in the early 2000s, a colleague assuring me that prices must fall back, the principle being consumers “can’t pay, won’t pay” – to which my answer was “can’t pay, won’t pay – walk to work?” Back then, of course, consumers could pay more for energy by going without something else, but that’s ceasing to apply.

      As well as “peak oil [production]”, there’s quite a lot of comment now about “peak [oil] demand”. My preferred take is neither of the above, but “peak oil viability”. If this happens, both supply and demand will fall, because suppliers can’t afford to produce and customers can’t afford to consume. If this happens, it’ll be a consequence of ECoE – and it won’t stop at oil.

    • Yes I remember the ‘Dump the Pump’ campaign in 2000. There were massive queues where I lived (often with no promise of any fuel) but I circumnavigated the problem.

      I purchased one of those booze cruise tickets and went to France. I had very little petrol left and so crept down to Dover at around 55 mph. I was so relieved when I made it to a hypermarket and filled up. I felt like the King of the World when I arrived home with a nearly full tank although I stopped short of doing a fire eating act to show off my new found wealth to my neighbours.

      Regarding oil I wonder how much of the relatively cheap to extract stuff is subsiding the not so cheap.

    • Hi Tim

      I think it’s becoming clearer with every day that passes that we are at the beginning of significant changes in the World economy. There is a palpable slowdown in growth which is compounded by increasing political fissures in the EU in particular ( and I’m not talking about Brexit) and none of this is good news for debt fueled, debt heavy economies, right out of normal monetary policy tools.

      I say “normal” policy tools but if QE is restarted on any scale it will be seen for what it is and I think it will fail quite quickly.

  8. Actually having done some further reading it was the inability of command structures to adapt to modern warfare with much improved weapons and supply lines.

    • Yes – the usual response to wars is to become better at fighting the previous conflict, not the one that actually turns up.

      Also, of course, admirals are usually in the front line, which is why the RN lost Lancelot Holland, Tom Phillips and others in WWII, as well as Hood, Craddock and others in WWI, whereas generals tend to be a long way behind the lines (likewise air marshals). Being in the firing-line might concentrate the mind……

  9. Re “Wellington, was Irish”. Wellington was born in Dublin, but into the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. He considered himself English and once famously said that ” “being born in a stable does not make a man into a horse”.
    Despite what some modern bureaucrats might claim, real nations are based on “jus sanguinis” and not “jus solis”.

    • Wellington was about s English as Lancashire Hot Pot, which is, of course, a dish brought to England by imported Flemish and Dutch clog makers in the 13th century. 🙂

    • real nations are based on “jus culturalis”: think about former yugoslavia: all slav but croatia catholic, serbia ortodox and bosnia muslim.

  10. Of course the Royal Navy had the motivation of prize money, whereas British foot soldiers could only cash in after the occasional successful assault on a city – Badajoz, San Sebastian, etc, and then it was only rape and drink.

    As for the martial merits of English, Scots Welsh, etc, it should be borne in mind that both English and Lowland Scots are Germano-Celts with quite a big dash of Viking. I would say honours are even between those two nations.

    I’ve always admired the tremendous Welsh resistance to the Saxons and Normans, but then they had very difficult, rather barren terrain, on their side which wasn’t rally worth that much effort to conquer, unlike the rich vales of England (rather like the Basque country, in fact). How much happier the Welsh would be today as a pastoral people, and not living among the remnants of a foreign-imposed, polluting, industrialism. ……

    • And just look at those huge castles needed to keep the Welsh in order -that’s the best tribute to them!

  11. Sneering at ‘populism’ and ‘nationalism’ is the greatest error: effectively insulting voters who can feel that everything is on the slide, even if they don’t quite know exactly why.

    As conditions cannot possibly improve, it will not prove effective or adequate as a response.

    But complacent elites do have a way of cutting their own throats: the key factor will be the speed of the disintegration. They can probably keep up this posture for a few years yet, maybe even a decade?

  12. Thanks, I’ll take a look at Scruton. I recently read ‘Berlin Days, 1946-47’ by George Clare, who was born an upper middle -class Viennese Jew and became an ardent Brit.

    Apart from vivid descriptions of the reality of the Occupation of Berlin, where he was involved in de-Nazification, he offers interesting reflections on the ardent German patriotism of the assimilated, educated, Jews murdered by Hitler (his parents and cousins among them) , and on quite what went wrong with the German Romantic Nationalism of the early 19th century.

    Rather sad to note that as a young man he venerated Britain as a bulwark of decency, common sense and competence, in the mad Europe of the 1930’s and 40’s.

    What happened?

    • Re the German patriotism that does reflect on the dangers of Jewish assimilation where the political climate can change and ancient, dormant and irrational feelings are stirred to the point of the ineffable events of the last war. The difference between a Jewish German and a German Jew in which the primacy of religion and nationality is reversed perhaps gives one a strong rationale for a national homeland in order to be free of such tragic changes in fortune.

  13. Scruton’s nation state is a territorial concept, uniting otherwise divergent people under a concept of common law and inherited culture, around geographically defined borders. Scruton sees the nation state as the only institution capable of cementing people of divergent religion and ethnicity; precisely because it subordinates those concepts in favour of a common good; based upon law, cultural tradition and shared need.

    The problem with Scruton’s idea of the pure nation state is that: (1) Common law (certainly in England) is derived from common religious concepts of right and wrong; (2) Common nationhood, in situations where nations survive as long term constructs, has always been tied to some sense of common ethnicity and shared religion based values.

    Nations are strongest when the boundaries of nationhood naturally align with those of the tribe. England and Scotland have difficulty maintaining a common British nation, partly because each represent different legal-territorial concepts; but also because they are home to people of different ethnicities. Northern Ireland is also divided along racial-religious lines.

    With this in mind, given the difficulties that we face in maintaining common nationhood between European peoples that are similar in many respects; what hope is there in creating a common nation that can cement together people from entirely different continents, sharing no common religious, racial or cultural values? Britain is descending into a totalitarian autocracy largely because of the contradictions involved with attempting to do exactly this. Failing to maintain order by common consent and social conscience; the British state is attempting to impose order through mass surveillance and oppression of speech. This is a tacit admission, that common society cannot be maintained by common consent of free citizens exercising free will and agreeing to a common social contract. It is clearly not working in Hungary either. Scruton describes the situation thus:

    ‘Many of the Budapest intelligentsia are Jewish, and form part of the extensive networks around the Soros Empire. People in these networks include many who are rightly suspicious of nationalism’

    The Jews in Hungary apparently despise an ethnically rooted nation-state that they can never be part of. So they have formed what amounts to a permanent fifth column bent towards undermining it. This does not bode well for the sort of secular nation-state that Scruton appears to be advocating.

    • A few thoughts about nation states. Not attempting some grand synthesis.

      *There was an Australian movie a couple of decades ago about WWI. A local community was getting behind the war effort. A local opposed it, saying ‘why should we send our young men to die to feed Britain’s colonial ambitions?’ I haven’t followed the events in Europe celebrating the anniversary of the end of the war, but I suspect few have focused on the ‘end of empire’ aspect. In the movie, one local could clearly see the absurdity of Australians marching to their death to sustain a British Empire. Yet the speaker was hooted down, and the great majority was in favor of sending their boys to die. The idea of fighting The Huns for the Homeland had some sort of magical appeal. One can look at all the grave markers today and ponder the fact that they died to maintain Empires which have all vanished.

      *The strongest ties emerge when people are working together toward common goals. Yet, in the age of global capitalism, the common goals are seldom positive. People may come together to deal with a disaster, as in the California fires, but they will likely not come together to adapt to a more fire-prone future. Texas will come together to lobby the US government for a sea-wall along the Gulf to protect against storm surges, but I think it is doubtful that the various local governments would ever get together and agree to fund it. Much less contribute to a sea wall to protect Bangladesh.

      *A military threat by any organized band can promote the temporary strengthening of ties. A good example can be seen in the movie Seven Samurai. The villagers, the bandits, and the samurai do not naturally work close together. The bandits are driven into close collaboration by the opportunity to loot the village, which requires military cooperation. The samurai are driven into close collaboration because the bandits outnumber them and also have guns, and the samurai must rely on the unskilled labor of the villagers. The villagers spend a lot of time squabbling, but are united by the very real aggression of the bandits.

      There were some excellent French movies made both during WWII and after exploring the complicated relationship between the occupiers and the occupied. Le Corbeau was made during the war, and is a cynical tale of all the villagers informing on each other. One of the French actresses who lived with a German officer said, ‘My heart is French, but my ass is international’. There was a movie made after the war (whose title escapes me) which portrays the Resistance as fighting among themselves as much as against the Germans.

      In the US, as late as the mid-1960s, we were taught that the way to motivate soldiers was their comrades. Forget patriotism. You and the others in your platoon have to survive against the (Germans, Japanese, Italians, Russians, Viet-Namese, etc.) There was cynicism about the ‘gung ho’ individuals.

      So what is a nation-state supposed to accomplish, in the absence of a direct military threat? If it is to ensure a prosperous retirement, the outlook is pretty grim. If a nation-state is required to ensure that national industries remain national, then global capitalism has to die.

      Don Stewart

    • It’s when one can no longer say ‘We’ with any pretence at credibility that nation states become no longer viable. Mass immigration has accomplished that in most of Western Europe.

      Spain is a curious contemporary example, in that although until very recently the Leonese, Aragonese, Murcians, Valencians, Andalusians, Castillians, etc, had very distinct regional, – almost racial – identities, they can now happily unite as Spanish patriots -both Left and Right -against the Catalan and Basque nationalists (who are not in the majority they may like to claim, but still significant).

      ‘We Spanish’ has come to have great emotional force for them,over-riding historic allegiances; but among the nationalists, none at all.

      The disintegration of the UK seems rather tragic to me, with too many self-seeking politicians involved. But one gives children toys to play with, and nationalists flags…..

      A Welsh friend seems very sensible: she is utterly Welsh and very proud of it and the land of Wales, but describes herself as happily British.

  14. @Xabier
    Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychologist, has made himself a pest by reminding people that rights are balanced by obligations. What rights does a person living in Wales get by being ‘British’? And what obligations does she willingly shoulder in return?

    I’m not arguing, so much as asking. Maggie Thatcher famously said ‘there is no common interest’…no rights and no obligations. How have things changed under Theresa May, if at all?

    It seems to me that Trump is proposing that the right one gets as an American is to ‘live large due to the military power and financial might of the US government’. The obligation is trickier. Since he is running a trillion dollar deficit, the notion that one needs to pay taxes to support it all is soft-pedaled at best, ignored as a middle ground, and flatly denied by the Tea Party. If the Republicans had their way, both medical care and social security and ecological protection would all disappear as an obligation of the US government.

    Max and Stacey did a little post-mortem on the recent elections. Their conclusion was that health care was the issue which most exercised both Democrats and Republicans. So it seems like the US voters may be swinging away from radical individualism. But are they willing to pay the taxes to get what they want? And are they willing to use political power to strip the health care monopolies of their power? And are they willing to confront the reality of the epidemic of chronic disease?

    Don Stewart

    • In the early 16th century, the people of Wales petitioned King Henry VIII to save them from their feudal lords, to be governed under one common law with England: quite an amusing document, as it respectfully reminded him of his Welsh ancestry and their bravery in fighting for his father to gain the crown of England.

      Henry IV,on incorporating his personal kingdom of Navarre -well, that half that Spain had left him – into that of France: ‘I do not give (mostly Basque) Navarre to France, but instead make a present of France to Navarre!’

      When the larger polity no longer seems to be much of a present to the formerly independent……

  15. Humpty-Dumpty has fallen and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men…

    Take off your Brexit blinders for a moment and look at Pablo Escobar’s analysis of the recent meeting in France to commemorate the end of the War to End All Wars:

    Consider that the LA Times took time off from reporting on the fires raging a few miles from their headquarters to tells us that Donald Trump has sunk into a funk. Escobar thinks that Putin explained the facts of life to Trump in France in terms of the ‘no defense against’ Russian offensive weapons. If so, then Trump’s dream of a first strike and total American dominance suddenly vaporized. The move by France and Germany toward a European military, completely independent of the US, may be not only a reaction to the irrationality of the Americans but also an understanding that they don’t want to get involved in nuclear Armageddon just because the Americans think that 2 Americans left alive while everyone else is dead equals ‘victory’.

    Meanwhile, all the evidence indicates that economies are now shrinking, even as interest rates rise in the US.

    And someone must finally have explained to Trump that his blaming of the California fires on the Endangered Species Act could be characterized as ‘that dog won’t hunt’.

    If the SEEDS data is correct, and I think it is not only true but that it also understates the problems, then none of this should surprise us.

    And that leaves Brexit, which I will leave to the British contingent to analyze.

    Don Stewart

    • Hi Don regarding Brexit I’m a bit shocked after reading an outpouring of vitriol in reader’s comments (in the mainstream new websites) regarding the draft proposals.

      At the moment is looks like the proposal could well be voted out anyway – so if the EU don’t come up with some more leeway then we’ll end up with a no deal scenario.

      It’s difficult to judge what the reality of a no deal would be – some economists say it could be disastrous while other say everything will be fine after some short term pain. I think the real truth is that no one knows – nor will they until many years have passed.

      Theresa May is getting a lot of hatred directed at her but she’s up against brick walls on all sides – remember it was Boris Johnson who said that getting a deal would be the easy part – clearly it’s been far from easy.

      The EU knows they could take an almighty hit if the deal does not go through – and it could leave their very existence teetering – so I would hope that if the deal gets voted out they’ll give way and give us a better solution.

      Regarding Putin’s super weapon I would guess we’d need a super laser to bring it down.

  16. @ewaf88
    I think you are missing the point about Putin’s ‘super weapon’. The point is Mutual Assured Destruction. The point is to convince western Europe and the US that an attack on Russia would be suicidal…whether such attack be nuclear or conventional.

    Escobar ‘get’s it’. Most British and Americans definitely do not…they seem to need Putin and Russia as some sort of Devil. I’m not sure about the Continentals.

    When Putin endorses a ‘European Army’, I think he is simply saying that the world is less likely to make the irrational decision to attack Russia if Europe can be separated from the US, militarily. He is not at all worried that Europe would develop a strong defense, since he has no intention of ever attacking Europe. Which is motivated less by any sense of humanity, but simply looking at the fact that attacking Europe with conventional weapons would undoubtedly lead to defeat. There may also be that ‘sense of humanity’.

    Don Stewart

    • @Don Stewart

      In all honesty I think the real “crazies” in this are in the same place they were fifty years ago: in the US.

      In my lifetime I can honestly say that the country I fear the most is the US and I don’t like having to say that. Although the old Soviet Union was a competitor on the World stage the standing belligerency of the US has been maintained after the fall of communism and it still seems intent on imperial adventurism.

  17. This essay will necessarily be a view from 30,000 feet and also riddled with errors. Because the subject itself is poorly understood, as yet, and because I am just reading a book, rather than being an expert.

    The subject is actually changing one’s behavior in the face of evidence that Business as Usual isn’t going to work anymore. Most of the reference is to Life on the Edge, by McFadden and Al-Khalili (M&K). Also incidental references to Dan Siegel, the psychiatrist.

    M&K tell us that ‘life is nothing like a steam engine’…so put away thermodynamic ways of thinking for a while. Thermodynamics doesn’t go away, but it isn’t the crucial factor.

    ‘So for nearly the entire history of our planet, plants and microbes seem to have been utilizing quantum-boosted heat engines—a process so complex and clever that we have yet to work out how to reproduce it artificially—to pump energy into carbon and thereby make all the biomass that formed microbes, plants, dinosaurs and, of course, us. Indeed, we are still harvesting ancient quantum energy in the form of fossil fuels that warm our homes and power our cars and drive most of today’s industry. The potential benefits of modern human technology learning from ancient natural quantum technology are huge.’

    Yet I will take this in a little bit different direction. M&K and their labs are dependent on funding which is looking for ways to leverage what Nature invented billions of years ago to extend the society that fossil fuels and Neoliberal Economics gave us. I will, instead, take a look at what nature invented billions of years ago to examine how humanity might get out of the box canyon that fossil fuels and Neoliberal Economics has enabled us to become entangled in. How to get out of the Valley of Death, with cannons volleying and thundering on all sides.

    Answering Schrodinger’s question: ‘We have … his insight that life is a system dominated by order that goes all the way down, from highly organized whole organisms through the stormy thermodynamic ocean to the quantum bedrock below. And crucially, these dynamics of life are delicately poised and balanced so that quantum-level events can make a difference to the macroscopic world.’

    But: ‘Scientists have fended off decoherence by shielding their quantum reactions from intrusive ‘noise’….Instead of allowing noise to hinder coherence, life uses noise to maintain its connection to the quantum realm.’

    Let’s pause for a second and see if anyone in Britain, right now, can detect any ‘noise’ in the environment.

    M&K then consider a ship, buffeted by the storm of thermodynamics. The solution is to raise a sail and adjust the tiller to weather the storm. ‘Rather than hiding from the tempests, life embraces them, marshaling their molecular squalls and gales to fill its sails and keep the ship upright so that its narrow keel penetrates the thermodynamic waters to connect with the quantum world. Life’s deep roots allow it to harness those weird phenomena that prowl the quantum edge.’

    ‘Without this connection, coherence, entanglement, tunneling or superposition can no longer influence the cell’s macroscopic behavior, so the quantum-disconnected cell will sink beneath the thermodynamically turbulent waters, becoming an entirely classical object.’

    It also turns out that too much noise is deadly, and too little noise is deadly. There is a demonstrable ‘Goldilocks’ zone of noise. Our cells use both the ‘white noise’ generated by heat, and also the ‘colored noise’ generated by non-random events. In terms of photosynthesis, the movement of solar energy into the reaction centers in a plant cell is the most efficient process, man-made or natural, which has ever been studied. The efficiency is enabled by, among other things, the plant’s ability to function as a quantum computer…finding the optimum path through the forest of chlorophyll. It was this ‘grass quantum computer’ aspect that was ridiculed by scientists at MIT, some of whom are now studying how to commercialize it.

    M&K also discuss the subject of Quantum Consciousness. I won’t try to navigate those slippery waters here. Suffice to say that when we are asleep, or under sedation, or maybe under the influence of a psychedelic such as LSD, we are not conscious. All the entanglements we have with the ‘real world’ slip away and different pathways present themselves. Dan Siegel, the psychologist, has developed a method for doing a systematic polling of all of the factors impinging on us at any given time. IF we are able to go into Quantum Computing mode at that point, we may be able to figure out a better way to navigate to a new destination. We do this every night if we sleep soundly, and experience REM sleep. (Is sleep a quantum phenomena? It is a universal behavior, despite being labeled ‘useless’ for so long.)

    We know from the Quantum World that bumping into the ’ Newtonian world’ quickly leads to decoherence. So if you are in prison, go to sleep and dream of freedom on a tropical island with lots of palm trees and friendly natives, but wake up in prison, nothing much may change in your Newtonian world. So we need a Goldilocks level of obligations but also freedom. The goal of Neoliberal Economics as well as the others Isms of the world seems to be to use debt to constrain us to doing pretty much the same tomorrow as we are doing today. I suggest that each person needs to find the Goldilocks solution for themselves. Unfortunately, Huck Finn could ‘light out for the territory’…but now it is a paved parking lot. So we need to find modern alternatives if we think that BAU is not leading us where we want to be. You have to find you island or your wild territory.

    Don Stewart

    • Don,

      Very thought-provoking, and encouraging, ideas, but if I read you right, your notes suggest that the process is not something we can consciously plan, manage and control, but is more of an emergent property, if you will, of the right circumstances and right frame of mind. The process can be encouraged, but not commanded. If I read you correctly, I surmise that this is not something that can be brought about through rationalist central state planning.

      I think you are right about the directive to find your own island/wild space. Morris Berman in his trilogy ending with Why America Failed encourages those who see the toxicity, asociality and pathology of America emigrate but, recognizing that this is not feasible or desirable for everyone, talks about “internal migration,” and a “dual process” form of living in which you form connections with a few like-minded individuals who stay put in your collapsing country but are not of it, and who instead pursue their own, more life-affirming agendas that are not part and parcel of BAU or its illusions and discontents. That is perhaps one way. One can find several youtube interviews of Morris, where he discusses the ideas.

      In finding the island/wild space, I think it is going to be important as prosperity declines to minimize and avoid entanglements with central authority which, faced with declining prosperity, will take ever more desperate, extreme measures to grab and control people and resources to support itself and its oligarchic benefactors, rather than making adaptations for the common good.

      In this regard, I think that the books of James C. Scott, “Seeing Like a State,” The Art of Not Being Governed,” and “Against the Grain,” which delve into what the preconditions for a state/central government are, how it is maintained, and where its weaknesses lie, are guidebooks to keeping the state at distance, so that one can have some “wild space,” both literally and figuratively.

  18. UN migration agenda

    When they all get over here, we’re in the same boat. Wars avoided, and instead we get civil war, controlled by few?

    It will get messy.

    • Houtskool,
      It is already very messy !
      My native Germany is a Country which I no longer recognise.
      There has always been an instilled Guilt complex in the post-war Germany psyche, and this has led to a self regulated denial of free speech. Many Germans do not express their true viewpoint, primarily because anything with a resemblance of nationalism or right wing, is immediately smacked down as “Rechts-extemismus” or “Rechts-radikal”. If you ever listen to German state media, the you will not hear the word “Rechts” without an appendage of extremism added to it. Any form of nationalism or right wing views are considered extreme.
      Unfortunately Germany being a leading economic power in Europe, is setting the agenda for others. This is not good.
      I like Hungary. It is a beautiful European City full of Europeans and it makes me feel at home. In fact I am buying myself a small summer house there.
      As Mr. Putin has pointed out, it is the free handouts of welfare that make European countries so alluring for migrants, so this is where action needs to be taken.
      As I see it, it will take the economic collapse of countries like the UK to bring about the end of unfettered immigration. It will only take one or two nations to go to the wall, and then the others will then reign in their liberal nuttards in order to save their own skins. Conflict is unavoidable. Resources will be fought over.
      We need this collapse to happen sooner rather than later, otherwise there will be nothing left to salvage. SEEDs is the Writing on the Wall, it is just the timetable that needs to be set.

    • The Guardian ran a piece on cities in the UK which are on the verge of exploding: basically. Muslims from Pakistan against unquantifiable numbers of newly-arrived Gypsies from Eastern Europe.

      Pretty much confirmed my thesis that the flashpoints will be between rival groups of immigrants, divided by colour, religion, etc, not ‘racist’ Brits and the new arrivals.

      The UK, and much of Western Europe, has been ill-governed for decades,, and there will be a heavy price to pay for it. Places like Hungary are sensible to make a stand.

    • Indeed Johan, fully agreed. What is the plan out of nowhere, aka the UN, to implement an agenda for worldwide ‘freedom of migration’? They see…

      They see regions collapsing in the near future, and they don’t want the world to go on full lockdown.

      Closed borders, collapsing trade… in my opinion the UN tries to push an agenda for unlimited migration to ‘extend & pretend’

      Won’t work of course, that is, maybe for a few years. The FACT though they talk about it reveals a bit of their horizon, doesn’t it?

      The UN pushing for a mass migration agenda, why is that?

  19. US and Italy?
    My impression, from across the ocean, is that Italy is fed up with austerity and wants to turn on the money tap again. The same may be true of the US. The CEO of Raytheon, a leading arms manufacturer, has exulted in the Democrat victory in the House of Representatives because it sweeps some Republican ‘fiscal responsibility’ representatives out of the seats of power. With a combination of Trump in the White House and the supposedly free spending Democrats in the House, and chastened Republicans in the Senate who are afraid of Trump, the US may soon be spending twice as much as the rest of the world put together on arms???

    Max Keiser and Stacey Herbert just completed a tour of the US. This idea has been percolating for a couple of years. They wanted some direct contact with people. They report that people don’t want to listen to complicated explanations.

    The cratering of the price of oil may be a sign that the global economy is weak. And if so, reality will rear its ugly head. But if things hold together, I would not be shocked at another round of leveraging up.

    Don Stewart

    • First off, the crude price slump is partly seasonal – any crude purchased from here on can’t get to end-users until winter is nearly over. This said, economic weakness is becoming ever more palpable.

      Quite aside from the (predictable) “Brexit” impasse, there are lots of interesting trends right now. In stocks, the “tech” sector reversal, and the apparent absence of stock buy-backs, have taken away some critical market props. The Chinese situation worsens before our eyes. Latest updates to SEEDS show global per capita prosperity turning down after a remarkably long plateau. Interesting times…..

    • Italy is indeed fed-up with Austerity, as a Brussel’s imposed policy; but, equally, doesn’t – possibly cannot? – put its own house in order.

      The same sentiment exists in Spain, which however seems to be doing somewhat better than Italy and doesn’t feel quite so hopeless, at least in Madrid, and the North.

      I would say that in Spain the feeling, except on the Right, is that if The Crisis is long past and GDP is growing, then why not loosen public spending to hire some more young graduates on better salaries?

    • “I would say that in Spain the feeling, except on the Right, is that if The Crisis is long past and GDP is growing, then why not loosen public spending to hire some more young graduates on better salaries?”

      If the crisis was long past and GDP was growing then there would be no need to loosen public spending to hire some more young graduates on better salaries.

    • If you want a view on what is happening with oil and gas Art always has educated and interesting points of view. Oil production has been rising since the first quarter 2018 and according to Art, always takes a few quarters for prices to filter through. He has suggested that prices will continue to fall in 2019. If the global debt laden economy continues on its current path then perhaps this will be steeper than we think. Time will tell.

    • So we’re still in the high then low cycle meaning that there’s not enough money for investment in the industry – but we can afford to buy it.

  20. Not an opinion from the colonies…just a question.

    ‘Who will rid us of this terrible prime minister? If there was any lingering sympathy for Theresa May surely every last jot of it must dissolve as the details of her dastardly Draft Withdrawal Agreement start to become clear. Mrs May is much too insipid a figure to inspire hatred. It would be like hating a mop or a seagull. ‘

    I have studiously avoided having an opinion about Brexit, other than noting with alarm that there seems to be little consideration of all that truck traffic through Dover. But with the turmoil, and the comments I read here, I decided to do a superficial internet search yesterday, and again today. The above quote is not unusually harsh.

    My question to the UK people: Is this just meaningless chatter, or is the UK really falling apart? Will Scotland and Norther Ireland leave the ‘United Kingdom’?

    Not asking for a dissertation, just a pithy summary.
    Thanks…Don Stewart

    • Scotland will gain its Independence within the next 5yrs.
      There is very strong support for the nationalist movement, and this support is only getting stronger.
      Of course, they do have a contingent of knuckle-dragging, orange-sashed vitriolic Unionists there, but just like in Northern Ireland, these are dying out and are being replaced by Homosapiens.
      I’ll give it 5yrs max. until we see an Independent Scotland and a united Ireland.

    • Don:

      I might find myself writing about “Brexit” again here, despite considerable reluctance – because at least two things are being missed by the ‘commentariat’, despite wall-to-wall coverage.

      At one level, the “Brexit” tragicomedy is intensely frustrating. The British voted to leave the EU (and whether they were duped into doing so is irrelevant, because politicians always deceive). The political establishment opposes this choice, and has been determined to frustrate it in one way or another. This didn’t seem all that hard, since Britain is only quasi-democratic anyway, with its nominated (not elected) upper chamber and its voting system which entrenches the two existing parties.

      The Conservatives look totally shambolic. They only called the vote in the first place in order to settle internal party differences, and were sure that they would get the ‘remain’ vote they wanted. They then appointed a leader opposed to what she was supposed to be implementing. She called (and lost) an election she thought would be a coronation. All Labour has to do is watch the Tories implode.

      The real reasons why the voters opted for Leave were (a) growing contempt for the establishment, and (b) the pain of sharply deteriorating prosperity. The handling of “Brexit” has been about what you’d expect from the establishment – a mixture of self-interest and incompetence.

      But this interpretation casts the EU side as the good guys – statesmanlike, patient and reasonable. This isn’t true and, if I do write about this again, this will be why.

      The Brussels elite have mishandled this very badly. They represent an establishment which is in full retreat – just look at France, Italy, Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands and – even – Germany. Their own economies will suffer from a mishandled “Brexit”, with Ireland likely to suffer more than the UK. This should be about getting the best deal for all EU citizens, not punishing British voters.

      Anyone trying to sort this out will truly be “stalling between two fools” – and the consequences could be grave.

    • I’ve decided not to believe (almost) anything in the mainstream press concerning ‘Brexit’. With reference again to the amount of vitriol – not only by readers posting comments – but by the Journalists themselves – I can almost imagine a Nuremberg style rally with ‘Brexiteers’ screaming ‘Brex-it Brex-it’ while doing a Nazi Salute (which would have a certain amount of irony)

      The only article I have any respect for today is one by Jeremy Warner of the Telegraph – I am still waiting the analysis on the ‘Brexit’ draft by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

    • Hi Don,

      I still can’t believe Theresa May will present this Draft Withdrawal Agreement before parliament with the expectation that it will be passed. I’m no solicitor but going from Mk 1 eyeball it looks like she’ll be asking them to commit treason – i.e. endorse and impose foreign law upon a sovereign nation state. As the EU Commission proposes laws to be passed by the European Parliament and European Council, and assuming the UK has no representatives within either the EU Commission, European Parliament or Council post March 2019, this literally is treason.

      “ARTICLE 86
      Pending cases before the Court of Justice of the European Union

      1. The Court of Justice of the European Union shall continue to have jurisdiction in any proceedings brought by or against the United Kingdom before the end of the transition period. Such jurisdiction shall apply to all stages of proceedings, including appeal proceedings before the Court of Justice and proceedings before the General Court where the case is referred back to the General Court.

      2. The Court of Justice of the European Union shall continue to have jurisdiction to give preliminary rulings on requests from courts and tribunals of the United Kingdom made before the end of the transition period.

      3. For the purposes of this Chapter, proceedings shall be considered as having been brought before the Court of Justice of the European Union, and requests for preliminary rulings shall be considered as having been made, at the moment at which the document initiating the proceedings has been registered by the registry of the Court of Justice or the General Court, as the case may be.”

      “ARTICLE 87
      New cases before the Court of Justice
      1. If the European Commission considers that the United Kingdom has failed to fulfil an obligation under the Treaties or under Part Four of this Agreement before the end of the transition period, the European Commission may, within 4 years after the end of the transition period, bring the matter before the Court of Justice of the European Union in accordance with the requirements laid down in Article 258 TFEU or the second subparagraph of Article 108(2) TFEU, as the case may be. The Court of Justice of the European Union shall have jurisdiction over such cases.

      2. If the United Kingdom does not comply with a decision referred to in Article 95(1) of this Agreement, or fails to give legal effect in the United Kingdom’s legal order to a decision, as referred to in that provision, that was addressed to a natural or legal person residing or established in the United Kingdom, the European Commission may, within 4 years from the date of the decision concerned, bring the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union in accordance with the procedural requirements laid down in Article 258 TFEU or the second subparagraph of Article 108(2) TFEU, as the case may be. The Court of Justice of the European Union shall have jurisdiction over such cases.”

      The thing is, do our politicians have the nouse to understand what they are actually voting on? It’s pure lunacy. My guess is that after 2 years of p*ss*ng around May wanted something to show for the time spent. It also wouldn’t surprise me if the EU offers her a job after all of this. Maybe that was the real negotiation… This isn’t the ‘Brexit’ that you’re looking for…

    • In my view Brexit is a sideshow and will make very little difference in the long run.

      The EU is changing, and the speed of change is picking up. The Euro may well not survive the next, and imminent, downturn and populist sentiment is growing not receding. The Visigrad group is becoming increasingly active in East Europe.

      With regard to the Euro the latest missive from the ECB has sounded warnings about the “softness” in the European economy and opined that the answer is “more Europe” which is not on offer and never likely to be as the German paymasters will not have debt pooling. If the Euro goes so will the EU.

      De Gaulle’s conception was the only sustainable one being “a Europe of nations” rather than an imperial project which can only work by suspending popular consent. Too many people are now aware of Jean Monnet’s view that the way to a European superstate was by small, imperceptible, steps which the population did not realise. Too many now do realize.

      I don’t see the EU collapsing; I see it slowly disintegrating in the literal meaning of the term. The irony is that, at the end of this, I hope there would be a Europe which is not only much more deserving of popular consent but one which the UK would find much more congenial and could join.

    • Bob J,

      That pretty much sums up my position too. ‘Brexit’, as I’m sure most here are aware, is a sideshow – or, more accurately, the symptom of declining prosperity within the UK.

      As to the EU project itself, I agree again – massive scope creep that ultimately undermined it’s own legitimacy and reason for existing. Once it begins to recede it’ll be interesting to see what ‘deals can be done’.

    • Yes, “Brexit” really is a distraction, for both sides, from what is really going on. Arrogant, out-of-touch elites are unaware of a deterioration in prosperity which is changing everything. In the UK, the economy has suffered from a combination of (a) energy deterioration and (b) mismanagement of the economy over a very extended period. The EA elites don’t understand that insurgent (aka “populist”) politics are here to stay, that this is nationalist in tone, and that this exposes the essential unworkability of a ‘single monetary policy, multiple sovereign budgets’ contradiction.

      The phrase “two bald men fighting over a comb” seems apt.

    • I did try and point out the views of this blog again on the Telegraph in attempt to explain that there were some far more serious issues than Brexit going on – but I got met with a barrage of abuse by posters who are fixated by the idea that Sovereignty will solve all our problems.

      They came across as a mindless rabble who you couldn’t reason with although certain realities may just be beginning to creep into their consciousness and they’re expressing fear and anger.

    • Well the talk about “no deal” is taking a really serious turn. There is a story in the Independent that in the event of no deal we will run out of Mars bars within weeks. My God the horror! I never thought it would come to this in my wildest nightmares!

    • Yes the most frightening ‘Project fear’ announcement yet although it could save us from obesity.

      I’ve noticed that Brussels wants to punish the UK further by demanding an extra £5bn should there be further delays. Although I voted remain I think it’s time to tell them to ‘get on their bike’ and then see what major EU industrialists say about a possible ‘No deal’ scenario.

      There is a general consensus that the pound will take a 10 – 20% hit should there be no deal which of course will hit the poorest hard and maybe negate any savings in terms of our payments to the EU.

      The whole thing is a mess of conflicting arguments – disinformation – vested interests – hatred and hubris.

      In some ways I feel like the member of a jury who have been presented with hundreds of pros and cons which – within themselves – have become interchangeable creating uncertainty and confusion.

      I think Putin has employed something similar at election time.


    • Lord P had a relationship with a married woman which he made no real effort to hide.

      After she was widowed, he married her – but that was kept very secret, to preserve his reputation as a likeable rogue.

      In Trollope’s “The Prime Minister”, modeled on Pam, the hero’s proudest achievement is that nothing at all changed during his premiership.

      I had in mind his speech over the Don Pacifico incident. Don P, just about technically British, had property damaged during riots in Athens. When the Greek authorities refused restitution, Pam ordered an RN bombardment. Everyone seemed to think that this outrageous act would see him forced out – but patriotic rhetoric, undoubtedly genuine, saved the day.

    • There is an article in the Telegraph by Martin Howe QC that says that the agreement violates Article V1 and V11 of the Articles of Union of 1800 which determine relations with Northern Ireland and also the Belfast Agreement. If this is correct then I cannot see how any MP can vote for it.

    • Yes I’ve read that but have all the MP’s ? I keep meaning to avoid all the press but everyday I end up reading yet another take on the situation.

      Although constrained by commitments here in the UK I’d love to go on a 6 month World tour – staying away from all news. Reading my first newspaper on my return in May 2019 would be interesting.

      Perhaps I’d just find there had been an extension and all the arguments were still raging.

    • Donald

      To be fair this is Martin Howe’s legal opinion. This agreement has passed the government’s law officers so, presumably, they have a different opinion (assuming they are competent of course). What I’m not sure we have seen is not so much the legal advice, which is equivocal, but the government’s stance on that advice and the reasons for that stance.

    • Perhaps future economic historians will be able to make sense of what went on – with the benefit of hindsight of course.


  21. Piling On
    With all the misery in the UK at the moment….here is some collateral damage that Jim Kunstler thinks will likely be visited upon certain parties in the US as the May government collapses. I offer this only because it seems that comedy is the only way to stay sane. I don’t vouch for the truth of anything…Don Stewart

    ‘Too many wheels have been set in motion, and some of these wheels are coming loose — such as the mischief promulgated by the international man-of-mystery Joseph Misfud, who was likely working for US intel via the British MI6 to game George Papadopoulos into a Russian collusion set-up that he demurred from. The set-up failed spectacularly, and now that the facts are becoming known about it, Mr. Mifsud has come out of hiding, and his lawyers are preparing to serve him up to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Won’t that be fun?

    Meanwhile, a giant archive of documents in these matters is awaiting declassification. The buzz is that Mr. Trump delayed this before the midterm elections due to threats from our “intel community” that the documents would compromise our relations with foreign intel outfits in friendly lands — namely the aforementioned MI6 of the UK. The collusion was apparently done to avoid legal questions about using US intel to spy on members of the Trump election campaign. But Theresa May’s government is imploding now, and that nation will be preoccupied with other problems going forward, so it is more likely that the garbage barge of unredacted emails, texts, and agency transcripts will sail right into the public domain in the days ahead, whether Mr. Mueller likes it or not.’

  22. Sharp Lessons in Energy
    *Auzanneau’s book Oil, Power, and War just arrived. Haven’t read it yet, but the moral is clear.
    *Alice Friedemann summarizes the story from Baseler Zeitung to the effect that large numbers of Germany’s wind turbines are now obsolete and have to be junked at great expense, with no realistic prospect for recycling.
    *Chenier Energy just completed construction of an LNG export plant in Texas. Art Berman asks if they plan to make up the losses by increasing volume.
    *Most US gas is now produced as a by-product of fracking for oil…not gas wells. Fracking for oil is not demonstrably profitable at current prices.
    *Donald Trump reportedly said to Putin that he (Trump) could stop the Nordstream gas pipeline ‘anytime I want to’.
    *Iran has the largest gas field in the world. Trump is desperate to get regime change and the installation of a puppet regime in Iran.
    *Europe doesn’t want to sign off on Trump’s plans for Iran, but it isn’t clear to me whether they are willing to do what they need to do. Or maybe they will conclude that letting the US kill the people necessary, and then get access to the gas cheaply is the way to go. If Trump wins the war in Iran, what assurances do the Europeans have that they will actually get cheap gas?
    *Europe, sometimes covertly, spent a lot of money and killed a lot of people trying, unsuccessfully, to unseat Assad in Syria. Syria is a convenient route for gas pipelines from Iran.
    *Trump has an interest in not ‘losing a war’ in Syria, but apparently little interest in forcing a pipeline to Europe through that country. He also wants to keep bleeding Russia and Syria with relatively low levels of violence.
    *Trump pressures Europe to buy LNG from the US. Poland signs up. How much subsidy from the US may be involved, I have no idea.

    If Germany is about to lose, over the next decades, the wind turbines, then they have to turn to coal or gas or nuclear. If they go with gas or nuclear, then they need a stable relationship with Russia. Russia has gas which is more reliable than the Middle East, and makes and exports nuclear power plants. But the cost of such a close commercial partnership with Russia is to infuriate the US and Donald Trump in particular. Trump has recently muttered about a 25 percent tariff on all imported cars…many of which come from Germany. Auzanneau will need a new chapter.

    Putin thinks he has the modern equivalent of the Colt Equalizer (God made men… Colonel Colt made them equal.) But Putin’s equalizer only works if Trump actually thinks his threat to destroy the world is credible. The Pentagon thinks it can nibble away at Russia, with each incremental nibble being serious but not worth blowing up the world in a suicidal orgasm of violence. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect the European population doesn’t understand all this, and will be tempted to vote for the simple solution: populism. Max Keiser concluded from his fact-finding tour that the US population wants ‘simple stories’.

    Don Stewart

    • Excellent post, Don, and certainly much food for thought.
      If what you say is accurate, ( I have not yet read about German wind turbines already getting to the end of their service life ), then it does put a whole new complexion on things.
      Windpower and Re-newables are all the rage over in Germany. Every train ticket that you buy from DB claims that all trains are powered by Eco-power. A claim which I hold in utter disregard, no doubt they will have a disclaimer in the small print which I refuse to read. As you will all know they decided to abandon Nuclear energy a few years ago, of course, that in itself does not stop them from buying French nuclear generated power. The national psyche is all about worshiping the Unicorn of Re-newables, to the exclusion of reality.
      Germany has become a strange place, It used to be run by Prussians and Bavarians, now is run by Feminists and Vegetarians. They are living in a bubble more so than any other people that I know. The shock of being swamped by immigrants over the past few years has certainly startled the horses though.
      If the feminists and vegetarians stay in power, then they will not stand up to America and they will remain an occupied vassal state.
      The thing is, I do not see a way out for them, because there are very few adults left over there capable of making hard choices. Today, Germany needs Russia more than it needs the United States but I cannot see them having the courage to make that turn.

      PS: Dear Vegetarians, I love vegetables very much and I eat them every day !

  23. A Big Picture Excursion
    I recommend, first, that one ponder this statement from Art Hobson, a now-retired teacher of quantum physics:
    ‘No grand new metaphor, such as the clockwork metaphor for classical physics, has yet emerged to represent quantum reality.’

    So if we aren’t billiard balls fulfilling some mechanical destiny, what are we?

    Then listen to this discussion about human behavior and cravings:
    Search on: theenergyblueprint.com/how-to-stop-food-cravings/

    Ponder that, similar to the lack of a grand new metaphor describing quantum reality, we have no grand metaphor describing what humans ought to be doing other than satisfying cravings. The use of fossil fuels and the use of violence to achieve social dominance are clearly as dysfunctional as eating junk food, but we have no ‘grand metaphor’ to suggest what we ought to be doing, in our own enlightened self-interest, other than pursue the temporary pleasures of dopamine and serotonin.

    Don Stewart

  24. Looking at photographs of the aftermath of fires in California, it is striking that trees seem to have survived – each picture of devastated homes and gutted cars seems to have intact trees in the background. Can anyone explain this?

  25. I’m somewhat undecided over what (if anything) to do about “Brexit” here.

    The case for writing about it again is, in summary:

    – The critical issue of prosperity is neither understood nor discussed by anyone, inside or outside the process

    – Because of the soap-opera going on in London, the Brussels side is getting a good press, portrayed as being patient, balanced and statesmanlike. This is nonsense, and a contrary view is needed.

    The case against is:

    – We’ve discussed this before

    – There are other issues of greater importance

    – The whole farce is becoming nauseating.

    • There are certainly issues of greater importance (and as you know no one appears to be interested when I’ve tried to draw attention to the fact on mainstream newspaper websites).

      If you have a look at the reader’s comments – say in the Telegraph – they’re just endlessly repeating themselves – in many way the same as the journalists and guest columnists. ‘May must go’ ‘Norwegian deal is best’ ‘WTO is best’ ‘Canadian deal is best’ ‘May and her co conspirators’ ‘We’ve been betrayed’ and so on………………..In a way it’s like an endless spiral.


    • Hi Tim

      I read something the other day (I can’t remember where) that mentioned the effect of mergers on prices. The argument was that in the last thirty years we have had mergers which have resulted in many markets becoming oligopolies and this has had an effect on prices. This erosion of competition would of course be a factor which would reduce prosperity quite apart from energy considerations and account for the growing percentage share of GDP going to the corporate sector rather than labour.

    • “I’m somewhat undecided over what (if anything) to do about “Brexit” here.”

      I think that until the crisis actually happens there is really nothing more to say.

  26. The Brexit debate in the British press as described here – is depressingly similar to the online rants on the issue of Basque or Catalan independence from Madrid – even down to throwing the insult ‘traitor’ around.

    Even the most intelligent contribution to analysis will be ignored if it fails to support the prejudice of either side – so why write any more about it? Reason has long since been abandoned.

    There are, surely, much juicier things to write about, and of global importance: we are now seeing the measures implemented in 2008 come apart, the status quo parties threatened almost everywhere In Europe, and a global recession – at the very least – looming.

    • I agree – but I do believe that one important issue is going by default.

      No one could be more critical than me of how British politicians, collectively, have made a mess of this.

      But what about the EU side?

      The UK government has a referendum mandate to achieve “Brexit”. What equivalent mandate does Team Brussels have? A mandate to frustrate?

      I remain convinced that everyone, not just the British, will suffer if this goes wrong. So there’s a shared interest in resolving it. Is it realistic to expect the British to sort the whole thing unaided?

      The UK authorities are in a box – they’ve got Brexiteers reminding them that they won the referendum, and Remainers trying to frustrate this process. The UK parliament is hopelessly split, not surprisingly given the closeness of the vote. There is no obvious majority for Mrs May’s deal, no majority favouring a “hard Brexit”, and no majority for telling the voters to ‘keep voting till you get it right’. This is an impasse that the British, unaided, probably can’t resolve.

      So what about Brussels? They seem to be pursuing an intransigent line based on punishing the temerity of British voters. Personally, I’ve never seen punishing voters as part of the government job-description. Wouldn’t it be better if, recognising that agreement invariably requires compromise, the EU side were to give Mrs May (or whoever) a bit of help?

      I think that the ‘gang of five’ might be right about trying to improve the deal, and that Mr Raab might be right about Britain needing to fight its corner with more resolve.

      It does, as the saying goes, “take two to tango”.

    • Hi Tim

      I think you’ve made a Freudian slip which partly gives the game away:”Personally, I’ve never seen punishing voters as part of the government job-description.”.

      It’s not a government we are negotiating with; it is a bureaucracy, a ne plus ultra bureaucracy which seems on a very long leash. On our side you have a civil service, most of which is hostile to Brexit, and can relate very well to their friends in Brussels.

      As partial proof of this Dominic Raab today pointed out that the three critical issues which he resigned on were inserted in late drafting but he couldn’t say by whom – civil servants?

      I haven’t seen the government’s legal views on the agreement by which I mean its legal stance and the reason for that stance.

    • Indeed so – I should have said that punishing voters wasn’t part of the craft of government in a democracy, or something similar.

      Westminster has become panto, with even Blair now getting a say on the sidelines, advocating a second vote, I think. Yes, the British political class hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory.

      But what about the EU side? Put simply, who elected them – anyone?

    • Interestingly, noting Mr Corbyn’s remarks today, they don’t seem too far away from those of Mr Raab and Mrs Leadsom’s group. Might there be a cross-party agreement emerging, that Brussels is trying to force a rotten deal on Britain?

    • Hi Tim

      Your suggestion that there might be a cross party group which could unite to negotiate a new deal may be right but it has to get past May. Her stance is that this is the best deal we’ll get and if it’s changed in any way it will be a confession of incompetence on her part (I think this could be spun but I believe she would view it in this light) and therefore unacceptable.

      Right now I understand how the passengers felt on the Titanic – steerage class of course.

      What I do think is that the EU could look quite different at the end of our transition period in December 2020.

    • I’ve just watched Corbyn’s interview yesterday with Sophie Ridge. It was the most glorious mish mash of inconsistency and outright nonsense, none of which was picked up by the interviewer.

    • I’ll also add that from my amateur perspective, managing forests to prevent destructive fires is expensive and requires professionals. I belong to The Nature Conservancy. We have a fire unit, which starts and manages ground fires to control brush, which is the usual kindling which can create the forest destructive crown fires. While foresters know pretty much how to start, manage, and extinguish ground fires, it is expensive because the conditions need to be just right: relatively high humidity, light winds, etc. (In California, they were dealing with a brush fire burning with very low humidity and gale force winds driving it.) So maintaining a ‘fire unit’ is just about the opposite of a factory. A factory operates 24 hours a day in all kinds of weather, so long as they have electricity. A fire unit has to be always on stand-by, a victim of weather whims. So managing large forested areas with controlled fire is expensive.

      There are also sometimes mistakes. A few years ago a controlled burn got out of control and burned into the city of Los Alamos, New Mexico (where the atomic bomb was built). I still remember the Weather Channel spokespeople tut-tutting about the stupidity of starting a fire in the forest. So we can’t expect politicians or even people who should know better to actually make good policies.

      But everyone has a pet solution, and when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. So some people will claim that electric automobiles will solve the problem, others think that restricting people from buying lots and building houses in fire-prone areas is the solution, others that ‘cleaning up the forest floor’ is the solution, others that stopping the decades long policy of fire suppression is the solution. &etc.

      Geronimo, the Apache chief who fought so valiantly against the US cavalry, said ‘I was born on the headwaters of the Gila River’ (in what is now New Mexico). That forest burned regularly. The evidence is that the trees never got very tall, because of the regular burning. So why did the Apaches and others thrive in that environment. For one reason, they did not build 20 million dollar houses in those burnable forests. Their buildings were very simple structures that could be put together, and in many cases disassembled and moved. So the Native Americans could use fire as a management tool in ways unimaginable to the movie stars in Malibu.

      Don Stewart

  27. Some tree species (Australian Eucalypt species esp) have adapted to fie eco-systems. They pass the fire quickly from one to another, and in so doing, are not fatally burnt; hot potato anyone. These trees can then regenerate very quickly. An explosive canopy fire is often of the ‘volatiles’ not of the wood, and leaves (wot a free pun!) even the mature trees alive.

  28. If this candidate’s idea is enacted, it will destroy all freedom in America.


    A person’s actions, political persuasion and beliefs will be used to limit their opportunities unless they happen to support the State’s entrenched political ideals. The idea is fundamentally incompatible with the ideals of a democratic state, which are based upon free will, freedom of association and the free exchange of ideas without fear of persecution. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t happen.

    Technology and politics are both converging towards an outcome that will ultimately end all human free will. The UK already possesses a monitoring system that allows the state to monitor all electronic communication between individuals. It also possesses a camera system that allows a person’s movements to be monitored, along with all financial transactions, their time and location, etc. How long will it be before all of these capabilities are tied in to a powerful AI that will not only gather information about a person, but also build up a profile and assess ‘threat levels’ automatically?

    All of this is taking place at a time in which political elites in western countries are increasingly entrenched in power by demographic change (non-native voters) and outraged by anyone that fails to buy into utopian left-wing moral absolutism. These people have never valued freedom, because free will implies the ability to question them and the freedom to stand against them. The UK home office defines extremism as any belief that is not compatible with ‘British Values’, which they themselves define.

    We are very close to a situation in which the State tells you what you are allowed to believe in and has absolute power ensuring that you do, by being able to monitor your every expression and indirectly (by monitoring search engine entries) your thoughts. That is a dystopian nightmare worse than anything that George Orwell could have imagined. And yet, it is really happening and will probably be complete within the next decade.

    • If you look at my latest piece, you might (though you might not) be comforted by the likelihood that the tide has turned against the ‘globalist liberals’.

    • Thanks for your latest post Tim. The next coming decades are going to be very bumpy but if we can crack nuclear fusion then the future could be relatively bright.

      Certain private companies have issued statements saying that they are optimistic – yes I know we’ve heard that all before – but I’ve decided to believe in them because if I don’t – there’s nothing but doom and gloom ahead.


  29. On a possibly final and (blackly) humorous note, there is some talk in the UK about a plan to bring the Army on to the streets ‘to assist the police’ should a nasty Brexit occur – the joke being, of course, that the absence of police from the streets is one of the most noticeable aspects of life in Britain today even when there is a crying need for them.

    For instance, drug dealers and muggers have taken over the new Green busway and cycle path here, as well as the brand new ‘market square’ at night, with police wholly unable to bring this crime wave to a stop, despite being so clearly defined in locality.

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