LATE last year we looked at English Green (1). We were very interested in its ideas of “decentralisation, historical regionalism and devolution towards a britannic confederation of free peoples and sovereign provinces, libertarian, tribal and traditionalist.”
We also thought that its form of English nationalism combined with ecological awareness could prove to be a very powerful – and attractive – message.
Since our report, English Green seems to have gone from strength to strength. Its web-site (2) is really dynamic and its Facebook page (3) hosts some excellent debates. One thing that we really like is its willingness to let everyone have their say. Thus, on the issue of – say – nuclear power, both supporters and opponents are invited to contribute.
Tim Bragg, the founder and spokesman for English Green, ensures that any debate is fair, open, accurate and honest. As ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ viewpoints are allowed, rational policies evolve.
Other items that caught our eye were several linked to farming methods and diet change, animal welfare and culture. There’s also an excellent film entitled Permaculture – Farms for the Future (4). Permaculture is a non-destructive, low-energy method of farming – its central principles is that you work with the land, rather than against it.
English Green also features an extremely interesting article written by John Papworth. (John Papworth – along with EF ‘Fritz’ Schumacher and Sir Herbert Read – founded the journal Resurgence. He is also the Founder and Editor of Fourth World Review and has written several books including The Economics of Humanism, New Politics, Small is Powerful, Shut up and Listen and Village Democracy.)
Mr. Papworth’s ideas – he is unashamedly biased in favour of small nations and small, empowered, decision-making communities, as opposed to overcentralised, top heavy mass political structures and to giant forms of economic collapse – are very similar to our own.
With this in mind, the Third Way Think Tank has reprinted his article (with acknowledgements to English Green.) We feel that it should be required reading for all radical thinkers and thinking radicals.
THE POLITICS OF PROGRESS
When we think of politics we think of Parliament and Princes rather than of people, and in doing so we tend to overlook that the oldest form of politics is not of nations or monarchies but of peoples’ politics in peoples’ communities, communities which held sway for many centuries, long before other forms were even thought of.
But if for many succeeding centuries communities have tended to be overruled; indeed to such an extent that with modern technologies, the printing press, radio, television, computers, motorways and rail and air travel, have tended to be denied any significance at all, they are none the less at last making a remarkable comeback.
Modern technologies have tended to bury the significance of community life and power because in most cases they have either been dependent on centralised forms of power for their operation, or, like banks and money systems, have promoted central control because, in money terms, it has proved more profitable.
But centralised forms of power are proving increasingly unworkable, unstable and unsustainable. They are in fact breaking down. Their economic systems, having developed globally, are also of course proving uncontrollable. We are not, as often asserted, in recession, we are in a state of collapse; things are not going to get better they are going to get a great deal worse. One basic reason for this lies in the fundamental fallacy of all major economic systems, they are based on an imperative drive for infinite expansion in a world of finite resources and capacities.
For over two hundred years the economic theories that have been developed to sustain such expansion have had a field day, at the cost of local community life and the expansion of centralised national systems of politics, money, industry, transport and war; but what we are now witnessing is the curtain coming down on the global system of trade and consumerism, despite the continued weird manoeuvrings of the attempts to unite Europe under one administration. The world cannot continue to ravage its limited resources, or to savage its ecological systems, or to vandalise its human social structures without a collapse of the cohesive sense of purpose that makes civilisation possible at all.
If this is a profound consideration there is a profound reason for it. All progress depends on making appropriate moral choices, but such choices depend on human relationships, and such relationships depend on the active workings of the human communities. But it is not the morality that produces the relationships, it is the relationships which produce the morality! It is those relationships which determine the moral character of the community, and all modern political and economic developments have been major forces in destroying community relationships and, of course, the vitality of community life. Think for example of how shopping in a family-owned shop in a village high street means one is relating to ones neighbours, supporting the local village economy and generally playing an active, even significant, social role. Whereas in an out-of-town supermarket one is socially comatose and undermining the social significance of the local community economy. One ceases to be a citizen, one becomes a customer. Not unnaturally there is a revolt under way, deep down people are beginning to sense what they have lost in losing community relationships; the increasing depersonalisation of social political and business life is intricately related to not only community life, but to family life and individual life and its capacity for individual self-fulfilment.
People are becoming aware that there is a fundamental sterility and frustration implicit in a life dominated by a quest for secular goals of economic growth, based in turn on calculations of potential profit, that somewhere considerations of truth, beauty, honesty, service, self-sacrifice and love have a paramountcy impossible to question without impoverishing the whole meaning and adventure of life.
In some ways morality has advanced, it is true we no longer burn people at the stake, we no longer recognise any right to torture, we no longer cane schoolchildren, but at the same time we seem to have destroyed the basis of creating beauty and love, we are increasingly lost in a world of insensitivity, ugliness and the toleration of abomination and human depersonalisation.
Increasingly it is seen that only human communities dominated by human relationships and human moral discrimination as exercised in multitudinous human-scale human communities can restore a coherent sense of collective moral persuasion that will liberate the human spirit from the coils of consumerist constraint that are currently leading to war, economic collapse and social deterioration.
It is a global movement. The historic tribal and community identities are worldwide asserting their rights to rule their own lives and determine their own destinies. All over Africa, Asia, Arabia and the Americas both North and South voices are echoing what is also being affirmed by local people in Europe for local community life and freedom. Not least, even in the almighty United States the voice for moves for secession from the Federal Union is being heard.
It is worldwide, the voice of the radical future of the human adventure where government will cease to be from the top down, but created by numerous human-scale communities from the bottom up so that at last we take control of the forces now only able to destroy us.