Writings

An allegory of a ‘therapeutic’ reading of a film: of Melancholia

  1. This essay is a (more or less philosophical) account or allegory of my viewing(s) of Lars von Trier’s remarkable film, Melancholia (2011). It is personal, and philosophical. (The personal here turns out, potentially, to be philosophical.) Von Trier’s film in turn is clearly among other things a (brilliantly accurate) allegory of (his) depression; and it is also clearly (though at the very same time) much more than that. In expressing my experience of the film and the world (and my experience as a part time mega-melancholic – which is part of my basis for using the adjective “brilliantly accurate” in the previous sentence), my essay is inevitably personal, ‘person-relative’. Furthermore: This is an inevitable feature of therapeutic philosophy, the philosophy practiced most famously by Ludwig Wittgenstein. As the later Gordon Baker for example explained clearly2: such philosophy responds to the individual reader (/ viewer). And vice versa. In a kind of dialogue or (to use the term that Melancholia prefers) dance…

Progress: beyond the growth fetish

The UK has just experienced its annual budget announcement from the Government. It contained an extraordinary attack on the eco-agenda, including cuts to energy costs for manufacturers. On the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme this morning, Ed Balls, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, backed this policy to the hilt. The budget celebrated instead ‘economic growth’ that has been achieved in the last year or so: Balls’s only cavil was that there could have been even more of it.

This GDP growth that is being celebrated by the Chancellor, George Osborne, and seemingly by nearly everyone else, is another unsustainable boom in consumption that is leaving behind those dependent on food banks and the long-term jobless. We will never have a stable, resilient economy, and we will never cease wrecking the planet so long as we chase economic ‘growth’ rather than economic resilience and rely on ‘trickle-down’ economics to look after the poor. In a wealthy country like Britain, we don’t need GDP growth; we need shorter working hours, flexible working, a Living Wage, family life, leisure time and rewarding work.

How UKIP and the Tory right will defeat themselves

Why are those so opposed to migration so blind to something that will cause it to increase so dramatically?

I’m not talking about the sheer barkingness and loose-cannonness of so many of UKIP's Councillors and MEPs; I’m not talking about how their plans to move to an American-style healthcare system (i.e. to dismantle the NHS) will doom them electorally once voters get to know about them; I’m not even talking about their barely-suppressed racism and anti-Muslim prejudice which will surely come back to bite them as Britain keeps becoming a more tolerant society. I’m talking about their outright climate-denial, and the consequences thereof, consequences that I think we are only just starting to understand.

Greens - the UKIP of the left?

Over the past 12 months, there have been repeated calls for a 'UKIP of the left'. Including from prominent voices such as John Harris in the Guardian, from the New Statesman, and more. The latest is Simon Jenkins, writing in the Guardian. His article (Jan 24) supportive of the Brighton Green administration's referendum on increasing Council Tax (to preserve vital services that government cuts are endlessly squeezing) is welcome. His claim that the Greens are 'the UKIP of the left' however requires further examination.

Re-nationalise our railways!

My day started at 6 am, while it was of course still dark.

Dressed smart for the cameras, I cycled off to Norwich station for a series of interviews - with BBC Radio Norfolk about why the railways should be renationalised, the local paper, ITV 'Anglia', BBC 'Look East'.

No less important, I spoke to dozens of passengers to get the mood of what they were thinking. And here is something unusual. While we were giving out leaflets directly outside the doors to the station, every single person took a leaflet.

Any Ecologist reader who has any experience giving out leaflets will know how rare that is. Why such strong support? For a start, polls have long shown that an overwhelming majority of the British public wants the railways back in public ownership - yet the only Party committed to railway nationalisation is the Greens.

How ecologism is the true heir of both socialism and conservatism

I recently debated with Roger Scruton at the LSE on this question (you can listen to the podcast). This short article examines a couple of my main conclusions and from my own ongoing work in this area. My aim is to show how ecologism is the true heir of both socialism and conservatism, properly understood. A ‘socialism’ based in local and historical traditions; in the land, in resistance – a genuinely egalitarian socialism learning from Karl Polanyi and Andre Gorz more in the final analysis than from Karl Marx (let alone from John Rawls), and owing much in the present day in this country to Simon Fairlie and Maurice Glasman. And a ‘conservatism’ that is actually serious about conserving our ecosystems – a conservatism owing much in the present day to John Gray and Roger Scruton, as well as to ‘radical conservative’ thinkers such as Gandhi and Ivan Illich.

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