All in the Mind Power Dynamics

Reality Denial

When do we let our political judgements be swayed not by a rational analysis of the facts, but by self-interest, wishful thinking, superstition or just plain irrational prejudices? Whether rapid climate change is taking place and is caused by human activity is surely a matter of scientific analysis, on which I suppose one may hold different perspectives, e.g. one may return from an unusually mild southern Greenland only to witness subzero temperatures in Madrid. One`s objective analysis during a Spanish chill may sway against the global warming hypothesis, but if one used a weather event selectively to discredit much more voluminous evidence to the contrary that would be bias. Supposing, as a mainstream newspaper pundit, I wished to prove a majority of Iraqi people supported the US/UK liberation of their country despite all the trouble, with sufficient funds I could easily arrange for a group of pro-occupation Iraqis to acquiesce to a little public relations. Indeed I could simply choose my sample in an area renowned for its support of the US/UK invaders, such as the Kurdish north. What I`m alluding to is our ability to construct a reality that matches our aspirations and prejudices by picking the facts that suit our agenda,

Some of us might like to think only others are prone to biased constructions of reality. Indeed the very accusation of prejudice often serves as useful rhetorical weapon to defeat an argument, otherwise well supported. This often follows fuzzy logic, e.g. "You claim there are too many people in London. The BNP (xenophobic British National Party) makes the same claim. The BNP is irrationally racist. So are you. Therefore, I conclude only a warped racist could possibly believe London is overcrowded" or consider this "You claim we should take action to cope with climate change. So does the mainstream media representing big business, so you must be wrong". Well let`s consider these assertions. First the portrayal many tend to exaggerate the arguments of their adversaries. A statement like "Planet Earth cannot support six billion human beings at current rates of consumption in the long term" soon becomes simplified to "We`d better start culling excess humans now, so the rest of us can continue enjoy the same standard of living". Next comes a bold assertion about a common bête noire, an extremist grouping or demonised tyrant with whom is simply not done to sympathise. Sometimes media may have been so successful at marginalising dissident idea that the bête noire in question may actually present rational ideas, but the existence of genuine extremists and assorted nutters serves the establishment`s mind control agenda very well. Suppose a small radical Islamic sect called for the liquidation of all US millionaires.

The Problem Reaction Solution and Counterreaction

The basic difference between the infamous Italian Mafia, Camorra and Ndragata clans running protection rackets and modern states lies essentially in their size, influence and control of the mainstream media, but effectively they act as immature microstates within states often offering many of the same services. Paying a pizzo or protection money to your local Mafia boss may seem extortion, but effectively it`s what we do when we pay taxes. Sure, to some extent, government money trickles back to the general populace providing many of us with jobs and redistributing wealth in an inherently unjust corporate economy. Here are just a few examples of classic problem reaction solutions:

  • We have rampant crime, therefore we need more police, more surveillance and tougher sentencing.
  • We have terrorists and political extremists in our midst, therefore we need more monitoring of people`s everyday lives and clamp down on hate speech.
  • We have unsustainable immigration, therefore we need tighter immigration controls, more police, more social workers, more new houses, more money spent on integration etc.
  • We are facing an environmental crisis, therefore we should trust our leaders to impose greater controls on our irresponsible behaviour as private citizens.

Thankfully many of us don`t buy this logic. Why should we accept greater hardships because of macro-economic decisions taken by remote business leaders and politicians? All the above problems, if indeed they are problems, are created by an absurdly unsustainable and unbalanced economic system hooked on perpetual growth. Instead of asking "how should the state combat crime?", "how should the state deal with troublemakers?", "how should the state control the migration of human beings in a never-ending rat race?" or "how should the state and big business address climate change?", we should ask "Why do people turn to crime?", "Why do people resort to violence and hateful ideas?" or "Why are we facing an environmental catastrophe?". These more rational questions do not negate the existence or perception of real problems, but turn the questions raised by the mainstream media on their heads.

Nevertheless many of us react by negating the reality of the problems. A common notion on the liberal left is that "We don`t need Draconian legislation" (a conclusion I agree with) because crime has not risen recently and may have actually declined, a perception only possible if you live in a leafy suburb somewhere. Likewise we should value free speech, again a view I wholeheartedly agree with, because everyone is so tolerant and nice in these enlightened days, a perception only possible if you genuinely believe in the benefits of over twenty years of neo-liberal economics and social engineering. Next consider the conclusion that "we should not deport illegal immigrants, (and I would be loathe to trust the state to do so in anyone`s interests but their own), because we need more immigrants to boost our dynamic economy and do jobs we don`t want to do and besides this country can host tens of millions more (as long as we can continue importing cheap food)". Once again this conclusion tends to appeal to those who are doing fairly well and can afford to steer clear of the adverse side effects of unplanned economically driven migration. We see two sections of the mainstream media engaging in a phoney debate over immigration with both sides supporting the unsustainable model of perpetual growth that drives immigration in the first place. Some on the left are simply incapable of admitting that overcrowding will exacerbate the very socio-economic tensions we wish to eradicate, hiding behind a façade of cultural diversity, interethnic tolerance and international solidarity while relying on a globalised economy controlled by a small number of supranational corporations.

We see the same fuzzy thinking behind the looming environmental catastrophe, except here we see a distinct trend towards outright denial or downplaying of the evidence before us. To some extent it would be easier to argue with some left-leaning climate change deniers, if the mainstream media denied its reality. Why should we rely on former Vice President Al Gore to warn us of a pending disaster caused by human hyperactivity in large part due to his own country`s grotesque overconsumption?Yet we have let TV, Cinema and commercial Web services dominate our lives to such an extent, some of us only ever believe something when Hollywood-style edutainment movies endorse it.

The Rense Dot Com Mindset

Personally I`d treat many articles promoted by with the same degree of scepticism as I reserve for the Daily Mail, the favourite newspaper of Britain's disgruntled middle class. They remind us of some home truths, correctly identify some social problems and then pursue their own agenda. Rense Dot Com has recently featured numerous articles challenging the notions of Peak Oil and manmade climate change, while simultaneously providing a platform for one of the US`s most vehement anti-immigration crusaders, Frosty Wooldridge. That unsustainable immigration is driven by unsustainable overconsumption does not really occur to a narrow conservative American mindset that just wishes to conserve their uniquely prosperous way of life threatened by low-paid immigrants and politicians attempting to increase fuel taxes.

The Greg Palast Mindset

I`ve covered the strange case of the Frank Füredi sect (RCP => LM Mag => Spiked Online) with their characteristic form of technocratic polemicism. However, much more commonly on the left we encounter an ideological refutation of environmental hard truths to support an unremitting optimism for the human progress. Such social optimists are willing to identify and expose the reactionary or unprogressive nature of today`s ruling elites. They rightly participate in the rhetorical crusade against Bush, Blair, the IMF/World Bank and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, but somehow deep down still believe in the enduring myth of Western enlightenment capturing the hearts and minds of an oppressed underdeveloped world. Many on the left view the world in terms of good causes and are thus very susceptible to the emotional arguments of mainstream pundits promoting hidden agendas. Few could pretend life was easy for Afghani women under the infamous Taliban. I certainly would not like to live in a society in which women become little more than the property of their husbands kept in ignorance and under veil, but what right do we have to impose our worldviews on an autonomous community. Human rights is very relative concept with many trade-offs. When the warlords of the Northern Alliance gained power before the Taliban imposed its variant of Sharia law, women were regularly raped and many actually welcomed the protection these drastic laws claimed to provide, possibly in the same way many people in this country welcome the installation of CCTV cameras at every street corner, e-mail snooping and lynching of suspected paedophiles. The spectre of extreme misogyny served to dampen opposition to the invasion of Afghanistan and steer attention way from the true geopolitical goals of the exercise. Likewise leftwing immigrants rights campaigns fail to address the true causes of socially and environmentally unsustainable migration, often acting against the immediate interests of their own native working classes,

The Immigration Conundrum

The traditional difference between the left and right, at least in my simplified way of thinking, is that the former stands up for the rights of common people in general and the downtrodden in particular, while the latter defends the status quo often appealing to the forces of reaction against subversive and destabilising elements. In the fantasy world of the radical left working class British workers struggling to pay their mortgage or rent, forever in debt with their bank and doing overtime to settle bills and loan repayments, will, once politicised and enlightened, unite in struggle with the oppressed masses of the not-so-prosperous world. While we can cite many examples of Western European striking for better pay, improved working condition or against cutbacks or privatisation, we can cite few in which the same workers have taken industrial action in solidarity with much lower paid workers elsewhere. Indeed all evidence shows working class Europeans flocking to retail outlets to buy the very consumer goods whose deceptively low prices are only permitted only by favourable exchange rates or rather an injection of virtual money by banking cartels into high consumption economies. Whether you like it or not migration nearly always flows from economically and/or environmentally disadvantaged regions to more prosperous or more environmentally sustainable regions. The British didn`t colonise Australia just to get a suntan or enjoy a more outdoor lifestyle, but because by the late 18th century the growing population of Britain`s newly industrialised regions had become too much of a burden, so the excess population either died early through hunger or disease or emigrated. The same is happening today, except we see a movement away from countries currently undergoing structural readjustment to countries with plenty of virtual money, most of which have been or still are colonial powers. At the same time we see a smaller movement by the propertied classes away from the bustling metropolises of the wealthier countries to the greener and sunnier pastures of low-income countries. So while Poles, Romanians and Bulgarians flock to London, many Londoners are buying up properties at knock-down prices in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Qatar, France or Spain. However, in both cases we see the resurgence of 19th century divisions between a servant class and their professional masters. This is just fine, if you happen to own a house in London (currently a modest four-bedroom semi can fetch around £500,000 in many boroughs) and you don`t mind retiring or relocating. Many opt simply to move to the surrounding home counties and rent their London property. Indeed whole residential streets are now rented out to London`s new migrant classes with several families often sharing a Lilliputian three-bedroom house. The new immigrant classes fill two key gaps in the labour market, traditional hands-on skilled jobs that fail to appeal to young Britons and low-paid service-sector-servicing roles. The latter category encompasses anything ranging from bartenders, childminders, care assistants, bus drivers to newspaper distributors, but the apparent gap in the labour market would cease to exist if the clientele had less expendable cash and more indigenous young people were prepared to do these jobs as they did until recently. Currently a high proportion of home-grown fruit and vegetables are harvested by migrant labour. If we paid home-grown farm workers a decent wage and sourced all crops suited to our climate locally, prices would inevitably rise even more than they are now as a result of fuel crops and soaring oil prices, but we`d adapt by consuming less junk. The immigration wave of the early 21st century has in effect enabled an unsustainable consumer-led service-oriented economy to stay afloat. In one extreme case a Polish family doctor flew every weekend all the way from Poznan, Western Poland, to Glasgow, hired a car to drive all the way to remote area of Aberdeenshire to earn £2000 as a weekend general practitioner owing to a temporary shortage of qualified GPs willing to work in the area. As budget airline Ryanair announce cutbacks following recent rises in oil prices, we may wonder how long this absurdity can continue, burning umpteenth barrels of fuel to cope with the consequences of unsustainable hedonism and a rat race that attracts the best minds away from their provincial to the citadels of power and corruption.

The Sick Man of Europe

Back in the 1970s Britain, as we then called England + Wales + Scotland, was known as the sick man of Europe, strike-prone, inefficient and basking in the glory of a bygone era of imperial and industrial strength. Thatcherism proved a very bitter pill to swallow, with unemployment rising officially to over 3.5 million and unofficially to over 6 million and millions of manufacturing jobs gone forever. The economic resurgence of the mid and late 1980s saw mainly the growth of services and trade. While the early years of the Major government saw a brief resurgence in the manufacturing sector through inward investment and a low pound, the current administration has overseen the almost complete outsourcing of what remained of Britain`s manufacturing base. Besides services, three industries dominate UK industry, military hardware, energy and pharmaceuticals, all relying on imported components and raw materials. In an idyllic past each community had the right mix of professional farmers, manufacturers, craftspeople and service providers. We all need and expect housing, furniture, plumbing, electrical power, domestic appliances, food, restaurants, roads, public transport, schools and healthcare, yet for some reason the professions essential to the provision of these goods and services do not appeal very much to young Brits, by which I mean anyone who grew up mainly in England, Scotland or Wales. As a result numerous essential professions were by the mid 1990s severely under-resourced. On a simplistic level people management, sales, media and leisure-related professions appeal much more to a generation raised on TV, pop music, movies and now video-games and the Internet. However, on a structural level we can observe that many traditional professions only exist as human resources within a larger organisation rather than self-employed workers and small tradespeople offering services to their local community. Rather than encourage entrepreneurism, the gradual takeover of a handful of supermarket chains and retail outlets of not only the food supply, but also furniture, clothing, DIY and commodity appliances restricts the scope of small businesses to essentially franchisees or minor service providers, or rather contractors, of larger corporations. If you grew up in a sprawling suburban housing estate, went shopping once a week at large supermarket, while your parents worked as loyal enforcers in a state-corporate system to earn credit to buy readily available goods, you may be tempted to opt for the easiest and least stressful means of making money. Thus the prospect of becoming a baker or plumber only becomes attractive, if the potential earnings offset the enormous effort required to learn the tricks of the trade and other members of one`s extended family or local community serve as professional role models. Instead too many people in this country have grown to consider such tradespeople as simple low-end and easily replaceable human resources or possibly quaint characters portrayed on TV sitcoms or seen in exotic backwaters. TV chef, Jamie Oliver, recently took his healthy school meals campaign to the wilds of rural Lincolnshire, only to discover school catering staff unaware of local vegetable suppliers literally a stone`s throw from the school grounds preferring instead to visit their nearest supermarket. Yet down on the ground farmers are compelled to hire cheaper migrant labour in order to maintain the low prices that the big supermarket chain impose. As always there are two sides to a story. Polish smallholders have been driven off their land because foreign food chains like UK-based Tesco and the French CarrÃÆÂ'©four group have taken over large sections of the distribution chain preferring to buy from a smaller number of large agribusinesses rather than from thousands of smallholders that had until recently dominated Polish farming. The resulting conglomeration and restructuring inevitably caused rampant unemployment and a huge pool of cheap labour. Not surprisingly many Polish newcomers to the British Isles consider the natives here lazy, spoilt little brats.

Would not have been better for the English, Scots and Welsh to relearn the skills we need to fend for ourselves, and leave Eastern Europeans to develop independently and sustainably rather than emulate the ultimately soul-destroying and unsustainable Anglo-American neo-liberal model.

Power Dynamics

Breeding Hatred

One of the biggest dilemmas for environmental realists is striking the right balance between the potential infringement of human rights required to power down to a more sustainable society on one hand, and the inevitable threat to human rights if we don't take action now. Let's call this the human rights dilemma. One solution is simply to deny the relevance of the coming environmental collapse by idealising a variant form of cornucopia, believing everything would be okay if we just wrested power from the corporate-military elite and brought about a new world order founded on the principles of liberty, fraternity and egalitarianism, extending the ideals of the French revolution to all 6.5 billion citizens alive today and making room for the 9 billion plus expected to grace our humble planet by 2050. Wouldn't it be wonderful if billions more could enjoy the North American way of life with sprawling verdant suburbs, neat bungalows with double garages and private swimming pools populated by shiny happy citizens. Sadly such a reality is just a fantasy promoted by soap operas, incessant but often subtle advertising and peer pressure, but it's the ideal to which billions of our fellow world citizens aspire. The endless, but usually fruitless, pursuit of consumertopia is, as amply documented in Oliver James' excellent book Affluenza, the cause of much distress. Many teenagers in affluent countries acquie a deep sense of inferiority because they lack the kind of consumer gadgets their peers have or because they fail to emulate the cooldom and aesthetic perfection of media role models. Worse still the exponential rise in aggregate consumption by our species is ultimately suicidal, not just for indviduals but the vast majority of our fellow human beings. When nature begins to take its course, with its periodic natural distasters affecting ever greater numbers of people, you can bet the poorest and most vulnerable will always be the first to go.

The trendy left has long believed they can metaphorically have their cake and eat it. We can somehow let newcomers to our land join our consumer frenzy and cut carbon emissions. We can somehow guarantee everyone affordable transport, cheap food, free healthcare and an extensive welfare state and reduce collective consumption. We can incredibly subsidise single parents and unwanted babies and simultaneously guarantee every child love, affection and ggod education. Such idealists live, pardon my French, in cloud cuckoo land. We can obviously only welcome newcomers to our land if our environment and economy can sustain their presence. Likewise we can only provide transport, food, healthcare and social benefits if we can sustainably maintain the material means required. We can only subsidise unwanted children by spending billions on social workers, childcare professionals and state benefits, diverting resources from other needy categories, e.g. a child in council care can cost a UK council as much as £90,000 a year and in all likelihood will continue to be a burden on public finances later in life. A prevailing culture of hedonism and entitlements has created a situation in the UK where over 2 million adults live on incapacity benefit not because they suffer from a severe sensory or physical impairment, but because of essentially psychological problems brought on by social marginalisation and self-destroying indulgence in drugs and booze, whether legal or illegal.

As a result the country has recently attracted over a million newcomers from Eastern Europe to do jobs in the catering, building, transport and agricultural sectors that home-grown Britons used to do. The Polish plumber phenomenon has affected not just the bustling overcrowded metropolis of London, but has spread far and wide to areas with high indigenous unemployment. Some businesses like Subway and Starbucks have actively recruited new migrants and then sent them to their outlets the length and breadth of the land. In just 4 years we have learned to expect to be served by recent economic migrants and hardly blink an eyelid when outside we see another home-bred homeless islander selling the Big Issue or another alcoholic beggar pestering us for loose change. So why does the Big Issue seller not take up plumbing and why does the beggar not get a job in Starbucks, CaffÃÆÂ'¨ Nero or Costa Coffee? The sad truth is that too much hard work is required to learn the tricks of the trade required by competent plumbers and most native Brits on benefits would not be much better off on the minimum wage. Worse still most customers would rather be served by polite, attractive and smiling Eastern European staff in their early twenties than emotionally insecure and often incompetent members of Britain's underclass of non-productive long-term benefit claimants. The corporate-state behemoth has effectively dumbed down the former working class, while importing a steady flow of smarter and keener migrant workers from countries where young people are still motivated to learn the hard skills any viable society needs. To cap it all, I've even witnessed migrant care workers looking after mentally ill indigenous citizens. Such is the shortage of competent maths teachers willing to endure the stress of British secondary schools that increasingly education authorities resort to importing human resources from countries where an interest in the abstract science of numbers is still cool. Meanwhile indigenous teachers are deserting the profession in their droves, intimidated not only by children unruly behaviour but by a culture of fear, litigation, lack of respect and celebrity worship. The government talks tough on combatting the perceived threats of terrorism, street crime and illegal immigration, softening public opposition to draconian surveillance state legislation, but has actually created a hypercompetitive labour market with a large reservoir of disgruntled and alienated workers, desperately seeking a piece of the action. The net result is a brain drain in countries of net emigration and growing dependence on the tentacles of corporate grandeur and an enslaving welfare state. Yet for every newcomer to the wealthy world boosting their per capita consumption, there remain billions in the poor world unable to scrape together the funds for a one-way ticket to the citadels of consumerdom, but increasingly reliant on trickle-down subsidies sent home by distant relatives.

Opium of the People

It's hard to get closer to the heart of the corporate elite manipulating and conditioning the governing classes of the world's highest consumption economies than Rupert Murdoch. His media empire has in large part been responsible for winning popular support for neo-liberal or neo-conservative governments in the UK, Australia, the US and elsewhere. In the UK the switch from Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party to Tony's Blair's New Labour Party represented no shift in Rupert Murdoch's long term agenda. Both were tools that facilitated the implementation of globalist policies and transferred power away from local centres of power to unaccountable transnational corps and spurious supranational entities. Yet Murdoch has always known how to tailor his incessent propaganda to the target audience. In London, UK, you can pick up the Sun often bundled with free chocolate bars, bingo tickets or fuel discount vouchers, then enter Starbucks only to pick up a copy of the Times with your coffee. On the way home, you have to dodge distributors of the freebie LondonPaper, also owned by News International, and replete with celebrity gossip and other news deemed to be of a greater interest to trendy twenty-somethings who work in the city's thriving new media and advertising companies. This joins other freebies like the Metro, City A.M. and London Lite all aggressively handed out gratis by low-paid and usually migrant workers. Such papers end up littering the rapid transport system. The London Times still sets a semi-serious tone, requiring a reading age over ten, and a keen interest in world affairs. Its regular columnists include former Marxists and unlimited growth enthusiasts, Brendan O'Neill and Mick Hume, forever attacking green fascists as naive apologists for eugenics and simply writing their perceived enemies off as against progress. To this print media empire, we should of course, add Sky TV and Fox News.

It comes as little surprise alongside semi-intellectual apologists for our high-consumption lifestyle, the Murdoch press hires the services of populist automobile evangelist and TV celebrity of Top Gear fame, Jeremy Clarkson, responsbile for driving a landrover up a Scottish mountain, another 4x4 all the way to the North Pole and hiring a personal double-decker bus to take advantage of apparently empty bus-only lanes, which he thinks should be available to cars. At the Borders book store Top Gear now boasts its own section, replete with glossy picture books of shiny motors for aspriring Formula 1 champs to drool over.

It takes quite a huge leap of the imagination to conclude that the liberal media is largely responsible for environmental scare stories, but alas a growing number of left-leaning pundits such as William Engdahl and Greg Palast have gone down this route. A cult has arisen around climate change denial movies. Anthropogenic climate change is, of course, only a small piece in a much larger puzzle and, I dare say, often serves to dodge the key issue of the long-term sustainability of our growth-addicted model of development. We need merely raise the spectre of pseudo-environmentalist aristocrats such as Al Gore, Ted Turner or Prince Philip to whip up a mass frenzy of indignation against a secret plot to forcibly reduce the world's population and thus deny billions of the world's poor of the same luxuries we take for granted in the prosperous world.

It's hard to deny that environmental concerns tend to appeal much more to the better-educated professional classes than the wider working and welfare-dependent classes, including most recent economic migrants. Billions are invested annually in the never-ending promotion of consumption, entertainment and pure unadulterated mind control. The other day I asked a lady why she was reaching so eagerly for her copy of the Sun. Apparently unaware of who owned and controlled the newspaper, her reason for buying it was simple, to find out what's on the telly and read more celebrity gossip. No doubt she wrote me off as pompous twat with no affinity for the working class. Out in the provinces away from cosmopolitan metropolises, the UK has become a maize of Tesco Towns, with the masses meeting only for their weekly shopping sprees or to engage in entertainment events organised by large corporate operations. When not at work or at school, most are glued to gigantic plasma screens watching action-packed movies, surfing the commercialised Internet, engaging in violence-themed videogames or seeking new partners in dumbed-down chatrooms.

Green Tokenism

The real debates on the future of our species and sustainability of our civilisation we should be holding have been significantly dumbed down on two fronts. First, the masses from Aberdeen to Zagreb or Sydney to Shanghai are lured by the never-ending promotion of the North American way of life, quite obviously unattainable for most. In this context eco-friendliness is just another desirable commodity. Second, the chattering classes are presented with simplified moral arguments about our duty to tackle a whole host of evils, ranging from climatic catastrophes, racism, despotic regimes, famine, energy security, homophobia, women's rights, child abuse, terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. Whatever the purported problem, the solutions on offer assume the moral and cultural superiority of the enlightened global elite. Take the UK's Independent Newspaper, renowned for its championing of environmental causes. It's also one of the most unashamed proponents of immigration to an already overcrowded island. Yet for the simple minds of many sandal-wearing leftists, there is no conflict. Welcoming newcomers to our shores and buying energy-saving lightbulbs or cycling to work to reduce our environmental footprint are both part of our duty to help build a better world. Sadly in the grand scheme of things such efforts are futile. I can cycle to work or choose to tolerate overcrowded trains to reduce my carbon footprint, but the brainwashed masses, especially those who have just moved to a high consumption region, want to indulge as long they can afford it.

Some former Marxists and a handful of those who still adhere to this religion are acutely aware of the environmental paradox. Mike Davis, a Los Angeles-based activist, formerly associated with the International Socialists and author of Planet of Slums. Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster and City of Quart, has finally realised that decades of unsustainable development and reliance on a globalised network of multinationals and governmental organisations, has all but destroyed the last vestiges of worker solidarity. In a recent article published in, he concludes:

In light of such studies, the current ruthless competition between energy and food markets, amplified by international speculation in commodities and agricultural land, is only a modest portent of the chaos that could soon grow exponentially from the convergence of resource depletion, intractable inequality, and climate change. The real danger is that human solidarity itself, like a West Antarctic ice shelf, will suddenly fracture and shatter into a thousand shards. (full article)

Nonetheless to alleviate the human consequences of catastrophes caused by climate change in the poor world, Mike Davis still asks us to welcome more immigration on board our lifeboat. It's like inviting passengers from the lower decks of the Titanic, about to drown in a purportedly unsinkable ship, to board a luxury yacht just a few hundred metres away. Some would brave the icy waters, but while the yacht may accommodate a handful of desperate Titanic passengers, it too would sink if they all reached temporary safety. One way or another our failure to act now by powering down both consumption and reproduction will see an escalation of internecine warfare and famine, while the new corporate aristocracy run for the hills, building themselves havens of tranquillity with the resources they plundered in times of plenty.