An Open Letter to George Monbiot

In 2013 you wrote extolling the universal basic income (UBI)

I invented it, not knowing It already existed.

I agree with your explanation of the social justice case for the UBI, but my reasons were very different. I thought of the idea on the way home from a traumatic evening in 1973 when I joined what became the Green Party.

I listened to the founder members explaining the MIT report Limits to Growth. The gist was that although economic growth had given us the modern world, it had to stop, before it trashed the ecosphere. I agreed with every word.

But I had a discussion with one of the founders before I left, which went as follows:

Me: You are proposing a recession, possibly deep, and possibly long term. Recessions produce hardship. What if people riot because of shortages?

Founder Member: We shall call it a steady state economy. But if necessary, Martial Law. You have just come 100 miles to agree with us, right? So do you agree that if we have to shoot a few people in the street to get through the transition, that will be rather less nasty than what will happen if we do nothing? If you have a better idea, you had better come up with it fast.

I joined on the spot despite that conversation, but I am still traumatized by it. By the time I reached home, I had invented the UBI.

I had the vision that a new. post-growth narrative could emerge based on the UBI. But 46 years have not just been wasted, Silicon Valley welcomes the UBI’s ability to foster growth.

Meanwhile, a chorus of normal people who worry about the coming ecological breakdown think I am naive, and the UBI as a part of the salvation hare-brained.

Am I hare-brained, or far sighted due to my abnormal mind? We shall only find out if it is tried. Is there an eco-crisis about to happen or not? What I do know is that when I went Jehovah’s Witness style door to door in 1974 with the message,

The End of the World need not be at Hand,

one in 10 were relieved that someone was doing something in response to Limits.  By 2007 (just before the Northern Rock crash) the number on the doorstep concerned about the threat to the ecosphere had risen to 1 in 4. The necessary mind set paradigm shift could have been already in motion. On that basis the Green New Deal would have been in place years ago.

George, you are probably among the normal 90% who think I am misguided. My wildest dream is that you give your public support to a book which would consist of a coherent arrangement of this jumbled weblog.

My minimum request is that you publish my weblog address

www.clivelord.wordpress.com

and invite readers to make up their own minds. Martial Law is beginning to look like the least we can expect when governments answer Greta Thunberg’s panic call.

7 responses to “An Open Letter to George Monbiot

  1. Reblogged this on RogersLongHairBlog and commented:

    Hi Clive,
    As we have established before UBI is something we agree on as we also do regarding Post Growth.
    If I can be of any assistance at all it is by suggesting that you would be better off talking with Justin Walker ( also a founder member of the Green Party)

    The Green New Dealers and The Modern Monetary Theory people are being exposed as pretty extreme Stalinist types CLive.

    But I had a discussion with one of the founders before I left, which went as follows:

    Me: You are proposing a recession, possibly deep, and possibly long term. Recessions produce hardship. What are your plans when people riot because of shortages?

    Founder Member: We shall call it a steady state economy. But if necessary, Martial Law. You have just come 100 miles to agree with us, right? So do you agree that if we have to shoot a few people in the street to get through the transition, that will be rather less nasty than what will happen if we do nothing? If you have a better idea, you had better come up with it fast.

    Critical reflection on practice is a requirement of the relationship between theory and practice. Otherwise, theory becomes simply “blah, blah, blah, ” and practice, pure activism. Paulo Freire.
    Physician Heal Thyself. Luke 4.23

    https://longhairedmusings.wordpress.com/2019/07/03/critical-reflection-on-practice-is-a-requirement-of-the-relationship-between-theory-and-practice-otherwise-theory-becomes-simply-blah-blah-blah-and-practice-pure-activism-paulo-freire/

  2. Hi Clive,
    As we have established before UBI is something we agree on as we also do regarding Post Growth.
    If I can be of any assistance at all it is by suggesting that you would be better off talking with Justin Walker ( also a founder member of the Green Party)

    The Green New Dealers and The Modern Monetary Theory people are being exposed as pretty extreme Stalinist types CLive.

    But I had a discussion with one of the founders before I left, which went as follows:

    Me: You are proposing a recession, possibly deep, and possibly long term. Recessions produce hardship. What are your plans when people riot because of shortages?

    Founder Member: We shall call it a steady state economy. But if necessary, Martial Law. You have just come 100 miles to agree with us, right? So do you agree that if we have to shoot a few people in the street to get through the transition, that will be rather less nasty than what will happen if we do nothing? If you have a better idea, you had better come up with it fast.

    Critical reflection on practice is a requirement of the relationship between theory and practice. Otherwise, theory becomes simply “blah, blah, blah, ” and practice, pure activism. Paulo Freire.
    Physician Heal Thyself. Luke 4.23

    https://longhairedmusings.wordpress.com/2019/07/03/critical-reflection-on-practice-is-a-requirement-of-the-relationship-between-theory-and-practice-otherwise-theory-becomes-simply-blah-blah-blah-and-practice-pure-activism-paulo-freire/

  3. Thank you Roger Lewis. I don’t actually disagree with any of the evidence you adduce, but part of my thesis is that once you guarantee basic needs everyone can, if they have ability, rise to the top (whatever that means) So it doesn’t matter if an elite attain world domination – anyone can be part of it, and no one need be oppressed
    Justin Walker and the GND. To cut two long stories short, neither get to root causes imo. I think the GND would work fine as a part of what is necessary with the UBI..

    • “no one need be oppressed”.
      I must say Clive that I do not share any optimism which you have that a World hegemonic Elite would not oppress anyone as there really is little need for it, on the contrary, the evidence tends to suggest that unbridled exclusive power is used to oppress rather a lot of people.

  4. You assume the current growth based mind set: “we have to oppress, or risk others oppressing us” A mind set which realizes that we have to preserve the ecosphere leads to strategies which remove that necessity

  5. Pingback: Who is right, Sandy or me? – RogersLongHairBlog·

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