(Updated March 22nd)

Just until I get properly back into the swing of things I’d like to share this short documentary (via The Void and The Lifeboat News message board, hastily assembled after the scuttling of the Media Lens message board at the start of the new year) about the current state of the benefits system in the UK which goes into some detail about the process it puts people through – often those in the most vulnerable of personal situations through no fault of their own. It includes interviews from some who have experienced it first hand along with dissident doctors and psychologists who are brave enough to critique the neoliberal leanings of their profession and demand something better. I related to the part where the psychologist affirmed that perceptions of environmental and social damage can cause trauma directly without having to refer it back to mum & dad and childhood issues as neoliberal psychology tends to do – directing attention away from social ills and focusing on what’s wrong with the individual. I think I’ve been labouring under that burden for a long time now…

What will fascism look like if/when it comes to this country and others like it? Well, for me this film made it clear that for some it has already arrived, and it’s nasty as hell:

Also ask yourself if this seemingly inevitable downward trajectory would still be possible with analysis & discussion of this depth and quality routinely available in the major media outlets. Then check the TV listings for what kind of poverty porn or benefits bashing the population gets inundated with on a regular basis and mourn. Or get angry…

***Update, March 22nd***

This video of Jack Monroe talking to Scottish Greens about the ‘hidden costs of austerity’ gives more powerful first-hand insights into what having to rely on government benefits is like for people in this country, even for the young & (relatively) able-bodied:

I posted this to the old MLMB a while back, commenting that ‘hearing personal stories makes it real’ and:

Something about the way her voice is always on the point of breaking up with no real breath going through it. I’ve heard it a few times before, mostly when young people try to tell the truth about their lives. Like they’re about to burst into tears at any moment but a strange, thin kind of hardness stops it from happening. It gets me too sometimes. Sad…

There but for the grace of [your preferred deity] we could all go. The person who clipped my bike on the ride to work in the morning a few months ago could easily have taken my leg out as well, or bounced me into the ditch or in the middle of the road in front of a lorry. Then where would I be? Not much gardening you can do while in a full body cast! No wages=no rent=no food=no security=utter dependency on family and/or the state and/or any measly legal compensation which may or may not materialise. Keep on living for long enough and you lose your youthful invincibility, no matter what others might try & tell you (usually because they benefit in some way from you burning up your energy like that, while also trying to avoid responsibility for when this strategy inevitably backfires).

6 Responses to “‘Psychocompulsion’”

  1. douglasjack Says:

    In balanophagy for those eating acorns & other tree-nuts, I’ve a friend Dag Radicevic an engineer with 7 engineering licences who has cultivated mostly nut trees on 60 acres called Kadafar (Holdings), over the past 35 years in the municipality of St-Lazare west of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. When Dag bought the property, soil was only 2 centimetres deep. In order to rebuild the biosphere on this property with a kilometre of river running through the middle, 35 years ago, Dag approached local & regional Landscape contractors to bring their trucks full of fall-leaves, grass-clippings, branch-chips & barn-cleanings in what has amounted to 150,000 tonnes of material which through chip roads has been spread across most of the property. On most spring, summer & fall days, trucks come to drop their loads. Among the leaves have been many tonnes of acorns both sweet (white) & bitter (black, brown, red etc), butternuts (a very-tasty nut), other nuts & fruits. Dag’s helpers have been mostly squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, blue-jays & other animals or birds, who immediately understood their role in replanting the landscape with trees & began to find the best places to plant mostly nuts. Helpers have planted some 90,000 nuts as 90% of what is mostly an oak based polyculture orchard. At an average of 25 years old, the oaks & butternuts at about 35 centimetres across at the base are now themselves producing tonnes of acorns per tree per year.

  2. douglasjack Says:

    Replying to Psycho-Compulsion. Wonderful liberation film. I appreciate the socio-economic analysis, but lets take explore the exploitation we are facing systematically, deeper to understand origins in the ‘colonial’ system in which we all live now worldwide. Exploitation of people is intimately linked with colonial destruction of Balanophagy against Europe’s ‘indigenous’ (Latin ‘self-generating’) Celtic & other worldwide roots. Let’s consider solutions offered by humanity’s indigenous organizational culture in multihome-dwelling-complexes aka ‘Great-good-way-of-kindness’ aka ‘Great-law-of-peace’ aka ‘Constitution’. 70% of the world’s population live in multihomes today, yet we are isolated because of not-understanding how to animate & recognize/account for our complementary talents together. Our strengths in the relationships, right-where-we-are. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/home/indigenous-circle-of-life
    Humanity’s colonial period started some 8,000 years ago with the destruction of Babylon’s 3-dimensional ‘indigenous’ Polyculture Orchards (mostly oak) with 92 – 98% solar photosynthesis & roots descending tens of metres deep for ‘agriculture’ (L ‘ager’ = ‘field’). Total photosynthesis creates continental cold spots which attract warm-moist-ocean-winds inland where 60% of moisture transfer is through condensation of wet winds on trillions of kilometres of fractal leaf surfaces. Only 40% of water is transferred through rain-snow. At 30 degrees Latitude, Babylon’s sun is quite steep & burnt off 2-D fields which photosynthesize only 2 – 8% of solar energy & reflect the rest back into the troposphere with shallow centimetres deep roots leaving the substrate hard-packed & barren. Some 95% of solar energy when not photosynthesized, then pushes winds from continent towards the sea. In complete self-delusion agriculturalists destroyed massive tree-canopy & associated understory food production to slave at field production which is only 1/100th as productive. Other species which collaborate with human primates (tree-people) lose their food, water, air & soil producing biosphere as well. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/design/1-indigenous-welcome-orchard-food-production-efficiencies
    In scarcity’s fear & conflict, humans institutionalize in hierarchal command & control psycho-compulsion structures including police, army, central government & schools, which for the bruised colonial ego indoctrinate the lie of ‘advancement’. Indigenous peoples worldwide are distinguished by living in 100 person critical-mass multihome-dwelling-complex (Longhouse/apartment, Pueblo/townhouse & Kanata/village) ‘economy’ (Greek ‘oikos’ = ‘home’ + ‘namein’ = ‘care-&-nurture’) where intergenerational female/male collaboration is possible because of proximity. Privacy for individual & family is essential for ‘community’ (L ‘com’ = ‘together’ + ‘munus’ = ‘gift-or-service’), so indigenous peoples constructed dwellings with full privacy in mind. Indigenous ‘Kindness’ stemmed from 2 essential practices of 1) multihome proximity & 2) time-based human-resource accounting previously recorded on the String-shell accounting tools of every people worldwide within the Production-Society/Guild. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/relational-economy
    Within the average 100 person (32 units) multihome, multimillion dollar ‘Economies-of-Scale’ & multiplication through internal accounting for time, labour, goods & service contributions, enable most people to join together with like-minded others & contribute in their own way with intimacy. Guilds were systems of ‘Progressive-ownership’ over the course of one’s lifetime starting with the ‘Vision-Quest’ of youth at adolescence internally identifying one’s gift for community, then proceding through mentored-apprenticeship. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/structure/8-vision-quest-education
    The most serious mistake is to ignore our inherent relational strengths & obsess with institutional & political jockeying for power, when we have the talent & tools among us already programmed by the life-force we are. ‘Do we know who we are?’ is a web-based Human Resource Catalogue HRC, resource mapping & a Community Investment & Exchange System CIES Community Economy software available for those who are organizing their own capacities in the ‘fractal’ (‘part-contains-the-whole’) multihomes & neighbourhoods where we already live. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/structure/9-do-we-know-who-we-are

  3. Ian M Says:

    Thanks for dropping by with that analysis, Douglas. I agree that the roots of modern, globalised colonialism & exploitation have deep roots closely associated with the rise of agricultural societies and their tendency to spread through conquest and assimilation, usually involving an attack on the subsistence base of the people whose land they were trying to move into.

    Respect to your friend who seems to have embodied the permaculture principle of ‘the problem is the solution’ very well! My original balanophagy post had a link to an American newspaper article (since taken down, it seems) describing much the same approach of a lady inviting tree surgeons & gardeners to dump their ‘waste’ for free in her back garden and the ensuing wildlife bonanza. Sadly the gardening work I find myself doing leads to a very different, in most ways more impoverished ecological situation – largely related to the fact that most of the organic matter gets taken out of the system in the form of ‘weeds’, leaves, cuttings etc. A lot of it gets recycled into compost or put onto the farmer’s fields at least, but that heavy concentration of nutrients in one place can’t be good for the local ecology either (although it sounds like your friend’s land has thrived from the treatment, at least for now).

    Best wishes for your ongoing work with ‘Indigene’. I’ll have to check out those links you provide at some point soon.


    • douglasjack Says:

      RE: Agricultural psycho-compulsion. Thanks Ian for maintaining this Balanophagy discussion on the web. I enjoy your information as well as discussion from commenters. Being an orchardist, owning an orchard, working in diverse nut, fruit, vineyard orchards & surrounding gardens over 45 years, observing traces of traditional 1st Nation Polyculture-Orchards, studying humanity’s worldwide ‘indigenous’ (Latin ‘self-generating’) Polyculture Orchards, having worked in multiple grain production, milling & having worked for decades in natural foods warehousing, distribution & retailing, I measure, observe & assess that; 2-D ‘agriculture’ (L ‘ager’ = ‘field’) is a massive deficit compared with the Polyculture which colonial invaders destroyed.

      Assessment includes: food, materials, energy, water-cycle, labour, infrastructure-investment, wildlife-biosphere deficit created in France, Great-Britain, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark etc. when Rome invaded & destroyed Celtic Oak-based 3-dimensional Polyculture orchards. The calculation I make is that a 50 square metre piece of land will support a large 150 year old oak, which if fed bio-digested leaves, yard-waste, food-waste, fecal & urine would produce up to 10 tonnes of bitter or sweet acorns per year with little labour. The same 50 square metres in 2-D grain production will only produce 2 – 3 kilograms & only after the slavery of constant ploughing, weeding, fertilization, irrigation, back braking harvesting, winnowing & processing. Because canopies tree-roots mine minerals & pump water 10s of metres into the substrate, develop deep nutrient colonies & hold immense quantities of water in root & bark, a biosphere is created favourable to hundreds of species which aid in our work. In cultivating the 3-dimensional polyculture orchard then we fully 92 – 98% harvest the sun, penetrate the earth’s substrate with our tree-roots & attract ocean winds into the continent. In alignment with nature we are 100 times (10,000%) more productive than 2-D ‘agriculture’ (L ‘ager’ = ‘field’) & false economies. The Orchard-Food-Production-Efficiencies web-link below gives detailed calculations for various aspects. Colonial societies including once indigenous Celtic Europe have perpetuated an obsessive-compulsive violent pathology to people & biosphere for 1000s of years now. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/design/1-indigenous-welcome-orchard-food-production-efficiencies Present day agricultural so-called science & most university programs are based in almost a complete lie from lack of honest discourse & debate.

  4. Ian M Says:

    Not much to add in response, but thanks for telling me about your experiences in grain vs orchard / polyculture production. It shows just how backward agrarian logic is when their methods fail to outproduce polycultures, even when bringing down the ecology to the lowest common denominator and channeling all the energy into a handful of species. We’re told it’s dog eat dog and that we have to fight a ruthless war against every kind of wild species just to scrape by with a meagre subsistence, and that this gives us a security that ‘savages’ (from Latin ‘silva’ meaning forest) could never enjoy… Rubbish! The opposite is true.


  5. Ian M Says:

    Al Jazeera report on people living on benefits in Manchester, and what they have to go through when they get sanctioned:


    James’ story:

    James had previously worked in many jobs, including telesales and ticket inspection on the local train services, but had found himself – like more than 1.6 million others in the UK – unemployed.

    He had been on the dole for around a year when he was sanctioned, meaning that for three months his benefit payments were stopped.

    Sanctioning is the punitive measure introduced by the country’s last government – a Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition – seemingly to encourage the unemployed to seriously search for work while claiming benefits.

    However, as James soon found out, the practice of sanctioning can have a hugely detrimental effect on quality of life. James simply couldn’t afford to pay his bills.

    “I don’t think they [the Jobcentre] realise what they do to you. It was February, it was the middle of winter. How do you survive with no lighting? How do you survive with no heating?” he says

    “I am not fortunate enough to have come from a good family and my family just didn’t want to know. There was no help forthcoming there.”

    His friends did help out a little, but with mortgages and childcare to pay for themselves, there wasn’t much they could do.

    He says he wasn’t told about the Jobcentre’s hardship payment – a reduced amount of benefits for those who cannot afford to pay for essentials during sanctioning.

    “It is shocking that they didn’t actively inform me of a thing called hardship. I think that’s terrible and I can’t be the only one that they have not done this for,” he says.

    “They stopped my rent [payments] as well, which meant after three months I was over £2,000 ($2,872) in rent arrears. I’ve [since] gone to work, paid a lot of it off, but I am still in arrears.”


    “I used to sit in the library a lot. At least it was warm and I could read.

    “Prior to the sanction I weighed 70 kilos. After three months I weighed 54. What was there to eat?

    “With no food and no warmth I just descended. It was like living in hell. I used to see people begging on the streets and think they have more money than me. By the end of it, even when I did try to eat, a banana would fill me up.”


    James would go to different supermarkets to save 10p ($0.14) on reduced items.

    “When you’re that poor you’ve actually got to consider where every single penny is going,” he says.

    He even considered committing crimes and begging to supplement his income.

    “Anything of value that was in my house was either pawned or sold, and at the end of those three months, I looked around my house – I didn’t have a television, I didn’t have a stereo, I didn’t have a mountain bike. Anything that was of value had gone.

    “At the end of those three months I had carpets, I had a sofa, I had a microwave and I had a cooker, and that was it.

    “I wondered why I was going a bit doolally [crazy], but if you’re not eating properly it affects you. You’ve got all this time on your hands and all you’re thinking is how can I do this? I’ve got absolutely nothing. You can’t even read a book in the dark.”


    Despite the toll poverty had taken on James’ physical and mental health, he continued to apply for “countless” jobs.

    Then, one day, he received a call from a friend to say that there was a job for him at a train station in Birmingham. It was a two-hour commute away – meaning that he would have to travel for four hours a day – but he immediately accepted it and started work.

    He has since been offered a job closer to home.

    “Working has done me the power of good, absolutely brilliant. It’s been wonderful,” he says.

    “When you are unemployed, you are unemployable. When you’ve got a job, it’s much easier to get a job. You can get a proper CV and references. Sometimes you just need a little helping hand to get you to the next step up.”

    But his feelings towards the Jobcentre haven’t changed.

    “The Jobcentre isn’t there to help people,” he says. “The Jobcentre is there now to trip you up into the traps they set for you.

    “They say that there are all these jobs everywhere, but not everyone has got the skills.”

    Now the question is: What does rewilding have to offer people in this kind of situation? How can more fortunate people help when the government clearly doesn’t give a fuck and all the social security backups have been eroded nearly beyond the point of usefulness; are now in fact part of the problem trapping these people in their misery? Are we actually doing something useful by providing voluntary services, aid or charity (avoiding condescension or being patronising as best we can) to try to alleviate the problem, or does this simply allow the government to shirk its responsibilities – responsibilities it took on when it destroyed the industries and livelihoods which would have kept many of these people in work (or stood by while faceless ‘market forces’ did the same), and before that pushing them off the land away from the subsistence practices which would have meant they didn’t need jobs in the first place? It’s a tricky one. I feel like this is where my knowledge is most needed, but I don’t see an entry point where I can start, and worry about the class obstacles that would be difficult to overcome… I’m thinking it would be very shitty for a relatively privileged middle-class person to jump over the prison wall and do nothing to help those stuck behind do the same. Really the whole prison needs to be entirely dismantled and new societies built from scratch based on principles of equality and justice. But again: Where does that leave us?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: