1. This is really presumptuous of me, and I’m an amateur in the field, but reading through the most popular definitions of capitalism, it seems that almost all them airbrush its true nature to some degree. Could we, together, develop a better one, in one sentence?
2. I’m probably deceiving myself, but this feels to me like a tight definition. Unfortunately it’s likely to be incomprehensible to almost everyone:

“Capitalism is an economic system that constantly creates and ruptures its own hypervolume.”
3. This draws on a crucial ecological concept, developed by GE Hutchinson in 1957: the n-dimensional hypervolume. Here’s the presentation in which he explains it: www2.unil.ch/biomapper/Down…
4. Plainly, this won’t do, as any definition should be self-explanatory. So here’s a stab at something more comprehensible. It’s probably rubbish, so please improve it:
5. “Capitalism is an economic system founded in colonial expropriation, that operates along a constantly shifting and self-consuming frontier, on which natural wealth, labour and money are commodified and common resources captured by private interests.”

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More from @GeorgeMonbiot

6 Oct
Only when we look at the deep history of capitalism do we see it for what it really is: a fire front, raging across the planet, ignited by people who operate offshore.
My column.
Those who say they want to “reform” capitalism or “tame” capitalism appear to suffer from a fundamental misunderstanding of what capitalism is. They believe the story it tells about itself: that it’s a matter of buying and selling, hard work and enterprise. It really isn’t.
Capitalism is a specific and novel system, that arose in the mid-15th Century as a response to the opportunities created by colonisation. It involves not only the commodification of land, labour and money, but also the consumption of natural wealth and abandonment of the residue.
Read 12 tweets
6 Oct
As journalists, we all make mistakes. God knows I’ve made a few. But we should try to minimise them, by checking claims and confirming sources. This is especially important when an issue is highly contentious. And few are more contentious than this. Thread/
When I asked Dawn for confirmation of this story, she kindly sent this reply.
Then someone pointed me to this:
Read 4 tweets
5 Oct
Is the @NobelPrize for sciences outdated?
Science is like this.
Everyone here plays a crucial role in creating the pyramid. The person at the top is often arbitrary and perceptual. You can turn the pyramid on its side, and see a similar picture.
Our obsession with winners and our exaggerated perception of individual success might have made sense in an age of lonely pioneers. It makes no sense an age of massive, multinational collaborations.
I think we need new ways of recognising scientific progress and success.
There's also a long history of overlooking the contributions of women. Which often goes with the territory of treating collaboration as if it were rugged individualism.
Read 6 tweets
4 Oct
I've been trying to find out more about a case reported across the media, of a woman allegedly left paralysed by Insulate Britain protests. So far the only evidence I can find is a call to a phone-in show by someone who didn't provide a surname. Has it been confirmed? Thanks.
The Daily Mail made this request to its readers:

"Do you know Chris or his mother affected by the protest? Get in touch"

It has not followed up, as far as I can see. This raises questions for me. It's the kind of story the Mail would give more space to if it had more material.
None of the media outlets that reported it appear to have conducted due diligence on this important story, ie attempted to discover whether or not it is true. It might be true. But you'd hope for a higher evidential bar than a call to a phone-in, without even a surname.
Read 5 tweets
1 Oct
The worst major crop for soil erosion in the UK is maize: widely spaced, planted and harvested late, leaving the land bare in winter: a formula for disaster. Most of it is grown for animal feed, but the fastest expansion is for anaerobic digestion. Thread/ assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/upl… Image
In both cases, we’re compromising the future productivity of the land, and therefore our own survival, for perverse and unnecessary reasons (we don’t need animal products). But growing maize to dump into anaerobic digesters is a real outrage.
The whole point of AD was to use waste materials to make biogas. That’s how it was sold to us. But from the beginning, the government encouraged farmers to grow dedicated crops for it, especially maize, silage and potatoes, all which happen to be ecologically devastating.
Read 7 tweets
1 Oct
I’m still getting harangued by people insisting that the “real” problem is too many children being born, blissfully unaware that birth rates are collapsing. Residual growth is caused by demographic momentum. They are literally arguing with a mathematical function.
It’s like a wave generated in the mid-Atlantic by a storm four generations ago, which is only now reaching the shore. Those demanding we stop it are the King Canutes of our time.
Why does this wilful ignorance persist? Because it’s a highly convenient way of deflecting blame.
Rather than complaining about birthrates, it would make more sense, at this point in the curve, to complain about longevity. But this would mean the argument bounced back onto the people making the complaint. And the whole point, consciously or otherwise, is to shift the blame.
Read 4 tweets

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