— David Ricardo and Robin Hood of Sherwood
The title comes from Laurie Anderson but is about history. The story of myths in the tree of lies, regarding love, power and snakes. A very, very serious attempt on my part to get at an old friend of mine; Mediaeval history and the added help of natural science to explain it (Robin/ Robert of Locksley yarn). The story of economics becoming ecology — which lies inevitably in our future. GDP is much more energy-dependent than economics says it does (Heinberg, 2011). The crowd at Peakprosperity.com have followed my series, maybe you should too? There is a sense in which we can discuss politics, and yet avoid politics.
P A R T — O N E
Futuresque — different kinds of futures
If this ties in anything to McLuhan´s global village it is in the fact that some folks will live in cities in the future, and some will live in the country — do you see a pattern here? It is estimated that during the Middle Ages, net net no population increase was made in cities (which is not the pattern we find today, we might think cities were good overall for the population, and today yes, but then no). And when you think about it it makes sense for mediaeval society to have been “non-urban” so to speak, having expansion take place in the country. On the whole we do not separate 12th century England from 15th century England, which is a very grave mistake. Read further to understand why! Especially parts three and four. How McLuhan can say things about the global village and make sense in the late or early 60s is my worry, it seems for complex reasons (complexity is one of my fortes) McLuhan was wrong. The global village has imploded. To be able to talk firmly about this we need both history and explanation of the story (Robin´s tale), but also a more philosphical aide or hand-maiden, namely the introduction of some ideas in Richard Heinberg. This series is based on The End of Growth.
These relations have a deeper level. A big uproar was quenched in 1381, but it is only indicative of a more generally unruly peasant class, touching various parts of Europe over a three hundred year period. A noble robber, is at best a contradiction, and in the worst case a fiction. Was it a nobleman hiding in the woods? A contemporary of Richard Lionheart, the fabled king of our story. Well if all of this is true, the local community is thought out of the story, with the result that we miss the whole point of the story. The end of growth story.
Ecology is the share-owners paradise?
This is a story of the people who say we have become snubbed by history, and we have forgotten energy. Because energy is a base problem, base in the sense that we think it comes from sitting around and expecting more (wood or coal). Heinberg tells us how yoked we are to energy and how yoked consumerism is to energy, thereby yoking us like a mediaeval peasantry to ever-expanding consumption of more oil, as in a race to the bottom. So no more than the myth of our world contains technology (the snake) does our lives contain snakes. But this tale has two contents one historical the other moral or environmental. The snakes are there after all you see. We get lost holding onto all the myth. So is our mythological forest much like this woody tale, and then what might we learn? So how about thinking and thinking right about human ecology/ economy? What is the future?
Yes not just history but philosophy too, so what about? Does science beat science? My set goal is to present Ricardo and his present day disciple Richard Heinberg. In another piece here at Medium (Fluxology revisited — how Steven Chu will save us) I argued that complex systems are slippery, Sherwood the mediaeval forest may tie in with this kind of slipperiness — has it got qualites we have denied? Here history is too plain, too smooth, too uncomplicated. The Ricardo connection is funny. Because the economic sciences back in early 19th century — two classes of “economics” existed, this is why Ricardo/ Smith / Malthus (Bastiat)are at a certain level “equals”. Which were these economicks then? The industrial classes were not as yet established, feudal/ land-owners were vying. The third class was working class people — Ricardo in this setting was on the one hand an early liberal (laissez-faire) economist but ON THE OTHER HE WAS CONTEMPORARY to the abominable Napoleon and the abominable Malthus. No caveat is good unless it makes a point — Ricardo was the brat to watch at the turn — of that century. This rant for those who wonder about the Heinberg-Ricardo connect. The connect is an important one, see further partido secundo. Applying Ricardo is seeing his dynamism and his theory of rents — ya see he was there, at the frontier, we take him for granted, this is not completely warranted. To all of these thinkers, land was the big issue — yet as we know (and this theme is only fully developed in part two of this story — coal saved the day, and colonialism, even slavery in post-slavery dress — i.e Heinberg’s theme of energy as the main event in that story). Now, back to the woods!
A more soul-searching text by me pertaining to control and subjugation is /this one link; https://medium.com/p/master-and-servant-b05da154d936
In prepping for the second part
But Heinberg (see end bit) point to psychology, how odd! And most of this is about Robin and less about Heinberg, so it is preparation for part two; welcome and enjoy! Do not expect too much on Richard Heinberg here. The intro of a thinker like Heinberg could start here! (and look out for part two, during the long summer)
ROBIN HOOD — the socially aware philanthropist
It is sometimes asked if Robin was a great philanthropist, or if he wasn´t? To answer that question snakes will have to be sacrificed, and seeds of Hemlock inhaled, because the question begs on us to ask other questions, and we might have to use hard science to escape the loop of myth eventually. The forest in all its complexity is breathing with all of the men and women involved I suppose. Marion is said to have entered the myth after the 14th century, like some play at Broadway where characters shift for political reasons only, or is there a greater director here? Is Nature steering this? Yepp! She is…
Did Robin take from the rich and give to the poor? Did he?
How do I set this in stone, or even wood? Let´s write till our red sun sinks. I feel comfort in the knowing that it is an age long gone. Or are we just doing same? Is our psychology any different? No, we destroy with lusty love, craving more. Thus our lush story begun, on the large trunk of a giant oak tree. Laying at the side of a joyous gully, split by lightning or Sherwood´s secret army of green, thus boasting of their skills in forestry and their sway over this shaded spot. I almost hear their silent approach as the green leaves rustle, but now I doubt that. It cannot be so, I hope, as I bite my quill and dip it in the digital ink.
Ricardo warned about it, are people like David Ricardo and people like Heinberg coming back to haunt us? I choose to believe what Heinberg says we have even less time to prep for the drying up of Sherwood. It is really a sign of great tensions when a scientist and an artist (Laurie Anderson) do express the same concerns, to me it is a sign of a really big disconnect. It goes back to Laurie Anderson as well, as she overtly opposes science, BIG SCIENCE HALLELUJAH. BIG SCIENCE… even. The picture of Don Corleone is an allusion to another Richard — the lion hearted Richard of the Robin story. And even if Laurie Anderson sings about science, the connection might be vague there, in our forest, as we sit ourselves down to listen to the minstrel´s tale. But I see a connection, if vaguely present only at dawn, in a certain light…
You see I have devised a plan to accomodate climate change between the 12th to 15th century and make it visible, resulting in many stories of poor Robin. Small versions. The tilt is towards change, and myth varies over time. We know the story, but do we infact know that climate plays its part, and that any myth changes over time? Yes deep down we knew there was that twist.
So where do we start? Ecological tensions might lay at the bottom of Sherwoods myths, for as the centuries progressed, the forests of Sherwood became used and made more smallish as Sherwood harkened (the forest in person, enters the stage) to the hacking and noises from armies of men both poor and rich. Cutting at the branch of Sherwood, and beckoning forth its final fall, into grace or a cute parkland with electric lamp-posts where my scribe sits scribbeling away. Now lacking the magic it once possessed, now trampled under the foot of armies (over time)! Weather as a tell-tale in the shifting history of the Sherwood demesne? The climate was also better we now know, better how? Temperatures declined slowly, we now know.
TED — investigate this or check out later (Richard Heinberg)
R ephrasing — S H E R W O O D — the actual Sherwood history
This places Robin, square in the middle of a mythological story, involving a struggle between two naked people fighting over some rotten apples and a snake. Why is it necessary to check on Robin Hood for details of forestry? Give me a thums up if you think so (green heart) because it warms me. Richard the first, won the heart of his people, but might it all be due to a weird climate anomaly? It might.
The Sherwood Corleones were part of that strange weather event. In which oil was discovered deep in the Sherwood wildlife protection area (wood-chops and chips seen as equivalents of oil/ coal and modern culture as similar metaphorically speaking). On the question of ecology, can we use Sherwood and Robin, and Richard the first as models? These things and many more will be revealed. Is Robin Hood the story of a great forest not of a great man? The brave and robinesque king Richard is famous because he is an ideal — that ideal was a snap-shot in Olde England (Richard is said to have spent 6 months in his own England which was part of his French kingdom) — as climate will worsen (the 12 to 13th centuries are hotter and temperature worsens slowly, as seen by the data) so will the versions of the Robin Hood story… Myth should have that quality, be a folksy freudian legend. It should in fact.
Well let us posit that atleast. If humans history is shift between group and person (cf. David Riesman)— then the Robin Hood myth conceals both our biases and a deep story of human ecology. The sociology of it is very simple; conflict increases over time, other exact details are not investigated. Looking at Heraclitus´ thinking in terms of limitations of human thought is a rough and ready approximate of these insights (people will not see nature for what it is as Heraclitus says war, or strife is the essence, this to Heraclitus is the “world” or the “logos” as he calls it). Greek philosophy is a battle for new insight into the possible answers to that same Sherwood question. But the history of thought is not investigated here any, I am just pointing to some connections. We leave it there. People prefer stories to actual factual history. Sorry books and quotes. Yes, in part three the philosophy of it will come too.
T wo stories, one fake and one historic are here present to our very eyes. At
the time of the French King Lionheart (ruler of England 1189–1199)we have
the historic Robert of Locksley. But the King was living and fighting in
France, no stranger to the French cuisine. The Robin Hood story revolves
around rich and poor, and hiding in the forests. In the Hollywood forêt
Robert was seen hiding and riding along our path, and he left a pile of
phony Hollywood rocks. You see, as I walked along the Hadrian Wall I
stumbled upon it, and heard it all (the left-overs of the film-makers left on
site), yet they are there for all to behold, to this very day. A pile of rocks for
theatrical performance in the cinematographic registration of said movie-
theatre classic (1990s). A question sometimes asked is; did Robin the
green and cloaked hoodlum have a heart of gold? This is what people
are asking. So we have a new and cineastic portrait of Robin and the historic
one, and out comes the “real” story, or so I hope. Richard Lionheart is as we
will see, is some scarecrow only. A straw man. Yet a new film is to be made.
My answer is much like that snake which got its head split in twain oozing bits; The locals supported Robin, and so the raisons for killing our snaky friend who lies here dead before my feet came to naught, to nothing in the end. If the locals supported him, sustained him, what good is it to ask did he love them? Did they love him (?) is a more appropriate question. The real story of mediaeval England during the period was in fact about wood, and about climate (wood was sought for heat, but climate was beyond man´s reach back then, today we seem to have a sky-forest clearing to bother around, this is taking the metaphore, making a metaphore of it again).
At this point electric lights along the path light up, so I stretch my legs and sit by the ever-white light along the stinking gully. Yet if I recall killing a snake that calls for thinking, so we now move on to the other half of it— the larger chunk is what we are now looking at. The question of his morals and his fibre. Yes, likely he had a local connection to the wood, but was he good? We know that Robin Hood has been the hero of tales for some three hundred years, which makes fact finding a ridiculous task at best, since we then are in fact dealing in a fairy tale, or a myth of popular origin. So how do we start to think? Stop and consider the spider sitting up there on that dead white light — it sits there to collect prey, in that nightly lamp. What we must not forget is that the other part of the snake´s head is that myth changes over time. So we have two things, or halves of the head. Primo; we are here face to face with a folksy tale and it would be folly to not assume locals to support Robin Hood. The answer to the question disappears if his business was their business so to speak. Secundo; the tale changes, as that snake will, fade, rot, disappear, dissolve and be nothing more than bones. The tale of the 11th century Robin, might be very different from the 15th century Robin of Sherwood, would he not? Then this change came from what, why did the tale change? It was preserved, yes, but details, such as Marion and other things were added.
Can our history have things to say about our present dilemma of scarcity?
The climate in our wine bar. At Sherwood we put the customers first in line, then rip them off. Was Robin Hood, one of the great CEOs back in the day, a real socialist? Every industry has its myths, the Sherwood Industries Inc. is no different. It is at times said that a snake ate the apple and then fell down dead in the loving arms of a lovely maiden princess two hundred enchanting years later. That is said to be how Marion entered the mythical wood, and the mythical studio-wood of Holly. Easily explained by the fact that political climate changed over time and thus changed the story. Richard Lionheart (12th century), David Ricardo (economist late 18th to early 19th century) and Richard Heinberg (snake oil salesman and descendent of Greenhood) — what is the game? There is a game of Thrones going on here? Heinberg is your spokesman of oil, and of scarcity. Sherwood is the mainstay of the story. Sherwood is also chopped down we can assume. The difference between exchange value and labour value (or social value) is one of David Ricardo's great triumphs, the special relation land had with rent surprised Ricardo (for it was not really commodified) and will concern us more later on.
Royal monies — Come as you are, (but) pay as you go…
I suppose Richard was a kind of Trump. He was a direct descendant of William the conquerer (through his father Henry II), but for all intents and purposes was a frenchie frogman. His claim to fame resides in his involvement in the middle-east, so he was a nobleman and “baron” and a warrior. England to him was an after-thought. The tensions (mentioned as those of a wood-hungry people, above were to increase over time) in Europe were not yet present, but seen globally it is claimed the 12th century got a climatic anomaly — as evidenced by severe droughts in South America. In fact so severe as to topple the still lingering Tiwanaku culture on the fringes of lake Titicaca, and torrential rains falling on Europe in this period (as reported in historic sources). Climate helped agriculture. In short, the swift reign of Richard, flawless only in terms of its minute size (ten yrs of reign only!) and happy due to the favourableness of the climate rather than because of deep concern for the people. Weather in a scientific sense matters more than personality. That is the last revenge over historians priding themselves in their deep understanding of real events, yet real events swim in a river (as Heraclitus points to). At this point even the Sheriff of Nottingham ends up having little importance in the stream of historic thingies floating down the river fast or slow, and sometimes stuck in a swirl. Romantic longing add up poorly with stronger currents made visible and let forth from or through modern science and modern historiography. Like a coin at the bottom of a well, unreachable — is the myth true or not? It is a myth, as such completely fluid?
Laser-scanned by the light of facts and factuality the Richard Corleone (Lionheart) connection is of little importance. We already know how Robin was to change into a “socialist” over time. The Nobleman gone into political action, or so the tale goes, for it is a mix-up of different ages. Things are added and subtracted by new generations of happy campers. The climate changed, and the 13th and 14th centuries less happy were, less gay. The human interpretation of physical realities plus ever increasing social tension (1381). So fascinating, that all of this can be recorded in words… You see lordly power was hamstrung by a grand revolt in 1381, I am not going in the details of this low in the relations between ruler and ruled. But this is likely the reason why the usurper and royal arsehole claimant Richard Lionheart is remembered as a hero (and as such is also Robin recalled or remembered to be, a mythic rather than actual and factual thingie of our common history). At this point not only can we see the outline of sherwood, but of the whole period we refer to as the Dark Ages, except 500 to 1000 AD. The dark sky has spots of light always, the sun warms the soul, even in winter.
Or more bluntly still, Robin serves us in our quest of understanding the Middle Ages (Sherwood history if you will) but only because of his mythic appearance in several different and differing historic settings. Due to reasons I will now reveal Corleone, (who is Richard Lionheart) plays a rôle in the bigger scheme of things, but a smallish one. Why? We know that the climate was good during this period — so any king might have been loved, be his name John or Richard, or Little John, or even Thomas Beckett (one of Henry´s great concerns was Thomas Beckett, the unruly rebel disposed of by Richard´s father Henry the second). The mythology of Robin´s social aims is not diminished by it, since the Robin Hood story made clear the relations between all of these things. We hate science. Myth reveals deeper secrets of Sherwood indeed and we should like it! But science makes bigger pictures.
What psychologically comes to bear on the story of a diminishing resource? This was the first part of “the sociology of Richard Heinberg” unofficial title. Since fundamentally, even though Ricardian logic is based in scarcity/ econo things — the implications to Heinberg are symbolic/ human, this what I find so fascinating — see here is a HUMAN story to all of this oil stuff/ economics! Richard Heinberg as he says, is a student of how societies change.
RICARDO THE ABYSMAL GREEN APPLE-SCIENTIST (like a hat-check clerk at an ice-rink)
What Laurie Anderson (picture) sings about is the fierce and undeniable control of our world which science exerts and just how duped we are about it. There is science and there is all-encompassing control and mind illusions, they are two different things. I myself believe very much in science albeit not in control. This man (Ricardo) shares qualities with a mythology of the underworld (this abysmal science, i.e economics), as does Richard Heinberg. David Ricardo says the agricultural resources of Earth has perfectly made limits. If Ricardo was a great scientyste, and we may dislike or love his subject matter, then Richard Heinberg (founder of the post-carbon institute) should also be remembered as one. Not because a syentiffyke bargain was struck, but because they talk of similar things. Now what Heinberg put to the fore is how in most respects economics is the science, syentiffikali speaking of growth and growth economics — sorry that is a parameter making economics useful under non-critical circumstances, that environment is posited as constant, but alas that is fundamentally screwy. I could not agree more with Heinberg, economics is no more than policy, in short it has become the moralist science it started out as with Adam Smith (cf. Richard Heinberg). Sherwood changes over time, Robin Hood becomes a socialist over time, Richard the first is a great king (over time, and in hindsight is super-idealised). Economics idealised the world says Heinberg.
You can´t be alive today, without thinking, that fundamentally something is screwy, you know…
… the impact … psychologically and culturally.. We´ve become neonatised, in a certain way, now we´ve become infatilised is maybe another way of putting it. You know how, infants, small children are dependent… um, and I think as civilisation has provided more and more for us, it´s made us more and more infantile, so that we are less and less able to think for ourselves, less and less able to provide for ourselves, and this makes us more of a herd, where we take the cues from the people around us, where we … develop our world-views based on what the herd is doing and thinking … and it really saps our ability to .. act authentically.
(live interview 2015)
John Ralston Saul has similar things to say about “herds” and narrowness of thought (cf. The unconscious civilisation, 1995)
Come as you are, but pay as you go (oh, Superman, oh, mom and dad)/ Laurie Anderson
So how was oil discovered in Sherwood?
If we are made into dupes by forces we cannot control, this tale of Sherwood gave us a handle on it. The question is what the world looks like; is science bigger than the world? I use Robin Hood as a metaphor and Richard Lionheart as his contemporary make a kind of couple as we all know. A fairy story. Richard´s loveble nature is more explicable in the light of how harsh his father (Henri II) had been, and as stated his reign was short. The tale was recorded in differing versions, all pointing to its popularity — and whether Robin was just or not depends more on the age in which it was written down than anything else. I think “tree-depletion” is part of this story as a hidden sub-text. Richard Heinberg is influenced by Marvin Harris who is a great believer in putting humans in their ecological environment when (if ever) assessing or talking about them (Harris is an anthropologist like me). Stories of Robin Hood in the 12th century has less of the conflicts we might expect, and later versions would show more of it. We know how extinction of the bear was completed in the 14th century in England, and that a big scarcity of wood was reported — we are certain of extinction level cutting of forests(!) — seeing this as lacking all pertinence on history is unserious, but those deniers are for the most part rooted out these days — resources put up limits and effect history — as we saw even in the realm of story and myth-making. Can Sherwood be seen as a symbol of our own planet? Are we now entering the later stages of a Robin Hood drama, where peasants are at the throats of nobles over land grabbing and usury — I believe we are…
Malthus or Ricardo? Just a question of taste
No science is a small part of our world only. Ricardo warned about it, only to be deposed by the train of progressive development. But is David Ricardo and his minions (people like Heinberg) coming back to haunt us? Now oil is failing (20 year maximum) if I choose to believe what Heinberg says we have even less time to prep for the drying up of Sherwood. It goes back to Laurie Anderson as well as she opposes science, BIG SCIENCE HALLELUJAH.
I promise a second feuilleton to this one. In it I will investigate Heinberg´s tenets. I find his idea of Man´s romance with Oil a feast to say the least!!!