Tag Archive: Academia

Two Economics

The Mandtao blog is concerned with science and knowledge, so it might be a strange place to find discussion about economics, but this is a clear example of how academia is being used. And academia is the western home of knowledge.

My knowledge of academia’s delivery concerning economics is limited, but it is very clear to me that what is required to become qualified as an economics expert definitely has a strong application of blinkers. For most people in the world of work, understanding of economics is rooted in supply and demand. Because most peoples’ transactions are limited this is a reasonable approach. Go to the farmers’ market. You buy veg that is available, you don’t buy what you don’t want. The farmer is left with surplus of what people don’t want so they change what is grown until eventually there is a balance between supply and demand. The study of economics then extends this supply and demand principle, embellishes it with additional theories, applies a few graphs, and we have a supposed understanding of economics. Competition is an essential aspect of supply and demand. At the farmers’ market if someone sells cheaper more customers will buy, and competition is a means of keeping the prices down – supposedly at the control of the consumer.

Economics is of course a study of money. So we get a history lesson in which money was originally introduced as a means of easing transactions at the farmers’ market from when it was barter. We did not have to bring huge items to exchange, we didn’t have to decide that an hour of maths teaching is worth a pound of potatoes, gradually value was applied to various trades and their products and money was used as a means of trading at a farmers’ market. It is assumed in academic economics that theories of money are based around this transaction theory.

Taxation is also an important aspect of the modern economy. We pay a proportion of our income to the government so that the government has sufficient money to run schools, hospitals and the like. I question this. When the British were colonising Africa they needed to build infrastructure (such as trains) to get the raw materials back to the motherland. At the time Africans had a barter economy so when the British required labour there was no incentive to work. The colonial authorities insisted that all individuals must pay a money tax forcing money as the means of transaction on the barter economy. In this case taxation was required to build the infrastructure for the companies importing raw materials. This monetary flow is an indicator as to the underlying function of taxation despite the schools and hospitals rhetoric.

It is assumed that all finance is expected to balance their books. This is clearly the case at an individual level when if we don’t balance our own books and we owe money we can eventually be imprisoned. Debt is in fact encouraged both by the banks and the system. If we have debts we must try to pay them back, it is therefore necessary for us to work to pay them back and we are brought into the financial system. People who have marketable skills such as teachers are encouraged to get mortgages and other forms of credit, so that they become more concerned about losing their jobs and are willing to put up with injustice at work in order to repay their debts.

Economics as an academic subject is far more complicated than these five simple axioms, and it is this complexity that it is claimed people cannot understand. Experts are then required to interpret the business of economics so economics is an almost mystical understanding of transactions and finance. And people trust the experts. And experts become experts by accepting the above axioms, learning the mental contortions that get applied to our global economic dealings, and it is generally accepted that, although things look wrong because of the many injustices, there are experts guiding the economic system based on the axiomatic approach as described above.

I am going to describe the above as the 5 axioms of 99%-economics, and these are the axioms that the 99% are expected to follow. And this expectation in extreme circumstances is backed up by the law such as the case of repossessions and failure to make loan repayments.

Now I want to consider another set of economic practices. Let us examine the conduct of transnationals (multinationals) – huge companies (owned by the 1%) who as a rule buy the raw materials, own the means of importing the materials, own the means of production, own the distribution logistics and own the retail establishments. At all levels of the sale of a product the profits are made by the transnational.

At this stage one might argue big is not necessarily wrong, one might contend that transnationals compete with each other keeping the price down. I argue differently. Firstly in BigFood at a supermarket there might well be 7 or 8 different brands owned by the same transnational. No competition. The number of BigFood transnationals is limited so together they fix the prices, it is not the consumer demand described in 99%-economics. They have sufficient stocks and are sufficiently big that if consumers reduce their demand BigFood does not have to respond. Whilst mothers spend a long time on their family budget seeking bargains they are very much at the mercy of high level BigFood decisions rather than any consumer wisdom.

The word transnational came into usage because as such they are not subject to national tariffs and customs duties. Part of the murky mysticism of economics are organisations such as World bank, IMF, GATT, WTO and other Acronyms, actions of whom we are not meant to understand, yet whose actions directly impact on the way economics work. These organisations facilitate international finance and transnationals to the detriment of small businesses and local transactions. Small businesses do not control all the aspects of the economic life of their own product, and are often squeezed out by the monopolistic bullying practices of the transnationals aided by the Acronyms, often leading to takeovers and increasing “centralisation” on fewer and fewer transnationals.

These transnationals have tremendous power and dominate the economic life of individual consumers. They have tremendous influence over governments sufficient for me to say that they are more powerful than governments. As evidenced by environmental damage governments are unable to exert control over the transnationals. Climate denial became real through business investment especially after the international community outvoted the US at various COP meetings that eventually reached the limited Paris accord. Now their stooge has pulled out America and enacts numerous environmentally-damaging policies. [It is better to understand that Trump is not an individual with policies, but a stooge enacting policies of the fellow wealthy. Avoid personalising as it ignores the true nature of the economic system.]

The transnationals control production – what we buy, and finance through banks and Acronyms form an alliance that controls global economic life. It is this alliance I see as the 1% controlling the global economy using 1%-economics.

Transnational cartels and market mechanisms remove competition, and eliminate any vestige of supply and demand. The banking and insurance dynasties control money. Under their control that money has lost its transactional raison d’etre, and the accumulation of money is facilitated by the financial sector. Money moves away from the 99% to the owners of finance and the transnationals leaving our economies controlled by the whims of the superrich. With jobs and consumer-potential being controlled by the whims of their decisions, the backdoor governments offer tax breaks, incentives, loopholes and now in the US, the new tax laws, so that the burden of taxation is placed on the poor whilst transnationals are evading tax at will. Taxation has now become a means of transferring money (wages) from the poor to the rich. Because this 1%-alliance controls government they control the printing of money. The US tax bill makes no efforts to balance the books, but is simply a political manoeuvre to benefit the 1%. For 8 years the UK government has applied an austerity policy to the 99% following the crash with the supposed aims of balancing the books. But the only observable change in wealth has been an increase in the gap between rich and poor.

To understand 1%-economics you need only understand this, the actual economic system is designed to increase the accumulation of wealth to the 1%. Initially this began with real transactions but then they determined that there could be increased accumulation through “imaginary transactions”. 1%-control of governments perpetuates this accumulation through fiat policies that become necessary when accumulation has depleted government coffers. The policy of 1%-economics is print more money when necessary.

It is also intended that we fail to comprehend the vast amounts of money appropriated by the 1%. Examine this. ****** I suspect that the wealth of just one family, such as Rothschilds, Rockefellers, Waltons, Gates, is equivalent to enough money for a billion people to live – certainly the poorest of us. Whilst population numbers concern me, it is not the lack of natural resources that leads to poverty and hunger but the accumulation of the few superrich.

The interaction of these two economic systems is on a knife edge. We are conditioned to accept the economy as described in 99%-economics whilst the actual system continues to accrue for the 1%. People see the systemic failure of economics but then experts continue to maintain the charade of the 99%-economics, and encourage people to have confidence in it. For most there is a failure to actually consider the economic realities because a breakdown in the economic system, which would follow from an actual examination of financial dealings and the ensuing lack of confidence (as demonstrated by the crash in 2008), can only lead to chaos – violent chaos. Aware of this the 1% already have private security in place. It is not if but when.

Governments will continue to maintain the charade of 99%-economics as per 1%-instruction. They understand the nature of the two economics, but manage the impending catastrophe through brinkmanship rather than economic strategies that could lead to 100% stable and sustainable economics. We survive by hope, hope that the sickness of the 1% doesn’t demand such an accumulation that the delusion is broken, the conditioning is shattered, and chaos breaks out.

Hope is not enough. Constructive 100%-economics that can lead to stable transactions need to be introduced but this is unlikely as the only people who can introduce them are the 1% as they are in control. And that would be like saying to the mentally ill end your delusions, how can they end them when they don’t know they are deluded?

I used to have faith that the 1% would maintain the system through brinkmanship, now that faith is gone. War is spreading, is on the increase, countries just hope they are not the next one to be targeted. Rather than brinkmanship the 1% are now turning to private security, and accepting that the future holds a protected apartheid existence in which they survive and the 99% fight amongst each other for the crumbs that trickle down.

Now only hope.

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Superior Human?

Recently a friend posted on facebook that scientists stated something like animals have the same consciousness as humans. This winds me up a little, but of course it is full of holes. There is a kind of western myth that animals are almost human, especially amongst some who humanise their pets. Dogs and cats are not people, they do not have human characteristics – they are animals and have animal characteristics.

I’ve got a puppy to act as guard in my house. Along my street there are many with guard-dogs, this is the functionality of a dog – it protects. I had a wonderful dog in Botswana. Whilst neighbours’ houses were robbed my own was not, and even a drunk neighbour was saved from robbers by my dog. Cats kill rats. In my neighbourhood there are a few stray cats who are tolerated – I even fed one, and I hear the result of such toleration with the scrambling in or on my roof as the cat(s) clean out the vermine. This is a somewhat natural scene as opposed to pointless money being spent on Fifi’s hairdo. Now my description of animals is intentionally functional to prove a point, and according to Karmic theory pets can take on human characteristics en route to reincarnation as humans; I can never know this – God knows – Karma knows.

So we have an extreme in which humans personify animals and we have an equally absurd position where egotistical science functions as if it does not have to be in harmony with Nature. Many scientists try to control nature through their scientific knowledge leading to all kinds of crassness of which for me Oppenheimer was the worst – although retrospectively he admitted it.

My own position is very clear. The human mind is distinct and superior to all other forms of life on this planet, but, and a significant but, understanding that mind would also mean that the mind must function in harmony with Nature. In truth it is not always science that drives the lack of harmony. There are huge profits to be made if we frack, if we tap water, and if we make unnecessary nuclear weapons or drone technology. This profit directive motivates science into being technologically-oriented because such orientation produces profits. Applying such motivation means that science cannot accept its position of harmony in Nature, even if the scientists so choose. Oppenheimer was directed to create such a destructive weapon by the authority of the Allies, and the Alamo team’s desire for knowledge then took over – working “above” Nature instead of in harmony. Such imbalance in my view would not have happened without the motivation that brought the funding. So when people claim the imbalance of science I don’t see that, I see the imbalance of finance, of the profiteers. Unfortunately both are humans.

With these background thoughts I began watching “Superior Human” – up to here was written before I had finished the download, and now to my reaction to the movie:-

Irritated. The brown bear says my hearing is good, the human says I am intelligent, because these are exclusive then they are equally valid judgements. This fundamentally sums up the position of this academic nonsense. If you went down the pub and the guys talked such rubbish you’d call them drunken fools, academics say it with long words and you get a programme out of it.

I suppose they were trying to say “respect fellow creatures on the planet” but does that mean we are equals? If we are “superior”, can’t we still be respectful? It started with a picture of the mad scientist, surely an academic position is beyond that of the mad scientist. Can’t we be more discerning than to say we are superior and therefore in charge of nature or we are the same as animals?

But then I have to think about GM, and there we have science playing with Nature but in truth that is not science as a whole, it is a few who are bought off by Monsanto – watch Genetic Roulette. In the case of GM there are sufficient scientists who have stood up and lost their jobs, I do not accept criticism of science in general with regards to GM it is the 1% – money and Monsanto.

Why should I be so irritated? Maybe I am just tired – long week. But I am irritated because there was nothing even vaguely resembling ONE planet. When you went to discuss man animals and consciousness wsith supposed leading thinkers on the planet and there is nothing about Unity, respect for Nature, or whatever kind of terminology you want to use. But of course there can’t be because academia can only talk logic, and start from errant axioms. We are not separate people but ONE planet, respect is inherent in that. And then there is no inconsistency when we say humans are “superior”.

I was recently pointed to scientists saying consciousness is the same in man and animals. Is the mind of man and animals the same? This is surely what needs to be considered. But academics can’t consider it because they need an agreed definition of mind and consciousness, and this they can’t get because some name pops up with some sceptical viewpoint destroying common acceptance.

And why can they not reach agreement on this? Because they live in the world of reason do not use insight, do not meditate. HHDL talks about meditation as a science, although science would refute that. Following the methodology of meditation we always come up with the same conclusions about mind and coinsciousness, that is science, knowledge, a process of learning that leads to understanding. As opposed to academia a process of refuting learning by asking destructive questions so that no-one can learn, and the people who ask the questions have no control of their minds, cannot meditate, and become professors with wealth and status.

Irritated, yes. Worth a rant? Equally yes. Any point? Not really. These people have their jobs, follow the Richard Dawkins School of the destruction of all that is insightful, and academia does not move on. Learning does not occur.

Understanding 1% awareness

“But this realization has not yet dawned on most of our political leaders. The recognition that a profound change of perception and thinking is needed if we are to survive has not yet reached most of our corporate leaders, either, or the administrators and professors of our large universities.” Capra Turning Pooint [p 4]

On the same page as worldview at the beginning of the first chapter is the above quote. Again I find this an irritating academic quote. Occupy brought into focus the terminology of 1%, but bourgeoisie was not a new idea. Whilst there was a clear recognition that the corporatocracy was powerful Occupy has changed that focus into a recognition that Wall Street controls government.

But in truth these realisations are not new. Yet throughout we continue with the academic rhetoric of not “dawning on our political leaders”. This is compromise, it is the compromise forced on academia, a compromise that many academics readily accept, that the problems we face are a lack of awareness on the part of and branch of the 1%. And why do they present things in this way? To maintain the false delusion that academia can change with awareness, that academia is not controlled by the forces now known as the 1%.

Awareness hasn’t reached the corporate leaders, administrators and professors. Absolute rubbish. When awareness reaches these people, mostly they walk in the other direction. A typical example of their response “what can we do about climate change?” Since Capra wrote this book (1996), these same scientists have been bought off and afre providing us with denial science. Is this awareness? Absoultely not, it is money. They keep their jobs if they get funding, and where is the funding? In the dastardly lies of the 1%.

In Free to have a worldview?, I said much the same thing – the 1% control the knowledge through funding. Similarly they control awareness though funding and influence. Our academics learn to control aspects of their minds, and in that control they do not open their minds to knowledge but close them off – close them off so that their perspectives can be funded. Of course they do not present this delusion as awareness, and maybe even for some their blinkered vision triggers an exclusion mechanism where they eschew all that is true or all that is too difficult to do anything about. In reality all they are saying is that I will only seek knowledge where the funding will allow me to go.

There is of course a negative aspect to my continually raising this point, and that is aversion. When the point is raised once the mind might engage with it, when it is raised several times the mind reacts emotionally and rejects it – aversion. So should I continue because of this aversion? And the answer quite simply is this – what is the truth? Does funding control knowledge? Yes. is the search for knowledge fettered by funding – by the 1%? Yes. If academia is to be considered the institution that searches for knowledge, does it need to recognise this funding reality and do something about it? Yes. Is the discomfort of aversion a necessity?

Absolutely. Consider the post-hippy compromise years. Throughout society, especially including academia, there have been a sprinkling of these hippies whose message of the 60s and 70s could have opened us up to a wiser future. But they compromised. They said that they will work from the inside to seek a solution. And what happened? Their energies were used by the system to give the system greater credibility. The system never compromised. Of course there were token victories along the way, but in the end they were unwilling captives of the system.

Do I point the finger at Capra or others and blame them? Absolutely not. How they lived their lives is their decision. I point the finger at myself, of course. I made myself ill fighting. I love teaching and I had to retire early – although I teach a bit now. I can say about myself, I gave the system credibility when the students gave the system credibility because of my dedication. And what about the system as a whole? How much has this system benefitted from the outpourings of wisdom that was the undercurrent of the 60s and 70s? It is worse, far worse. War continues unabated, science through drone technology now makes war more easily accessible to the 1% and its politicians because the people of the metropole don’t have to die. The 1% tell us we have a financial crisis whilst they increase their profits and syphon off more funds into their personal bank accounts. People lose their homes whilst they add zeroes to their Cayman contents.

And science talks about awareness, it was never awareness it was always intentional exploitation of scientists who choose to wear blinkers.

So what should science do? What one name is associated with Hiroshima? Truman who gave the order. No Oppenheimer who invented it. Scientists, are you to blame? If you continue to wear blinkers and accept the channeling of knowledge into the profit-making ventures your funding defines, then you are to blame.

But then what, science, is your course of action? Can we walk away from the search for knowledge? Absolutely not. What can science do? That is so hard to answer, and is an individual decision. But honesty has to help. And to describe the problem as an issue of corporate, political and administrative awareness is not honest.

Can we find knowledge without funding? Perhaps genuine science needs to say that we will search for knowledge without funding. Who can know? But Fritjof, awareness is not the problem.

Updated almost immediately:-

After finishing this blog I ate and began listening to HHDL’s Consciousness in a Single Atom. Almost the first thing that hit me was Richard Gere saying “Because I am an internationalist at heart one of the qualities that has moved me most about scientists is their amazing willingness to share knowledge with each other” [CD1 Prologue 1 of 2 – 3.26 mins]. Whilst I don’t accept this is true of 100% of the scientists, and whilst this willingness to share becomes less so as science becomes increasingly dominated by the need for funding, I do not take this quote as a refutation of my argument. When one can observe that, given this genuine desire for the search for knowledge and its sharing does exist, the body of knowledge that makes up science has narrowed and has become focussed on technology, then we can assess that this narrowing is because this technology is a platform for profit. Given that scientists desire to share knowledge this shows that the dominant force of discovery is not the scientists’ search for knowledge but the influence of the 1% in its channelling towards profit.

He concludes the section on p4 with:-

“A sustainable society is one that satisfies its needs without diminishing the prospects of future generations.” This, in a nutshell, is the great challenge of our time: to create sustainable communities that is to say, social and cultural environments in which we can satisfy our needs and aspirations without diminishing the chances of future generations.”

This is in direct conflict with the interests of the 1%. How can sustainability work with the singular corporate motivation of increasing profit leading to increased personal wealth of their CEOs? Whilst this conflict does not negate the purpose of this book, it does indicate a cloistered solution, one that is academic and not relevant to daily life.

Free for a worldview?

“Ultimately these problems must be seen as just different facets of one single crisis, which is largely a crisis of perception. It derives from the fact that most of us, and especially our large social institutions, subscribe to the concepts of an outdated world view, a perception of reality inadequate for dealing with our overpopulated, globally interconnected world. Capra Turning Point [p4] ”

I am going to thrash this out now, because otherwise it will be nagging me throughout. It is not the worldview that is the issue, it is power. The worldview implies within it a notion that we can choose our view of the world. Because of the egos of academia or science there is an unwritten assumption, knowledge is out there and it is only a matter of discovery that this knowledge can be found. Then a scientist has a “eureka” moment and the truth of that knowledge becomes integrated into academia per se. This is so far from the truth it is staggering that the intellectuals within these communities actually believe it.

Let us consider the process that might be called academic apprenticeship. School, we must pass exams; university, we must pass exams; if we then pass those exams we get admitted into a reserach programme where there is a rigorous method to be adhered to. You have already been inculcated by this stage – jumped through so many hoops. In research you study all previous knowledge on a subject and then extend that knowledge. Sounds reasonable until you actually examine how that knowledge is extended. Numerically is the best way I can think of conveying this. Suppose we consider that the axioms that science is based on be specified as level 0, maybe the Greeks were discussing these axioms. As academics did further work these levels increased and increased until their work had little connection with the original axioms. The academic work that a Ph D student might work on could be that s/he consider levels 95-100, and through detailed study they examine minutiae at this level, detail it and cross-reference it with existing literature, and a Ph D is awarded if the researcher has been rigorous. One of the major criteria would be a recognition of innovation, but that innovation would not be concerned with the questioning of the axioms but that at the appropriate level their work had not been seen before.

This process of meticulous minutiae is reinforced by the academic job structure. A professor is installed based on published work. If the published work is recognised as some level of quality then a university wants to be associated with that quality. Within the department the people climb the ladder the same as they do anywhere else, and their position and commensurate salary is based on how they increase the body of work associated with the professor. If a professor gathers a team of people who work together well, the work can attract funding, and this reinforces the position of the professor. The essence of academia is the reputation of the professor and the amount of research funding they can attract.

And who is there to ensure this happens? Above the professors, the people who could be innovative, are a set of bureaucrats whose ambit is not the search for knowledge but the protection of the institution. Let me elucidate what happens to the search for knowledge by considering research into treatments for cancer. Cancer is on the increase, and there is much money connected with it. Cancer is not understood but the established approach is to consider that cancer develops from the genes. Once the cancers grow from these genes, then a regime of chemicals, chemo and radiation therapy are applied usually with little success. And the typical result is death. One horrendous by-product of this process is that the cancer industry makes huge profits, and there are many people employed dependent on these profits. It is significant to understand this, many of the people involved in the cancer industry are dependent on the status quo view of cancer and its treatment.

However there are a small but significant group of people who claim alternative approaches to cancer. They claim that cancer is a lifestyle disease, and that an improved approach to life including healthy eating avoiding of chemicals etc. could lead to the healing or avoidance of cancer. People who say this follow macrobiotics or Gerson. On top of this there are people who say that B17, cannabinoids or baking soda can destroy cancer cells. I am not qualified to attest to these, but Harvard scientists are, MIT scientists are, Oxbridge scientists are. So the question is why aren’t these institutions carrying out this research. Politics and funding? Scientific research is expensive, and who has the money? The cancer industry favouring the status quo. Suppose such funding became available to a reputable scientist then the institutional protector would prevent its usage, and if it got beyond that stage influence would be applied with threats of the withdrawal of funding elsewhere being issued.

In the movie Forbidden Cures W Edward Griffin describes how the 1%, in this case Rockefeller and Carnegie, took over medical schools:-

Prior to this, in the 19th century, US medicine was both homeopathic and allopathic. Homeopathic medicine attempted to aid nature to heal the body itself, and allopathic medicine used chemical or operations. At the turn of teh 20th century the film says people did not favour either. After the financial take-over of the medical schools doctors treated with pharmaceuticals.

Quite simply academia is typically now not free in its search for knowledge.

However philosophical worldviews don’t usually directly affect the profits of the 1% so much as possible cancer cures, yet approaches to academia which could change academic direction into a more open consideration of knowledge would be discouraged by the institutional gatekeepers. When Capra says that we subscribe to an outdated world view he does not say that that world view is restricted by the influence of the 1%. Does he perceive it that way? I don’t know but for me it is important to state from the outset that science is not independent. The scientists are controlled by funding both internally and external to their particulalr institutions. The search for knowledge is completely fettered by these restrictive forces, and any discussion of the current search for knowledge cannot possibly be complete without stating this caveat as being of fundamental influence.

I want to note here that my views could be discounted for bias (see Academic Failure)

Finally I want to discuss the chicken and egg of scientific discovery. Which came first the chicken or the egg? is an amusing question. No answer. But in science which comes first theory or practice is routinely answered as theory, it is one of those scientific axioms that is unwritten yet fundamental. Which came first Free Trade or Adam Smith? Scientific ego answers Adam Smith, the non-egoic answer is that there could have been any number of Adam Smiths who could have slipped into the slot that the practice wanted. In other words the prevailing powers wanted a theory that would allow for the exploitation that became known as Free Trade. Who is Milton Friedman? He is trickle-down economist with many prizes. Jamie Johnson made him angry with insubstantive arguments about the wealth gap, Friedman is not wisdom at its highest. Friedman does not usually have to defend his position because trickle-down economics are the lies the 1% want us to believe so that governments can be free to give all kinds of money to the rich including bailout to bankers. Friedman does not appear to me to be a wise man, he was the stooge whose theory fit the capitalist need at the time. Theory and practice? A simple discussion can yield doubt.

Scientists want to believe that they are in control of scientific worldview, that is their ego, that is their claim to fame, so when you read a book on science this position has to affect your perspective.

Academic failure

I should note here that I am not an academic success, in truth I have wasted my abilities. But Nana have I?

That is a reference to a lasting memory I have of my father’s mother who was a teacher. We were sitting in her house playing cards, I was about 14 at the time, and she asked how I was doing at school? I told her I was doing enough to get by, that I would do enough to get O and A levels (I’m that old!!), and go to university. She freaked and stormed out of the room crying. I was knocked back as she called out “You are too intelligent to be like that, it’s such a waste”. I never grasped what such a tremendous compliment that was, I am not saying she was correct in her assessment but my education became just as I had said and it was such a waste. I did maths because I found it easy, went to uni and got a second class degree in alcohol and maths, was able to extend my drinking for an extra year as I did a year’s advanced study, and throughout there were many asides that I could have achieved far more.

And I could have done far more except for tha fact that I never had desire for knowledge and learning until I grew older. That started when I left uni, and met people searching for knowledge in the London underground scene. It was then that I got switched onto a plethora of 60s and 70s heroes who opened my closed university mind to the wealth of knowledge that was available as learning. Pirsig will always be my biggest such hero, but Capra, Zukav, Colin Wilson, and others were all heroes whose writings taught me to question. That questioning then took me to religion as hitting bottom with the alcohol again opened my mind to what was available in life. Nana, this questioning was the intelligence you sought for me, and your flagging it has always been with me, but in truth schools were never the place for such intelligence as a life as a teacher has taught me.

My search for knowledge left the London underground as a compassionate nature took me into child care and teaching. And when I recovered from the daily compromises that those institutions required of me, learning occasionally occurred during the holidays. 20 years later I found myself in Botswana where other expats spent their time drinking and chasing the beautiful women. As I didn’t drink that chase was curtailed a bit for me as the associated Aids was not a price I wanted to pay. My first year I met someone who said he was doing an M Ed to pass the time, I scoffed “a waste of time” and then the next year started one. It was a great experience, and it is the process of that experience which has led me to this blog. Near where I lived was Shashe Dam, the local reservoir, whose levels rose and fell with the season. At low water you could sit under the reeds overlooking the water, it was so peaceful. During that peace I would study and really get into the learning that became my M Ed.

That M Ed brought out in me the search for knowledge that schools, Nana, could never have done – my Nana was into schools and did not understand they were exam factories and not places of learning. The M Ed I did allowed me to develop areas of professional expertise I had worked on as a teacher, and reinforce them with academic understanding. Books and experience is an ideal combination for the development of genuine learning. When I was qualifying for the M Ed I spoke to my tutor who encouraged me to think of a higher level of qualification.

Then I met the gatekeepers, these were the people who I would have to do research with. My dissertation had been concerned with the underachievment of black students and significant for me in that dissertation was the recognition of mind and its motivation. Now mind was something I knew about through personal religious work and meditation, and I worked on a rather grandiose research proposal – seeking the commonality in religions on what mind was about. I sought not a consensus because academics don’t seek a consensus on mind, they are happy to have disparate views so that they can all hold their professorial seats. But insight dictates a commonality in the understanding of mind, and as academics in general do not use insight universities are not places to further a study of mind.

But I pursued it. I first met this American at my Scottish university, and all I saw was this rigid gatekeeper. He was a young child with no understanding just full of books. He had no ability to recognise that experience has much to offer in the field of knowledge. He told me, a man 20 years his senior that I needed to go back and be an undergraduate. So from my tutor encouraging me I am knocked back by this child, and returning to the tutor I was told “not my bag mate”, but he made calls. To the institution’s credit they offered me an unpaid tutor but he told me the same thing “go back and learn”. I did try but I changed jobs and had less free time. When I did submit something it was dismissed as “Hindu-Buddhist inclusivism” or something like that.

To be quite honest I didn’t have the time anyway, so the rejection was beneficial. I did further studies in religion, primarily developing meditation until 5 years later I found myself in a position to retire early and spend time studying. In some ways the M Ed was useful. The course required a high level of self-direction, and with that self-direction being partially rewarded I am prepared to confront the establishment and say my studying is valid even though I didn’t get past the gatekeepers. That self-direction is also to be found in this blog, it is my intention at the moment to produce something substantive that would be that confrontation. We’ll see

Academic failure, Nana? Yes. Failure in the search for knowledge – absolutely not. I love learning. Here I am now sat at one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, the surf rolls in as the waves increase with the season, and I am writing blogs about science and axioms and Capra and …. loving it.

My M Ed can be found here.