Category Archives: Thought Pieces

Is the Banality of Evil Back Again?

Reading about Hannah Arendt, who wrote about the Banality of Evil and the Eichmann trial. He was everybody’s functionary. Think the postal clerk with no moral concern for the purpose of his office – just act as part of the ‘machinery … Continue reading

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Have some Bliss

I remember studying ee cummings’ poems in high school.  He always spoke to me more than Shakespeare and the great British romantics. Partly it was the interesting fact he went all lower case with his name. Rebel! But he also … Continue reading

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Coping with Uncertainty – What does it Mean?

Encapsulating thoughts for the day.  I struggle to get across what it means if you accept you cannot determine your future.  What it means to build resilience.  How does this make life different?  How does it change our focus in … Continue reading

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An Economic Doctrine cannot start from the Assumption that we do not Belong

One of the assumptions I found so bizarre in Neoliberal ‘thought’ was the idea of asociality – that people are individuals outside of any society, making selfish, ‘rational’ ‘utility maximising’ decisions as if we do not belong. It is the … Continue reading

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Teaching Wisdom – To Know the World, you Have to Live in the World

“To know the world, you have to live in the world.” Carol Black has written a beautiful and insightful essay on connection between children and the outdoors, knowing, and what education ought to be.  It resonates with me.  I think … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces, Virtues, Ways of Seeing | 9 Comments

Everything is Connected: Make it Sing

I’ve used this diagram often when talking about land use. But it is so much more than that. The connections between and among things, patches, processes, dollars, functions of soil, stock, trees, wetlands, water and thought – many not quantifiable, … Continue reading

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Looking after Local Enterprise and Life (Part II)

This is the second part of an article looking at why do we put local government money in the big rather than the small?   Especially when the big tend to extract, while the small are so integral to a creative … Continue reading

Posted in Building Regional Economies, Thought Pieces | 5 Comments

Looking After Local Enterprise and Life (Part I)

The following was submitted to the local paper as an opinion piece.  It corresponds to the news that the local district council subsidised the very unpopular investment in water bottling by outside interests, utilising our very high quality aquifer water … Continue reading

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Rethinking our World – Ethics Really Matters

Reading Aldo Leopold blew my mind a few decades ago – the grace and cadence of his words, the context and logic of his arguments, his recognition of respectful harvest as part of who we are and must be, and … Continue reading

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An Ethos of Care Matters in Public Life

Hawke’s Bay Kaumatua Des Ratima quoted to me once “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Actually, I have to take a notebook with me when I meet Des because you can guarantee … Continue reading

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Connections – Harm People and the Land, and you Harm Your Future.

Letter to the editor sent to the Hawke’s Bay Today 28th August 2016.   Context.  We are currently experiencing polluted drinking water, the result of intensive farming locally.  Some old people have died from infections impacting on underlying health issues. … Continue reading

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The Horrid Mechanical Screech of Modern Conformity and Order

Hannah Arendt was the author and philosopher of the Nazi era of inhumanity; of totalitarianism, of the ascendancy of soulless mechanical acting where humanity loses itself in instruction, obedience and order. She described the behaviour of such functionaries as Adolph … Continue reading

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Thinking About Energy – Uncertainty is a Certainty

Now we sit out this storm. No power because the Napier-Taupo road is being hammered at the moment. It has been down for 30 odd minutes. It was blown out last night as well for two hours. The Napier-Taupo road … Continue reading

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Always Question: Never Simply Function and Obey

The brilliance that is Hannah Arendt. She wanted to look deep in what made Adolph Eichmann tick – the proverbial scheduler of trains from – was it Budapest? – to the death camps during World War II. But first you … Continue reading

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Trust … in our Economy

They don’t think of ‘trust’ much when they talk about the economy. They split it up. They, the technocrats. They put such things as ‘trust’, ‘integrity’, ‘truth’ and ‘justice’ in the box marked ‘social’; something to deal with “after we … Continue reading

Posted in Building Regional Economies, Linkages, Resilience Thinking, Socio-ecological Systems, Thought Pieces | 5 Comments

Expedient ‘Government’: Build the Slag Heaps of Tomorrow for New Zealand

Is our whole New Zealand economy a bubble built on speculation, the Christchurch rebuild, the Viking-raid exploitation of society and place for short-term gain, financing expenditure out of debt, the promotion of extractive big business over local enterprise, immigration to … Continue reading

Posted in Building Regional Economies, Thought Pieces | 15 Comments

Is This our Neoliberal Meritocracy?

I know many people who are truly amazing.  They think outside the box, they practice an art, they connect to community and to land, they have passion for some goal, they can hold a humorous conversation and be great company … Continue reading

Posted in Neoliberalism & Corporatism, Thought Pieces | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Putting Culture back into Nature

We have spread across and changed our world. Change is the constant. But it is maintaining the integrity of our systems that is more important than whether there is any particular ‘natural state’. Continue reading

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Our Land is not an Industry

“To heal is to make whole.  This applies as well to the ‘industries’ of landscapes: agriculture, forestry & mining.  Once they have been industrialised, those enterprises no longer recognise landscapes as wholes, let alone as homes for people and other … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces | 3 Comments

Civilisation – It’s about Values

Updated from a couple of years ago because I think those who govern no longer do so in the interests of people or our grandchildren …. and it really has to be reversed. We need a values campaign. Chris Perley … Continue reading

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The Housing Crisis and Neoliberalism

Listening to Morning Report this morning (25th May 2016) interview these right wing completely out of touch politicians from this government making excuses for the New Zealand housing crisis, was like a rerun of the Irish Potato famine. It so … Continue reading

Posted in Building Regional Economies, Neoliberalism & Corporatism, Thought Pieces | 8 Comments

Would you Commoditise Rain?

We are heading for a winter drought in Hawke’s Bay.  Nothing on California’s situation.  But I find myself longing for heavy rain.  A cloudburst that goes on for a few hours.  I want to just sit and listen, and smell, … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces | 4 Comments

Alternatives to Big Capitalism

I think there are alternatives to authoritarian ‘Big Capitalism’ that don’t move us into some authoritarian – and therefore equally dysfunctional – type of ‘communist’ state. I find it slightly ironic that when in opposition to the extremes of neoliberalism – … Continue reading

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Nature and Corporate Neoliberal Economics in Conflict

The laws of nature and the laws of corporate-based neoliberal economics are in conflict. Continue reading

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Political Paths to Tyranny

These are just rough thoughts. The start of some future ramblings. I do not like the labels ‘left’ and ‘right’. I think our politics has to change beyond those narrow reference frames. I think the more important continua are: How … Continue reading

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Does Ozymandias Live in the Bay?

This old post from my other site relates to what we are up against: the rise of the castle builders, increasingly under siege, increasingly authoritarian and inflexible – which is any evolutionary sense means extinction – because the world is … Continue reading

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Mega-Corporations and their Political Minions – the Latter-day rise of Ozymandias

I was searching for the ultimate reading of Ozymandias – to connect to the article on Creative vs Extractive Economies I posted yesterday.  Listen to Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad – within which the arrogance of Ozymandias (and his ultimate … Continue reading

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Creative versus Extractive Economies

The sands of Iraq and the karst mountain bones of the Grecian hills tell a story. These were once fat lands; the Tigris/Euphrates fields of Sumer, the Arcadia of Greece. They were once Mediterranean empires, now struggling countries of a … Continue reading

Posted in Building Regional Economies, Land Use, Thought Pieces, Wicked Problems | 12 Comments

Rural Decline and the Ruataniwha Dam Revisited

I wrote this article below in response to a promotional meeting for the Ruataniwha Dam held in Waipukurau in 2014.  I’ve edited it slightly.  In early March 2016, another meeting was held, an… Source: Rural Decline and the Ruataniwha Dam … Continue reading

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The Minimum Wage and the Extractive Economy

There is a question that political economists used to ask, “What sort of society do we want to live in?” That question was a central core of the wider study of political economy, the study of our real economic experience. It … Continue reading

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Are GMOs New Zealand’s Agricultural Future?

The debate about the future of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Hawke’s Bay (and NZ agriculture) is heating up.  A number of opinion pieces are reacting to this government’s attempts to take legislative decision making out of the region’s hands. … Continue reading

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Industrial Farming: The Deeper Roots of Animal Cruelty

My father was a gentle stockman, and he cared for people the same. He taught us how to hunt up and how to use presence and eye when mustering, and how not to push cattle too hard. He had a … Continue reading

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Climate Change: from a Protest to a Movement

We dread the horror documentaries on climate change. “This is what is happening. If we don’t do something about it, these are the consequences.” It has the effect of stunning us. It’s better to put our head under a rock. … Continue reading

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The Government’s TPPA spin is not Working: We know it is a Corporate Deal for Their Rights Usurping Ours

My apologies for this rant.  I confess to being very worried about the rise of powers that would have no problem in their hearts with reducing our civil liberties; but worse, would entrench a view of the world that would destroy … Continue reading

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The Purpose of Life: Assimilation into the Borg Collective?

I’m quoting this Hundertwasser idea (below) because I’m interested in human purpose and creativity.  I don’t think we’re meant to be deconstructed into cogs in the Corporate machine, obedient and defined by tasks, job descriptions and money.  That is Modernity … Continue reading

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Becoming Native to a Place

I am searching for farm landscapes (farmscapes); researching & writing something about how to look at land as other than a utilitarian set of ‘resources’, a list of measurable ‘nouns’ to put on a truck with a weight and a … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces | 3 Comments

Are we in the Endgame of the Age of the Zombie Neoliberal Cult and Corporate Influence

Let us document the changes, the shift in consciousness that is happening around the world, the signs of hope. The 1 percent (or is it the top 0.1 percent) – An interviewer of Russel Brand challenged him that the Occupy movement … Continue reading

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Choice: A Bigger Machine, or Democracy & Culture

What are the critical factors determining good local governance?  The recent amalgamation debate in Hawke’s Bay was certainly raised some issues, but the debate was narrow – focusing on the idea that bigger is better. The logic of the Local Government Commission, … Continue reading

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The TPPA and New Zealand’s Democracy

Presented in weekly radio spot on Hawke’s Bay local radio station Bay FM.   The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations are concluded, and have shifted to the next phase – ratification by parliaments. The government is spinning like a … Continue reading

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Summarising the Neo-Liberal Agenda – A Letter to Treasury

Dear Treasury neo-liberals, and mega-corporate backers of Ayn Rand et al. in various university neo-liberal seminaries. My Adam Smith quote of the day. “The proposal of any new law or regulation which comes from [businessmen], ought always to be listened … Continue reading

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Regional Development – Thinking Short & Narrow or Long and Broad

Wairarapa MP Alistair Scott’s opinion piece regarding the environmental record of New Zealand’s National led government (Hawke’s Bay Today 26th July 2015) is so full of errors, misrepresentations and clichés that it is difficult to know where to start. At its … Continue reading

Posted in Building Regional Economies, Land Use, Resilience Thinking, Socio-ecological Systems, Thought Pieces | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Satirist Jon Stewart Bows Out – Oh the Humanity!

Jon Stewart from the Daily Show has gone. Satire is a way of speaking truth to power, and also to highlight and question the values of our society – racism, attitudes to money, etc. Instead we get reality TV that … Continue reading

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Two Dystopias: “Voltaire’s Bastards” and “Paris in the Twentieth Century”

Strange how we speculate on future dystopias, while we are living in one. The great writers shine the truth on it. The subtle and covert power games of Brave New World have won over the overt oppression of 1984.

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Some Water Myths – and a Few Science Myths as well

The following was published in the Hawke’s Bay Today 4th July 2015. I was surprised at the title of Dr Jacqueline Rowarth’s 30th June talk to an audience of the Hawke’s Bay Rural Business Network: “Water – urban myth and … Continue reading

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Reframing our Water as a Commons

This article was published in the Hawke’s Bay Today following the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s (HBRC) decision to allow an overseas water bottling plant to take water from the high quality aquifer that lies beneath the cities of Hasting and Napier. … Continue reading

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Seeing the World System of Weeds – Or – Do Androids dream of Intelligent Sheep? A Compleat Ramble

An anecdote about our research focus on ‘weeds’.  I was a little mischievously provocative about our ‘weed’ research at Otago University.  I remembered an Aldo Leopold article in one of my books of his essays (no, I can’t be bothered … Continue reading

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Future Goals and Options in NZ Land Management – A Transdisciplinary View

A brief argument from some years ago to rethink land use in New Zealand “If we go through a list of some of the main problematiques that are defining the new Century, such as water, forced migrations, poverty, environmental crises, … Continue reading

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Managing Complexity and Uncertainty in Natural and Socio-Ecological Systems

I wrote most of this as an internal document for a Regional Council in 2009 when it was apparent that both the internal management style and the approach to the wider natural systems and communities was not conducive to long … Continue reading

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Two strategic directions for Land Use in New Zealand: Where do we stand?

I wrote this what seems light years ago.  I think it was 2007 or 2008. This is very rough, a mind dump.  It was done quickly, and is more to do with me getting thoughts out of my mind and … Continue reading

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