I have been travelling too much and ended up with flu! This meant I had to cancel a series of pre-Christmas meetings. It is a good reminder that no one is indispensable. But for a few days I felt absolutely dreadful. And then the energy starts to seep back and life looks up again.

Collapse of civilisation

In the half-recovered phase, I learned how to use the play-it-again system on my television. I watched Richard Miles’ series on the Ancient World. It is hard not to end up thinking that the collapse of our civilisation is not so unthinkable. Except of course that world civilisation is now so interconnected, it would go global. But then I remember that the Roman Empire was a global civilisation.


As many of us predicted, the US push for peace in Palestine has collapsed. It is sad to see President Obama humiliated in this way. Forcing through a two-state settlement is in the interests of the US, Israel and the Palestinians but the US political system seems to be so distorted by vested interests that it prevents the greatest power in the world acting rationally. Instead we must await historical developments, but one can feel the tide turning towards the Palestinians. The alternative is the widely predicted global anti-apartheid campaign and the one state solution. Let us hope it comes quickly and with a minimum of bloodshed.

In the meantime the most accurate symbol of Christmas is the Bethlehem crib with the wall through its centre just as it is now the case in the real Bethlehem.

Peak oil

The world currently consumes about 85 million barrels of oil per day. The UK industry task force on Peak oil which includes representatives of companies like  Virgin, Arup and Stagecoach has concluded that they are not big new reserves to be discovered and that therefore oil prices will go up considerably which will have a big effect on the world economy. They recommend investment in renewables, public transport etc. It is worth recalling that one barrel of oil is the equivalent of five men working 12 hours a day continuously for a year! Or,another way of putting it, one barrel holds the energy content of 1 to 7 working years – depending on the type of work. On average British citizen’s consumer 25 barrels of oil equivalent each year, which equals between 25 and 175 people working for them all year round. So as oil gets very much more expensive our life is going to change very considerably.

Are we in a new age of anarchy?

I saw one commentator suggesting that the student demonstrations, Wikileaks and demonstrations against tax evading retailers herald a new age of anarchy. The reality is that all of this is tame stuff compared with historical protest, but it does seem as though people are getting their spirit back. This was predictable, economic booms cause politics to quieten, tougher times lead to trouble and protest.

Happy Christmas and a more just New Year to all.

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