February 16, 2022

The attack

You are under attack.

We all are.

This isn’t conspiracy theory.

It’s plain common sense.

Why else would political parties and corporations spend tens of millions on political and commercial advertising? Why else would the PR industry exist?

It’s an extended brain hack – and the brain they’re hacking into is yours.


Advertising, the news media, social and political commentators, television celebrities, influencers, politicians – they’re all at it. You could look on it as a kind of cognitive imperialism. If the invader wins, you become a vassal state.

But there’s an irony to all of this – because the social and political commentators, the television celebrities, the influencers and politicians, well, their brains are being hacked too.

Richard Dawkins wrote about the selfish gene, describing us as little more than carriers of – and servants to – the gene.

We’re talking about a similar mechanism here, but in the social context, with ideas rather than genes carry the algorithms which subjugate our nature and determine much of what we do. Dangerous ideas use us as hosts and as a means of transmission, attacking and subverting the integrity of our minds.

A disease

Ideas, narratives, ideologies and, more controversially, religions, use people as sock-puppets. They hijack our autonomy. They make us behave in ways which are contrary to our own interests, and, in contemporary terms, in ways which are socially divisive and eco-destructive. These malign narratives and ideas exploit their host in just the way viruses do. They are algorithms which become imprinted in our minds and which influence the way we think and the way we act.


So how do we protect ourselves?

A first and necessary step is to recognise that we’re under attack. No one ever succeeds in tackling a problem unless they accept it’s a problem. If you’ve suffered from drug dependency or alcoholism, or seen this in others, you’ll know that denial is a fundamental characteristic of the problem itself.

The second step is to act on this recognition. It’s a brain hack, pure and simple, so you need the right tools for self-defence: a cognitive firewall, antivirals for the brain.

Guerrilla warfare

Imperialism is rarely if ever benign. It is undertaken for a purpose – to exert or reinforce a power imbalance – the imbalance of the conqueror and the conquered. This is true whether it refers to nations, or to the imperialism of harmful narratives and ideologies. So what sort of firewall and antivirals do we need to resist dangerous narratives and ideas?

My book, Our society is sick – but here’s the cure, is a handbook for cognitive resistance, a manual for guerrilla warfare of the mind. It provides brainware for the antivirals and firewall you need.

We use antivirus software on our laptops and phones. At work firewalls protect our IT systems. It’s time to do the same for our minds.

Don’t allow yourself to be collateral damage in a comms war it’s impossible to avoid.

Read this book.

Defend yourself.



Our society is sick - Front Cover 1.0

Luke Andreski

Luke Andreski is a founding member of the @EthicalRenewal and Ethical Intelligence collectives and author of Short Conversations: During the Plague (2020), Intelligent Ethics (2019) and Ethical Intelligence (2019). His new book, Short Conversations: During the Storm is out now.

You can connect with Luke on LinkedIn,, on WordPress,, or via the EthicalRenewal co-op on Twitter

Note: This article has also appeared on Dangerous Globe –


December 2, 2021

Short Conversations: During the Storm

My new book, Short Conversations: During the Storm, is out now.

I hope you’ll love it.

It’s a book which engages you in a conversation – a conversation about the enemies of the 99% and of the biological world. A conversation about how we can resist these enemies and build something better.


Our enemies are waging a chemical war against us, and using weapons of mass destruction against the environment upon which we all depend:

  • Pollution
  • Deforestation
  • The industrial scale production of greenhouse gasses
  • The mass distribution of compromised food
  • Over-farming
  • Over-fishing
  • Soil loss

But these processes are driven by people very much like us – so why do we as a species continue this relentless self-harm?

Short Conversations: During the Storm looks at the underlying forces which sustain the war we’ve declared on ourselves. It asks, “What motivates this socially divisive, eco-destructive behaviour? What are the root causes? And what’s behind the greed, power-hunger and corruption of the super-rich?”

A disease

As I try to answer this question, I diagnose a peculiar sickness at the heart of our world. You could describe it as a cognitive sickness – a disease of the mind.

You see, our world is in the grip of something very much like a ‘mind plague’, a pandemic of malign and dangerous ideas.

Ideas like these:

  • The biosphere can survive anything we throw at it
  • Let’s keep consuming more and more – there’s no reason not to
  • Waste doesn’t matter
  • Technology will save us
  • Don’t mess with the economy – it’s bad for business
  • Don’t mess with business – it’s bad for the economy
  • Nation states are more important than people
  • Corporations give a f***
  • We’ve got a free media and a free press – you better believe it
  • Voting occasionally means you live in a functioning democracy
  • The world’s like it is because that’s how it’s got to be
  • Little folk can’t change things; we’re just pawns in the big folk’s games

The cumulative effect of these damaging but viral ideas is to jeopardise our children’s future, and to jeopardise the biological world.


Here are some excerpts from the book. I think you’ll like them.

The moral society

“A moral society puts people first.

Not wealth.

Not power.

Not nation states.

Not archaic forms of government or law.

Not royal families or venerable castes.


Ordinary people.


Constructed inequality

“Inequality doesn’t happen by accident. It doesn’t strike like lightning out of the blue. We’ve structured our society, our laws and our economy to support it.

More than that, the 0.1% work hard to secure and perpetuate their claim …to accelerate the feedback loops of wealth.”

A false economy

“Our economy has given us this:

– Selfishness is king

– Greed is queen

– Profit is our God

– The economy is our religion

– Ownership is our temple

– Wealth is our sacrament

– Ruthlessness is admirable

– Acquisition is commendable

– Always want more

– Winner takes all

What a success story!

We now have a value system that’s the very opposite of what any sustainable civilisation needs!”

A centrist mistake

“As far as ordinary folk go, the blindly privileged, the securely propertied and the complacently well-to-do, the ‘centrists’ and ‘moderates’ who describe themselves as ‘the adults in the room’, are part of the problem.

That’s because they’re unwilling to accept that a problem really exists, a problem that only radical change can resolve.”


“When you laugh at an oppressor it reminds you they’re vulnerable. It makes your oppression feel as if it might not last forever, as if it’s not set in stone.”


“Liars like to say there’s no such thing as truth.

Or that truth’s relative.

That there’s your truth and my truth.

I beg to disagree.”

Wall of Truth Image - Luke Andreski - Short Conversations

More truth

“Here’s a truth grenade:

You don’t want to be talked down to.

You want to be treated as an equal.

You want a say in the things that effect your life….

Ignore a truth grenade and it’ll explode in your face.”

The manipulation of the media

“The news…

Now THERE’S something interesting.

‘The news?’


‘And what’s that?’


Every single item of news you hear or see is something someone wants you to hear or see.”

Our cognitive world

“Our civilisation is made up of ideas.

Society is nothing more than a trick of the mind.”

The mind plague

“Humanity is in the grip of a mind plague – a pandemic of propaganda and lies – and it’s one which is failing to deliver herd immunity….

It’s all set to deliver herd death instead.”


But I bring more to the table than just a diagnosis.

I outline vaccines and a cure…

Vaccines like these:

  • A shield of values
  • A wall of truth

And antivirals like these:

  • The Socrates Bomb
  • Chaplin’s Stiletto
  • Kate’s Garrotte
  • The Truth Grenade
  • The Alternatives Ambush

Socrates Bomb - Luke Andreski - Short Conversations

There are no patents for these vaccines and antivirals. No multinational corporation or obscure international courts can sue you for using them. They’re available to anyone and everyone. The ‘How To Build’ instructions come with the book.

Why read this book?

You should read Short Conversations because…. well, because it’s like no other book you’ve ever read.

You should read it because it’ll encourage you to act.

You should read it because it’ll change you.

And you should read Short Conversations: During the Storm because the whole of humanity is caught up in a perfect storm RIGHT NOW…. A storm of climate breakdown, social division, spiralling inequality. A storm of populism, nationalist conservatism, authoritarianism and corporate take-over. A storm of political corruption, media bias and democratic failure.

Why should you read this book?

Because not only do I look at the causes of the storm, but I also offer a way out.

We all want safety, don’t we?

We all want our world and our children to be safe, don’t we?

You should read this book because it’s about what we all want.






Book review:

A short conversation about violence

May 8, 2021


1: A crap idea

“Violence,” you say, “is the last refuge of the incompetent.”

I can only agree. It’s a great saying. Whose is it?

“Isaac Asimov, I  think. I’m not sure.”

The science fiction writer?


I love the guy.1 He said a lot of great stuff. Have spacesuit. Will travel.

“No, that was Heinlein.”

Ah. Right-wing libertarian Heinlein. I loved a lot of his stuff, too.2 Starship Troopers. Stranger In A Strange Land. Shame he was a right-wing libertarian.

“He was probably ok with violence, too.”

Ah, yes, getting back to the topic of violence…

“Shall we?”

Why not? I agree with you.

“With me or Isaac Asimov?”

Either. Both.


I agree that violence is a crap idea. It’s a crap idea for a whole range of moral reasons… and it’s a crap idea for practical reasons too. Where would you like me to start?

“Morality’s your bag.”

Ok, morality – I’ll start there.


Violence 1 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski



2: Equality

Here’s the moral case against violence:


Ethically, in ourselves, we’re all equal – sparks from the same fire, water from the same stream.

Ethically, too, we’re all entitled to equality of opportunity, equality of nurture, equal kindness, equal consideration, equal care.3

But violence attacks equality. It directly enforces – or tries to enforce – inequality: between the violator and the victim, between the abuser and the abused. It’s an assertion, or attempted assertion, of dominance. It thrusts a knife through equality’s heart.


Can anything that thrusts a knife through equality’s heart be moral, do you think?

“I shouldn’t think so.”

Me neither.

So that’s the first thing that makes violence immoral. It conflicts with equality.

There’s more.


3: Freedom

You see, it’s not just equality that violence has trouble with – it’s freedom, too. No one is free if they do something or don’t do something out of fear. But that’s what violence is all about. It’s a vehicle of fear. It’s inherently antagonistic. It attempts to coerce, enforce or compel. Yet freedom is a prerequisite of morality. Can a car or a lawn mower be moral? Do you scold a hammer for being cruel? Morality presupposes freedom. Morality is meaningless without an agent – someone capable of choice.

But that’s just what violence attacks: choice.


The violent attempt to limit your options. They create a wall of force through which the violated cannot pass. They objectify their victims, treating them as things. We’re roboticised by the violent – at least as the violence occurs.

And anything that roboticises a human being can only be immoral.


Violence 2 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski


4: Criminality

And then we get to the crux of the matter: what morality is.

To be moral is to care.

Nurture is at the core of morality. The nurturing others, the nurturing of all humanity. How could it be otherwise? 4 How could anything else be moral?

But violence is the opposite of this.

You do not nurture someone when you kill them, beat them or lock them up. You do not nurture someone through physical or emotional abuse. It’s a lie to suggest you can ever be cruel to be kind; cruelty always causes harm. To use violence, even against criminals, violates your own morality. It makes you a criminal also – and is a criminal truly what you want to be?

“You’re asking me?”

It’s rhetorical question.

“Thank f*** for that! I was trying to think how to reply…”


5: Inspiration

So that’s the moral case against violence… Want the pragmatic?

“Only if it’s less harrowing.”

It is.

“Ok, fire ahead.”



Violence inspires violence. Directly, in the form of reprisals or revenge, and indirectly, in the form of self-harm or violence passed onward to others. It’s easy enough to see why.

Newton’s Third Law tells us that energy doesn’t just vanish. When you see something happen, the energy of that happening doesn’t evaporate into nothingness. It takes a different form. You could call this Social Newtonism: force begets force; coercion creates resistance; violence incites violence. It’s as evident and verifiable as an apple falling from a tree.5

So the energy from a violent act doesn’t just vanish – it ripples outward, through society. It has repercussions and consequences. But is that something anyone wants? Pragmatically, ignoring morality, even on the basis of self-interest alone, is more violence, more resistance, more force really what you want?

“Rhetorical, again?”

I hope so.


Violence 3 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski 


6: Normalisation

Another problem for violence is normalisation.

Violence normalises violence.

Again, that makes sense, doesn’t it? If you live in a society which brutalises children, you’re more likely to see this as normal… and if you see it as normal, you’re more likely to treat your children the same way.6

But who wants violence or coercion or force to be normalised in their communities or in society as a whole?

Isn’t cooperation and engagement and kindness considerably more appealing?


7: Excuses

Then there’s the ‘excuse’ factor.

The experience of violence becomes an excuse for violence. Because a person has suffered violence, they can always say, “Someone was violent to me, so why shouldn’t I be violent to others in turn?” They can say, “That’s how I was treated as a child, and it was good enough for me.”

It’s a game of Pass The Parcel – and each time you open up the package you get a nasty surprise.


On a larger scale you might also ask, “If the state is violent towards those it’s meant to protect, then why shouldn’t individuals be violent to those they’re meant to protect?” And you see that happening. Children and women are commonly abused in violent societies. Does that surprise you? They’re just next victim in a chain of harm.


Even for the perpetrator, violence offers little benefit. The violent are brutalised by the violence they deliver. Executions brutalise the executioner. Invasions brutalise the invader.

Justify your brutality as much as you wish – it will always do you harm.


7: Ineffective

A last pragmatic drawback of violence is its counter-productivity. It doesn’t tend to work.

Do violent overthrows result in happier nations? I’ve yet to see the evidence. Coercive prohibitions? Without relentless state violence they invariably fail. The ‘War on Drugs’? You might as well rename it the ‘Forever War’. The ‘War on Terror’? It’s a recruiting ground for terrorists.

Violence, coercion and force, it seems, rarely do societies any good.

Want to know why?

It’s simple enough.

We live in a complex world. A world of complex humans, complex social and biological networks, complex technological and economic systems.

Understanding and foresight are needed to navigate our way in such a world. If we want to change our world for the better, we need planning, intelligence, good data and sensitivity. Violence or force?

They’re f*** all use when it comes to complexity.


Violence 4 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski


8: Incompetence

“But surely there are times…?”

I thought you might try that one. And I agree. Surely there are times…?

It’s interesting, though, how those who seek to defend violence find themselves having to dig deep into a world of extremes. They bring up the masked intruder, the wicked invader. They always ask, “But surely violence is ok for self-defence?”

But that’s not the moral question.

The moral question is, “Surely you can defend yourself without violence?”


Humans are geniuses of creativity and invention. Look at what we’ve achieved in our amazing technological world. We have the capability to circumvent violence, to make the need for force, against humans or any life form, vanishingly small.

Violence is always preceded by failures of imagination, planning and intelligence.

Violence is what happens when we’re incompetent.

As Asimov says, it’s the incompetent’s last refuge.


9: Rebellion

Our civilisation is in desperate need of change.

We’re immersed in a world of self-harm, enmeshed in a web of destructive narratives, concepts and lies.

We need rebellion.

But not violent rebellion.

Not incompetent rebellion.

Ethical rebellion.

A rebellion by the competent.

A rebellion infused with empathy, foresight, intelligence and love.  “The ethics of common sense”

Twitter & Facebook: @EthicalRenewal


 © Luke Andreski 2021. All rights reserved.



  1. Isaac Asimov (1920–1992). Author of the Foundation series, where he envisages a sophisticated social science capable of predicting sociological outcomes; of three wonderful books about a developing friendship between an android and a human detective: Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun and The Robots of Dawn; and of the famous Three Laws of Robotics:
    • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm
    • A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law
    • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
  1. Robert A. Heinlein (1907–1988). Science fiction writer, most famous for the books I mention. I particularly enjoyed his lesser known novel, The Door Into Summer. His political views were libertarian but something can also be said for his advocacy of rationality and science.
  2. See my book Intelligent Ethics (2019) for a defence of this claim.
  3. As 3, above.
  4. Consider the interventionist attacks by the US and allies on Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003) and Libya(2011) or their encouragement of insurrection in Syria (2011) – and consider how the statistics on death rates in these countries compare before these interventions and after them.
  5. For an interesting article on the normalisation of violence see Sered, Dannielle (2014). How Violence Becomes Normal. Vera Institute of Justice. Link:



While violence against other living things is broadly both stupid and immoral, violence against objects is another thing entirely. Objects have no inherent value. They should never be treated as more important than people. If violence against an object is required to make precisely this point, to say that people matter more, then that violence is moral.


Time to read this:


Short Conversations: During the Plague


“A book which cuts to the heart of populism, our profit-driven culture and the integrity of our politicians…”




Want to penetrate the tsunami of propaganda and spin?


Ethical Intelligence



A fundamental basis for activism?


Intelligent Ethics


A short conversation about the economy

February 27, 2021


1: Enemy

Let’s talk about the economy.

You agree: “A logical next step.”

Would you mind if I’m blunt?

“Fire away.”

It’s shit.

“The economy?”


“Well, that is blunt.”


You ponder for a moment, then ask, “Is this another of your enemies?”

The economy?


An enemy to humanity and the biological world?


I hope, by the time this conversation is complete, you’ll tell me.



2: Taking the good with the bad

We’re talking about the supply-and-demand, producer/consumer, deregulated or lightly-touched1, invisibly-handed2, limited-resource-distributing3, market-based4 economy that currently prevails across much of the world.

Even in countries which claim to be doing something else, the underlying economic model is primarily this.


“And it’s all entirely shit?”

Well, perhaps I need to qualify that.



Economy 1 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski



3: Rubbish

This economy of ours has its good sides, at least in its immature phase – when the gaps between rich and poor, between investment and profit, are less pronounced.

You could almost say that in its early form the economy ‘pays its way’. The benefits outweigh the costs.5


But for the purposes of the 21st Century, for the purposes of the preservation of humanity and the biological world, well, this economy of ours?

I’ll stick to my guns.

It’s rubbish.



4: The balloon and other dangers

Let’s consider a few negatives.


 – Growth

The economy, in its current, near-universal form, is built for growth. Growth attracts investment. It offers economies of scale. Executives get rewarded for growth, and owners and shareholders profit from growth.

Governments, seeing economic growth as a measure of re-electability, fund and facilitate growth.


But here’s a simple truth (which most of us already know): the environment in which the economy is located is finite. There’s only so much of it.

Our world – the environment – is like a balloon which the economy keeps puffing.

The skin of the balloon gets thinner and thinner… and thinner… until there’s no avoiding the outcome.


Keep puffing and the balloon will burst.


So it would be better to stop puffing.

It would be better if the balloon didn’t burst.


– Infection

But that’s easy to say, isn’t it?

It’s harder to accomplish when our economy behaves like a virus.

With its profoundly simple RNA, the producer/consumer virus replicates itself throughout the social and physical world and turns every aspect of our lives into products.


Our relationships, our personal data, our homes, our health… even this article and the communication it signifies is commodified. My creativity and my thinking have become content in an economic entity which exists primarily for profit.


The rewards for the creation of new markets, new opportunities, new services, new products or new ‘needs’ are dramatic.6 Replicate the owner/worker/producer/consumer RNA and profit is assured. That’s one reason the virus is so powerful: it feels like common sense.


As a result our viral economy produces and consumes ever more, and the outcomes are predictable:

– resource depletion7

– habitat destruction8

– animal extinction9

– the gargantuan production of waste10


Our world is in desperate need of a vaccine.

If we don’t find one soon, this virus will harm us all.


– Irrelevance

Another problem with our economy is what it sees as ‘externalities’ – the things it imagines are irrelevant to economic functioning and growth. Human fulfilment, community well-being and the environment (other than those aspects of the environment which can be exploited for profit) are seen in this way.11


Meanwhile jobs, dividends, profits, share prices, exploitable resources, end products, industrial processes, corporate and economic growth and the mechanisms for sustaining these, are valued.

Forests destroyed? Communities shattered? Countless lives lost to slavery, whether waged or unwaged?

The economy doesn’t give a f***.


So is our economy an enemy to humanity?

The issues of growth, infection and irrelevance alone suggest as much.

But there are other negatives.

I’ll keep going.



Economy 2 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski



– Inequality

Our economy is an Inequality Machine, which manufactures ever-growing disparities of wealth. It’s fuel is self-replenishing: a reinforcing cycle called the ‘Wealth-To-The-Wealthy’ feedback loop.

It works like this.


If you already have wealth, you can:

  • Do nothing while your assets increase in value through inflation or scarcity
  • Do nothing while gaining rent through your assets
  • Lend your wealth and accrue effort-free interest
  • Invest in schemes or businesses where the efforts of others increases your wealth
  • Buy up enterprises which generate wealth: factories, mines, farms, businesses of any kind
  • Benefit from government grants or subsidies supporting the industries or agricultures in which you invest
  • Pay expensive accountants to help you evade paying tax on your increasing wealth, while treating even the cost of your accountants as tax deductible
  • Feed your wealth into complex financial mechanisms and, without quite understanding what is happening, watch it grow


And so your wealth increases.

And what can you do with this increase in wealth earned primarily not through merit or labour but through your initial possession of wealth?

Well, why not push it through the Wealth-To-The-Wealthy feedback cycle all over again?



Economy 7 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski



“So what?” you challenge. “So the rich get richer? Why shouldn’t they?”

Because horded, stockpiled, centralised wealth is unproductive.

Because, morally, no one should be rich when their neighbours are poor.


“But aren’t the poor always with us? 12 The rich, too?”

That’s the wealthy apologists’ excuse for wealth – a fatalism sponsored by the rich… and it’s not true.

With our science and technology, our genius and creativity, no one in the 21st Century needs to be poor. And the wealth of the world’s billionaires alone could eliminate world poverty four times over.13


More than that, inequality is harmful for society.14 It undermines cohesion. It tears a great gaping hole in the side of our culture – and out of that hole pours frustration, hatred and rage.


We’ve seen that, haven’t we – in the last few years?


– The Cognitive Dissonance Disaster

Here are three important truths:

  1. It’s immoral to be rich when there are those around you who are poor15
  2. Humans have a natural sense of fairness16
  3. Wealth doesn’t make you happy17


Despite these truths, our economic system makes small numbers of people extremely rich while leaving millions miserably poor.

This immediately creates a problem for the rich.

Due to truths a, b and c cognitive dissonance kicks in.


To escape the resulting psychological stress, the rich – if they choose to remain rich – have to deny truths a through c. Compulsively they throw themselves into:

–  immorality denial

–  unfairness denial

–  unhappiness denial

A denialism which reveals itself in:


Mythologies of wealth

The rich devise mythologies to justify their unfair and immoral wealth. Myths like ‘Hard work got me where I am today’, ‘No one helped me/I did this by myself’18, ‘The just rewards for entrepreneurs’, ‘What price incredible talent?’ or ‘There’s a deserving clan or group or cast who are fully entitled to be wealthy simply because of who they are.’


But all of this is just mythology. Disproportionate wealth IS immoral and unfair. Mythologise all you like. That’s a truth that doesn’t go away.


Rejection of self

To avoid the pain of cognitive dissonance the rich make themselves blind to the suffering of others. They reject their own instincts for fairness and empathy, for generosity or kindness, They’re compelled to. Anything else hurts. But even this fostered blindness creates its own psychological strain – so they reject harder, and make their hearts colder. It’s another vicious circle. They become the sort of people most people would not want to be.



Economy 3 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski



Hatred of the poor

It gets worse.

Driven by denial, the rich stoke up within themselves a hatred and disdain for the poor and encourage this hatred and disdain in others. If the poor are worthless and undeserving, then fairness and morality don’t apply. The ‘plebs’ deserve the hand they’re dealt, don’t they?



But hatred and dismissal is not enough. The ache of dissonance persists. So it becomes a mission for the wealthy to force the beauty of wealth, the happiness of wealth and the appropriateness of utterly unequal rewards down society’s throat… because, if everybody believes it, if even the poor believe it, then how can it be wrong?


Why is this a disaster for our society? It’s a disaster because the rich exert themselves tirelessly in rewriting reality for the poor. They purchase or manipulate our media, saturating it with the dissonance-eclipsing idolisation of wealth. They become aggressive purveyors of alternatives to truth.19 So is it any surprise that a constantly manipulated public become easy victims to populism, conspiracy theory and political deceit?



“I’m feeling a little nauseous.”

You don’t surprise me. Jean-Paul Sartre wrote about that feeling. It’s almost as if humanity is walking on the edge of a cliff and the small toe of one foot is struggling to cast us down to the rocks.


There’s more.



– The Value Inversion Effect

Our economy and its self-justifying mythologies have put a torch to our morality.

“What morality?” you ask.

Irony, I hope?

But it’s true.

It’s difficult and controversial to state what our morality should be in a world of 8 billion opinions and 10,000 religions.


All the same, let’s take that challenge on the chin. Let’s strip down our moral aims to the simplest form they can possibly take if our civilisation is to survive through the 21st Century and beyond.

How about this?

  • Nurture those around you
  • Nurture all humanity
  • Nurture and protect the biological world


Is that so hard?


But our economy and its evangelists have given us this:

  • Selfishness is king
  • Greed is queen
  • Profit is our God
  • The economy is our religion
  • Ownership is our temple
  • Wealth is our sacrament
  • Ruthlessness is admirable
  • Acquisition is commendable
  • Always want more
  • Winner takes all


What a success story!

We now have a value system that’s the very opposite of what any sustainable civilisation needs!


I told you. Our economy is shit.

Do you agree with me yet?


You smile – perhaps a little grimly. “What am I expected to say?”

Only that you agree with me.

“Let me think on it.”


Then let me think with you.

The Inequality Machine, the reinforcing feedback loops of wealth, the growth problem and the Cognitive Dissonance Disaster all contribute to the economic lensing of wealth: the focussing of profit on a smaller and smaller community of individuals and corporations to the detriment of us all. In parallel with this, the Value Inversion Effect tells us it’s not a problem. Nothing to see here. All is well.


But all isn’t well.

Let’s talk about democracy


– The Democracy Distortion Effect

In a properly functioning democracy the electorate should be the main influence on those to whom they’ve delegated power – their elected representatives.

The creation of alternative power centres, through the channelling of extreme wealth to small numbers of corporations and individuals, challenges this in two ways:


  • The elected representatives come under the influence of these alternative power centres through funding, lobbying, miscellaneous direct and indirect bribes or rewards, promises of investment and jobs, and pressure from an oligarch-owned media19


  • The voters themselves come under the influence of these alternative power centres via the oligarch-owned media and its relentless and all-pervasive messaging, which is echoed by state broadcasters if such exist


This pincer movement against democracy – the control of the politicians and the manipulation of the electorate – leaves nations rushing headlong, without effective voter restraint, towards the economic chaos and environmental jeopardy implicit in the failings of our economic model.


This is not a good path to be taking.

An economy which undermines democracy is more an enemy than a friend.



Economy 4 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski



– Alienation & Atomisation

And it’s not just democratic power that’s undermined. It’s individual power, too.

The market economy sees humans as reluctant workers and greedy consumers – as selfish economic units whose interactions are solely concerned with personal gain. Our oligarch-owned media propagandises this perception. Surrounded by the evangelical messaging of the apologists for wealth, and immersed in a mechanistic economic system, we internalise this vision of ourselves. We lose connection with one another except as competitors for products or jobs.20


Empathy? Community? Kindness?

What are these things?

A sense of unity with other creatures and the biological world?

All of this means nothing to the market economy. It’s an irrelevance.


Our economic system divides us from one another and from our world.

We are alienated, atomised. We are anxious and unhappy. We cease to have value, even to ourselves, except as human capital.

And if we have no capital?

Perhaps we’re not even human.



Economy 5 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski



5: Failure

You look restless. “Is this still ‘a short conversation’?”

I venture a shrug. Have you browsed Das Kapital?21 Have you read Thomas Pikketty’s Capital In The 21st Century?22

By those standards this conversation is barely more than a syllable.


You’re right, though.

It’s a long ‘short conversation’.

But we’re getting there. We’re almost done.


– Failure on its own terms

So, lastly, it’s worth observing that our economy is failing by its own measures:

  • It’s not self-regulating23
  • It’s not self-investing24
  • It’s not a ‘free’ market25
  • It suppresses competition26
  • It’s demands state aid27
  • It’s wealth doesn’t trickle down28
  • Its celebrated top end, ‘high finance’, in fact produces next to nothing29
  • It’s not efficient (on the assumption that ‘efficiency’ precludes self-destruction)
  • Its monopolistic instincts suppress entrepreneurship and start-ups and destroy small businesses
  • As ‘a mechanism for distributing limited resources’3 it’s not very good at distribution…. Instead, it allows resources to be horded away in the amassed assets or tax havens of oligarchs.13
  • Tangibly productive or socially beneficial work receives poverty-level incomes while ethically valueless work (corporate lawyers, accountants, financiers) takes the lion’s share
  • When markets are saturated, corporations cannibalise themselves: cheapening their product or service (hadn’t you noticed?); reducing support or after-care; attacking employee pay and working conditions… all of which harm the society in which the corporations operate
  • Huge volumes of income are effectively ‘unearned’, utterly disconnected from real effort, labour or merit (i.e. much of the wealth circulating through the financial sector).
  • It doesn’t work for the common good


Is that damning enough for you?



6: Stupid

It’s interesting that we speak about the economy as if it were magic. ‘Economic miracles’, ‘economic alchemy’, the ‘Magic Square of Economic Policy’, the market’s ‘invisible hand’…

It is as if the economy is something we should submit to or even worship.

But the economy is just an artefact of human manufacture – humans run it, humans organise it, humans made it.

The economy is a kind of machine, a machine which should serve us, not us it.


President Bill Clinton once said, “It’s the economy, stupid.” 30

He got that profoundly wrong.

It’s not, ‘It’s the economy stupid,’ but ‘The economy’s stupid.’

Our economy creates unfairness. It undermines democracy. It destabilises social cohesion… and it jeopardises the survival of our species.

That seems pretty stupid to me.

The economy’s stupid – and it won’t become clever unless we engineer cleverness into it.



Economy 6 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski



7: The fix

“So how do we do that?” you ask, pragmatic as ever.

It’s a good question, and it has an answer – but not one as difficult as our market evangelists would like to suggest.

How do you engineer intelligence into our economy?

You leaven the market economy with cooperativism, with state and community ownership, with ‘Common Good’, ‘Negative Growth’, ‘Green New Deal’ and ‘Donut’31 economics.

Then, whatever’s left, you regulate.


You regulate morality into the market economy.

You regulate the stupidity out of the market economy.

You regulate ‘putting people before profit’ into the economy.

And then you’re done.


That’s what economic regulation is for.


Unless we take these measures we’ll never have an economy suited to our 21st Century Age of Intelligence. All we’ll have is a stupid economy. An economy likely to bring this century to a calamitous end.  “The ethics of common sense”

Twitter & Facebook: @EthicalRenewal



 © Luke Andreski 2021. All rights reserved.



  1. ‘Light touch regulation’ – an inheritance from the deregulatory years of Thatcher and Reagan, carried forward in the UK by British Chancellor and subsequent Prime Minister Gordon Brown, where he called for “a risk-based regulatory approach” in a Mansion House speech in 2007 – i.e. an approach absent of precautionary regulation. We saw the outcome of this approach in the 2008 crash, and we’re still seeing this approach reaping its rewards today.
  2. Smith, Adam (1759). The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Millar, Kincaid and Bell. Smith uses the metaphor of an ‘invisible hand’ for what he deemed the self-regulating and beneficial nature of a market economy in which people operated primarily out of self-interest.
  1. Bank of England: The economy is “a system for distributing scarce resources.”
  2. The ‘market economy’: an economic system of supply and demand in which production and prices are determined by unrestricted competition between primarily private businesses.
  3. Steven Pinker, in his book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress (2018) convincingly makes the case for the amazing progress humanity has made in reducing world poverty, hunger, warfare and violence over the last two hundred years. He’s not wrong: capitalism has been a power-house for progress. However, we can’t turn a blind eye to its historic costs: slavery; foul working conditions; exploitative pay rates; child labour; despoliation of communities and the environment.
  4. Find a new niche to commodify and become a millionaire, a billionaire or even a trillionare (which is the current direction of travel for Elon Musk, founder of PayPal).
  5. Unless we change our usage and conservation of fresh water, it may run out in under 20 years. See And topsoil, on which, ultimately, all our food depends, could run out in 60 years. Cosier, S. (2019). The world needs topsoil to grow 95% of its food – but it’s rapidly disappearing. Guardian. Link:  
  1. “In Indonesia alone, over six million hectares of primary forest – an area twice the size of Belgium – were lost between 2000 and 2012. Globally, a third of all forest cover has now been cleared and another 20% has been degraded.” – Fauna & Flora International. Link:
  2. One million species threatened with extinction. Powerful details from the UN. See this link:
  3. Ellis, Cody (2018). ‘World Bank: Global waste generation could increase 70% by 2050’: “About 2.01 billion metric tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) are produced annually worldwide. The World Bank estimates overall waste generation will increase to 3.40 billion metric tons by 2050.” Link:
  4. Ditto non-vocational activities, education, housework, home caring, child rearing, uncommodified leisure facilities (e.g. national or local parks), shared community facilities etc…. Some of these are indirectly exploited (e.g. housework and child rearing, usually undertaken by women, serves as an unpaid and under-recognised bastion to the economy); others are gradually eroded (e.g. the selling-off of public and school amenities).
  5. Matthew 26:11 — “The poor will be with you always.” It’s a biblical phrase which is often used to justify and excuse the existence of poverty, though there are biblical scholars who contest this usage. (See Theoharis, Liz (2017). ‘‘The Poor Will Always Be With Us’ Is Jesus’ Indictment of the Rich. Not the Poor.’ Needless to say, a quotation is not an argument. Once upon a time we might have said, “Smallpox will always be with us.” Our human genius made sure this wasn’t true.
  1. ‘The Cost of Inequality: How wealth and income extremes hurt us all’ – Oxfam : (Jan 2013) Also: “The world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 percent of the planet’s population” – Oxfam, Jan 2020. Link:
  1. Wilkinson, Richard and Pickett, Kate (2009). The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better was published in 2009. They describe the “pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, (and) encouraging excessive consumption”. Common sense supports this. What emotions would you expect great inequality to inspire in the human psyche? Love? Approval? Gratitude? Compassion? Or resentment, jealousy, hatred and rage?
  2. I build up the moral case for this in my book Intelligent Ethics (2019).
  3. Bregman, Rutger (2020). Humankind. Bloomsbury. The author makes a strong case for the inherent decency and sense of fairness of human beings.
  4. Laurence, Michael (2019).  ‘More money, less happiness: When money makes you miserable’. Link:
  5. See ‘A short conversation about privilege and its hypocrisies’ in my book, Short Conversations: During the Plague (2020).
  6. And in order to control what the public imagine to be the truth, a tiny minority of oligarchs and corporations have successfully colonised the world’s new media. See: Tiffin, Alex (2019). ‘New study shows exactly who owns the news.’ Link:
  7. Products, jobs or economic status…. Even our relationships become commodified, as we join the hunt in ‘the meat market’.
  8. Marx, Karl (1867). Das Kapital. Publisher: Verlagvon Otto Meisner. 2156 pages.
  9. Piketty, Thomas (2013). Capital in the 21st Century. Publisher: Éditions du Seuil. 696 pages.
  10. Self-regulating? Well, it allows the creation of billionaires whilst barely distributing that wealth across the rest of the population…. And what about the Great Depression of 1929; 1987’s ‘Black Monday’; the bursting of the dotcom bubble in 2001; the 2008 financialcrisis; and a clear inability to self-regulate during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? Self-regulating? ‘Wildly oscillating and ultimately self-harming’ would be a better description.
  11. A major justification of/for our economic model is the notion of reinvestment. All that profit and wealth being generated? Well, the proprietors and owners of enterprises will obviously reinvest it, to build their businesses and further increase their profits – and this reinvestment will create new jobs, new technologies and be good for us all. However, it turns out that this is decreasingly the case in the more mature phases of our economy, where, instead of investment, money is bound up in complex financial mechanism or locked down in the tax havens and assets of the super rich. See Tori, Daniele and Onaran, Özlem (2017). ‘The effects of financialisation and financial development on investment: Evidence from firm-level data in Europe.’
  12. Phillips, Brin (2015). ‘The free market? There’s no such thing.’ New Statesman. Link:
  13. “C.W.” (2018). ‘Capitalism is becoming less competitive.’ The Economist. Link:
  14. Do we live in a ‘nanny state’ for the poor – or do we live in a ‘nanny state’ for businesses and corporations? The UK government will have lost £27b to the banks from the bailouts for the 2008 crash – and there are many other more regular tax exemptions and state subsidies at play. “Hidden subsidies, direct grants and tax breaks to big business amount to £3,500 a year given by each UK household.” See Chakrabortty, Aditya (2015). ‘The £93bn handshake: businesses pocket huge subsidies and tax breaks.’ Guardian. Link: A scandalous recent example is the UK’s outsourcing during the COVID19 epidemic, stretching into the 10s of £billions in murky and unproductive contracts. See Blackburn, Peter (2020). ‘Outsourced and undermined: the COVID-19 windfall for private providers.’ BMA. Link:
  1. See Etebari, Mehrun (2003), ‘Trickle-Down Economics: Four Reasons Why It Just Doesn’t Work’. Link: Also, “Trickle-down theory says cutting taxes on rich people will encourage them to work and invest more, ultimately creating jobs and benefiting everyone. In reality, it increases inequality while not having ‘any significant effect on economic growth and unemployment.’” Coy, Peter (2020). ‘Trickle-Down Economics Fails a Sophisticated Statistical Test.’ Bloomberg Businessweek. Link:
  2. Cecchetti, Stephen and Kharroubi, Enisse (2015). ‘Why growth in finance is a drag on the real economy .’ Link:  
  3. “It’s the economy, stupid” – a much-acclaimed slogan devised by James Carville, a strategist in Bill Clinton’s successful Presidential campaign in 1992.
  4. Raworth, Kate (2018). Donut Economics. Chelsea Green Publishing.



Time to read this:


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Ethical Intelligence




A fundamental basis for activism?


Intelligent Ethics


A short conversation about corporations

February 1, 2021

1: World killers

Let’s talk about corporations.

“Corporations?” I can see you’re dubious. “Aren’t corporations a little dull?”


I wish it were so.


Corporations are our enemies.

They’re enemies of humanity.

They’re enormously dangerous – and they’re killing our world.

What could possibly be dull about that?


“Well, ok, but aren’t you now being a little extreme?”

Dull? Extreme? Which is it?

Let’s keep talking. Let’s see if we can work this out…



2: The big ten

China Coal. Saudi Aramco. Gazprom. National Iranian Oil. ExxonMobil. Coal India. Petroleos Mexicanos. Russia Coal. Royal Dutch Shell. China National Petroleum.

These companies?

They’re enemies of our children.

And of their children.

And, if the worst comes to the worst, potentially of all life.


These ten companies generate the highest CO2 volumes of any in the world.1

They’re world beating at being world destroying.



Corporations 1 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski



3: The big one hundred

Combine these polluters with the next ninety by volume and you get one hundred companies producing 71% of humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions.1

Our enemies?

What else can they be?

They’re taking the biological world to the brink of apocalypse – an apocalypse which will crush our civilisation beyond recognition.


Have you seen what happens when a car goes through a crusher? There’s not much you can recognise once the process is finished.

It could be like that for human civilisation.

Or worse.


The efforts of these corporations, unhindered, may transform our planet into something like Mars.2



Corporations 2 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski



4: Mars

Mars: fourth planet from the sun. 6792 kilometres in diameter. Air you can’t breathe.

Lifeless (or virtually so). Dusty. Usually very, very cold.

You want to live on Mars?

Along with Musk?3

That in itself would be like hell on Earth.



5: Enemies of humanity

There are other corporations which are no less dangerous, though in different ways. Some specialise in the corruption of governments.

The world’s five largest public petroleum companies spend $200m+ a year on lobbying.4 BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Total, in that order of expenditure, use their extractive wealth to campaign against those who attempt to protect the environment. Their sheer financial power distorts government policy in their favour – in favour of polluting the Earth.


Are they enemies of humanity? If so, they’re not the only ones. There are the big mining companies.5 The arms manufactures. The asset-stripping hedge funds.

There are companies like CocaCola whose packaging fills our oceans with plastic.6 Companies like McDonalds and Tescos, whose ‘cheap’ foods are costing us our forests.7  Through pollution, direct or indirect, through lobbying against change, through funding campaigns of disinformation, these companies are putting our children’s lives at risk.



6: Nice

“I know someone who works in BP,” you say. “She’s pretty senior – but a lot of fun. No one would describe her as an enemy of humanity!”


That’s a good point.

In fact, it’s a crucial point.

You see, it’s not the people who work in these organisations that’s the problem.

Many of them are decent folk.

You’d like them if you met them.

You’d never guess they were servants of extinction.


The danger doesn’t come from individuals.

It’s a structural thing.



Corporations 3 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski



7: Uncomfortable

“Structural?” You shift uncomfortably in your chair. I know already what you’re going to say. “Structural stuff’s definitely dull.”

Well, there’s structure and there’s structure.

Some structure’s complex. Some’s boring.

And some structure can kill you.



8: Corporate structure that can kill

Try this for size:


a)  Corporations are amoral

Corporations, to a lesser or greater degree of efficiency, do exactly what they’re designed to do: deliver profit; deliver a service or a product; deliver more profit. Extraneous harm? Damage to the environment? Poor employee working conditions? Child exploitation?

Unless corporations are deliberately designed or compelled to prevent these things, they won’t.


b)  Corporations are growth junkies

More growth? And then more? Companies can’t help themselves. They need to grow. And the bigger they get the bigger they want to be – a hunger fuelled by economies of scale, by the leverage gained from market sector dominance, by the reinforcing feedback loop between growth and share value, by executive rewards for corporate expansion…

So they keep growing. And growing. But because they’re inherently amoral, there’s no Pause button.

There’s nothing inbuilt to say, “Stop growing – it’s causing harm…”


c) More feedback

As corporations grow, the better they become at attacking the regulations that restrain their growth. With increasing financial leverage they dictate to governments and nations what the regulations on growth should be. It’s a reinforcing feedback loop. Corporate growth empowers further corporate growth.


d)  Atomisation

Another negative of growth is this: As businesses grow the sense of personal responsibility of those within them decreases. The employee’s stake in ownership and management decreases proportionally to company size. The larger the company, the easier it becomes to say we’re just there for the wage, that we’re only doing our job, that the corporation’s business is its business.

A thousand employees? Tens of thousands of employees?

Our sense of moral involvement bleeds away.


e)  Hierarchies R Us

Corporations tend toward hierarchy – further contributing to the atomisation and disengagement of those of us lower in the structure. And it’s not just us who get atomised and disengaged. It’s our morality, too.


f)  ‘Instinct parasites’

Like parasites, corporations exploit human nature: our loyalty, our need for approval, the desire to be part of a tribe – they take unfair advantage of these instincts, co-opting us to purposes of their own. The parasites attach themselves to our spinal ganglia. We become corporate loyalists or keen subordinates, our personal morality abandoned at the factory gate or office door.


g)  Psychopaths

Corporations are havens of psychopathy. The dehumanising characteristics of the business world give psychopaths a perfect home.8 We see yet another vicious circle kicking in. The psychopaths rise to become senior managers or executives… they reinforce the amorality of the organisations in which they work… and thus create environments in which further psychopathy is rewarded rather than suppressed.


h)  Mechanistic transference

Corporations are machines, working to predefined objectives and rules. Even those of us who have no psychopathic traits begin to adopt the qualities of machines. We are imprinted with the mechanistic, rule-driven nature of our workplace. We subordinate our empathy, morality and sense of fairness to the mechanical, algorithm-driven activities of the corporation.  As functioning components of the corporate machine we become functionally psychopathic.


No surprise, then, that the perfectly decent people making up the bulk of the workforce offer little hindrance to a corporation’s structurally amoral or immoral behaviour.



Corporations 4 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski



These features of corporations make them profoundly dangerous. With their natural absence of morality and their relentless appetite for growth, they have become like ultra-competitive cancers, fighting over the body of our world.


Every corporation in the world should have a warning notice attached:






9: Defenestration

So how do we stop the corporations from endangering the human world?

That’s a big question.

Let’s take a step back and ask a question that’s rather smaller.

What IS a corporation?


A corporation is a group of people working together to achieve specified objectives in accordance with specified rules. Corporations are recognised legally as entities, with rights and powers similar to our own. This, despite their inherent lack of empathy, morality or compassion.


So how do we restrain or control these chilling, rule-bound, objective-obsessed entities, these enemies of the human world?


The answer is shockingly simple.


Their structure is determined by their objectives and rules.

So we adjust their objectives.

We change their rules.  “The ethics of common sense”

Twitter & Facebook: @EthicalRenewal


  2. See ‘A short conversation about why we should be scared’ in Volume 1 of this series.
  3. Long-term survival of a human colony on Mars, with a calamitously ruined Earth unable to supply it, is unlikely. The quantity of personnel and supplies required to meet a minimum sustainability threshold is enormous and enormously expensive, and the environmental challenges overwhelming. See Coates, A (2018),‘Sorry Elon Musk, but it’s now clear that colonising Mars is unlikely – and a bad idea’,, link: You also have to ask, Why? Why not create a similar but far cheaper ‘escape pod’ habitat in the inhospitable environment here on Earth? At least, for the moment, we’ve got an atmosphere worthy of the name.
  4. McCarthy, N. (2019). Oil And Gas Giants Spend Millions Lobbying To Block Climate Change Policies. Here:
  5. Mining companies contribute significantly to CO2 emissions, with Vedanta Resources, Glencore and Rio Tinto being three of the worst on this score, whilst many mines also cause significant local environmental harm. See, e.g. Neil, P. (2020). Major mining companies accused of greenwashing. Environmental Journal. and Tiseo, I (2019), Global mining companies’ CO₂ emissions 2017, Link:
  6. Christie, Niall (2019). Coca Cola, Pepsi and Nestle named world’s worst plastic polluters in 2020. The Big Issue. Link:
  7. Heal, Alexandra et al (2020). Soya linked to fires and deforestation in Brazil feeds chicken sold on the British high street. Unearthed/Greenpeace. Link:
  8. Agerholm, Harriet (2016). One in five CEOs are psychopaths, new study finds. The Independent. Link:

 © Luke Andreski 2021. All rights reserved.

Time to read this:


Short Conversations: During the Plague

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Want to penetrate the tsunami of propaganda and spin?


Ethical Intelligence

A unifying ethical code for humanism, environmentalism and socialism?

Intelligent Ethics

small acts of resistance from @EthicalRenewal

December 19, 2020


small acts of resistance is a list compiled by the Ethical Renewal co-op, with contributions from friends on Twitter. If you’d like to contribute please follow @EthicalRenewal on Twitter ( and Direct Message or add your suggestions in comments against the thread.


Please feel free to copy and share any or all of these suggestions with all and everyone.




Small acts of resistance: this is our list.

We want it to grow.


Direct Message your suggestions  – or add them as comments.

Please retweet, re-message, re-meme, share.



Become the droplets of water that form a tsunami.




small acts of resistance


#1 small ACTS of resistance #1


   help someone


empathy is the powerhouse of ethical change….





#2 small ACTS of resistance #2


   buy less, buy local or don’t buy at all…


reducing consumption is a revolutionary act





#3 small ACTS of resistance #3




this small act is actually pretty big

question everything said by the powerful; they’d rather you didn’t





#4 small ACTS of resistance #4


   mock the powerful


authoritarians and bullies hate your insight and laughter





#5 small ACTS of resistance #5




learn as much as you can about as much as you can: knowledge is power





#6 small ACTS of resistance #6




share as widely as you can the history & actions of authoritarian politicians; they hate it: it shows them for what they are





#7 small ACTS of resistance #7




hijack adverts using graffiti, action, memes or art to deliver a radical message





#8 small ACTS of resistance #8


   use asymmetrical messaging: spray can, leaflet, poster, voice


they have the media & the money; we’ve got graffiti





#9 small ACTS of resistance #9


   communicate asymmetrically: deface, reframe, reposition, refute


they’ve got the cash & the media: we’ve got us





#10 small ACTS of resistance #10


   challenge lies and propaganda whenever you hear or see them


be quick to respond; don’t let the lies gain traction





#11 small ACTS of resistance #11


   tell anyone/everyone about the promise of a better world


why should autocrats and billionaires define what’s possible?





#12 small ACTS of resistance #12


   right-wing mags, leaflets, newspapers? You know what to do….


bung them in recycling, turn them face down on their stands, put better publications on top





#13 small ACTS of resistance #13


    put mocking magazines or books over/next to the images of authoritarians



Thanks, @DocMcfly (Twitter)



#14 small ACTS of resistance #14


    hit back at the biased media


refute, mute, boycott & block the billionaire news media, e.g. the Liverpool boycott or Twitter’s #IBlockedTheSun





#15 small ACTS of resistance #15


    at election times buy the gutter press to bin it


clear out a small newsagent of The S*n or Mail for a day or two….



Thanks, @stylophobia  (Twitter)



#16 small ACTS of resistance #16


    switch off TV when mainstream news incoming


corporate propagandists hate losing viewers



Thanks, @BStott9 (Twitter)




#17 small ACTS of resistance #17


   before you back a politician check their record:

   Are they decent? Are they consistent? Are they honest?


UK MP’s voting records can be checked here:





#18 small ACTS of resistance #18


   visit the timelines or conversations of known populists and bigots; set the record straight


they’ve got a platform…. but so have we





#19 small ACTS of resistance #19


   mute, block, act contrarily to or deliberately ignore advertising


we don’t need more sh**…. and if they’re paying to spread that muck it’s probably bad for the planet





#20 small ACTS of resistance #20


   radicalise yourself


read everything you can about humanism, environmentalism, socialism; they are vaccines against selfishness





#21 small ACTS of resistance #21


    promote ethics and human rights


educate yourself & others re online psychological profiling, data security, voting manipulation and psych ops. Learn from Finland



Thanks, @Jojo67460456 (Twitter)



#22 small ACTS of resistance #22


     challenge aggression, both in yourself and others


aggression atomises and divides us; empathy and cooperation are our greatest assets





#23 small ACTS of resistance #23


     put your emotional distress into positive creative action


focus on one thing, no matter how modest or how wild; just do it….



Thanks, @Jojo67460456 (Twitter)



#24 small ACTS of resistance #24


     work-to-rule if your job or pay are demeaning


why ease the way of the establishment or line the pockets of the rich?





#25 small ACTS of resistance #25


    join a campaign/union/mutual aid group; get involved


the biggest threat to the powerful are people acting in solidarity (there’s more of us than them)



Thanks, @ValueSurplus (Twitter)



#26 small ACTS of resistance #26


    speak to strangers, speak to your neighbours


loneliness and atomisation are a weapon against us





#27 small ACTS of resistance #27


     if someone disagrees with you, don’t insult or block them unless they’re clearly bots or trolls


engage; act the way you want the world to be



Thanks, @guyinaredtie1 (Twitter)




#28 small ACTS of resistance #28


   go green


for ideas for small steps you can personally take see






#29 small ACTS of resistance #29


     grow stuff


anything green uses up CO2






#30 small ACTS of resistance #30


   Grow (some of) your own food


Just one crop (even in a pot) gives you more control over what you eat and how it’s grown



Thank you, @sophiejayhudson



#31 small ACTS of resistance #31


   plant a tree


guerrilla planting; roadside planting; garden planting…. why wait for the state to act?






#32 small ACTS of resistance #32


   become vegan or as close to vegan as you can manage


intensive animal farming is not only disastrous for the planet, it’s also horribly cruel






#33 small ACTS of resistance #33


   travel less


travelling has become an act of consumption; staying local an act of rebellion






#34 small ACTS of resistance #34


    work from home if you can


save money, protect the planet, stay safe






#35 small ACTS of resistance #35


    buy local produce and goods


keep food and product miles to a minimum and help local communities become sustainable






#36 small ACTS of resistance #36


      when you receive your takeaway at the drive-through unpack & return the excess packaging before you move on


don’t indulge their waste



Thanks, @JohnFos00105853 (Twitter)



#37 small ACTS of resistance #37


      use your local pubs, cafés & restaurants when you go out for drinks or meals


boycott the mega-chains; give the finger to their greedy owners



Thanks, @vikingowl (Twitter)





#38 small ACTS of resistance #38


   don’t burn stuff or use transport that burns stuff


gas, petrol, wood, coal, bio-fuels – they all generate greenhouse gases





#39 small ACTS of resistance #39


     avoid/switch off GMB/Lorraine type ‘sales tv’ programmes


they’re pure avenues for advertising, encouraging throwaway fashion; don’t buy anything they promote



Thanks, @AOnewith (Twitter)



#40 small ACTS of resistance #40


     uninvited pre-paid envelopes for credit cards etc – fill them with something heavy and post them right back


whichever company’s trying to scam you pays the postage; maybe they’ll learn?



Thanks, @EthicalUprising (Twitter)




#41 small ACTS of resistance #41


     avoid Cruelty TV


Jeremy Kyle is accused of causing a suicide; I’m A Celebrity is accused of animal cruelty





#42 small ACTS of resistance #42


   bear witness to police action whenever you can


police are necessary and often good, but they easily fall prey to establishment values, no matter how anachronistic or outdated






#43 small ACTS of resistance #43


     give up or cut down on a costly bad habit


drugs, smoking/vaping, alcohol all make you poorer and less healthy & the dealer richer and nastier



Thanks, @PeterG4NES2019




#44 small ACTS of resistance #44


     donate what you’d spend on a film/theatre/lottery ticket to alternative journalism, community support orgs, ethical tech replacement co-ops etc


our small contributions will help bring about the change we need



Thanks, @Jojo67460456 (Twitter)




#45 small ACTS of resistance #45


     make it plain what you think of drivers of big cars


small is beautiful; so is electric; and bikes and public transport better





#46 small ACTS of resistance #46


    share a simple morality

    -nurture those around you

    -nurture humanity

    -nurture and protect the biological world


simplicity is strength






#47 small ACTS of resistance #47


     love and protect ALL animals


yes, in today’s selfish world love and protection is an act of resistance…



Thanks, @tandoreo




#48 small ACTS of resistance #48


      teach yourself and others how to see through the propaganda and lies….


digital literacy and a clear ethical focus are essential in our propagandised world



Thanks, @Jojo67460456 (Twitter)




#49 small ACTS of resistance #49


     Want to help the poor? 


Local Credit Unions provide cheap loans, keeping the vulnerable away from loan sharks and banks. Unused cash? Open an account – instant access and fully protected.






#50 small ACTS of resistance #50


     be hopeful


hope inspires; hope empowers; hope is an act of defiance





#51 small ACTS of resistance #51


     be kind


kindness is our greatest weapon against power-hunger, selfishness and greed


Thanks, @AnneDel81230567 (Twitter)







Your small act may be the stroke of a butterfly’s wing….


@EthicalRenewal began as a small group of friends and co-workers from different walks of life sharing our views on what it would be like to live in a fairer and happier world. We asked questions like:


  • How can people find fulfilment and self-respect in these rapidly changing and unpredictable times?
  • How are we to protect our children’s future – or even the future of all life on Earth?
  • What sort of morality is needed in the 21st century and beyond if people from every walk of life are to benefit from our science and technology and flourish?

We decided we’d like to apply ourselves to making realistic ethical change happen – creating the content on the website, in the books Ethical Intelligence and Intelligent Ethics and on Twitter (, in order to share and encourage the sharing of a message of action.


@EthicalRenewal are not affiliated to any political movement, religion, ideology or creed.


Luke Andreski is co-founder of the @EthicalRenewal and EthicalIntelligence.Org cooperatives.

He is author of Short Conversations: During the Plague (2020), Intelligent Ethics (2019), Ethical Intelligence (2019), the novel To The Bridge (2018) and How To Be Happy (2017).


small acts of resistance

A short conversation about understanding vs belief

October 21, 2020



1: Opinions

“Are you saying,” you ask, “that some opinions are better than others?”

I am. Controversial, isn’t it?

The best opinions, theories, viewpoints or conjectures are those which most closely mirror reality. Why? Because they empower us. Because they assist us in navigating a path through the real world.


“What about beliefs? Are they the same?”

Well, opinions are tricky… but beliefs are worse. People kill for their beliefs. Killing for opinions? Less so.

People become enraged when beliefs are challenged. Opinions are usually less ardently held…

The thought-mode of belief has a history of violence. By contrast, opinions have a history of changing with the wind.


“But I feel strongly about my beliefs!” you exclaim. “What’s wrong with that?”

Do you really want me to answer?


Everything’s wrong with that.



2: The middle ground

Don’t be alarmed. It’s not your beliefs I’m questioning. It’s belief in general. Belief as a way of thinking.

Here’s why:


  • Believe it or not, beliefs polarise

Belief, in principle, allows for no alternative. My beliefs are 100% right. (If I didn’t think that, I’d consider them opinions, not beliefs.)

Belief has no middle ground. That’s the nature of belief. If I don’t have conviction, if I’m not confident or certain, it’s not belief.


“Ha!” you respond. “But what if I believe in the middle ground?”


Haha. Very funny.

But the principle still applies.

If you believe in the middle ground then you also believe that anyone who isn’t a ‘middle-ground believer’ is 100% wrong. Not in all their beliefs; but definitely in their failure to believe in the middle ground.



Understanding 1 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski



  • A disconnect from the facts

Here’s another problem for belief: it hates being contradicted by the facts.

It’s no surprise that believers detest abandoning their beliefs. To do so diminishes something they once held dear. To do so makes their prior beliefs – the ones you are asking them to abandon – no more significant or profound than opinions.


Abandon belief when evidence contradicts it and your very identity as a believer is threatened…


Which gives us a problem in our fact-filled world. Belief as a mode of thought is fact-averse.


  • Beliefs disempower

The certainty and conviction implicit in belief diminishes adaptability. How cognitively flexible can you be when you’re boxed in by belief? A new pandemic? Global warming? Recession? If your beliefs are disconnected from the evidence how capable will you be in the face of such issues?


We’ve seen how ideological leaders, locked into nativist conservativism or neoliberalism, fail in the face of coronavirus. For the same reasons, these leaders will fail in the next crisis, too.



Understanding 2 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski



  • Belief damages cognition

The inflexibility of belief puts limits on cognition. Your conclusions have already been reached – so how can you think laterally, imaginatively or in new ways?

More than that, once you’ve adopted the thought-mode of belief, your susceptibility to propaganda and spin are increased. Belief doesn’t need evidence, so it easily becomes a stamping ground for the power-hungry and manipulative.

Divine rulers? Strong leaders? Strange conspiracies?

What is there that believers won’t believe?


  • Extremism

The tribalism of belief, the believer/non-believer divide, makes it a perfect host for extremism. Are you with us or are you the enemy? And, if you’re the enemy, then what persecutions, destructiveness, cruelty, terror or aggression are we not entitled to pursue?


  • Multiplicity

I’ll court a little more controversy: belief has a problem with monogamy.

It’s promiscuous.

The belief mode of thought will climb into bed with any conceivable concept or invention.

Why not? All that’s required is a leap of faith.


This gives us a very modern problem: an explosion in belief.

We see it on social media, on television, throughout everyday life. Beliefs proliferate like cancer across the social realm. But not one cancer. A multitude of cancers, all competing to grow the fastest, to become the most widespread, to dominate our attitudes and minds.


  • Anger

And so we become angry. We’re immersed in a world where our rigid convictions are constantly colliding with the rigid convictions of others. “These are MY beliefs – so f*** you!”

Anger has become a defining characteristic of the internet. Social media has become a crucible of hate.

Log on anytime, anywhere. You’ll see.



Understanding 3 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski



3: A better way

So belief – the belief way of thinking – is problematic. Particularly now, in the face of the crises of the 21st Century.

What of it?


Well, I’ve a punchline for you: All of this is unnecessary.

The belief mode of thought is no longer needed.

It’s archaic, anachronistic, redundant.

We’ve got something better.

It’s called understanding.


4: Language

The language of understanding is flexible, adaptable, rooted in the evidence. It looks like this:


“If my understanding is correct then…”


“My current understanding is …”


“To the best of my knowledge…”


“From what I can see…”


“The evidence suggests…”


 “As far as I understand…”


The language of understanding is collaborative. We share a common purpose: to more fully understand.


“Help  me understand…”


“Is this right?”


“Show me…”


5: Humans among humans

Understanding means to grasp a thing with your mind, to comprehend it, to see it as deeply and clearly as possible. Understanding implies an objective reality which is there to be investigated and researched – and which can always be better understood.


To opt for understanding instead of belief is no second best. Understanding is the powerhouse of the modern world. Our universe is enormous, intricate and yet elegantly structured. We can attempt to understand its enormity, intricacy and structure using our senses of perception, the tools we’ve invented, the power of our minds. We’ve seen the success of this approach a thousand times over, in medicine, technology, science, IT.


Investigate, theorise, test… then utilise.



Understanding 4 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski



And there are other advantages to understanding.

It encourages compassion.

We are seeking to understand not just the fabric of reality but also the minds, feelings and needs of the other lives who share this reality with us. We are in this together, humans amongst humans, animals amongst animals.

An ever improving understanding is better for us all.


Understanding is inclusive. Where we differ, it’s the process of understanding that can bring us together. Understanding is non-threatening, non-tribal. If there is something to be understood, then anyone can understand it, given effort and time. It took genius to discover that the Earth was (approximately) a sphere – but it doesn’t take a genius to understand that now.


Understanding is all about reality, about evidence. Understanding empowers us in the face of an increasingly dangerous world. New challenges or threats? Let’s understand them… then we can act on our understanding.


 6: The way out

It’s time to abandon belief as a way of thinking, to let understanding take its place.

The thought-mode of belief constrains us like a ball and chain.

The thought-mode of understanding can set us free.  “The ethics of common sense”

Twitter & Facebook: @EthicalRenewal



 © Luke Andreski 2020. All rights reserved.




Time to read this:


Short Conversations: During the Plague


“A book which cuts to the heart of populism, climate denial, our profit-driven culture and the integrity of our politicians…”




Want to penetrate the tsunami of propaganda and spin?

Try this:

Ethical Intelligence by Luke Andreski



Need a fundamental basis for activism?

Try this:

Intelligent Ethics by Luke Andreski


A short conversation about truth

October 11, 2020

1: What truth is

“What is truth?” you ask.

I like it when you ask that sort of question out of the blue – the really big questions which make you doubt everything, which set you back on your heels while you try to work out what the question even means, let alone whether you’re capable of offering an answer….

What is truth?

Here and now, in our 21st Century Age of Lies1, it’s a particularly important question.

I’ll try to provide an appropriately thoughtful and protracted answer.

…Or maybe not.

It’s not that I’m impatient.

I just prefer not to use three words when one will do.

So here:

Truth is about reality.

I see you’re rubbing your chin.

“That’s it?”

Yes, that’s it.

2: Venn

If you draw a Venn diagram to show the relationship between truth and reality you’ll have one circle, TRUTH, sitting entirely inside another: REALITY.

When a claim or assertion deviates from reality it stops being the truth.

It moves out of both these two Venn circles.

3: Reality

“But what’s reality?” you ask. “You’ve simply glossed over the question of truth by shifting the burden of explanation back a bit.”

I know what you mean. It’s like answering, “God” to the question of “Where did the universe come from?”

It’s not an answer – it’s merely a postponement. It just begs the next question… “Where did God come from?”

So what’s reality?

That’s a question I’ve answered before, but I’ll try again.

Reality is this:

It’s the real thing, the stuff of the universe, the world as it is.

It’s objective, coherent, singular and independent2.

It’s not down to you. It’s there whether you like it or not.

It’s measurable, researchable, discoverable and evidential.

A little tautologically – what’s reality? It’s everything that’s real.

Is that answer enough for you?

4: Logic

What’s more, there’s a simple logic to the relationship between reality and truth.

It goes like this:

A mistake

If you believe in something and claim it’s the truth but it conflicts with reality then you’re mistaken.

A lie

If you know that something conflicts with reality but you claim it’s the truth, then you’re lying.


If you believe in something and to the best of our shared human understanding it reflects the real world, then there you have it: truth.3

5: Words

Truth has other qualities – qualities which are similar to those of reality.

Truth is consistent, coherent and objective. Truth can never be self-contradictory. As soon as you accept ‘truths’ which contradict one another then you’re talking about something else, not truth at all.

You’re talking about opinions, beliefs, narratives or viewpoints.

Truth’s not an opinion.

There’s no ‘my truth’ and ‘your truth’.

You’ve misunderstood the word ‘truth’ if you think there is. You’ve used it interchangeably with ‘belief’.

Why have the word ‘truth’ if it’s really only ‘belief’ you’re talking about?

6: Categories

Some people suggest truth is ‘just a word’ – trapped in a web of language from which it can never escape.

But that’s what’s called a category error.

Language, symbols, pictures exist in one category – let’s call it the ‘depictive category’.

But the things being depicted belong to another.

Words point at something. That’s their purpose. That’s why we use them. We didn’t start to grunt just in order to grunt about grunts. Our grunts were initially grunts of approval or grunts of alarm, grunts of warning or grunts of excitement.

And then we got a little more sophisticated.

You might try to claim ‘death’ is just a word, but try being dead. It’s entirely different.

7: Opinions

Are we all entitled to our opinions?

Well, there’s little doubt about that: of course we are.

But an entitlement to believe in something doesn’t make it true.

More than that, as far as truthfulness goes, some opinions are better than others.

The closer an opinion, theory or viewpoint comes to the truth, the more useful and applicable it’s likely to be.

8: The dentist

Your inclinations toward egalitarianism compel you to intercede. “But surely one person’s opinion is as valid as another’s, no matter what?”

That’s a claim I’ve heard before – but usually from folk who want us to believe something outrageous or untrue.

Is my opinion about the state of your teeth as valid as your dentist’s?

Well, no.

I’ve not trained or studied to gain that expertise.

Don’t invite me anywhere near your teeth.

9: Being good at your job

“Ah!” you say, thinking now’s the time to catch me out. “But what about two dentists with different opinions? What then?”

Well, let me ask you this. How would you personally choose between the two?

Surely you’d want the most knowledgeable dentist to be the one who puts her drill between your teeth? The one whose opinion is most securely rooted in the facts, who best understands teeth, jaws, gums? The one with a track record of good outcomes?

I know which dentist I’d prefer.

10: Empowerment

Which brings us to the question of what theories, opinions, viewpoints and beliefs are for. Do they have a value? Why use them or adopt them?

The value of theories, opinions, viewpoints and beliefs is in their applicability and their proximity to reality. Their value lies in how much they explain and how much they can help us do.

The more an opinion, belief, theory or viewpoint does that – the closer it reflects reality – the closer it is to the truth – the more valid it becomes.

You see, reality and truth empower us, while lies, deceit and misbelief deprive us of power.

That’s why the power-hungry often lie. If they know the truth but we don’t, it gives them an edge.

And that’s why the truth is always worth having.

It give us an edge.

11: Self-defence

Let’s finish with some definitions:

Reality = the state of things as they actually exist

 Facts = descriptions of reality which can be verified or proven

 What’s true = what’s accurate and in accordance with fact or reality

Encouraging ambivalence towards the truth is a battleground strategy for authoritarians and despots. Those who wish to manipulate or deceive us will always question the value of truth.

It would be better not to allow them that advantage.  “The ethics of common sense”

Twitter & Facebook: @EthicalRenewal


  1. Ref. Trump, Johnson, Modi, Bolsonaro, Putin, Netanyahu et al.
  2. See our earlier discussion on reality above or here:
  3. Of course, our shared human understanding may be incorrect, but that’s just a statement about the limitations of our understanding, not about the nature of truth.
  4. Note: I haven’t included in our discussion deductive or mathematical truths, or assertions which are true by definition – since these types of truth are relatively uncontroversial. Accept the original axioms and rules of mathematics or logic and deductive truths can be derived from these. The wonderful applicability of the truths of mathematics to the real world arises from the wonderful coherence and consistency of reality itself. (These are simplifications – the philosophy of mathematics is rather more complex, but I hope, at this point, you’ll bear with me.)

 © Luke Andreski 2020. All rights reserved.

Time to read this:

Short Conversations: During the Plague

“A book which cuts to the heart of populism, climate denial, our profit-driven culture and the integrity of our politicians…”

Want to penetrate the tsunami of propaganda and spin?

Try this:

Ethical Intelligence by Luke Andreski

Need a fundamental basis for activism?

Try this:

Intelligent Ethics by Luke Andreski

A short conversation about reality and why we should care

September 11, 2020

1: Clueless

Let’s talk about reality: the real thing; the stuff of the universe; the world as it is.

“He’s off on one, now,” you mutter. “I haven’t a clue what his words even mean.”

Well, I’m with you there. Sometimes even I’m not sure.

So I’ll try to explain.

2: Where we live

The house, apartment, tent or shack in which you live, that’s reality.

Without your house, apartment, tent or shack – or van or sleeping bag or corrugated plastic sheet or gap beneath a bridge – you’d be exposed to the weather. You’d get too hot, too cold. The wind would blow dust in your eyes or rain in your food. Your lights would flicker, your electrics fuse, your skin dry out or turn a nasty shade of blue.

All your protections, the roof, the floor, the doors, the wall, they’re reality. They’re a part of reality which protects you from other parts of reality. You wouldn’t need them if reality weren’t hard and tangible and always there.

The place you live in is reality. And so is everything outside of the place you live in.

3: Reality

Walk into a wall: you break your cheekbone or nose. Reality.

Touch your fingers to a hot stove: you get burned. Reality.

Science. That’s all about learning more about reality.

Technological achievement. Yes: reality.

Reality sits in the heart of the atom, sprawls the breadth of the universe, accompanies you in the street.

It’s there when no one’s looking and it’s there when we all crowd round to watch.

It’s objective, coherent, independent. And, of course, it’s real.

4: Singularity

These days there are folk who’d like to blur that a little. They hate reality precisely because of its independence. It doesn’t BELONG to them. They dislike its singularity, its universality.

Reality is universal, singular and independent because there’s only one reality. It’s the reality which we all live in, which we all have to share. In reality everyone is inextricably connected. We’re all in the same boat.

Which is something the manipulative just can’t live with…

Their parents brought them up badly. They resent sharing. They want a reality all of their own – and they want to impose their owned reality on us.

5: Propaganda and lies

These cognitive imperialists have a wealth of weaponry at their disposal.

They’ve got:

 – Propaganda

 – Advertising

 – Spin

They’ve got:

 – Repetition and reiteration, again and again and again

Colonialists of other people’s minds, they deploy without compunction:

 – Data overload

 – Distraction

 – Diversion

 – Deliberate self-contradiction

– The intentional construction of informational chaos

They use:

 – Misinformation and disinformation

 – The sequestration of language

 – Reversals of meaning

 – The redefining of words

 – Doublespeak


 – Smearing

 – Denigration

 – False accusation

 – Outright lies

With these tools they try to disrupt our connection to reality.

Our defence?

Well, what do we have?

Reality itself?


A thirst for the truth?

4: A reality check

In the 17th Century a philosopher called René Descartes announced, “I think, therefore I am.”1 This, he believed, was a foundational, indisputable statement about reality – the primary axiom from which all other claims about our world could and should be deduced.

But he was horribly mistaken.

Just look at the words:

       I think, therefore I am

And again:


You immediately see the nature of his mistake, don’t you?

These words imply that ‘I think’ is the starting point. That it comes before ‘I am’. But isn’t that quite clearly impossible?

Don’t you need to BE first? Isn’t an ‘I am’ – the fact of your existence – needed before you can do anything whatsoever… let alone think?

‘I think, therefore I am’ implies that we’re somehow on the outside of things, looking in: our consciousness the eye of a disembodied ‘I’. But that’s quite clearly wrong. An ‘I’ has to do the thinking. That’s what comes first. Existence is the precursor to thought.

5: I am…

“So Descartes got it utterly wrong?” you ask. “Would it have been better if he’d said something along the lines of, ‘I think, therefore maybe I am… and maybe I’m not’?”


Very good. Funny, too.

But no, that’s not quite it.

Descartes just got the cart before the horse.

He shouldn’t have put cognition first, because in fact we need to BE before we can THINK. Not ‘I think, therefore I am’ but ‘I am… and it appears that because of what I am, I can think.’

Our experience of reality and existence is empirical. It’s not deductive.

6: Exclusivity

René’s axiom has other problems too. ‘I think, therefore I am’ is a bit exclusive. It encourages the idea that other people might be less important than us because I, and my thinking, are here at the centre of everything. ‘I think, therefore I am’ encourages unjustifiable egotism: Me. Me. It’s all about Me.

Reality 3 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski

More than that, ‘I think, therefore I am’ fosters the illusion that reality is subordinate to thinking – exactly as the propagandists desire. The manipulative want, through the power of word and thought, to forge reality, their reality. They want to deny any notion of an objective reality which you can see just as easily as they.

And there’s worse: ‘I think therefore I am’ encourages the idea that things which don’t think like us are somehow less real. Our fellow creatures, for example. I only know that I can think; I can’t be sure they do; so why should I value these potentially unthinking automata?

‘I think, therefore I am’ leads, more through egotism than logic, to supposing that others, and particularly non-human others, can be used and abused without compunction – as we’re now doing on an industrial scale all across the Earth.2

It’s an animal holocaust, and a species which imagines itself the ontological centre of the universe is the perpetrator.

7: Being part

But we’re part of a continuum which allows us to exist and to think: reality. And there’s only one reality, which we all share. It’s not the reality of ‘I’ – it’s the reality of other creatures too.

‘I am… and it appears that because of what I am I can think’ is an empirical claim. And, on the basis of observation and empiricism, it’s pretty clear that ‘You are’, too. Observe other people and other creatures closely and you’ll find all the evidence you need that they, in their own way, think and feel too.

Reality 4 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski

8: God

We are not separate from other lifeforms. We are not disembodied. The world where ‘I am’ and where ‘You are’ is observable, verifiable, objective and shared. If you want to know about our world, thinking is good… but it’s not enough. Only evidence, verifiability and applicability can support your eventual claims about reality. Thinking, intuition and feeling are part of reality, but they don’t determine what is real. We can’t think things into existence. We are not gods.

9: Power

If you want to know more about reality you need to scrutinise it, measure it, explore it. And the more you get to know about our world – the more expert you become in your understanding of any part of reality – the more capable you become: the more competent; the more empowered.

Because knowledge about reality equals power.

10: Getting real

So that’s why we should all give a damn about reality.

It’s not there because we think it into existence. It’s really there. And we’re part of it. And we’re in it. And we’re in it together. And the more we can learn about it, and the better we can understand it, the better all our lives will become.

So it’s time to get real, to go toe to toe with reality.

A reality check?

It’s something our society crucially needs…  “The ethics of common sense”

Twitter & Facebook: @EthicalRenewal


  1. Descartes, René (1637). Discourse On Method.
  2. See ‘A short conversation about why we should all be vegan’ in my book Short Conversations: During the Plague (2020).

 © Luke Andreski 2020. All rights reserved.

Time to read this:

Short Conversations: During the Plague

“A book which cuts to the heart of populism, climate denial, our profit-driven culture and the integrity of our politicians…”

Want to penetrate the tsunami of propaganda and spin?

Try this:

Ethical Intelligence by Luke Andreski

Need a fundamental basis for activism?

Try this:

Intelligent Ethics by Luke Andreski

A short conversation about the human brain

August 31, 2020


1: Inside us

Evolution is developmental.

It builds on what it’s already got.

It re-uses stuff.

It tries something and if it works it puts it to use far and wide.

Photosynthesis, for example.

Or the metabolic cycle.


The human brain didn’t come out of nowhere.

Nothing comes out of nowhere.

We each of us contain the history of life on Earth.



2: Acknowledgement

“I like that image,” you say. “It’s almost mystical.”


I’m afraid mysticism’s not my thing.

But there’s no denying the wonder of it, the beauty, the complexity. Our brains are made of cells containing structures evolved in the first two billion years of life.1 A power of invention existed already in the primeval unicellular world before multi-celled critters came onto the scene – and it just got better from there.


We didn’t get here by ourselves.

We stand on the shoulders of the species who came before us.



Brain 1 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski



3: Eyes and teeth

Consider your eyes. They’re not the first eyes. Molluscs have eyes. The Mantis shrimp has eyes it uses in a colour detection technique like the one we use in satellites.2 Insects have eyes. Amoebae have eyespots.


Your teeth are not the first teeth. Your brain is not the first brain. The building blocks of our brains existed in creatures a little like the horseshoe crab, scuttling across ocean beds over five hundred million years ago.3 There, inside your head, you’ll find a fish brain, a reptile brain, the ape brain of our common ancestor with the chimpanzee.4

Give your ape brain a typewriter and an infinity of time and it’ll write the complete works of Shakespeare… And an entire set of Mills & Boon, too.



4: Assess and decide

Level upon level, evolution assembled us.

Incrementally. Bit by bit. Driven by life’s purpose to perpetuate itself; to grow; to survive.


So what’s it achieved, this long, slow, stop-and-start, try-and-try-again process of evolving?


It’s given us a brain containing one hundred and sixty billion cells.5 It’s given us a brain within which messages travel at almost seven thousand metres per second6 – a brain sustained by six hundred and forty kilometres of capillaries, over and above the main cranial arteries and veins7.

It’s given us a brain which controls and administers, mostly without our thinking about it, our ingenious organs and limbs. It’s given us a brain which receives and records and recalls the overlapping inputs of our senses.


And then, on top of that, above and beyond our fish brains, our reptile brains and our ape brains, it’s given us the best Assess-and-Decide neural web of any other creature yet evolved.


Evolution did that for us.

Feeling grateful?


Brain 2 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski


6: Reality

Because of this brain of ours we can get to grips with reality. It’s a wonderful skill – we should count ourselves lucky. We’re better at this than any other animal on Earth.

And why’s that a good thing? It’s good because the better the grip we have on reality the more we can do.

Human history proves that. The Aztecs didn’t have computers or cars. Why? Because they hadn’t yet acquired a sufficiently powerful understanding of what’s out there, of what’s achievable in the real world.

The Elizabethans didn’t have MRIs or satellites. Why?

Here’s a clue… It’s all about reality.


In the 2020s we’re unable to regrow human limbs. You’d like to know why?

It’s because we’ve yet to learn enough about reality to do that…

But we’re working on it.

As we learn more and more about our world, the possibilities are astounding.

So you’re wondering what’s the point of the human brain?

I’ll tell you.

It’s a reality-gripper.

If it’s not getting to grips with reality it’s not doing its job.


Brain 3 - Cartoon - Luke Andreski



7: The point of the brain vs the point of our lives

“So that’s our point in life, is it?” you ask. “Finding out as much as we can about reality?”

Well, yes… and no.

It’s a great point – and it’s what the brain is for – but it’s not our point.

You see, we’re not just our brains.

Our point is something more than that.

Our point lies in the very heart of what we are. Our point is life’s point: the embodiment and expression of life; the fulfilment and perpetuation of life; the nurturing of life.

Life is life’s point8 – and it’s our point too.


There’s always a better way to live, a better way to survive, to thrive, to nurture one another, to nurture all the life upon our world.

That’s our point.


Finding that better way?


That’s the point of the human brain.  “The ethics of common sense”

Twitter & Facebook: @EthicalRenewal



  1. Ribosomes, chromosomes, mitochondria, DNA, RNA, cytoplasm, cell membranes.
  2. Yong, Ed (2014). The Mantis Shrimp Sees Like A Satellite. National Geographic. See:
  3. Tanaka, Gengo (2013). Chelicerate neural ground pattern in a Cambrian great appendage arthropod. Nature. See:
  4. Or, as Richard Blaber (Twitter, @RMBlaber56) notes: A.k.a. the R-complex (‘R’ for ‘reptile’), or palaeocortex; the mid-brain (mammalian brain), a.k.a. the limbic system or mesocortex; & the primatial brain, or neocortex. Also thanks to Bill Reagan (Twitter, @BillReagan16) for his correction to an earlier version of this paragraph.
  5. Neurones, approx. 80b; non-neurones, approx. 80b. Herculano-Houzel, Suzana (2019).Your big brain makes you human. The Conversation. See
  6. Approximate speed of messages within your brain. See Ross, Valerie (2011). Numbers: The Nervous System, From 268-MPH Signals to Trillions of Synapses. Discover Magazine:
  7. Cipolla, Marilyn (2009). The Cerebral Circulation. National Center for Biotechnology InformationSee
  8. See A Short Conversation About The Meaning Of Life in my book Short Conversations: During the Plague (2020). Dark Green Books.


© Luke Andreski 2020. All rights reserved.



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