Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans, according to John Lennon. And just before real life got in the way – ie sinister German company Energiekontor decided to stick on their jackboots and invade the countryside around Bonchester Bridge, despite having been instructed by the locals to “Raus!” – I was busy making plans for my next essay.
As I was about to say, before I was so rudely interrupted by Duncan Taylor’s obnoxious gloating in the Scottish press, wind energy should be every left-winger’s nightmare, because wind turbines are the enemy of social justice.
What’s fascinating about this report of Taylor’s methods is that it backs up everything I’ve been saying in these last few blog posts, specifically about the BRUTALITY of wind developers, referred to here in relation to Mr Taylor’s words and behavior (“extraordinarily brutal”, claimed the Chairman of South Dean Council). So it’s really not just me. Everywhere you look in relation to Mr Taylor and his teutonic army, you come across upset people describing their aggressive approach as “brutal”.
Is this social justice? Is this what being left-wing is all about? Is this why people support renewables? Is this why people join the Green Party? As a licence to indulge in legalised brutality???
Now as I’ve already discussed, we all have brutal instincts within us, and it’s up to our higher selves to take responsibility for them, to apply them wisely, carefully, ethically and judiciously. My own brutal side, which I have analysed at length, is at least defensive rather than offensive in nature, and the method I find most effective and least harmful is via the written word, occasionally the spoken word; certainly not brutality in a physical or violent sense. I find that getting stuff out of my system linguistically stops it building up or becoming repressed and pathological in any way. My bark is worse than my bite, if you like! But the point is always to defend, never to attack.
All in all, however, I’m not generally a big fan of brutalism, and if I ever find myself having acted brutally, I normally feel somewhat de-energised and even guilty afterwards, so I’m well aware of the karmic payback that follows misplaced incidences of brutality. If I ever overstepped the mark, I would always apologise and take back any words that were unacceptable.
That said, sometimes brutality is the quickest and most effective way of tackling flawed thinking, if in no other way than to provide a wake-up call and reality check to those still drunk on any kind of political Kool-Aid. Rhetorical brutalism in these cases means standing up strongly and firmly for the principles of rationality, logic and critical thinking, “slaughtering” illogical and dangerous ideas with the precision of an SAS marksman taking down a predator. Richard Dawkins does the same in the name of atheism. Gordon Ramsay does the same in the name of cookery. Simon Cowell does the same in the name of pop music! It makes for good, sparky entertainment.
And that’s simply all I do with regard to wind energy: I apply all the forces of rhetorical brutalism I can muster up, in order to take down and incapacitate the flawed thinking that has hitherto allowed wind blight to infest our countryside. It’s a cerebral battle of thoughts that actually has real-life, physical consequences. Brutally taking down wind scammers intellectually prevents them from brutally destroying the countryside, so it’s a straight choice: defend the countryside or defend the wind scammers?
How do YOU deal with the brutal part of your nature, dear reader? Who and what makes you feel brutal? How do you keep your brutality under control, avoiding hurting innocent people? Who and what are viable targets for your brutality? What methods do you have for applying brutality and minimising damage? How do you use your brutality as a force for good?
(Life Lesson: be very wary of those who claim not to have a brutal side. They’re the ones you need to watch out for, because they will inadvertently brutalise everyone, or at least random people, without even realizing they are doing it! Brutality is all a part of our animal ancestry, so far more natural to understand it, harness it and use it as a force for good, rather than try – and fail miserably – to suppress it altogether).
Almost all left-leaning people would hate to think of themselves as brutal, being generally opposed to inequality, oppression, racism, sexism and predatory capitalism. Yet a fair and rational debate around the pros and cons of wind energy is noticeable by its absence on the left. It’s just a non-issue, still largely outside the Overton Window of leftist discourse, despite anti-wind stances having been almost unanimously adopted by the right.
More people on the British left seem to be more concerned about the plight of Palestine, some 3,000 miles away, than the well-being of the Peak District. This is quite telling about the post-geographical techno bubble we all spend so much time in nowadays, in which your community is the social media website you frequent the most, rather than the neighbourhood where you actually live.
The downside of this mismatch between how close geographically an issue is to people, and how strongly they care about it, is an increased apathy towards our physical surroundings, resulting in some incredibly dubious political decisions and attitudes, such as those politicians crass enough to use the dumb epithet NIMBY (which always reveals whoever uses it to either be personally corrupt or else a useful idiot enabling somebody else’s corruption).
Wind turbines are the obvious example of a techno-communitarian’s version of “Green”, rather than a nature lover’s version of “Green” – a means of powering one’s ten Apple devices without feeling guilty about their carbon footprint, rather than maintaining one’s personal connection to the Green Earth!
Stop and consider how right-wing, capitalist, and consumerist all the above is. Have wind farms been built simply to enable us to detach ourselves further and further from the natural world, to immerse ourselves further and further into the digital universe of The Matrix (owned and run entirely by corporations)???
I should add that I too have an iPhone, an Android, three laptops and two desktops, and I make my living as Team Leader of a group of support engineers, so I’m not knocking technology. But I will stand up and loudly say – this is NOT to be powered at the expense of the natural beauty of the countryside: “I maybe a wage slave on Monday, but I am a free man on Sunday.” We need to be able to turn our computers off and escape all traces of technology, even if just for a few hours a week; hence the necessity to conserve and protect our green areas, for the benefit of all working (and non-working) people!
I should also say as well, there’s nothing wrong with caring about Palestine. But only after you’ve shown equal and proportionate interest in every other neighbourhood along the way, starting with your own.
If you believe in Equality, then wind farms fall at the first hurdle: take two hills of equal height. Add a wind turbine to one and watch how inequality immediately spirals: house prices go down, crime goes up, fewer people bother visiting that hill for leisure, resulting in worse health and less tourist income. The two hills are no longer equal – one has become stigmatised and blighted, whilst the other remains unspoilt and unblighted.
Sometimes even two sides of the same hill reveal the social injustice of turbine placement… Jaytail Farm’s hideous wind turbine is the epitome of such a scenario, blighting the Keighley side of Ilkley Moor rather than the Ilkley side. Keighley’s views are now ruined, and the town’s connection to the moor has been partially blocked, whereas on the north side Ilkley and Addingham still get their unspoilt natural views. The psychogeographic effect is huge and only increases social injustice – residents of largely working-class Keighley are clearly seen by the Planning Inspectorate as second-class citizens to those in affluent Ilkley.
You don’t see wind turbines in Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and the Home Counties. Drive along the M40 and you won’t see one between London and Birmingham. Yet, almost immediately north of the West Midlands, they start lining the sides of the M6 with increasing regularity. Is it because there’s more wind up north, or is it because southerners are more wealthy and therefore more able to stand up and say “NO!” to the wind scammers?
And this is what’s so insidious and just plain wrong about Polly Toynbee’s imbecilic attitude. How did this ridiculous woman get a job as a journalist with such utterly misguided drivel as this? Well… freedom of speech and all that. No, seriously, it’s good to take into account opposing opinions after all, and to be fair there are a lot of interesting facts in the article. It’s just the last paragraph that throws it all away really!
“Every year, wind energy gets closer to profitability.”
Does it? At the time of writing, clearly wind was not actually breaking even. Has it done so since? From what I’ve seen of Energiekontor’s accounts, they are losing money hand over fist: in 2015 they made a loss of £1,781,834, and in 2016 that loss went UP to £2,513,674. That’s getting further and further away from profitability! How DO these people make their profit? Where does the money come from, and where does it go? Nobody seems to have a clue!
“Every time I see those great white wings turning on the horizon, it makes my spirits soar.”
Actually rolling around on the floor laughing at this! Gotta be trolling, right? It’s the kind of thing my mates write as a pisstake, knowing my reaction! Seriously though, which turbines? How near did you get, and how long were you there for?
“How do these country folk tolerate monstrous pylons needlessly bestriding their best valleys whose cables could easily be buried, yet object to these breath-taking beauties?”
A lot of people don’t like pylons either, and indeed the infamous Longdendale power lines are now being buried! But the key difference is POLITICAL: our National Grid was created by the government, not predatory capitalists, as the most efficient and least harmful way of connecting our national power supply network. Pylon-building is not a willy-nilly free-for-all, driven by greedy companies. Sure the aesthetics of pylons aren’t great, but their shape, size and colour have far less negative aesthetic impact on green landscapes than haphazard arrays of huge, high-visibility, white spinning stars. Plus, more wind turbines means MORE pylons, Polly! Think it through…
“Those who object to wind farms should remember how easy they will be to dismantle as other technologies succeed, their scrap value more than paying to grass over where they stood.”
This demonstrates Polly’s ignorance. If you’ve ever seen a convoy of turbine parts you’ll realise just how many HGV journeys – involving police escorts, road closures and even brand new roads to enable these supersized loads – are required. Are we doing the same again when we get rid of them? What about the cubic tonnes of concrete dumped into the moors. How are we planning on getting rid of that? Finally, what exactly is the scrap value of a used turbine? Where do these things end up? Other than unwanted “art” exhibits in Hull (sponsored by oil companies)…
“In the meantime, no party should tolerate its own local authority Nimbys stopping the most cost-effective clean energy currently available.”
Here’s where Polly’s inner brutality shines through, and it’s against us NIMBYs. The use of the word “tolerate” is quite scary! Why on earth would I vote for anyone who won’t tolerate my feelings, thoughts and observations about the best interests of my community, Polly? Seemingly insignificant comments like this one demonstrate perfectly why Trump won the US Election.
Unlike Polly, my heart doesn’t soar at the sight of the 37 industrial wind turbines towering above Rochdale. To my eyes, these wind turbines are a symbol of an area in decay, great big white spinning star-shaped badges of shame that basically say “Second-class citizens live under here”. Corporate flags stuck into high altitude Open Access Common Land. The fact that wealthy people have the means to reject them only means that wind developers proactively tackle those less able to defend themselves.
How anyone left-wing could see anything good whatsoever about this predatory capitalist, environmentally-appalling wind blight is one of the great mysteries of the age. Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers says Jeremy doesn’t even believe in man-made climate change, which is a step further than even I’d go! So the onus is on Jeremy to proudly and firmly say that, yes, Palestine is an important issue for the left. But of FAR more importance to British citizens is the removal of corporate parasites from our working class communities and their precious open spaces.
I believe you share my thoughts deep down Jeremy – it’d be damn nice to hear you say them out loud. The Tories are already onside, I’m pleased to say. It’s up to Labour whether they can outdo the Tories in the quest for social justice in this area.
Over to you Jezza!