John Clare, Helpston c.1820 by John Mole

Good read

Proletarian Poetry

The final years of the last millennium feel like a febrile time now. Although the US and UK governments were far from being left wing, after 18 years of Conservative rule beggars couldn’t be choosers. Blair had come to power promising progressive policies (warmongering wasn’t in the ’97 manifesto), a Democrat was still in the White House, and 9/11 was beyond the horizon. I was working for the New Economics Foundation (NEF), which promoted a more social and environmentally responsible economy to the one that had emerged in the slash and burn free market of the 1980s. NEF’s philosophy was founded on the principle of ‘small is beautiful’, which grew out of the eponymous book by EF Schumacher. Here, the maxim was ‘act local, think global’; if small businesses, community organisations, individuals, acted together in consideration of the planet before profit, then we all could thrive. Such think tanks…

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