Articles, autism, creative writing

Autism Self-Diagnosis: A Good Idea?


Autism Self-Diagnosis: A Good Idea?

Self-diagnosis is never a good idea… were you going to let me get away with saying that?

That can’t possibly be true in every case.

‘Googling’ symptoms can be dangerous; image search seems to only bring up the most horrific puss-ridden images of swollen glands and WEDMD thinks you have cancer.

All the time.

And you should never treat it with anything other than a trip to the doctor…

Isn’t that the kind of advice like: ‘Just go down to A.E., to be sure’ – that is killing the NHS in England?

Sometimes, self-diagnosis might be a good idea. For example, with something as simple as a sniffle, use traditional remedies for a few days, assuming it’s a cold, then if it doesn’t go away…

Okay, I’m going to stop teaching Gran to suck eggs. You should know this. The ‘self-diagnosis is never a good idea…’ thing is just offering common sense to hypochondriacs, it really means if you’re the sort of person who goes from investigating a symptom to extreme paranoia in a matter of moments, you shouldn’t self-diagnose. You should go to the doctor.

For the rest, presumably, the majority of people, certain conditions are probably best diagnosed by you!

So, What About Autism?

The article ‘Autism Diagnosis is not Special Snowflake Syndrome’ explains why autism is one such condition. The simplest summary of this article can be seen on Google if you ask ‘why self-diagnosing autism is good’:

‘Because no one is a special snowflake. Special snowflake syndrome isn’t a thing. The root of selfdiagnosis is a lack of good resources. A lot of people, particularly women and people of color, didn’t get diagnosed as children because autism was seen as a white, male disease.’

Luterman, S. (2017). Autism Self-Diagnosis is not Special Snowflake Syndrome.

Now, I don’t know what ‘special snowflake’ refers to? Sounds like some new pejorative term that means nothing until you use it to insult people who are different from you in a way that you find irritating, probably because in your eyes that very difference seems to make people treat them better than you think they should be treated? I don’t know, sounds lame.

The rest of the point is spot on. There are lots of reasons not to get diagnosed.

When I started school the work of Hans Asperger had only been published in English in the UK for around five years. No one but a true autism expert and trailblazer could have diagnosed me. I was check for ADHD but failed that because of my penchant for obsessively engaging with a specific, repetitive task when away from my peers, which in those days meant that my behaviour when trying to switch between a multitude of diverse tasks when around a ton of screaming kids was voluntary and therefore I should be bullied by children AND teachers for my entire time at school.

I self-diagnosed, sort of. My mother, after ten years working with autistic children, finally realised when I was twenty that I had Asperger’s syndrome.

Rather than tell me, she got me to watch some YouTube videos where people with Asperger’s syndrome discussed how it made them feel. It was this girl:

YouTube. (2017). Trusera.

Who made me realise that I am not an alien, a robot, insane or any of the other things I considered when growing up trying to figure out why I felt like I was the sole member of some strange species.

From that day on I sought to find out all I could about autism. I was already training to be a teacher, studying a three year course with strands in child development and special needs provision, so I had a huge range of sources to investigate and what is more I got to test my developing knowledge by writing essays about autism. The first I got a mark of 45% and I stormed into the course leaders office and tried to rant my way to what I considered a fairer score. This did not work.

By my third year I knew a lot more, both about the condition but also about how to write about something about which so little is definitively known. If you think you are an expert on autism that is fine but that can only really mean you are an incredibly experienced and reflective practitioner because almost nothing you can say about autism is a ‘fact’. I’d go as far as to say there are no true facts for autism because I’d go as far as to say we don’t know what it is.

But that doesn’t mean a diagnosis isn’t helpful. Even if autism is a misunderstood condition or range of conditions with overlapping symptoms, a diagnosis can mean the difference between surviving ‘the system’ or not.

Formal Diagnosis is Important:

I completed my degree, surviving my second and third years after my first year descended into the usual spiral of accidentally upsetting people, realising that those people didn’t like me, then intentionally upsetting people to the point of being ostracised, all the time resenting the way people seemed to treat me differently from the outset, giving me no chance to learn how to change. Once I knew other people went through this, after I had read a dozen books bouncing in my seat calling out to my mother ‘this is a description of me; this is so me; I can so relate to this; how have I never known other people feel this way?!” I didn’t feel so bad. I survived with a handful of friends who I told about my condition, which led to lots of interesting discussions where I got to discuss how I perceived people’s behaviour and how they perceived mine.

However, once in the working world, still with only a self-diagnosis, things changed.

I got a job at a special needs school teaching a class of autistic children. Early on, I told my mentor about my self-diagnosis and explained that sometimes my behaviour might seem strange, but that I wanted her to ask me about it and work with me to find a balance between functioning ‘normally’ and making the most of my ‘differences’ to benefit the school. It seemed right to me that someone with Asperger’s should teach a class of classically autistic children as symptomatically it can, in many cases and I like to think mine included, be a condition somewhere between neurotypical and autistic.

For example, I can present as quite charming in an interview sitting because I have learned the rules for that form of social interaction but in others, such as the McDonalds queuing system, there are no definable rules and therefore on the rare instances I enter McDonalds for a veggie burger, no mayo, I hop around, scowling through deep thought, responding to every beep, bleep and bling bling bling by jumping out of my skin whilst I try to figure out what everyone else is doing, so that to everyone else I must seem like some space invading drunk. Or maybe I don’t stand out at all. That’s anxiety, it can you feel ten times too big.

So to have someone that could learn all the rules for interacting as a teacher, and I swiftly mastered parents evenings, even phone calls home, and became beloved of my children, teaching assistants and parents.

My mentor even kept letting me think she agreed with me that being high-functioning autistic and working with autistic people was a great idea. She even offered to get the school’s behavioural psychologist to interview me and try to organise a formal diagnosis, something I had been fighting for since university.


I highly doubt anyone who has read as many books as I have on autism and who had worked with autistic people in education for almost ten years, at every age from four to nineteen, thinks it is a fake condition. The way it is diagnosed is by looking at traits. It you have a ton of autistic traits and it is making you miserable, you deserve a diagnosis for autism, because you are autistic.

I met lots of people who disagreed with that, as a teacher, and eventually I had to quit teaching and take on a subsequent list of similar but reduced roles; I have been a teaching assistant, a nursery leader, a nursery practitioner, a play leader and a play practitioner. Due to anxiety, over the years I have gradually had to work less and less.

I believe if I had put my career on hold and FOUGHT for a diagnosis after finishing university, my life may have worked out different.

I was betrayed by a mentor who decided two terms into the year that actually it wasn’t okay for me to plan lessons on my own, even though my lesson plans were regularly ‘borrowed’ by other members of staff; it wasn’t okay for me to take notes with my head down in staff meetings then feedback my ideas through email, because no one else took notes so they didn’t know what I was talking about, because staff meetings weren’t professional, they were social, and that was my problem; it wasn’t okay for me to sit in the ‘chill out’ room where we sent children having aggressive outbursts, essentially a locked room with an open skylight, basically a form of torture for autistic people! I did it because I couldn’t believe it was humane and after five minutes I was blind and burning up under the intense light beaming directly through several layers of glass into a sealed, padded room. I complained, my complaint was responded to, then months later I was accused of ‘using’ the facilities, like some autistic creep just trying to get free sensory play by masquerading as a concerned teacher!

By my third term put on report, which I could not accept. The gist of the report was ‘you can’t act autistic and be a teacher at a special needs school, no matter how much you are liked by everyone other than the teachers’.

I quit.

Here’s the thing, I was basically begged to stay on as a teaching assistant. And what is more, they didn’t want me to be class based, but to teach music to groups of children throughout the day, throughout the week, from every class from nursery to six form.

And I did it. Because I was a naïve idiot. I got paid like a TA to be music coordinator and teacher for a two-site special needs school providing for ages 4-19. I went mental.  I had a full-on breakdown that ended with me ‘running away from home to live in the woods’.

In 2014 I lived in an eco-squat, where for one year I was truly happy living among wonderful freaks in a natural paradise but after a year I left, after becoming swallowed up by anxiety yet again, and I went back home to live with my Mother.

A month later received a call to tell me the referral autistic diagnosis I had applied for so many years ago, I can’t even tell you exactly when but it was sometime when I was teaching, so pre-2013, had finally gone through .

Talk about synchronicity! Within a month of coming back from the eco-squat, where I refused to answer my phone for most of the year, I received a call that finally lead to me being diagnosed in an afternoon following a bunch of questions that I had already come across and asked myself years beforehand when I self-diagnosed.

I am autistic, officially, and it’s no truer now than it was before I got diagnosed. To all the people who pulled dirt face and told me ‘you can’t self-diagnose’, you were wrong, yes I can, I did, I was right, you were wrong, you were wrong, you were wrong. Get stuffed.

Had I self-diagnosed younger and fought harder for a referral maybe I wouldn’t have felt pressured to quit teaching when people started making issues out of things that, for two whole terms, they considered charming quirks. Or so they claimed.

Had I had a diagnosis in the first place, maybe I’d still be working at Riverside School in Orpington, and maybe I could have helped prevent such insane idea as Headmaster Steve Solomon’s ‘autistic people shouldn’t be allowed to wear ear defenders’ or his de-facto imprisoning of children with four-limb athetoid cerebral palsy by putting nine of them in one class so it’s impossible for them to ever go on school trips because you try getting nine kids in wheelchairs on one minibus with four members of staff in time to go on a trip and get back before the end of the millennium!

Self-diagnosis is often the first step in formal diagnosis. It was the case with me; it will have been for thousands. Don’t let naysayers who don’t want to believe that anyone different from them is ‘special’ prevent you from fighting for the change you NEED to see in order to function happily in modern, western society. The worst thing that can happen is you get told no and then someone helps you to find out what is making your life so hard.

There’s no legit drug to treat autism and there’s really very little special treatment we receive, believe me, getting diagnosed has helped me to get on the social housing ladder, but in the UK if I were a woman I could get that simply by getting pregnant, and some people do do that to get on the housing ladder, so there’s no point attacking someone who is already miserable for trying to find a label that they feel justifies their perception of reality, whilst possibly opening up a massive support network, when they won’t benefit in any other really meaningful way.

Unless, you are a mother who thinks their child has special needs, and you ARE trying to get them special treatment in school.

In which case fight, fight, fight, fight , fight, never give up fighting, your child is special and if no one can see if you need to fight ten times harder. Ignore the naysayers. Get your kid the education they need and deserve. Once again, the worst case scenario if your kid isn’t autistic is that whatever if wrong with them, if you want to put it that way, is looked into.

Take it from me, this is my final advice, I’ve worked in schools since I was seventeen, I’m twenty-eight now, and I can tell you the less fuss a parent makes the less they get listened to. Make yourself a feature at your kid’s school; let the staff know if they mess with your kid they will have to face you. Otherwise, your kid might just get bullied by the staff. I still see it to this day, it still causes me to fall foul of my peers to this day, but that’s part of my autism. And I own it.


Luterman, S. (2017). Autism Self-Diagnosis is not Special Snowflake Syndrome. [online] NOS Magazine. Available at: [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). Trusera. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017]



The Things I Want to Believe… (or a rant about the Law of Attraction)


Everyone’s enlightened!

It seem’s like in the last few years nearly every one I know has had some sort of spiritual (damn, I wanted to get part way through this without using meaninglessly ambiguous terminology) enlightenment. I do not exclude myself from this sweeping statement, nor am I trying to nullify any potentially valuable changes people have made to the way they think about reality. I just want to know, how long we can go on patting ourselves on the back for realising that reality doesn’t exist before we realise that knowing that doesn’t actually change anything? The way people talk is changing but our lives remain pretty much the same…

I am sure there are lots of reason why this empowerment of thought has not lead to real social change. For this article I want to examine one:  the ‘Law of Attraction’; the idea that we create our reality purely through our thoughts, which I consider bullshit, albeit planted firmly on sound psychological principles.

Firstly, it’s not a law:

‘A scientific law is a statement based on repeated experimental observations that describes some aspects of the universe. A scientific law always applies under the same conditions, and implies that there is a causal relationship involving its elements (’

Such repeated experimental observations have not been made. It is actually nearly impossible to test the Law of Attraction according to this criteria because the people who developed it as a concept have cleverly written in the clause that if you don’t whole-heartedly believe in the Law, then it won’t work. Therefore it cannot be tested scientifically because for a fair test to take place the testers would have to forego any belief bias until after they had conducted their experiments.

Secondly, I keep hearing/reading people claim that ‘scientists have found proof’ that the Law of Attraction is true; well, this is a lie. Someone please name the scientists and name the experiments, because I haven’t found any. There are many writers (find a list of them here: who claim that the ‘law’ is based on sound scientific principles but they are not scientists themselves…

Science fiction is when you take a concept that scientists do not fully understand, such as the peculiar way that matter behaves at a sub-atomic level, and create your own concept by combining your imagination with the little you understand of the actual scientific information .

The Law of Attraction is science fiction; we don’t know why measuring matter at a sub-atomic level can appear to change the nature of that matter. We need to do more experiments.

When scientists say things like ‘your belief system determines the reality you see’, you need to remember your belief system is not just about what you think, it is about how you have evolved to perceive reality. A prawn will have a very different belief system to that of a human being regarding how the world looks because its eyes work in such different ways.

Most ‘proof’ of the law of attraction is really mean anecdotal evidence, such as this:

The problem with anecdotal evidence concerning the Law of Attraction is that only anecdotes supporting the existence of the Law will be deemed relevant by those who espouse the Law; if I claim to have tried using the Law of Attraction to get the things that I want but that it didn’t work, then someone who believes in the law will tell me that it is my belief that it didn’t work that prevented it from working, eventually.

There is a fundamental flaw in any system that requires you believe in it in order to prove that it works; such a system can never be scientifically proven because it is nearly impossible to conduct control experiments. For a believer, the only time the law is relevant is after it has worked, until that moment you have to keep believing in it or it won’t work…

Sounds a bit like the Emperor’s New Clothes…

So why has the theory that we can have anything we want just by wishing for it become so popular when it is little more than a science-fiction tale? Well, as well as tenuously borrowing credibility from Quantum Theory, the Law of Attraction also manipulates data regarding the value of positive thinking…

If I believe I am definitely going to get a certain job, for example, then my senses will be attuned to finding that job and I will be more likely to notice an advertisement for that kind of job. If I make it through to the interview stage, my belief that I am going to get the job will give me the confidence to interview well, improving my chances of getting the job. The fact is, if you are actively thinking about something you want, in a positive way, then your mind will be more prepared for finding and achieving that thing. This is not a scientific law or a magical spell, this is confidence; of course positive thinking works.

However, if a meteorite blows up the workplace before I start the job then I won’t be able to do it. This might be a pretty rare occurrence, but it is possible.If someone else believes whole-heartedly that they can get the job and that person has better qualifications than me, they will probably get the job, no matter how hard I believe otherwise. It’s possible the company is hiring to replace a long-term employee, who might decide just in the nick of time not to quit.

There are numerous factors in life that we CAN NOT CONTROL. Understandably, the Law of Attraction is very appealing to people who, like myself,suffer from control issues. For people with illnesses like depression or bi-polar disorder, or for people with neurological conditions such as autism, the idea that we create our own reality may not only be comforting but it may also seem intuitive; such conditions are often accompanied by a lack of empathy and increased sense of anxiety, an inability to see the world from someone else’s perspective and an innate fear as a result. The Law of Attraction both confirms that you are in control of your own reality and negates the importance of other people in shaping it.

I do not think that this is a healthy idea. As an autistic person, I would love to believe that I am the all-powerful master of my own universe, and sometimes I even tell myself that I am; when I am struggling with a particularly negative experience it can really help to tell myself that I am in control of how I respond to that situation. I can choose whether to be upset or not; sometimes it is incredibly difficult to overcome negative thoughts purely through positive thinking, but it is good to try. I can’t actually change reality though, just how I think about it and, to a slightly lesser extent, how I respond to it emotionally, however, people who claim to have mastered the Law of Attraction say they they can change reality; so, my final question is, why do they all seem to choose to wish for such mundane things?

The people making money (from selling videos/books/seminars/etcetera) about the Law of Attraction all just seem to want money; whilst it is true that the Law of Attraction has brought them money, lots of people make money from selling salvation. Lots of preachers claim that if you believe in God he will reward you financially, and funnily enough these people tend to be the only ones for whom the theory works. So how do you make money from the Law of Attraction unless it is by selling people the Law of Attraction?

Well, the law proposes that if I open an envelope and imagine a bill inside, then I will find a bill but that if I open an envelope and imagine a cheque inside, then I will find a cheque…

That’s called manifestation!

Now, this claim seems both extravagant and bland to me; money isn’t important, you just use it to buy the things that are, it’s a middle-man. If you can manifest your own reality(!), why bother with a middle-man? Why bother manifesting something as boring as money?

Instead of thinking about money, you should think about what you really want. If you want to live on a beautiful desert island, visualize that island, visualize being on that island, believe that it is going to happen for you…

Now, either get off your arse and do something to make it happen or prepare to spend a long time sitting on your arse imagining. If you do the former, remember you made it happen through a combination of factors, all of which were facilitated by your positive mental attitude. If you do the latter, remember that your sore bum doesn’t really exist unless you measure it.

We can choose how we think about things and our actions can change reality, in accordance with a specific set of scientific laws, some of which we do not fully understand yet. That’s about it.


The First Victory

The people of Runnymede Eco-Village (my home for most of 2014 and where my heart still lives) have won their first victory in the ongoing battle to win the right to live free on the land:


This is a wonderful start to our campaign. Runnymede Eco-Village needs to survive; as my mother puts it:

As a mother of one these’hippies’, I can catergorically say that all the while he was living with these guys, he never claimed a penny in benefits. He lived there for the best part of a year, choosing this way of life at a particularly low point in his own. My son is Autistic and struggles, (as do most autistic people,) with social situations and the day to day expectations of modern life. The Runneymede community welcomed him with open arms and he was able to feel safe and at home, for the first time in many years.
I have been to the village myself and found the inhabitants to be warm, polite and friendly, unlike the ‘locals’we encountered in the local pub, where we had lunch! The area is clean, not stroon with litter as suggested, but rather muddy!
My son is not from a privaleged upbringing, I am a working single mum, who struggles to pay my rent every month , like many others. I personally feel someone needs to listen and learn from this community.’ 

-Linda Cheal

Thanks Mum and thanks to the good people in the system who are making it possible for us to try and change it.


The Real Reason for the Runnymede Eco-Village Eviction

The Real Reason for the Runnymede Eco-Village Eviction

Right to Life

This world does not belong to any one person; you cannot own reality, you can only use some of it, some of the time. When another human being acknowledges your right to eat a piece of fruit or sleep on a bed they acknowledge the oneness; we are all a part of the same universe realising itself and we should take no more or less from our experience than is necessary for our happiness. Nothing should be considered more important than our shared right to a happy existence.

I have never felt entirely comfortable with ‘the system’ that I was born into. I thought I had a problem and from some peoples’ perspectives I suppose I do; for some people the system works. I don’t necessarily want to ‘tear down the system’; I wouldn’t want to assume that I could provide a One-Size-Fits-All alternative. There is something I want though.

I want the people who are happy to work more than forty hours a week doing a job they hate for the sake of earning money to pay for their house and car (and all the other things that I don’t want) to stop treating people like me as lesser. From my perspective those people have the problem; they assume there can be a One-Size-Fits-All society and that it is right that we should all work to make it live.

Well, I don’t Work to live, I live to work, and work can be fun. 

Building our long house in the summer.
Building our long house in the summer.

Not having a job doesn’t mean not having a life and not owning a home does not mean not having the right to live. Some of us don’t want to be part of a system that provides ‘everything’ for us in return for specialising in one, often very time-consuming and stressful, role in society. Some of us believe we can travel and find food and work and everything else that can help contribute to a happy life, along the way. Some of us just want to be happy and can be when we are being left alone; if that isn’t the simplest definition of a victimless crime, I don’t know what is.

Land ownership and use is not a black and white issue and property law does not always protect the righteous; when our species has supposedly reached a pinnacle of achievement, why have we lost the right to simply find a piece of land and  live on it? It must have stopped being acceptable at some point in human history…ironically, that point in history is still considered by many to have been a great victory for freedom; the signing of Magna Carta was anything but that.

You could leave your home right now, find a piece of land that is not being used by anyone or for anything, which could not be used by anyone or for anything (except sustainable living) and set up a home on it but if you do there is nothing to stop a rich person, or an organisation of rich people, from taking it away from you. You can build a home for yourself and the people you love, people who perhaps cannot be happy living in a One-Size-Fits-All Society, but they can take it away from you whether they intend to use the land or not.

I know this because it is happening right now.

Runnymede Eco-Village

Runnymede Eco-Village has existed for three years. It stands in woodland, on the side of a hill, atop which crumble some listed buildings. The slope is extreme and where the land is dented or plateaus, it floods. The forest is home to several protected species of animal, including bats and rare spiders. A public right of way goes through the land and the surrounding area belongs to the National Trust. In three years, the Village has never caused any problems for the surrounding towns but has lived peaceably with the people of Egham, Old Windsor and beyond. Locals visit the site regularly, often bringing gifts for the villagers, who always treat them with love, kindness and respect.

Some people come to Runnymede to stay when they need a break from their hectic, inner-city lifestyles. Others come to Runnymede to live when the stress of work or illness or family strife forces them to ‘run away’ from ‘everything’. Everyone is welcome in Runnymede and as such you can pretty much find at least one person who has experienced similar suffering to your own; it is an amazing place to heal.

Runnymede villagers share Christmas with the people of the Vineyard, Richmond.
Runnymede villagers share Christmas with the people of the Vineyard, Richmond.

It is not possible to build permanent structures on top of the land where Runnymede Eco-Village is currently situated; development will occur atop the hill on the flat areas surrounding the listed buildings but the woodland will never, can never, be developed.

So, I ask you, if the local populace support the existence of Runnymede Eco-Village and the land is useless to anyone else, why is it currently being evicted?

Magna Carta

This year will mark the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, often lauded as one of history’s most important documents, supposedly protecting the rights and freedoms of human beings.

The Magna Carta was simply a treaty forced upon the king by rebellious Barons in the 13th century; it was written to limit the power of the Crown and protect the power of the Barons.

In the modern-age we do not fear the tyranny of the Crown; most countries do not have a royal family and in England the Queen is more-or-less a figurehead, with very little real power.

In this age, the world is ruled by the rich and the rich are ruled by the banks. This is not conspiracy but fact. It is plain to see; whoever has the most money has the most power. The banks have the most money. The banks have the most power. The most powerful banking families are very open about how much power they wield:

“Give me control of a nation’s money
and I care not who makes the laws.”

Mayer Amschel Rothschild

So the Magna Carta is as important a document as it has been claimed to be, but not for the reasons often given. It marks the turning point in history when we stopped worshipping the Crown for being God’s chosen representative on earth and we began instead to worship wealth, and those who have been chosen to monitor that wealth.

Is it any wonder that this year Runnymede Eco-Village is facing the threat of eviction?

When the festival at Runnymede occurs and the Queen and Barack Obama meet at the Magna Carta memorial, mere metres from the home I built for myself from recycled materials, will they want to be reminded of true freedom? Runnymede Eco-Village would prove that you can live without money if you love your fellow human beings and seek only to live in peace, without harming another living thing. That is not the spirit of Magna Carta.

Magna Carta is about protecting the rights of the rich. It is about property. It is about saying: ‘Even should I die and my land be left to rot, protect it, for it will always belong to me, even when I cannot use it, and the rights of the living poor should never overturn my rights as deceased rich’.

If this was an issue about squatters taking over someone’s home while they were on holiday, or travellers destroying wildlife before moving on and leaving the forest decimated, then I would understand the motives behind the eviction, but this is just about the wrong sort of people being visible at a time when the right sort of people want to revel in their own selfish success.

The Queen was born into wealth; since the day she was born she has had no freedom. She and people like her will never be able to understand the desire for freedom for it has been bred out of them; maybe to her freedom is abhorrent, for her gilded cage has always been well-stocked with all the essentials for survival, and more besides.

As long as you do not hurt another human being, you should be free to feel how you want to feel. If you know a certain situation is causing you misery, you should be allowed to leave that situation. That situation is your own gilded cage.

By saying I do not want to work for money, by saying that I do not want to own property, I do not believe that I am saying I do not want a life but, sadly, that seems to be the prevalent attitude of those who run our system.

Living in Runnymede, in any eco-village, you have to give up a lot of creature comforts: you have to work a lot harder and wait a lot longer to make a cup of tea on an open fire; you cannot afford to be fussy or wasteful or greedy when the food you eat is what the super-markets throw away every day, you make the most of what you find; you have to walk a lot more when you can’t afford a car; you develop stronger friendships when you work together for survival, sharing everything from food and clothes to beds and fireplaces.

We are not lazy. We are not selfish. We don’t want something for nothing. We work hard, but we work for ourselves. We live in the real ‘real world’. All we want is the same rights as people who do want to live in the money system, the world that is a human construction. We want the right to the same quality of life, we just don’t want to be forced into trying to achieve it through the same methods.

I will never be happy owning property. I will never be happy working to pay rent. In truth, all I need to be happy is food in my belly, warmth, and love. I don’t need money for any of those things, or I wouldn’t if those in control of the money system were not so determined to stop the self-determined from seeking those things directly.

My home…

The ‘Real World’

It’s very easy to claim that you ‘need money to live in the world’. It’s also very easy to point out that no other animal uses money but they all seem to get by just fine, until human beings kill them, often for money.

We only ‘need money’ because if we try to grow our own food, to live sustainably off the land, we get evicted.

I don’t have children but if I did I would be expected to provide them with food and shelter. I would want to as well.

What if I demanded that my children draw me a nice picture every time they wanted to eat? They would grow to think that you ‘need nice pictures to live in this world’.

The child best at drawing would probably grow fat and lazy and start bossing the other children around, in return for giving away a few of his less-valuable works. If I had a blind child or a child with a disability affecting their fine motor skills, that child would probably die or become entirely dependent on the fat and lazy child. If I had a child that always tried to do the right thing, according to what I had told him, but who found drawing a challenge, that child would most likely end up a permanent nervous wreck, constantly struggling to reach the pinnacle of success that came so easy to his rotund, slothful sibling.

What if one child just decided the whole thing was nonsense, and went out to find an apple tree and eat the fruit directly from it?

Ideally, that should break my system. The child should come back to his siblings, tell them that they don’t actually need nice pictures to live, they should listen, and together they should go to the apple tree and eat for free.

But then, what if I told them all that eating from the tree was a crime and the apples were mine? What if I picked all the apples from the tree and stored them away then started exchanging them for nice pictures? What if the majority of the apples rotted and the children who decided to oppose my system starved to death?

Currently, the system demands that we give it pieces of paper with nice pictures on in return for food. The huge surplus of food the system creates is thrown away. People starve.

Currently, the system demands that we give it pieces of paper with nice pictures on in return for a place to live. The huge surplus of buildings means that our country (and others in Europe) is littered with abandoned and/or derelict constructions. People die on the streets.

I can’t think of a simpler allegory; the system is an insane parent homogenising reality so that instead of thinking about food, warmth or love, we  think of money, which supposedly represents all those things but isn’t actually integral to the creation of any of them.

Runnymede Eco-Village is a place for people who want to be happy, healthy and safe and have access to all the wonders of reality without needing to exchange nice pictures in return for things that the planet either gives us for free or gives us in return for real work.

Making the things you want, that is real work; travelling to the places you want to go, that is real work; forming relationships with people you care about based on their actually personalities, that is real work. The best thing about all these real forms of work, they are also fun!

Again, if you are lucky enough to be really good at drawing nice pictures, I mean making money, and you enjoy the job you do, then by all means carry on. For those of you that don’t, just think, if you had the forty hours a week back every week, what could you achieve?

What do you want from life? Money itself or the things money can buy? With forty hours a week to dedicate to your goal, what could you achieve?

Maybe, instead of flying to that exotic holiday destination, you could go by land and experience everything along the way too. Maybe, instead of buying that new computer, you could learn how to build part of a computer or how to create your own software, team up with a bunch of likeminded people, and build your own computer; or car; or house; or anything!

Everything that has ever been created by a human being was made from the stuff of the universe. Human beings adapt reality to their wants and needs. Money is not necessary unless we choose it to be.

The Real Reason for the Runnymede Eco-Village Eviction

Runnymede Eco-Village is a statement. It proudly declares ‘we see the hypocrisy inherent in the system and we oppose it’. This is a dangerous statement.

Clearly, the man who ordered the death, by drone attack, of Anwar al-Awlaki (former Muslim anti-terrorist preacher and American citizen until persecution at the hands of the US government turned him against the US and converted him into a ‘hate-preacher’) and his sixteen-year-old son, will not want a bunch of hippies on a hill overlooking the festival that will celebrate 800 years of global-domination by the most-wealthy. If al-Awlaki, an American citizen living outside of his society and speaking out against the tyranny of the US government, was a terrorist, then what are the villagers of Runnymede Eco-Village? We live outside of our society and speak out against the tyranny of the UK government and, by association, the US government also.

Read here for more on the murder of al-Awlaki

I suppose we should feel lucky that we have not been blown up by drones…yet.

On that note, let’s just remember how the land was divided up all those centuries ago: war.

The major land owners today inherited their land from their ancestors, who won it by force. To say that it is right for the rich to protect their land from the poor is to say it is right that some human beings take from other human beings by force. If that is the case, what is to stop the elite from growing in power until the day comes when they have no more land to grab? What will they take from us next?

Is it still okay to take land by force? If not, should all the unused land owned by the Crown be given back to the people as common land? Or was there a cut-off point in history when it became no-longer acceptable to carve land up according to martial prowess?

Was that point of the signing of the Magna Carta?

I think it’s time to stop accepting the lie of Magna Carta. It does not protect you. It does not represent freedom.

We have a chance to make this another cut-off point in history, the point where we stop allowing some human beings to take far more from nature than they could possibly need to survive, in terms of land and food, and insist upon every living thing on this planet having the right to live as he she or it wants to, providing they do not infringe on anyone else’s right to the same.

To some this may sound a terrifying, unworkable, anarchic system, but it  can actually work. Surprisingly, when people are happy, they don’t seek to outdo each other, they seek to help one another. People who have little share a lot. In truth, if we weren’t forced into a greed-focused, competitive capitalist dystopia, we would take care of each other.

How do I know? I was part of a community of people who proved it: Runnymede Eco-Village.

The defence tower built by our sister community, Yorkley Court.Still resisting after nearly two months. Please sign their petition here.

‘Scientists say…’


Which scientists? I got so sick of wondering  that today, whilst having a discussion about GMO during which this ambiguous term was bandied about, I decided to see if I could find the specific names of specific scientists, from specific organisations, to get their view on the matter.

I found this:

I will admit that I am nominally opposed to GMO but I will never say never; if certain foods, which have been thoroughly researched, are deemed viable by an adequate cross-section of individuals who have NOTHING TO GAIN FINANCIALLY from saying they are healthy and safe then I am happy to accept those foods into my life, on a case by case basis. As that is not the case I have to say I am against GMO overall and the politics driving the expansion of the industry; for others who feel the same, the above website and the below article are, I feel, invaluable for changing the minds of people who are thoroughly convinced GMO are okay but can’t actually cite any real research into the matter:

Also, if anyone can find a counter-website listing scientists who are PRO GMO I would love to see it as despite claims from the industry and certain media franchises that the community is split on the issue, I couldn’t actually find a website that could so comprehensively list scientists, and their views, from that side of the fence, just another article claiming they exist:

Of course, there are a couple of notable, very famous scientists who have recently turned pro-GMO…but then again, there are a lot of rich companies who would pay a lot of money for those same, very famous, scientists to speak on their behalf…


Selling Green Spaces in Bexley: A Call to Sign for Salvation!

Danson Park-1

Please check this link

It has long been the time to take a stand against ‘development’, to protect our Mother Earth. It’s a billboard cliché but it’s true: you can’t eat money; you can buy food with it, sure, but you sort of need places to grow the food…you also need oxygen in the atmosphere!

Rising CO2 levels are melting every patch of ice globally, sea levels are rising. I really do not think it is a good idea to start concreting over the few patches of green we have left. One day we might rely on these for survival, as our ancestors did, and I believe that day is not far off… 

The conscious revolution is global; we all need to work together to save what is left of the planet before it is all destroyed but a global movement is hard to manage as a whole. It is important that those of us who wish to be part of the future, who wish there to be a future, to band together locally and fight for what is right…

So this is a call out to everyone in England: the idea that local authorities around the country will need to sell ‘their’ green spaces, to save money, is nonsense. Nature doesn’t need money to function, you cannot fertilize with money, any more than you can eat it. Leave nature alone and it will take care of itself.

Please sign the petition at:

And, if that fails, be prepared to join me against the bulldozers (; xxx


The Irrelevancy of Hypocrisy

We all argue. In recent years, arguing has become so easy to facilitate that we can comfortably argue with people from just about every section and sub-section of society about practically any topic when there is some contention (and I think there are, sadly, few if any topics that are not contentious), from the comfort of our homes without the need to show our faces, which saves us from both the stress of showing emotion and the risk of getting punched. As a species, I think we have never been so fortunate, for how much of our legal system was established through the use of brute force? That may be a question for another day, but for the sake of this article I would like to propose that the use of force by armies, security agencies (such as the police) and by the powerful men hidden in the shadows of society, such as mob bosses, has lead to the common use of the phrase ‘might is right’. I do not believe might is right, any more, and thankfully the internet is helping us to overcome this sorry state of affairs.

Sadly, our ability to argue rationally seems to be atrophying. As the nature of the field shifts, gone are the days when logic and reason won a debate; tdoay, agrumnets cenrte aournd ertinley flacie isuses, lkie selplnig; that tricky word was ‘facile’, which means ‘ignoring the complexities of the issue’ (Google). We would rather caste aspersions on the intellect of our opponent: ‘he can not spell, therefore he can not be intelligent’. Let it be known, there is no such thing as an intelligent dyslexic person, or an intelligent person who just bought a new keyboard and isn’t entirely aware of exactly where all the keys are arranged, just yet. Let it be known, only stupid people fail to entirely and perfectly spell-check their work. I guess, once upon a time, we used our fists when our reason failed, nowadays we take the piss out of spelling.

Some people will already be switching off to this article; obviously, if you want to be taken seriously you work hard to make sure you can be understood and, when writing, perfect spelling and grammar are essential for this. It does not matter if the point being made is relevant to the debate, fact based, empirical, logical, well-thought out and well expressed if, in your haste, you type ‘their’ when you mean ‘there’. You are clearly a troll and a idiot and your point is redundant, despite all its other potential merits.

This seems, to me, rather hypocritical (though as you will soon learn, it is not why I believe it is wrong to put people down for misspelling). It is very easy to find instances people who insult others for their grammar/spelling when arguing, but who use ‘text speak’ or abbreviations in their messages to their friends. ‘Wuld u like 2 cum meet me?’ rarely elicits the response ‘fuck off, you troll’. However, ‘I think their is inequality in our system’ is an incredibly dangerous opinion to hold if you want to avoid being ‘flamed’.

This leads me to the main point of this article, a question I am asking and attempting to answer: ‘Does the perception of hypocrisy have any relevance in a reasoned debate?’

I would like to propose that it does not. I do not believe that being hypocritical, or being seen to be being hypocritical, in itself, makes you wrong in a debate.

Let me begin by using as an example the catalyst that resulted in my beginning this article: the ongoing eviction of Yorkley Court Community Farm ( This is an issue worth investigating further but to save you time and effort now, and to keep you locked in (I hope), I will offer this brief explanation of events:


So, in a nutshell, three years ago a group of squatters took over a derelict farm and started an eco-community there. At the time, no one was using the land for anything else and there was contention regarding who legally owned it; essentially, the heirs had been lost and so there was no one to ask about it. It could have been left to rot, but instead it was transformed into a fully functioning, low-impact community. Yorkley Court never claimed to be entirely self-sufficient, which takes a lot of time and requires freedom from the perpetual risk of eviction, which they have not had for the last year or so of their occupation, but they have openly worked towards sustainability. They are, generally, popular within the surrounding communities; I attended the last eviction attempt (which failed after being found to have been illegal by the courts) and a number of local residents turned out to support that resistance, as they are now doing for the current resistance. The current resistance has come about after local millionaire Brian Bennett , the man who tried to illegally evict Yorkley Court last year by hiring a private security company to forcibly remove the squatters, has apparently been able to buy the land legally, despite the fact that the legal ownership of the land is (was) still up for contention:

‘The farm has been subject to a long running dispute, due to the fact that the title deeds have been lost, and solicitors on the case failed to identify any descendants of the owners’ (

Now, I would argue that land ownership, in the United Kingdom especially, can be summarised very simply. So simply in fact, a children’s show could do it:

So, once upon a time, through use of force, some human beings fortified tracts of land and made them their own. Over time, we forgot this but ‘the law’ ensured we remembered who owned the land. Nowadays, we accept that the descendants of brutal warmongers own the majority of land in the United Kingdom, but we defend their right to own such land as it is the ‘law’.

Now, we have a situation where the law has failed and the legal owners of a piece of land are up for dispute. We have two parties; in the blue corner we find a bunch of crusty, work-shy hippies; in the red corner we find a self-centred fat-cat trying to make more money than he can possibly spend in a single lifetime. Or, to put it another way, we find two very different groups of human beings, either both have the right to claim ownership of the land or neither of them do; or maybe it’s a quasi-paradoxical mix of the two.

If the Yorkley Court community succeeds in stealing the land by force, they are potentially no better than the ancestors of the rich land owners that they claim to oppose so strongly.  If the millionaire succeeds in stealing the land through use of money, then that is evidence to suggest that the elite change the game every few hundred years and that they are fully in control of what is considered morally (and legally) justifiable. Their ancestors could steal land by force but now that they can do it through legality and use of currency that is the ‘right’ way to do it; oh, and a little bit of force as well, in the form of bailiffs…

(Tangent: Bailiffs, I might point out, are sort of like feudal knights. A knight could take, by force, what he wanted from an enemy of the king, for he was a servant of the king and the king was a servant of God and God could do what he likes. The key difference between a bailiff and a feudal knight is that bailiffs don’t believe they have been given the right to do what they do by God, their ‘right’ to behave how they do comes from the legal system. Do you believe it is acceptable that we have essentially retained the concept of ‘divine right’ in our society by replacing the rule of God with the rule of Law? This, surely, allows some individuals to treat other individuals as lesser human beings and promotes the retention of some of the more barbaric aspects of the supposedly abolished feudal system?)

What I propose is that whether or not something is hypocritical means nothing in a well-reasoned debate. Successful character defamation is not tantamount to winning an argument and it’s time we stopped pretending it is. As you can no doubt already tell, I am biased, of course I am, well all are; I am a hippy, I come from a relatively low-income background and I think we should exhume and clone Jean Jacques Rousseau and get him to write policies for us. That should not mean I can not have a debate with a straight-edge investment banker from a rich family with a penchant for the literature of Adam Smith.

We will get nowhere, however, if I continually point out that, by having been born into a wealthy household, he is no different from any number of benefit claimants who receive money, housing and medical care for free. He does not have to work, therefore he does not deserve to have money, even if he does work. This argument would be fruitless, because he could just as easily suggest that I am being a hypocrite myself by suggesting there is something wrong with getting something for nothing, when I myself support squatting, skipping (food reclamation from supermarket bins) and other such ‘free’ ways of surviving without having a job. I could then point out that having a job is not necessarily working, and that I might actually experience more mental and physical exhaustion surviving as a freeman, with no money, than he does investing his father’s money into uncle’s company. He could then point out that my idea of creating a ‘free and abundant society’ is unrealistic if living free necessitates poverty and struggle. I could then suggest that this is only because rich people have made it so hard for poor people to access the amount of land they need to become self-sufficient and have lobbied against the implementation of permaculture and free-renewable energy in societies, thus creating scarcity and forcing us to struggle, with the only hope of reprieve being becoming part of the elite…

(Interesting aside, did you know that statistically when a labour voter wins the lottery they are more-likely to convert to voting conservative? Maybe life is all about self-interest, maybe those who have are happy and those who have not do not deserve to be? Maybe this is natural selection… )

Or, maybe, the problem is that we always focus on what makes us different from our opponents, when we should be seeking common  ground!

Hypocrisy has no relevance in reasoned debate; just because someone is a hypocrite, doesn’t make them wrong!

Russell Brand. Now there’s a topic to polarise opinion amongst hippies. On the one hand, he seems to be saying all the right things:

On the other hand:

Clearly, if he has lots of money but thinks people with lots of money are ruining society, he is a hypocrite and nothing he says has any value…


Maybe everything he says has EXACTLY THE SAME amount of value as if it were coming from the mouth of a tramp, maybe it has EVEN MORE value because here we have someone with enough success under his belt to turn full 360 and become the stand-in comedian for Monsanto corporate retreats who is instead choosing to (try) be a voice for the people.

If we as a species are going to have any success in making the world a better place we need to start listening to people’s words and, beyond that, understanding their meaning, rather than devaluing their characters, because that is just so easy to do. From some standpoint, everyone is a hypocrite.

What if we accept that nobody is perfect? What if we stop expecting everyone to be a paragon of virtue and instead work towards developing the moral compass of the species as a whole?

Let me tell you a story:

When I lived in an eco-village ( in Runnymede, Surrey, I used to, on occasion, visit the local town. Once upon a time, two friends of mine that work offered to buy me a drink in one of the local pubs. I did not really want a drink or to go to the pub, but I knew they wanted to do both, so I pretended to be very grateful and ordered the cheapest drink available.

Whilst we were at the bar a local man, who was steaming drunk at the time (we have seen each other since and always give each other a friendly nod), caught wind that we were from the village and decided to join us for a drink; he even bought us each a cider, despite being asked not to…

There began an hour or so of the man arguing with himself. He began by suggesting that everyone would like to do what we do, but people with children have to work and, as he fell into this bracket, he could not do what we do. We accepted that this was how he felt but let him know that we do have children living on site. He moved on to suggest that if we all had rich parents, like me, we could all doss around to our hearts content. I asked him why he thought I was rich and he pointed at the cricket hat (which you can see me wearing in my profile picture) I had on, which I had found days before on the floor of a field, following a free festival. He then went on to ask if we were going to buy his friends a round, in return for the round he had bought us. We said no, as we could not afford to.

Then, like that, he had won. He left us be, returned to his friends and proceeded to talk, loudly, about how we were not going to pay him back his act of kindness. Apparently, despite the fact we had not wanted the drinks in the first place, now they had been bought we had a duty to return the ‘kindness’ and the fact we did not proved that we were somehow lesser beings. Is it any wonder that such a mentality exists in a society that forces itself upon you from birth then demands that you pay for it, even if you don’t actually like it!

As I have already mentioned, the man was drunk. I think he was actually a nice guy. Also, one of my two friends did buy him a drink back, I can’t remember what but it wasn’t cheap and it wasn’t a single. I believe she should not have done, but hey-ho.

The point of that anecdote was to show how, when people can not find an actual reason to disagree with someone else’s opinions on the world, they try to assassinate their character, to thereby nullify the opinion. We can all do this and, sadly, we all fall for it:

In the case of Julian Assange, a man created an organisation that published secret information about governments, things the governments did not want ‘us’ to know. Shortly after such successes as proving the illegality of the war in Afghanistan he was accused of being a sex offender:

‘WikiLeaks achieved particular prominence in 2010 when it published U.S. military and diplomatic documents leaked by Chelsea Manning. Assange has been under investigation in the United States since that time. In the same year, the Swedish Director of Public Prosecution opened an investigation into sexual offences that Assange is alleged to have committed.[1] In 2012, facing extradition to Sweden, he sought refuge at the Embassy of Ecuador in London and was granted political asylum by Ecuador.’ (

Note, as soon as he became a threat to the US Government, they found out he was a sex-offender; even if this is true and just a highly unfortunate coincidence, does the relevancy of the facts released by Wikileaks get any less?

Speaking hypothetically, if I have two men in a room, one a fully sane serial-murderer and one who has never committed any act with malicious intent, or to simplify, a good man and a bad man, and I get them both to read out the same list of facts, do the nature of the facts change depending on who is reading them? When the bad man tells the truth, does it become a lie?

If you think yes, then I would love to debate with you why you think so. Please get in contact. Logically, I think the answer has to be no. It does not matter who speaks the truth, it is still the truth.

The problem then should not be deciding which individuals are good, which are bad, and handing out control over others in return, the problem should be, as it always should have been, deciding what is true.

Philosophers have tried through the ages to define objective morality. They have still not managed to do so. The mainstream media, with its fascination for creation and destruction of celebrities, seems to have given up on the question altogether. The debate is not global.

We do not have a system of logic set up which allows us to critically evaluate whether something is right or wrong: we have opinions; hippies say Monsanto is evil because it has created Genetically Modified Organisms that have infected fields the world over and destroyed organic life-forms, creating homogeneous food groups that provide very little nutrition and have an overall detrimental effect on the world environment; whatever the pejorative for the opposite of a hippy is say Monsanto is good because they can modify food to grow in any climate and therefore end the problem of world hunger by providing poor nations with seeds that will grow in even the most barren soil. Both sides believe they are good. Each side puts forward its argument. Both sides ignore the others’ argument. Each side slags off the other one for being different from them. Nothing changes.

What if, rather than focusing in on specific aspects of a debate and using them to create the opinion we want others to have, we all knew how to take a step back and evaluate an issue as a whole? What if, as soon as someone began to assassinate someone else’s character by pointing out supposed hypocrisies in their argument, or errors in their grammar, or mistakes in their spelling, or how ugly they are, or how they don’t know how to use a #hashtag properly, we stopped listening to that person, just until they moved on. I’m not saying we rule them out of the debate altogether, I’m just saying that if something has no relevance to the conversation being had, and personal insults NEVER do have any relevance to ANY sort of conversation, then don’t acknowledge that particular line of thought. Even when arguing, people are fallible and making a mistake does not make someone wrong; I wonder how many great ideas have been on the verge of coming to fruition just when their chief proponent had a lapse of attention and said something silly, opening himself up to a barrage of ‘AAAAAH! HAHA! AAAAAHS!’, which shut down the conversation and destroyed another hope for the evolution of consciousness.

Debating should not be about winning. Our society is so competitive that winning is almost always more important than being right. Did any of you have the experience at school of knowing something the teacher didn’t? Were any of you lucky enough to get listened to? I can name several instances from my own life, from telling one of my primary teachers than male sea horses can get pregnant to asking if my year 7 history teacher had heard of palisade walls (at which he scoffed, ‘there’s no such thing’), when I have been ‘right’ but I should not have been. In every instance, the person with the authority ‘won’. However, making me look like a fool in front of a classroom of nine-year-old children did not change the reproductive tendencies of male sea horses; the men can still get pregnant.

What is worse, I think, is that if you study debating in school you are often given a topic and told what side you are on. If we are teaching people to argue for a certain point of view, just because it’s the one you have been told to argue for, are we not raising mindless drones for the express purpose of upholding the current partisan system, in which many people are still ignorant of party policies and instead vote for a party because they are a labour voter or they are a conservative. Maybe this is why parties face no reprimand when they come to power and don’t do what they said they were doing to in the run up to the election; maybe no one knew what the campaign policies where in the first place. I think it’s high-time we stopped debating to win, and starting debating to figure shit out.

Which neatly leads me on to my closing statements; I don’t know how to fix this problem. I have pointed out a problem, as I see it, and my suggestion is that we evolve past that problem and find a new way of handling important, contentious topics that require discussion to rectify. I have suggested finding new ways of defining objective morality, promoting critical thinking and demoting the value of victory and, most importantly, always trying to see the ‘big picture’, not just the parts of the picture which suit what you already believe. I am open to other suggestions.

Someone said to me the other day, after I finished a particularly facetious rant concerning the relevancy of the pop-culture mainstay ‘James Bond’ in today’s society, that ‘it’s all just words’. I agree, it is all just words. Words are all we have at the moment. If we fight, we are moving backwards. If we start ‘grabbing’ land, whether for the purpose of building flats or permaculture forests, without having a solid moral founding for why, we are moving backwards. To be honest, right now, I feel like if I do anything at all it is the wrong thing, because we do not know what is right.

It is time to open the discussion and let everyone in, but not their opinions. As much as we can, we should seek to leave them behind for, though I hate to finish on a cliché, they are like arse-holes.

Jack E Cheal.