Underminers in German

With very little effort from me, and a huge amount from a fellow traveller, the German translation (I think of it as a “translocation”) of Underminers is now available from http://wuestenzeitung.blogspot.co.uk/2018/05/underminers-in-german.html thanks to the incredible efforts of Jürgen.

It is entitled “Radikaler Wandel: Anleitung zur praktischen Untergrabung der Maschine” which makes me very happy, especially from a cultural point of view. The idea of my work being translocated is important, as stories are the root of all culture, and thus it is imperative that any “translation” takes serious account of the culture in which that work is part of. As well as this, had I just put the book through Google Translate, then it would have ended up a rough copy that in some places made little sense, and as a whole was not true to the source.

On page 11 is a Foreword, which very much comes from the heart:



I was contacted by Jürgen in the summer of 2017 with a generous offer to make a full translation of the original, author’s edit of “Underminers : A Practical Guide for Radical Change” which I first released online in 2012. As with all texts intended for use on the edges of society, I have no way of telling what impact this version, or the subsequent New Society (2013) edition have had. I could hope, but that would be as good as praying, and I neither pray nor hope – as an Underminer myself, I try and live by the words I have written. This German-language version, so lovingly translated, translocated and updated for 2018, carries its own weight of words, which are now as much Jürgen’s as mine, and as much yours, dear reader, as the authors’. You are the Underminers, and this is your time.

Keith Farnish
Scotland, May 2018.



This morning, the result of many emails, I received two large boxes. Inside are many copies of Underminers which have been saved from the process the publishing industry calls “remaindering” or variations thereupon, but which is more correctly called “pulping”. My publisher asked me how many books I would like saved, for a reasonable price per book, and they eventually found 60 copies in a warehouse in England.

The outcome of all this is that I have some books for sale or, under certain circumstances, to give away. On the home page is a Paypal link to buy Underminers for £10 (or equivalent) per copy. There’s also a brief explanation of how to get a copy for free. My criteria for deciding whether to charge or not, will essentially be around whether people will benefit from Underminers who otherwise would not have been able. So, if you have a local group, library, activist cell or whatever, then get in contact.

For the time being I have to find a place to put the boxes. A good thing one of my offspring has just moved out…

Autumn Migration

(or Fall, if you prefer)

Just a quick announcement to let everyone know, the website that used to host the Time’s Up! / A Matter of Scale is officially no more. The pages are still there if you have the full links, but it’s got too old and clunky to update or even keep maintained, so everything I could move has been moved, and all links have been tested and updated where necessary, so it’s all tickety-boo.

I’m sorry I could not migrate the full text of the book, but that would have meant adding a huge sub-menu and checking literally hundreds of links.

The official pages are now in the top-level menu:

TIME’S UP! is the page of the published book
A MATTER OF SCALE is the page of the online book
FURTHER READING has a book list and, eventually, an article list
PODCASTS links to all the original podcasts
MOVIES is a relinked page for relevant movies

Hope you enjoy visiting, and re-visiting the book.

Looking for an Agent

MSS picture

Here’s a picture of a pile of A4 paper, printed in double-space, double-sided, 11 point text. An agent wouldn’t like that, but it’s okay because the manuscript in the photo is just so a few people can read through it and tell me what they think of my first novel. I have a different version for potential agents, in 12 point text, because they prefer it.

I actually finished writing the first draft of “Almost Gone” (probably not the final title, there is another book of that name) on 27th February. I felt slightly whoozy after typing “THE END”, excited and a little lost. What do I do know? Ultimately, the answer is to get it published and go out on lots of book signings, get asked questions and give the kind of answers that make more people want to buy the book. The publisher might want a follow-up too. That’s not impossible.

For all this pipe dreaming, there is a serious point. If I have to make money, I would rather do it doing something I love than something I am merely good at. The bit of money, or barter, I make is currently through fixing computers. I hate computers, they have various functions but they are inhuman and disconnect people, so I feel like a hypocrite, although I do spend a bit of time chatting to people, like a good doctor, and listening to their stories – people seem to feel the need to tell me things, and that’s fine.

The question is, am I as good at writing as I am at fixing computers? The answer will probably – with a bit of chance thrown in – determine whether (a) I can find an agent willing to represent me, (b) whether a publisher will want to invest in my work, and (c) whether people will want to buy it. And, yes, I will do everything in my power to make it free online.

So I am doing a lot more writing – in the form of introductory letters, plot synopses and personal statements; sending these off to agents on spec, and then waiting. If anyone can help make this process any quicker and more rewarding. i.e. if you know a good agent (or are a good agent) who is willing to represent me, then I would love to hear from you, via this link.

Thank you for reading, you can have a short extract for your trouble…

I’m sweating. It’s just the hill and the pools of warm sunlight. A sheen of moisture on my arms and beads of sweat in my eyes force me to stop and consider things. Flies settle on my eyelids, emerging from the damp ground in the dip where I decide not to rest. The sound of running water further up declares a spring, and fresh drink.

As I lie, with my fingertips playing in the rivulets, my lips cool again, I wonder how I’m going to find what I’m searching for…and drift away on an amber blanket of beech litter. Merod sits atop a pile of leaves, calling my name in a song that evokes the wind and the birth of spring in luminous green. As she sings her legs are gently swallowed by the leaves which seem to crawl upwards, caressing her waist, her sides, her shoulders until only her smiling face remains, opening into a black chasm and howling the moan of ripping roots…and the slow, deep rumble of the earth wakes me, gasping.

My face is running with perspiration and the rumble goes on, vibrating through the ground and my gut. So much louder than before. I stumble upright, shaking on weak legs, turning to try and locate the Sound’s source, but it defies direction. All I know is I’m closer.

A natural clearing lies ahead, caused by a pair of huge beeches recently fallen and taking smaller kin with them. In the midday sun a cacophony of birdsong plays on the air, partners in the making, eggs to be laid and hatchlings to be born. The reason for the falling is clear – shallow roots into a rocky ground that have been loosened by torrents of rain. What remains is a pool, yet to be colonised and maybe ephemeral.

I stand at the edge of the pool, with the sun right above. I briefly catch my reflection and turn away. This isn’t me, surely. Calming myself, I take in the second look and see a mass of tangled hair full of sticky pine needles and dead bugs, a face dirty with boy-grime, and a yawning red hole, unpeeled and leaking. The edges of the wound have taken on a rosy tinge and specks of black and brown occupy the space between.

I’ve been an idiot.

We know about germs; we’d be dead soon enough if we didn’t. As a small boy I could pee just about wherever I liked, but if it was anything else then there were special places, away from the water supply, away from the crops. Soap is a precious thing, but that’s one time we always use it. But even then you never know when someone will break out or fever, or worse – well, we do know, sort of, and I am staring at one of those times out of the pool and back at my own stupid face.

Statement About Amazon

Dear Reader

Today I removed all links to Amazon Corporation from this website. It was like flicking a particularly irritating imp from my shoulder and kicking it out of the door. It’s still out there, grinning and rubbing its hands together and, if I listen hard enough I can hear its execrable voice squeaking, “I still have all your readers, and there’s nothing you can do about it!”

It’s time to silence the imp for good. On behalf of independent book stores everywhere, writers who have decided to devote themselves to a cause or just the love of writing, readers who want to reject the most virulent corporate cancer in the publishing world, and anyone who prefers “Small is Beautiful” over “Big is Best”, I am going further.

Today I will be contacting the publishers of both Underminers and Time’s Up! and asking them to do everything in their power to remove the listings of those books from every Amazon database, and cease sales of those titles through Amazon Corp. and its regional equivalents.

I may not succeed, but I will have done my best. It is still my desire to ensure as many people as possible get to read these books, which is why I have always offered online equivalents to read on web pages or downloadable text. But I appreciate that many people, like me, love the tangible quality of the book – its feel in the hand; the sound of turning leaves and echo of a dialogue between author and reader; even the smell of the book, the memories of its last resting place, resident in the fibres of every open page.

You deserve that choice: new, used, old, infirm and falling to pieces, or cherished on a shelf waiting for the next reader to come along and see what is inside.

Can I ask that we make a deal? I will do what I can to de-Amazon my books; and you, please tell everyone not to use this corporate behemoth, and give the little people, the people who are like us, a chance.


Keith Farnish

Author and Campaigner

Update 28 June: My publishers have responded and are trying their very best, but hamstrung by the wholesalers, who have no qualms about selling to Amazon because they are also massive companies. However, UIT have withdrawn “Time’s Up!” from direct sale via Amazon Advantage, which is a start…

Undermining and Risk

Sometimes disclaimers are just a way of making something out to be more dangerous than it really is; sometimes they are necessary. I was only two or three chapters into writing Underminers when it became clear that a disclaimer was absolutely necessary – not so much for the legal protection it could give to the author, publisher, distributor and retailers; but for the warning it gives to the reader. Activism, for want of a better term, is no longer about pretending to be doing something – if change is to happen on the scale required to prevent global catastrophe and the end of humanity, then we have to be talking about the kinds of activism that carry uncertain levels of risk, at least for those prepared to be Underminers.

New Society saw the idea behind Underminers and were brave enough to see the project through from raw text to publication of the book that goes on sale in September 2013. That in itself is a risk, for from its inception, it was clear that in order to save humanity and the wider environment from the kind of catastrophe we are currently headed toward, nothing less than the end of Industrial Civilization as we know it would be required. Civilization protects itself with the kinds of things most ordinary people are scarcely aware of; the kinds of things that keep us disconnected from the truth of what it means to be human; the kinds of things that keep rearing their heads in a ferocious effort to protect The Machine, then washing self-proclaimed citizens of any subversive thoughts. All it takes is a nice vacation, a trip to the shopping mall, a major sporting event or a new app, and everything is once again fine.

Anything that undermines these Tools of Disconnection is dangerous to the industrial system. Anything that is dangerous to the industrial system gives us the chance of a future on Earth.

I cannot make it any clearer: Industrial Civilization is incompatible with a living, thriving ecosystem. The purpose of civilization is to create a culture of domination and power, that imbues material wealth with far more importance than the lives of the people it controls. No civilization is sustainable. In our hearts we know this, but know we can only whisper such a dangerous truth.

There is potentially a host of Underminers waiting to bring down the system that is killing us and everything else that lives on planet Earth. Are you among them, and are you prepared to take a risk? After all, it can’t be any more dangerous than being a slave; a victim; a puppet; a voter; a consumer; a citizen…

We are the Underminers, and this is our time.

Underminers is available NOW from New Society Publishers. Just follow THIS LINK if you are in the USA or Canada (other parts of the world soon…)

Get A Free Book


Thank you for all your kind comments and offers of distribution.

Yes, it’s true, I have some free copies of Underminers: A Practical Guide for Radical Change to give away, courtesy of the funds remaining from the Kickstarter project back in 2012, and which I would like to use up before a year has elapsed.

The book available is the one for sale (for the moment) at Lulu, a 524 page, lovingly-crafted brick of paper that will be superceded in September, once New Society starts selling the published version Underminers: A Guide to Subverting The Machine. There are enough funds for about 30 copies, and the offer is limited to one copy per application.

All you have to do is contact me via the form below telling me why you or your organisation needs a copy of Underminers, and I will do the rest. Books will be sent by surface mail, so may take a few weeks to arrive. This is not a competition – if I think there is a good case for sending a book then it will be sent. The only condition is that the book is read, re-read, passed around and made available in the same way as the electronic version.

Keith, June 2013.

A Publishing Date

Hooray, I have a date for publication. I know this because I checked on Amazon. It’s September 26th 2013.

That’s the last I really want to have to do with Amazon because, as most people probably know, they screw publishers and especially authors into the ground so they can sell books as cheaply as possible, thus in turn screwing other booksellers, especially independents into the ground. They also use offshore tax havens, so also screw taxpayers, or rather people who would otherwise use services that are paid for with the tax that Amazon does not pay.

Like it or not, though, most people are going to buy the book through Amazon, which is a great shame. I suppose the same applies to other online booksellers like Borders and Barnes & Noble, and both of those, with their physical outlets, did a huge amount in killing off the independent bookseller. Basically this (although Black Books isn’t your average independent)…

It’s a fair way off, this publication date, but there’s lots to do, not least all the pre-promotion stuff which will mean speaking to a great many people who don’t get Underminers, nor will condone any suggestion that Industrial Civilization is a Bad Thing. Still, if life is meant to be a challenge then what’s the harm being challenged?


Americanization, yeah!

Well, it was bound to happen, and so it has. Those who have taken the time to pore over my written output – especially those from the northern part of the continental landmass conventionally called America – are bound to notice that I bring more than a little Britishness to the page. Obviously that’s because of the way I speak, but I have also made a little effort to reach out across the Atlantic and take a sprinkling of Americanisms to the text where it seems appropriate, especially if the subject in question is in that (your?) part of the world.

The online version of Underminers, and the Lulu (soon to be unavailable, get it while you can!) book is written in that British-sort-of-American-with-a-touch-of-Scots way, which is perfectly fine for most purposes and which I have no intention of changing. On the other hand, when a book is about to be pushed out to the North American public (and I mean public rather than the people who would normally seek out my work), then a certain amount of translation is called for. It was explained to me, very understandingly by my publisher, that the convention for books to be sold in the USA is to be written in American English.

Here is where I plead ignorance. Until my gracious and tolerant copy-editor pointed out the multitude of words in the book that were rarely if not ever used in the USA, then I had no idea. The spelling – mainly involving “z”s (pronounced “zee” rather than “zed”) – was perfectly fine; hell! I write “civilization” instead of the British convention “civilisation”, all the time. The words, though, were interesting. Here’s a sample, to give an insight into the process:

Caravan. In Britain, a caravan is a thing that you attach to a car (automobile) and take on holiday (vacation) with you so you have a home-from-home. I had to change it to “motor home”, even though it wasn’t – “travel trailer” is unknown in Europe, so that wouldn’t have worked.

Paracetamol. In Britain, it’s a generic painkiller that acts on the central nervous system. In the USA it’s called acetaminophen and usually Tylenol. I have never taken acetaminophen knowingly, but the converse applies in the USA, so an explanation is now in a footnote.

Football in Glasgow. In Scotland there are (at the moment not, but that’s very complicated) traditionally two big football (soccer – I could have gone native and said fitba’) teams, Celtic and Rangers, or rather Glasgow Celtic and Glasgow Rangers. They are rivals in terms of football, and in terms of different flavours of the same major branch of the same religious belief system – i.e. one is Protestant, one is Catholic. Fights ensue. There is even a new law in place ostensibly to stop fans of one team using religious slurs against the other. This takes time to explain, so I just took the reference out.

Workmate. This is a type of folding workbench produced by the manufacturer Black and Decker that was all the rage in the 1980s in Britain, and which I still have in almost pristine condition from then – they were very well made. I checked, and they are unknown in the USA, so even though I did use a Workmate, to save confusion I took out the whole reference, and just used a saw.

There were lots more, along with all sorts of stylistic changes including a bizarre round-trip. A friend had seen an early extract and pointed out the proliferation of “that” where the word wasn’t really needed in his opinion, such as “the house that Jill built”, which reads more easily as “the house Jill built”. I agreed and spent ages removing every excessive instance. What I didn’t realise is that in the USA, the word “that” is used much more frequently than in Britain, so back a load went! I did re-remove a few, though – you can have too much of anything.

The final edit is complete, and the manuscript is now with the layout people, who will do all sorts of fancy things over the next few weeks. This is the bit where I don’t really get involved much at all – they know how to sell books; I just write the words.

I Have A Publisher

And it’s not me.

One good thing about being the eternal realist is that when really good and unexpected things happen, they really are good and unexpected bringing with them all of the lovely positive emotions those particular things entail. The blog of April 12 described what I genuinely believed at the time: “When the book is finished then I will begin work on a publishers version, with the aim of selling as an e-book and Print on Demand – assuming no publisher takes this on as a going concern.” Even earlier I used the phrase: “No publisher will touch this”, and really meant it.

At some point along the way I threw a few emails to publishers asking if they might be interested, ignoring those that had onerous application demands which essentially boil down to: “How much money will the book make us?” (Only one of the publishers got back to me, and that was just to apologise they didn’t have the funds to take on anything new.) In the main, publishing is a business – a very big business indeed, which makes this kind of question obvious. For me, it’s a barrier; the key question should be: “Why is your book worth publishing?” I think it is worth publishing, so I went off and did it myself.

Part of that process was engaging in the, now successful, Kickstarter project, which has led to me being able to send copies to various people involved in the publication of the book, and which was also intended to fund an eBook version of Underminers. What also happened was that a representative of New Society Publishers got in touch saying they were interested in the book and would like a chat. That was back in late November. As of now I am an author with one of the few publishers I would have really liked to have published Underminers.

The upshot of this is:

1) The Kickstarter project money will be used to fund the sending of the “big” version of Underminers to a variety of groups and individuals who could benefit from having it to hand.

2) A honed-down version of Underminers, which I have edited specially to be more digestible but no less radical, will be produced by New Society in paper and eBook (EPUB, Kindle, Nook etc.)

3) The online version will remain available on this website in perpetuity under a Creative Commons license in HTML and PDF format.

4) The self-published Lulu version (see sidebar) will be available only until the New Society marketing campaign starts this spring, upon which I will take it off sale out of respect to the publishers.

This all sounds very formal, but in a nutshell it means the text will be available to the widest possible audience in the largest variety of formats available, which has to be a good thing…unless you are a big fan of industrial civilization.

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