[permaculture] On the edge

Bob Howard rmhoward at omninet.net.au
Wed Jul 9 21:10:42 EDT 2003


tech problem:
for some reason I"ve not received any of Toby Hemenway's replies to this thread.Does anyone have any ideas as to why this is so? I seem to be only getting half of several threads but this one held particular intrest for me... and it's most frustrating not being able to understand what's being said....bob



"Gaden at ziplip.com" wrote:

> Re: Toby Hemenway - 'People Without Cash' response
>
> "So give me a break, eh?"
>
> Absolutely! Not a problem, Toby. I quite enjoyed your response. My comments here are not based on continuence of previous posts. That's done and closed. You raised some interesting points here, I'd like to refer to them.
>
> "by "skills and experience" I was referring to marketable skills"
>
> I didn't know that. For me, the validity of skills or experiences isn't necessarily measured by its 'marketability'. But that's cool, I can see where you are coming from with that interpretation.
>
> "single mothers without money often lack marketable skills....We have a simple, ugly truth"
>
> Relax, I'm not trying to be confronting. Yeah I do have a difficulty with that passage. It's the ease with which this statement flows from the dual pre-condition of 'single mother' & 'without money" to the conclusion 'lacks marketable skills'. May lack, or sometimes lack, fair enough. But often, seems to presume A + B = C. Arguable causality. Sometimes true but not necessarily.
>
> "Or is it that you don't think my statement is true?"
>
> And that's the crux of this whole debate, Toby. No, I don't believe there is necessarily a direct causal link between wealth and skills. Yes, there can be a link, but it shouldn't be assumed to be such.
>
> This simply represents a difference of opinion. Possibly one that relates to us having quite different experiential backgrounds. Either way, no problem. It is only a discussion, bloke.
>
> Maybe this is flogging the horse, but I'll try to give an example. I tend to wander in my discussions but I'll try to keep on track.
>
> You mention what you call the 'involuntary poor' and a range of causal factors. One of the things you propose that may alleviate this is training/education. Sensible suggestion.
>
> Social commentators like Ivan Illich & John Taylor Gatto would argue that most of what passes for education here in America is less about skilling and more about social conditioning.
>
> "social engineering that condemns most people to be subordinate stones in a pyramid that narrows to a control point as it ascends.  "School" is an artifice which makes such a pyramidal social order seem inevitable." Gatto
>
> Achievers within such systems may be those who are most able to adapt to the dominant social paradym. (know how to work the system) Some people may have skillsets which are not compatible with that particular paradym. They are not unskilled but they may lack what you describe as 'marketable skills'. That doesn't make those skillsets irrelevant.
>
> Sometimes, the dominant social paradym changes, leaving behind an age cohort whose skills are no longer compatible with the changed paradym. What Alvin Toffler calls 'Future Shock'.
>
> English colonial period in India saw the widespread compulsory acquisition of small traditional farms. These were aggregated into large-scale monocultures with the introduction of non-traditional crop species. Highly skilled micro-agraian farm managers and artisans became 'unskilled' serfs within a foreign feudal system. Independance became dependance. Minimalist self-sufficiency became poverty.
>
> In other instances, the failure to adapt may be behavioual. When I was teaching young people within the government education system, I often came across youngsters deemed to have all manner of behavioural  & social problems, learning difficulties etc. The trend was to medicate them into submission. Often though, they were good kids. They just didn't fit in to that system.
>
> Again, it wasn't that they were unskilled (or unskillable) but that their skillsets were not valued by the system. So they drifted into other counter-culture systems where their skillsets did have relevance. Unfortunately, many of these counter-cultures are ultimately self-destructive.
>
> I don't know. Does that make my views any clearer? In all seriousness, Toby, I'm not trying to headbutt you. I'm not trying to 'dis' you or paint you bad. We simply have a fundamental disagreement about the causal relationship between wealth (good system player) and  skills (systemic relevance). Probably because we are accessing different referential pools of life experiences.  I can live with that. That's cool.
>
> "...instead of anything resembling a genuine attempt, as Jamie kindly suggests, to comprehend that person's meaning."
>
> Now I don't get that. Isn't that exactly what we are doing? Isn't dialogue all about assertion, challange, clarification? Isn't it a 'to and fro' process?
>
> In this medium, the process is becomes more drawn out because of the inherent lag time between responses. And the lack of immediacy in conversational feedback. Then throw in a few other communication hurdles like cross-cultural communications, differing experiential backgrounds etc. etc. It might get a bit confused, might get a bit contentious. But if we can't make it work here, what hope in making work 'out there'?
>
> The only reason I've persisted with this thread is to allow the process of dialogue to run its course. It is not a point scoring exercise. It's about presenting ideas, which sometimes may appear at odds with each other. That's why I posted my original response. (as opposed to silent seditious offline whisperings) It was a mark of respect for you, not an obtuse challenge.
>
> Social experimentation/discourse. Unity through diversity. Honouring the turbulence of the edge. The edge isn't always a comfortable place, but it can be productive. And rarely boring....
>
> Peace to you, Tobias
>
> Gaiden
>
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