[permaculture] Conservatism revisited
djtravis at hotmail.com
Tue Feb 19 11:45:27 EST 2008
Good to hear from you and I'm glad you were able to get into the good discussion you started.
I appreciate your reminders that it is wise not to view things "in simplistic black and white shades". This is why I don't think it's altogether fair to suggest that we must either (a) more or less accept the status quo or (b) become genocidal Maoists. Forgive me if this is an oversimplification of where you're coming from, but at first glance it looks like you could benefit from some of your own advice.
That being said, I agree with and appreciate the suggestion that the permaculture movement (among others) could benefit from confronting the reality of corporate capitalism and the global economy more directly than it has in the past. I too tend to be disappointed or frustrated with the tendency, which is a natural and very human one, to simply find a safe corner of the world in which to build a retreat or haven for oneself and one's family. It is a fair desire, of course, but it also flies in the face of the interconnectedness and interdependency that we know constitutes not only the natural world but also the world of human society.
I often run into people in the peak-oil movement (and others) who come from urban or suburban backgrounds and are very concerned with learning how to survive in the wild, grow food, build shelters, use guns, and fix machinery with the idea that these skills will aid them in the event of socioeconomic collapse. I don't doubt that perhaps some of these things might be valuable to learn, but I've always tended to think that knowing how to communicate with your neighbors and how to negotiate in the absence in trust is probably more valuable than any material skill one could learn.
(P.S., not having to change one's mind is not necessarily an indication that one's ideas are right. Just look at President Bush.)
Dieter Brand wrote:
> I thought my original message in the thread "lactoferments" which changed
> to "conservatism" didn't make it to the list. I only noticed now, when looking
> at the archives, that it did and that it generated a lively debate which I'm very
> sorry to have missed. In fact, I noticed that I didn't get most of the messages
> from the permaculture list in the last few weeks. Is there anything that can
> be done about this?
> David, et al.,
> Regarding the debate, I agree that it is the small things all of us can do that
> can make a difference. In fact, that has been a determining conviction in my
> life for the last 40 years. However, I also believe that it is not healthy to
> barricade ourselves in a cosy little ecological or permaculture corner. Nothing
> is going to bring back the idyllic life of medieval villages, if that ever was idyllic.
> And if we like it or not, mainstream society with all its big bad corporations
> is going to determine how we will live in the future. A mental frame seeing
> the World in simplistic black and white shades with the good (us) on one side
> and the bad (society with its evil corporations) on the other is not productive
> and is completely beside the point.
> Lets just for the fun of it consider the opposite scenario. The corporations
> can be very effective at devising methods and means for saving energy and
> resources squandered by traditional technologies. They just need to be
> directed that way by political processes, which is not achieved by talk of
> “imperial elections”. Present day pluralistic society, no matter what you
> call it, has more potential for change to adapt to changing circumstances
> than any past model, be it tribalism, feudalism, Stalinism or you name it.
> Utopian ideas in history, no matter how well intentioned, unfortunately
> always degenerated into bloodshed and repression usually worse then the
> tyranny they supplanted. And I don't believe for one moment that any of the
> fundamentalist ideas bandied about today would be any less bloody.
> Humans or the mechanisms of life are just too complex to be pressed into
> any simple system. Systems need to evolve naturally. Obviously there
> is need for direction - watch that the big guys don't take all, but a closet
> mentally is not suitable for solving future problems.
> Having said that, there are obviously problems that at the moment seem
> too momentous to be solved within present models. Most of all economic
> growth. How and with what can we replace economic growth as the driving
> force in the economy. Again, solutions will be with society and the
> corporations, not against them. To be gleeful about pending doom that
> would justify our resentments towards society is not very, well, ...
> I better stop rambling since I don’t have the feeling that I manage to
> express what I want to say very well. Anyway, nice to see you folks
> involved in a discussions.
> >...making oddly definitive claims about how capitalism, corporatism, or any
> >other aspect of business-as-usual is "just the way it is" or "all that we've got"
> >or "here to stay". It's really interesting (and at times frustrating) to see such
> >extremely conservative notions finding widespread acceptance among an
> >otherwise farsighted and "big picture"-oriented movement. - David
> This reminds me of smoke filled rooms in 1968 and being labelled a lackey
> of the bourgeoisie by Maoists with their little red book. I have never had to
> change my basic convictions, they had to change theirs. When it become
> too distasteful to justify the millions of deaths left behind by the red guards,
> they turned to more rewarding pursuits in politics or commerce. There are
> turns and twists in any life, but I have never compromised my believe in a
> more humane and peaceful society.
> Dieter Brand
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