[permaculture] what is "politics" exactly...?

Scott Pittman scott at permaculture.org
Fri Dec 7 14:09:26 EST 2007

This is a great thread and I want to add my two bits later but for now I
would like to point out several of the people/books referenced by Keith in
his list that I have trouble with.

Amory Lovins, Paul Hawkins, William McDonough, and to some extent the
Natural Step are all proponents of capitalism in a revised form.  They are
dangerous in my mind because they don't question the economic order but
rather look to a reformed industrial state that will pollute less or be more
energy conserving but don't question the very roots of the system.  In my
mind they are incredible dangerous because they allow people to feel good
about the current arrangement so that they can continue to participate.
It's like looking to biofuels to solve peak oil and then not dealing with
our systems of transport and industrial processes.  To have "good" guys like
Al Gore internationally flogging biofuels and florescent bulbs as the
solution to Global Warming creates warm feelings of false security, and set
us back enormously. 

Paul Hawkin and a past hero of mine Lester Brown (founder of Worldwatch
Institute) are both now looking to bio-technology (I read gmo food) as a
solution to some of our problems.  

William McDonough excites everyone because of his Ford plant makeover that
is solar oriented and lessens the waste stream.  I'm not overwhelmed with
this accomplishment when the men and women on the assembly lines in these
architectural wonders are still doing the same mindless and soul eroding

As I have mentioned before on this list I think there are a limits to growth
in industry just as there are in nature and that once you exceed those
limits you lose sustainability.  It a tree branches one too many times it
starves the last addition because of viscosity.  Our industrial machine
overcomes this by adding more energy (fuel) with the predictable outcome of
pollution, lack of care of people and depletion of resources.  It is built
into the system.

Capitalism by its very nature cannot be "Green".  

I would much rather see Ivan Illich on this list!

Scott Pittman
Permaculture Institute
-----Original Message-----
From: Keith Johnson [mailto:keithdj at mindspring.com] 
Sent: Friday, December 07, 2007 10:48 AM
To: permaculture
Subject: Re: [permaculture] what is "politics" exactly...?

Stimulated by Paul Cereghino's assertion (or recommendation) that

    Permaculture design (even as applied to politics) should focus on
analysis of actual processes and phenomena, flows, source, sink, etc...

I Googled Ecology of  Politics and Political Ecology to see what was out 
there that might correspond with Permacultural perspectives and found, 
not surprisingly,  an interconnected web of familiar thoughts, people, 
books, theory and practice including:

    Social Ecology: In response to the social and ecological crisis in
    which we find ourselves immersed, social ecology advocates a
    reconstructive approach that promotes a directly democratic,
    confederal politics. As a body of ideas, social ecology envisions *a
    moral economy that moves beyond scarcity and hierarchy toward a
    world that fully celebrates diversity*.

        Social ecology is, in the words of its leading exponents, "a
        coherent profound critique of current social, political, and
        anti-ecological trends" as well as "a *reconstructive,
        ecological, communitarian, and ethical approach to society*".

        What literally defines social ecology as "social" is its
        recognition of the often overlooked fact that *nearly all our
        present ecological problems arise from deep-seated social
        problems*. Conversely, present ecological problems cannot be
        clearly understood, much less resolved, without resolutely
        dealing with problems within society. To make this point more
        concrete: *economic, ethnic, cultural, and gender conflicts,
        among many others, lie at the core of the most serious
        ecological dislocations we face today*--apart, to be sure, from
        those that are produced by natural catastrophes.

    Ivan Illich (who distinguishes between /environment as commons /from
    the /environment as resource)

    /Political ecology (which Wikipedia defines as) the study of how
    political, economic, and social factors affect environmental issues.
    The majority of studies analyze the influence that society, state,
    corporate, and transnational powers have on environmental problems
    and influencing environmental policy. There are many approaches to
    these issues, and some scholars give weight to the role that access
    to natural resources plays in structuring political and economic
    life: particularly how land degradation, 'fortress'-style wildlife
    conservation, or deforestation influences a range of social
    relations and politics.

    A number of books (for which I have created a new category at
    Permaculture Trading Post called Eco-Politics
    and invite you to suggest other titles to add)

    Deep Ecology

    Noam Chomsky

    Dave Foreman (Earth First)

    Peter Kropotkin


    Inclusive Democracy

    Green syndicalism


    Gaia philosophy




    Ecopsychology (what Mollison was teaching when he met David
    Holmgren, I've been told).

    Thomas Berry

    Appropriate technology

    Joanna Macy


    Amory Lovins

    William McDonough

    Paul Hawken and Natural Capitalism

    The Natural Step

    Derrick Jensen

    Jarred Diamond

    Vandana Shiva

    Arundhati Roy

    E.O. Wilson

    ...and much more. If Permaculture represents "the connecting
    science", these provide many opportunities to connect the dots and
    build bridges between our local cultures and the living planet.

Paul Cereghino wrote:
>> Permaculture design (even as applied to politics) should focus on 
>> analysis of actual processes and phenomena.  Flows, source, sink, 
>> etc...  If natural systems are are the source of inspiration for 
>> ecological design, what is the source of inspiration for political
>> More critically... what is the effective transitional system from 
>> current state to target state (least work greatest effect).
Keith Johnson
"Be fruitful and mulch apply."
Permaculture Activist Magazine
PO Box 5516, Bloomington, IN 47407
(812) 335-0383
Switch to Solar Power the Easy Way
Blog: http://kjpermaculture.blogspot.com/
also Patterns for Abundance Design & Consulting
also Association for Regenerative Culture
also APPLE-Bloomington (Alliance for a Post-Petroleum Local Economy) It's a
small world after oil.
also Bloomington Permaculture Guild 

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