[permaculture] Where the political discussion goes

lbsaltzman at aol.com lbsaltzman at aol.com
Tue Jun 26 19:01:14 EDT 2007

I have run into something interesting on politics and the anti-war movement that might be relevent. I have a friend who is a Vietnam Veteran and anti-war activist. He was one of the driving forces behind what is called Arlington West in Santa Barbara, Calif., the community where I live. Arlington West is where the crosses were set up to comemorate the dead soldiers from Iraq, and it has been an effective anti-war tool which has spread to other cities.  Anyway, my friend is also a sustainability kind of person and has sold Cheramoyas and other fruit to the local community. It is all produce that is grown in his backyard orchard.  He has been pushing the anti-war progressives to connect oil, and sustainability as a way to stop the war. He is advocating that reducing demand for oil by encouraging people to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle will do a lot to end the war in Iraq. Interesting enough he is running into huge resistance amongst other Vietnam vets, and amongst anti-war folks in general when he raises the connection between oil and the war. His notions on promoting sustainable living as a tool to reduce oil usage and thereby reduce the need to conquer countries like Iraq that are rich in oil resources.  

So here we sit on a forum on Permaculture arguing about, and discussing politics and its relevence to Permaculture. I am wondering what we can do to connect with, and spread the message of sustainability, to the many anti-war progessives and the social justice activists who don't connect the dots.  Some do get sustainability, but many others do not and are narrowly focused on ending the war or other worthy progessive goals.  I even know a social justice progessive who is fighting hard to pave over the last local farmland in my community with low cost housing for the poor, not thinking about what the poor will eat when the oil gets to expensive to ship food from afar.  I would suggest that in discussing politics there is more to be thought about than just national politics.   The lack of awareness of sustainable living seems to cut across the political divides at least in the U.S.  There are liberal and progessives who are clueless about sustainability. I remember convincing a member of Earth First to plant a tomoato plant. he had never planted anything in his entire life or grown anything he ate, instead he bought packaged food while fighting the bad guys who hurt the environment.  Conversely, while there are conservatives who don't get sustainability, there are members of the Christian right who have developed the concept of creation care and who are strongly beginning to get sustainability.

So if Permaculture is to integrate politics, I think we need to think through the issues in dealing with all parts of the political spectrum and I don't think it will be an easy chore.

Larry Saltzman
-----Original Message-----
From: Tommy Tolson <healinghawk at earthlink.net>
To: permaculture <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tue, 26 Jun 2007 12:16 pm
Subject: [permaculture] Where the political discussion goes

I think I understand the international intricacies of political 
iscussion on a global listserv, which we started into with the economic 
olonialism idea of golf resorts and sugar plantations, which, in 
olitical economics, are the same thing: harvesters of gold, as Kathyann 
rilliantly called it.
The primary reason international politics is volatile is the ubiquitous 
conomic oppression of the G8 countries.  Read the history of the 
retton Woods Agreements spawning the World Bank, the IMF, and GATT, 
hich became the WTO under Brother Bill Clinton.  The fact that the WTO 
as almost failed is strong testament to the consequences of giving the 
ictims of  US ( and G8) economic oppression a voice in the global 
olitical economics policy process.  There's a long way to go to attain 
 nearly fair global political economics and it will be a bumpy ride 
ecause the rich apparently think their money buys them dominion over 
veryone else.
t seems odd to see a US black man use his money to oppress others into 
eaving their land. 
ermaculture sees money differently than real estate developers and 
ultinational food corporations, since Permaculturalists share the 
rofits of our bountiful harvests.  Money does not become a control 
ssue, in Permaculture, because we take only what we need and we share 
he rest.  This is what makes Permaculture sustainable, in political 
conomics terms.  We've seen the grinches of dominion economics crash 
ny number of ecosystems in the interests of hoarding more gold.  As I 
ecall, although I'll need to re-read to be certain, William R. Catton, 
n his wonderful, if scholarly, /Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of 
evolutionary Change/, (a scholarly book that has not once gone out of 
rint since 1980), makes the case that the Great Depression resulted 
rom overshooting the US ecosystem.  Since then, we've way overshot it 
ith the ghost acreage from cheap oil. 
conomic oppression is about purchasing ghost acreage to support 
vershot ecosystems and to maintain the elites in power positions, not 
ecessarily in that order.
ow can political discussion not be volatile, considering what's at stake?
ermaculture calls this volatility an edge.
voiding edges is not Permaculture.
n fact, edges are the most fecund places, to Permaculture.
ermaculture teaches us to pay close attention to edges.
he political discussion has led us to the nub of The Problem: the 
lobal North's need for ghost acreage in order to continue a failed 
conomic agenda.  Read the history of the Bretton Woods agreements.  
ead the neo-con agenda at 
hen, if you live in the US, consider if you're willing to live with 
fforts carried out in your name that perpetuate US economic hegemony 
ver the rest of the planet.
S foreign policy is run by the plantation mentality of the rich.  In 
ur name.
etting that information from "our" victims is tough to face without 
esorting to denial or the "isms." Racism. Classism, Etc.
ut Permaculture teaches us to observe, and to act in harmony with our 
he baseline question from my observations, though, is this: shall we 
ct symbiotically or parasitically?
ermaculture says symbiotically.
arasitic isn't Permaculture.
et we in the US live in an economically and ecologically parasitic 
ystem dependent on global military dominance and stripping Earth of her 
e've mortgaged our grand-children's future to China in order to 
ontinue purchasing this military dominance and its attendant economic 
ow do we in the US live with this?
arth is one ecosystem and we have to find niches in it that do not 
ppress others.
his is Permaculture.
Tommy Tolson
ustin, TX
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