[permaculture] A Global Cultural Revolution

Tommy Tolson healinghawk at earthlink.net
Sat Jun 30 15:59:22 EDT 2007

"The fact is that our own comfort is based on the rape of planetary 
wealth, depriving other people (and future generations) of their own 
local resources.  Our own 'hard work' and the so-called 'creativity' of 
our economy and 'fairness' of our system of government are all secondary 
factors in creating our privilege.  Once we understand the massive 
structural inequities between rich and poor nations, urban and rural 
communities, and human resources and natural resources, the emphasis on 
providing for one's own needs first is seen in a different light.

As we reduce our dependence on the global economy and replace it with 
household and local economies, we reduce the demand that drives the 
current inequities.  Thus 'look after yourself first' is not an 
invitation to greed but a challenge to grow up through self-reliance and 
personal responsibility."

This is from Holmgren's book, /Permaculture: Principles & Pathways 
Beyond Sustainability/.  Published in 2002, it may or may not have full 
control of the rate at which global ecological disaster approaches.  In 
the past year, diverse sources have observed the ecological crisis as 
accelerating.  I'm uncertain where we abandon individual efforts in 
favor of collective efforts but I fear that time lies somewhere in the past.
No one who I know of tries to make the case for the long-term survival 
prospects of individual-oriented Permaculture designs.  Community is 
required for long-term (multi-generational) survival. 

Holmgren writes:
"The process of providing for people's needs within ecological limits 
requires a cultural revolution.  Inevitably such a revolution is fraught 
with many confusions, false leads, risks, and inefficiencies.  We appear 
to have little time to achieve this revolution.

I offer my thoughts in the belief that discomfort, especially ethical 
discomfort, is a healthy alternative to ideological certainty."

Holmgren admits to resistance to his ideas from within the Permaculture 
community.  I agree with his call for a cultural revolution.  Liberation 
from corporate rule is required to survive the corporate excesses that 
laid waste to nature and her creatures (including the privileged, who 
generally live profoundly diminished, spiritually barren lives).  While 
I agree that the decision to grow one's own food in a "sustainable" 
manner is indeed a revolutionary act, I think a larger-scale effort is 
required if we are to save enough of the natural order if we are to 
avert a crash back to the bacterial level from whence we emerged, 
perhaps two million years ago.  The market society and consumer culture 
must be killed quickly, like one might wring the neck of a pet chicken 
in order to feed one's family. 

But there must be a functioning alternative in place before that killing 
can be called a success.  In the US, Canada, much of Europe, and parts 
of Asia, South America, and Australia and New Zealand, there are no 
structures that can replace consumer culture now.  This revolution must 
not lead to a long period of chaos.  It must be the paradigm shift 
Thomas Kuhn writes about, where one paradigm simply replaces the other 
with minimal carnage.   This seems to require a global culture of adults.

Have enough of us "grow[n] up through self-reliance and personal 
responsibility" to pull off a global cultural revolution?

Tommy Tolson
Austin, TX

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