[permaculture] conservatism/food/references requested

Harmon Seaver hseaver at gmail.com
Fri Feb 22 14:59:18 EST 2008

Toby Hemenway wrote:
> Harmon Seaver wrote:
>>    I doubt we can draw any real conclusions from ancient history, since
>> we really have little idea of what was actually going on, only what a
>> few people thought they saw. 
> Historical and population records from Rome, Sumer, Greece, Crete, and 
> China are very good (meticulous tax and census records) and have 
> excellent correspondence with ecological and archaeological data. 
> Collapse undeniably occurred in the rural areas first, sometimes as much 
> as a century before that in cities. Read Tainter, Homer-Dixon, H T Odum, 
> John Perlin, Mumford, Jane Jacobs. If you want to deny them, well, okay.

    Yes, well, as I said, history is always written from a rather warped
perspective in most instances. And I know what happened to people in my
and my wife's families, and in those of many farmers and country people
we've known through the years -- people in the country generally much
better off during the Depression. Pretty tough to go without food and
heat. Money you can do without, food you can't.

>>> The country is where some food comes from (there are plenty of cities 
>>> that grow 50-70% of their food)
>>  Where? Not in the US
> The USDA says 30% of all US food is produced in metropolitan areas, 
> which really surprised me.

   Oh, yes, the USDA. What they are talking about is food processing,
not actual production, i.e., growing. Read Michael Pollan's books "The
Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food". A large share of the
so-called food in stores these days are what he calls "semi-edible
food-like substances". The USDA is one of those un-american sleazo
bureaucracies that needs to be eliminated soonest -- they're just a
whore for Monsanto and the rest of the agri-scum.

>> You can forget about tools and machines coming from the cities in 
>> theUS. Most of the factories are closed down,
> My city manufactures steel, railroad cars, clothing, packaged food, 
> small engines, bicycles, and thousands of other things. There is still 
> plenty of manufacturing in the US, and we'll see more as cheap imports 
> become scarce very soon. The point is: little but food is made in rural 
> areas. So who will get what goods remain?

   We are already seeing a re-surge in cottage industries in small towns
and rural areas. The things we will need the most -- horse drawn
equipment, hand tools, and the like will be made more (and better) by
the village blacksmith/machinist, woodworkers, etc.

> Who will replace your solar 
> batteries?

  You know, I and other people on the gasification list were quite
concerned about that, but once we looked into it, we discovered that
lead-acid batteries are actually trivial to make yourself. In fact I
even found a nice old book from 1910 or so that details exactly how to
do it, wood cases and all. And actually much better batteries than most
you can buy because dead car batteries are so easy to come by, you can
afford to make the plates a lot thicker than store bought.
   Although when you can burn wood to run a generator, you really don't
need batteries all that much either, if at all.

> And all 14 families on our road commuted to far-away towns for work. 
> They won't do well. Plus, sheer distance and lot size means today's 
> rural life uses more resources than urban does.

   Well for sure, they won't be commuting -- they won't have jobs to
commute to. They'll work at home, growing and making whatever they can

> When I lived in the country, the guy next door dealt meth and sold guns 
> (he's dead now). Next to him were two heavily armed fundamentalists who 
> shot at each other's cars. They knew I had the best garden for miles. 
> How safe was I? 

   Looks like you chose the wrong area to move to. There are a lot of
places where it's a lot more mellow. But OTOH, if someone is coming to
rob you, well ...  that's just another reason to raise a bunch of hogs
for market. 8-)

> Gangs are in the country, too: we had them. But gangs 
> stay out of cohesive neighborhoods--that's why I don't buy the urban 
> terror scenario. Community is easier to create in cities.

  I never found that to be true, just the opposite, in fact. We've
always had much better community in the country. But then I've always
gotten along well with farmers and loggers and country people in general.

> The rural US was once cohesive--it is not anymore; it's a hodgepodge of 
> retirees, poor refugees from high-priced cities, affluent dabblers in 
> country life, the underemployed, and old-time locals angry at the 
> newcomers. Our town meetings were mayhem. Neighborhoods in cities are 
> homogeneous compared to rural ones, allowing community to happen. 

    That really depends on where you go, I guess. I've never found any
community cohesiveness in cities, just mostly a lot of very, very
annoying people. And the majority of them very stupid people.  All the
loud stereos blasting out, cars going by with stereos so loud they
rattle your windows, drunks yelling and screaming  and vandalizing
everything in their path, big Harleys with absolutely no mufflers
roaring around all day and night. Getting woken up night after night
over and over by idiots. Poison water, poison air. Most of the old
beautiful stuff torn down and replaced by horrid ugly crap.
    Frankly, I just hate cities with a purple passion. I like being in
the woods where the only thing I hear are the birds and the wind.

Harmon Seaver

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