Permaculture and Wall Street — We Must Tackle the Runaway Fiscal Economy Head On, “We Must Face Up and Fight”
Alternatives to Political Systems, Economics, Financial Management, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor January 30, 2012
I admire the efforts of the permaculturists at the Occupy Wall Street camp, and I think, judging by his statement way back in 1983 (see below), that Bill would admire them also.
Hunger is rising, absolute hunger is rising, food’s badly distributed, not distributed at all often. The waste of food, the whole deal of it….it’s eh, a shocking situation, it’s just inhuman. It’s what nobody would intend, and somehow what we’ve arrived at, and we arrived at it by the erection of financial structures, totally divorced from resources. So that the fiscal economy has been a runaway system. We’ve gotta tackle that head on. That is, what I’m trying to tell you, it’s no good any longer just being an organic gardener or farmer, we have to be effective financial and political units. And we’re gonna have to face that. Just as it was very hard for us to learn to garden, then hard for us to learn to collect seeds, once the multinationals took over the open-pollinated seed market; we had to become seed growers. Now it’s very difficult, we have to become bankers. There’s no good trying to pretend we don’t have to. We can run away to the bush, build a mud hut and grow ducks in the garden, it’s not gonna do it. The coals will still be burnt, the land will still be eroded, and the forests will still be cleared for newsprint if we run away to the bush. So, there’s no escape, we’ve just gotta stop running away, stay where we are and start to face up and fight. Good, as long as you’re fully persuaded of that we can get on with the course…." — Bill Mollison, 1983 PDC (emphasis added)
How many times have we seen readers commenting here — "What has this got to do with permaculture?" Becoming "effective financial and political units" is fully a part of the permaculture picture. And, what should be the purpose of these units? Well, how about collaborating to erect financial structures that are not divorced from resources, for a start. In my mind that means developing an economic system that is not dependent on infinite, exponential growth. It means building a system that no longer turns resources and labour into landfill at an escalating rate, as it does today — one that recognises that we do not live on an inflatable earth.
And I think it necessitates a shift in the personal mind set — a shift in understanding what it is that actually makes a person, and thus a community and a culture, happy.
Discussing companion planting, swales, keyline ploughs and compost teas is all necessary, but if we stop there, and refuse to see how all this fits into the bigger picture, it will ultimately mean little. If we refuse to discuss root causes of our problems, and their fixes, then we are part of the problem.
We might not all agree on the exact shape of the solutions, but we would be remiss to avoid discussion because of this.
The world’s rich and powerful have just met at Davos, Switzerland, for the annual World Economic Forum (WEF). Up front and centre arose the question of financial structures with its initial debate on "Is 20th-century capitalism failing 21st-century society?"
Capitalism in its current form no longer fits the world around us. — WEF founder Klaus Schwab
As the forum began, Bill Gates, one of the richest men in the world, immediately came to the defense of our present system, citing his own experience of starting small and (my words) subsequently taking over the world. It isn’t a surprise that one of the richest men in the world feels that capitalism in its present form is serving the world’s needs better than any other system. After all, he’s doing just fine, isn’t he?
The issue here is clearly detachment from reality. We see this with Bill Gates’ own ‘philanthropic’ endeavours — they are so fully detached from the on-the-ground realities that the targets of his ‘philanthropy’ daily face that he is not only creating more problems than he’s solving, but he’s profiting from it at the same time. Centralisation always creates these detachments. Bill Gates cares and/or knows little about soil science, the hydrological cycle, and an holistic understanding of climatic systems, yet he’s seeking to ’save Africa’ by pouring billions of dollars into BigAgri and other MegaCorps.
If we spin this thought around and question how we can get rid of this detachment-creating centralisation, the answer is simple — we must all get involved. If we leave these corporate captains and corporate yes-men (politicians) to continue making decisions on our behalf, then the decisions will continue to benefit the few at the expense of the many — the many including all the world’s sentient beings and the resources they rely on.
A more representative participatory democracy, and one that places emphasis/priority on holistic, historically appropriate education, is key, I believe. Your mileage may vary. Indeed, this is a key reason we built the Worldwide Permaculture Network (WPN). With it you have the ability to add your own projects. While most of these must be on-the-ground permaculture projects, the exceptions, as you’ll see when you go to add a project, are those that are ‘Political’, ‘Economic’ and ‘Legal’. Here you have the possibility to showcase your own ideas and efforts to create ‘invisible structures’ that work symbiotically with your on-the-ground projects and the people involved. People can observe what you’re doing, discuss it, offer suggestions and insights, and, if your ideas are deemed worthy, or have the potential to advance into something worthy, they can get involved or otherwise find ways to support these projects and/or emulate them in their own region.
That is, what I’m trying to tell you, it’s no good any longer just being an organic gardener or farmer, we have to be effective financial and political units. And we’re gonna have to face that. — Bill Mollison, 1983 PDC (emphasis added)
All sensible permaculture systems come about through observation, experimentation, and design. It’s no different with the all-important invisible structures that either help incubate sanity or which become an obstacle to it.Comments (13)
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