Posted by & filed under Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, Population, Society, Village Development.

Editor’s Note: If you enjoy the article below, and you missed Kyle’s past 3-part series, amongst others, be sure to check them out! (Part I, Part II, and Part III.)

To everyone feeling screwed over by the economy,

We are told that our problem is that there aren’t enough jobs. This message is everywhere. The media gauges our plight with regularly updated unemployment statistics. Politicians debate theatrically over who can create more work. People everywhere clamor for scarce positions at factories and corporations.

I’d like to point out the great irony of this situation — people hate their jobs. How many people do you know who love their job? The truth is, most of us who have ordinary jobs can barely tolerate them. All else being equal, we’d rather not do them.

Work ethic is something this society takes pride in. But, if we are honest, we will confess that we call ourselves ‘hard working’ primarily to rationalize the daily abuses, deprivations, and indignities of the workplace. Work ethic is the only ethic most of us satisfy at our jobs. I think we can agree that most of our jobs aren’t making the world a better place.

So here we are, bickering and begging to fill roles we hate.

We should remember, that ‘employed’ is just another word for ‘used’. Just as you might employ a hammer and nails, your employer employs, or uses, you. The term ‘used’ very aptly describes our relationship with our employers. Like prostitutes, we resign ourselves to fake relationships for an empty cash return. In a healthy relationship, our devotions are reciprocated in kind. But in a relationship of use and abuse, the best you can expect is a cash settlement.

It should not surprise us, then, that politicians and other powerful people will laud our enthusiasm for employment and champion that cause. To the elite, unemployment is a crises because it means that the population is insufficiently used. An unused population is unprofitable, and potentially unruly. So, when the wealthy come to our rescue, they do it with jobs. As the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation slogan goes, "We believe that all people deserve the chance to lead healthy productive lives." (emphasis mine)

Employment has become almost inseparable from other values like responsibility and human welfare. In our culture, promoting employment has become synonymous with supporting families, communities, and countries. At a time when we are so utterly reliant on employment and the economy for our survival, being anti-job is like being anti-life. Who but the laziest and most unrealistic sort of hippie would oppose jobs?

But let us not forget; people were not always so dependent on employment or the economy for survival. In fact, we’ve been hunter/gatherers for most of our existence. Money, the economy, and even farming are relatively recent contrivances. We made them up. And, until very recent history, jobs were merely part of a mixed strategy used by families to make a living. Hunting, gathering, gardening, crafting, gifting, cooperation, trade, and self-employment, are all perfectly viable ways to make a living. Our grandparents recognized that money wasn’t always the most effective way to meet a need. Living by paycheck alone was a thing for the urban wealthy.

At periods in history, it’s been possible for some people to use currency to maintain an affluence disproportionate to the real value of their work. We may be nearing the close of such a period. Unfortunately, alternatives to employment are growing scarce.

It’s not something taught in history class, but our reliance on employment stems ultimately from the destruction and monopolization of our environment. People once relied exclusively on free natural resources. The trend toward universal employment has followed in lock step with the destruction of those resources. When the things we need are no longer freely available in nature, we’re forced to labor at ever more complicated and dubious methods of resource extraction. The story of our culture’s relationship with American Indians and other indigenous cultures, illustrates the common pattern.

My young men shall never work. Men who work cannot dream; and wisdom comes to us in dreams. You ask me to plow the ground. Shall I take a knife and tear my mother’s breast? Then when I die she will not take me to her bosom to rest. You ask me to dig for stone. Shall I dig under her skin for her bones? Then when I die I cannot enter her body to be born again. You ask me to cut grass and make hay and sell it, and be rich like white men. But how dare I cut off my mother’s hair? — Smohala, Wanapum spiritual leader, 1851

Time and time again, indigenous resistance to work, as we know it, only broke when traditional resources failed.

My people did not farm and had no use for crops until the salmon runs began to disappear from the streams and rivers. White activities causing pollution, and commercial fishing projects were the cause of this. Every year, the Colville found fewer salmon to take, not enough to live on, and so began to farm to stay alive. Finally, dams were built on the Columbia and the salmon were stopped altogether from coming above Grand Coulee. The salmon were gone, and high powered rifles are doing about the same to our game animals. By the time we saw the need to farm, the younger generations realized their ancestors had let the whites have the richest and most fertile bottomland. And it was too late to get it back. — Mourning Dove, Colville author, 1888-1936

The indigenous haven’t been the only people forced to deal with resource destruction and monopolization. Corporations and governments are actively marginalizing our access to clean water, healthy food, safe shelter, and social support. All of these things, once provided freely by our environment, are now increasingly expensive.

It’s not just our physical environment that is being destroyed. Our social and psychological environments are also under attack. Economic pressures, advertising, and propaganda have undermined the self-reliance of families and communities. Perhaps the ultimate victory of consumerism is that many people have lost their ability to find meaning outside of work. Many people will tell you they simply wouldn’t know how to spend their time without a job. Can they really see no higher value in their lives? Without respect for ourselves, and the support of others, there’s no climbing out of this abusive system.

The influence of the world’s powerful minority should not be underestimated. But those of us in privileged countries need to understand that this economic ‘crisis’ is largely due to the world, and perhaps mother nature herself, finally calling our bluff. The fact that our economic prosperity can falter so rapidly is proof that our wealth is not based on the real value of our work, but our success in a deceptive and exploitative game. We owe our declining wealth to mountains of debt and our lucky political position, and we’ve milked them for all they’re worth. We’ve been cheating people out of real value, for novelties and speculation, since the fur trade era. And now, bubbles are bursting.

Our way of life has also depended on finite fossil energy resources. This is not to mention threatened soils, waters, and forests. And the world is getting more crowded. It might be time to figure out what it actually looks like to live within our means.

But let’s be clear. We don’t need more jobs. We need access to the basics of survival. We don’t need more money. We need to heal our environment. We don’t need employers to keep us busy. We need time to make our communities into healthy habitats for people again.

The less we participate in this abusive economy, the better. 10% unemployment is deplorable. We need 90% unemployment. If we really resent this system, let’s earn less, buy less, and own less. Let’s invest our time, energy, and resources in things that can’t be taxed or parisitized by corporations. Let’s deal not in dollars, but in energy, nutrients, materials, local currencies, and relationships. Let’s not expand, let’s stabilize. Let’s enjoy art, culture, and leisure. Perhaps we can topple the pyramid by shrinking the bottom.

Our work is this: We’ve got to make clean water available wherever rain falls. We’ve got to make food grow so rampantly that you can’t give it away. We need to build affordable and debt free housing. We need to start creating opportunities where we live so we don’t have to drive. We need to wrest control of land and resources away from powerful minorities. We need integrative, sustainable methods for managing land. We need to ranch in a way that makes game more abundant. We need to farm in a way that makes forests grow. We need to use energy in a way that generates peace and stability. We need to strengthen our social bonds.

If you still have a job, get everything in order, and quit. Do it as soon as you can, because we’ve never had a more important work to do.

65 Responses to “To Everyone Feeling Screwed Over by the Economy”

  1. Øyvind Holmstad

    Have you read this essay by Charles Eisenstein: http://www.nationofchange.org/build-community-economy-gifts-1325082127

    It has much in common with your article. The problem with quitting your job is that the networks to replace it, are missing. This is the trouble with suburbia, horizontal or vertical. What we need to do is to restore these networks: http://permaculture.org.au/2012/02/07/peer-to-peer-themes-and-urban-priorities-for-the-self-organizing-society/

    Reply
  2. Kaytee

    My family and I are doing just this, we have worked hard to get things in order, now our imposed deadline approaches. We cut ties with the permanant workforce and produce what we need to nourish ourselves and the world arround us, we hope that this movement catches on and our people begin to heal the damage in their souls and reverse the damage to our earth.

    Reply
  3. Jalynne

    Thank you. Now I understand myself and my people better. Yes, I still have a job,I still need cash to get around, and I still don’t have my own land to start something sustainable. It’s the “get everything in order” that is bogging me down. But now I know that there are like-minded people and I don’t have to do it alone. I can permit myself to dream again. And the best part is, I think the next generations won’t be doomed after all.

    How do we help one another get everything in order? People have children to think about, sick parents to take care of, loans to pay. We can’t all just drop everything and go live in an ecovillage. How do we make a transition? How do we start our own economy? How do we start with what we have, and build from there?

    Shall we indocrinate someone filthy rich so he’ll share? People might think we’re communists or rebels or cultists or scammers. How do we make use of the resources in the Information Age to rehabilitate the earth? How do we turn children from ipods and doodads and make them chase butterflies again?

    Please write more and share more. I can read while I work. Then I will dream, do and be.

    Reply
  4. Chris

    I like your article and nicely said. However, a lot of your information is not correct (on the right track and good intentions). For example, are you aware that EVERYTHING on this planet in the “system” is corporation. Everything is a registered corporation, including our names which are usually in All Caps or variations mixtures of text. The word Mr, Ms,Mrs etc, Citizen, P (like on your passport)etc etc etc are all slave names. Your birth certificate is not you, it is a registered slave bond- an entity, corporation- a token for use in the corporate world. checkout these links for some info:
    http://www.abr.business.gov.au/SearchByAbn.aspx?abn=32790228959
    and this one is a beauty:
    http://www.sec.gov/search/search.htm
    with the one just above- type in the company name Commonwealth of Australia.
    So, this has been going on for over 500 years- we are slaves and they own us (so they think) as we have submitted ourselves to them. We volunteer to pay taxes and to slave for them. Anything at all that is REGISTERED is not ours- whenever you register ANYTHING like your car, boat, license, house etc etc- you are handing over ownership to the state. A good example is when you pay off your so called house- well, stop paying rates and see what happens- they will take the house from you- so, how do you ever own your own home- you dont. Just look at a typical loan contract- it states very clearly that the property is Tenant in Common- well, whats a tenant? ha ha ha. If you want more info, dont hesitate to contact me as this is what i study. I am no conspiracy nut or cult freak- no no, we just have facts and history. And that is the ultimate one- history- virtually nothing we have been taught in schools is actually correct- the history (his story) is just that, a story. just about everything has been twisted and is one big lie. In regards to us being hunter gatherers, I am not so convinced of that either- maybe the ape version of us BEFORE we were changed, maybe. there is enough information out there that clearly shows that we have been genetically modified- we have other dna in us. Darwin never included man into his theory of evolution as we dont fit, even though current teaching of the theory include us- in his original writings, we were never there. anyway, enough for now,

    Reply
  5. bob banner

    THANKS!!!! ahhhh truth!!!! be told… and do what we LOVE,, and what we love is what the universe is telling us to GIVE since giving is where true happiness is… the culture and persons are unraveling.. and what a time to be here. it might hurt and will hurt but thats just the death throes of the old with a new rebirthing happening simultaneously… thanks for posting.

    Reply
  6. Ingrid

    I wholeheartedly agree with the rally cry.

    I think the challenge lies in two things: a manual, and momentum.

    It would be easier to “get everything in order, and quit” if there was a strong, positive model of this action and its results *in my face.* I know there must be people out there who have done it but it is difficult for people to take action when they can’t foresee or model what that action looks like.

    I’d love to be that model, take that action. So I need a model to start that part: how to get the family on board.

    Reply
  7. Beverly

    I read this at a time when I was really feeling discouraged by my friends who keep nagging me to get a job and a car, and want only to believe that the reason I don’t have those things is because I am lazy. Wrong. I am courageously determined and willing to rebuild cities from the ground up, to help all the people live in peace with out the illusion of monetary necessity. They seem to think I am asking them to devolve into cave men or apes, but really I am asking them to learn from the last hundred years worth of failed attempts to make life easier and more comfortable, and improvise with the natural order that has proven it self faithfully abundant to those who seek it out. Tear those cities of litter down and work together building structures that are more sustainable with renewable resources. I will always work day and night for that, without pay, gladly.

    Reply
  8. Cassandra

    Hej,
    I really like where you’re going with this. I think as a piece, you’re making a point about the nature of (western) relationships (for example with money, other types of capital, the land, and with each other) as being primarily valued in terms of a commodified use, while failing to value other implicit forms of wealth and well-being. You speak to the fallacy of our way of being in this world, and that it’s systematically starting to show in all sorts of decay, long been pointed out through warning signs, but now so much more obvious.
    By the end of this piece, I have agreed with you and the tone of the writing (aptly captured in your title :-) !. You have given a great voice to us tired of our jobs and to describing what is no longer working, which I call (in metaphor) the body of the caterpillar. You then point to the imaginal cells in the cocoon of the caterpillar by telling us about “our work” we still have to do. These imaginal cells are turning into a butterfly, but still in a slew of old caterpillar cells… we’re in a state of transition.

    so I leave this piece fundamentally desiring that you give more voice to what “our work” is: how are these imaginal cells developing? What are they developing towards?

    I hope you continue writing this piece (in a part II?) and help us learn more about the butterfly that is emerging. Who this butterfly? What kind of work is it she is doing? How is she valuing this work and how is the world valuing her?

    How can we give a voice to what is emerging?

    There is no work crisis. We have never had more work to do in the history of the world…. help us see ourselves taking it up!

    sincerely,

    -Cassandra in Sweden

    Reply
  9. Nikola

    Oh, how I can feel your every word echoing from the bottom of my being.
    We’ve grown so far apart from our nature within us and the nature around us. That’s why we are feeling so unrealized, separated and unsatisfied.
    But it’s pointless to fight a system that’s failed. The solution is to create another, proper working system, taking everything into account.
    And the good thing is – there are ever more people thinking the same, and growing in numbers.
    Thank you for posting this, it makes it much easier to share!

    Reply
  10. TIna Lymberis

    Brilliant, touching and spot on. Your writing and topic resonated with my core. I live in Greece and I write about permaculture and personal evolution in greek on my blog – do I have your permission to translate it into greek (if yes, please let me know how to reference) because we all need to hear this message, especially the Greeks, especially now! Thanks and congratulations!

    Reply
  11. Jeremy kenward

    I’m reading this while eating breakfast as I prepare to go to my job. I’ve held this philosophy for several years now, but now that I own a home and have a family it’s much harder to put into practice. It’s pretty difficult to do permaculture (in the gardening sense of the word) without land, having land implies ownership which costs money, as do the tools to do the work. Granted my larger project that I’m working on is in a public space. Our situation is much like that of an abuser that takes care of us and threatens to kill is if we leave. We dont leave our abuser because we Don’t have the confidence to live outside of this harmful relationship. I do believe this is by design. As Peter Maurin used to say, “There’s no unemployment on the land”. Also, Charles Eisenstein was mentioned above and I’d like to also recommend his works. And now I have to go to work and be productive…

    Reply
  12. Michelle

    I just watched an awesome movie last night called, “Building with Awareness”. Every individual should watch this.

    Reply
  13. pakanohida

    Haters mean you are doing good, remember that. Your sparked controversial because it is easier to bury our head in the sand more often then not then do what is right.

    Thank you for the brain candy.

    Reply
  14. Chris McLeod

    Hi Kyle,

    I reckon a lot of males define themselves and their contributions to family by their employment. It is kind of strange really because full time employment is a relatively recent circumstance – a moment in time only. You hit the nail on the head with your description of the conditions of historical employment as a bitsa this and bitsa that.

    Improving the domestic economy is a truly powerful thing to do providing both males and females with a level of independence. It should be pursued as a priority and permaculture has a lot to offer in this regard.

    Regards

    Chris

    Reply
  15. Pennie

    Wow. So appreciate this! Yes to Charles Eisenstein — fabulous workshop here in Seattle (USA) recently that was just the tip of the iceberg that is his important work. I have been thinking a lot about abusive relationships recently, and agree that is what we are facing at all levels in the world — people to people abuse as well as people to ecosystem abuse — all life. Often, advice is that one must leave an abusive relationship in order to heal — that one cannot heal in a toxic environment. But that is in the old model that presumes families are essentially isolated from each other. So we need new thinking and practices about this, because healing in the “house” of the abuser is in fact PRECISELY what we must do! And the way to do that, I believe, is by connecting with and supporting each other to the depths of our souls. We absolutely MUST be compassionate. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, it is not a choice between nonviolence and violence, but a choice between nonviolence and nonexistence.

    Reply
  16. Øyvind Holmstad

    I just re-read your essay more carefully, and I see more clearly the importance of this essay these days. And I think the one word to summarize the situation of today is disconnectedness. Yes, we have got the Internet, but in a way this is about disconnection too. I really don’t know how to get all this in order again, its like after a fusion bomb, the world is still standing but it’s cold and barren, it has no life. It’s nothing to connect to, from where you can start the good work. And people have nothing in common anymore, so there are nobody to connect to either. Even with people sharing my worries our world-views are so different that we don’t get along.

    I’ve tried to join a couple of groups, but both times a lost the spirit because those with high degrees and important jobs stuck together, while school drop-outs like me were ignored. I simply felt second range and dropped out, like from school.

    Anyway, I want to recommend you a new book by Charles Siegel I just started reading, about classical liberalism. I just started at chapter two, but I find it very interesting. Classical liberalism is like the completely opposite from today’s modernistic liberalism: http://www.preservenet.com/classicalliberalism/index.html

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  17. Saralin

    Commenter Ingrid said: “I think the challenge lies in two things: a manual, and momentum”

    Well, I’d say the manual exists in various forms, from permaculture texts, to M.Q.’s Green Charter (look it up if you dare – it is what guided Libya’s people to form 1500 decentralized communities out of the country boundaries given to them by outsiders, and what made them reject a centralized banking system, and what ultimately caused the demise of Libya’s chairperson and author of the charter, and the current wars in Libya.)

    Reply
  18. Kyle

    Thankyou everyone for your feedback. I expected the article to be recieved more contentiously. I’m very glad if the article has bolstered anyone. Your feedback has certainly bolstered me.

    Tlna, I’d be deeply honored to have this article translated and shared. Although, I hope Craig McIntosh will chime in, because technicaly, the rights belong to PRI (a deal I was happy to make). Just sight my name and maybe my website: https://sites.google.com/site/humanhabitatproject/

    I’m eager to examine the suggested readings, ecspecialy Charles Eintstien. I’m also considering how I might do a part 2…

    Thanks again folks.

    Reply
  19. Chris McLeod

    Hey Oyvind,

    I hear you, man. I’d like to enjoy a beer with people who share my world views too. But, with fossil fuel usage so common place, it won’t be until communities re-localise that real community will arise. Years ago, my mates scattered to the winds because of economic reasons and it took me quite a while to get used to this fact. All I can add is that acceptance of a situation helps, but it does take time.

    Regards

    Chris

    Reply
  20. Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor

    Tina, Kyle – the article can’t be republished elsewhere in English, but if you’re translating into other languages, that’s ok. In that instance, just be sure to put a byline at top that read thus:

    Written by Kyle Chamberlain in English. Translated from the original article by Xxxx Xxxxx.

    Please ensure ‘the original article’ is a link to the original article, and obviously substitute ‘Xxxx Xxxxx’ with the translator’s name.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  21. charles alban

    What we’re suffering from is “atomization” of our society. Nobody is connected to anybody else. We all have our own names, social security numbers, bank accounts, tax returns, mortgages, cars, cell phones, etc. It’s all “personal” property. This is what the system wants. This way, we can all be picked off one-by-one. United we stand, divided we fall.

    The solution is to band together in groups, like tribes. The Romans had a legal structure called a “gens.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gens
    These groupings of people could be up to several hundred, all nominally descended from a common ancestor. They all took the same surname, and these were self-governing units.

    I propose that this concept be resurrected. It is only through connection to other people that we can survive, These groups can practice the gift economy internally, and only use cash to interact with other groups on a minor basis , trading in the few items not produced by the group. This is how all native tribal groups function.

    There would be no “individuals” in this system. You do not exist outside of your group. Banishment from the group is a fate worse than death. But all your needs (not “wants”) are met by the members of the group. Everybody has a role to play, and since these will be self-sufficient rural agrarian communities, there will be no “unemployment.” The young and elderly are properly cared for by the group and nobody is abandoned.

    I am working on setting up communities like this. They are known as “varn-ashrams” and are essentially autonomous self-governing self-sufficient Gandhian villages operating on Vedic principles. We have a number set up around the world, and i am working on establishing two pilot communities in southern California. The focus is on “simple living and high thinking,” producing enough for our needs and only selling surplus for cash. The economy of these units is based on grains and dairy cows.

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  22. mihir

    I thought of saying a few things about this. We cannot “decentralize” or do something like that. We cannot go back to living in small communities.

    There was an example of a community in Zimbabwe that adopted permaculture principles and also a very democratic method of governance that in this site. But that is not enough. I mean that if every community becomes self sufficient and democratic and peaceful that is not enough (it is not even possible) if those communities are not linked together. Cash, registration, ID’s etc., should not be viewed in such a negative shade. They help in holding together the nation state/society and it is very important.

    If some are dominating the system then we should strive to make efforts to make the system more democratic and ensure that no one uses the system to the detriment of the society. But we should not say that the system/society itself is bad. What is the use of learning permaculture if we do not use its principles to design the structure of the society and state itself? People successfully produced food and other things for thousands of years without the design science that we have. Anarchy is not good.

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  23. Øyvind Holmstad

    @Chris, thanks! Hope it would be in Australia, as a beer doesn’t taste as good in the cold Scandinavian winter as in the hot Australian desert.

    @Charles, great work! I’m sure your project will become one of many future projects based upon p2p-commons.

    “The commons are right before our eyes. Together we will find methods for naming them and, even more important, for converting them into a diversity of governance systems based on the principles of commoning.” : http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/essay-of-the-day-commons-a-framework-and-kaleidoscope-of-social-practices-for-another-possible-world/2012/02/11

    Reply
  24. Michele Mancini

    I completely understand and agree with the concept of a society that should not have to work (in the way we do now), a society that is self-sustaining (both individuals and communities), using local currency and/or barter for all the things we cannot make or do for ourselves, and I would love to, hope to, and aspire to live in a world like that, but I also understand and feel the need to point out there are some important things this type of life-style doesn’t seem to take into consideration or does not address, and this saddens me deeply. Before anyone posts a reply to this statement, please hear me out….

    If taken literally, wishing for the collapse of any government (the “toppling” of the government and corporate pyramid) before the great many citizens are ready and able to take care of themselves, is irresponsible – whether that government be the U.S. or elsewhere. An exception to the rule would of course be if a dictator is literally systematically killing it’s citizens and they are under siege, but that’s another story and another argument for another time. Some might argue the toppling of all governments should happen in spite of the people not being ready, that not being ready would push people to take care of themselves quicker. But that’s a bit like throwing a child in the pool to force him to learn how to swim – which I believe is irresponsible.

    But more importantly, it seems in wishing for the “toppling” of the government and corporate pyramid we may be forgetting about those in our society that currently cannot take care of themselves, for whom being thrown into a self-sufficient life-style is totally out of the question. This includes the very ill and severely disabled; people who depend on medicines, machines, nurses, and/or doctors to live (a.k.a. dependant on big pharma, other corporations, and the government). And while I realize the majority of the ill and disabled are that way due to the lifestyles we have been living and the greed and manipulation of governments and corporations, the fact is this is the state of our citizens’ health and it cannot be ignored.

    I’ve had some people try to argue this point with me and say, “Too bad, not being able to live a self-sufficient life-style is nature’s way of thinning the herd. The ill and disabled will naturally die out.” But making that comment is beyond callous and unless you’re willing to cull your own sister because she has MS or needs a kidney transplant I don’t want to hear that crap. It’s an unfortunate fact that right now many people do need big pharma, corporations, and the government in order to stay alive. Sad, sickening, and unfair, but true. These people are trapped, screwed, and realistically, what can they do?

    With this in mind it’s clear to me that it is not the time to “topple the pyramid” but it is well past time those of us who can change our way of life do so, and lead future generations to do the same. And eventually, if enough of us (who are physically able) do in fact adopt this type of lifestyle and thinking, we will bring the world (or at least most countries) to a wonderful way of life. I know it can happen, but I don’t think it can come to full fruition in my lifetime simply because of the damage that has already been done to the health of our current population. Corporate and government abuse and manipulation has made us not only psychologically and financially dependent on corporations and government, but also physically dependant on them to the point that many in our society will in fact literally die if the pyramid is “toppled”.

    So, instead of spreading enflamed rhetoric like let’s “topple the pyramid” I’d rather see and hear more of a “let’s help each other”, a “let’s make it happen by doing it” and a “lead by example” approach to this problem. Just like some in the green movement are leading by example by building entire towns that are green, I’d love to see it go one step farther. I’d like to see entire towns (colonies if you will) that are self-sufficient, including using barter for the great majority of things individuals cannot do and make for themselves. I realize this most likely what Kyle Chamberlain meant when he wrote the article. But still, there is a problem with this plan. Because in these colonies of people dedicated to this lifestyle, not only would it mean doctors and dentists as well as farmers and wood-workers are all need to come together to live this example in the colony, it would also mean those on the outside of this community (those who manufacture the things the community cannot produce themselves like dialysis machines, life-saving medicines, etc.) would have to be willing to take some kind of barter in exchange for their goods. Who realistically sees this happening? I don’t. This is where you need federally minted money and unfortunately, big pharma and corporations. And until we get a firm grip on this issue, until the great majority of us are healthy, until we have free universal healthcare, this dream simply cannot happen.

    I wish it could be otherwise, I do wish we could just topple the pyramid and start fresh. I wish we could live in a world where everyone and everything lived in harmony with each other, using barter as payment for things we need, without the need to “work for the man”, but until or unless we have a system that gives free medical care for all, and until or unless this kind of lifestyle also pays for and/or builds the machines and medicines that keep many infirmed and disabled people alive, (or unless the SHTF and federal & local governments completely collapse), there will always be things you need federally minted currency to pay for – the kind you can only get by working for the man. And if you get rid of big government, truly living independently from it, who will you go to for free medical care and medicines? Who will give this free medical care? Who will make these free life sustaining medicines and machines? See the problem? See how it can never happen in our lifetime, not unless huge changes are also made at the top, and soon.

    So, except for the “topple the pyramid” comment I agree completely with what Kyle states in the article. And I am in fact preparing for and moving towards this type of lifestyle as much as I can, as much as anyone can do in the U.S. in a responsible way. My goal is to leave the suburbs, move to a rural area, and live as much of a self-sufficient life-style as is possible, with my health and physical abilities as they are; needing federally minted money only for medical and dental care, needing federally minted money only to pay the things imposed on me that I cannot legally avoid (social security taxes, home owner’s insurance, property taxes, etc), and to pay for a few other things that I might not yet be able to pay for with barter (perhaps solar panels and wind turbines, etc). This is the kind of lifestyle I will be living very soon, wish I’d adopted 30 years ago, and hope everyone else move towards, just as Kyle so eloquently stated in his article.

    Again, I agree with Kyle completely about how we need to live in order to stop insane spiral of excess, injustice, and greed we’re now living in. I’m just against the “topple the pyramid” remark because I think it tends to make us forget about those in our society that physically cannot live a self-sufficient lifestyle, people who are dependent on medicines, machines, and doctors. The bottom line and question is, realistically, who manufactures and pays for all of that, and the infrastructure that brings it to us, if we topple the pyramid? I’m just saying the “topple the pyramid” rhetoric can take the focus off the doing and puts the focus more on anger and rebelling that can harm those who are not physically able to help themselves in the event the pyramid does topple. We need to loose the anger (although justified) and just do it, just do what needs to be done, but damn well making sure to take care of and make provisions for the infirmed, disabled, and elderly every step of the way.

    PS) While I’m going to do it, and I will encourage others to do the same because I feel with all my heart this is the way it should be, I don’t believe the great majority of people in the United States are smart enough to see this is the way it should be. I believe the great majority of people care too much about material things and modern conveniences, are too use to living they way they have been, and for that reason I don’t think the majority of citizens of the U.S. will ever live this way voluntarily. I think it will take a major U.S. or global catastrophe (environmental, financial, or the infrastructure) that brings the industrialized world to it’s knees before we all see the error of our ways and what we should have been doing all along. I hope I’m wrong, but I believe I’m right about this.

    Reply
  25. Misha

    RE: Charles Alban’s comment “There would be no “individuals” in this system. You do not exist outside of your group. Banishment from the group is a fate worse than death…”

    I’ve been discussing Keith’s article with my friends and family all evening and we all agree with Keith’s basic thoughts and what we need to work towards, but what you’re talking about is dangerously close to the type of cults set up by religious nut cases or like living under the isolation and rule of a dictator (North Korea comes to mind) and I find the thought of it even worse than what we are doing to society now in the United States. No personal anything leads to no freedoms at all, not even personal thoughts, which leads to being nothing more than sheep or mindless drones.

    Listen up people! Not all ancestral ideas are good ones. Some advances in thought and ideas and civilization are needed. The Romans also practiced bestiality and put people to death by allowing animals to eat them alive in front of a crowd. Should we adopt that “tribal” ritual too? Let’s get real!!

    I personally agree with Keith in nearly all the points he makes in the article, but I’d fight what Alban is suggesting with a gun in my hand if someone tried to force it on me or my family, and I’m a “liberal” who believes in gun control.

    RE: “These groupings of people could be up to several hundred, all nominally descended from a common ancestor.”

    That’s also known as segregation-ism. It’s not too far from what the KKK tried to get people to do in the U.S. in the mid 20th century, and what white supremacists today still practice. It’s also called incest when practiced at it’s most extreme and it produces children with brain damage as well as other serious health issues.

    I’ll be keeping a watchful eye out for your slave villages in California and other parts of the U.S. and you can be sure I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure your extremist vision does not come to my neck of the woods.

    Reply
  26. Skeye

    You have voiced well what many are feeling and starting to recognize more and more, thank you. Let us continue to voice this and drown out the ‘socio-media’ message of ‘jobs’.

    I Posted on FB on 11-7-11:

    As far as I can see it: all the talk of jobs, economy, housing, etc….all hinge on ecology. And if we allow for the discussion to get away from that, then no matter what ‘gains’ happen, it’s still ‘business as usual’ and we are still in a ‘downward spiral’. Until there is the willingness to forgo ‘BAU’ and drop the superficial/fear based mindset that has set up our society, then nothing changes.

    
It’s not that there isn’t any work(there is plenty of work to do), it is that everyone alive today was born into a system that exploits beings(people, plant, animal, etc.) for work and the expansion of ‘industry’. We have, by and large, been deprived of our right to make a living outside of this system.

    ~~~~~~

    And now I can pass along this writing, explore and share this site, thank you again. And thank you Øyvind Holmstad for the links to the other articles. Peace! :D

    Reply
  27. Sebastien

    Hey Kyle,

    Awesome article that I directly wanted to translate (just like Tina) into french, if it’s ok with everyone. Clear, concise, and beautifully brought with the comparaison with the native american Indians, this needs to circulate everywhere.

    I’m having a hard time translating the sentence “Perhaps we can topple the pyramid by shrinking the bottom.”
    What do you mean exactly ?
    In the context of the rest of the text, do you mean that we can change from being a majority of powerless, to a majority of powerful ? Or is it really just of the context of the paragrph, and then describing more a transition from a majority of employed people to a minority of employed people ?

    Thanks in advance, and bravo for the inspiration.
    Seb

    Reply
  28. Øyvind Holmstad

    I’ve been thinking more about why we hate our jobs so much, except for a few privileged among the elites. This will of course bee just a brief thought, but I think it’s so important that it needs to be worked into an article someday. F

    Anyway, the most important is that our top down system is becoming transformed into a system of self organization. So many are working with this new promising field of self-organization these days, among them Nikos Salingaros mentioned in another comment here. Recently Thomas Linzey published a book on this topic:

    - How to Get What You Want Through Community Self-Government: http://www.truth-out.org/how-can-communities-defend-themselves-corporate-interests/1327072431

    and before one by Carne Ross:

    - The Leaderless Revolution: http://theleaderlessrevolution.com/

    So the top-down organization needs to come to an end, to be replaced by commoning. Note: The frontiers of this the next “revolution” like to use the word commoning, not commonism as their opponents, for linking it with communism. Commoning has NOTHING in common with communism!

    This important work is fronted by major persons like Michel Bauwens, David Bollier and Joline Blais.

    I’ll soon have our Sunday trip, so I just put up a few points on how to organize work to make it a joy. It’s important that there will become a multitude of ways to organize this, I just try with a few ideas.

    - Nature communities where people live right out from the land, maybe much like most American Natives did. But with the incorporation of permaculture design.

    - Individually owned and run workplaces, organized around the Alexandrine pattern 41, WORK COMMUNITY: http://www.jacana.plus.com/pattern/P41.htm

    - For larger enterprises this should be organized as co-ops, run by in-groups choosing their own leader, again choosing the top leader of the organization.

    The state’s only role will be to help people organize themselves, NOT to organize people! Nikos writes more about this new role of governments here: http://www.metropolismag.com/pov/20111101/frontiers-of-design-science

    You said you would like to study more the works of Charles Eisenstein, here is his e-book: http://sacred-economics.com/read-online/

    I’ve only started reading this book too, as with Siegel’s e-book on Classical Liberalism. In fact, I’ve several books now I just started reading, as I all the time come upon another interesting book and cannot finish the former. So to finish a book has become an increasing problem for me.

    Also, thank you very much for starting this discussion, these are interesting and very important topics!

    Reply
  29. Laura

    Interesting and well written article. Thanks Kyle. On top of all that, I have found that on those mornings when you’re munching on your breakfast and asking yourself “why the hell am I doing this?”, you are so easily distracted by the fact that you have to get yourself ready for work..Ironically, being employed is a huge distraction from the fact that you despise being employed! Thanks again. You have given me something to mull over for the remainder of the day…

    Reply
  30. Chris McLeod

    Hi all,

    Moderation people, please! I re-read the article and Kyle isn’t clamouring to smash the system. He is merely offering some alternative points of view to the current system.

    As a general rule, you should beware of people offering utopian visions for the future. Historically much damage and pain have been caused by these types of people. If utopia was possible it would have been achieved and sustained!

    Kyle’s call to repair the eco-system and return to a more sustainable basis for food production sounds to me like a common sense initiative. Unless I have read the article wrongly he is not arguing to topple our political system at all.

    We no longer have the top soils to support the human population that exists today. But for industrial agriculture (and Oil mining) the human population would not have swelled to the numbers that exist today and but for industrial agriculture our top soils would not have been as destroyed as they are today either. There is a cost to everything. Our food production systems use our top soils as a strip mine, when they should always be adding more than they take. I truly feel for people producing organically on a commercial basis who have to compete with industrial agriculture.

    I produce food on a closed loop system in respect to the nutrients and top soil (I’m a net importer actually), but I’m certainly not self sufficient in all areas. It has taken years to achieve even this. The experience has made me concerned about the future and Kyle is correct to raise the issues that he has.
    Regards. Chris.

    PS: Hi Oyvind. Cold beer does taste better – even over winter – in warmer climates, not that I’m in a desert location. Send me your email address on the Global permaculture site and we can swap stories.

    Reply
  31. Sebastien

    @ Chris

    “If utopia was possible it would have been achieved and sustained!”

    In that case, if peace was ever possible we would already be in a peaceful world. And if permaculture was even a good idea, the whole humanity would be practicing it. If MacDonald was so bad, no one would eat their burgers… etc

    “We no longer have the top soils to support the human population that exists today.”

    Where does that come from ?
    Top soil is indeed becoming a rare and threaten ressource, but today’s destructive agriculture produces enough to feed 12 billion people. A bit less than half of that food is throwed away (UN study “From field to fork” 2008).

    In an imaginary world where we would suddenly shift to regenerative practices, sure, productivity would suddenly go down.
    Down to a production sufficient to feed 6 billion ? Who knows. It would take 1 up to 4 years to build up healthier soils, but those who anticipate a messive “die-off” of human population down to 2 billion people because of peak oil are out of their mind.
    If I believe all the information given in the documentary “How Cuba survive Peak Oil” 80% of the food eaten in La Havana is produced in la Havana, from urban farms. It’s a peculiar case, but it’s still an indication of what is possible.

    I’m more concern by humanity turning back to wood as a fuel, in facing peak oil, and killing all the forests we have left.

    Reply
  32. Michele Mancini

    Chris McLeod – RE: “Unless I have read the article wrongly he is not arguing to topple our political system at all.”

    It is not responsible to yell “Death to the King” and then after it causes a problem you say “I was only exaggerating to make a point.” Keith may not have “meant” he wants to “topple” the government but he did clearly imply it (even if only to make a point) and the crazies and extremists might take him literally and that is one of the points I tried to make in my comments. The article was great and could have been perfect, and much more responsible, if he left out that one thought.

    Reply
  33. Jayme

    Hi Kyle and all,
    I loved this article about ending wage slavery etc., and most all the comments, it is an awesome contribution to the conversation. Sadly as an individual and small group solution it runs into complications, as others have also pointed out, such as the ability to cover property tax, and other things that small groups may not be able to self provide in the upcoming decade of transition. That said i have spent my time preparing in such a way anyhow.

    However as a widespread social solution, with sufficient understanding and collaboration, we can gain enough clout to overcome these obstacles.

    If you share my interest and concern I look forward to hearing from you.
    Sincerely,
    Jayme
    jayme@humboldt1.com

    Reply
  34. Kenny

    I’ve spent a lot of time reading up on all these issues, including issues not mentioned in the post as mentioned in the comments about the structure of the legal system. I have to say this article was a real “nail on the head moment”!!

    I have been having a gut feeling that this is the direction we should be exploring, remembering we are human beings on the planet Earth. Physically we have changed little over the last few thousand years while our way of life and society has dramatically changed. Asking such a simple question as “As a human being on planet Earth, what do I need to survive?” has to be a fantastic place to start! Any successful civilization, a fair, equal and happy civilization, HAS to be build upon to solid foundation of meeting these most basic of needs!

    The more self-reliant network that once existed has been all but totally eroded here in England. It will need brave pioneers to make the leap and get it started. If you see it is needed, you can not wait for someone else to do it for you, if that brave leap is not taken by someone then the world we seek will never be reached, it may as well be you or I!

    I myself have been dormant in the system for the last 6 months, hovering on the edge of this leap. Reading this article, knowing that others see it as what needs doing, will be the last little push needed to make that leap! Thank you!

    Reply
  35. Andy

    Lots of truth in the article and great comments. There’s no such thing as a service based economy. We need to be less specialized, and more dependent on ourselves, giving is getting, and we never own anything, we just take care of it for the next person.

    Reply
  36. Kyle

    Wow. Thanks again everyone for more great ideas. I find the “gens” system of particular interest. I’m also eager to go over the stuff about land reform and self governance.

    “Topple the pyramid” is aggressive language. I won’t retract this. But I didn’t intend for it to be interpreted quite as violently as it struck a few of you. To say,”Perhaps we can force this enormous global pyramid to gradually shrink, and become numerous smaller and less permanent pyramids.” might have fit my thoughts better, but that would have been clunky. Semantics!

    To me, this is an ecological analogy, where the ecomomy is a food web. The predators are at the top, herbivores (consumers) are in the middle, and the producers (plants) are at the bottom (it’s a pyramid). One way to reduce the number of herbivores and predators is to reduce the producer biomass. Producers can also mitigate against herbivores by diversifying the chemistry of thier biomass, or by holding biomass in inaccessable forms. Sure, you can shoot some of the animals, but that’s only a temporary fix.

    You look at the global ecomomy and you see a huge mass of people at the bottom behaving increasingly similarly and predictably, holding their wealth in similar ways. It’s an easily exploited monoculture (But the average Westerner is not a plant in this analogy, but a herbivore, or consumer. Third World people and machines are the plants). The energy powering this food web is not sunlight, but fossil fuels. This system has been stable for so long, that predators of predators of predators have evolved to exploit it (many of the predators are omnivorous or parasitic). It would be possible, in such a food web, for the plants to die off, while the super predators were so busy canabalizing and parisitizing each other that they wouldn’t notice the problem for a long time.

    Corporations and governments are organisms. Ecology abounds with examples of how nature deals with predators, parasites, and diseases. You run with the analogy.

    -Kyle (not Kieth)
    also, my bad: it’s Mackintosh, not McIntosh.

    Reply
  37. Øyvind Holmstad

    @Chris. Yes, surely, I rarely drink beer through the wintertime. For our shared world views I don’t know, I hardly know what my world view is myself. The only thing I know for sure is that I want to live in the world of Christopher Alexander, not the world of Peter Eisenman: http://www.katarxis3.com/Alexander_Eisenman_Debate.htm

    But most importantly, I want my daughter to live in the world of Christopher Alexander. I look upon Alexander as the counterpart of Le Corbusier, who is the main ideologist of the modernists. The same way as Bill Mollison is the counterpart of Norman Borlaug, the father of the “green” revolution. And like Borlaug is responsible for that the topsoil and the microbiological life of soil are gone, so are Le Corbusier responsible for that the worlds pattern and form languages are gone. The form languages are like the topsoil of architecture, while the pattern languages are like the microbiotic life of soil.

    So the world I fight for is the one of Christopher Alexander, his vision of a new kind of world has become my vision as well:

    - A world in which we experience, daily, our unity with the universe

    - A world which is made like nature – and in which we are daily making nature

    - A world in which the daily process of making, adapting, and deepening is a vital part of our lives

    - A world in which there is something to believe in – not a religious thing – but a believable vision of God as the unity behind all things which guides us and impels us to act in certain ways. God not conceived of as a construct of any organized religion, but as a fact of nature and its wholeness

    - A social and political world which contains (and explicitly provides) the freedom for us to act in this way – something we rarely have today

    - A world in which we feel the cultural trace of human beings before us who made and loved every part

    - A world in which we value ourselves according to the beauty of the places we have carved out, and modified, and taken care of, and in which we have woven our lives together with that of other people, animals, and plants

    - A world in which buildings are shaped according to these principles, and laws governing the shaping of buildings in this way, are the laws most precious to us, and those to which we give most weight

    - A world in which we have an entirely new understanding of what it means for the world to be sustainable: not a technical matter, but a matter in which respect for the whole governs

    - Above all, there is a world in which meaning exists. The deadly and frightening state in which we do not know why we are here, is replaced by a world in which there is a natural and accurate and truthful picture — an answer to the question ‘why am I here’ – one that is not made up, but that stems from and accords with the true nature of things

    Everyone sharing Alexander’s vision of a new kind of world is my friend, no matter world view.

    Reply
  38. Colin Turner

    Fantastic article. Please check out The Free World Charter. I think you will be very interested in this.

    http://www.freeworldcharter.org/en

    “The Free World Charter is a statement of principles that has the potential to optimise life on Earth for all species, eradicate poverty and greed, and advance progress.

    “Neither political nor religious, these ten short principles could form the foundation of a new, advanced society that uses no money, is free, fair and sustainable. They are based solely on Nature, common sense and survival.

    “The Free World Charter is now widely considered a logical progression out of the failing mechanisms of today’s society, and a natural step in our evolution.”

    Reply
  39. Øyvind Holmstad

    @Kyle, I watched a lecture by Christopher Alexander yesterday, I could not stop watching it and didn’t get to bed before midnight. It’s in a very good video quality, and lasts for almost two hours: http://ia600607.us.archive.org/12/items/ChristopherAlexanderAtcLecture/ChristopherAlexander.mp4

    As you see in the lecture Alexander speaks about system A and system B. I think another reason why so many hate their jobs is because our current system works under the conditions of system B, applying the “technologies of death”. Working under this system, how can you then love your job? Even most people are not aware of it, working under system B is having a huge negative impact on our psychology and well-being, as we are not creating life or liveliness this way, we are creating a mechanical world, not a living world. We have become assemblers of blueprints, not creators making our world whole in a computational process, going step-by-step. To love our work and what we make we have to return to a process simulating that of nature, so that everything we make become nature.

    Reply
  40. Øyvind Holmstad

    @Colin, for principle 8 I think it leaves out the importance of feeling: “Our community derives its solutions and advances progress primarily through the application of logic and best available knowledge.”

    I’ve not finished the NofO-series, but I’ve come so far that I know that the most important tool for creating a living world, is by empathizing feeling, that every computational step is based upon the feeling for the whole, using the human computer, our brains. Our logic is far too limited, only through feeling we can get the necessary feedback.

    “As opposed to traditional politics and speculation, the scientific method is a proven, robust system of solving these technical problems using just the available facts and basic logic. It also has a common reference across all cultures and languages.”

    The scientific method is to a large part responsible of our poor situation of today, as it is about breaking the whole into parts, to study the parts. This method has made us frenzy with parts, so that we lost interest and understanding for the whole:

    “The mechanistic idea of order can be traced to Descartes, around 1640. His idea was: if you want to know how something works, you can find it out by pretending that it is a machine. You completely isolate the thing you are interested in – the rolling of a ball, the falling of an apple, the flowing of the blood in the human body – from everything else, and you invent a mechanical model, a mental toy, which obeys certain rules, and which will then replicate the behavior of the thing. It was because of this kind of Cartesian thought that one was able to find out how things work in a modern sense.

    However, the crucial thing which Descartes understood very well, but which we most often forget, is that this process is only a method. This business of isolating things, breaking them into fragments, and of making machinelike pictures (or models) of how things work, is not how reality actually is. It is a convenient mental exercise, something we do to reality, in order to understand it.

    Descartes himself clearly understood his procedure as a mental trick. He was a religious person who would have been terrified to find out that people in the 20th century began to think that reality itself is actually like this. But in the years since Descartes lived, as his idea gathered momentum, and people found out that you really could find out how the bloodstream works, or how the stars are born, by seeing them as machines – and after people had used the idea to find out almost everything mechanical about the world from the 17th century to the 20th century, people shifted into a new mental state that began treating reality as if this mechanical picture really were the nature of things, as if everything really were a machine.

    For the purpose of discussion, in what follows, I shall refer to this as the 20th century mechanistic viewpoint. The appearance of this 20th century mechanistic view had tremendous consequences, both devastating for artists. The first was that the “I” went out of world picture. The picture of the world as a machine doesn’t have an “I” in it. The “I”, what it means to be a person, the inner experience of being a person, just isn’t part of this picture. Of course it is still there in our experience. But it isn’t part of the picture we have of how things are. So what happens? How can you make something which have no “I” in it, when the whole process of making anything comes from the “I”? The process of trying to be an artist in a world which has no sensible notion of “I” and no natural way that the personal inner life can be part of the picture of things – leaves the art of building as a vacuum. You just cannot make sense of it.

    The second devastating thing that happened with the onset of the 20th century mechanistic world-picture was that clear understanding of value went out of the world. The picture of the world we have from physics, because it is built only out of mental machines, no longer has any definite feeling of value in it: value has become sidelined as a matter of opinion, not intrinsic to the nature of the world at all.

    And with these two developments, the idea of order fell apart. The mechanistic idea tells us very little about the deep order we feel intuitively to be in the world. Yet it is this deep order which is our main concern.” – The Phenomenon of Life, by Christopher Alexander, page 16.

    Reply
  41. Ben Buttons

    Interesting. But you’re writing on a website blog, sitting at a computer. Shouldn’t you be doing away with those trappings of our oppressive culture? You should be out gathering berries.

    Reply
  42. Joel

    speeding late to the job you hate
    surely this situation’s not your fate
    when you’re forced to say there’s no time to play
    with your children, that’s a crying shame
    fake your way through your busy day
    do what it takes to earn a wage
    waste your patience on all these strangers
    come home exhausted and just turn away

    living too fast, living too fast for love

    rushing past in our faster cars
    to uncertain future from forgotten past
    present hearts getting torn apart
    no time to question how we got this far
    work all week just to make ends meet
    who have you been living for lately?
    if all we humans are born free,
    why do so many live in slavery?

    living too fast, living too fast for love

    take a look at how your time gets spent
    slaving for the bankers, paying mortgate, paying rent
    every moment of this life is heaven sent
    slow down to feel the love and find some atonement

    Reply
  43. Øyvind Holmstad

    @ Kyle, I started reading a really inspiring essay by Richard Heinberg this morning, and it really highlights the importance of our work for re-localising. Personally I have plans for an upcoming article on Integrative Ecosocial Design as an Alternative to the Scandinavian Welfare Model, and Heinberg’s article has already given me several points to build upon. I hope it can help you too:

    - The Fight of the Century: http://www.postcarbon.org/article/714558-the-fight-of-the-century

    By the way, if you don’t know what Integrative Ecosocial Design (IED) is, here’s an explanation: http://permaliv.blogspot.com/2011/10/integrative-ecosocial-design.html

    Reply
  44. Michele Mancini

    Sometimes semantics are very important. That’s one reason the English language is so difficult to learn and is considered to be much more sophisticated than most other languages – a great deal of interesting and note worthy semantics.

    Reply
  45. Øyvind Holmstad

    @Kyle, today they have a very interesting featured book at P2P-Foundation; Life Rules by Ellen LaConte: http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/lifes-economic-survival-protocol/2012/02/18

    What strikes me is that her book seems to have much in common with the Metropolis Essays by Salingaros and Mehaffy, where they speak about the technologies of life contra the technologies of death:

    “Why is so much going wrong everywhere at once? The global economy has gone viral. It is ravaging Earth’s immune system, triggering a Critical Mass of mutually reinforcing environmental, economic, social, cultural and political crises that are compromising the ability of Earth’s human and natural communities to provide for, protect and heal themselves.

    The prognosis? If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, Life will last but Life as we know it—and a lot of us—won’t.

    What should we do instead? We should remember that Life rules, we don’t. The global economy operates as if it were larger than Life. It isn’t. As if it had multiple Earth’s to supply its appetites. It doesn’t. Life learned how to deal with global economies two billion years ago: It put them out of business. It encoded in other-than-human species an adaptable protocol of economic rules that help them to avoid causing Critical Mass and survive Critical Mass when it occurs naturally.

    What are those rules? Among the rules written into Life’s Economic Survival Protocol are local self-reliance, intercommunity and regional functional cooperation, non-carbon energy sourcing, resource conservation, sharing and recycling, and organically democratic methods of self-organization and governance. These rules have worked for Life for two billion years. We can make them work for us, too.

    How? We can learn Life’s rules and adopt lifeways that mimic Life’s ways.

    Take back your future! A tool for community transition and cultural and personal transformation, Life Rules offers a clear and compelling context for understanding our global crisis and a treatment plan for Critical Mass that is at once authentically conserve-ative, deeply green and profoundly liberating.” : http://www.ellenlaconte.com/life-rules-the-book/

    Interviews and more info about the author here: http://p2pfoundation.net/Life%27s_Economic_Survival_Protocol

    Reply
  46. TIna Lymberis

    Hi Kyle and Craig! Thanks so much for your permission to translate the article into Greek….with the assistance of my beloved, we have achieved this mammoth task (in amidst attending the recent protest in Athens and recovering from tear gas!). The link is http://www.kangouro.gr/to-everyone-feeling-screwed-over-by-the-economy. It will be interesting to see what the feedback will be considering everyone here is feeling screwed over by the economy and the minimum wage has been reduced to under 500 euros per month! Cheers.

    Reply
  47. Øyvind Holmstad

    @Tina, I feel sorry for your country. I recently read an essay by Salingaros on the tragically architectural destruction of Athens the last decades, as you know he lived there as a child:

    - Architectural Cannibalism in Athens: http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles7/SalingarosAthens.php

    So in addition to destroying the sustainable patterns of your architectural heritage, the modernists have now even destroyed your economy. Still I think you are better of than Norway, as we all have to end up re-localizing, and the sooner you start the less painful the transition. This according to Heinberg’s essay above. So the day Norway and the rest of the world hit the wall, the crash will become harder and more devastating for us. I’m afraid my country will be among the last nations to hit the wall, and that we will do so with a much higher speed and fewer buffers than Greece.

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  48. Diane

    My Mom died a week ago today from cancer. We held a celebration of her life today and as I watched everyone gathered here in her memory, I wondered why we didn’t take more time when she was alive to gather together to celebrate with her. And this I think is the crux of it all. Making the time to enjoy time together instead of living as wage slaves and forgetting what is truly important in life. Relationship, community, sharing, and loving those who make our lives worth living.

    It’s too late for my Mom, but it’s not too late for the rest of us. As we watch the world crumbling around us, we can choose to create and move into the world we want to live in. We can create the supports we need.

    Or we can let ourselves be dragged right back into that which is surely killing each and every one of us.

    Reply
  49. Jayme

    Hi Oyvind Holmstad,

    i am still reading the links you included, but i thought. i would reply anyhow

    i believe that there is little other option for most people than to collaborate with others on behalf of producing our own necessities of life. Funding for social welfare is being cut, decent jobs for most people never existed for everyone even if we did want them. People producing our own necessities of life is much more cost effective alternative to traditional welfare.

    The powers that be are not dumb they could understand this, and concessions to make it easier to succeed could be negotiated if we present it well, a new 21century version of social welfare

    This is what I see, and what you said sounds similar, is this also what you are getting at?
    Cheers,
    Jayme

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  50. Margtc

    You can’t just ditch it all and go for it. You need skills: growing things, hunting and gathering, building things, making light, fire, shelter, and not poisoning yourself accidentally by your ignorance of purification systems and bad mushrooms and the like. A knowledge of solar and electric systems is definitely a plus. I, for one, like being clean. Super clean. I couldn’t live a “natural” life. I only work part-time and the other half I am self-employed. I think much of the dissatisfaction of a job comes in simply from working for someone else. It’s their dream, not yours, in other words. For those who want job fulfillment, and have survival skills, the solution is easy: charge money to teach others. There’s a market for it now.

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  51. Øyvind Holmstad

    @Jayme, something I’ve discovered the last year is that there is a lot of people working on the third option, the one of commoning. David Bollier has written several books on the subject: http://bollier.org/

    Michel Bauwens has created P2P-Foundation: http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/

    These people have now had several international conferences on the theme, I think to remember the next one is in Brazil. One year ago I didn’t know about this work, and I yearn for the day they will have a breakthrough.

    Still, what is most important for me is that I think it’s only within the commons that the theories of Christopher Alexander can flourish, so that we again can start creating a truly living world. So I very much hope you and all others here will take the time to listen to the lecture of Christopher Alexander I linked to above. Even it’s at almost two hours and Alexander needs more time to form his sentences, as he’s now an old man, he’s very clear on that we must achieve this living world to survive, to make everything as “a gift to God”.

    Somebody might get tired of me coming back to Alexander all the time, but please understand he’s my only real hero.

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  52. Justin

    There is a lot of truth to this. I am becoming more aware of how I can start doing things for myself like gardening and building, and the next step for me is to just do it.

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  53. Sitka

    Kyle, have you watched Thrive yet? if not, i think you probably should…

    ps this is going viral with my friends on FB right now ;)

    it’s a brilliant read and i’m nodding my head in total agreement on everything. i live in oregon!

    xox

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  54. Siri

    I was delighted to read this; I woke up this morning thinking about work and what it does to us individually and collectively as our days go wasted in meaningless activities that do not contribute to the wellness of our world, these words from your article say it so beautifully getting right into the core of the matter “My young men shall never work. Men who work cannot dream; and wisdom comes to us in dreams”. Your reminder that “work” as we know it, is a recent “invention” and was made up is a good starting point for those who are new to thinking outside of the box.

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  55. Øyvind Holmstad

    @Tina:

    Predatory bankers make serial killers look good by comparison. Their business model creates crises to facilitate grand theft, financial terrorism, and debt entrapment.

    They steal all material wealth and then some. They systematically rob investors and strip mine economies for self-enrichment.

    They demand they get paid first. They hold nations hostage to assure it. They turn crises into catastrophes.

    They leave mass impoverishment, high unemployment, neo-serfdom, and human wreckage in their wake.

    Their Federal Reserve/ECB/IMF/World Bank/political class lackeys do their bidding.

    They’re more dangerous than standing armies. They wage war by other means. They cause “demographic shrinkage, shortened life spans, emigration and capital flight,” explains Michael Hudson.

    They’re a malignancy ravaging societies and humanity. Greece is the epicenter of what’s metastasizing globally. The latest bailout deal highlights out-of-control pillage. – Stephen Lendman: http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2012/02/greece-epicenter-of-global-pillage.html

    In a way Greece is like a thumbnail of what’s happening with the whole world these days!

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  56. YourFriendYourBrother

    I see threads all over the internet about permaculture and going sustainable.I always felt i need to be more connected to nature and get away from this corporate stuff.I feel inspired to change my life and want to learn about permaculture and other ways to live a self-sustainable life.
    Now comes the hard part.
    I see the books about permaculture and other books-methods written about sustainable-living cost a heck lot of money.They definately don`t cost this much or even half to get it printed and distributed.And it is this writers who want us to get away from money infused society,and to whom we consider our mentor-godfather for the change.
    I see self-sustainable communities which has been running for years and decades asking volunteers money for atleast food consumed by them for the days they volunteer in their garden-forest-community.They still rely on corporates for the funding and donations.How come they are working for years and years and they still don`t find themselves to be sustainable.
    I see the high cost of learning permaculture and other such courses.I see this same people in most of the threads talking about how and why we don`t need money to actually live a better and more peaceful life.

    What is this permaculture hype all about.I see the ‘founder of permaculture bill mollison`s book’ price in the price bracket of hundred dollars.I cannot imagine buying them.Are this people really looking for change or may be they have just found another way of earning money.

    I thank all those people over the internet and otherwise who provide free ways and methods to go the natural way of life.

    I am sorry for my english and my vocabulary is not so good otherwise i would have given my heart out to what i meant.

    Reply
  57. Caelan MacIntyre

    “Did you know that before the Industrial Revolution, the average person worked for about two or three hours a day? Studies from a wide range of pre-industrial civilizations show similar data– it takes only about fifteen hours a week to provide for all of our basic human needs. And that’s using hand tools.”
    ~ Walden Effect (online)

    “Using the data provided by the United State Bureau of Labor Statistics, Erik Rauch has estimated productivity to have increased by nearly 400%. Says, Rauch: ‘…if productivity means anything at all, a worker should be able to earn the same standard of living as a 1950 worker in only 11 hours per week.’ …Since the 1960s, the consensus among researchers (anthropologists, historians, sociologists), has been that early hunter-gatherer societies enjoyed much more leisure time than is permitted by capitalist and agricultural societies…”
    ~ Wikipedia

    “The important thing to understand about collapse is that it’s brought on by overreach and overstretch, and people being zealots and trying too hard. It’s not brought on by people being laid back and doing the absolute minimum. Americans could very easily feed themselves and clothe themselves and have a place to live, working maybe 100 days a year. You know, it’s a rich country in terms of resources. There’s really no reason to work more than maybe a third of your time. And that’s sort of a standard pattern in the world. But if you want to build a huge empire and have endless economic growth, and have the largest number of billionaires on the planet, then you have to work over 40 hours a week all the time, and if you don’t, then you’re in danger of going bankrupt. So that’s the predicament that people have ended up in. Now, the cure of course is not to do the same thing even harder… what people have to get used to is the idea that most things aren’t worth doing anyway…”
    ~ Dmitry Orlov

    “We live in an economy which takes 80% of our each new generation and educates that 80% to obey orders and to endure boredom, and stifles their creativity, and stifles their capacities, and curtails them. They’re systematically crushed by a system which does what? Which fills slots, and 80% of the slots need people who just do rote tedious repetitive labour at least at work, and therefore are acclimated to doing that… If you’re callous to the effects on others, you have a potential to rise. The odds are that you can ‘compete’ your way up. If you care and are socially concerned about others, you’re at a tremendous disadvantage. So I think the competitive dynamic that we have does sort of weed out a set of people for success. But I would say that what it weeds out for success is not competence, not creativity, not intelligence, but callousness far more often.”
    ~ Michael Albert, ‘Z Magazine’

    “Go back 150 years… beginnings of the industrial revolution… At that time, the mills were being formed around Boston. They were bringing in working people, what were called factory-girls– young women from farms. Irish workmen from Downtown Boston… had a very free and lively press at the time, which they, themselves, ran. This was before the period of commercial press-domination… And the press is quite interesting. It was written by the participants- their assumptions are what are relevant here- they just took for granted that wage labour was virtually the same as slavery. They had no influence from European radicalism– never heard of Marx, nothing of this– it’s just the ordinary assumptions of people who think reasonably about the world. Wage labour is illegitimate, it’s like slavery. This is right around the time of the civil war. Northern workers in the American Civil War fought under that banner; that wage slavery is like chattel slavery. In fact it was even the position of the Republican Party. It was a fairly mainstream position. You’ve even got editorials in the NY Times about it, believe it or not. And they also took for granted that the industrial system is totally illegitimate. It’s just a form of feudalism to which people are driven by essentially violence or starvation, and has to be overcome. Those who work in the mills should own them is taken for granted. The feudalistic industrial system was destroying their culture… These are understandings about the nature of freedom and domination that have been lost. So it’s not pure progress. How far they’ve been lost is an interesting question. My suspicion is that they’re right below the surface…”
    ~ Noam Chomsky

    Reply
  58. Katie Moore

    RE: the comment by YourFriendYourBrother and the price of books:

    Your information is incorrect for the most part. The cost of publishing the average book is very high. In fact most authors get no more than $1 to $5 of the total price of a typical book in their own pocket, usually it’s about $3, whether they self publish or not. Books with photos, graphs, charts and drawings are much more expensive to publish, most of the cost goes to the company who actually makes the book, the cost is mostly for the paper, ink, and the construction of the book. And if a publishing company is used they often pay for editors, book cover design artists, etc. None of this is free to do or produce. Bottom line, the cost of printing a book is expensive.

    As to the very high cost of other books, rarity is a factor, as with many items for sale in this world. A book that is very popular but had relatively few books printed (or few books survived over the years) will be very high priced in after market sales – and after market sales has nothing to do with how much the author gets.

    Now, let’s consider the other factor, how much the information is worth, for example if uploaded to the net without the cost of publishing a hard copy book…. Some authors spend up to 10 years researching and experimenting before they put their ideas and findings on paper in a book or any other written media. I guess you don’t think that author has the right to be paid for his time and labor.

    Yes, I do think DVDs of all kinds should be cheaper, since they cost far less to publish than books, but then again, there’s that aspect of what the information is worth, and how much should the author of a DVD or book be paid for his time, perhaps years of research on a subject that’s put into a DVD or book before it’s published.

    And yes, I do think information about permaculture (or anything that can truly help the world) should be free or cheap, but in reality nothing is free – for if money is not spent to obtain information, at the very least it takes someone spending their time and giving of their energy, and often blood, sweat, and tears. So considering so much is put into a book that offers great information I will not criticize an author for making money from it. Any book can be purchased and the person who purchases it can use the information to teach others what is in the book, for free if they can afford to do so. In this way one book can teach hundreds. So, YourFriendYourBrother, when are YOU going to take your time, blood, sweat, and tears to teach hundreds for free? Never, well, I already knew that.

    YourFriendYourBrother, with all due respect, you don’t know enough about this subject to be so critical. The day you write or produce a very helpful, potentially world-changing book or DVD and want to give it away for free, please, come back here and let us all know about it.

    Reply

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