Alternatives to Political Systems, Economics, Food Shortages, Society — by Stefan Boone April 29, 2013
Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers. The reality is often not what we think it is.Comments (2)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Economics, Society — by George Monbiot April 24, 2013
Devolving policy to “the market” doesn’t solve the problem of power. It makes it worse.
In other ages, states sought to seize as much power as they could. Today, the self-hating state renounces its powers. Governments anathematise governance. They declare their role redundant and illegitimate. They launch furious assaults upon their own branches, seeking wherever possible to lop them off.
This self-mutilation is a response to the fact that power has shifted. States now operate at the behest of others. Deregulation, privatisation, the shrinking of the scope, scale and spending of the state: these are now seen as the only legitimate policies. The corporations and billionaires to whom governments defer will have it no other way.Comments (4)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Biodiversity, Deforestation, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, People Systems, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Marcin Gerwin April 18, 2013
The disappearing Amazon rainforest
Marcin Gerwin: You propose introducing a new international law of ecocide as an amendment to the Rome Statute. Ecocide is defined as “an extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been or will be severely diminished.” Why do we need the new law to protect the planet? Aren’t current regulations enough?Comments (2)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Conferences, Economics, Society, Village Development — by Bronwyn White February 20, 2013
The Economics of Happiness is a 2011 documentary film directed by Helena Norberg-Hodge, Steven Gorelick, and John Page, and produced by the International Society for Ecology and Culture. The film has been widely acclaimed and received numerous awards but most pertinently it has linked a number of cutting edge thinkers across the globe who are building the groundswell to see the wisdom from The Economics of Happiness film translated into action. The second of three international conferences will be taking place from 15-17 March 2013 in Byron Bay, Australia and you are invited!
The Economics of Happiness describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, an unholy alliance of governments and big business continues to promote globalization and the consolidation of corporate power. At the same time, people all over the world are resisting those policies, demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance—and, far from the old institutions of power, they’re starting to forge a very different future.Comments (0)
Alternatives to Political Systems, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by Lisa DePiano February 8, 2013
Photo by Lisa DePiano
Permaculture as a movement has most of the knowledge, tools and resources that we need to create a regenerative society in the physical sense. Just Google ‘passive solar design’ or ‘aquaculture’ and you will find hundreds of books, articles and how-tos. Certainly we can fine tune and experiment but the harder task lies in transforming our social and invisible systems. This becomes even more crucial when we are taking permaculture out of the private realm (backyards, homes) and into the public (community gardens, business and governance).
How do you practice ‘fair share’ living in an economic system that is based on accumulation and inequality? How do you change laws to make permaculture systems legal? How do you learn to collaborate?Comments (5)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Economics, Society — by George Monbiot January 18, 2013
Editor’s Note: For good measure, to go with the post below, I thought I’d throw in this little video:
How neoliberalism trashed your life, but made the super-rich even richer.
How they must bleed for us. In 2012, the world’s 100 richest people became $241 billion richer(1). They are now worth $1.9 trillion: just a little less than the GDP of the United Kingdom.
This is not the result of chance. The rise in the fortunes of the super-rich is the direct result of policies. Here are a few: the reduction of tax rates and tax enforcement; governments’ refusal to recoup a decent share of revenues from minerals and land; the privatisation of public assets and the creation of a toll-booth economy; wage liberalisation and the destruction of collective bargaining.
The policies which made the global monarchs so rich are the policies squeezing everyone else. This is not what the theory predicted. Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and their disciples – in a thousand business schools, the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD and just about every modern government – have argued that the less governments tax the rich, defend workers and redistribute wealth, the more prosperous everyone will be. Any attempt to reduce inequality would damage the efficiency of the market, impeding the rising tide that lifts all boats(2). The apostles have conducted a 30-year global experiment and the results are now in. Total failure.Comments (3)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, Society, Village Development, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor January 10, 2013
Those who read Bad News, and Good News, for Greece, It’s Time to Re-Ruralise and Greeks Reclaim the Land to Ease the Pain of Economic Austerity will want to follow up with this encouraging video.
For the last several decades, modern society has been shaped by Big Business with a very narrow focus combined with an ill-thought-through economic system. The wonderfully ironic aspect of this is that in industry’s quest for ‘more’ — at any cost, and with little regard for medium- to long-term interests for people and place — it becomes increasingly unpleasant and/or impossible for the average guy on the street to endure the resulting circumstances. Hardships are piling up onto hardships — causing, or forcing, many of us to reevaluate what we want out of life.Comments (1)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Commercial Farm Projects, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Development & Property Trusts, Eco-Villages, Economics, Education Centres, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor January 9, 2013
You’ll enjoy this little video, a nice collage of thoughts and scenery and developing community integration. This is Kotare Village in the North Island of New Zealand, where PRI New Zealand (Koanga Institute) is making excellent headway into creating a model community where freedom of individual expression is combined with cohesion of collective purpose.
And, to help put Kotare village into some kind of historical context, I thought I’d juxtapose it against the video below — where you see the kind of life ‘the system’ gives us instead…. The reality of the constant struggle in the ‘daily grind’, with little to no feeling of personal satisfaction, and little hope, should make one appreciate the fantasic opportunity places like Kotare Village offer — a life with meaning, developing resilience and security, and health of body and mind. Places like Kotare Village can serve as templates to emulate as we make the long-overdue shift towards relocalising our supply lines and putting life back into our lives.Comments (2)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Eco-Villages, Village Development — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor December 14, 2012
Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, Education, Health & Disease, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Village Development, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor December 12, 2012
Editor’s Preamble: Despite the title, I’m no longer in Ladakh. Indeed, it was way back in August 2009 when I was there, so this article has been a long time coming (thanks to work on the WPN keeping me too busy, amongst other things!). I keep the ‘Letters from…’ part of the title to make my international reports easier to find.
I came to Ladakh with the purpose of profiling positive solutions for the Sustainable (R)evolution book project (still a work-in-progress, for those wondering), but quickly discovered that the kind of ‘development’ I found in Ladakh was more suitable to profile for another kind of book instead — one steeped in lessons gleaned from mistakes, rather than one focussed on shining examples of solutions in action…. This is another reason I haven’t written this article until today….
A Ladakhi woman and her barley.
What’s wrong with this picture? Read on to find out….
All photos copyright © Craig Mackintosh
High up in the Himalayas, in India’s disputed and militarised northernmost state, Jammu & Kashmir, lies the sparsely populated region of Ladakh (map). It is one of the highest inhabited places on the planet, and also one of the driest. One of Ladakh’s claims to fame is that it hosts the highest drivable road in the world — where it crosses the Ladakh Range at 5578 metres. And, despite its high altitude, the dryness ensures the upper parts of the region barely see snow cover over the long, cold winter months.
Sometimes known as ‘Little Tibet’ (the ancient Ladakhi dynasties came from a Tibetan lineage), Ladakh is a worthy subject for permaculture discussion, as despite its inhospitable terrain and cold-arid desert climate, the Ladakhi people, historically, not only survived amidst their high altitude elements, they had actually improved the landscape over centuries of habitation and agricultural use, whilst living in (mostly) peaceful habitation with each other.Comments (19)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change — by George Monbiot December 4, 2012
We cannot restrain climate change without a political fight against plutocracy.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.
Humankind’s greatest crisis coincides with the rise of an ideology that makes it impossible to address. By the late 1980s, when it became clear that manmade climate change endangered the living planet and its people, the world was in the grip of an extreme political doctrine, whose tenets forbid the kind of intervention required to arrest it.Comments (1)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, People Systems, Society, Village Development, peak oil — by Samuel Alexander November 24, 2012
Editor’s Preamble: I would exhort readers to ignore the potentially off-putting length of this piece, to instead step into, and allow yourself to be absorbed by, this important and worthy attempt at future-visualising. Readers who have been following my own work over the last several years will recognise and appreciate the themes covered. From my own perspective, what follows is a highly pragmatic view on the potential near-future of civilisation, and I truly feel that the speed and shape of progression (i.e. objectively and cooperatively planned and peacefully implemented), or, regression (i.e. unplanned, reactive, desperate, monopolistic and individualistic), and ultimate form of that future will largely depend on how many people are objectively considering these themes and adjusting their lives, and their influence, accordingly.
Photo © Craig Mackintosh
by Dr Samuel Alexander, co-director of the Simplicity Institute and a lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne.
When [we have] obtained those things necessary to life, there is another alternative than to obtain superfluities; and that is, to adventure on life now, [our] vacation from humbler toil having commenced. – Henry David Thoreau
If a society does not have some vision of where it wants to be or what it wants to become, it cannot know whether it is heading in the right direction – it cannot even know whether it is lost. This is the confused position of consumer capitalism today, which has a fetish for economic growth but no answer to the question of what that growth is supposed to be for. It is simply assumed that growth is good for its own sake, but of course economic activity is merely a means, not an end. It can only ever be justified by some goal beyond itself, but that is precisely what consumer capitalism lacks – a purpose, a reason for existence. It is a means without an end, like a tool without a task. What makes this state of affairs all the more challenging is that the era of growth economics appears to be coming to a close, due to various financial, ecological, and energy constraints, and this is leaving growth-based economies without the very capacity for growth which defined them historically. Before long this will render consumer capitalism an obsolete system with neither a means nor an end, a situation that is in fact materialising before our very eyes. It seems that today we are living in the twilight of growth globally, which implies that the dawn of a new age is almost upon us – is perhaps already upon us. But as we turn this momentous page in history we find that humanity is without a narrative in which to lay down new roots. We are the generation in between stories, desperately clinging to yesterday’s story but uncertain of tomorrow’s. Then again, perhaps the new words we need are already with us; perhaps we just need to live them into existence.Comments (7)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Economics, People Systems, Society — by Paul Chefurka November 16, 2012
One aspect of human culture that seems irresistible to the ancient status-seeking part of our brain is the development of hierarchies. The encoding of personal status and power into social structures is evident in the tribes and troops of all the great apes, but human beings have gone much further. We built an entire globe-spanning civilization on the foundation of hierarchy.
One inevitable effect of social hierarchies (in fact the effect that made our global civilization possible) is the consolidation of power. As new power comes into a hierarchic social system it flows preferentially to the top. As the system develops, even the small amount of power available to those at the bottom of the social pyramid is removed and ends up concentrated at the top in a power elite. This becomes a positive feedback loop: the more power is consolidated at the top, the easier the consolidation becomes.Comments (8)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Ethical Investment, People Systems, Society — by Polly Higgins November 1, 2012
Imagine it’s 2020
I write to you from 2020, a world where there is no more Ecocide; a law of Eococide has now been passed after 5 years of transition where all companies have been given subsidies to prioritise a green economy; governments have been re-writing their policies and laws to bring them in line with the 5th Crime Against Peace and banks have new investment rules that categorise investment into dangerous indistrial activity as unsupportable. Innovation in the green sector has flourished and economies are stabilising; long-term investment signals into green-tech have brought a flood of job opportunities to millions of people across the globe and Green Crime has become a thing of the past.
My wish is not only possible, it almost became a reality 14 years ago. Back then the Rome Statute was put in place — however earlier drafts had included a law of Ecocide. [See more info further below.] Can you imagine where we would be if it had been enacted? We would be in a place just as I envision for 2020.Comments (7)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Economics, People Systems, Society — by George Monbiot October 30, 2012
Here’s how we can defeat political corruption of the kind that’s destroying US democracy.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.
It’s a revolting spectacle: the two presidential candidates engaged in a frantic and demeaning scramble for money. By November 6th, Obama and Romney will each have raised over $1bn(1). Other groups have already spent a further billion(2). Every election costs more than the one before; every election, as a result, drags the US deeper into cronyism and corruption. Whichever candidate takes the most votes, it’s the money that wins.
Is it conceivable, for example, that Mitt Romney, whose top five donors are all Wall Street banks(3), would put the financial sector back in its cage? Or that Barack Obama, who has received over $700,000 from both Microsoft and Google(4), would challenge their monopolistic powers? Or, in the Senate, that the leading climate change denier James Inhofe, whose biggest donors are fossil fuel companies, could change his views, even when confronted by an overwhelming weight of evidence?(5) The US feeding frenzy shows how the safeguards and structures of a nominal democracy can remain in place while the system they define mutates into plutocracy.Comments (1)