An Eco-Humynist Manifesto for the 21st Century

Having watched with dismay as the Durban climate talks sputtered to a disappointing conclusion, with all parties knowing that every day that goes by without concerted international effort to address climate change means the inexorable shifting of life as we know it on Earth, I was moved yesterday to put fingers to keyboard and come up with a Manifesto for change.

Even as I was writing it, I was thinking that such radical changes would not be possible to put into place without resistance from the status quo powers that be; therefore bloodshed, which is specifically antithetical to the principles I lay out, would be inevitable.

But if a World War III must commence, I would rather it be for a good cause like this one, than for the petty greed, bigotry and hatred that have propelled humanity into previous wars.

If we want not only ourselves, but our entire eco-system to survive, do we have any other choice but to take decisive action now?

An Eco-Humynist Manifesto for the 21st Century

Whereas human beings have acted in a dominating fashion towards each other and towards other living species on this planet, using the excuse of difference to justify aggressive and destructive behavior;

Whereas competition has been used as a rationale for economic systems based on hierarchical systems of power;

Whereas social exclusion and systematic discrimination has been seen as the normative right of dominant groups;

Whereas privileged groups have felt entitled to take more than their fair share from the environmental commons, and to deprive less powerful groups, whether human or of other species, of the resources necessary for well-being;

Whereas it is quickly becoming apparent, in the age of climate change, that the dominant paradigm of capitalist patriarchal social relations is resulting in the dangerous destabilization of the entire natural ecosystem;

The time has come to take action to change this paradigm in the following ways:

1. Move from a top-down hierarchical system to a horizontal, egalitarian model of social relations based on inclusivity across all of the traditional boundaries used to keep different groups apart, including race, class, gender, sex, nationality, ethnicity, religion, and also opening up the possibility for cross-species collaboration based on respect and stewardship;

2. Shift the worldwide economic system to a model of global cooperation and collaboration, with the focus of human industry and government on providing a baseline of well-being for all life forms on this planet, regardless of geographic origin or antiquated ideas of relative importance (ie, who is to say that a human being is more important than a songbird, or a sardine?);

3. Tailor the education system to teaching the history of the destructive cultural practices of homo sapiens up to the 21st century, and opening up constructive conversations across disciplines, where alternatives to these traditions can be envisioned and developed;

4. Model egalitarian, collaborative, respectful social relations in the private sphere of the family as well as the public spheres of education, the profession, government and law;

5. Shift from a violent conflict and punishment model of resolving disagreements to a peaceful persuasive model, with the goal always being the well-being of the community as a whole first, and secondly each member of it.

6. Destroy all weapons of mass destruction, as well as all bio and chemical weapons, and their blueprints.

7. Disallow any one person’s or minority group’s interests (with rich people and businesses or industries rightly being considered minorities)  to take precedence over the interests of the majority, including the non-human majority on this planet.

8. Develop an appropriate representative global governing council to administer these principles.

In the name of Mother Earth and ALL of her children, I call on the peoples of the world to act without delay to become the stewards of the planet and the collaborative, respectful individuals we were always meant to be.

Thanks to the students of Gender, Culture & Society, Fall 2011, for the inspiration to write this Manifesto.

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37 Comments

  1. Don Salmon

     /  December 16, 2011

    hi, i hope you don’t mind my alternative suggestion to your comment on Robert Koehler’s article at “New Clear Vision”. For more on why such an alternative could be helpful, see “Shaving Science With Ockham’s Razor”, at http://www.integralworld.net, click “news” and scroll down.

    best,
    donsalmon7@gmail.com

    Reply
    • Whilst I am in awe of the manifesto itself, I would make the observation that by using the relatively unknown term ‘humyn‘ within its title, the author(ess?) has invited serious and unwanted distraction from the main theme. I cite this comment as a case in point… :(

      With very best wishes,

      A human.

      Reply
      • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

         /  December 18, 2011

        Yes, that’s a good point. The term humyn came from one of my students, and I agree with her that it is an attempt to represent graphically a break with the patriarchal culture that has landed us in our current predicament. The manifesto might also be called eco-feminist, but we wanted to embrace humynism as more inclusive, in a new, different way. If you can get past the term, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the ideas and how to promote them most effectively–

  2. After two unsuccessful attempts to post my thoughts here, I gave up and put them on my blog instead:

    A response to an eco-humynist manifesto for the 21st century

    Reply
    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  December 18, 2011

      Thank you so much for this great feedback! I was not familiar with any of the links you offer, and it’s always so great to find kindred spirits out there on the Web. I shall add them to my blogroll. And I’ll also update the manifesto following your excellent suggestions. Check back again to see the updates….
      onward!
      Jennifer

      Reply
  3. Jennifer,

    Having recently read James Hansen’s Storms of my Grandchildren, I was deeply sceptical of whether COP17 could ever achieve anything. I even wrote to my MP and emailed the UK’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in the hope that he and his peers would stand up to the Business As Usual/Fossil Fuel lobbies and take some radical action. All to no effect. [ If necessary, please excuse my ambivalence towards nuclear energy - as Pendantry has done :-) ]

    Having come to you via Pendantry’s blog, I think your manifesto is excellent and it also reflects the somewhat alarming conclusion reached by Clive Hamilton at the end of his Requiem for a Species. However, I would have to echo Pendantry’s questioning the usefulness of such a opaque term as “humynist”. Even though you have explained it to me, its use still contributes little to the message (IMHO)…

    Reply
  4. Wow. An impressive effort. Let me see… is the idea here to replace every instance of the triplet m-a-n with “myn”? Trying it on for size, I am making an effort to mynufacture lofty, humyne sentiments, which are pulling at the strings of my very humynity. Like mynna from heaven, the article comes to lodge in my ‘everymyn’ consciousness. Uh, well, then again, maybe the term belongs on the humynure pile.

    Sincerely,

    Praying Myntis

    Reply
  5. Thanks Jennifer for bring this article to my attention. Before potentially reposting it on New Anthro, I’d like to open up a discussion on the article, especially regarding two points.

    The first point regards the use of “egalitarian”. It means different things to different people and in different situations. Here, it seems you would suggest the western world adopt economic equality for all people in all situations?

    If so, I don’t think this is obtainable. We’ve never had egalitarian states, with populations so large and of such diversity. I personally don’t think my teenaged self should have earned the same hourly rate, packing shelves after school as I do now in my applied science role. It goes without saying that for most people, the effort and expense of obtaining higher tertiary education (especially, with cost, people in middle and lower classes, such as myself who actually do bare a significant financial burden) to take on in many cases highly stressful jobs (surgeons for instance), prestige or altruism won’t be enough of an incentive without greater financial benefit.

    If one could get a similar income from a simply “9 to 5” job that they leave behind them at day’s end, why would many people try so hard?

    On the other hand, egalitarian opportunity within such societies promises greater resilience and social benefit. This is direct criticism of the current situation where the high costs of quality healthcare and education prove an effective barrier to the vast majority.

    The truly sad thing here is that, in doing so, this disparity actually undermines GDP and societal wealth. Arts and entertainment as well as healthcare and education are largely industries that don’t necessarily rely on materials (and with greater investment into education and thus R&D, even less so in many cases). If we were to decrease this disparity, we could continue a growth economy (or better modulate a “stable” economy – “stable” being a loose term as how it can only be applied to ecosystems) longer than on a material based one (ie. buying endless junk).

    I think this disparity is the clearest example that our economic structure does not work for the benefit of the mass, but exploits the mass for a disproportionate benefit to a minority.

    Ultimately, I think we need a mild (thus strongly regulated) capitalistic system that has safe guards restricting too much accumulation of personal wealth beyond anything sensible (eg. how could anyone justify requiring a million+ dollar annual income). Egalitarian opportunity of education and healthcare is therefore essential, but not an egalitarian economy (we need quality based expense and reward, albeit to a far lesser degree than it is employed today).

    The second point is regarding tone. Engaging with deniers of science for over two years now, I’ve seen that those with their head in the sand regarding climate change have two paranoid delusions that the likes of Monckton exploits and may be read within the article. There is an urge to war / WWIII is something they would read into as a “green war” or “eco-terrorist talk”, and “global governing council” will read to these same individuals as the “one world government”.

    Of course, I know that’s not your point here. War just leads to extra damage to ecosystems and modern warfare has a high carbon footprint – it would be counterproductive in many ways. And by a global governance, you’re suggesting stronger global governance through such measures as the UN.

    Personally, I think we in the west have increasingly over generations been trained to leave it up governments. With all this modern communication technology, you would expect our ability to protest and revolt would be greater, but it’s not. This is because the same technology has been muddied up by counter-agendas. We talk far more but do far less. The blogosphere is overstocked with it.

    I’m certain that a grass-roots movement is the only way forward. We need a committed global community that utilises this technology to set the example and to not stand for a faulty system that does the majority of us and the resilience of the natural world no good. My hope has been to get the ball rolling with Generation Adaptation – which serves as a meeting place for such ideas.

    Long term however, the next step would be for communities to start making a difference locally – not for financial profit, but for a better standard of living. This would require communities that support each other, have communal gardens and local growers markets, initiatives developed to establish natural corridors for species movement through urban landscapes, not-for-profit healthcare and education services etc etc etc.

    People will need to set an example so that others can see it’s possible and then pressure will be great enough to sway political powers to action that should have been taken long ago. We will need to show how outdated the current system is and to show the “sceptics” that how landscapes can work better for us as well as the natural world.

    Reply
    • Re: “quality based expense and reward”.

      Greed got us into this mess.

      Offering financial incentives places the wrong emphasis on our endeavours. An undue emphasis on monetary rewards gifts power to the avaricious — and, as we’ve seen, the process accelerates until ‘the 1%’ are insanely ‘wealthy’ (in inverted commas, as our society’s definition of wealth is itself highly suspect).

      Not everyone strives for more munny than they need.

      It can also be argued that those who are better educated do not deserve greater rewards simply on the grounds that ‘progress’ is not something that has actually done any of us any good — by bringing us to the multiple crisis point we’re at now. (The only guaranteed way to avoid using ‘WMDs’ is: not to invent them in the first place.)

      I think it’s a mistake to push people into further education with the promise of future financial rewards as a carrot. Or simply to get youngsters off the streets. Or to ‘equalise’ opportunity. These are examples of the kind of thinking that need to be questioned.

      Half the population has less than average IQ — which is not an elitist jibe, it’s just the way things are: IQ follows a normal distribution. Some people aren’t ‘academically inclined’. Some may have the aptitude but are simply not interested in learning (or: perhaps not at that stage in their lives). I believe that the contribution to society of those less well schooled is just as valid as that of anyone else, and should not be stigmatised.

      Me, I went back to skool to study for a degree after ten years full-time work for no other reason than because I was interested in learning — in my case, about computer science — and the hiatus in my formal education not only did me no harm, it was positive, as it allowed me time to discover what it was I was interested in studying. Wouldn’t it be better, for everyone, if such an approach could become the norm rather than the exception?

      Reply
  6. Moth, I used to think like you (I am responding to your thoughts on economic egalitarianism). But I don’t any more. Let me explain. First, I think that what we are as adults is mostly a gift — a gift from parents and society, a gift from genes, a gift from the earth. So those of us who are more ambitious, more energetic, or more talented in certain areas are not more deserving than others; they are so mostly by the grace of Mother Nature & nurture. What we are is only very partially due to any individual strivings. Therefore, it seems to me, that each person ought to receive basic life supports as a matter of fact. And land should never ever be owned — it comes as a gift from the planet and can only be stolen away from the commons, never earned.

    Second, I agree with you that motivation without financial reward will shift the way people occupy themselves, and fewer people will bust their gut for “achievements” of various kinds. But would it not be a good thing for the planet? Too much human work, striving, doing, is killing life. Once, when humans had little, it made sense. Now, it no longer does. In an egalitarian world, people would still bust gut, but for the love of it, the way people work for Wikipedia nowadays, for example.

    So the question is not whether your youthful self “deserved” to be paid what your wages are today. The question is, what sort of economic arrangements will take care of human needs along with planetary needs in the best possible way?

    Reply
    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  December 20, 2011

      Thanks for all these thoughtful comments! I have to say I agree with leavergirl on the two key points of land ownership and the right of all people to basic life support. Property rights have been a disaster from the start and should be shifted to a rental from the commons kind of approach, with stewardship as the criteria for “squatting rights.”

      As for the right of all to basic life support, I’d like to extend that right further to the rest of the natural eco-system, and argue that all beings on the planet have the right to a peaceful, secure existence. Not to say I wouldn’t kill a mouse in my house or pull up an invasive weed. But I acknowledge the rights of mice and kudzu, as valuable parts of the ecological whole, each with their role to play to keep the system running.

      I agree with Moth about the importance of egalitarian opportunity, of course. But I also agree with Leavergirl that the Puritan work ethic, tied to profit and accumulation is what has brought our civilization so swiftly to its endpoint. How about a work ethic based on collaboration and mutual support? We don’t have to look far for models: think Native American potlatch culture, for example. So the harder you work the more we all prosper and the more we have to give away to each other at the end of the year. But the value of your hard work is measured in how much it benefits the society as a whole–and/or the planet as a whole–rather than in personal accumulation of wealth.

      More coming on wealth…today, if I can get to it….

      Reply
  7. Thanks for the comments leavergirl. The funny thing is I could probably say the same thing; that I used to think like you. Funny how we shift like that.

    Indeed I’m not a very ambitious person by nature and I simply don’t get people who are very much so. I chose to complete a degree in ecology over my passion (creative writing) because I felt it was the right thing to do to help conserve this wonderful world for future generations. I’m certain I personally fit into your ideal.

    That said, it’s clearly a minority mind frame. It’s by no means the norm and unlikely to be otherwise for many generations to come (and only after a new wave of enlightenment and changes to social philosophies).

    The most damning point of evidence is that there has never been an egalitarian state. It’s a way of life for small, isolated and nomadic populations and the result of simply not having a life style (ie. sedentary) or the resources to afford accumulation.

    As soon as populations begin food production and to build larger populations, some sort of structure (ie. political and central resource acquisition) becomes essential. Without some form of democratic influence (and even with it to a lesser degree) those in control of these structures tend to abuse their power for personal gain. It’s happened numerous times, the world over.

    Nowadays, influence over resource control and political power has increasingly come from “Wall St”. It doesn’t matter if it’s some hereditary claim, dictatorship or the free-market, capitalistic or socialistic; in all cases, people within the state abuse their position to acquire “just a little bit more” for themselves, their families and their friends.

    We’ve never had a start where all people, all the time want equal everything for all. It happens only in small populations due to the lack of opportunity to do otherwise.

    Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and Diamond’s “Guns, germs and steel” give the story clear enough. To believe that all people will forgo themselves in states of stockpiled resources (currently with social pressures urging us to spend – something that is deeply embedded in the psyche of the majority), to become true custodians – transient fragments of the world itself, here to help life thrive and make the world better for the transient life forms that follow – is, IMHO, hopelessly utopian.

    The best example I can give is the endless uselessness in addressing climate change. If people were willing to sacrifice and bust their gut, simply “for the love of it”, we wouldn’t be where we are today. In truth, the your comparison (ie. creators of Wikipedia) and working in general, are not the same. I’ve committed hundreds of hours to reading science literature, reporting and utilising my site’s and many other data sources to present as best I can on science on both New Anthro and GenA. I do that “for the love of it”. But I still need a day job and I’m not about accept my years of effort to get to the position I am at today is equal to the effort in becoming a filler at a supermarket.

    I’m just as certain most people who have busted their guts to get where they are today are unlikely to accept complete equality to those starting out or never had tried in return, solely out of warming feelings for the job or the planet.

    Any society that removes such incentives from effort entirely undermines itself. Why work with sewerage or in dangerous jobs or stressful jobs if not for a good incentive? You simply cannot expect such jobs to be filled to a level that can support societies solely “for the love of it”.

    “But would it not be a good thing for the planet? Too much human work, striving, doing, is killing life. Once, when humans had little, it made sense. Now, it no longer does.”

    That doesn’t make sense. Effectively, you’re suggesting high unemployment will be good for the environment. It’s entirely unrealistic with 7 billion people on this earth to remove incentive in the hope of getting people out of work.

    I’m certain, in such a scenario, people would leave jobs. People would leave cities. They would focus on food production to support their families. 7 billion farmers/fisherpeople/herders? It would be fragmented, without efficient resource trade, meaning move land converted to production, more food wasted, more people away from hospitals and schools, inefficient law enforcement… etc etc. It is not the answer. We need cities to better support their people rather than drive them away.

    Being alive maybe a gift from the earth, but the length and quality of that life is inseparable from modern affluent states. Our quality of life is the gift to us from modern science, made possible in such states, where they can invest in R&D.

    We are not all equal in age, effort, experience and initiative, thus a successful state will harness this potential with incentives. We’re not even equal at different stages of our own lives! My teenage self as a filler had nothing but disposable income. Nowadays, I have transport expenses, rent, shopping, a child on the way (plus the time off required for my wife), household bills, etc. Younger me didn’t put in the same effort in development, did not provide the same level of output and did not have anywhere near the financial obligations I now have. Equality of both roles does not reflect either situation fairly. Egalitarianism does not reflect a society that is not equal to begin with.

    Egalitarianism will not solve our problems – it’s the same as the late 19th century romance affair with socialism within certain groups in Britain. We see a problem and “something else” must be the answer.

    However, the worse thing we could do would be to flip our whole social structure on its head – especially for an unproven and somewhat utopian system. Reforming the system we already have in a way that it disallows vast accumulation of wealth, frees finances to flow more freely throughout society by its sheer nature, stimulating job creation and greater equality, while giving some incentive for personal development and contribution to society.

    Reply
  8. My statement in that we need egalitarian healthcare and education is basically the same as “the right of all people to basic life support”, which I of course agree.

    Although I hadn’t commented on it, I also agree on land ownership; personally ownership of any section of the commons should not occur. If this were the case, it would be far more difficult to justify waste and accelerating linear process pathways of materials. Recycling would be essential.

    I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree. With the Native American potlatch culture, they again were not anywhere near as complicated a social structure as much of the western world.

    Embarrassing to admit, but the first time I came about such an idea was from a Start Trek episode (or movie, I can’t remember) where the captain said that people work for the joy of it and not for money. My mind was blown by the concept where consumables and services were just available to everyone and people just worked for it’s own sake to society.

    In concept, it’s a nice idea. However, we’re nowhere near social philosophies so altruistic and on the back of 3 or 4 decades of neo-liberal markets, we have whole generations literally obsessed with consumption.

    For such an egalitarian system to work, it would need to be universal; it would need to based on a unified global community dedicated to the improvement for all. As I said above, climate change is a great example, but we could also look at any conflict between states, we could look at any monopoly, we could look even at the dynamics between any social group – such a concept could not work in practice in these situations. The potlatch culture had the relative “luxury” of being close-knit.

    It’s far easier to care for a family member or someone you grew up with than the neighbour who moved next door last week and has already kept you up with a couple house parties.

    Likewise, it’s far easier to work for equal return (ie. social benefit), when the work options and potential returns are limited. This is like comparing apples to oranges with the modern western world.

    Again, returning to my “two selves”; my teenage self, with low social input and low financial obligation compared to my current higher social input and higher financial obligations are not equal. My effort to acquire the filler job compared to my professional role are not equal. My contribution to society (both through my work and my spending) are not equal in both cases.

    Ideally, a much more regulated capitalism that works to remove waste and to maintain a small and shallow social ladder is, IMHO, the most likely possibility available to us. With increase education and improvement, we may obtain a social structure unlike anything we have seen before – one that is egalitarian. But it is too far from where we currently are, to be realistic.

    Reply
    • …it would need to based on a unified global community dedicated to the improvement for all…

      Exactly. But without this, we might as well give up now.

      We have to stop looking at things in the way we’ve become accustomed (trained) to look at them, by our upbringing. The rules are changing. We must adapt. The concept of a ‘job’ is a case in point. Today’s jobs can be considered little more than indentured slavery.

      Why be embarrassed to mention Star Trek? IDIC isn’t just a cool SF idea; it’s how nature works — or used to, till we got too big for our precious booties. We’re part of nature. Go figure.

      Reply
  9. How many of you people are being paid piecework (i.e per word)? :-)

    Yep, that’s right, I feel intimidated into being sarcastic. Happy Christmas. :-)

    Reply
  10. Hey Martin, happy solstice! :-)

    Moth, we got a bit of a problem. There are two issues arising here… what sort of an economic arrangement would serve the earth and humans the best, and what can be done now in the face of the Leviathan we face. Both legit of course. My interest has been to address the first aspect, since our bloggiste opened up with a manifesto.

    I know you think what I say is unrealistic, but then, I think equally strongly that reforming the Leviathan is equally unrealistic. So we are even in that. My interest is whether — if we think theory here — we can come to agreement on some basics. I am gonna pull down both your posts and craft a response… so it will be up in a while. Thank you for opening up this discussion!

    Reply
  11. Yes, there has never been an egalitarian state, but then states are only 6,000 years old at the most. That means that the vast majority of our existence as humans we lived under egalitarian arrangements. There have even been proto-civilizations that were quite egalitarian, as far as can be told from the remains. In my opinion, we never would have made it through the ice ages without egalitarian sharing. And since another period of massive challenge is beginning for humanity, maybe we should have a good look at what worked?

    I am not against structure. I am for structure that emerges the way other things emerge in nature. Nature does not work on the boss principle, nor on centralization. Imitating nature in what works well, that is what I am looking at these days. In ant hills, no tyrant rises to abuse power. Maybe, we could learn the same? :-)

    “We’ve never had a start where all people, all the time want equal everything for all. It happens only in small populations due to the lack of opportunity to do otherwise.”

    But that is exactly what we had for most of our existence as a species – not for lack of opportunity, but in the interest of survival in harsh conditions. Sharing and generosity is just as embedded in our psyche as much or more than greed and hoarding.

    I do not imagine a society like Pol Pot’s where you indeed would have been sent to stack boxes or dig ditches. What I imagine is a society of vigilant sharing (an anthropological term) where people share the basics of life more or less equally. Not because it’s a right – I don’t use the language of rights, seems useless to me – but because it makes sense, and serves human and ecosystem survival. Nobody having to go into hock to get housing. Everybody having mine soil for food and basics. Everybody pitching in for part of their time to keep this system going. Without debt and other predatory practices, to secure the basics for all is easy. Then, the rest of the time, people would pursue their avocations, either for the love of it, or other motivations. The fruits of their labors would become part of the human commons and benefit everyone. Open source. Human motivations do not die just because people have a sharing economy. They change. When wealth of one person depends on the wealth of the whole community, people will naturally be eager to contribute to the whole community. That’s self-interest at work.

    Those who would feel that there was a lack of something… say you felt that the basics do not cover quite the comforts you wish for. Then in your plentiful free time you would apply yourself together with others to invent new ways of doing things, and disseminate them. Through the talents of some people the entire community and the entire planet would benefit. And yes, I do think that everyone would be involved in one way or another in the food economy – no more of cities preying on the hinterlands.

    The reason sharing works is that it is a low overhead economy. Nobody has to rape the earth because they have bank payments to pay. Bosses, debt and other ploys create a high overhead economy that results inevitably in desperation and plunder.

    How would unpleasant work be incentivized? Well, money has only existed for what… 3 thousand years? Yet unpleasant work got done. Maybe a young man who committed to work with collecting and composting humanure for a number of years, the community would build him a house to his specs. Moth, humanity has existed for eons within informal gifting/trading/credit economies and functioned quite well. Even in the middle ages. I recommend Gaeber’s book Debt.

    >>“But would it not be a good thing for the planet? Too much human work, striving, doing, is killing life. Once, when humans had little, it made sense. Now, it no longer does.”

    “That doesn’t make sense. Effectively, you’re suggesting high unemployment will be good for the environment. It’s entirely unrealistic with 7 billion people on this earth to remove incentive in the hope of getting people out of work.”

    I am suggesting that many jobs today plunder the environment with little to show for it except propping up a ridiculous, wasteful overhead. Enough!

    “I’m certain, in such a scenario, people would leave jobs. People would leave cities. They would focus on food production to support their families. 7 billion farmers/fisherpeople/herders? It would be fragmented, without efficient resource trade, meaning move land converted to production, more food wasted, more people away from hospitals and schools, inefficient law enforcement… etc etc. It is not the answer. We need cities to better support their people rather than drive them away.”

    I envision a society where everybody works part of the time in food production, whether directly by growing, or by processing stuff their neighbors grow. How else do you remove the endless middle men skimming off food values as the food travels thousands of miles to its destination? How else do you have squeaky fresh food that isn’t half poisoned unless you know those who grow it? Some of these people would leave towns, of course; the cancerous cities of this civilization are not sustainable. But smaller town configurations would be doable, IMO.

    “Being alive maybe a gift from the earth, but the length and quality of that life is inseparable from modern affluent states. Our quality of life is the gift to us from modern science, made possible in such states, where they can invest in R&D.”

    It’s a mixed bag. Will the people in Japan up by the tsunami zone feel as sanguine about their prospect of longevity or the gifts of modern science? Dr Jekyll comes attached to Mr Hyde, and we forget that at our peril. Can we figure out a better balance?

    “We are not all equal in age, effort, experience and initiative… ”

    You are quite right… Mother Nature has not made human beings equal. Some are smarter or stronger, others weaker or even damaged and dependent. The argument for egalitarianism rests on the desirability of a low overhead economy where nobody is desperate enough for basics to plunder the landbase, and where those who are not well endowed by nature are not actively impoverished by the society in which they live.

    And finally, Moth, please, stop repeating that pol phrase, job creation. There are plenty of jobs everywhere that need doing. Always have been and always will be. We need another economic pattern where the incentives flow to those who do them. And we need to get away from a system that holds people hostage with the promise of busywork in some miserable cubicledom or worse.

    So, where does that leave us? We agree that people should have the basics freely available to them, and that land should be taken out of the cycle of buying and selling and returned to the commons. That’s something! And that is a significant measure of egalitarianism right there…. And you are willing to consider the ideas. That is a promising beginning. :-)

    Reply
  12. Sorry, proofing failure: Nobody should have to mine soil to secure food and basics.

    Reply
  13. Maybe I’m wasting the effort I’m putting in. Both my replies and current economic models are simply disregarded, followed by a glorification of a system that is unproven, supported by irrelevant evidence.

    You’re not comparing apples to apples by suggesting a world of 7 billion people could live in a style that suited small bands and tribes. Our modern societies are far more complex. It’s not a case of every able bodied individual simply foraging and working their little patch. We contribute unequally to society and that variance must reflect (albeit much more mildly than is currently the case) within returns to that individual.

    Your equality would quickly be upset per household as soon as there are more people within that house working and sharing basics. People would still find a way of being “wealthy”, or in other words, unequal.

    @leavergirl

    “…states are only 6,000 years old at the most”

    That’s more than 270 generations. And it’s also worth noting that almost all major advancements in technology, philosophy, civil rights (yes – beforehand, and was still the same for bands and tribes before missionary contact, murder was a leading cause of death… far from a noble tribe-person) and healthcare have occurred within that 6000 years.

    That is entirely due to food production and social structure that promoted full time crafts people and philosophers. People didn’t have a faction of the time to muse, invent and discover when they had to devote their time to food collection.

    “In my opinion, we never would have made it through the ice ages without egalitarian sharing.”

    And through to the middle of the twentieth century, there was again far more unity among many groups of people in the harsh times of war and depression. We are likely to see that type of society again, but not truly egalitarian.

    “I am not against structure.”

    Then you must realise that your push for egalitarianism, with structure, will require distribution of resources for all – meaning people will need manage that (ie. government) and others will need to transport it; in both cases, they will need to do this full time to be efficient. Already things are no longer equal and you now have people who effectively have power. Keeping to the notion of equality, you’ve resorted to socialism which has been tried and failed.

    “..not for lack of opportunity, but in the interest of survival in harsh conditions.”

    By “opportunity” = resource abundance. As soon as you have abundance, population growth occurs and in every known example, societies become more complex and unequal.

    “Sharing and generosity is just as embedded in our psyche as much or more than greed and hoarding.”

    If that were true, you wouldn’t have an argument because societies would work for sharing rather than greed and hoarding. There is no evidence for this and sharing and generosity came only with hardship.

    “Nobody having to go into hock to get housing. Everybody having… soil for food and basics. Everybody pitching in for part of their time to keep this system going… Then, the rest of the time, people would pursue their avocations, either for the love of it, or other motivations.”

    We may differ here, but I for one, don’t want to be seen by a part time surgeon who had to take on their training around working a personal patch for food. I have no doubt the extra work, focused on other labours will affect the quality of their work, compared to a full time surgeon who has devoted their lives to that work alone.

    Likewise (and I gave two examples previously), there are numerous other jobs within such complex societies that require full time devotion to be done efficiently or done at all. As soon as you make exceptions, your egalitarian ideal falls away and we return to something like we have today. Various social models have been tried and tested throughout history and it generally comes back to a credit for goods and services system that rewards individuals who contribute to the society in many ways separate from food production. It’s sheer wishful thinking to believe we will all grow our own food and work for little more than a hobby.

    “Then in your plentiful free time you would apply yourself together with others to invent new ways of doing things, and disseminate them.”

    Plentiful free time? Have you produced enough food in a suitable variation to support you and your family, collecting the required water (or building your own irrigation system – remember; you cannot rely on a full time water governance department) and sterilised it for drinking? Have you produced your own fibres and / or skins for clothing? Did you build your own house and do all maintenance required?

    Of course you didn’t or else you wouldn’t say “plentiful free time” because that’s utter fantasy. Our lives are so complex because they rely on full time labourers in fields other than food production who do the other jobs for us. This is mutually supportive and realistic.

    If it were possible to enjoy a luxurious, carefree life with your own patch of perfect soil – always ripe with food, reliable rainfall and houses / clothing that magically produced and cared for themselves for everyone, we’d all be doing it.

    Food production is not easy. Reliably feeding your family on your own patch every year isn’t possible – especially with a changing climate – and it’s by no means an easy life.

    “Nobody has to rape the earth because they have bank payments to pay.”

    That’s a naïve jump. Even egalitarian systems have debt; you don’t simply give something to someone to be nice, but because sometime in the future something of relative value will be returned to you.

    This is a strawman.

    “Well, money has only existed for what… 3 thousand years? Yet unpleasant work got done.”

    So did everything else you know enjoy; such as medical science and all this technology. People made these advancements because they didn’t have to devote their lives to food production. People made these advancements because of the social benefits were there in doing so. Again, this is a far jump from reality to demonise all things when numerous benefits came about along with many unpleasant jobs were filled for everyone else’s benefit.

    Sure, society might build the man a house (to his own specs? Wow – what about if he wants a TV – who in his community would be able to build it and what would he watch if everyone is busy tending their patch… oh wait, it’s the easy life, I forgot) at some point in the future, but what is he to do in the mean time to feed his family (sorry, again I forgot food collection / production is easy) and of course, without full time medical science he’s probably likely to die in the mean time by dysentery…

    “I am suggesting that many jobs today plunder the environment with little to show for it except propping up a ridiculous, wasteful overhead. Enough!”

    Many jobs plunder the environment? The bank teller? The water sanitiser? The doctor? The sewerage worker?

    Strawman.

    Life plunders the earth! You keep resorting to some fanciful ideal about nature but I know a thing or two about ecosystems and I’m very certain “niche exploitation” is another phrase for “plunder”.

    Jobs don’t plunder the earth, material processing that leads to excessive waste, locked in unusable configurations plunders the earth!

    If you want life to prosper, you want these things 1) lots of diverse life, doing diverse jobs, 2) numerous cyclic processes that convert materials into something useful in the next step of the chain, 3) no unusable waster production (ie. a linear process pathway).

    That’s how nature works. That’s what our societies ought to mirror.

    “How else do you remove the endless middle men skimming off food values as the food travels thousands of miles to its destination? How else do you have squeaky fresh food that isn’t half poisoned unless you know those who grow it?”

    A1. You don’t work with middlemen, but go to the source. I do that myself by doing the bulk of my shopping at farmers markets.

    A2. Half poisoned? I bet you anything; if everyone enjoyed the “luxurious life” of food production, many would get sick if not die from heavy metal etc in their soils due to either the natural soil conditions or human contaminants. They would also lose the bulk of their food to pest and fungal attack without either extra work or chemicals.

    It’s not a part time thing and we should be thankful of the diversity of lifestyles available that allow us to live in comfortable cities. You haven’t done the math to show how 7 billion part time farmers can divide the land enough to produce and live close enough for all the benefits of modern societies (ie. law enforcement, education and healthcare).

    “Some of these people would leave towns, of course; the cancerous cities of this civilization are not sustainable. But smaller town configurations would be doable, IMO”

    Some, no most. Farming is failing for most people. We only recently became a global community where most people are living in urban environments and this largely happened because of Africa. People in Africa are living rural environments for the cities because food production is becoming more and more difficult.

    Reading your blog, your comments here and especially “cancerous cities” tells me you’re a deindustrialist. I’ve been trying to show here and throughout my writing on New Anthro that the way forward isn’t to go backwards! Not with 7 billion people!

    Sure, cities don’t work great and broad scale monoculture is seeing its final decades in wide use. But like the economy, we will not improve the situation by simply abandoning everything! Geez…

    Visit Sustainable Cities Collective – these people are actually attempting to improve the situation rather than disregarding the modern world for an unproven model based on an oversimplified methodology.

    “It’s a mixed bag. Will the people in Japan up by the tsunami zone feel as sanguine about their prospect of longevity or the gifts of modern science?”

    Far more lives have been extended, improved or even made possible by modern science. Blaming science for an ill-managed nuclear power plant in a tectonically active region is a strawman.

    “The argument for egalitarianism rests on the desirability of a low overhead economy where nobody is desperate enough for basics to plunder the landbase, and where those who are not well endowed by nature are not actively impoverished by the society in which they live.”

    It’s idealism, without a sensible frame work.

    “And finally, Moth, please, stop repeating that pol phrase, job creation”

    I’m only repeating the point because you don’t seem to get it. You continue to repeat the same mantra of equality without regard for how your system would play out. I’ve repeatedly tried to explain equality cannot function in such a complex society. I’ve tried to explain that it would undo itself or become a form of socialism – open to the same types of corruption we have seen before.

    We cannot have an egalitarian system in a world of 7 billion people, with just as diverse philosophies, hopes/dreams and requirements/potentials for prosperity.

    You should watch Polly Toynbee and David Walker’s lecture on Unjust Rewards: Exposing Greed and Inequality in Britain Today

    The best option, at this point, is to have a strongly regulated capitalistic economic model within societies that aim to diversify urban landscape use. This will re-localise production and work, while creating an emphasis on biophilic design and natural corridors for species movement. It will reduce the need for cars and promote extra job growth (especially in low or non-material areas, such as arts and entertainment).

    “And that is a significant measure of egalitarianism right there…. And you are willing to consider the ideas.

    No-one can have ownership of commons; it’s not egalitarian in principle, it’s just commonsense!

    @leavergirl and @pedantry

    Nature should not be romanticised. It’s not in a state of equilibrium or egalitarian in nature. These two principles are contrary to evolution. Each individual is slightly different from any other individual on the planet (excusing those who are the result of asexual reproduction). Their toolkit will either assist in their endurance or let them down. Of course, chaos also plays a role – the fittest frog in the pond may be undone simply by chance.

    The constant flux of environmental factors and resource availability means that life must cover many bases for its own endurance.

    It’s not pretty and it’s not considerate. The chameleon won’t give a fly a break because it’s had a hard day. It eats it regardless of how much recycling it’s done. The mud wasp paralyses the spider and injects her eggs into her prey regardless how many infected mosquitoes the spider killed.

    Resorting to nature is also a thing of the business world – to excuse “dog eat dog” mentality. Just as with glorifying the perfection of nature, this is also wrong. The best way to see nature is like a dispassionate model, running into the ages.

    That said, there are many things to take from that model. The most important being that sustainable communities are not those that don’t change, but those that do change. Those that persist, don’t create tips of once useful materials that are not locked up in waste.

    We should take those lessons onboard.

    “And we need to get away from a system that holds people hostage with the promise of busywork in some miserable cubicledom or worse.”

    “Today’s jobs can be considered little more than indentured slavery.”

    Really?

    I know as a teenager and then for years as a tertiary student in both cases working in service, I felt like a slave. Customers often treat you as dirt and bosses are many folds worse.

    In all, it accounted for a decade of my life. Since then, my jobs have been far more relaxed and, in retrospect, I’m not too concerned by the difficulties I experienced in those earlier positions.

    Leavergirl, you constantly talk about jobs needing to be done and expect people to take on more work in producing their own food, yet seem to resent work in such statements and the unrealistic hope in a comfortable life of food production.

    At the end of the day work does need to be done. I’m grateful to be born in an age of good quality medical care, sanitation, fast transport (although I’m not a fan of personal transport), mass food production and distribution (although we need to do better with distribution elsewhere).

    Without people going into to work at the start of the shift, enduring it and then clocking out at the end of the shift, we’d have a global population numbering a few million, with a life expectancy of maybe 25yrs, god-like chiefs and ridiculous ceremonies to absurd deities, very little art, little to no contact with other populations, unmitigated plagues and untrustworthy water supplies.

    If we wish to survive, we are effectively “slaves” to our stomachs. If we want our genes to pass on, we’re just as much “slaves” to our children as well. Everything we do, we do for those two reasons. The job doesn’t make a slave out of us. Work is essential for any living entity. Simple as that.

    If we wish to lower our own dependence, as leavergirl suggests with her continuous attack on banks, debt, jobs etc, we mustn’t buy into the consumerist ideology. Forget brands. Forget statue people tie into brands. Overcome the (evolutionary) desire to effectively gorge on high sugar / fat in heavily processed foods and make a commitment to buying food in its natural state and process it yourself from there (I’d suggest going to grower markets so you know it’s as local as it can be and fresher), don’t take out personal loans for “wants”, repair rather than replace and basically accept what you have being enough. I try to do these things. That lowers your overheads. You may not change the world, but you live better and set an example.

    Reply
    • Finally,

      “In ant hills, no tyrant rises to abuse power. Maybe, we could learn the same?”

      most are mindless drones caring for their queen and her offspring. I wouldn’t enjoy a life that.

      “And finally, Moth, please, stop repeating that pol phrase, job creation. There are plenty of jobs everywhere that need doing. Always have been and always will be.”

      Why then is there always a problem of unemployment. It’s so great nowadays in Greece for the younger generation that they are called the forgotten generation. If there are always jobs, why then are they not filled by such people? It’s not so black and white and it is not a “pol phrase”.

      Before you respond to these, please note, such statements like;

      “There are plenty of jobs everywhere that need doing.”

      “Sharing and generosity is just as embedded in our psyche as much or more than greed and hoarding.”

      “There have even been proto-civilizations that were quite egalitarian, as far as can be told from the remains.”

      They are factoids without evidence. Much of your replies are of this nature. I try to provide examples are why I disagree (such as the comparison over myself now and previously), but such replies are simply lofty approaches without substance.

      An example of a good reply would be; “proto-civilization X had just as much complexity as a modern western society, but were able to divide equally ABC though DEFG. We could apply such logic to our current economic model, or adopt a new one through HIJ.”

      Otherwise, as I’ve stated from the beginning; 1) there’s no evidence that egalitarian societies have been successful at the scale we’re currently at, 2) people are not equal in their contribution and obligation, training and initiative, thus cannot meaningfully be rated as equal in return, 3) It would be impossible to have everyone as part time farmers/herders/fisher people and proving to society through all the services and goods currently available – many to the improvement of our health.

      It’s only a Tolkien-styled dream to “return to the shire” that cannot work in the current situation.

      Reply
  14. Sorry, forgot to add the link;
    You should watch Polly Toynbee and David Walker’s lecture on Unjust Rewards: Exposing Greed and Inequality in Britain Today

    Reply
  15. @Moth

    “Maybe I’m wasting the effort I’m putting in.”

    Maybe we all are. I won’t waste too much time responding to your comments; arguments rarely achieve very much.

    “socialism which has been tried and failed”

    One of your own strawmen. Capitalism is failing as we speak. Did fail catastrophically in 2008. And 1930s.

    “It’s sheer wishful thinking to believe we will all grow our own food and work for little more than a hobby.”

    What’s completely pie in the sky is the belief that we can continue to aspire to the spurious throwaway technogadgetry society we currently have. Our current societal model is totally unsustainable. This has to change. One way or another, it will change. And not in little ways that might allow some (actually, far too many) to continue to be rewarded in totally inequitable ways, with unsustainable goods, unwarranted rewards based upon an accident of geographical location at birth.

    “Many jobs plunder the environment?”

    Many, yes, they do. If not all of them! The entire fabric of our society is made from oil. It’s all around us. We’re destroying the planet to get the last drop of the stuff (take a look at what’s happening in Athabasca, for instance). Consumerism requires that things are made so that they fall apart. We are persuaded that we can only be happy if we buy useless shit. And worse, ever more and more of it — or the system collapses. Our economy is built on the crumbling foundations of the fallacy that you can have perpetual growth in a finite environment. You can’t.

    “we should be thankful of the diversity of lifestyles available that allow us to live in comfortable cities”

    Living in cities as we do now is totally unsustainable. If you think you’ll be able to continue much as you are, you’re the one living in the fantasy land.

    “I’ve been trying to show here and throughout my writing on New Anthro that the way forward isn’t to go backwards!”

    We either implement drastic changes, or some 5 billion people will die. It’s one or the other — maybe both. Accepting the loss of so many people strikes me as a pretty ‘backwards’ move.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  December 21, 2011

      The side of me that’s been listening to Derrick Jensen & Co. is tempted to reply that losing 5 billion humans is the best thing that could happen to the planet. But of course, none of us wants to be the ones to go. Population is going to have to go down, one way or another.

      I find myself just as concerned about the plummeting populations of other species as I am about humans. Anyone following the news on North American bats? I just heard yesterday that 90% of the American brown bat population has crashed in just the past 5 years since white fungus disease began, and that bat is now being considered for the endangered species list.

      The Fish & Wildlife Service’s response? $4 million has been appropriated to study the problem. Too little, too late.

      I’m afraid that’s the way things are going now, across the board, as regards climate change and bio-diversity loss. Too little attention, paid too late.

      One way or another, the planet will be going forwards. But how many of us current inhabitants will go forward with it–that is the question of the hour, and it’s not looking good.

      Reply
    • “…arguments rarely achieve very much.”

      Indeed

      “One of your own strawmen. Capitalism is failing as we speak.”

      No it isn’t – socialism has failed and it was relevant to the point I was making (ie. egalitarianism + structure = socialism), so it’s not a strawman. And I never disagreed that the neo-liberal capitalism currently employed was failing.

      “”It’s sheer wishful thinking to believe we will all grow our own food and work for little more than a hobby.” What’s completely pie in the sky is the belief that we can continue to aspire to the spurious throwaway technogadgetry society we currently have.”

      Apples and oranges. I was talking about leavergirl’s ‘part-time peasant’ idealism. That has nothing to do with “the spurious throwaway technogadgetry society we currently have”. You’ve been following my blog long enough to know (at least I had hoped so) that I despise consumerism. Hell, my comment yesterday here also included points on how to avoid being a mindless consumer!

      Why are you having a go at me with something I’ve long supported myself – something you should already be aware of?

      “The entire fabric of our society is made from oil”

      I thought you read “Innovation is key” and “The Human island”? This whole section is exactly what I’ve been saying in those two.

      What I’ve also been saying is that we need increase R&D in relation with ecology, natural resource management, waste prevention and biophilic design! These are the jobs of the future. Leavergirl talks like a de-industrialist which is nothing more than a pitch for a new dark age. The way forward isn’t backwards, but redesign and we need full time thinkers and doers, not a world full of part-time peasants.

      “Living in cities as we do now is totally unsustainable. If you think you’ll be able to continue much as you are, you’re the one living in the fantasy land.”

      Read Timothy Beatley’s, “Biophilic Cities: integrating nature into urban design and planning”.

      And also, again, you’ve read my work for a while now – have I ever advocated leaving cities how they are today?

      “We either implement drastic changes, or some 5 billion people will die.”

      Where did that number come from? I’m getting a feeling here that such a tragedy would quietly be welcomed among a few.

      Again, you’ve read my work. I discuss the growing problems of fertilisers (ie. the sheer dependence we have on nitrogen fertilisers based on finite natural gas, which feeds the bulk of the world). I discuss food distribution – in fact the absurdity of how far most produce travels. I’ve discussed various concerns that threaten the world population! Your comment just doesn’t make sense.

      I’m disappointed in this comment Colin. I fear you’ve jumped on the bandwagon here, which, if anything, further proves that this discussion board has made up their mind about me, without actually reading what I’m saying (and in your case, forgetting everything else on top of that, which I’ve previously written).

      Sticking around here is little more than standing in the firing range. I’ve had enough. I’m removing my subscription to this comment thread and will not return.

      Reply
  16. When I read your response, Moth, I feel discouraged because I was looking forward to being listened to, and listening in turn. Instead I run into scorn. Meh.

    As for the statements that I made, checks out the following proto-civilizations: Norte Chico, Amazonia, Catal Huyuk. In fact, if you want to see a quick read on them, look at my blog. I also have a write up on the — what seems to me the obvious — reality of human nature as being mixed. Anthropologists have a name for it. Will come back and post the links for your convenience.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  December 21, 2011

      I have to say I agree. It’s not so much what was said, but the tone…a “I want to win this argument” tone, rather than a “I want to listen, learn, consider, and extend this discussion in new directions” tone.

      Can we drop the IMHO stuff? Let’s be real….

      Reply
    • You’re entitled to read whatever tone you wish to in my reply. The only emotion behind my writing was one of frustration.

      Increasingly fed up with having to repeat myself to receive nothing but lofty notions of how nature works and infeasible suggestions of how society could restructure itself, I went to great lengths to break down the comment and rebut each section, providing examples and counter-arguments.

      My response to this effort was one of indignation which conveniently left you apparently on the moral high ground without the need to respond. It’s a clever technique of avoidance I’ve often come across on the blogosphere, typically by AGW denialists and advocates against GM and vaccination.

      Demonising my reply as egotistical and arrogant helps to ignore the blinding errors in your idealism which I tried to address.

      I too came here for a good discussion. Jennifer made me aware of her post, to which I didn’t entirely agree with and so I raised a couple points. So far I haven’t received any valid rebuts to my statements, but instead further confirmation.

      I tried to use examples, such as comparing myself at different points of life to demonstrate a basic error to egalitarianism, something I coupled later with the lecture video.

      I tried to explain that nature isn’t stable and poetically altruistic.

      I tried to explain how infeasible it is to expect everyone to be part time food producers due to both land requirements and to maintain the level of expertise of the modern world (which we owe the quality of life and often our sheer existence to).

      I had said that no native North American population achieved populations as sophisticated and specialty-diverse as a typical western city (and that goes too for central and south America also) and yet you continue to repeat theirs as a good social model (do some research into their life expectancy before western invasion and also into their deep history in changing the fauna of North America).

      I tried to explain that while you say “egalitarianism” in action in such large and complex societies, it will inevitably lead to socialism; something that has been tried and demonstrated to be just as corrupt as neo-liberal capitalism.

      Etc

      Of course, none of this has been replied to; I am merely written off as bombastic and as “a guy who knows better than the rest of us. Oh well.”

      That’s a cop out.

      Obviously I won’t find a debate here. No-one will back up their statements with objective reasoning. And when someone attempts to discuss the subject with as much, they scrubbed off as ignorant.

      I have been listening, but the case hasn’t been compelling.

      I still disagree, if not more so following this exchange, that we can achieve in the foreseeable future this idealist societal structure you all seem to crave. We’re too far from the realisation of that.

      “…losing 5 billion humans is the best thing that could happen to the planet. But of course, none of us wants to be the ones to go. Population is going to have to go down, one way or another.”
      “…bloodshed, which is specifically antithetical to the principles I lay out, would be inevitable.
      “But if a World War III must commence, I would rather it be for a good cause like this one…”
      War? Potentially (although unsaid) suicide for the sake world of the natural world?!?!
      This is part of the problem I came here to discuss. This type of language is simply inhumane.
      Read Dick Smith’s book, “Population Crisis”. He does a good job. Most of the population growth happens in poorer nations. This happens due to a number of social factors (eg. high mortality rates, poor education, low social care – having many children become your retirement plan etc).
      The humane way to start to control population is to provide aid to developing nations – especially in improving healthcare and education (especially of females). This will lead to lower population growth akin to that of the developed west (although, many indigenous peoples of the west are just as needing of the same assistance).
      Once you have achieved this (and hopefully sooner in developed nations) you can start to talk about something similar to China’s “one child policy” BUT it would need to be more gradual to avoid too great an “aging population”.
      Leavergirl; I did read the last several posts you wrote on your blog. That’s why I hit you hard on the agricultural side. I used to think like you – lofty on the easy, peasant life in touch with nature. But then I took on tertiary education relating to ecology and agriculture. You talk about Australian soils, but I assure you, it’s not a place where everyone can live in a shire. You’re a fan of Jarrod Diamond’s essay – read his book, “Gus, germs and steel.”

      Technology is the result of Greek philosophies that were revived by Europe and led to the Enlightenment. It has revolutionised the quality of life of our species and ecology (less than 60yrs old as a true subject) promises to provide justifiable reasoning for species protection as long as dreamy eyed naturists care to listen (ie. get involved with scientifically backed volunteer initiatives rather than demand a de-industrial future).

      Oh, and I have studied a couple allodapine bee species (primitive social species) native to the highlands of Victoria, Aust. A life as a bee is even more filled up with the “evils” of work than many of us. It’s one even deeper in servitude than most.

      I’ll leave it. I’m clearly outnumbered and left in the firing line. We will not see eye-to-eye and I’ve made myself the bad guy for disagreeing with the status quo of the site.

      Reply
      • Moth, your points of view are interesting. When you decide to pay attention to and cultivate relationship with the actual human beings you are seeking to have a conversation with, when you begin to open yourself up to empathic listening rather than simply dismiss the distress your opponents are trying to communicate, why don’t you come back? I would be happy then to tackle the substance.

  17. http://leavingbabylon.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/terrible-glory-of-being-human-i/

    http://leavingbabylon.wordpress.com/book/being-there/

    And as for the ants and other social insects, they have meager personal intelligence but amazing swarm intelligence that we would do well to learn from. If you should wish to study them, there is plenty out there; also you can google swarm intelligence, honeybee democracy, and complexity theory.

    Reply
  18. A thought regarding the manifesto… IMO we are moving post-ideology, and appending the prefix eco- to socialism, feminism, or humanism will not revive them.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  December 21, 2011

      Do you have any suggestions for a better title? I’m open–

      Reply
      • A human manifesto? An earthling manifesto? A manifesto for 21st century? One woman’s manifesto? “I am sick of the status quo” manifesto? :-)

      • While I agree @leavergirl that the eco-whateverism label perhaps doesn’t help, the only word that keeps coming back to me is some variation of ‘sustainable’. After various iterations playing with that, I’ve focussed on the “21st Century” too, on the grounds that if whatever system replaces what we currently is so short-term that it’s effectively only valid for a single human lifetime… that’s not long enough.

        KISS… “A manifesto for sustainability”?

        I’m tempted to suggest “A manifesto for not-stupid sustainability” — but then I’m pretty sure that The Age of Stupid isn’t as well known as (I believe) it deserves to be, and, without that context, using the word ‘stupid’ in the title feels like a shot in the foot.

      • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

         /  December 21, 2011

        How about “Manifesto for a Sustainable Future”? The only thing is I’d like to convey that it’s not just about a sustainable future for humans, it’s also about the other denizens of this planet….”Manifesto for a Sustainable Planetary Future”?

  19. Yup, that would work… and the world durable/enduring would work too… avoiding the “sustainable fatigue.”

    Reply
  1. A response to an eco-humynist manifesto for the 21st century | Wibble

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