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A Design for Life

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Courtesy: Marc Roberts

If I wasn’t so used to such oxymoronic statements, I’d have already fallen off my chair after reading the below quote — in either hysterical laughter, or hysterical despair.

I am pleased to stand before you this morning and confirm that Europe is closer to resolving its financial and economic crisis and to getting back on a path of growth,” Mr Barroso said. — BBC

How can you resolve a financial crisis whilst getting straight back onto the path that put you there in the first place? It sounds like flogging a dead horse to me…. Dozens and dozens of cities are facing the frustrated occupy movement (see here and here), and yet despite the domino effect of growing unrest, the current president of the stuck-together-with-duct-tape European Union can’t see that the "path to growth" is and always will be a highway to hell.

Despite the rhetoric, I’m wondering if the powers that be aren’t finally getting nervous? But, the bigger question that should be on the hearts and minds of everyone is: can the occupy movement find its way to embracing viable, holistic solutions and then determine to collaborate peacefully and stoically on the difficult, transitional work of seeing these solutions through to tangible reality?

A century of rampant consumption has kept many of us too placid/entertained/ignorant and/or too busy producing to notice that greed — the greed which comes part and parcel with the aforesaid rampant consumption — has taken most of what we thought we had, by stealth, whilst undermining every extractable, burnable, sellable, and ultimately edible resource ever known to man.

But those days, of being placid, at least, seem to be dissipating faster than our 401k plans. People are used to plenty, but now’s there’s little left for all but a minority elite, it seems. The rising tide is not lifting all boats, but is overwhelming all but the very few vessels that weren’t sneakily chained to the ocean floor, and all that’s trickled down is pollution and dysfunctional societies made up of dysfunctional families based in ecosystems they’re so detached from they haven’t even noticed are dysfunctional also.

At the beginning of the year I wrote that the word ‘revolution’ would increase in popularity. Looking back over 2011, I think I can safely check that off my list. What remains to be seen is where these little revolutions will take us. Amongst my New Year predictions was also:

Scattered communities will be seen to develop along one or another line — towards more centralisation of resources and power and increased oppression of the ‘revolting peasants’, or, with good leadership and community involvement, towards cooperation, driven by a consensus desire to build a protective buffer against the future. Glancing at the Crystal Ball – What Do You See?

People are waking up. Some are just angry, but many are being thoughtful and constructive. I’m left pondering at what point transition will pick up the ball dropped by collapse, and move us forward? I’m left wondering how much suffering we can spare and how many resources we can preserve by getting on the real path, pronto…. I’m left wondering when we’ll hit the tipping point in productive collaboration?

My and the PRI’s contribution is, amongst other things, the Worldwide Permaculture Network. I see it is already enabling a lot of people with excellent ideals to find, encourage and support each other. I guess that’s one bright spot in an ocean of despair?


  1. Most people would have made the title An Ideology for Life, but the sad truth is that no ideology can produce life if it’s using the technologies of death. This is why all ideologies of the century of ideologies we just have passed, have produced nothing but death, at least in the long therm. Even the Scandinavian welfare model sees community as parts, not as wholes, and every system that contains of parts only needs enormous recourse inputs to survive.

    This is why we should now turn to technology for answers, not the technologies of death, but the technologies of life:

    – The Radical Technology of Christopher Alexander:

    – The Sustainable Technology of Christopher Alexander:

    – The Pattern Technology of Christopher Alexander:

    – The Living Technology of Christopher Alexander:

    – The “Wholeness-Generating” Technology of Christopher Alexander:

    The path of growth is described very well in this video:

    – Money As Debt II: promises unleashed (FULL MOVIE):

  2. “”I am hopeful that this first important step can lead to a broader approach in helping the world economy resume growth,” Zoellick told reporters on a visit to the Philippines on Thursday.”


    Robert Zoellick is the leader of the World Bank, and their only idea is to resume growth, to resume the accumulation of capital for the few, by the help of the many. This can only happen to continuous growth, at least 3 % per year, if not the growth bubble will burst.

    “With constant economic growth, our money system is relatively happy; without growth, it becomes utterly despondent. Without constant economic growth, preferably in the range of 3% (or more!), the collective pile of debts cannot be serviced out of new growth and so they begin to default.” – Chris Martenson


    I finished watching Money as Debt II yesterday, and it really explains the impossibility of eternal growth very well. Hope more of you will take time to watch it, it was released in a full version earlier this year, the link is to be found above.

  3. Hi Craig,

    Marc’s cartoon is pretty spot on: Oyvind’s “technologies of death” in the hands of the psychopaths currently running the globe. Ted Trainer is probably correct too when he says they’ll continue in the same way until the oil (& presumably the ability to renew the supply of ammunition) is depleted. Vonnegut said much the same thing in his last book, A Man Without a Country: “What can be said to our young people, now that psychopathic personalities, which is to say persons without consciences, without senses of pity or shame, have taken all the money in the treasuries of our governments and corporations, and made it all their own?”

    Well, it seems from the 900 cities’ protests of last week as if at least some of the world population (especially the young) have indeed wakened up to fact. But unless we can put some alternatives (e.g. Terry Leahy’s hybrid systems) into effect real soon, there can only be increasing violence & very little to replace the credit/debt zeitgeist of our time. Unlike the 1929 crash, there will be no slow spread from nation to nation – instant electronic contact means instant reaction.

    The desperation of the oil-igarchy is now so obvious, as well as the lickspittle attitude of politicians who legalize all their crimes against every living organism. I attended an anti-coal gas fracking rally a 2 weeks ago in Newcastle – 3 excellent speakers, 1 Green member, a local govt man who was also a hydrologist, & a local resident – but no more than 400 people. It’s as if everyone is deliberately blocking out any alternative they fear might threaten their current comfortable vacuous existence – the existence they must already know is impossible to sustain!

    I get carried away with the horrifying thoughts of the future as I read the news (& see images of Gadaffi’s used as entertainment).

    Occupy All Streets

    I’m an old chap, don’t do much rap,
    on account of my age. But I don’t live in a cage
    and it kinda confounds me why so many around me
    can’t hear the snap of the credit/debt trap
    as its noose slowly chokes them, eventually croaks them,
    feeding loan sharks, CEOs, and other by-blows.
    Don’t get up on their feet and out into the street,
    demand laws changed, society rearranged,
    so the rich pay real tax, fix the flaws, stuff the cracks,
    so everyone’s equal, before there’s a sequel
    and the overthrow of everything we know,
    blood on the street and on the wattle,
    battles, tanks, and petrol in a bottle.
    The Arabs fixed Gadaffi with a bullet in the brain,
    one day on a throne, next day in a drain.
    You CEOs, bankers, shareholders too,
    Presidents, Prime Ministers, and your media crew,
    do you really think it can’t happen to you?
    Quit this game now before it’s too late
    or find yourselves sharing a similar fate;
    one day a king, the next a clown,
    hanging from a lamppost upside down.

    Ah me, at times I do get carried away! Please forgive the rant – it needs to get out of the system before I get down to some much more serious stuff.

    best, jim

  4. I (Michael Bauwens) asked Marvin Brown, author of the P2P Foundation Book of the Year in 2010, i.e. of “Civilizing the Economy“, to give us an idea how we can get :from here to there ..”

    “How do we get from here to there—from where we are to where we want to be? One can imagine a civic economy where economic trends are moving toward making provisions for everyone and ensuring that future generations have the capacities to meet their needs. But how do we get there?

    Perhaps we cannot make it. The here is protected by powerful interests. It works quite well for a few. At the same time, there are many, perhaps 5 to 6 billion who would move to “there” at a moments notice if they could. Still, as long as the ownership of property gives legitimacy to rule, it is doubtful if we will see the change that justice and sustainability require.

    The Egyptian uprising, for example, was a sign of hope. They affirmed their human dignity and demanded recognition of their human rights. Western nations joined them not be really supporting democracy, but by interfering with their people’s rule by “economic development” (corporate control). For the West, it seems that capitalism must control democracy instead of democracy controlling capitalism.

    The here is the world of ownership; of property management. And the most significant property has become money. Money, the common currency (by common I means that it belongs to us all) that should be available to everyone so we can all participate in an economy of provisioning, has become a property that can be bought and sold as though it were a commodity. Money, as a means of exchange and as a token by which people can pay taxes and support the state, has become the property of banks. As long as we continue to live in the legacy of this Smithian economics of property, we will remain stuck in the “here” of the few enjoying their riches as the expense of the many.

    I have no special insight into how we will actually move from here to there. I think I have pinpointed what prevents such a movement: the capitalistic magic of turning everything into a commodity. We are not commodities. Nature is a living system. Money is a provider of credit and a means of exchange. My proposal is that we not only recognize the failure of Smithian economics to create a world for all, but that we also take on the role of global citizen and in conversations with other citizens deliberate about how we move foreword: from here to there.

    And what can I do? I can participate in a few of the millions of groups and organizations that are striving to move from here to there. Right now they may not seize the day, but they may quiet the night. In the future, who knows?”

    Read the original article at the P2P-blog:

  5. Oyvind,

    I will download & read the P2P-blog you recommend. Meanwhile, take a look at pieces written by Terry Leahy on ‘gift economy’ & ‘hybrid systems’. You can find them amid a load of other good stuff at: [email protected]
    Also have you read any of Ted Trainer’s pieces? I think you’ll find some matters of interest there too. Find at:

    cheers, jim

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