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Permaculture and Wall Street — We Must Tackle the Runaway Fiscal Economy Head On, “We Must Face Up and Fight”

I admire the efforts of the permaculturists at the Occupy Wall Street camp, and I think, judging by his statement way back in 1983 (see below), that Bill would admire them also.



  1. Once Permaculture design is understood , it changes the way we interact with nature, and there is no way, that we can make things wrong again. And so it really doesn’t matter politics, left or right or whatever. It takes longer, but it’s safer.
    The system is rotting, and it really makes no difference if we try to find a peaceful resolution for the problems, using the tools that the systems offers.
    It’s not turning my back, it’s facing the problem with a different perspective and useful tools.

  2. Listening to Bill sends a tingle down my spine…. nothing like a pep talk from the master to send us all back out to fight the good fight. Over and over again I see people thinking they can make a difference by disconnecting, by walking away, when the opposite is the only truth.
    Engaging with the system, right now, where you are, with whoever is with you, with whatever you have, is the only way.

  3. Thanks for posting this, Craig. Bill’s voice from the past reminds us that there’s much more to permaculture than organic gardening, and that some big issues might not have been properly addressed by the permie community since 1983.
    5 years ago Tamara Griffiths and Bill Mollison tried to raise interest in establishing a Permaculture-based political party in Australia, but it seems to have gone nowhere. Maybe it’s time to have another look at it?

  4. Thank you Craig for an article of great importance. I hope this generates some lively discussion among PRI readers, because this topic is key to the success or failure of what we are all trying to achieve through Permaculture. The excellent, positive and proactive work of such initiatives as the Permaculture Master Plan and the Worldwide Permaculture Network and the efforts of other regenerative agriculture movements such as Holistic Management will not be enough if we cannot “face up and fight” to stop the dominant economy that enriches and empowers a tiny elite while destroying our basic life support systems. This amoral death economy is based on debt and exploitation and ties the world to the insane indefinite growth paradigm.
    We live in times of increasingly rapid change, and we can live in hope that grassroots movements including Permaculture reach a critical mass before human-induced ecological disaster gets out of hand. There are some promising models for alternative currency (such as Community Exchange Systems – see and for economic organisation (for example the ethics-based Participatory Economics, see and Resource Based Economics, see Such “invisible structures” could provide the necessary complement to the biophysical structures of Permaculture.
    Meanwhile, the elites who benefit from the current situation have amply demonstrated that they will use whatever means necessary to maintain their position of power.
    While the priority should remain the positive and proactive building of a viable human society, I am becoming convinced that direct action to stop the ongoing ecocide being perpetrated worldwide is going to become increasingly necessary. Even the extreme arguments of the “Deep Green Resistance” movement (along the lines that industrial civilization itself is the problem, and should be actively brought down) merit consideration and discussion.
    The “Occupy” movement has great promise if the momentum can be maintained and built. “We are the 99%” is a great rallying cry, and the identification of the banking-corporate-military cartel as the 1% that we can readily bring down with sufficient organisation is very important.
    Let me be provocative, and claim that the logical political paradigm implied by Permanent Culture is “Anarchy”!
    Now let me qualify my provocation by saying that “anarchy” is a misnomer, and hence has been easy for propagandists to associate with violence and disorder. The situation in war torn countries with no effective social organisation is often characterised as “anarchy”. This is incorrect – “anarchy” refers to the absence of illegitimate hierarchy in social organisation. Violence and feudalism is in fact an extreme form of illegitimate hierarchy – of “might makes right”.
    A better term for an appropriate human society would be “holarchy” – social organisation that reflects the holarchic organisation of nature. A human being, like any entity or system in nature, is a “holon” – a whole that has emergent qualities greater than the sum of parts, but in turn is a part of a greater whole that transcends the sum of its parts. A delegation based participatory democracy such as envisioned by Participatory Economics would be an example of a holarchic political system.

  5. This reminds me of a quote that has inspired me much in my life. It comes from Thich Nhat Hanh, a zen master who titled a book by this quote while doing humanitarian aid work during the Vietnam War. “You must be like a lotus in a sea of fire”.

    The ‘save yourself’ mentality was never that inspiring, empowering, or encouraging!

  6. Thanks Alex for the link to the PPP manifesto – a very nice document, definitely time for another look at it.
    Daniel – I more or less agree: politics left or right is illusory, the system is rotting, we should be seeking peaceful resolution and we should be making the most of the tools of modern society. These truths need to be qualified by recognition that the rotting “system” still has enormous power to harm, and is actively exercising this power. Sure, let our first priority be positive and proactive building of the soical structures and ecostructures needed for a viable future, but we need to “face up and fight” as well if we are to succeed in this building.

  7. At the 2005 Melbourne PDC, Bill Mollison outlined some of the many hazards that humanity faces in the near future, and he finished by saying “Don’t expect Permaculture to change the world. Permaculture will not change the world. Permaculture is a RESPONSE to change.”

    I’m sure I’m not the only one increasingly encountering people who are seeking practical responses to the drastic changes that, in many cases, are overwhelming them.

    As part of their response to the changes the world’s people face, Occupy Wall Street (OWS) had a Permaculture design laid out for Zuccotti Park:

    To understand the importance of nurturing real political/economic change right now, you only need to watch Ferguson & Beck’s Acadamy Award-winning documentary, Inside Job:

    But to get a clear picture of just how utterly, brutally insane the situation has become, I recommend everyone watch Mazzimo Mazzucco’s New American Century:

  8. There is ownly one way to save the world and its enviroment and that is to completely change the corrupt political system that is in place now and controled by the one percent at the top of the ant hill, and those ants have eaten away all vestige of decency to the extent that they are prepared to destroy everything in their greed for control including themselves .It’s up to you and me to come up with a political system that is under the control of the people for the people , Communisum was suposed to do it but greed of the few got in the way and the people missed out again

  9. I think, as Bill does, that the crux of the matter is that too many people have tried to withdraw and disconnect from the political sphere, which is actually impossible. Just ask any of the innumerable refugees from failed communes and egocommunities.
    Wherever there is a community there will be politics, or “a group of people making collective decisions”.
    If you choose to leave your power lying around someone is sure to pick it up, and the people who have picked our discarded power aren’t planning to use it in our best interests.

  10. What Bill says here is spot on and I never cease to be amazed at how visionary he has consistently been.

    I applaud the Occupy [Insert_Name_Here] movement, but it is misdirected and myopic. Only by applying an analysis by first understanding the system (which you must first figure out yourself, because you won’t find it on TV) can we make a real change. (hint.. look at back of your one dollar bill)

    Henry David Thoreau said, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” and these people are only hacking at the branches, yet I’m glad they are awakened and angry.

    Applying your design skills, you’ll soon find that the real cause for this strife is ourselves. The current power structure is there because we feed it every day. We need to start a new future by first disconnecting from the existing system (like starving cancer by cutting off the blood supply) and feeding into our vision of the future in a positive and creative way.

    So many of us permies skip over Chapter 14 (and 9 too).. take another look and see how it can apply today.

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