What would a sustainable paradigm look like? (and what would it NOT look like)

A reader recently wrote to me and asked for clarification of a comment I posted on another blogger’s thread about profitable permaculture farms. For a while, I had been active on that thread trying to get people to confront the contradictions inherent in permacapitalism, and had suggested that a truly sustainable paradigm might look something like this:-

Instead of mass society, there would be consentient communities.

Instead of governments, there would be consentient discussions.

Instead of exploitation, there would be cooperation.

Instead of agriculture, there would be permaculture.

There would be no civilisation, no industry, no work, no money, no need for money, no need for industry, no desire for civilisation.

Instead of education, there would be learning.

Instead of religion, there would be a joyous reality.

Instead of heteronomy, there would be autonomy.

I guess it’s about high time I expanded on some of this, so here’s what I mean, more precisely:-

“Instead of mass society, there would be consentient communities.”

Mass society, as well as forming the underlying substrate for all ‘hard’ heteronomy such as violence, exploitation and indoctrination, is also the basis of all ‘soft’ heteronomies – wherein people come to accept certain ideas purely on the basis of having never encountered altenatives. Though I’ve come to wonder as to his true motivations, the writer Ran Prieur once smartly realised that the word ‘mainstream’ is exactly the opposite of the truth. Since realising that, I’ve tried wherever possible to use the word ‘thinstream’ in its place. The worst thing about mass society, therefore, is that all real radical change is rendered impossible so long as the people considering change are distracted by trying to make that change IN or FOR mass society. All would-be radicalism is then reduced to minimalism. I hope that all the following deconstuctions will demonstrate this in more detail.

“Instead of governments, there would be consentient discussions.”

Many people try to improve certain ethical tenets of their societies but keep government there as some kind of imagined force for good. Governments, they think, will help protect them. Minarchists and libertarians think that if government is kept small this is somehow ‘better’. As a moralist, I think that trying to control people is just wrong, and it doesn’t matter how small you make it. In fact, the smaller government becomes, the more absurd that a really small group of people are trying to control a much larger group, regardless of their intentions. And I’ve written at length about how the intentions of those in government always end up skewed towards protecting government interests, not those of the people that created the institution.

Ultimately, if there are any aspects of social life between people that need to be discussed and actions organised, unless this is done on the basis of consensus then someone is being oppressed. Unless any activity has the express consent of everyone involved, then it is by definition UNREASONABLE.

“Instead of exploitation, there would be cooperation.”

If I expect you to do something for me (that benefits me), and I want you to do it even though I KNOW it doesn’t benefit you, then I’m imposing on you, and I ought to apologise. If I don’t even recognise the imposition or don’t care about the outcome for you, then I’m a psychopath and I’m exploiting you.

Because people nowadays are completely deluded by the gods of work, and money and property, they don’t always see how they are exploiting each other. If they saw that they were, they might stop. What would they do next? Continue reading