Degrowth: Further Notes from 2014

These are valuable notes that I did not include in my post, La Mouvement Décroissance in October 2014. I had planned to revise and post them later. Here they are, much later.

Many of the ideas I’ll present below are obvious and have been known for decades. If we are to truly share the resources of our finite planet fairly with fellow humans and other living things we must make serious changes now. As Naomi Klein points out in her latest book, This Changes Everything, if we want to avoid the most horrific of futures we need to change what we’re doing fast. The time to dither and debate has disappeared. Klein argues here that the present grow-or-die model of capitalism is simply incompatible with human survival. See my Sept. 15 post on this topic here.

What is relatively new to me is the latest activity of the small, experimental, Degrowth Movement communities that are happily choosing to live very frugally as we must live some day all too soon. They go without many of the luxuries that we take for granted, recognizing that, if everyone on the planet were to consume resources at the rate of the average Canadian, we would need several more Earths immediately. This was pointed out 15 years ago in David Suzuki’s 1999 book, From Naked Ape To Superspecies on page 42. And Richard Branson ain’t gonna get us that far alive, hoes and pitchforks in hand, anytime soon.

Suzuki and his family have been walking the talk for a long time. He lists,  in a gentle, inspirational style at the end of The Sacred Balance, many things that we could do to reduce our human footprint on the Earth.

A simple list of ten ways we can make significant changes is also given here.

 

Footnotes:

Vandana Shiva, The “Seed Lady,” has been protecting India’s indigenous seeds from being patented of for over three decades.  She is a dedicated activist and is involved in the leadership of many organizations around the world dedicated to  biodiversity. Her work opposes the patenting of seeds and the practice of monoculture agriculture in general, preferring the planting of many things (food, herbs, medicinal plants) in natural soil the way Indian farmers have done it for centuries. Read her impressive life story here. Or observe her brilliance in this YouTube video – Part 1 of The Future of Food. Her movement, Navdanya, which she founded in 1991, is many faceted but is best known for the banks of seeds it has saved from extinction. Navdanya means “Nine Crops” – these are the essential sources of India’s food and she is fighting to save them.

Ideas From David Suzuki’s The Sacred Balance: Continue reading “Degrowth: Further Notes from 2014”

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Four Photos – A “Guide Map”

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Courtesy of @ArtPicsChannel

I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process.

Vincent Van Gogh

 

I am going to try to spend much less time on exposing what I consider to be the crimes of our wealth-dominated Mother Earth. It is starting to take over way too much of my life and is having no noticeable effect other than to piss off the majority of those close to me.

I will be able to spend much more of my time time on  family, musical performance, visiting the sick and imprisoned, reading and tai chi.

But, before metamorphosis takes over, Continue reading “Four Photos – A “Guide Map””

Learning to “Struggle It Out” in Jackson

Poor, black US citizens are among the world’s many suffering canaries in the coal mine of unfettered-Capitalism, that unsustainable pursuit, having finally disempowered all of us except for the “point0-0-whatever%” that threatens to take the 99.99whatever% down the road to starvation, widespread war and extinction.

Chris Hedges interviews a rare sort of leader, Kali Akuno, a co-founder and co-director of Cooperation Jackson, a recent movement of poor, black citizens in Mississippi’s capital, Jackson.

Amy Goodman’s interview on Democracy Now with Akuno on the topic: Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination, in December last year, is excellent as well, especially for its inclusion of an appraisal of ultra-right Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and President Donald Trump. Akuno here points out a new white supremacy initiative building in America.

Under attack by a new city gentrification initiative that will eventually drive them off the land on which they currently eke out their humble, desperate existence,  Cooperation Jackson is  a movement started by Chokwe Lumumba, Mayor of Jackson until his death on Feb. 25, 2014. Akuno was his Director of Special Projects and External Funding.

This movement is a fascinating phenomenon that uses many of the potentially planet-saving Décroissance concepts being tried in different places I described in my October 2014 post, La Movement Décroissance. The French word Décroissance, uniquely combines the concept of degrowth with that of stopping believing in the way the current money-based system works. In Cerbère in Southern France and the Barcelona area, small communities have been established that:

  • Eat locally – and mostly plants
  • Squat
  • Disobey strategically some of the System’s “precepts”
  • Borrow, barter and time-trade, reducing dependence on money

The key objectives of Akuno’s movement outlined in his interview with Chris Hedges are excitingly similar: Continue reading “Learning to “Struggle It Out” in Jackson”

You Asked “Why Can’t We All Go Home?”

In presenting Vladímir Putin’s 21st Century equivalent to Khruschev’s “We will bury you.” the CBC last night failed to read Putin’s macho but desperate attempt to show the whole world that no one, not even the US, can come out of  a nuclear war unscathed.

Our CBC only approximated fairness last night. Still the same, implied, refrain meant to be innately picked up by couch potato feelers:

“See? Putin is, as we said, ruthlessly scary etc.” A deliberate misread, in my opinion.

The real NATO threat that has forced Russia’s hand: America’s broken promise not to expand NATO Eastward beyond Germany, made to Eduard Shevardnadze by James Baker in 1990 and illustrated by this brilliantly sarcastic image:

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The answer to a friend’s worthwhile tweet question “Can’t we all just go home and respect others’ need for security?” is, I believe, in Simon and Garfunkel’s “people talking w/o speaking” (the weaponized mainstream media) and, since 2001, largely for profit FBI and CIA: the “Neon god they made.”

Disturbed’s inspired, intensely visual, version of Simon and Garfunkel’s amazingly prescient (so clearly now) The Sound of Silence

And the original by Simon and Garfunkel… with high praise for their poetic insight.

Our CBC: A Weapon of Mass Delusion

To The National,
If I needed proof that The National are pure and simple toeing the anti-Assad, anti-Russia line – I certainly got it last night. The White Helmets Acting Company put on their slick multi-million dollar show once more, getting prime coverage in the phoney (since 2013) “WMD-use” assault on Assad.
The CBC presented or ignored other issues in this segment designed to minimize awareness of the deadly, horrific interference committed during the continued, uninvited American presence in Syria.  We all know the consistent history of US-led criminal wars upon many other worldwide regime-change binge targets.
But to my point: I am now convinced in the insincerity  of virtually all CBC TV hosts. There have to be some doubters among you. Most of you are much too smart not to realize what is going on. So isn’t it about time for some resistance from at least some of you who are caving in or playing along with the relentless distraction and dumbing down (yes, you too, Carole MacNeil) of TV viewers to the point that they swallow or obsequiously read/hear what you and all of the international “quality” media are dishing out via the long-familiar, must be tired and jaded, faces on RussiaGate, Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Iraq etc.
***
This sort of stuff is so bad it has probably been responsible for breaking up some homes, where one partner retches loudly while the other simply keeps swallowing.
***
I remember as a pre-teen in the early 1950’s thinking that Russians were sub-human. Working in Britain in the early 1970’s I learned how much contempt the Brits once had for refugees from Eastern Europe. Do we want to go back to that? Seriously?
Perhaps your justification for weaponizing the news comes from a “patriotic” feeling that couch potatoes should be primed with propaganda as preparation for WWIII.
As a grandparent in these times, I can only shudder.

Ursula Le Guin

Ursula Le Guin, a brilliant author of science fiction and what I might call exploratory, inspirationally prescriptive fantasy for every age died on January 22nd. As an author, she was committed to finding new ways in which we humans might make a better, healthier society. I know that I read some of her early books, borrowed from the library, aloud to my four children in the early eighties: probably some of the Catwings series, suitable for ages “4 to 8,” and this title, The Tombs of Atuan, from her Wizard of Earthsea  series chimes a distant bell in my vague memory of those times.

A couple of CBC podcasts paid tribute to her in January, and I was excited (in listening to an address she gave at the National Book Awards in 2014 featured on The Sunday Edition on January 28th) to learn Le Guin’s deep commitment to righting the wrongs of present day society.

Here are excerpts from her talk:

Hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and who can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being…

Developing written material to suit (publishers’) sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profits and advertising revenue is not quite the same thing as responsible book publishing and authorship…

We live in capitalism; its power seems inescapable. So did the Divine Right of Kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings… and very often in our art: the art of words.

(At the end of my career) I don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river.

… the name for our beautiful reward is not profit; its name is Freedom!

In 1993 Le Guin was interviewed by the superb Eleanor Wachtel  on the CBC program, Writers and Company. Wachtel is perhaps the best literary interviewer on the planet.

Tai Chi, Tonglen and Mr. Fixit

Things are good here. Just sharing a few tidbits from the past week…

My son had minor surgery this week and on Thursday we brought over about 20 lbs of Trini-style homemade soup at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for a shared lunch – plus significant leftovers. My contribution to that project was making sure it was safely transported from our perch in the NW GTA to their place near the lakeshore.

Good news: Fixed our 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid’s key fob issue by inserting a tiny square of three postit notes over the nipple that presses against the +ve face of the cell to make sure that it is firmly seated in its cradle.

“Bad” news: That $200 control panel I installed last year on our, then 3-year-old, Kenmore dishwasher already shows a crack in the plastic over the Start button.

I know, in the grand, global scale, the bad news hardly qualifies as bad, or even as news! Now, if we both had worked for Sears Canada…

My Tai Chi routine, which I modify by replacing “breathing in the Chi” with Tibetan Buddhist Tonglen meditation (breathing in suffering, breathing out healing) has a calming effect. I’ve already noticed a tiny, but significant, shift in the direction of a more, gentle peaceful world. Those Doomsday Clock scientists are clearly out of touch. 😜