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Ecological destruction and environmental degradation are merely symptoms of a more profound structural economic problem endemic to industrialization and consumerism. As can readily be observed, these are systems based on a flawed operational and ideological premise that believes it can “generate profit” by consuming its capital — the most important being nature itself.

Ostensibly, fossil fuel-based industrial capitalism has sought to replace nature’s “autotrophic infrastructure” as the functional basis of human civilization’s economic systems. I’ve written previously about how problematic this conceptual model is given what has resulted from its practical implementation. Industrial civilization has essentially constructed a poorly designed and executed copy of nature which first requires its removal and subsequent cannibalization to build industrial infrastructure. This is further compromised by an inherent conflict-of-interest and moral hazard because the components created to construct this industrial, mechanized facsimile of nature are spawned from ideas which are legally owned by someone — the use of which must be licensed and paid for. This makes an objective critique of such an arrangement highly unlikely and virtually impossible since there is a vested interest in overlooking any flaws that may arise. These flaws are called, in the technical jargon of economics, ‘externalities’.

Quoting an article written by Grist columnist David Roberts about this construct:

The notion of “externalities” has become familiar in environmental circles. It refers to costs imposed by businesses that are not paid for by those businesses. For instance, industrial processes can put pollutants in the air that increase public health costs, but the public, not the polluting businesses, picks up the tab. In this way, businesses privatize profits and publicize costs.

[...]

… Of the top 20 region-sectors ranked by environmental impacts, none would be profitable if environmental costs were fully integrated. Ponder that for a moment: None of the world’s top industrial sectors would be profitable if they were paying their full freight. Zero.

That amounts to a global industrial system built on sleight of hand. As Paul Hawken likes to put it, we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it GDP. — Grist.org

As Masanobu Fukuoka once said, “We are the octopus congratulating itself for becoming fat by eating its own legs.”

I’m not sure if the problem here is necessarily capitalism in and of itself as opposed to the variant currently in use. Industrial communism is just as guilty as the capitalist version of destroying nature, so there isn’t much separating these two economic systems in that regard (according to the late Russell Means, communism has created more destruction in a shorter period of time). The common problem, more accurately, seems to be industrialism/industrialization.

Part of the current problem is that the discussion about making industrialization more ‘sustainable’ (i.e. – less destructive) seems to be a bit of an attempt to delude ourselves. It’s a bit like deciding what calibre of bullet to switch to in shooting yourself in the foot in an attempt to reduce the damage done. Will it drop from a .45 calibre down to a .38 or a .357? The problem is that you are still shooting yourself in the foot. Congratulating yourself for changing to a smaller bullet shouldn’t be much consolation. It’s still going to hurt. Making a ‘less destructive’ version of industrial capitalism is much the same. But the question we should be asking is whether or not we have to shoot ourselves in the foot to begin with.

The writer John Kozy, in his piece “The Collapsing Western Way of Life”, makes this point very powerfully:

The human brain has enabled mankind to discover and create wondrous things; it has also been used to inflict horrendous suffering and destruction. In fact, it would be difficult to design an economic system more destructive, wasteful, and dehumanizing than the industrial, and much of the destruction it has wrought may be irreparable. Industrialization does not efficiently allocate resources; it squanders them.

So, is mankind smart? Of course, but that is not the question. The ultimate question is, Is mankind smart enough to keep from outsmarting itself? — globalresearch.ca

Every aspect of modern contemporary life has been defined and shaped by industrialization. Increasingly, our food has been dominated by this idea making it susceptible to its many scourges – among them being environmental degradation and the multifaceted blight that accompanies it, financialization, and speculation. Few have spoken about this problem with as much clarity as Wendell Berry:

Anybody interested in solving, rather than profiting from, the problems of food production and distribution will see that in the long run the safest food supply is a local food supply, not a supply that is dependent on a global economy. Nations and regions within nations must be left free — and should be encouraged — to develop the local food economies that best suit local needs and local conditions. — Wendell Berry quoted in Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community (1993), “A Bad Big Idea”

To summarize, locally grown food contains the least embodied energy — with the system being fuelled primarily by ‘real-time’ sunlight. The source of energy that is currently relied upon is fossil fuel based energy in the form of “fossilized sunlight” (which is effectively “cheated or stolen” time), converted into useful work through machines. Modern industrial civilization — and the infrastructure and institutions comprising it — would not exist, and could not continue to exist as it does, without it.

Contextualizing this against the genius of permaculture design, especially when related to energy, is useful in appreciating how it describes its central operational goal. In essence, it seeks to create arrangements facilitating the highest possible system functionality and yield for the lowest possible energy input required to produce and maintain it. This ultimately ensures that waste and misuse of any available resources needed to create these systems are minimized and/or eliminated. Virtually all of the problems associated with industrialization can be reduced down to its inability to properly account for obvious functional deficiencies and inefficiencies.

Our highest calling as designers should be to help create opportunities for all things to do the work it was seemingly made to perform. At the very least, we should avoid becoming obstacles or hindrances to that pursuit. To that end, a skilled designer recognizes the unique strengths of each component employed and facilitates the best functional arrangement and assembly of these elements.

Gaining clarity about these points is critical to making sense of the discussion to follow.

There are two types of capitalism I’d like to examine here that I feel provide a vehicle to better understand the dilemma presented by our current economic thinking: rentier capitalism and natural capitalism. Comparing and contrasting these opposing visions may provide some useful insight.

Referring to the definition provided by Wikipedia:

Rentier capitalism is a term used in Marxism and sociology which refers to a type of capitalism where a large amount of profit-income generated takes the form of property income, received as interest, intellectual property rights, rents, dividends, fees, or capital gains.

The beneficiaries of rentier capitalism are a property-owning social class that, according to Marx, play no productive role in the economy per se, but who monopolize the access to physical or financial assets and technologies. They can make money not from producing goods or services themselves, but purely from their ownership of property or investments (which provide a claim to a revenue stream) and dealing in that property.

Often the term rentier capitalism is used with the connotation that it is a form of parasitism or a decadent form of capitalism. — Wikipedia

Conversely, natural capitalism — a concept put forward by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins — describes the global economy as being dependent on natural resources and ecosystem services that nature provides.

In other words, it acknowledges the essential importance of nature and the need to ensure its functional viability explicitly for economic purposes. It is based on a critique of traditional ‘Industrial Capitalism’, saying that the traditional system of capitalism "does not fully conform to its own accounting principles. It liquidates its capital and calls it income. It neglects to assign any value to the largest stocks of capital it employs — the natural resources and living systems, as well as the social and cultural systems that are the basis of human capital."

Natural capitalism recognizes the critical interdependency between the production and use of human-made capital and the maintenance and supply of natural capital. It argues that only through recognizing this essential relationship with the Earth’s valuable resources can businesses, and the people they support, continue to exist.

While traditional industrial capitalism primarily recognizes the value of money and goods as capital, Natural Capitalism extends recognition to natural capital and human capital. Problems such as pollution and social injustice may then be seen as failures to properly account for capital, rather than as inherent failures of capitalism itself.

The difference between these two economic concepts is similar to the separation between geocentrism and heliocentrism; one is effectively an ego-driven delusion and the other is the actual fact.

In other words, we’re looking at Ideological Preference vs. Functional Reality.

The rentier capitalist expects everything to revolve around the use of property – most notably, intellectual property and proprietary technology. The thinking behind the development of the genetically modified organism, for example, is a powerful metaphor for our time: born from an attempt to impose an order based on a misunderstanding of natural systems (resulting in an increased “engineered/designed” disorder), fuelled by business-related motives (revenue and profit generated via exclusive proprietary technology and intellectual property rights – the cornerstone of rentier capitalism), producing an inherent conflict-of-interest and moral hazard which ultimately begs the question – is the objective to solve a problem or to sell a product? These two possibilities are not automatically synonymous.

Following the implied logic of rentier capitalism, there potentially exists a financial incentive in creating problems to manage (not necessarily solve) – because this would require the innovation of new products to perform that function. Given that virtually every aspect of the world we live in has become financialized and subject to speculation (agriculture is a good recent example), ‘innovation’ by extension becomes financialized and largely a vehicle for making money as opposed to effective problem solving.

The reason why this is so important to consider is that simple, straight forward, effective solutions which don’t require the development of ‘innovative’ new technological products are, more often than not, no longer thought of or seen as viable possibilities. There is little immediate incentive financially speaking, although in the long term there are multiple benefits to be generated – including financial. Again, Wendell Berry gets to the heart of the matter:

Once plants and animals were raised together on the same farm — which therefore neither produced unmanageable surpluses of manure, to be wasted and to pollute the water supply, nor depended on such quantities of commercial fertilizer. The genius of American farm experts is very well demonstrated here: they can take a solution and divide it neatly into two problems. — Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America : Culture & Agriculture (1996), p. 62

In rentier capitalism, innovation is ultimately about making money — not problem solving. To reward people simply for innovating — or to deem innovators as being worthy of attention without careful consideration of the system within which they are innovating — is without merit and may potentially be harmful, encouraging a misguided creative entrepreneurship. As stated, the entire endeavour is corrupted due to the financialization of ideas and its being subject to the vagaries of speculation.

Problem solving may sometimes involve innovative product design, but it doesn’t necessarily require it. If we are led to believe that it does, this could prove to be a significant barrier in our ability as system designers to do our job in providing the best solutions to the challenges confronting us. Contrasting the fundamental philosophical basis of a system like rentier capitalism, when compared to natural capitalism, will lead to wildly different conclusions on how to best face the many crises looming on the horizon due to what is deemed worthy of being rewarded and praised.

Further Reading:

23 Responses to “Thinking Out Loud: Rentier Capitalism, Natural Capitalism, and Permaculture – A Few Observations”

  1. dean

    Sadly, Communism did not for a minute set about to achieve the communal mutual co-operation that its name suggests. Born in violence they had to watch their backs from day 1 and the primary concern became one of competing with the western nations which meant mimicking capitalism with giant projects that had no idea about ecological approaches. We are very fortunate in our time in that we now have permaculture to help us get into the practical solutions that can quietly undermine big capitalism. The communists were stuck with intellectualism and the same sort of centralised authority that they wanted to replace.

    Reply
  2. Peter Brandis

    Even “natural capitalism” is a form of economic structure that can denude and degrade our natural systems. Rhamis critiques the financialisation of everything and then describes natural capitalism as being based on “natural resources and environmental services” – and these terms are from the language of financialisation! When everything is considered a “resource” or a “service” in then enables the creation of financial instruments in those resources and services. Natural capitalism is a concept that is as far away from the world we need to get to as industrial capitalism. Any form of capitalism, in the current age of mega-corporations and extreme wealth owned by a small elite, will be damaging. We need new models of culture(s) and economies, not new forms of capitalism.

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  3. Pneal

    In a world where 90% of the people live in cities and rarely venture into the country, let alone an area that could be considered “wilderness”, proving and providing a financial value of its ecological services is probably the best way to protect it.

    For instance, consider that a city tree provides about 100,000 USD of services in its lifetime (in shade, wind break, dust capture, etc) and only costs .5 USD to plant. A city would be less likely to chop down trees and other green space if it was required to account for that loss of services.

    How many farms would till and plant monoculture rows if they had to monetarily account for topsoil loss, and polluting watersheds with chemical pollutants?

    The fact of the matter is that money talks, and if there were financial incentives for corporations and people to account for externalities (both negative and positive) we would have tremendously different modes of production. No other system could provide the incentive to innovate towards regenerative models of production.

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  4. Rhamis Kent

    Peter,

    One of the words that I used repeatedly was “function”. My understanding of natural capitalism is that the financialization of nature can’t be permitted to subvert or undermine its ability operate. If our needs can be provided without impacting nature’s thriving, then this would be the obvious ideal.

    Industrialization (and everything that comes with it) is obviously incapable of doing this.

    An economy – in whatever form or terminology used to denote it – that fails to be predicated on nature’s ability to function at its best in providing goods & services is not one worth considering or discussing.

    That’s the conclusion I was hoping readers would walk away with.

    Within the context of function, financialization is meaningless if nature is undermined for the sake of rentier & financial capital.

    Reply
  5. Rhamis Kent

    quick correction:

    My understanding of natural capitalism is that the financialization of nature can’t be permitted to subvert or undermine its ability TO operate.

    Reply
  6. James Osborn

    A truly canonical Permacultural sermon has been delivered from the pulpit, here.

    Condemnation of Capitalism? Check.
    Condemnation of industrialism? Check.
    Appeal to the idea that primitivism is our last, best hope for survival? Check.

    Can I get an AMEN, brothers and sisters?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgEOTc2qgVg

    Although, to a large extent, I actually do consider myself one of the faithful, there are some respects in which you would consider me a heretic. ;)

    First of all, Dean is correct when he says that what we usually identify as formal Communism, was in fact nothing of the kind. Some of you may have heard of a man named Peter Kropotkin, who wrote several books on a philosophy of mutually reinforcing altruism; probably his central work was a book called Mutual Aid, in which he offered an alternative thesis to Darwinian evolution.

    Kropotkin’s philosophy, shared and to some extent echoed by another author named Mikhail Bakunin, put a lot more emphasis on said mutually reinforcing behaviour, and when appropriate, also actually spoke *against* revolution. You very rarely hear about these two men today, outside of anarchist circles; and that is because the cabal do not want you to.

    I believe personally that at least Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky, were servants of the Rothschild Illuminati. Communism was devised by the Illuminati, and then fed to Marx to be more widely distributed, for two purposes:-

    a} In order to destabilise and destroy humanity’s existing social structures, on a global level. The purpose of Marx’ Internationale was also to act as a transitional placeholder for the cabal’s ultimate goal of global dictatorship, just as the United Nations is today.

    b} In order to completely and permanently discredit mutually reinforcing, altruistic behaviour as a social model or way of life, on a universal basis. The cabal want people to believe that entirely self-serving behaviour (as exemplified to some extent by Rand’s Objectivism, although not to the extent that some believe, in my opinion) is actually a moral imperative; because for them, it is.

    So Communism is not what most people think it is. Marx/Engels/Lenin/Trotsky’s philosophy was a strawman or smokescreen invented by the cabal, in order to discredit genuinely mutually reinforcing behaviour, as mentioned. If you go and read Kropotkin, on the other hand, you will find a lot of similarity between his thinking, and Mollison and Holmegren’s principles.

    Another area where I disagree with standard permacultural thought, is in terms of permies’ usual anti-technological or primitivist stance. I am not a transhumanist; I do not own a mobile phone, and truthfully I don’t even wear glasses. Yet at the same time, I greatly value both my computer and the Internet, and I fully believe that the positive redemption of industrialism is possible.

    We live in a society that is governed, and to a large extent designed, by complete psychopaths. As a result of this, most people do not know what non-pathological technological design looks like; and in turn, they therefore also assume that non-pathological technological design is not possible.

    Ted Kaczynski was correct only in the sense that our current form of industrial technology is pathological. He was not correct in assuming that a non-pathological form is not possible.

    Reply
  7. Carolyn Payne-Gemmell

    James, I think Permaculture has moved beyond an ‘anti-technological or primitive stance’, I would not suggest it is ‘standard permaculture thought’ at all.

    I feel confident that most of the followers of this site, which number several thousand, understand how to use technology in an ‘appropriate’ way, that is, applied in the context of their surroundings and situation.

    Where have you seen an anti-technology stance in permaculture
    circles lately? We are all here on our computers, using the internet, using appropriate computer programs for work and research etc.

    And I think you were being a bit rude with your AMEN remark, you seem to be into research, have a go at researching Rhamis and you might find out how inappropriate it really was.

    The title was Thinking Out Loud, good on Craig for sending Rhamis’ thoughts our way, it all adds to the mix.

    Reply
  8. Rhamis Kent

    James,

    I’m a big Kroptkin fan, for sure. I’d take him over Darwin any day of the week, all day.

    I’m no Luddite, by any stretch. I’m not an anti-technologist. I come from an engineering background and have a healthy appreciation of well-designed/well-purposed technology. With that said, the point I made in this piece (and others I’ve written) is that comparatively speaking, human technology is rather clunky when compared to nature.

    We can’t design autotrophs, for example – which is a very big deal. I wrote a piece specifically about this that was hyperlinked within this article:

    http://permaculturenews.org/2011/07/09/autotrophic-infrastructure-how-real-work-gets-done-a-historical-dilemma/

    The only work I’ve concluded that is worth doing in using any appropriate or applicable technology is to re-establish autotrophic infrastructure (i.e. – natural ecosystems).

    For example, using earthmoving equipment for rapid establishment of ecosystem restoration., GPS/GIS & CAD in performing the design work, small engined equipment in material processing (i.e. – chippers, mulchers, shredders), so on and so forth.

    I know the types of folks you’re referring to. But I’m definitely not from among them.

    One of the reasons why I wrote the piece is that I have, on occasion, been put in the company of investment & business people, sometime government folks, etc. I’m not going to hold their attention long if I’m busy calling them psychopaths. I need to be able to have a halfway reasoned conversation with them as to why their current business thinking & practice is misguided and self-defeating.

    Actually, I’m not much interested in addressing “permaculture” people, particularly – unless they are also attempting to broaden the scope of the audience from the typical demographic involved with what we do.

    “Preaching to the choir” is a pretty useless activity.

    Triple Bottom Line Investment, Impact Investment, Corporate Social Responsibility oriented ventures, business & investment focused on “sustainable” investment…all of these people are potential candidates.

    But in order to take advantage of these possibilities, we have to move beyond ranting and excoriating “psychopaths” and identify common interests that don’t violate our own principles that could serve as a launch point to do something constructive, positive, and beneficial.

    Reply
    • Karla Lindquist

      Your attempting to build bridges. As little regard as I hold for those you’re trying to bring on board, it’s a much more effective strategy than as you say, “preaching to the choir”.

      Can’t believe I’m just discovering you now. Really pleased I took the time to watch ‘Words From The Edge’.

      Reply
  9. James Osborn

    >And I think you were being a bit rude with
    >your AMEN remark, you seem to be into research,
    >have a go at researching Rhamis and you might
    >find out how inappropriate it really was.

    The allusion to Christian evangelism was intended tongue in cheek, and was not intended seriously. I sincerely apologise to anyone who may have been genuinely offended by it.

    Reply
  10. Rhamis Kent

    I would suggest folks actually read the piece thoroughly (with the included links, for those so inclined) before commenting – because folks seem to be saying or suggesting I’be advocated or alluding to certain things that I haven’t in any way.

    Trying to catch people in a “gotcha” moment that’s not there isn’t a good look.

    Reply
  11. Rhamis Kent

    James,

    No offense taken with the “Amen”, by the way – not at all. I say it all the time!

    Reply
  12. James Osborn

    Rhamis,
    I was being a troll. I do that on occasion. ;)

    You’re also correct in identifying my paranoia about psychopaths; I’ve long despaired over ways in which we can hopefully reduce their influence on society. I think eventually it will come; if permaculture is doing anything positive, it is making integrity a prominent issue, and I think that is very important.

    I also think you are absolutely right when it comes to the importance of incorporating ecological systems in engineering. A large (and no doubt highly controversial, if I were to draw attention to it) part of the point behind permaculture for me, is a positive redefinition of cybernetics; which as you probably know, is strictly defined as the study of the interaction between organic and non-organic systems.

    That strict definition, in and of itself is fine; the problem is when we run into popular or Hollywood conceptions of cyborgs – horrible, invasive fusions of human tissue with ill-conceived electronic appendages, running amok and enthusiastically killing people.

    I personally do not advocate any truly invasive use of technology in that manner; when I talk about cybernetics, I am more talking about learning to identify when organic systems are the more appropriate thing to work with, and when mechanical/electronic systems are. As I am sure you are aware, there are times when each is the right choice at the given time.

    I’ve truthfully noticed a bit of a schism between what I consider to be the two major movements, as far as replacements for the current society are concerned; Permaculture on the one hand, and the Venus Project (as probably the main example) on the other. I very much prefer the idea of attempting to integrate both of these approaches, and recognising that neither is likely to exclusively work in all instances, which essentially means that we may well end up needing elements of both.

    At times, that will mean learning to better incorporate elements of ecological design into future machines; but at other times, it will again mean getting the machine out of the way entirely, and allowing the living system to do the work on its’ own. The point is inclusion, and I’ve noticed that permaculture already seems to have a very healthy attitude where that is concerned.

    Reply
  13. dean

    Gee, I hope that my comment was not taken as a criticism of anything that Rhamis wrote. Just meant to be an observation of the reality of violent revolution. I found the article very interesting to read. I find any article on this site, a better read than the eternal misery the mainstream media have to offer us. I very much agree with what James wrote about that revolution being a “strawman or smokescreen invented by the cabal, in order to discredit genuinely mutually reinforcing behaviour”. I would like to think though, that we need to be civil with one another. As gardeners wanting to reclaim our lives from the grid, we need to look for what we have in common. Permaculture, I don’t think, from listening to Mollison, Holmgren and Lawton, has ever been against the appropriate use of technology. Mollison was in fact once asked if he had given up PC by well meaning people who had misunderstood PC, when he was spotted utilising heavy machinery for dam and swale digging purposes. I think Mollison was amused by this. What PC is very concerned about is that we don’t waste the technological opportunity. Sadly, on the whole, the modern world is wasting the opportunity.

    Reply
  14. Rhamis Kent

    Dean,

    I’ve got no problem with valid criticism. Actually – I invite it.

    The anti-technology/pro-primitivist (also can’t forget the vegan-vegetarian thing) that’s often associated with permaculture has, frankly, given it a bad name.

    It’s taken a design science and turned it into some kind of dogmatic, unreasonable, ideological nonsense that doesn’t have much to do with what I’ve come to understand PC to be or how it was taught to me).

    …and I agree wholeheartedly with your statement here (which is precisely what I believe to be the case):

    “What PC is very concerned about is that we don’t waste the technological opportunity.” (EXACTLY – couldn’t have said it better, myself)

    I also agree with James’s statement about the attempt to “discredit genuinely mutually reinforcing behaviour”.

    This idea isn’t antithetical to all business or economic interests. It is in a paradigm predicated on competition – but I think a strong argument can be that competition (overall) is antithetical to creating a sensible non-destructive economy that isn’t ruled by a “win at any cost” ethos.

    As I’ve said on other occasions – how do you sustain an economy that consumes it’s most essential capital in an effort to make money? The logic simply doesn’t work – not unless you’ve been deluded into believing that money is somehow functionally more valuable than what is destroyed in order to get it, which would be a ridiculous assertion.

    The only way it can work is by legitimizing ignoring the existence of this most obvious (and fatal) of flaws in the model – which is about as intellectually (and morally) bankrupt as it gets.

    I’m of the opinion that any talk of violent revolution in an age of hi-tech total warfare (like ours) is utterly foolish. Ask anybody living in the midst of a conflict zone these days.

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  15. Jennifer Wadsworth

    “Actually, I’m not much interested in addressing “permaculture” people, particularly – unless they are also attempting to broaden the scope of the audience from the typical demographic involved with what we do.”

    Rhamis – thanks for taking on a broader audience and searching out the common interests that connect us. THIS is what will drive permaculture forward and embed it (principles intact) into a larger consciousness that will better serve all of us with “constructive, positive, and beneficial” projects and interactions.

    Reply
  16. dean

    Rhamis, I am glad that you have no problem with valid criticism. I certainly wasn’t trying to criticise though

    Reply
  17. Rhamis Kent

    It’s all good, Dean.

    As the title says – I’m thinking out loud and, more or less, testing my thoughts for the strength of the argument I’m attempting to make. I’m trying to test the validity of the logic or line of reasoning.

    So if someone has a shot to take that makes sense, pull the trigger and we’ll figure it all out.

    Reply
  18. Joel

    Thanks Rhamis for a stimulating article and commentary. This business about standing back and making a root-and-branch critique of “rentier capitalism” (a wonderfully appropriate terminology that I haven’t come across before) is very important.
    I’m skeptical about “natural capitalism” as the answer, but that may result from not understanding the concept sufficiently. The idea of properly accounting for natural and social capital to make capitalism reflect reality seems reasonable enough, but how can things of infinite value be truly and accurately financially accounted for? And how do we avoid the failings of existing attempts to do this such as “carbon credits” and “biodiversity offsets”, which seem to be more greenwash than effective tools, and seem to simply shift the problem around, or create the illusion that ecological damage is somehow being compensated?
    An economic system based on Permaculture ethics and principles, would seem to me to be “anarchist” in nature and based on a foundation of mutual aid and solidarity. An example of a detailed proposal for such an economy is Participatory Economics or “Parecon”, see http://www.zcommunications.org/zparecon/parecon.htm
    Perhaps a practical path toward a sustainable society would see us move from working within capitalism using social enterprise in the form of community incorporated associations and co-ops, to something resembling Parecon, and ultimately a “gift economy” where we are totally free…imagine if our economic relations truly reflected the ethics of Earth Care, People Care and Give Away Surplus!

    Reply
  19. Rhamis Kent

    Hey, Joel

    As I said in one of my earlier comments:

    “An economy – in whatever form or terminology used to denote it – that fails to be predicated on nature’s ability to function at its best in providing goods & services is not one worth considering or discussing.”

    “Within the context of function, financialization is meaningless if nature is undermined for the sake of rentier & financial capital.”

    John D. Liu wrote an article about this not too long ago titled “FUNCTIONAL ECOSYSTEMS AS THE ENGINE OF THE GREEN ECONOMY” that hits the nail on the head:

    http://permaculturenews.org/2013/07/03/functional-ecosystems-as-the-engine-of-the-green-economy/

    Reply
  20. Joel

    Good link there Rhamis, and I also appreciate your earlier piece on “autotrophic infrastructure” – a good phrase, and a suitably humbling perspective on the fact that our precious technologies can’t come close to achieving what photosynthesis can! The infrastructure comparison calls to mind Haikai Tane’s writing on “landscape ecostructures” http://watershed.net.nz/reandre.htm which strikes a similar chord about the central importance of ecosystem services, and their suicidal destruction by industrial society.

    Reply

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