Thomas Fischbacher

When to Not Use Money – and Why

Let us imagine a fictitious mountain village — or, for that matter, any other close-knit community — that has a high degree of economic independence at the community rather than individual level. Within this community, there is an on-going active exchange of favours, including goods and services. Naturally, there will be some sort of accounting mechanism that ensures everybody is providing roughly as much to the village as he is […]

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The Nuclear Race to the Bottom

One thing that often is forgotten in discussions about nuclear energy utilization is that it involves quite a lot of very dirty and dangerous work. According to Bill Mollison, Uranium mining companies in Australia often employed Aborigines as miners, knowing that they would not go to court should they develop cancer. The situation in the U.S. was fairly similar, with the Navajo Indians in the role of the miners (1). […]

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Climate Belief Forensics II

Editor’s Note: This is part II of a series. If you haven’t already, read Part I first. Considering the Latin root of the word, "forensics" is about bringing something before the forum the public perhaps should know about. And certainly, exploring the question where influential beliefs about the climate come from seems quite relevant. These days, all the world is talking about all sorts of things that were before secrets […]

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What Have We Allowed Our Society to Become?

This is a translation of a short sample from a comedy show filmed in January 2011 in Munich. The language is unfortunately inaccessible for most readers (more so as this is in a regional dialect, Bavarian), but what this woman, Monika Gruber, has to say in this four-minute piece, matters a lot. Even those to whom the language is inaccessible may benefit from watching the (quite emotional) video. The translated […]

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Masanobu Fukuoka

This is a fairly recent video about the Natural Farming pioneer Masanobu Fukuoka (1913-2008) that was produced by one of his former students, Larry Korn, who also translated Fukuoka’s best-known book "The One Straw Revolution" into English. One of the reasons why this video is especially interesting is that it contains video material showing Fukuoka in his fields that doesn’t appear to have been widely available before. Unfortunately, Fukuoka’s seminal […]

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Organized Barter and Redistribution of Surplus

In chapter 14 of the Permaculture Designers’ Manual, Bill Mollison gives an interesting example of a restaurant (Zoo Zoo’s) that needed money for renovation but came up with a creative alternative to borrowing it at interest from a bank: they sold dated vouchers at a discount — e.g. an "a meal worth $10, redeemable in July" voucher for $8 — and thus raised money via a subscription system. (Vouchers were […]

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Climate Belief Forensics – Part I

Considering the Latin root of the word, ‘forensics’ is about bringing something before the public that they should perhaps know about. And certainly, exploring the question of where influential beliefs about the climate come from seems quite relevant. While massive atmospheric emissions caused by mankind at a sufficiently large scale to change important global processes is probably a fairly new (post-war?) phenomenon, we actually already have some experience, and some […]

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Gaviotas

This is a video on the work of Paolo Lugari, founder of "Gaviotas", a project that managed to build a sustainable community in one of the most environmentally and socially hostile parts of the planet – the highly acidic and aluminium toxic soils of the Colombian Llanos. What made this possible was (a) the development of fairly ingenious appropriate technology, and (b) the establishment of an energy surplus returning forest […]

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Full Monty Scanner or Enhanced Pat-Down – the Only Options?

There are a thousand things wrong with flying, considering that it’s an excellent way to burn precious liquid fuels for something that does not produce lasting economic value, that it puts combustion products into atmospheric layers where they really do not belong, and a score of other things as well. In that way, it may be a bit strange to see advice that superficially is related to flying on the […]

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Early Retirement Extreme

Two issues keep on puzzling me about economics. On the one hand, it undoubtedly is an incredibly important subject. At present, my life pretty much depends on being able to buy certain things from a functioning economy and the same holds for just about everybody else. On the other hand, there seem to be a number of serious problems with deeply rooted beliefs about economics held my many professional economists. […]

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Liquid Democracy

Isn’t it time to imagine a new world? Perhaps it is impossible to write an article about politics without evoking strong – and maybe quite emotional – thoughts and responses. One particular all-too-human reaction to a novel concept or idea about which we have a strong "gut feeling" (good or bad) is to construct logically-sounding reasons to justify our initial emotions. For this reason, I would like to ask readers […]

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A Fresh Look at Gandhi – Part II

by Thomas Fischbacher. Read Part I here. History has seen many an ideology fail that wrongly believed to "finally" explain everything that went wrong in this world, and show a way out. The problem with any such system of thought is that its key feature – "to explain everything" makes it both very seductive and very dangerous. Seductive, because many (most?) people experience psychological discomfort at the thought of living […]

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