A thumbnail sketch of the transitional society
By Karsten Kolliker
(Translated by the author from original think piece “Ufjendskabets økonomi”, March 2013)
The Importance of Disenmity in Times of Decline
The starting point of this sketch is the coming economical and ideological collapse. Anyone, who makes the effort of investigating what is really going on within the world economy these days, is likely to be convinced, that we’re living on borrowed time like never before. Central banks all over the world are printing money without any constraints partly to provide liquidity in the midst of a rampant debt escalation partly to devalue their currencies to achieve trade advantages. It’s a race to the bottom.
At some point in the near future hyperinflation will kick in, the trust in the national currencies including the dollar and the euro will collapse, and nations will go bankrupt. And the shock of the economic collapse will be followed by an awakening to a much deeper ideological crisis. We’re speaking of a societal depression of such severity, that it is beyond what humanity has ever experienced before.
And the question here is, how will we respond to this crisis? It seems to me, that unless we make some conscious, attitudinal choices, we’re running the risk of seeing our society disintegrate and self-destruct in a kind of dog-eat-dog-psychosis. Hunger and poverty combined with an incompetent and fraudulent political leadership will create a highly infected political climate with perfect conditions for demagogues and tyrants. And in their greed, anger and stupidity they will point to external causes for the misery, and they will instigate wars driven equally by rampant megalomania and a thirst for revenge.
The first of these conscious attitudinal choices thus is to keep a cool head.. and a warm heart. My point of departure is actually, that wars and suppression and egotism are all emblems of the past. We can no longer afford to be enemies. In the following I will present some proposals regarding how to rearrange our societal institutions to ensure basic societal functions during this critical transitional phase – rearrangements which at the same time starts laying the groundwork of a new sustainable way of living. For years to come, though, our reality presumably won’t be this new, sustainable civilization, but rather this pretty chaotic and challenging transitional phase, where we on the one hand shall deprogram ourselves of all the dysfunctional aspects of the old industrial way of living, and on the other, shall experiment and develop new solutions for practically all societal functions.
When the depression kicks in, it will probably be widely held, that it is a question of survival no matter what, and who would deny that? But if the derived strategies of survival imply, that the old dysfunctional patterns are allowed to continue, the strategies will be illusional. Strategies for example, that supports the current levels of meat production and consumption, that supports ruthless exploitation of nature, that supports the spread of genetically engineered lifeforms, that supports large-scale geo-engineering, all without being able to answer for the full consequences, falls in my opinion in the category of illusory survival strategies. We cannot demand that all our ways of living be made sustainable from one day to the next, but with all our initiatives we have to move toward sustainability, and with that, an honouring of the demand of being able to justify our actions in front of our children and grandchildren. Upholding the precautionary principle is paramount, especially under desperate pressures.
We shall survive, we shall stop doing all the things, which are overtly idiotic, and we shall start doing all the things, that heals and leads to true thrival. That’s the main features of the transitional society.
Already this might cause some resistance, and the proposals, which are about to follow, on how we are to rearrange our societal institutions will presumably evoke more opposition. But the point of this article isn’t to write a party program along the lines of the programs of the existing political parties, in the hope of gathering widespread support for the implementation of the program. Consider this article more like a kind of torch, which is made available for use for anyone in case everything turns dark. I might be mistaken, the crash may not come, and so much for the better. But come the crash, we probably won’t have to have lengthy discussions with farmers on the rationale of investing ten calories of fossil fuel into every single calorie of food. Or to have lengthy negotiations with labour unions on matters of salary and working hours, when the relative values of the multiple competencies within our society are turned upside down, and the skills of a seamstress is far more valuable than those of a white-collar manager. Precisely the abruptness by which a new reality might arrive, will challenge our abilities to keep a cool head and a warm heart.
Thus, before we start quarrelling about what then would be the right things to do, it seems crucial to me, that we try to get our head around the severity of our situation. Presumably, our situation is so critical, that there won’t be much space for panic. Therefore, each and every one has to work with himself and learn to preserve his composure. This is where for example meditation techniques, breathing lessons and walks in nature can prove to be useful. If we thus can avert our worst internal drives toward anxiety and panic, our next important step will be to remind ourselves and each other, that our lives are interconnected. Deeply interconnected. Even if most of our current societal institutions crackles and tumbles to the ground, we will still be joined in a society. To be part of a society is an integral part of being human. A human being without this dimension is twisted and deranged, i.e. a psychopath.
As a matter of fact, every human being is endlessly interconnected with its environment. Society is a progression of interconnectedness starting with one’s family and further on to one’s neighborhood, one’s city and one’s country onto an interconnectedness with all of humanity, the Earth and the Universe and from there mysteriously right back into the inner core of one self, the soul. It is perfectly all right to think of oneself and one’s family first, but if the actions one takes in order to survive actually impairs other peoples opportunities for survival, then we are betraying our interconnectedness and thereby undermining what is likely to be our only consistent way of surviving, even in the short term.
But exactly here we’re touching upon some of our strongest negative programming with roots reaching many many generations back in time. The pervasiveness of the every-man-for-himself-conception was such an integral part of the industrial age. But evidently, what has become crucial to our possibilities for survival is our ability to make that leap of faith, and begin to see our neighbours as our extended family. In order to release the potential we have to solve our problems in co-operation, we must develop a one-for-all/ all-for-one-mentality within the neighborhood where we live. The alternative to the self-destructive dog-eat-dog-psychosis is its opposite: That no one is left behind. We survive, together.
There are presumably two preconditions for this spirit to take hold. One is mental, the other is practical. To take the practical first, a precondition for this social commitment is in all likelihood, that the size and demarcation of the neighbourhood has to be easily comprehended. Our contemporary centralistic societal organization and standardized federal and state solutions will have to be broken down to comprehensible local entities with extensive autonomy. More about that in the following.
Mentally a precondition for this leap in our social conceptions is tied to our capacity to let go of our need for identification, our capacity to let go of our relentless pursuit of identity. There are neither logical nor emotional reasons why any given individual should choose to identify with some specific point of view. On the contrary, we are all perfectly capable of seeing multiple different viewpoints. When we in spite of this still go on identifying ourselves with some specific point of view, it’s usually driven by an existential insecurity on another level, or more precisely, we struggle to compensate for our personal insecurities by displaying strong convictions on all kinds of subjects.
Therefore, let’s call a spade a spade. If an individual struggle with this feeling of insecurity while being within a group, then it is fair to say, that this person needs to strengthen the bonds of love between himself and his family and further on from there. He might also contemplate, what role gratitude plays within his life. Thus, the mental precondition is a restoration of a sense of what is up and what is down, what matters in life and what doesn’t, and this renewed sense of proportion bears the seeds of a revolution of our interpersonal relationships, including our ways of engaging into dialogue. If the individual no longer is driven by this urge to adopt a conspicuous stance, and on the contrary just offers his ideas and points of view at the disposal of the community, a new kind of objectivity is likely to emerge, and a circle of individuals might experience the ability to pool their intelligence, hereby achieving levels of innovation, attention, foresight and consistency, which neither of them could have attained by themselves.
This deliberate choice, this change of attitude by the individual, is the pivot of the economy of disenmity. Without this change of attitude, all the other plans would be unrealistic, and discussions of these plans would be just as futile as the prevalent political debates.
A Hard-nosed View on Contemporary Politics
The ideological collapse won’t merely be a breakdown of our value and reward systems, it will comprise a breakdown of our competencies as well. And although the awareness of the ideological collapse might gain widespread acknowledgement only in the wake of the economic collapse, the ideological breakdown can be traced many years back in time. Our crisis in leadership has been evident for decades, and it seems like the capabilities of leaders have been in steady decline. This goes for the corporate sector as well as the public sector. Apropos the title of this article I have no intentions of stirring up personal enemies, but the incompetencies of our current political leadership is striking. It’s like they’re carrying such an enormous deadweight on their shoulders, that they’re afraid of dropping it all if they tried to raise their outlook as well.
However, this realization of an outright breakdown in leadership actually holds a lot of promises, and it suggests, that the crisis is not exclusively bad. The crisis is the natural consequence of our conceptions and action up to this moment. The crisis is the unpleasant but nonetheless necessary realization of how our ways of life have been based on illusions, and how we have let ourselves be deceived by our leaders. The collapse thus marks the point, where the slate is wiped clean, and we are to reinvent society according to our actual evolutionary level of consciousness. Improvement is almost guaranteed.
More than reinventing society, it’s probably rather a question of rediscovering it. What presents itself with overwhelming clarity is, that it’s not the wisdom, that humanity has accumulated through centuries, which has proved itself erroneous, and consequentially, the whole project of civilization has failed, but rather, we have gone completely off the track, because we and not least our leaders have held all this wisdom in disregard. Thus, multiple voices from past times are speaking to us, and supporting our coming reconstruction of society.
All our current top-down management, detail regulation and surveillance hasn’t a scrap to do with political leadership. Political leadership is all about formulating some visions and some principles, which are so sympathetic and fair, that ordinary people will adopt them as their own and accept them as the regulating guidelines of their actions and exchanges with others. This might once again appear to be a top-down process, but within a democracy the voters are precisely given the option of picking out the politician, whom each individual voter considers to be the one who is propagating visions and principles, which will be most beneficial to all of society.
Note the ethical demand on the voters, which is implied here. The voters are as democratic citizens granted the right to decide, what he or she deems to be most beneficial for all. The precondition for the proper working of democracy thus is, that the individual citizen is capable of seeing further than his or her personal advantages. If instead the citizens just vote according to what’s most beneficial for themselves, then it’s just another variant of the way of the strongest. In this perspective, we might as well ascertain, that it’s not solely the competencies of the politicians, that have eroded, during these past decades the competencies of the citizens have eroded as well.
The formulation of some visions and principles, which are beneficial to all, constitutes the idealistic side of political leadership. The practical side is all about ingenuity with regard to how these visions and principles translates into laws. Here, the trick is how to concretely state the laws, so as to substantiate the visions and principles and to advance the expedient behavior of the citizens toward the realization of these visions and principles. All leadership is about inspiring others to assume responsibility.
As mentioned before, our current detail regulation is a parody of political leadership. Presumably, nine out of ten existing laws are to be scrapped, and the remainder are to be cut to the chase. Transparency in the legislation is crucial for the functionality of democracy as well as for the economy of disenmity.
A Hard-nosed View on The Contemporary Economy
The way the formulation of the laws advances an expedient conduct of the citizens has within the economic field a strong parallel in the way we assess values. And here, our ways have been just as defective and erroneous as in the political field. Our conceptions of economy up to now have been centered around two primary notions, on micro level the notion of price discovery through the market, and on the macro level the notion of the national account. And the way in which these notions have developed over time, have made them both ever more illusory, which again is what has brought about all the faulty and dysfunctional economic behavior.
But it’s not the notion of the market as such, which is faulty. In my view the notion of the market is as old as the notion of society itself. Humans have always made exchanges among each other with whatever they had, and this exchange can only be perceived as good. As the forms of this exchange now budded and branched out the need arose to institute a common denominator, money, to which all the exchange could be made in reference to. Very well, but the crucial point to emphasize here is, that money is based on trust and solely on trust. In a society, where the citizens act in ways that are conscientious, and where
the trust is widespread and consolidated, it works just fine with money. But in a society, where the citizens act in ways that are unscrupulous, their conception of and relation to money becomes distorted, the money loses their basic idea as a means of payment and a measure of real values, money is inflated, the economy runs amok, just to breakdown entirely shortly thereafter.
Thus, the way neo-liberalism has been flogging the notion of ’the free market’ must not make us turn against the market as such. But then, it’s a wholly different situation we’re facing today. The markets have already collapsed, and so we are also to create the markets anew. And it is going to come about in a very primordial fashion by us beginning to exchange whatever we’ve got, facilitated by alternative currencies.
Regarding the central notion on the macro level, the national account, it is first and foremost suffering from an inconceivable lack of imagination. The activities which are selected to figure in the national account, are but a fraction of all the activities in society, and this narrowmindedness has distorted the economical decision-making and has led to a highly irrational societal behavior.
If a notion like the national account shall have any bearing, evidently it has to take into account all the conditions which affects the thrival of society. Not only should the value of fresh air, clean water and fertile soils, and all the natural processes providing this, figure, the value of the social care and well-being should also figure, as well as the value of new discoveries, the propagation of common wisdom and new creative ways of expression.
And in contrast to the habitual strong emphasis on the flow of the economy, more attention should be paid to our stocks of all that we consider valuable. With a reasonable accounting within all fields of value we would be able to use the national account to evaluate, whether the initiatives that we’re effecting and the methods we’re employing actually increase or diminish our stocks.
The urgency of the need to reassess our accounting methods is seen in the field of management of resources, in which our defective notions of assessing values has had criminal effects. Against the mounting evidence of the opposite, through decades we have been consuming non-renewable resources as if they were in infinite supply. The consequence of this carelessness is, that resource prices today are much higher than 10 or 20 years ago, and relatively to our societal value-creation they are likely to rise drastically in the years to come as well. The resource prices will in all likelihood rise to such a degree, that only a way of life based on reusable and renewable resources will be consistent.
But if this brings about the recycling society, and we were headed in that direction anyway, then what’s the problem? Only that this careless resource consumption is just another of those ways in which the latest generations have incurred debts on the coming generations. And drawing attention to it here serves no other purpose than to remind the middle-aged and elderly generations, that they are in no position to plead demands on the younger generation. From this point on, it is solely a matter of what each individual has to contribute to the community regardless of age and former status.
The Sustainable Economic Entity
With the breakdown of the monetary system, the markets and the values of our products, needless to say, the national economies will be bankrupt as well. Simply, there will be no tax revenues coming in to finance the public services. If in this situation, we hold on to a political leadership like the existing with an enormous regulatory system, a large civil apparatus to administer this regulatory system, a top-down conception of governance, whose representatives sincerely believes, that they are the ones to solve the problems, and ordinary people are to obey their commands, then we are sure to be in deep deep trouble. If, on the one hand this established political leadership manages to keep the population alive, which shouldn’t be taken for granted, the defective conceptions of the same political leadership will on the other hand drag out the depression indefinitely, and consequentially, the probability of a third world war presents itself as maybe the only way to break the deadlock.
What we are to do alternatively, is almost immediately to take stock of the new situation, that the crisis has brought about, and to trim the state and the whole regulatory apparatus drastically to fit the new economic reality. As mentioned, apart from cancelling nine out of ten existing laws the operation mainly consists in transferring the majority of the assets of the state to its stakeholders, that is to the citizens represented by the municipalities and the neighbourhood entities, with the sovereignty primarily placed on the latter.
For more than 200 years we have lived by a motto that said, big is good, bigger is better. This has applied not only to corporations, resource extraction, food production but also to public institutions like hospitals and universities. In 1972 ”The Limits To Growth” was published and in 1973 came the oil crisis, and if not before, it then became obvious and brought to our collective awareness, that our way of life was not sustainable. In spite of this realization, we have more or less gone on like nothing had happened. This real and pressing critique of our civilization related initially to the so-called industrialized countries, but since then the group of industrialized countries has expanded drastically to the point where practically all the countries of the world are pursuing that same way of life, that proved itself unsustainable some 40 odd years ago.
Within the civil society in the western world, there has been widespread demands to put the issues of ecology and sustainability on the political agenda, but little has happened. On the grounds of the experiences over the past 40 years it must be fair to conclude, that the established power structures are not capable of acting responsibly and carry out the necessary changes in our ways of doing things. In the midst of the shock and anxiety and the all-encompassing character of the breakdown, as citizens in a democracy we have to realize, that it was apparently the way we wanted it.
But along the same thread of reasoning it must be evident, that we cannot ask those companies or institutions, that for decades have proven their incapability of effecting change, to solve our problems in this moment of crisis. Thus, let’s make a virtue of the failure of the state and the failure of corporate capitalism, and seize the opportunity to create autonomous and sustainable neighborhood entities. The scale of the economic collapse will probably be of such grave proportions, that in the immediate wake there will be practically no paid jobs left in the economy. The economy might come to an almost complete stand still. Imagine the highways lying deserted. A landmark moment in the history of humanity.
And there it is, a question rises like a towering surge: How am I and my family going to survive in this broken society? How are we gonna get something to eat? The answer to this question is, what the economy of disenmity is all about. Apart from the fundamental shift in consciousness outlined in the first section, it is all about avoiding to crumble in despair and to wait for some miraculous restart of the economy from above, but on the contrary, that each and every member of society throws himself into the effort of getting these sustainable neighborhood entities up and running.
We are going to build greenhouses, in the cities often several stories high, we are going to build hen houses, root zone systems and compost systems for human manure.. yes, that’s presumeably the way it’s gonna be. Either our toilets and our sewer systems are rebuilt, or we will reintroduce the privy in the backyard, simply because we need the compost for growing our food. And yes, there are systems that facilitates this process without it having to be nasty. For a large part gardens and parks are possibly to be reallocated to urban farming. Soon markets with all sorts of second-hand articles and repair shops and local currencies to facilitate this exchange of goods and services will be up and running. If we move on the new circumstances immediately after the collapse has occurred, we will have a fair chance within a short while to secure the basic necessities of life within each neighborhood entity. And in this situation, it is self-evident, that we cannot have governmental institutions with obsolete regulatory objectives standing in the way of the urgent need for action by ordinary people.
Thus, the neighborhood entity is primarily a practical measure. It’s a way to pool a number of people according to the place they live. Ideally, we’re dealing with a bounded settlement or a bounded housing estate, secondarily larger settlements will have to be broken up and smaller will have to be pooled with adjoining settlements. The issue at hand is to achieve a collective of individuals within the neighborhood entity, which makes for a plausible diversity in professional and human competencies and at the same time, a number of people which are of such proportion, that the scale of the neighborhood entity remains easy to grasp for each and every member. The human scale of the neighborhood entity is as mentioned the precondition for the establishment of the musketeers oath, one-for-all/all-for-one, which again is the basis for our trust in the new social order, that no one will be left behind, which again is the grounds on which we are able to rid our society of its centralized top-down management and reclaim our innate personal rights to be who we want to be.
The neighborhood entity thus is the basic economical entity, and as such it is to be granted extensive autonomy, and though it aspires to become basically self-supporting it doesn’t comprise a society in and of itself. There will be issues, which still will have to be dealt with at a national level, like parts of our infrastructure and energy supply, international agreements and the defense. A basic tax payment is thus to be restored.
Whereas the state is trimmed into become the caretaker of some specific but essential societal functions, the role of the municipalities will on the contrary attain considerable authority, although initially there will be very scarce resources to do with.
The municipality is a sensible societal entity. A municipality has, apart from of course a townhall, a number of schools, a hospital, a firehouse, a police station, and the municipality will typically have a major town with some sort of a center, where markets for the exchange of goods can be setup. The large regional hospitals will have to be broken up and reestablished as a number of local hospitals. The reason for this is, that in the first years there will be no tax revenues to fund the hospitals, so it will be wholly up to the people living in a given municipality, how they will support the activities in the hospital, probably in some form of natural economy. The same principle will apply to all other services provided at the level of the municipality.
So, we’re talking about a drastic simplification of our society, a brutal simplification of our society, and at lot of people might nervously ask to the continuation of some of our more illustrious institutions like universities, theaters and museums, which are all dependent on public funding and of which there will be none. Personally, I see for myself a kind of timeline. The all-encompassing collapse is so to speak the Big Bang for a new sustainable civilization, and in the first one or two or three years we will be going through a revolution of our thinking, our minds will be set free, but at the same time we will be struggling very hard to survive. If we manage to keep a cool head and a warm heart, we will be able to get through this critical phase of survival without destroying too much of what we already have. There will be city districts, industrial districts for example, where we will abandon the buildings and turn them over to second-hand building material sites, but even if we for a period won’t be able to run our universities and other cultural institutions, we must do everything in our power to keep them intact, so that we, as soon as we can afford it, can resume their activities.
It is my profound belief, that the renaissance of our self-conceptions as well as the new ways of working together and in harmony with nature will lead, even in the short term, to unexpected and overwhelming results. We tend to judge our powers of creation with the yardstick of our past results, but along with the new critical situation we will find ourselves in, we are presented with a choice: Either to find and unleash a hitherto unknown potential or to self-destruct.
If we manage to survive the first years and avoid ruining too much of what we already have, imagine what a victory, what a gift, that would be. Imagine to be given the chance of rebooting a society. To be given the chance to throw out all the obsolete ways of thinking and to orient ourselves solely after what we consider to be of real value. Humanity has never had an opportunity like this before.
On Private Property
One of the pressing questions by the collapse of our property markets and our housing credit institutions is the question of ownership of houses, buildings and land. The enforcement of legislation designed to counter the possible irresponsible actions of individuals in an otherwise stable economy can have highly inexpedient consequences during a systemic economic decline, and radically enhance the downturn and the spread of destitution. One example would be the legislation on foreclosures. This legislation and similar legislation should be discontinued immediately. No one shall be turned out into the street, when the cause of the breakdown in his private income is a larger systemic breakdown.
But still, there is a question of fairness, which must be respected. In my mind, a revised legislation on ownership of private houses is spelled out in such a way..
- that assets in the form of saved up equities in private homes are respected
- that the ownership of houses occupied by individuals who are made insolvent by the collapse is transferred, not to the credit institutes and their shareholders, since it was their greed and irresponsibility which were among the main causes of the societal breakdown, but rather, the ownership shall be transferred to temporary municipal real estate escrows
- that these temporary municipal real estate escrows maintain the ownership of these foreclosure-prone houses and collects rents from the residents according to prevalent prices, until what is fair and just in relation to the ownership of each house is sorted out
Likewise are bankrupt companies not to be broken up by a firesale of their assets. Here too, a revised legislation shall ensure, that all possibilities to continue the company’s activities, for example as employee-owned, are explored, and only when all of these possibilities have proven futile, greenlight is given to sell off the assets.
With regard to rental apartments, the pricing has for long been politically regulated. Whether it should be kept this way is open for discussion, but firstly we have to revise the legislation so as to allow for a crisis adjustment of the rents. The rents simply cannot continue as if nothing has happened, when the income basis for ordinary people effectively has crumbled. In the crucial initial phase of the crisis, the rents will have to be continually adjusted proportionally with the decline in the overall economy. Obviously, the consequence of these presumably very low rents will be, that the owners won’t be able to finance maintenances and other services, why the tenants either will have to stand in and do the work voluntarily or the owners will have to leave it at that until the larger economy finds new ways to prosper. If the companies owning real estate goes bankrupt, their assets will, as in the case of private homes, temporarily be transferred to the municipal real estate escrows.
In continuation of the owner/tenant question and from a higher standpoint this might be a sensible opportunity to ask, how we see our relation to private property develop further on. For my part I find it fairly easy to imagine, that most of the pride and other personal feelings we have been investing in private property and in the owning of things, will taper off in the coming years. Isn’t, for example, carsharing a convincing and effective way to solve a societal task? If we imagine the spirit of the economy of disenmity becoming widespread, and every single individual through the neighborhood entities has a solid experience of social belonging, sharp distinctions between what is private and what is common will probably no longer be drawn easily, and the need to draw that kind of distinctions will probably only occur occasionally. On the other hand, I personally still consider the right to privately own something as inalienable. Nobody is to inflict a collectivist spirit upon anybody, therefore we have to give these relationships time to evolve.
On Our Savings in Pension Funds
Where the savings in equity of privately owned houses are to be respected, it is in my view far more problematic to show any kind of collective respect for the savings in private or public pension schemes. The pension market has been imbued with the same mad leverages and the same atmosphere of the clever cheating the less-clever, that characterized the whole financial circus. Even if people have sacrificed some of their salary in order to obtain some spending power at some later stage in their lives, they have none the less handed their money over to financial institutions, which administered their money in irresponsible ways. How can it be, that all those people who had hundreds of thousands placed in their pension schemes, didn’t show more interest in, how the pension companies actually went about securing their investments? The frivolousness and recklessness characterizing the whole financial sector has been shared by all those who put their money into these financial institutions, and this frivolousness and recklessness has now led to devastating losses, but in my opinion that is hardly a case for any kind of collective compensation.
At the same time, from my point of view, money on some pension scheme has given a peculiar false impression of security in a world, which we all were very well aware of wasn’t sustainable. How can one altogether believe in long term investments within a lifeform, that isn’t sustainable? Personally, it beats me how people have made these elementary facts fit together. Even if the draw in ones salary was very real at the time, the expected effect was presumably an illusion all along. To put it somewhat polemically, what was bought, was some carefree years. Some wonderful carefree years.
Ordinary people are likely to have good reasons to feel cheated by smart sellers of financial products, but had we all been taking these questions seriously, had we altogether taken our very real and critical circumstances seriously, our economic realities would have been totally different, and we wouldn’t have had these money to pay in anyway. Looking back at the past 40 years, one of the most conspicuous features has been the exceptional rate of money printing, staggering amounts of money, paper money, and the trust in these paper money is now lost. There has been lots of people, who were counted as millionaires and even billionaires but only on paper. The same goes for our pension schemes. So be happy for the good carefree years, no matter how dreamlike they might seem from this point, and let’s collect ourselves on the present situation and our forward-looking possibilities.
In the face of serious signs of an impending collapse, even before the 2008 financial crisis, several commentators urged people with real fortunes to shift their placements from paper-assets to gold. This might turn out to have been a wise strategy in all circumstances, but seen from the point of view of the economy of disenmity it nonetheless misses the mark. The way to secure a basic standard of living at old age is through your social investments. Or in other words, how thoroughly the individual is living the attitude of one-for-all/all-for-one in his concrete neighborhood, and therefor dares to trust, that he will be supported by the community, if he ever should find himself in a needy situation.
On Agricultural Reforms
The crisis management of ownership relations within the agricultural field is thought to follow the same outlines as for private dwellings above. But from a broader perspective fundamental reforms within the agricultural field is just as urgent as in the fields of politics and economics. The way we have been cultivating the land up to now, has been nothing short of insane. We have depleted the soil and drained the natural powers of sustenance from our methods of cultivation, and replaced it with poor chemical surrogates and huge inputs of fossil fuels.
If our supplies of fossil fuel were to breakdown, as has happened before, we’re left with an agricultural business, that aren’t capable of producing the slightest amount of food. That’s why our immediate survival turns on the neighborhood entities, and their ability to produce their own food. But this way of providing food is only thought of as a transitional phenomenon. Through the implementation of radical agricultural reforms, the fertility of the land is to be restored, and in due course we will get back to more orderly cities, where the local food production is scaled down, and the food supply will once again come from the land.
In connection to these radical agricultural reforms the question of ownership of our societal assets is again a live issue. If the question is, how as a society we attain the highest amount of care for our land and the highest yields of our land, then previous experiences suggests, that small or medium-sized family-owned and family-driven farms is the most sensible way of organizing the agricultural business. To stress that point, it has conversely been thoroughly documented, that when agricultural businesses develops into huge enterprises with vast tracts of land and a colossal meat production, that’s where the caretaking of the land and the welfare of the animals has been most cynically neglected. In so far as we can use our former experiences as guiding lines for our future actions, it seems like a good idea to incorporate a breakup of the large industrial farms into smaller entities as part of the agricultural reforms.
The agricultural reforms will fundamentally change the character of our land. We have to move away from the conception, that the land is a resource available for the fulfillment of human needs only, and instead begin to prioritize the thrival of nature alongside our own. And this presents no contradictions, no conflict of interests. We are to have maximum biological diversity, maximum fertility, and within all this fertility we will easily be able to provide for ourselves. Thus, our landscape will once again become very varied with lots of forests and open meadows with grazing sheep and cattle and a richly varied flora and fauna. From this point of view, one gets the sense, that there was a strong correlation between how worn-out and stressed our lives had become, and how worn-out and stressed nature was, at the end of the industrial epoch.
Abundance is the way of nature, why shouldn’t it be the way of man as well? So, when we embark on building greenhouses and root zone systems and urban farming, not only will these facilities be our lifeline here and now, they will also hold promise of a brighter future.
(Illustration: The Sunset House by Lilah and Nick, West Virginia)