intro’d to Mark here:
first posted in 2010..
update in 2013:
tedxo’porto – may 2011
the delusion that we’re disconnected from nature
money has come to replace community as a prime source of security – independence is a myth
expand the spirit of…
i prefer walking to cycling because it’s s l o w e r.
For more information about Mark Boyle’s forthcoming course with Fergus Drennan and Charles Eisenstein visit: www.schumachercollege.org.uk/courses/wild-economics
Mark Boyle lived completely without money for almost three years, an experience which formed the basis for his first book, The Moneyless Man. His second book, The Moneyless Manifesto, explores in-depth the philosophy and praxis of a non-monetary economy. He gives talks internationally and writes intermittently for various international newspapers and magazines, such as the Guardian and Permaculture magazine.
Mark on the moneyless manifesto:
Published on Oct 12, 2012
Silver Donald Cameron chats with Mark Boyle in this clip from the full-length interview at
6 min – why can’t we live in that landscape (nature ness), …w/in the (bizarre) story we live in today – that can perceived as a hypocrisy – that you could live w/o money.. – it’s just recently in time that we’ve that money to be the end all..
BBC Radio 4 have repeated this 15min interview from early 2013 between Mark and Ritula Shah on ‘renunciation’:
key – was to not have a safety net.. ie: bank account
9 min.. key – this economy isn’t sustainable..
an interview titled “The Moneyless Man meets Fergus The Forager: A conversation of difficult questions”, that we done as part of the Schumacher Earth Talks during our week long course on Wild Economics at Schumacher College last month. Some very interesting questions were raised.
The Moneyless Man meets Fergus the Forager
Published on Dec 29, 2013
Join Mark Boyle and Fergus Drennan for an open and honest exploration of Wild Economics which was part of an Earth Talk on November 27th, 2013 at Schumacher College. Mark Boyle has lived without money for three years, and Fergus Drennan is preparing for a year of 100% Wild Food.
– how do you quantify an unquantiable
we’re not going to save the natural world by putting a value on it
listen to gut
walk with stephan..?
51 min – you’re right the 60’s didn’t work, was it radical, no… i saw we need a revolution we actually need a revolution, personal change is brilliant, ..but there are institutions in the world that are not allowing change.. i followed the mantra for years.. be the change.. and it’s great.. but we need more..
56 min – perhaps one thing i disagree with Charles on.. that we can keep money – community is not needed if you have money..
1:03 – we have to stop thinking of money as security
1:15 – we need to really get unrealistic with things, because realism isn’t doing it
esp resonating parts:
To the day that Humanity walks with humility, connection and great heart amongst the Wild again, and that little inch of each of us that knows there is a story more sublime, more dignified, more glorious, than numbers.
by Charles Eisenstein
Going into my first conversation with Mark Boyle a year ago, I was feeling a little bit defensive. “He probably thinks he is better than the rest of us,” I thought. “More ethical, more pure, less complicit in the sins of civilization.” His very lifestyle was an implied accusation.
When we actually began talking, though, I found Mark to be free of sanctimoniousness or self-congratulation. That is why his message resonates with so many people. His evident goodwill, care and compassion disarms us so that we can take in what he has discovered: going moneyless is a gateway to connection, intimacy, adventure, and an authentic experience of life. Far from being a path of sacrifice to qualify oneself as good, it is a path of joy and – dare I say it? – a path of wealth.
One contribution of this book is to open that path to others. Often I hear people preface their thoughts on right livelihood with, “Of course, we all have to make money…” We have mortgages to service, bills to pay; there is, after all, a ‘cost of living’. We take it for granted that we have to pay merely to be alive. What Mark shows is that this assumption is part of an illusion.
ch. 1 the money delusion
Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it’s from Neptune.
Considering its power over us, you would wonder why in 2008 I decided to abandon that course of action and try something different. When I originally decided to start living without money – or as I prefer to call it, to start living with the types of local gift economy that I will examine in chapter two – I did so on the basis of one major realisation: much of the suffering and destruction in the world – factory farms, sweatshops, deforestation, species extinction, resource depletion, annihilation of indigenous peoples and their cultures – were symptoms of a much deeper issue. From what I could see, only a people desperately unaware of their own intimate connection with the rest of life on this planet could behave in the ways we do, and only a people surrounded by powerful distractions could not feel the deep scars that this behaviour was causing. Not only was money enabling us to remain shielded from the horrors resulting directly from our consumption habits, it was also the most powerful distraction of all.
This is not a book about the self, it’s about money, but questioning where the boundaries of self lie is a crucial foundation to understanding the call to move beyond monetary economics. People assume that I would agree with the old misquoted adage, money is the root of all evil. I don’t. Instead I propose that it is our deluded sense of self which is the root of many of our current personal, social and ecological crises. Money is instrumental to maintaining and affirming this delusion.
Our current monetary economic model works partially on the basis that we will act in what Ayn Rand, and those such as Adam Smith before her, describes as our rational self-interest. But what if the boundaries of the self are not as clear as Rand and the rest of us first assumed? The terms rational self-interest and selfishness take on a much different understanding under a more expansive, holistic sense of self. If a person perceives their self to be the entire whole, then to act in your own self-interest would involve making decisions where looking after yourself would mean protecting the rivers, atmosphere, soil and forests that provide the hydrogen, oxygen and minerals that make up the physical elements of what you presently define as ‘I’.
Wilderness runs much deeper than physical spaces; wilderness – wildness – is an essence, one present in all of us. We cannot put our finger on it, but we know when it is there; we know when we feel it. I would argue that wildness is a state of experiencing and participating in oneness, and that the use of money, as a tool of separation, fundamentally prevents us from experiencing this.
Our deafness and our numbness is essential to maintaining the globalised monetary system, and in a beautiful, sordid dance of chicken and egg, we have enveloped ourselves in a culture which affirms and reinforces it. Standing at the centre of this dance, its arms raised triumphantly, its waistcoat shimmering, is money.
..money sits high enough up the chain to blind us to all that came before it. Nowhere is this more clear than in the relationship it forces us to have with time.
Undoubtedly this is due to a need for security: we have been taught that to save is to provide a guarantee, a safety net for our future. What does this do to our sense of trust though?
Contrast that with how we live in civilisation today, always worried about things from the past and planning ahead for the future, never being in the moment. How much of life do we miss out on because our minds are time travelling?
Charles Eisenstein, in The Ascent of Humanity, sums it up nicely: “We find in our culture a loneliness and hunger for authenticity that may well be unsurpassed in history. We try to ‘build community’, not realising that mere intention is not enough when separation is built into the very social and physical infrastructure of our society. To the extent that this infrastructure is intact in our lives, we will never experience community.”
If you stopped paying your child carer, would he or she still continue to care for your child? Is the care that is conditional, really care? I suspect that, at our very cores, we consciously or subconsciously know it’s not, and the psychological and emotional trauma from that deep understanding is unquantifiable.
This, I must add, isn’t a philosophical discussion about whether prostitution is ‘good’ or ‘evil’. On appearance it doesn’t seem a particularly healthy or fulfilling way to live, but who am I to judge and, regardless, the same could be said about almost all livelihoods today. Every day we all sell our bodies for money in one way or another. We charge people to prepare food for them, to accommodate them, to heal them, to mind their children or elderly parents – things that some previous societies couldn’t even conceive of asking for something in return for. How many of us would still go into work every day if we had no financial or economic imperative to? Not many. Of course we have to pay the bills, but then again, so does the prostitute.
It may be that the prostitute really is the only honest one amongst us.
ch. 2 the moneyless menu
..the following is how I define a moneyless economy that respects all life on Earth – from humans to the microbes in the soil to wild animals – and not solely human life:
The moneyless economy is a model of economy that enables its participants to meet their physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs, both collectively and individually, on the basis of materials and services being shared unconditionally (i.e. no explicit/ formal exchange). Ideally (but not necessarily) these materials would be procured within walking distance of the people who benefit from them. Such an economy would be carried out in a way that considers the needs of all life (and future generations of life) in that geographical region, giving equal consideration to all, and seeing it as an interdependent whole whose overall health is inextricably linked to that of its component parts, and vice versa.
A pure moneyless economy, in my definition, is the meeting point of the gift economy and the 100% local economy, and I believe that the physical and spiritual benefits of combining both are huge. Until the day that such an economy is either desirable or possible for you, just apply the aspects of it that work for you and your unique situation, keeping one eye on the converging crises that we will all have to face, together.
Imagine, for a moment, that there was no ‘me’ and ‘you’, and that the border known as the skin that we have used to define I and Other by since early childhood was no less arbitrary than the border between the lands known as France and Germany. How would that change the way you perceive the world, and interact with all that makes it up?
A gift economy, in my definition, is simply a society within which people share their skills, time, knowledge, information or material goods with each other without any formal, explicit, or precise exchange. The forms that gift-based societies have taken historically vary widely. But there are a few constants. No money changes hands, no bartering takes place (despite what ill-informed economists would have you believe), and no credits or IOUs are accurately noted in little books, ready to be cashed in like a £20 note. In the type of gift economy I advocate, giving and receiving is done on a largely unconditional basis, which stands in stark contrast to the rather ironically named ‘free-market’ economy, which has very successfully managed to turn every aspect of our beautiful little planet, whose bounty was once indeed free to all, into an inherently meaningless set of financial valuations.
Gifts may be given in return at some point down the line (and in most historic gift-based economies, almost always were), and they can strengthen such a society if they are. The key to this is that they are not a condition on the original gift, that they are not immediately returned, and that they are never exact. Otherwise, as we saw earlier, you are effectively saying “my relationship with you can now be ended”. Gifts create bonds, and it is these bonds which create real community, not the superficial type we try to recreate today in a desperate response to our tangible lack of any authentic sense of community.
In its ideal form, there would be no emotional or psychological ‘credit’ in the gift economy either, though given the state of our mental landscape today, this is admittedly very unlikely, initially at least.
This wariness is understandable – we’re currently thousands of miles away, quite literally, from this level of localisation, and living in such a manner en masse would require an entire redesign of society and wholesale land reform; both of these, some would say, would require a revolution, or an almost complete collapse of the model of economy we currently participate in (which, given its dependency on infinite growth on a finite planet, is hardly out of the question).
Whilst bartering has even more social benefits than local currencies (though a lot less liquidity), it is in many ways little more than an awkward form of money, and is based on the same consciousness of debt and credit that we don’t see many other examples of in Nature.
ch. 3 the pop (progression of principals) model
If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognise that we don’t really stand for them.
– Paul Wellstone
POP model for ‘economic systems’.
Level 1 (100% local gift economy):
Complete co-sufficiency on a gift economy basis.
Level 2: Co-sufficiency on a local currency/barter basis within a fully localised economy.
Level 3: Gift economies existing with minimal dependency on the dominate economic model.
Level 4: LETS, Timebanks and local currencies existing with minimal dependency on the dominant economic model.
Level 5: A ‘greener’ globalised monetary economy.
Level 6 (100% global monetary economy): A globalised monetary economy.
Level 1 (100% local gift economy): Walking barefoot, connecting with the earth beneath my feet.
Level 2: Walking in shoes I made myself (or were unconditionally gifted to me) from local materials.
Level 3: Walking in shoes I bartered for, which were made from local materials.
Level 4: Walking in trainers made in a Chinese factory.
Level 5: Cycling on an industrial scale bicycle.
Level 6: (100% global monetary economy): Driving a hybrid car.
It is OK to find it too extreme, this is my POP model for transport, not yours, and that’s partially the point. But I believe that until we feel the earth beneath our feet again we will never learn to walk gently on Her.
Cycling of any sort disconnects us from the earth more than walking, and speeds life up for us (which usually only results in us consuming more things with the spare time it affords us),
a few inspirational examples of people who have lived without money: Peace Pilgrim, Daniel Suelo, Satish Kumar, Tomi Astikainen, Jürgen Wagner, Heidemarie Schwermer, Benjamin, Raphael, Nicola, Nieves, Sonja Kruse, Adin Van Ryneveld, Elf Pavlik, Julez Edward
ch. 4 challenges and transitional strategies
The government policies that exist today started with a set of beliefs of one kind or another, which over time transformed themselves into many stories, which in turn married each other and created new bastardised versions. Now we have the story that someone can own a piece of the Earth, and then charge everyone else for having to be somewhere on it; ..
Nevertheless, the majority of our species still believe in these stories, making them valid, and we have to find ways to work with them, within them, and sometimes around them.
As Jiddu Krishnamurti once said, “it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society”, yet we often seem to prefer to make such adjustment than risk the exclusion that is perceived to come with living a healthy life.
Life is the most incredible gift we’ll ever be given. It is an adventure, something to explore to its fullest. We would do well not to waste it, and destroy life for everything else in the process, because we were afraid to let go of our habitual behavioural patterns. One of the tragedies of this culture is that we are so afraid to die that we never really live. We live with superficial relationships that lack dependency or depth, we live with money instead of connected relationships with all in our biosphere, and therefore we live in isolation rather than community.
..private ownership is a human story, and a relatively modern one at that.
Meaning that anyone wanting to fulfil what I believe to be the closest thing to a natural human right that we have – the opportunity to make your own nest and grow crops for yourself and your community – finds it almost impossible to do so, as the planning system is designed to protect the countryside from all humans, even those who only want to enrich it.
One group of Greeks called Free and Real, who have been heavily involved with Freeconomy Greece and with whom I stayed during the summer of 2011 in the north of Evia, are already in the process of doing just that, establishing a project very much in tune with the ideals extolled in this book.
I also believe that a human being must have, at least, the basic right to not believe in the story of money, just as much as an adult taxpayer will retain the right to not believe in the story of Santa Claus if they so wish. If other people want to use money, that’s their choice. But I don’t subscribe to the view that because some do, everyone therefore has to. Taxes, because they can only be paid in legal tender which most people can only obtain by trading their time in exchange for it, force people out of subsistence living and into the wage and market economy. Earthworms, trees or bees don’t pay taxes, or believe in the story of money, yet it doesn’t mean that they don’t play an absolutely essential role in life on Earth.
I’d love my insurance in life to be that: community, friendship, interdependency, as part of a people who look after each other unconditionally, no matter what. Instead we opt for official documents that do nothing to increase the bonds between ourselves and our fellow humans. lammas ness
ch. 5 labour and materials
We – the civilised – have been inculcated to believe that belongings are more important than belonging.
– Derrick Jensen, Endgame Volume
Our current way of living may be theoretically convenient, but if convenience turns out to be soul-destroying, is it still convenient? Modern economics does little for the human spirit; it has left many of us miserable and hating what we do every day. Contrary to what money’s most enthusiastic proponents would have you believe, it actually inhibits our sense of freedom, and through its mechanisms stops us from pursuing the things we really want to do in life.
Freeconomy involves sharing your time, skills, tools and knowledge to whatever degree you are comfortable with – completely for free – safe in the knowledge that whenever you need help with something else, or the loan of a screwdriver, another member of your local group (whom you may have never even met before) will then help you in the same spirit. There are no credits, IOUs, ratings systems to be filled in or boring administration to be done; unconditionality is much more efficient, and less bureaucratic, than conditionality.
Members seem to be positively enthusiastic about doing things for no other reason than the simple fact that another human being needs help, and that they have been gifted the ability to be able to help them.
Such low levels of technology keep me present in the moment, and deeply aware of my surroundings. In comparison, the lighter is much less beneficial for the overall wellbeing of both the egocentric and holistic self. Convenience makes us feel less alive.
Between Freegle and Freecycle alone, millions of tonnes of usable stuff are kept out of landfill every year. Street Freecycle.. just a sign – for free – and stuff.,, Streetbank(.com),..FavorTree(.com),.. LetsAllShare(.com),.. Ecomodo(.com).
Projects that utilise high technology software such as these can help us bridge the gap between reality and the ideal, until external issues transform the former into the latter.
app as temporary
I would love Freeconomy to become obsolete in ten years time, on the basis that such a technological solution is no longer necessary.
Empirical evidence has shown that when people know that they can take whatever they need, when they need it, they have little or no tendency to take more than they need at any given time.
ch. 6 land
How can one own stars?’ [asked the little prince]
‘Whose are they?’ the businessman asked peevishly.
‘I don’t know. They don’t belong to anyone.’
‘In which case they are mine, because I was the first person to
think of it.’
‘Is that sufficient?’
‘Of course it is. When you find a diamond that belongs to nobody, it is yours. When you discover an island that belongs to no one, it is yours. When you are the first to have an idea, you take out a patent on it: it is yours. And I own the stars because nobody else before me thought of owning them.’
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
Land reform, as we’ve seen in chapter four, is crucial to the movement towards a moneyless economy.
WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms)
WWOOFing has a very similar approach to Landshare, in that its main focus is to match up people with different but complementary needs in a mutually beneficial, win-win way
The key is to look at your local area differently, and see the potential for growing food and other useful crops in every unused space.
If, through whatever means, you find yourself with a wad of cash that doesn’t require paying back, then this is an option that, one could argue, would be silly to refuse without at least some thought. There are a number of potential ways you could use this money to take a piece of land out of the monetary economy to put back into the gift economy.
Another option could involve you buying the land without setting torch to the deeds (thus making a minor reduction to your carbon footprint), with a view to putting as much land as you can into the hands of a community allotment organisation, under a legal structure (such as a land trust) that you and your local community could set up specifically to protect this piece of land from those who would see it merely in terms of its financial value to them. In this way the land would be collectively managed and looked after, again giving local people the opportunity to be moneyless in terms of their food and any of the other basics of life they wish to grow.
indeed.. community owned
ch. 7 home
Mike Oehler in his book The $50 and Up Underground House Book
Circle Houses: Yurts, Tipis and Benders by David Pearson or Simple Shelters: Tents, Tipis, Yurts, Domes and Other Ancient Homes by Jonathan Horning for more information and inspiration.
ch. 8 food and water
If I were to create a flag for the planet, it would have a compost toilet on it. The flush toilet represents everything that is psychopathic about our current culture and mindset – we shit and piss into a life-giving liquid, spoiling it in the process, instead of using both of these potential resources (in different ways) to fertilise the soil which, in turn, makes the food that we eat more nutritious. Instead, we import polluting fertilisers from distant laboratories once we’ve finished polluting our waterways. Somehow we’ve managed to take a really beneficial resource for the soil and turn it into a major ecological problem.
In fact, the water issue is one of the reasons why I believe cities to be inherently unsustainable, as the water needs of millions of people living on top of each other can only be met by highly industrialised means, involving processes that are polluting our host and destroying it’s ability to home us. Therefore, complete moneyless living en masse will only happen through land reform and a complete redesign of the way we live.
ch. 10 transport
..bikes made from locally grown wood may be commonplace in the localised economy of the future.
lift.com, couch-surfing, warmshowers, hospitalityclub…
ch. 11 living off grid
Despite my beliefs that the existence of such logistically complex technologies are the root of many of our personal, social and ecological crises, I agree that they can play a transitional role in getting us out of the mess the stories behind them got us into.
ch. 12 education (had to jump ahead)
I was 22 before I planted my first seed. Bar the occasional blackberry, I had never been wild food foraging either. I didn’t know one tree from the next, let alone have any clue about which ones would be good for making chairs and which for making houses. I’d no idea how to communicate my feelings to girlfriends without it inevitably blowing up into an argument. I knew there were some ‘environmental’ problems in the world, but I had no understanding of how utterly important microbes, fungi, algae, earthworms and death were to the health of the entire biosphere and all that lived within it. I could produce profit and loss accounts for businesses with consummate ease, but I hadn’t the faintest idea of how to love someone unconditionally. In Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv talks about ‘nature-deficit disorder’, which he claims has led to epidemic obesity, depression and attention-deficit disorder, amongst other things. Growing up in semi-rural Ireland, my symptoms weren’t quite as extreme as that, yet I am still only beginning to feel a full respect for the rest of life, such was the deep impact of my separation from Nature.
As I mentioned in chapter four, the reality of educating their kids is one of the most commonly cited reasons why parents tell me they couldn’t live moneylessly. And it is impossible to disagree with them, for all sorts of obvious reasons, within the context of how we live today. Yet if we changed the rationale behind education and learning, and consequently the ways in which we share skills and information with one another, whilst co-creating new designs for living that reflect this new perspective and which integrate learning into everyday life, then I see no good reason why it wouldn’t be possible.
Can you imagine a world where a child, instead of going to a suburban school, grows up in a community of people who want to educate their children for a life of creativity, connection, freedom and – heaven forbid – fun? Where one day little Benny goes out picking ramsons with his mother in the morning, before helping his father cook them up for lunch. A world which offers him the freedom to then go off and play with his friends in the afternoon, before coming back to read with his big sister in the evening. A way of life where the next day he is outside helping his neighbour Jim make a chair out of the coppiced willow that his uncle planted three years earlier. An educational system where Benny can come or go whenever he pleases, but almost always comes, whether it be to help his mum make plum jam from the fruits of their forest garden as she teaches him maths, to help his father plant some seeds, or to chase the ducks and chickens around the pond after collecting a basket full of eggs. Such a system chimes with the Nigerian Igbo’s saying, Ora na azu nwa, meaning: it takes a village to raise a child. If you can imagine anything resembling this, then keep reading, and resolve to do everything you can to educate your child in a way that rings true for you.
The Barefoot College
As noted earlier, the majority of schools today are designed with the needs of the monetary economy in mind, and not the people they were once intended to serve. Schools today certainly aren’t run with localised living as the goal. It was in response to this that Sanjit ‘Bunker’ Roy set up the first Barefoot College in India in 1972. Since then it “has been providing basic services and solutions to problems in rural communities, with the objective of making them self-sufficient and sustainable”. Throughout the day and night it teaches young and old, literate or illiterate, the skills they need to be of use to their local community in a way that ensures they are as self-sufficient as they can possibly be.
The skills they teach can be roughly categorised into “solar energy, water, education, healthcare, rural handicrafts, people’s action, communication, women’s empowerment and wasteland development”. They regularly train people to be such things as teachers, solar cooker engineers, hand pump mechanics, blacksmiths, water testers, doctors, midwives, dentists, artisans and water drillers, all of whom can then serve their community in ways that work for them. The school has five ‘non-negotiable’ values: equality, collective decision making, decentralisation, self-reliance and austerity (simplicity I believe is a more appropriate word), all of which I believe ring true to the value system of a moneyless economy.
This college currently only exists in India, but there is no reason why it couldn’t be replicated in other countries around the world, as the functions it serves are universal, as are its guiding principles.
Einsenstein – Because the nature of school is so intertwined with the nature of money, perhaps the economic future that is possible offers a glimpse into what is possible for school as well. The modern economy forces most people to do things they don’t fundamentally care much about, or even that they hate, for an external reward (money) that they associate with their comfort, security, and well-being. So also for school and grades. School is practice for life. Well, suppose we create a different kind of economy, one in which the primary question of Homo economicus is not, “How do I make a living?” but rather, “What am I best able and most willing to give to the world?” In other words, what would school look like aligned with an economy of the gift?
ch. 13 health and sex
Take just one example: the myth that antibiotics and vaccines saved us all from succumbing to such miserable diseases such as measles. This simple tale, designed to celebrate and exemplify the birth of modern medicine, digested and accepted by even the most ‘radical’ of us – is simply untrue. According to Ivan Illich, “the combined death rate from scarlet fever, diphtheria, whooping cough, and measles among children up to fifteen shows that nearly 90 percent of the total decline in mortality between 1860 and 1965 had occurred before the introduction of antibiotics and widespread immunisation.” So how have we all come to believe the opposite?
Looking back, this unconditionality was more medicine for my soul than anything a doctor could give me.
A child without limits runs out of control and is not happy.
As Thomas Berry points out, “you cannot have well humans on a sick planet”. Eliminate the source of the disease and you eliminate the need for an unhealthy cure.
As Dr. Dan Bednarz and Dr. Kristin Bradford reported in their 2008 article Medicine at the Crossroads of Energy and Global Warming, “through our unrestricted use of energy and resources in the healthcare industry, as well as our production of greenhouse gases, we are actually contributing to the ill-health of our planet and ensuring future suffering of the Earth’s inhabitants”.
Try not to think “I’ll take this herb for this ailment”. Instead consider “What does this body need to be balanced and functioning optimally”.
ch. 15 leisure
As Epicurus once pointed out, there are two ways of getting rich: increasing your financial wealth, or decreasing your desires.
we are separated from our own song.
Reclaiming music is vital to us reclaiming our wildness.
Tom Hodgkinson, author of How to be Free and general advocate of idleness (an art I fully agree with but have somehow seemed unable to master yet), suggests learning the Ukulele.
As simple as this act may seem, getting to know our neighbours again is a crucial prerequisite for any of the more technical solutions that we’re going to have to implement if we are to make the necessary journey to a fully localised society.
ch. 16 the beginning is nigh
There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.
– Victor Hugo
People everywhere are crawling out of the burning woodwork, gasping for air, demanding a change. And this is where our hope lies.
But if I want this, I have to choose it.
What we do, not what we say we will try to do if we can find the time, will be all that matters in the end. It is our responsibility, because it is our choices that are informing and feeding this destruction; it is our responsibility because the culprit is our culture.
There is no right or wrong way to act – do whatever it is your soul is calling you to do, and pursue it full of courage and with an unconditional love for the whole of which you are a part.
As Thoreau wrote, “it is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for [rightness]. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right … Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence … If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate which to choose. If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution.”
imagine freeconomy happening ever day, with 7 billion people. as the day. at least until we get back to us/trust.
|Mark Boyle (@MarkBoyle)|
Huddled around a campfire with a group of permaculturists one cool September evening, the conversation slowly moved away from natural building techniques, perennial gardening and rewilding, and onto the spicy realm of politics. Impassioned talk of voting, capitalism and anarchism mingled with woodsmoke drifting away through the reciprocal-framed roof of our firehut. As darkness enveloped us and embers started to glow red, the conversation intrigued me. Not necessarily for the ideas that emerged, as fascinating as they were, but more for the fact that amongst this bunch of like-minded souls, opinions on big issues differed considerably – and not just from one person to the next.
More often than not, each of us expressed strongly-held views on one topic that were entirely inconsistent with thoughts we held on another. This shouldn’t be surprising, considering that our politico-economic education often comes by way of a scattergun approach, encompassing a small collection of half-read books curdled with often dubious information disseminated through the media. What struck me most of all was the fact that, despite the obvious passion many permaculturists have for politics, the movement itself has thus far refrained from applying its holistic approach to the political landscape, a terrain that so greatly impacts on our ecological landscapes.
the it is me ness.
despite the obvious passion many permaculturists have for politics, the movement itself has thus far refrained from applying its holistic approach to the political landscape, a terrain that so greatly impacts on our ecological landscapes.
Groucho Marx, an American comedian, once said that ‘Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.’ Which, let’s face it, is the antithesis of everything permaculture strives for.[..]Providing such an education would be only one of many good reasons for permaculture to become politicised. Politico-economic literacy greatly influences the level of technological sophistication that permaculture-based projects are willing to utilise; and thus, in turn, how reliant these projects are upon the industrial-scale infrastructure required to keep them in chainsaws and polytunnels. Such literacy is crucial: if we are to spend our precious lives striving to create genuinely sustainable solutions, it seems counterproductive to base them around unsustainable and destructive technologies.
[..]The viability of most start-ups is greatly affected not only by the composition of the subsoil of its prospective land, or the direction of its prevailing wind, but also – and perhaps to a larger degree – by politico-economic policies and the direction of the surrounding culture. In my experience, the contours of the political landscape are a design consideration just as much as the contours of the ecological landscape. House and land prices, along with wealth distribution, dictate how much land we can afford, if any. Planning and building authorities tell us where we can build, and how we must do it. Taxes dictate how much of our surplus must leave the system without anything necessarily coming back in return. Agricultural subsidies make it very difficult for organic and permaculture growers and farmers to compete against large-scale conventional farms if they want to sell their produce. Energy policies will dictate our future climatic conditions. The list goes on. Unless we start tackling these wider issues, our most determined and creative efforts have no chance of succeeding at scale, and permaculture’s latent potential will not be fulfilled.
[..]After years of working within the confines of the system myself – attempting to reform it a little here, a little there – doing my best (and failing) to preserve some of the beauty which still remains, I came to the conclusion that the powerful vested interests in business-as-usual have little intention of changing our politico-economic systems to anything like the degree it needs to if we are to create, in the words of Charles Eisenstein, ‘the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible’.2 They make far too much money from industries such as fossil fuels, pharmaceuticals, warfare, the prison service, hyper-consumerism, high-tech gadgetry, inflated housing and land markets, stock markets, and weapons (to name just the worst offenders) to ever permit any deep, soulful change to the status quo. Is there a single reader here who believes that any of the main political parties have any intention of building genuinely sustainable, healthy communities that live in balance with the rest of the Great Web of Life? So why is it that, when we strive for deep-rooted change, we continue to put our faith in such errant parents?
[..]We persist in allowing this to happen because we’ve allowed our minds – and as a result our political activism – to become as tame as the lands we dearly want to restore to vitality[..]Even if opinions vary greatly, most people involved in permaculture realise that we need deep and radical political change. Yet no movement in history has achieved any deep, radical change through solely legal and non-violent means. Read that again. None
[..]permaculture is revolution disguised as gardening’.
It knows that the deer must be allowed to be a deer.
It also knows that the wolf must be allowed to be a wolf.
sept 2015 – what i learned – living w/o money
More than anything else, I discovered that my security no longer lay in my bank account, but in the strength of my relationships with the people, plants and animals around me. My character replaced sterling as my currency. If I acted selfishly or without care for those around me, then in the medium-term my ability to meet my own economic needs would diminish.
our political landscape needs rewilding.
upgrade the three r’s of the climate change generation from “reduce, reuse, recycle” to something more befitting of the crises unfolding before us: “resist, revolt, rewild”.
mark boyle page –
moneyless man page-
dec 2016 article
Technology destroys people and places. I’m rejecting it
From Wednesday, I’m going to live without my laptop, internet, phone, washing machine or television. I want my life back. I want my soul back
honest about the difficulties involved over the coming months, especially in the digital age, I’m just as fascinated in exploring what lessons about life – myself, society, the natural world – I might learn; perhaps things my cyborg-mind cannot yet imagine. That was my experience of living without money for three fine years.
Writing is different, my pencil unaided by both copy-and-paste and the easy delete, two word-processing functions reflective of a generic, transient and whimsical culture; and it has been a while since the media and publishing worlds worked by snail mail.
aren’t pencil and words complex tech..?
I decided to eschew complex technology for two reasons. The first was that I found myself happier away from screens and the relentless communication they generate, and instead living intimately with my locale. The second, more important, was the realisation that technology destroys, in more ways than one.
seeing pencil and words as beginnings of that destruction.. so perhaps.. deeper rooted.. perhaps we try.. a no words ness… via something like .. the eagle and the condor legend.. where we embrace tech (1\ that can wake us all up in one leap – we need all of us in order for the dance to dance 2\ that can facilitate the chaos of 7 bn with no words.. idiosyncratic jargon ness) and we embrace listening.. to the land/us
*It first separates us from nature, while simultaneously converting life into the cash that oils consumerist society. Not only does it enable us to *destroy habitat efficiently, over time this separation has led us to valuing the natural world less, meaning we protect and care for it less. By way of this vicious technological cycle, we are consciously causing the sixth mass extinction of species.
*tech of pencil/words has separated us (or we’ve allowed it to separate us) from us.. we keeping missing/assuming communication w/self/others.. and so like a cancer.. the copy of a copy of a copy of rna.. most of us are not us..
much worse perhaps.. than destroying the habitat.. because if the habitants were/are truly themselves/awake.. their hearts would not let them destroy the habitat.. they would take care of the habitat/habitants both.. one in the same..
luring their youth into industrial and financial centres – cities – whose existence is premised, as the American writer and environmentalist Wendell Berry said, on the devastation of some other far-flung place, which consumers don’t have to look at thanks to the out-of-sight, out-of-mind distance afforded by technology.
indeed.. but also tech can.. like a pencil/words.. lure/guide/facil us back to us.. deep enough
slowness only became a bad thing when time became money
Walking four miles to the post office to send my letters takes time too, but it ties me to people and place in a way that sitting in my bedroom on my own, writing endless emails, could never do.
but too.. the one on one convos texting avails is invaluable..
My life has its fair share of irony, and it can look hypocritical. Despite originally writing these words (a technology) with a pencil (a technology) in a hand-crafted cabin (a technology), the irony of this being an online blog is not lost on me. That is my compromise for now, for if you want to contribute to a healthier society, compromise can be a healthy thing if you know your boundaries. Being a hypocrite is always my highest ideal, as it means I’ve set higher standards for myself to strive for than I’m achieving at any one moment.