We’ve come to the conclusion that most of our global problems – climate change, economic exploitation, military conflict, soil depletion, deforestation, loss of bio-diversity, energy shortages, social disintegration, youth dysfunction, addiction and so on – would be largely eradicated by simply choosing to live at a human pace and a human scale.
That’s why we advocate local production, local ownership, local employment, local energy, local food, local responsibility – local everything that is necessary for community well-being. It promotes diversity, community interaction, a balanced economy, joint responsibility, meaningful and full employment, social stability, social cohesion, cultural richness and dignity to every person. In this context life becomes about more than just surviving – a richness and depth can once again develop in our cultural and spiritual soil.
While technology is good and helpful and it is part of our human make-up to create more effective solutions there must be some parameters around this in terms of the assessing long-term costs and benefits to humanity and to our world.
When almost anything is taken beyond appropriate scale to large scale industrialisation it becomes counter-productive. A sustainable way of life must ask questions beyond “will this give a better return to shareholders?” and instead ask responsible questions like “will adoption of this way of production or this new technology enhance the well-being of our communities both now and for future generations?”
There is no doubt that rampant industrialisation of everything without any moral compass except a blind faith in the invisible hand of the market to rocket us toward a “utopian” future has us instead on a fast-track to extinction. But like crazed addicts many who hold massive power and wealth insist that more of the same will somehow, despite all the evidence to the contrary, one day deliver something better.
In the meantime, more and more human and natural resources become commodified and industrialised. These are things that were once completely out of the sphere of economics are regarded as “commons” or “universal human rights” such as water, soil, seeds and air. In the process of commodifying everything there is the tendency for what should be the heritage of future inhabitants of our earth to be “used up”. Take agriculture for instance, Wendell Berry says:
…farming, which is inherently cyclic, capable of regenerating and reproducing itself indefinitely, becomes…destructive and self-exhausting when it is transformed into an industry…industrial agriculture is forced by its very character to treat the soil as “raw material” which it proceeds to “use up”.
Instead of living in ways that restore and celebrate our humanness and value and restore the world we have been given, we are using up our world and our people. To us this is the greatest incentive to move to locally sustainable models of economics.