David Holmgren, co-orginator of the permaculture concept, has just published a new Simplicity Institute Report, entitled ‘Crash on Demand: Welcome to the Brown Tech Future’. Fascinating, deep, and provocative, the introduction is posted below and the full report is available here.
Crash On Demand
Welcome to the Brown Tech Future
This essay updates my Future Scenarios (2007) work but also builds on the essay Oil vs Money; Battle for Control of the World (2009), as a running commentary on the rapid changes in the big picture context for permaculture activism, especially in the Australian context. It assumes understanding of these previous works and, of course permaculture. ‘Preaching to the choir’ it may be, but hopefully it contributes new perspectives to keep permaculture activists ahead of the game.
Permaculture teaching and activism have always aimed to work with those already interested in changing their lives, land and communities for the better, rather than proselytising the disinterested majority. Over many decades, idealistic youth have responded positively to the ‘can-do’ personal empowerment of permaculture design, but it has also attracted more experienced citizens disillusioned with top down mainstream environmentalism’s failure to stop the juggernaut of consumer capitalism. Similarly, disillusioned social and political activists are just starting to recognise permaculture as a potentially effective pathway for societal change as 20th century style mass movements seem to have lost their potency.
My argument is essentially that radical, but achievable, behaviour change from dependent consumers to responsible self reliant producers, (by some relatively small minority of the global middle class) has a chance of stopping the juggernaut of consumer capitalism from driving the world over the climate change cliff. It maybe a slim chance, but a better bet than current herculean efforts to get the elites to pull the right policy levers (whether by sweet promises of green tech profits or alternatively threats from mass movements shouting for less consumption).
My argument suggests this could happen by reducing consumption and capital enough to trigger a crash of the fragile global financial system. This provocative idea is intended to increase understanding while taking the risk that the argument could turn people away from permaculture as positive environmentalism, and brand me a lunatic, if not a terrorist. That risk is an analogy for the massive risks that humanity now faces, where all options have unintended consequences and that normal, apparently sensible, behaviour is just as likely to lead to disaster as the most apparently mad schemes. Even mainstream ‘responsible’ proposals for saving us from climate chaos could also crash the financial system. In times of tumultuous change, small events may trigger big changes we can’t control; a key understanding from the permaculture principle Creatively Use and Respond to Change.
Crash on Demand was originally published on David Holmgren’s website, Holmgren Design.