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God’s Away on Business: The Spiritual Significance of Voluntary Simplicity

Economic growth is the secular religion of advancing industrial nations. – Daniel Bell  In December 2009 I addressed the Parliament of the World’s Religions on the subject of the spiritual significance of voluntary simplicity. I would never hold myself out as an authority on this matter, I hasten to add – it seems to me a rather too personal subject for there to be ‘experts,’... read more

Just Enough is Plenty: Thoreau’s Alternative Economics (Audio Lecture and E-Book)

I’ve recently started teaching a Masters of Environment course called, “Consumerism and Sustainability,” through the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne. Last night I was privileged enough to deliver a lecture on Thoreau, and I have attached an audio file of part of that lecture if anyone would like to have a listen. I have also attached an e-book called ‘Just... read more

Looking Backward from the Year 2099: Ecozoic Reflections on the Future

This is the last essay in the July series, and I think it may be the most interesting. Recently published in the Earth Jurisprudence and Environmental Justice Journal, this essay looks back upon the world from the vantage point of the year 2099. The futuristic reflections detailed in this essay review how attitudes toward consumption and economic growth underwent a radical shift over the course of the... read more

Reimagining the Good Life beyond Consumer Culture

Continuing the July series of publications, this post consists of an essay called “The Voluntary Simplicity Movement: Reimagining the Good Life beyond Consumer Culture,’ which is soon to be published in the peer-reviewed, International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability. This essay, which is based on a collection of earlier posts on this website, is... read more

Voluntary Simplicity and the Social Reconstruction of Law: Degrowth from the Grassroots Up

The inner crisis of our civilization must be resolved if the outer crisis is to be effectively met. – Lewis Mumford Building upon the arguments presented in the previous post, this post consists of another working paper for a journal, this time focusing on the relationship between voluntary simplicity and degrowth. The paper is entitled ‘Voluntary Simplicity and the Social Reconstruction of... read more

Planned Economic Contraction? The Emerging Case for Degrowth

I’ve recently drafted a paper on ‘degrowth’ for the journal Environmental Politics (forthcoming) which I’ve summarised below. The full paper can be downloaded here: Planned Economic Contraction: The Emerging Case for Degrowth Abstract: This article outlines the sociological, ecological, and economic foundations of a macroeconomics ‘beyond growth,’ focusing on the idea of... read more

Tunes for Transition

Something a little different today – free music! After a silent hiatus of several years without composing a note – justifying my musical alias “Samuel de Silentio” – over the last few weekends I’ve written and recorded (at home) a short album and posted it online for free download. Most of the songs are ‘simplicity’ related, so I thought some of you might be interested in a listen. Music is... read more

Ted Trainer and the Simpler Way

Ted Trainer is one of the wisest, boldest, and most dedicated advocates of The Simpler Way.  In 2010 he published a book called, The Transition to a Sustainable and Just World, and I have to say that it is one of the best books I have ever read in my life. If you only have time to read one more book in your life, consider reading this one. It speaks directly to our global situation and condition, and it... read more

Deconstructing the Shed: Where I Live and What I Live For

My essay, ‘Deconstructing the Shed: Where I Live and What I Live For,’ is about to be published in the Concord Saunterer: The Journal of Thoreau Studies. I sent out a draft to some of you a few months ago but have been given generous permission to post the final version here (see link below). The essay gives an account of the two years just past that I spent living in a small, self-constructed, inner... read more

How to Win the Wilberforce Award: The Problem is Overconsumption not Overpopulation

There are now many credible scientific studies establishing that the global economy is exceeding, by some way, the regenerative and absorptive capacities of Earth’s ecosystems. One way to understand this defining problem of our age, and perhaps move towards its resolution, is to look at the problem of overpopulation. The planet is in such a dire situation, it can be argued, because there are just too... read more

Property beyond Growth: Toward a Politics of Voluntary Simplicity

Over the last four years I’ve been working on my doctoral thesis, which I submitted for examination in January this year and which has recently been passed. The thesis, entitled ‘Property beyond Growth: Toward a Politics of Voluntary Simplicity,’ explores the notion of a private property / market system ‘beyond growth’ and argues that any such system will depend for its realization upon the... read more

We are not Machines: The Parable of Sufficiency

Let me define a machine very broadly as something incapable of thought that reacts predictably to a given stimulus. Take a vending machine, for example. Someone puts money in, pushes certain buttons, and without thinking about it, the machine distributes the goods selected. Now imagine another type of machine – a robot. Suppose every time this robot has an opportunity to acquire money it does so and then... read more

An Introduction to Peak Oil: Some Online Resources

For some time I have been interested in the notion of peak oil, but recently I have had the opportunity to research quite extensively on the subject. I am currently working on an essay about peak oil and its implications for high consumption lifestyles, but presently I would just like to share some of the best online resources (articles, videos, and websites) that I have discovered in my research. Before... read more

Less can be More

Greetings all, several people have asked me to write a short ‘press release’ summarising the key findings of the recent Simplicity Institute Report. The aim is to make it easy for those people who wish to post a link to the study on their websites, etc. I hope the following statement is of some use. Please feel free to amend it as you see fit. LESS CAN BE MORE, SIMPLICITY INSTITUTE REPORTS We... read more

Simplicity Institute Publishes Results of the Simple Living Survey

The Simplicity Institute has today published the results and analysis of the Simple Living Survey. 1748 people participated in the survey (so far), and to the best of our knowledge that makes it the most extensive sociological examination of the Voluntary Simplicity Movement available. To read the report, click below: “The Voluntary Simplicity Movement: A Multi-National Survey Analysis in Theoretical... read more
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