The Politics of Social Ecology: A 'study and discussion' group. All welcome!

Discussion in 'The big picture' started by ecodharmamark, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    Even if LM is just a stepping stone, it's a worthwhile beginning. Just like Permaculture, I'm sure it takes on many forms and functions, especially by region. LM is a design theory rather than an end product. It doesn't dictate what form of society that you're building, just the foundations for any society that wants to involve the citizens.

    Of course, treating everyone's personal liberty can be a challenge and people are generally greedy/selfish thanks to the civilization that we have built over the last few thousand years. I don't think it will be an overnight change, but rather a change that won't see ultimate fruition for a few generations.

    I find parallels between the founding of America and what America has become. To me, the original US Constitution(or Magna Carter, if you want to go further back) is a piece of art. Now look at what they've become.

    If you can keep people involved in the decision making, then problems such as this shouldn't occur.
     
  2. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day Communards

    So, where are we all at?

    Have we, for example, reached Chapter 7 as of yet?

    The reason I ask is, because Chapter 7 seems to be where we are at. If not in our reading, at least in terms of our process, or 'building a movement'.

    As Biehl suggests (p. 63):

    The first thing they should do is find each other and recognise their commonality of views.

    Well, 'tick' the first, but what about the second? Do we share a 'commonality of views'?

    Biehl continues (ibid):

    They might then decide to form a study group and use it to familiarise themselves with libertarian municipalist ideas as much as possible.

    Once again, 'tick' the first, and I guess we are working through the second?

    What say all, where would you like to go from here?

    What do you think of Biehl's other ideas on 'building a movement', as contained in the early part of Chapter 7?

    Over to you...
     
  3. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    We have reached chapter seven (the royal 'we' at least). And 'we' are making a dash for the end as the book is due back at the library soonish (must remember to log a request for an extension). But I haven't had time to collect my thoughts and put finger to keyboard as yet.

    Yes we share a commonality that is permaculture. So social ecology interests me insofar as it offers insights into an alternative way of living that may be a better fit for permaculture.

    As I read through the mid section of the book I have swung between - this is great! and this is completely unrealistic. I still can't shake the internal criticism that if this was going to work, someone else would have pulled it off already somewhere. I consider myself a pretty thoroughly well edumicated sort, but I'm put off by the responsibility that would go along with direct democracy. If me, with my high-ish IQ, is put off then what about all the masses of well trained consumers out there who only want to vote for who gets evicted from Big Brother?

    I did think the approach of run for local government but try not to get elected, and don't talk to the media was particularly insightful. But I wonder if that keeps LM as just a 'world cafe' nice study group chat about what the world SHOULD be like, rather than making it happen.

    Random thoughts... Will try something more cohesive at a later date.
     
  4. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    We are still waiting on delivery! I am having difficulty with ordering a book and getting it delivered of late. Three times 'they' have decided they didn't have the book after all - seems like this might be my fourth!
     
  5. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Great thoughts, thanks for sharing. I too continue to struggle with the concept, even after being aware of it for close to a decade. It is getting easier. However, it does take time. What we are proposing, for the vast majority of people, is an extremely radical concept. Be kind to yourself, and if it is meant to be, it will happen. As always, I look forward to your continued input and the wisdom that comes with it.
     
  6. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Cool, just checking. Take all the time you need. I have a feeling we are going to be at it for quite some time to come.

    Anyone else? Anyone at all? Your thoughts will always be welcome.
     
  7. permasculptor

    permasculptor Junior Member

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    I haven't read a book since my kids were born.I trust that I can glean the important or relevant from here.
     
  8. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    Work was crappy this week and I'm at the end of a long day of volunteer work(day 1 of 2), but I finally found time to respond. I've finished the book and will take the time Monday to respond further. Just didn't want to leave you hanging!
     
  9. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Permasculptor this is definitely not the book to start on! While it is small you need to read each paragraph 3 times to get what is being said (at least I do...)
     
  10. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    At the very least, if you read from the links offered throughout the thread, then you should easily be able to grasp the basics. Either way, I'm looking forward (as always) to your valued input into the discussion, should you care to offer it.
     
  11. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Looking forward to any input you should care to share, at any time.
     
  12. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    It's not that bad, is it? I suggested Biehl because in all of my reading, I thought she was among the most accessible. Of course, I'm happy to read anything related to the subject. As such, please feel free to add to the reading list.
     
  13. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    It might have something to do with the fact that I'm reading it on the train at 5:30 am and just want to nod off.... It is deceptively simple, and that's the problem. I find myself a few pages on having read it and thinking - hang on - what was that she said a page ago? And going back and realizing I didn't pay attention. Maybe I need the technical jargon to keep me awake and present!
     
  14. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    The longer I live the more I have come to realise, sometimes it's the simple messages that are truly the most profound:

    Even after they have launched their movement, their education will be ongoing and will doubtless continue through the life of the movement (Biehl, p. 64).
     
  15. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    I know exactly what you mean permasculptor - I have to admit that I don't actually read books these days, but I do borrow audio books from the library and listen to them whilst I work or drive.
     
  16. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    I'd assume permaculture would be a large commonality of views, but even within permaculture there are shades of grey. I like grey areas. They're the margins of society where most of the fun and interesting stuff happens.

    I echo(sorry) eco's issues. LM is where the world should be. LM is an ideal form of societal base as far as I'm concerned. The problem with ideals is that they rarely survive the 'real world'. In a (loosely)closed system, such as an intentional community, I can see LM flourishing. But what happens when LM hits governmental regulations and other bad words like bureaucracy? Though I am willing to admit that I have been well indoctrinated in to western society(the devil you know) and that could very well be the only factor that gives me pause.

    Personally, the rule of law means little to me. Legal doesn't mean right. I'm pretty sure that I break laws all the time. However, when I plan to do something 'out of the ordinary', I consult with my neighbors first. For example, I talked with my neighbor who lives to my north before purchasing chickens. I made her aware of my intentions(number of chickens, free ranging vs corralled, etc.) and after explaining all of that, her only concern was about them flying in to her yard. Chickens are perfectly legal in my area, so I could have done it without her approval, but I find it's better to keep everyone apprised of what's going on and to give them a voice in it. I guess I technically allowed her to 'vote' on my chickens. I'm unsure if that could be considered a pale form of LM.

    I'd like to continue to discuss the finer points of LM along with some real world examples, especially if those examples are transitional and not fully developed. Again, I can see LM working in closed systems, but I am having problems visualizing actual communities moving to LM while still inside of 'The State'(ie: an entire city/town with fire, police, library and all the other goodies of society).
     
  17. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    I found a website that talks about direct democracy and even gave a few examples. I had no idea about Switzerland(it sounds vaguely familiar at best). https://campaignfordemocracy.org.uk/directdemocracyexamples/

    The example for America, Arizona, somewhat highlights what can go wrong(they went seriously right wing. Not saying that right wing is bad, but any extremism, one way or the other, is). Though to be fair to LM, Arizona isn't completely a direct democracy, but it just has some of the elements.

    The Alpine Initiative gives an example of what outcomes can occur in a rational society, same as the example given in the Local Democracy link(removal of traffic lights increases shared space and reduces accidents significantly...in certain places).
     
  18. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    As you so rightly point out, the American example (as operated across several states in the USA) and discussed in the article, is a very watered-down version of direct democracy which is often referred to as citizen's initiated referendum and has little if anything to do with LM. For an example of how LM continues to operate in the USA, check out Toker's (2013) Vermont’s Town Meetings: A Living Tradition.

    There are many other examples, both past and present. I wonder how many we can come up with?
     
  19. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Are there IC's that use social ecology as the explicit basis of their community agreement? Or permaculture / transition town groups that are set up along LM lines? Are there any case studies about how successful it has been at that (community of like minded folk) level?
    Are there any political parties or candidates running in the upcoming federal election that are standing on an LM platform?
    Is LM widely taught at university level when teaching alternative political approaches?
     
  20. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Over the years I have probably studied the governance structures of around 200 ICs. None that I can recall off the top of my head have (or had, if they are no longer operating) SE (or LM, for that matter) enshrined 'explicitly' in their governance frameworks. However, many ICs claim to operate and make decisions from a 'consensus' basis. Likewise, many adopt the 'ethics and principles' of permaculture among the founding documents. Others still adhere to other forms of 'socialist' or community organisation structures. Could be a good project for a paper?

    Once again, no 'permie/TT groups' that I am aware of. Considering LM is best known in the New England states of the USA, and among several communities across Northern Europe, this probably comes as no surprise.

    Of course, there is always us :D.

    Universally, proponents/advocates of LM generally steer away from national/state political, favouring instead local/bioregional political arena. The closest we have in Australia to LM on a national political front, is our dear old mate, Jo Toscano. Remember Jo? I've discussed his brand of politics here, in the PRI Forum over the years (search: Toscano). As to what Jo is up to in the lead up to this federal (Australian) election, I have no idea. I reckon a bit of judicious searching would elicit an answer pretty quickly, however, if someone might like to take on that job.

    During the preceding 6-plus, I took every 'political related' subject I could as an under and post-grad outside of the mandatory core planning subjects, and not once was it ever mentioned (except for my second year, PPT presentation on the topic which occurred during a tute in Political Ideologies - which, incidentally, and if I remember correctly, did not go over too well with some of the more, shall we say, 'conservative' members of our class). Having said this, MBs particular school of SE, and by default, LM, does get a mention in practically every political ideology text book published in the last 20-odd years (and I should know, I have read them all several times and most of them feature in my collection).

    Outside of my uni, yes - albeit under the guise of SE. This mainly occurs in Australia at UWS, in their Social Ecology program (the one where Stuart Hill was the Founding Chair). Although these days, and since the SE program at UWS was 'brought in from the cold' and into the School of Education, I'm led to believe that LM probably rates very little mention as compared to the halcyon days of the 70s and 80s.

    In the USA, it is still legend at the Institute of Social Ecology, and its affiliated university program.

    And it features within many Northern European institutions/universities, for example.

    Shit, look at the time! I have to run! Honestly, I could babble on about LM (and SE) all day/night if time allowed it (as my long suffering students will attest to).
     

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