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

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

  1. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    I think I just found the future Mr eco! (That is if you are already spoken for Markos...)

    From the students favourite reference source - Wikipedia

     
  2. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Finished! Well almost - I had to return it to the library so I skipped the interview at the end (don't tell me it was the best bit - I don't want to know!).

    I was pleased that bioregionalism got a mention as the scale for community size. I wonder how we would transition that, given that within urban environments we have altered the natural watersheds so much that they are unrecognizable - creeks turned into drains or sent underground, rivers dammed etc.

    When I got the section on using the militia to defend LM I got anxious. It sounds far too much like the gun lobby's arguments to keep semiautomatic weapons on the shelves of corner stores in the US - all that right to bear arms stuff. Surely that just escalates? If the LM communities buy hand guns to defend themselves the State buys a bigger gun, so the community buys a grenade launcher, so the State buys an intercontinental ballistic missile etc etc and we end up all loaded to the hilt with nuclear weapons and a few scary men with fingers poised on triggers a second away from assured mutual destruction. Not social and not ecological!

    I'd rather a Ghandi-esque approach - non-violent non-participation. Just sit down and wait. Sure some people will lose their lives - but more start dying once you put ammunition in the mix!

    (Stepping off soap box and wiping lather off corner of mouth....)

    I'm also bothered (hang on - climbs back on soap box) by the perpetual avoidance of participation in current 'politics' - I get the slippery slope argument that it corrupts the ideals of the movement. But spending millennia sitting on the fence outside the system throwing tomatoes at it and saying you are doing it all wrong but we aren't going to fix it unless you do it our way? It reminds me of Tony Abbott style politics (oh my and he might actually get elected - I wonder if he'll opt out LM style at the last minute and say - ha ha I was just educating you all?).

    I'm also (get off! this is MY soap box and I'm not done yet....) bothered by the utopian vision of society presented in the final few chapters. I think it is naive. Large local factories staffed by workers who love their jobs, don't 'toil' and get paid well? Really? Firstly - we'd have to build the infrastructure as most of this manufacturing has gone offshore - and do we even have the skills to do that? Then we'd be back in the economy of scale argument where it would be cheaper for two regions to merge their factory into one, and they'd get bigger and bigger, meaning people could no longer live close and 'slums' would build close to the factory to house the workers. We are doing all that all ready and it isn't working socially or ecologically!

    A previous borrower of the book has underlined the sentence about no longer requiring fossil fuels and written 'Really - how?' in the margin. (ooooo aaaaaahhhhh that's really naughty defacing a library book!) But I concur! Unless we scale down production and live simpler lives we'll still be consuming more than the local area can provide and need fossil fuels to support our way of life. There's little comment on having to rethink our way of life. Perhaps the larger Social Ecology picture covers this better.

    As for food production - the concept of community based growing was blown off as a hobby thing - you could grow plants if you wanted to, you know, just for fun like - but still supports the industrialised agricultural and distribution systems that currently exist. The further the gap between producer and consumer the less likely it is that social ethics comes into play. I would happily give my neighbour eggs for free if I have an excess, but I don't reckon the bloke from the Sunny Queen egg farm does. The motive once again returns to profit, and we are back at State supported capitalism.

    So - all up - does LM float my boat? Yes - if the principles are subverted to those of permaculture first. But I would reject some of the suggested ways that Biehl envisages it employed. But I guess if I lived in a truly democratic society then I could vote to not have guns in my town, or to close the local supermarket and support home based agriculture by abolishing regulations that hinder it.

    Right - really stepping down from the soap box now. Who else wants a turn?
     
  3. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Dr Jo is a rather special person.

    Afraid so, eco. I'm literally married to the job :(.

    However, this does not mean that we cannot be friends :).
     
  4. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Friends is good. Infinitely less trouble than husbands. One day when I have to be in Melbourne for something I'm shouting you dinner though.
     
  5. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    I still haven't received my copy but you already raise the points that concern me Eco. I still think that we need a revolution of the human mind on other topics for it to work. And I'll be honest at this point in time I'm not interested in an LM that isn't based in Permaculture or something very similar. Perhaps is a chicken and egg thing but I think that if we could get enough people to think and live according to the principles and ethics of Permaculture then they may actually be drawn to LM as a natural progression. but, I'm not sure LM would naturally lead people to Permaculture

    I dream of a Utopian type society too, but I guess it is more of an aspirational goal than a real possibility at this stage. I reckon those big goals are vital to leading us forward though.

    I'll think on this some more
     
  6. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    you over inflate the ego driven permaculture, with the fix all hype, and as for the ethics they have no moral structure. perma-c lost it when permaculture for sale hatched, then the goose that may have laid the golden egg was dispatched to the table for greed and ego.

    you don't have any answers nor does permaculture, about time you people of high IQ came outside the boxed square, throw your comfort zones away test the envelope.

    len
     
  7. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    I think perhaps you are reading into my posts something which isn't there Len. Or perhaps you are just letting off steam in general and my post was a handy foil?

    Maybe I am just a poor communicator, because I don't see how you can come to those conclusions other than misunderstanding every post I have ever posted here.

    One of the difficulties you and I seem to have in our communications is that you never really engage in actual conversation so I'm unable to tap into your wisdom. You offer advice like think outside my comfort box and the such but when I ask you to help me you just ignore it and move onto some other trite 'wisdom'. So once again I ask you to convince me of your 'argument' Len. Show me the way.

    Enlighten me oh great one of the edgeless box. Unless you give me something other than flaming from here on in I will be adding my voice to Markos call to do something about your behaviour in the forum. You are out of order.

    And I make no apologies for my sarcasm and lack of restraint.

    Pull your socks up mate.
     
  8. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day eco, great stuff! Thanks for your continued input. You have given us much to think about. In response, please allow me to begin by offering the following:

    It is a rather important part of the text, as it ties it all together. For those who may like to read it, it is available here.

    Bioregions, whilst most easily recognised/mapped with the aid of the watershed (i.e. biophysically), are also the product of human constructs. Cultural, socio-economic, and indeed, political paradigms can all play a roll in defining one's bioregion. We have started the task of (re)defining bioregionalism in our draft PhD project submission. Here is an extract from that paper on this very topic:

    Relevant definitions

    Bioregion

    ‘The term bioregion … denotes a geographic space that contains one whole or several nested ecosystems. It is characterized by its landforms, vegetative cover, human culture, and history, as identified by local communities, governments, and scientists’ (Miller, 1996, p. 4).

    ‘The concept of a bioregion … refers to a regional-landscape scale of matching social and ecological functions as a unit of governance for future sustainability that can be flexible and congruent still with various forms of government found around the world’ (Brunckhorst, 2000, p. 8).

    ‘Bioregions … are spatially congruent sets of similar landscape ecosystems with which local people (rural, urban, indigenous communities) identify. They provide sensible planning and management contexts, essentially reflecting nature (ecological functioning) and society (social and institutional functioning)’ (ibid, p. 28).

    ‘A Bioregion is an integration of human governance with ecological law. It is an operationally pragmatic context that matches the functions and requirements of culture and society with ecological processes, services and functions. A bioregional framework for planning and managing ourselves helps us understand and develop an enduring relationship within ecological law – the rules and conditions necessary to sustain biodiversity and ecosystems processes’ (ibid, p. 31).

    ‘It [a bioregion] is a geographic ‘place’ exhibiting ‘soft perimeters’ characterised by its drainage, flora and fauna, climate, geology, human culture, social organisation and land use’ (ibid, p. 39).

    Bioregionalism

    ‘[Bioregionalism] is from the Greek bios (life) and the French region (region), itself from the Latin regia (territory), and earlier, regere (to rule or govern). Etymologically, then, bioregionalism means life territory, place of life, or perhaps by reckless extension, government by life’ (Dodge, 1990, p. 5).

    ‘Bioregionalism is an approach to environmental and social issues based on living in an informed and sustainable way in relationship to your immediate surroundings’ (Esbjorn-Hargens & Zimmerman, 2009, p. 496).

    Bioregional planning

    ‘[Bioregional planning] is an organizational process that enables people to work together, ac- quire information, think carefully about the potential and problems of their region, set goals and objectives, define activities, implement projects, take actions agreed upon by the community, evaluate progress, and refine their approach’ (Miller, 1996, p. 6).

    Bioregional planning in Australia

    ‘Bioregional planning … stresses the integration of social, economic and ecological factors in regional planning and management, and seeks to bring all stakeholders together to own and build a dynamic plan for a bioregion’ (Breckwoldt, 1996, p. 3).


    For more on an early understanding of bioregionalism as a social construct, and how it relates to LM, see (for example):

    Pattern 8: Mosaic of Subcultures (pp. 42-50), and Pattern 12: Community of 7000 (pp. 70-74) in Alexander et al (1977) A Pattern Language

    Likewise, for more on it as an early ecological/biophysical concept, see (for example):

    The River Basin (pp. 127-152) in McHarg (1969) Design With Nature

    I'll get back to this response as time allows. Keep the ideas coming, good people!
     
  9. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Cool, how about Gopal's? I haven't been there in ages...
     
  10. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Thinking is always good. No rush, take your time. When your copy does finally arrive, and you finally get a chance to read it, even then I am sure you will find it takes a while to digest. As for Utopia, I share your dreams, and agree that without first a vision there cannot be a reality.
     
  11. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    We haven't had too many social revolutions, and the ones that did happen(women's suffrage, equal rights for non-whites, women's lib, even the 60's 'sexual' revolution and the upcoming LGBT revolution) were/are not really revolutions, but evolutions of the same basic societal model we've been using. LM, while it might seem out in left field(sorry, baseball reference and I don't even like the game), it's still just a couple evolutions ahead of where we are today. Same thing with permaculture. Tearing up your lawn to create habitat or food systems is just a single step from useless lawns. Using compost is just a step away from using fertilizer. While getting our current politicians to accept direct democracy would be harder than prying a gazelle from a lion's mouth, it's still just a step away. The problem, as near as I can tell, is that people would have to actually do something instead of working and sitting on the couch eating dinner and watching television. As long as everything works, people don't care. When things go bad, all of a sudden they care. But at this point in time, at least locally, we're getting sick of corrupt corporations, lobbyists and politicians. Really sick. Our governmental systems seem to be breaking down on every level and all the gov't does is say they don't have any money. So if you're looking for a revolution(not that I expect one to actually happen), now would be the time to start pushing people towards an alternative to getting screwed over every day.

    But yes, I do agree that LM doesn't necessarily facilitate a permaculturalesque society, but it easily could after the trappings of our current society faded and people start to ask the all important question: Why? Why do we do things this way, why do we need a factory, why do we need money, etc. You just have to start somewhere. Social evolution will happen. Degraded land will grow trees if left alone. We just want to speed things along and plant some pioneer species.
     
  12. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    What's up, Len? You seem to be a little more grumpy than usual (if that is at all possible). What with all your 'you people' this, and 'you people' that, perhaps it is time for you to take a little of your own advice and try to be more 'content with what you have in a world that you may not understand'?

    On the issue of ethics: Your continued denigration (and concerning the scientific method, malicious comment bordering on vilification) of everything and everyone that is/are not exactly aligned with your own moral compass is a perfect example of one who is 'stuck in a box'. This thread started as a result of a group of people trying their very hardest to 'think outside the square'. What MB proposed with the concept of LM, seeks to turn everything that we have mostly come to know about personal liberty and regional/community governance on its head (for example, see: Holmgrem's 'Top-down Thinking, Bottom-up Action'). As you can (perhaps) imagine, it is a difficult concept to get one's head around at the best of times, much less when the thread is interrupted by inane commentary.

    You are most welcome to stay and contribute as part of this thread. Indeed, you would be made to feel most welcome. But please respect the intellectual integrity of the current member base, and at the very least try to read something from the suggested reading list (it really is a very broad genre) prior to expressing any further comment. Because if all you can currently offer is based on the study of a single, 400-year old book, then perhaps this is not a place that you will feel most comfortable.

    Regards, M
     
  13. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    As always, thank you for your wise words, Unmutual. I tend to agree, LM (as part of a wider SE/permaculture paradigm) will get its time in the sun ... one day. Currently, I am of the opinion that society, as a whole, is not yet ready for it. I do not think we (especially those of live in relative affluence) are literally hungry enough for it yet. Of course, as a society, we can continue to allow the status quo to reign supreme, as we all slide deeper into the quagmire that a neo-liberal/capitalist world promises to deliver. Or we can be proactive, and try to write our own destinies by first thinking about and then acting upon the development of alternative social governance and natural capital management frameworks such as LM (as part of a wider SE/permaculture platform). Having this conversation, here, based on our shared understanding of the life work of MB et al, is only just the beginning. Yes, it is hard work swimming against the tide. But as we all know, the tide has always and will always (eventually) turn, and then we (or our children, or their children...) will be the ones to surf the crest of the next social evolutionary wave.
     
  14. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Gopal's looks cool. As long as I can have gluten free, dairy free vegan I'm happy. (Well the dairy free kinda goes without saying in the vegan world!)

    I guess bioregions are a bit like the colour blue - I know what blue is and you know what blue is - but when does it become green, or purple - where do you draw the line exactly? Ridge lines and water sheds would be my bet as the are fairly clearly defined, but how much of a water catchment is a bioregion - ie all the Murray Darling basin would be too big a scale!

    I'll come back and read the links when I have more time.
     
  15. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Continuation...

    One can be militant AND non-voilent. Martin Luther King was known for his non-violent militancy. Likewise the The Clamshell Alliance, of which MB (and by default, LM) had a huge influence upon, were renowned for their non-violent direct action 'campaigns' that were run along 'military' lines. Until Obama cut a deal with Big Uranium, The Clamshell was instrumental in halting nuclear-power proliferation across the USA for around 3-decades - and to the best of my knowledge, not a single shot was fired in all this time!

    I shall return...
     
  16. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    why do you judge that i am not content, there are serious things happening in the world, so when i see lots of yabba yabba and no idea what a fix might be i get to wondering is this for real. so to make it real permaculture was crueled a long time ago so has not a single hope to be accepted at a level that it might actually help. so maybe time to dump that comfort zone, and the psychoanalyzing that goes on and lets get something the rest of australia will accept let alone the big wide over populated world that lots here keep mentioning.

    anyhow no solutions in sight

    len
     
  17. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    Because your posts make you sound like a bitter, angry and sad person. You bring negativity and nay saying to each thread. You ignore the fact that permaculture is about solutions and that it has helped thousands of people. You ignore that this thread is about a solution to our social ills. If I were to make a judgement, I'd say that since you can not find the right person to make you an internet martyr for your cause, that you're taking the shotgun approach to see who you can make angry enough to finish the job for you. You realize that inserting religion in to most topics will get you some ire, but even then it ends up just getting questions directed to you that you refuse to answer.

    Of course, this could all be nonsense since your communication skills are not all that good and sometimes it takes me several re-reads just to catch a glimpse of what you're trying to say. Sometimes I just walk away because even multiple reads don't help.
     
  18. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    I think we probably all agree on that... One of the things I have often pondered is that these ideas we all hold dearly (permaculture, LM etc) are still a way off becoming mainstream, and it will only be when push comes to shove (Declining Oil/Energy, Environmental catastrophe, Economic collapse) will they find themselves coming to the fore. If you think of it in terms of forest succession, these things are really opportunist species waiting in the wings for some sort of canopy disturbance to fill the void.

    But there still has to be a place for it to survive until that time comes. Our role may just be to provide a little niche or two where the ideas can continue to live and slowly grow until the canopy opens up. We can't allow the canopy to smother us out of existence. We need to nurture it as best we can and trust that eventually it's time will come. Perhaps it will just live out its days as a fringe species until something else happens but I think it;s worth giving it the evolutionary opportunity...
     
  19. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Like your natural succession analogy. I also think that they only way that LM will take hold (apart from being an 'edge' species as it is at present) is when the greater system collapses.
     
  20. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Back again to continue with my response to eco's wonderful insights...

    I don't think MB ever advocated for an 'avoidance of participation' in mainstream political arenas. I think his message was more like try to infiltrate the mainstream 'party politics' at the bottom (local/regional) level, and work your LM magic from there. As Holmgren states, this requires the development of a 'top-down thinking, bottom up action' agenda.

    As to the time issue, I'm afraid the kind of radical change we are proposing - the dissolution of the 'traditional ... pattern of powerful top-down thinking and action by elites, balanced by a fragmented understanding and bottom-up action by the masses' (Holmgren, 2002, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, p. 80, my emphasis in bold) - is a very slow process. Under 'normal' conditions, it takes a long time for the 'masses' to have their level of consciousness raised and therefore their 'fragmented understanding' made whole. Of course, and as Grahame has argued (in agreement with myself), the time factor could very well be compressed if/when we enter a period of 'abnormal' conditions and circumstance - i.e. large scale drought, famine, disease, war, etc.

    For more thoughts on MB's 'organic' form of politics, see the following:

    Bookchin (1984) Popular Politics vs. Party Politics

    Furthermore, and as argued by Alexander et al, once the body politic (population) expands beyond the realm of about 7000 people, the issues tend to become so diluted, and the relationships between the citizens so distant (i.e. how well do you know your federal member?), that any effective political action becomes lost.

    For more on this topic, see Alexander et al (1977) A Pattern Language:

    Patterns: 1 Independent Regions; 8 Mosaic of Subcultures; 12 Community of 7000; and 14 Identifiable Neighbourhood

    Catch you all soon, M.
     

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