EVEN WHILE CAPITALISM continues its inexorable push to corral every square inch of the globe into its logic of money and markets, new practices are emerging that redefine politics and open up spaces of unpredictability. Instead of traditional political forms like unions or parties, people are coming together in practical projects, from urban gardening in vacant lots to the suddenly ubiquitous do-it-yourself bike shops. More and more people, recognizing the degradation inherent in business relations, are creating networks of activity that refuse the measurement of money. They depend instead on sharing skills and technological know-how within new communities, such as the biofuels co-ops that have proliferated in many cities. Networks have grown, thanks to the spread of the Internet and other telecommunications techologies, and new kinds of “families” based on shared values, alternative living arrangements, and non-economic relationships are growing within the old society.
Collectively, I call these projects “Nowtopia.” Rarely do the individual participants conceive of them in political terms; day-to-day issues about how we live, what we do, how we define and meet our needs tend to be understood as outside politics. But all Nowtopian activities are profoundly political.
The Nowtopian movement embodies a growing minority seeking emancipation from the treadmill of consumerism and overwork. Acting locally in the face of unfolding global catastrophes, friends and neighbors are redesigning many of the crucial technological foundations of modern life, like food and transportation. These redesigns are worked out through garage and backyard research-and-development programs among friends using the detritus of modern life. Our contemporary commons takes the shape of discarded bicycles and leftover deep-fryer oil, of vacant lots and open bandwidth. “Really, really free markets,” anti-commodities, and free services are imaginative products of an anti-economy provisionally under construction by freely cooperative and inventive people. They aren’t waiting for an institutional change from on high but are building the new world in the shell of the old.
These practices require sharing and mutual aid and constitute the beginnings of new kinds of communities. Because these people are engaged in creative appropriation of technologies to purposes of their own design and choice, these activities embody the (partial) transcendence of the wage-labor prison by workers who have better things to do than their jobs. They are tinkerers working in the waste streams and open spaces of late capitalism, conjuring new practices while redefining life’s purpose.
Efforts to create islands of utopia have always flourished on the margins of capitalist society, but never to the extent that a radically different way of living has been able to supplant market society’s daily life. Nowtopians, and anyone determined to free themselves from the constraints of economically defined life, face the same historic limits that have beset all previous efforts to escape. Can the emerging patterns resist the co-optation and reintegration that have absorbed past self-emancipatory movements? The new apparatus of global production helps speed up the extension of market society, but it inevitably also speeds the spread of social opposition, the sharing of experiments and alternatives. Our moment in history is at least as exhilarating as it is daunting.
A really hopeful and wonderful article.
YES!! This is happening in many places. Not just in the ‘States but in Europe too. The fascinating thing to me about it is its rise seems completely NATURAL. The movement has spontaneity, it’s self-organising, and those involved are mostly responding to a deeply held and passionately felt imperative that’s arisen from within them and which they find irresistible.
Personally I don’t much care for the term “Nowtopia”. It has too many associations with utopian idealism which, in most cases, has tended to fail, largely because it’s relied to too great an extent on strong charismatic individuals with great visions who, because of who they are and the nature of attraction, often draw in those who are weak and lack charisma. If the movement survives the individuals who founded it, then it soon becomes systematised, rigid, inflexible, impractical, hierarchical, deferring to “experts” in the original vision, etc, etc.
What’s happening now seems entirely different. There are no obvious leaders. Prominent individuals in the movement are, for the most part, early responders who are merely passing on their own experience. This is how our species naturally learns — it’s only the conditioning of the last 150 years of organised, systematised education (which is now so dry and inflexible it’s failing comprehensively) that blinds us to the fact. To me, this movement is so hopeful BECAUSE it’s so natural. It seems nothing less than the expression of a planetary evolutionary trend. We, as cells in the body of the Earth, are acting to return it to health.
This is good and I totally support it. However, we also need macroeconomic policy reform or the pockets of local sustainability will collapse from the outside pressures of the bloating national and global economy and its ever-advancing margin. We see it every day. The fiscal, monetary, and trade policies need to be steadily readjusted from the current settings, which are conducive to 3% GDP growth, down toward a sustainable, steady state economy in which population and per capita production and consumption are stabilized and GDP mildly fluctuates in equilibrium with the economy of nature.
Brian Czech, President
Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy
I believe that this is a good observation of a current movement. Not a movement in the sense of a centrally organized group, but a very diverse tendency.
At a very local level I believe that people are breaking away from the heavy handed consumerism. Why is growth the epitome of good? How about reorganization?
An example of insanity is trucking or flying in items that can be produced in our own backyards. Some local folks would be overjoyed to garden in their own back yards and earn some money from honest work. The $ stay in the local market and the conditions and inputs of this food are totally transparent to the community. I look over the fence next door allows one to see all they need to know about where their food comes from. Compare the inputs of salad greens, tomatoes, radishes and cucumbers grown in local compost and handed over the fence compared to factory farm produced items that come from thousands of miles away and have been packaged with non-renewable materials. A biproduct of this would be you would get to know your neighbors better.
The key is to make the contact-say hello
Why paint these things as utopian? What is so utopian about it? Of course these alternatives are a natural response. What choice do we have? Lets look at the line graph of history. Over the decades do we see independence increasing or decreasing? I appreciate the positivity of this article but really, utopia? People miss out so much on the beauty of life always trying to “get there”.
I’m just glad to see that things are finally turning around. People are now realizing that old ways are no longer enough for these modern times that call for drastic changes.
I liked the term “nowtopian” that Chris Carlsson coined to refer to the various (non-market-based) enterprises, like community gardens, bike kitchens and alternative energy coops, that he records in his book of that title, because it exactly critiques the concept of the “Utopian” as something “out there” both in place and time.
However referring to these activities as “anti-economic” seems a bit more problematic. There is the philosophical conundrum we enter into when we pose a concept directly in contradiction to something else, but I am more concerned that we give away the “territory” when we define non-market-based activities as “outside” the economy.
What do we gain when we see economics as a spectrum of endeavors ranging from traditional buying and selling to gift-giving? I believe we gain legitimacy for essential social activity that circulates community goods, not for personal gain, but for collective need and desire.
I had not known about bike kitchens! I am thrilled to read about the “anti-economy”. I find it’s along the lines of the book “Why work sucks and how to fix it” by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson. This book suggests putting people in control of their time instead of having managers patronize them and treat them like children. I also heard about the “leap frog effect”, where developing countries learn what not to do from problems faced by the developed countries, and chose the evolve in a different direction. I hope, by a leap frog effect, that countries like mine (Lebanon) will pick up the “anti-economy” principle and faster than one would expect.
This sounds about like Anarchism.
Also “under construction by freely cooperative and inventive people.”
Thats about the definition of Anarcho-capitalism.
Finally someone talking sense and giving the encouragement for a path that has to be taken.
Having co-produced a radio show in the 80s: ‘Eating Healthy and Karma Free’, I am happy to know that people in clusters are now just out there getting on with it. The capacity to greater networking is also a boon. However the challenge of ‘turning ‘ ones’ local geography remains an immediate challenge. Thanks for the articulation and the work.
I find this ‘news’ about what’s happening in the States exciting. I live in Amsterdam, where there is a bit of this going on, too. It reminds of Blessed Unrest, Paul Hawken’s research about this kind of activity happening all over the world. It also prompts me to mention John Michael Greer’s Archdruid Report blog. JMG has been encouraging readers to foresee the decline of the current growth economy, and to begin to find the opportunities for alternative livelihoods that will meet the needs of local people as oil prices rise and employment opportunities in the global economy dry up. See ‘The Retrofit Economy’ and ‘Post-Petroleum Job Ads’ at: http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2008/09/retrofit-economy.html#links
My husband, our 2 year old daughter and I are looking for a town to move and call home. We have been gypsies for the last 6 years bringing dialogue to the people through our non-profit group. And we feel lost now that our daughter is getting into an age where she needs more stability. Could anyone suggest a few towns where the anti-economy movement is getting stong? Thanks
I have already recognized that the corporate capitalist system has gone about as far as it can, and now we need to create a system that includes social justice for all people and for the earthly processes that are responsible for conditions in which human life can exist. Expecting corporate power and the free market to solve all of human problems and provide for all people has proven to be a failure, and has failed in spectacular fashion, and now we are experiencing the beginning of the new paradigm which will develop around contemporary ideas of social justice and taking care of the whole human family of 6.5 billion members. I do believe we are evolving in spite of our ridiculous resistance and obstinance to becoming beings that are capable of vibration at a higher rate and with loving spirit. It’s a slow process, but that’s how nature changes. It’s not the economy that can grow indefinitely, but the spiritual beings that are having a human experience.
“Expecting corporate power and the free market to solve all of human problems and provide for all people has proven to be a failure”
Your kidding right? The free market has in the last 50 years provided more for humanity than every system in the last 1000years combined. Practically every advance in medicine, genetic ,modification of plants (how do you think we can feed so many people?) Computer, The fucking internet. Every thing you love in society has come from capitalism.
What you are referring to as the Anti-Economy is in fact capitalism in its most pure form, free of government interference.
Why do you think so many little countries in Africa are so poverty stricken? Is it because they allowed people to start business and run them how they saw fit? No. Its because the have a horrible warlord government that prevents anyone from doing any thing productive.
What do you think has allowed what used to be third world countries like china to rise from starving dirt farmers to a first world country with people that can now feed them selves and their children? The companies that came from America and chose to “exploit” the cheap labor and help drag these people out of poverty. There is a reason they choose to work at Nike and not farm. They can make much more money working in the factory.
I could go on, but its late and I’m going to bed.
Have you been to Burning Man? Although it is mostly isolated,
the “gift economy” there is inspiring.
it’s strange. all these words, and no one yet acknowledging the current economic meltdown and the potential opportunity it represents.
no one is yet talking about the skills and positions they have that could be leveraged to tip existing weaknesses to help change what clearly has no long-term sustainability and to tweak and shore up strengths in what’s already here to tip everything towards healthier outcomes.
instead of wondering how each of your perspectives might best contribute towards a more workable whole, there’s new versions in agreement, warm fuzzies, and opposition, with some very welcome sharing, i’ll admit.
what if every one of your perspectives were right but your ideas of how to go about things range from unimaginative to completely inadequate? an awful lot can be accomplished when intelligent caring people like you learn where their common interests are and how to work in concert towards shared objectives.
i wish i were still young and strong enough to work quietly from the inside in concert with others who are working more noisily on the outside, a small project here, a couple of paragraphs there, brief tangential words and ideas passed mosquito-like through pricks that have an after-effect. Observations of practices, beliefs, insights — again brief and tangential — that leave a glow of hope that just grows better without my interference.
others did this too. what happened to productive sneakiness, to stealthy diplomacy, to constructive subversion? how did our descendants become so dependent on wordiness, on agreement, on in-your-face childishness, on the techniques of those who are so bereft of power, well-being and choice that imprisonment and death are reasonable alternatives?
I’m sorry, but is this a new idea? There’s still an old 1970’s era co-op floundering just outside my town, but it is a failure in its economic independence based on the known fact that such systems inherently implode due to “opportunists” looking to leech off the hard work of others with no meaningful input into the system, not to mention the fact that the criminal element will never be erradicated, even in such a holier-than-thou environment. Haven’t you seen the movie “The Village” yet? You can’t escape sin and evil — it’s inherent in human nature. Plus, haven’t the Amish already perfected this? (Again, see PA a year or so ago when a crazy man shot up an Amish schoolhouse.) They share labor and material goods. Heck, my mainstream church does the same, with 4 families helping my family build a new kitchen and bedroom in my house in exchange for other services and materials. Again, this is just positing old, flawed ideas with a new name. Congrats on your nomenclature originality! That’s all this article and “movement” offer…
Not ever in the course of human history have so few people been so greedy by having taken surreptitiously and then hoarded so much wealth that rightfully belonged to so many other people.
Clearly and evidently, the colossal global economy is an ever-expanding, artificially designed, manmade construction. For whom does the world’s human economy exist? To fulfill the wishes and insatiable desires of those with ill-gotten gains? Only to provide security for the greediest among us?
And, of all things, for many too many leaders of my not-so-great generation of elders to extoll the virtues of their unbridled avariciousness and applaud each other by passing out ‘awards’ to each other for the triumph of their greed, all of this is plainly outrageous.
In light of what has occurred in the both the financial system and the real economy in recent years, can someone please explain what the terms “fairness” and “equity” mean? Can anyone find examples of these phenomena in the distribution of wealth by the organizers and managers of the world’s human economy today?
Who knows, perhaps change is in the offing.
Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001
Underwhelming…everything that is possible to do for ‘Nowtopia’ is because of the ‘progress’ that the industrial economy has made possible…including the Internet and this comment.
Thank you for casting some light into the Tunnel of Gloom. Today, my newspaper’s headline said that the markets had crashed, declining more than 700 points. Soon, I realized that the paper was from September 17, 2008, almost three weeks ago. Those in fear will try to scare and stampede us all, if for no other reason than Misery Loves Company. Of necessity, we all must find new ways to live our lives in the coming years. The most profound change shall come through the raising of human consciousness. Talk is cheap. Each of us must lead by example.
thanks to everyone for some thoughtful comments, and even the haters are welcome. Of course the fundies of the right are sure that everything we have was produced by the fetishized social mechanisms that they give real agency to, as opposed to the rest of us who are grasping for our OWN agency, our daily ability to make (or unmake, or remake) the world with our own activity. The guy who spewed on about Africa should read “King Leopold’s Ghost” as a starting point for a more honest appraisal of the role of business and “markets” in the “development” of Africa. I very much appreciate the time each person has taken to reflect on my short essay. It’s part of a longer book, Nowtopia, and I urge you to check out the full argument. Nearly every objection raised here has been addressed in the book (though I can assure the right-wingers they needn’t bother as they are unlikely to let go of their religious beliefs about markets and human nature), esp. the ones about the failures of small coops and collectives. I don’t harbor any fantasies that the activities I write about will necessarily survive, or that the specific efforts are the only path, or even the best path, to a more thorough-going transformation of daily life. I see them as examples of interesting “behaviors”, ways in which people’s activity prefigures a deeper challenge to the direction and organization of life as imposed by the logic of capital… My blog is a further place you can read my ongoing rumiantions on these topics, and more, and I look forward to meeting you all in person some day!
What we’re seeing hear is nothing short of amazing. We’re seeing company executives use the government as personal bank accounts and leave tax payers holding the tab. 2007 was a farce and now we’re paying for all the excess leverage.
Dear Mr. “Stock Trading”, Is that your real name? I know it is stressful out there in your profession, but let’s not turn this discussion into a mainstream, old energy event. BTW, if you are unwilling to use your real name, should we care about your opinion? If you want to know who I am, go to http://jamesmcgillis.com… Nothing to hide.
The global economy is saved, now how about turning attention and financial resources to saving the Earth from a meltdown?
It looks as if the Wonder Boys on Wall Street, who caused the current disaster in the world’s financial system, are going to rescue the family of humanity from a meltdown of the global economy.
Is it too much to ask some of these multi-billionaires to provide wealth to save the world from the global “meltdown” of Earth’s ice pack that is occurring in Greenland, Antarctica, the high mountain ranges from the Arctic Cordillera, to the Andes to the Himalayas?
Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
Humanity needs another economy and needs it fast because grotesque greed and widespread corruption dominate global political economy in our time.
Perhaps powerful people with great wealth and the huge human institutions manipulated by them are driving the relentless, soon to become patently unsustainable expansion of the global political economy, that in these days appears to be requiring unbridled increases of economic production/distribution capabilities, conspicuously unrestrained per-capita overconsumption of limited resources and the unregulated growth of absolute global human population numbers.
As we having been observing in recent years, another huge “bubble” has been consciously “manufactured” by economic powerbrokers and allowed to grow ominously and uneconomically within the world economy. Not unexpectedly, this sub prime bubble has done what bubbles eventually do. The subprime bubble burst. We can readily observe how the credit markets of the world banking system are frozen, stocks are tumbling and the value of the dollar is gyrating. Who knows, a meltdown of the human community’s financial system as well as damage to the real economy could be in the offing.
How could this be happening?
For a moment, let us consider that the organizers, managers and whiz kids overseeing the global economy (and the unraveling of the worldwide sub prime financial swindle) are running the artificially designed financial system of the global economy as a pyramid scheme. This is to say that the international financial system is being operated so that most of the wealth rises pyramidally into the hands of a small minority of people at the top of the world economy where this wealth is accumulated and consolidated endlessly. At the same time, the vast majority of people on Earth, near the bottom of the global economic pyramid, are left with very little wealth. In the 1980s, this method of arranging global business activities was called a “trickle down” economy. We have been told over and over again how this economic scheme “raises all ships.” And yet, from my limited scope of observation, the billion people living on resources valued at less than one dollar per day and the additional 2.7 billion people being sustained on two dollars per day of resources now appear to be stuck in squalid conditions. The ‘ships’ carrying these billions of less fortunate people among us do not appear to be lifting them out of poverty.
Could anything be done to beneficially change these unfair, inequitable and, in billions of instances, intolerable circumstances?
Of course, there is plenty to do. The global economy is undeniably a manmade construction. Because the world’s economy is an artificially designed product of human thought and action, our economic system is known to one and all to be imperfect. Afterall, human beings can better themselves and their imperfect products can be improved. Only works of God are perfect, I suppose. With this in mind, if it is so that the manmade economy is not a perfect construction, it is just as obvious that the global economy can be re-designed, modified and otherwise changed, as necessary. The system of economic globalization can be reorganized, “downsized” and “powered down” so that the global economy sustainably meets the primary needs of majority of people. In this way, the economy of the human community could be sensibly conceived, systematically operated and realistically structured for the conduct of sustainable business activities as well as for a more complete realization of the principles of democracy.
Ive seen lots of complaining and almost no solutions.
Global capitalism is the best thing to ever happen to humanity. It hasnt put any one in poverty, in fact I has pulled more people out of poverty than anything in history. Do you know where we all were before it? We were all in poverty, except the kings and nobles.
you should be complaining that 2.7B people have been excluded from the riches that the global economy has given every one else.
I cant quite figure out what you mean by sustainable economy, but from the tone of the comments I have been seeing it seems to be subsistence farming.
I will agree that we need to do away with the federal reserve (what causes bubbles). That is assuming you are in the US, but other countries have similar systems.
And ill end by saying this, the free market is the most democratic system possible.
to answer Bob,
sustainable economy is not the same as subsistence farming. Sustainability includes social, economical and ecological sustainability. That means to be sound a business (or farm) needs to not only make money, but to also be safe to the natural resources society needs to survive (and to live in dignity), and it also needs to benefit the society hosting it (as in providing jobs). Otherwise, we are still in a monarchy, except that monarchs were replaced by a handfull of industry captains making money unsustainably, at teh expense of society. We are as much in a rat race now as the vassal of overlords were 200 years ago, because sustainability is not implemented as of yet. I am from what you would call a third word country, and after I moved to the US I find life warped here too. It’s warped in a different and less intense way than in my home, but it’s infuriating that anyone would think a dignified life is a “relative” thing. If capitalism is only relatively better than living in a rotten society, it’s still not good enough.
When I envision a world that could be sustainable, getting rid of money is essential. As a measure of what we actually value, money is so abstracted that it actually interferes with most of what we want to create.
If we focus on what we want to achieve, build, create, do,…instead of how we can get money to accomplish whatever, we not only eliminate a lot of unnecessary activity, but we clarify our actual needs and desires.
I don’t know how we get to effective change at the macro level–mega financial institutions are collapsing under it’s own unsustainable weight–but I believe that creating bottom up value systems is an essential part of the survival process.
So I’d like to share some of my ideas for better living at the local level:
Neighborhood gathering spaces that are free and invite spontaneous meeting. (Besides the cyber connections, we should have face- to-face meeting opportunities.) I like the idea of including music playing and soup in these neighborhood halls. There are a lot of public and semi-public and commercial gathering places, but they are there for generating revenue or for specific intentions. Creative solutions arise from the soup of collective problem solving (free of the intention to make a buck.)
Another type of place I’d like to see is one where people can share tools. How many basements contain table saws that are used once every five years, or sewing mchines that are used half an hour a year. How many things could be made or fixed if more people had access to tools they don’t have. Holding some things in public ownership allows those who posess the ability to lighten up and live more simply while maintaining the ability to use. And it extends the independence and capability of do-it-yourself potential to a broader community.
I think that this kind of sharing could lead to other visions and experiences of life without the intermediary of money. The more we experiene our interdependence at practical, cooperative levels, the more we become the currency of living.
any NOWTOPIA people have heard about around Santa Monica of So. Calif? thanks.
With the election of Barack Obama, a new day is surely dawning for the family of humanity. We have good reasons to be hopeful. The agonizing throes of the severe and colossal storm we have endured in the past several years have produced an unexpected outcome. The air is being cleansed and the dark clouds that had been gathering on the horizon are being blown away.
Al Gore has reminded all of us that now is the time for intellectual honesty and moral courage as necessary attributes for responding ably to the human-driven global challenges which are looming ominously before humankind. As the horrendous, once in a century storm is being swept away by benevolent winds of change, perhaps we will see that honest and courageous activities of many people will begin to replace cascading, self-interested behavior which appears to be borne of whatsoever is politically convenient, economically expedient and socially fashionable.
Perhaps sufficiently reality-oriented changes in policymaking and action planning, changes that protect biodiversity from mass extinction, prevent more wanton environmental degradation and preserve Earth’s body from relentless dissipation as well as the human community from endangerment, are in the offing.
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001
On the matter of bankrupting the human family’s global economy.
It appears intellectual dishonesty is but one of the perverse ways in which old, out of touch leaders in my not-so-great generation are bankrupting the family of humanity.
Please note the way ideologically-driven leadership is providing ample evidence of being morally bankrupt and spiritually vacuous.
Unbridled greed and institutionalized fraud by mortgagors of our childrens’ future are leading to decay within the financial system and threatening to ruin the real global economy.
Many too many economic powerbrokers and their bought-and-paid-for politicians are besmirching our honor and degrading the value of rational authority.
As I recall the course of human events, never in history have a few million stupendously rich people but otherwise bankrupt people stolen, consumed and hoarded so much of Earth’s resource base, come what may for billions of other people in the human family who happen to be less fortunate. That a tiny minority of rich and powerful people have been so unfairly and inequitably rewarded by an economic scheme favoring their wanton avarice, is no longer a set of circumstances which can be concealed by the refusals of the mainstream media to bring up this situation for open discussion….. or by our collusive silence.
Thankfully, a new day is dawning.
Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
Billions of dollars in bailouts and year-end bonuses are being directed to the “wonder boys” on Wall Street. These self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe have turned a great capitalist system into a paltry gambling casino. In the light of all their greedy risk-taking and conspicuously hoarding behavior, they can no longer be called by any name other than “thieves of the highest order”.
Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
Please note that academic researchers have been exploring these types of “new” economic interactions for some time. I would encourage you and your readers to explore the works of J.K. Gibson-Graham (a collaborative effort of two), including “A Postcapitalist Politics” as well as their and others’ essays on “diverse” or “alternative” economies.
Dear Chris Carlsson,
The road ahead will not be an easy one, I suppose, precisely because the mistakes our not-so-great generation of elders are making now simply cannot be repeated by our children. Thankfully, new leaders are emerging. Some have called this phenomenon the appearance of “transformational” leadership. That is also what I am observing.
The unrestricted consolidation of filthy lucre and political/military power, the unbridled expansion of economic globalization, the unrestrained per-capita overconsumption of limited resources and the unchecked human overpopulation on the relatively small, evidently finite and noticeably frangible planetary home God blesses us to inhabit, could soon become unsustainable. Perhaps the humane, reasonable, sensible and wise regulation of these activities will make make it possible for the family of humanity to build a patently sustainable, distinctly human world order, one that adequately enough models key biological systems and physical structures of Earth.
New leaders with new ideas are coming forward. A new day is dawning. My hope is for members of our generation to become helpfully engaged by openly acknowledging and effectively addressing the challenges presented to humankind rather than by perversely mounting a “rear-guard action” in denial of looming, human-driven threats to human wellbeing and environmental health.
Chris, thanks always for sharing your perspective.
Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on the Human Population,
Perhaps it is time for the same ol’ business-as-usual, pin-stripe-suited leaders, the ones who adamantly espouse and religiously exemplify an apostate’s creed of greed, to be replaced by new leadership.
Too many leaders of this patently unsustainable culture of avarice evidently define the culture’s efficacy by the endless accumulation of material possessions; by the unbounded acquisition of more money, money, money, money; by recklessly overconsuming and relentlessly hoarding limited resources. They demonstrably declare to all the world that greed is good.
Are we not members of a culture that worships consumerism? Are the products of greed nothing more or less than the objects of our idolatry?
Are the pin-striped suits, fleet of cars, chauffeur, private jets, McMansions, distant hideaways, secret handshakes and exclusive clubs…… all “signatures” of success in a culture promoted by the ‘goodness’ of greed?
Consider for a moment what perversity greed has wrought.
Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
Peoples are continuously recognizing the degradation inherent in business relations and creating networks of activity that refuse the measurement of money.The new apparatus of global production helps speed up the extension of market society, but it inevitably also speeds the spread of social opposition, the sharing of experiments and alternatives.
Very important! For globalization, especially as manifested in the mobility of capital, can’t survive without predictability, neither can the “elite,” c.f. Lasch’s, “Revolt of The Elite,” survive without predictability (predictability of maintaining its “Myths of Dominance,” c.f. Walter Wink’s quadrilogy. In short, predictability sources elitism as well as, in paradox, its revolt.
Good article! Self-organizing is the only way to start. And besides self=organizing is “organic”
Check out WISER; http://www.wiserearth.org for all kinds of levels of connection and help in the
Let’s change Pogo’s famous maxim to: “We have met the ally, and he is us.”
I have been working in the anti-economy after going to college to earn a bachelor’s in business in 2008. What I learned is that business as usual is still being taught and that ideas such as local production, sustainable manufacturing based on actual demand curves versus the artificial demand curve of manufacturing to the last penny profit are not yet embraced by our Universities.
Instead of returning to my jewelry manufacturing business as before, I now use only recycled raw materials such as mine waste, cutting waste and sea glass as source materials. I do not actively market and instead spend my time caring for my elderly parents so they may continue to live in our family home, help my son understand business ethics for his small organic garden farm and help my daughter with her young family.
Yes, recycling and making homemade bread and composting takes time, but by lowering my consumption far below the American average I am able to spend my personal capital of time on more important sustainable ways of living. I am able to remake clothing sewing by hand and mend those items I already own to keep them out of the landfill all while keeping out of the corporate malls buying new clothes. I am one of the best dressed people I know and since style has nothing to do with fad or passing fashion I can build on the myriad choices of quality items available to me through friends clothes swaps and thrift stores. Using the Pareto rule I realized that in fact I do wear 20% of my clothes 80% of the time, so I recyle the other 80% leaving me with more space in my closet and less things to maintain in my life.
We are all leaders in the Nowtopia movement. Each time we say no to consuming impractical items and question our capitalist consumption upbringing we are leading ourselves into a brave new and improved lifestyle. I have had the wonderful opportunity to live a scaled back life with little cash and numerous options using my wit, my hands and my knowledge. Getting off the wage earning mentality was the most freeing experience yet! I recommend it highly.
With the realization that the very survival of humankind and life as we know it could be put at risk soon, somehow we have to find ways and means of engaging one another and the broader human family in discussions like this one that at least provide an opportunity to reasonably and sensibly connect the unsustainability of global overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities of the human species with the ecological realities of the finite and frangible planet we inhabit. One way or another, we have to find the means of opening the way for ideas, policies and programs that lead us to “sustainable progress” and to effective designs for practicable business enterprises as well as for the construction of viable human communities in our planetary home.
For 8 years I lived in such a community where they practiced the equal sharing of income and labor, but it was infiltrated and corrupted from within, like so many others. Thus, the impending ecocidal collapse of the biosphere will finally resolve our human dilemma.
I have to agree, leave the name association toward utopia out of this picture. We’re not speaking of another questionable concept of a perfect world but a natural and reasonable reaction to a mistake promulgated at the beginning of society which has continually lead to enormous suffering.
And now, as we continue to suffer, we’ve become aware how inured we are to the injustice of it.