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Gardenworld Politics Chapter 2 Gardenworld, what is it? - draft
Chapter 2. Gardenworld
...hillsides covered with fruit trees... For the relief of the poor, the benefit of the rich, and the delight of all. - Samuel Hartlib in . 1652,
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
T. S. ELIOT, Four Quartets (1943)
We are disoriented. We need to land somewhere. Gardenworld is, in the ideal, probably a garden with lots of vegetables next to buildings where people live, and maybe there’s a small amphitheater for classes, entertainment, and community meetings. But the way it will be implemented will depend upon local conditions and resources, sometimes city ruins, sometimes so far unused wilderness. The variety of implementations will be huge. Food, aesthetics, the human life cycle and good governance are design criteria for what I am bluntly calling Gardenworld. Since we all want to live in some combination of civilization and nature , let's use our wealth to go there, from a vase of flowers in the living room a daily manicured garden full of flowers fruits and vegetables to a path in the wilderness, and even a pathless wilderness. Gardenworld is not a plan, but a guide, Plans are brittle while guidelines are flexible and dependent on local creativity and judgement.
In the future we will need new experiments in agriculture to feed us and stay healthy and educated, and new approaches to structures and housing families and institutions. We will need these to work across the whole human life cycle while weakening class structure. Nature will always be larger than we are and never fully known, from mosquitos to the big bang. Instead of our several centuries old strategy of separating ourselves from a controlled nature we need to develop and manage our entanglements with nature.
Gardenworld is the place where humans and the earth come into intimate contact. That relationship has been subjected to exploitation by one segment of humanity - the one percent - taking resources from both earth and the rest of the population. We need to manage this relationship with different governance, different politics, different education and different expectations.
How to do this is messy. We have the current condition of creeping systems failures. A better future means dealing with ownership, politics, power, love, food, sex, ethics, and the reactions, defensive ad creative, of the human spirit in the context of a world less favorable to human thriving than it has been while we have lived in anticipation of a better not a worse world. We have become part of the project of evolutionary adaptation.
Gardenworld, while an ideal blend of food, habitat and attractiveness, is a difficult goal for many places coping with population, water issues and land distribution all in the context of temperature uncertainties, but it can be a guide for making the best we can now. So I don’t want to minimise the difficulties but keep developing Gardenworld as a guide. The first chapter sets the stage. This chapter will have a bit more to say about Gardenworld and will be followed by a chapter on who we are as the human beings that Gardenwporld supports, starting with food and habitat but pursued in the context of making the solutions beautiful.
Gardenworld is not the endpoint of development but a phase in a long line of phases, and while we think some things about Gardenworld would be good for any civilization, the dynamics of human generations and the distribution of human talents means that adaptations will continue and the past will be repeatedly replaced by a future. Eight billion people in concrete apartment blocks seems like a dystopian future. People will need to decide and elites will be a constant problem.
In chapter one I mentioned the epicurean garden in Athens with its impact on western thinking, and the zen gardens of Kyoto with its continuing inspiration. Such gardens are places of retreat and renewal to reenter the world more resolute, more compassionate, more wise, as we look for what to rebuild and how. The world is a tiny blue marble on which are interstices where life remains viable. But this world needs to be seen from up close, where it is lived. Gardenworld is a survival strategy but needs to be implemented with human nature in mind and to be as attractive as possible.
Around the world there are many community experiments that are viable examples of movements toward Gardenworld and provide ideas and local successes what can in turn guide us. I am embracing Bruno Laatour’s “critical zone” perspective on what we need to do, the thin skin of life that covers the earth thinner than the skin on an apple, and that contains all the known life in the universe the zone we should take responsibility for.
Spaceship Earth and the Critical Zone can make a beautiful, meaningful and challenging project that needs the participation of almost everyone. Shifting the center of our living, from urbanized land now covered with wires, poles and traffic, to land covered with plants, animals and people on foot, we are talking about a major change in culture. Cities too, with lingering populations will use every possible space of sun and earth to become more garden and park rich. Vertical gardens in the old cities may keep them viable but only in the context of living and working in the countryside.
Be constantly aware that we are developing Gardenworld for real people whose lives are caught up in difficult and interesting times, people who have dreams and fears in the midst of births and deaths. It is likely that elites are deciding there is not room for everyone on earth and that policies will have to further marginalize a large part of the population. Things like this will be tough and take us out of our comfort zone.
Staying in touch with our own depths is important. In early societies there almost always was a group we call collectively shamans. The role of the shaman is to help people, whose daily concerns are just what is in front of them, to remember that there is “a below and an above.” That is, reality has hidden depths and heights. This is made experienceable by dance, song, poetry and graphics - like the totem pole which is covered with animals to which we are spiritually connected through stories. If you have a pet you can feel this in your connection with them. Here is a sketch of the shaman’s role.
The traditional or tribal shaman, I came to discern, acts as an intermediary between the human community and the larger ecological field, ensuring that there is an appropriate flow of nourishment, not just from the landscape to the human inhabitants, but from the human community back to the local earth. By his constant rituals, trances, ecstasies, and “journeys,” he ensures that the relation between human society and the larger society of beings is balanced and reciprocal, and that the village never takes more from the living land than it returns to it—not just materially but with prayers, propitiations, and praise. The scale of a harvest or the size of a hunt are always negotiated between the tribal community and the natural world that it inhabits. To some extent every adult in the community is engaged in this process of listening and attuning to the other presences that surround and influence daily life. But the shaman or sorcerer is the exemplary voyager in the intermediate realm between the human and the more-than-human worlds, the primary strategist and negotiator in any dealings with the Others. From Davd Abram, The Spell of the sensuous.
This isn't as obscure as it sounds. We are also talking about recognizably attractive garden settings.
Food, flowers, habitat and recreation (re-creation). (Alan Chadwick, Greengulch Farm). There also should be people but the photographers have a bias: gardens should be photographed without people so we can “see” the garden.
One thing to notice is that the garden is built on where the land is flat. But that is also where typically we have built houses and shopping centers. The key is for Gardenworld, we need to repurpose the land. Conflict. Politics. Fear. Resentment - but reasonable.
Gardenworld was partially realized in the Romantic movement in reaction to industrialization in the 1800’s. This broad scale movement was cut short by WW1 and the post-war hysterical attractiveness of industrial wealth in well paying jobs and home products such as laundry machines. The attraction was to things and processes, mechanical and the mass produced, “labor saving.” A focus on home led to the fragmented house - market - school - and factory. Gardenworld faces new possibilities as more people are realizing that what we have is not working or working too well at extracting wealth from people and land. Gardenworld is a longshot, a wild card, but an attempt to break us out of ecological and governmental despair with fresh imagination.
To guide our probably anxious and frenetic efforts under the pressure of unfolding trends, we need the image of an attractive world -- a place where people can see themselves engaged in building in new ways. Since the earliest human settlements, sensitivity to place, the settings for our living, was core. People place their homes and communities meaningfully in relation to landscape. At a larger cultural level there are many examples: the Garden of Eden, Central Park in Manhattan, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the space around the monasteries above the river in Kyoto. Gardenworld offers an approach from where we currently are to habitats which house and feed us all with as much grace and generosity and sharing as we can.. The settings we create can be as beautiful as they are useful. We need to purpose land not only to be efficient but also to enable play, imagination, and vitality. This means a society filled with beautiful and respected environments, with beautiful respecting and respected people.
Gardenworld calls for new forms of work. The mechanic, banker, city planner, farmer, policy-maker, and nurse as we know them currently may no longer be neither possible nor sufficient. Health and education will become group responsibilities, not just isolated to “full time” hierarchical roles. An emerging economy with food and habitat as the priorities will shift how people contribute. Everyone a gardener and an artist. Trash will become an essential part of a productive cycle. People’s contribution might be organized around something like the following:
greening everything, blending growing food with growing people—from an economic to an aesthetic with climate impact, including all material dealings
welfare for those hurt by the transition
extensively managing for 1 & 2, which is an incredible increase in the amount of management society needs
rethinking manufacturing cradle to grave
arts & education enabling the culture of belief for 1-4; education so everyone participates, each one teach one.
And we can add 6 - the enlightened use of leisure.
Automation and less consumerism should create a surplus we can use for leisure time — time to do nothing, to be social, to educate, to create crafts, arts, and festivals of celebration. Growing food and people in the same attractive environments is a worthwhile weave to work towards. With a hopeful spirit, doing our best has dignity to it. If we fail, so be it. Meanwhile, thinking the unthinkable forces doing what seems impossible. To transition, we don’t want a plan but an intent that guides our actions and imagination, opening to new possibilities. Plans tend to be rigid and we desperately need flexibility. Fragile systems are likely to fail. We can have growth without development and development without growth. Aristotle’s Coming to be and Passing Away says explicitly we can have development without growth. In Gardenworld that means rearranging what we have rather than extracting more from under the earth - coal and oil but it also means to pay attention so we don't have growth without development. We don’t cut trees for profit but only for local use. We take down houses on good flat fertile land and rebuild habitat on hillsides.
The world we are in is slow, unfair, and costly for all people and the earth. Even those who are the wealthiest or the greatest access to power live truncated lives because of the need to adapt to a very restrictive sense of self-development and well being.We should be rethinking what we are trying to achieve since it is just not working. We have lost sight of any future for our children, and even our own tomorrow feels a bit stale. Much of the thought of the thoughtful of the last five centuries has assumed that the goal was increased participation by more people, an increase in the quality of their lives achieved through an economic growth that benefited more people. Remember colonialism, the dark satanic mills, the trips to the psychoanalysts. Many people of the time were critical. The result has been continual revolution, still going on, mostly covert. Sometimes, as in the incomplete and perverted French Revolution, damagingly overt, giving us Napoleon rather than Gandhi .
Gardenworld should extend the boundaries of fellowship. It can also create spaces that are a refuge from the noisy world of conflicts. It adds to the pleasures with others because of increased cooperation in shared projects of significance to the community, and livelier sociability. Can we move from bureaucracy to citizenship? From hierarchy to participation? Gardenworld hopefully will support moving in these directions.
Think of Gardenworld as a blend of local small-scale agriculture, gardens for food, gardens for pleasure and relevant architecture that pulls them all together with old and new skills and creates an attractive and functional habitat. Perhaps our schools should be at the edge of the garden. Epicurus developed the garden school with a model that lasted through centuries. The garden was to be a place of rehumanization by reminding us of our animal and spiritual nature by observing growth and the night sky, the movement of seasons and the cycles of life and depth filled out with moderated pleasures.
Plato proposed that a person can see themselves primarily self-identified as a member of the local society, the polis, or of the universe, the cosmos. Both were reasonable ways to approach life and point out to us that Gardenworld should avoid monolithic - one thing - ways of seeing the world and life. The variety of life in the garden, animals, insects and plants and soil is a great teaching metaphor for complex lives. Cultivation of the self with its need for care is the instruction of the garden.Pleasure does not come from excess but from thoughtful moderation.
Epicurus held that it was more important to have someone to eat with than to have something to eat—and a pragmatic necessity. Friends come to each other’s aid in times of need. The certainty that in moments of crisis one can turn to one’s friends for protection and support fortified spiritual tranquillity. Because they are a buffer against the unpredictable vicissitudes of life, friends help guarantee the relative security on which ataraxia depends for its constancy. Beyond the pragmatic considerations, however, friendship is indispensable to happiness in its own right, for nothing sweetens the flavor of life as much as good companionship. That is why the Epicurean must systematically cultivate the art of friendship, as if it were a living garden. ...To acquire and preserve friendship demands foresight, deliberation, and self-improvement, for it requires developing qualities in yourself that will recommend you to your friend, make you attractive to your friend, and enhance the quality of your companionship.
From Robert Harrion Gardens and the human condition..
Since we are discussing the love mess of life Erich Fromm proposed biophilia and necrophilia, two orientations towards life with very different consequences. What's striking is that when you are with someone it's fairly easy to judge their orientation. which one dominates is it kind of dashboard speedometer measure of their success in dealing with life. Garden world is certainly about cultivating biophilia and moving away from necrophilia. More about Fromm in chapter 3 on human nature.
I think this discussion of epicurus makes clear that a good life including Gardenworld is enhanced by the study of philosophy, to understand what is at stake in the, so far, failure of humans to humanize the world.
This is not easy but crafts have always been able to create solutions that are effective and attractive. The Arts and Crafts movement had a monthly journal, The Craftsman, with the subtitle A Democractic Architecture for a Democratic America. The movement designed small houses that were sold all over the U.S., many sold by Sears and Roebuck, that remain some of the nicest and most desirable homes in many american towns. The key was blending reasonably middle-class homes with aesthetic concerns.
Sapho and friends by ____
The idea of home was broken up by the US pattern of 40 acres with each house separated by hundreds, even thousands of yards. Gardenworld probably leads to living together more like an Italian village, clustered with vegetable plots radiating out from these. The chief needs being met by Gardenworld are food, habitat and meaningful participation, but Gardenworld does not stand alone. It requires other changes in society with more education and participation in politics (democracy now is a pale version of what it could be, about which more later), and better judgement about technology. Gardenworld is a response to many of the core problems and their interconnections. Bigness rules our society “If it isn’t in the spectacle, it isn't real”
Gardenworld should appeal to, and use, our imagination. Imagine sitting with friends among the trees, the breezes, the birds and perhaps playing chess. “In antiquity it was one of the four arts of the Chinese scholar, along with painting, calligraphy, and playing the qi (guitar like). This speaks to a very different society but one that we might both need and desire. Be prepared for deep changes in what we desire and how we participate. Gardenworld encourages cosmopolitain time together, requiring cooperation and a spirit of festival, such as barn raising. The issue for Gardenworld is how do we avoid tribalization and its conflicts. Our local efforts should be part of a civilization. Cosmopolitan means the city of the whole, of all. There have been places in the world, from Athens to the Old Lebanon or eastern europe where people have lived in relationships across communities. The downtown with coffee shops and the pleasure of walking around actually enlisted.How might we do this when commerce is being rethought? Note in the picture above the fairly private time of the few taking place in a public space. Mix it up.
Gardenworld, while meeting necessities, encourages re-thinking our use of time and space, not just for the pursuit of economic security which is out of reach for most people now anyway. After WW2 there was widespread interest and concern for what was being called leisure. The idea was that industry could meet human needs with less and less labor. The problem was that the surplus time freed up by efficient industry was taken as profit by the capitalists rather than reducing working hours while maintaining pay.
John Maynard Keynes wrote a challenging article in 1937. The basic idea was that society would progressively meet human needs with less and less labor and the result would be leisure. As we know, it didn’t quite work out. Because of their importance I will quote a number of passages and urge you to read the essay.
The modern age opened; I think, with the accumulation of capital which began in the sixteenth century. I believe-for reasons with which I must not encumber the present argument-that this was initially due to the rise of prices, and the profits to which that led, which resulted from the treasure of gold and silver which Spain brought from the New World into the Old. From that time until to-day the power of accumulation by compound interest, which seems to have been sleeping for many generations, was re-born and renewed its strength. And the power of compound interest over two hundred years is such as to stagger the imagination….
If capital increases, say, 2 percent per annum, the capital equipment of the world will have increased by a half in twenty years, and seven and a half times in a hundred years. Think of this in terms of material things--houses, transport, and the like …..
For the moment the very rapidity of these changes is hurting us and bringing difficult problems to solve. Those countries are suffering relatively which are not in the vanguard of progress. We are being afflicted with a new disease of which some readers may not yet have heard the name, but of which they will hear a great deal in the years to come--namely, technological unemployment. This means unemployment due to our discovery of means of economising the use of labour outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labour. …
But this is only a temporary phase of maladjustment. All this means in the long run that mankind is solving its economic problem.
The strenuous purposeful money-makers may carry all of us along with them into the lap of economic abundance. But it will be those peoples, who can keep alive, and cultivate into a fuller perfection, the art of life itself and do not sell themselves for the means of life, who will be able to enjoy the abundance when it comes.
What Keynes, and us, hoped for is not what happened. What went wrong, in history and in Keynes thinking? Keynes’s thoughts were hopeful - but not realized, and we need to understand why. Elites and the professional class acted to bring the new profits, not to the leisure for the many but for the extreme consumerism of the rich and their professional support staff of lawyers, accountants and supporting congresspeople. Keynes counted on the desire for wealth to reach a limit after which increasing productivity would go to eliminating labor. But would it keep up income? How? Unspecified.
Keynes pointed to a future that did not happen but that we still want, leaving us with the question, can we do better? In order to cope more effectively with the problems of climate and the organization of society it is urgent that we come to an agreement on what kind of world our attempts to cope are going to lead us to. So far, most public talk has been about plans to curb or repair but not many are yet talking about goals beyond the need to cut greenhouse gases. We need an attractive imaginative future that is a comprehensive, believable and attractive, view of what life and the world could look like. Times will be difficult with challenges and lack of resources and population in pain. But we can move towards a better goal and not give in to 100% pessimism. 90% is enough.
The following analysis is short because while many issues are fascinating, such as cooperative agricultural communities, new forms of education, new ways of delivering and participating in health, the details are rapidly changing and also easily available on the internet. Here we will focus on less discussed and slower changing issues such as the deeper side of human nature or how groups cohere. The focus in this book has to be on Gardenworld, what it means and how to get there. Building Gardenworld will require lots of judgement, lots of creativity , and lots of knowledge. We need you to be a participant by bringing your energy and thoughtfulness to the project. We cannot plan Gardenworld much beyond next steps, but we can lay out guidelines to help make choices meaningful.
As we make choices of technology, social organization, use of the land, how we occupy our children, how we start to organize new political structures, it helps if we have a vision.
“Without a vision the people will perish”
George Santaya a quiet philosopher, wrote “‘Happiness is impossible, and even inconceivable, to a mind without scope and without pause, a mind driven by craving, pleasure or fear. To be happy, you must be reasonable, or you must be tamed. You must have taken the measure of your powers, tasted the fruits of your passion, and learned your place in the world and what things in it can really serve you. To be happy, you must be wise.’ .”
We can start from the present: a world of cars, roads and parking lots which aliens might see as a civilization of vehicles feeding off of corner based feed stations pumping liquid fuel into its inhabitants , but If we look over the course of human history the image in the back of most minds of how to live includes a mix of civilization with its arts and talents and innovations, and nature with its quiet, sometimes awesome, beauty and freshness. Civilization blended with nature prevents the worst gaining the upper hand - civilization - as an oppressive hierarchy, perpetual war, and death; nature as a struggle for survival against the jungle and the desert. A realizable view of the future should move toward the best of what civilization and nature have to offer as possibilities. An image of the future should be based on what we know of the human life cycle, the drama of the earth and include the place of families - children and parents all living an attractive life. Here is a Chinese village showing an attractive life of craft, market, safe walking.
The West started culturally with the Garden of Eden, an idyllic if somewhat mindless place, an imaginary place of relief from the harshness of the desert environment where the biblical tradition emerged out of the lives of caravan people. Since then all great moves in civilization have been versions of that impulse. The Garden of Epicurus in Athens, the Roman Forum with its fountains, the water course city of Naples, the Paris of the Seine and the recovering Notre-Dame on its island, New York’s Olmsted designed Central Park, the Winter Palace in Beijing. All towns have some versions of this impulse2. The better known gardens are of course large, but that makes the point that Gardenworld can scale.
Olmstead’s Central Park.
It is important to see that the Garden of Eden, and gardens in general, tend to work in enclosed spaces, leaving the raw nature beyond free to be itself. In practice it became the safe place for aristocrats living off the labor on the land outside. Urbanization, the place first as cities of the dead and then housing for bureaucrats. has however wiggled into every opportunity for exploitation to sustain the city not just with food but with wealth and talent: extracted from the land as resources and from the people as paid hours for their talent. The city has consistently impoverished the countryside.
Here next shows that aesthetics can enhance spaces without lots of work but good design.
Here is cooperation but it would be enhanced if also more designed. Note the Arts and Crafts details around the double window. (photo from Google).
We are at a difficult moment because the larger institutional structures are on the edge of collapse, meaning that the local tasks are likely to lead to raw responses. We must, with Gardenworld, do better. Perhaps there are other visions. Let's engage in a conversation about possible goals.
This discussion should start with a key fact - people. People like prosperity and are attracted to leaders who are builders. Gardenworld experiments will have to strive for the positive with realistic hopes while avoiding the greedy advantage seekers who oscillate between cynicism and violence. We want people to scan the environment for opportunities to care and create, not as a pickpocket would surreptitiously search for victims. Gardenworld has to make the case that a greening aesthetic environment meets this goal. To do so we have to think through what prosperity and building can mean. Modern thinking leaves out the very things that need focus - such as the quality of lives or responding to the threat of large wars. Gardenworld communities should look forward to the news brought by migrants and guests rather than fear them.
The Greeks came up with the concepts and their names: philosophy, politics, economics and technology. These four are comprehensive, taken together, and will be constantly reengaged to enrich our thinking. One problem. While GardenWorld is proposed as a global cultural goal, the focus here is on the West, mostly Europe and the US and its influence. So a word about Asia. There is a Chinese saying, “The people are in the forest and the emperor is far away”. Unlike the West, where heroes are huge, god-like: Jesus, Caesar, Dante, Napoleon, Lincoln - in Asia the leaders like Confucius and Mencius remain human sized, or almost invisible like Lao Tzu. Asia remains more modest. Mao and Xi have, perhaps more than is good for China, melded western values into Chinese realities. This was areaction to hurt pride after invasions by the west.. Lots to learn from the East and I hope for a shared conversation.
There are other visions besides GardenWorld. Modernism and other forms of techno utopian vision have gotten us into trouble. The move by elites to rebuild society on the energy from fossil fuels which are then sold to everyone has led us into a tragically unsustainable crunch. I am proposing that greening the world integrating aesthetics and economics , integrating humans with nature and with each other in interleaving generations, is a powerful vision that wisely appropriates the best of past cultures in a vision for the future that it is possible to work towards: a vision that meets the basic needs - to feed us and give meaning and hope, and a context.4
I used to despair of the word economy, since it was about all anyone talked about. We knew much more about economics than about politics or culture.The language of economics replaced the language of politics as we governed by the metric of GSP more than the narrative of quality of lives being lived.. But in understanding the origins as what the Greeks called eco-nomos - estate management - I have come to the view that the idea can be updated to mean the estate as the globe and management as the task of integrating humans into it productively and with quality of life for all. Pretty good. If this book makes a claim it is that it puts the crisis in its cultural context and discusses more thoroughly the human implications of where we are and what can happen and what we should do. Much talk is good on criticism but few venture to talk about what to do and how it will unfold.
Where is fossil based energy actually to be drastically cut, and what happens to the people there?
Malaysia. What happens as the price of electricity rises?
The Green New Deal for example covers much of the same ground as GardenWorld, but the GND in its current form promises a fairly smooth transition to a high employment green world without disruption. I think the disruption implied by the changes needed is much more brutal than the GND implies. We shall see. Thom Friedman, who coined the GND phrase, wants to use it for high innovation. But he does not link it to the rich getting richer which is what many investors and economists expect to be the goal of greening. In the literature so far from GND there is no discussion about the disruption of actual lives nor a discussion of the political process to get there.
Imagine Harry, he lives with wife Lynn and two kids in a house built in the fifties in a medium sized city. His job is eight miles from home, not a bad drive but it gets tighter at rush hour.
The word comes down from the bureaucrats doing their job, that the family must use some combination of less energy and more expensive energy. How will they do that, get the children to school, keep the house warm in winter and cooler in summer, and Jean spends the day in her car doing errands and working part time at the craft fair? Oh, Harry’s job - might just be gone.
Imagine what would have to happen (specific scenarios please) to this family to get to the energy level needed to prevent a 1.5 degree rise? (Assume the plausible scenario that things have to be happening now in order to meet the 2050 target, (or the 2025 target, or the 2020 target). Economists tend to talk about the transition as we can just slide from the current state to a new state without anyone noticing.
No discussion for example of the resistance it might stir up from interests that want things to continue as they are. What to do when the resistance might have the militarized police on their side? The GND discusses the problems of keeping below 2 degrees, but not much about the disruptive process nor how people will cope with a simultaneous mix of collapses and opportunities requiring them to pick up and move, finding new if temporary communities to meet their realistic needs and have some security. How do we build a progressive future that is adequate to the climate challenge?
There are many experiments in the world related to Gardenworld, mostly experiments in how to grow crops. Gardenworld requires that we think through how to include humans in those experiments, how to create living spaces where children can run free and barefoot without having to worry about traffic. Parents can let go of worries knowing that the community watches the children. The work needing to be done would be made as attractive and rewarding as possible. Probably not in dollars but is meaningful participation.
Peter Breugel the younger..
The current world is based on land ownership in the hands of a very few. What is not owned by the rich is mostly mortgaged by them and they reap the benefits of the monthly payments. Gardenworld is more modest and relationship oriented and will require new forms of economic distribution. Imagine that the land is owned by the community and the community decides how to use it. The second part of economy, nomia, which by Plato’s time meant legislated law or principles of management, in earlier Greek meant equal distribution. Gardenworld requires a new look at land and its management. It also requires something very hard - to shift our pleasures from owning to cooperating, from material stuff to pleasure in relationships - with people, animals and plants. Circumstances will force that, but may lead, instead of to cooperation and caring, to mafias and militarization. Hard work ahead.
I cannot stress hard enough how the ways of living of the most ancient humans has to teach us. The idea that nomos meant equal distribution started with the division of land in equal segments to provide for equal grazing of cattle. The evolution of culture was from equality towards hierarchy. By the time of Plato Laws means collections of legislations, a bunch of laws, not division of a whole into equal parts5.
Gardenworld, crucially important to its success, is also aesthetics. From town to small secluded gardens, the architecture and the plants and the people should flow together. We need to learn from the landscapers and the artists, the architects and designers how to do this. It might be that the shift from hunter gatherers to settled groups was aesthetic - the plants looked good and could be arranged for effects. Gardens didn’t arise from the failure of foragers but more often found in places that were rich in native growth.
In our rush to feed ourselves we may miss opportunities, creating “gardens” without people. This well intentioned book has as its cover:
But note that we have a single person far from home, working by himself. Democracy? Who owns all that land? Why is he so far from home?
Or, progressive farming but no place for people.
This is very linear and mechanical despite the example of plush growth, beef and fertilizer in proportions that may actually work.But where are the workers or the children? There is a military spirit in the organization, making it feel oppressive,
Notice that these are different worlds, and, as we build, we should be aware of the implications of choices we make.
Of course we had millennia of hunter gatherers living in nature, and early writing such as Gilgamesh. The Garden of Eden is part history where the long past cohered into the Garden image.
Alan Chadwick organized a garden at the university in Santa Cruz. Student volunteers worked the garden and excess vegetables were put in buckets by the roadside and anyone - anyone - could take what they wanted. The garden was so prolific (though population low). Imagine a village where all that was needed was produced freely. Could this work? Imagine that every late afternoon the town would gather in a circle nd report on the day, what happened and what needs to happen, “I noticed that the water course up on the north side of the garden was showing some breakdown.” People would volunteer to fix it the next day. The fascinating book by Dartnell describes the difficulties of continuing the past culture as it wears out. But craft skills of many kinds can re-emerge - black smith - animal caretakers- brick makers, window framers, and cooks The difficult question here is of specialization and narrow roles shared with rotations). But making new tools and cloth will be hard to relearn. Who among us knows how to get from sheep to sweaters? Much of what can happen will depend on the results of the serendipity of scavenging.
This requires a different set of motives than we are used to. The pleasure of helping out and making the town work for all will make the difference between happy success and tragic failure. This contrasts with “ What do I get out of it? I will just keep a low profile and avoid this.” The hope is that all the tasks in Gardenworld are worthwhile, interesting and felt to be helpful. Instead of labor, the emphasis should be on craft. People should not work for others but with others.
Adam Smith who saw the economic advantages of specialization - through division of labor also saw the downsides.
The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become. The torpor of his mind renders him not only incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation, but of conceiving any generous, noble, or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgment concerning many even of the ordinary duties of private life. [Book 5, Chapter 1]
How to develop the necessary products starts with a discussion of “what is necessary.” If everyone has enough food the potential employer cannot count on workers showing up for wages if the task is not attractive. Many things just might not happen. Then the community innovates.
Gardenworld implies major changes in institutions, culture and lifestyle. This will be very hard. But with more cooperation we would avoid the dog eat dog world of Hobbesian all against all. Money might disappear in exchange for a system of commons based production and value distribution. We do not know.
Habitat is the second major issue after food. Heating large spaces becomes almost impossible while cutting co2. Smaller spaces divide existing homes. Office buildings can be repurposed as apartments, craft and art shops, or classrooms. How ‘private property’ evolves is impossible to guess but there will be a lot of energy in the conflict between new needs and old structures.
Land has been considered propertyfor over three centuries on parts of the world. The division into private property is the opposite of the Commons. But to show you how fluid even the most basic concepts are, private property is worth analyzing. Property comes from proper, 'What is proper to a man of rank to show his status in society.’ We still use it this way — “Are you dressed properly for the party?” What started as a social sign od statu, in the community evolved into something that can be bought and sold.
Private is slightly more difficult. Etymological Dictionary has
The original Latin meant “remove from the public”.
(From Latin prīvātus (“bereaved; set apart from”),
perfect passive participle of prīvō (“I bereave,
deprive”), from prīvus (“single, peculiar”). That is,
death from the group. What is private is a death and
the state bereaved.
A long way to the modern meaning. This is worth some reflection. It implies that being removed from the community is to lose life. That is, life comes from being in the community. This is psychologically true, as we have seen in the COVID crisis. The implication for the Commons is clear.
It is hard to come up with metaphors for our situation. Great writers like Ovid, Dante, Shakespeare all wrote in difficult times and the difficulties entered their literature. But in each case it was assumed that after the crisis the world would still be there. Not true for us. In interviews I have been doing people are feeling the death of the world. When a person dies those who knew that person grieve because of the pain of lost futures with that person, and the brain keeps wanting that person to be there and acting as if they are, and this causes confusion. We walk into the room where that person often was and we expect them to be there. and they are not.
The same is true now of the future of society. It is dying – by which I mean our expectations: my favorite restaurant closed for ever, gone, my trip to Finland, my trip to Malaysia, my even visiting my children in other states, not only put off, but maybe never again to be undertaken. This causes great grief and confusion and we feel all that is solid melts into air. This is a very difficult time and mostly our screams are silent. Like the Munch painting, All scream, no sound.
As for economics, it seems to not deal with this. I imagine a river, the economy, flowing, and there are towns, factories, malls on both banks, and commerce, flow of goods and dollars flowing up and down and across to the other bank. And economics has a series of differential equations to describe the ebb and flow of these exchanges. But what if the river slows down, exchanges slow down and some stop? What do people do? What does economics do? What can leaders do?
Food and habitat solutions should integrate into good feelings for the emerging community, and the beauty of the combined efforts should be a serious consideration in every project. The obvious resistance will come from the residual habits and attitudes we all carry from cultures which emphasized competition, corruption and stealth, manifest in greed and violence. The community forum should be used to discuss these issues. Remember that the Greeks thought this effort, what they called politics, was the destiny and highlight of human conversation. This is difficult. It means building community, civilization and culture. But this is the task humanity has always faced with mixed success. For Aristotle the progress in relationships went from family to town where what draws people beyond the family is friendship. and interests. The town was where the conflicts were discussed and that discussion was a major part of life, as responsibility and self development.
We face a time when the combined efforts of humanity have led to a difficult situation with the economy. Politics, philosophy, and technology, working together, are failing to help us develop climate and quality of life for all. Lets re-engage in what Gardenworld offers - a plausible - and urgent - approach to nearly impossible circumstances that will cost dear before we can emerge with a liveable world.
Where might the leadership of such a mega approach arise? Or do we choose radical decentralization? This is where Gardenworld can emerge as a serious, attractive and plausible path.
No path is likely to emerge without a vision of where we are headed in order to. avoid just getting in each other's way. Anarchy should be considered. The criteria for all efforts should ask (along with many other considerations)
Does it help feed the people?
Does it provide homes for the people?
Does it lead to participation?
Does it support people through the human life cycle?
Is it attractive and blended with food and habitat?
Gardenworld is all these in interaction and it is the path, given the
real choices, preferred by many except those with inordinate (great word) power or wealth. They too should be invited, and invited again. Like our own dark side, they have talent we need.
Absent political and social moves, technical proposals to deal with climate disruption are inadequate. Solar power, nuclear power, agricultural innovations, sequestering technologies, or planting co2 absorbing landscapes on their own will not improve outcomes. An alternative approach is radical decentralization, letting each community struggle and innovate on their own. But the sheer number of people, many turned into migrants, will force coordinations across projects. We have to consider what it will take for different approaches to be in motion simultaneously—centralized or decentralized, some mixture of the two, hierarchy with flat networks.
We need to revisit our priorities in order to manage for the good of all. Most people feel they have not seen an alternative to drifting. It is not crazy to stay in a leaky canoe if you do not have an alternative. We need to borrow from boating what is referred to as jettisoning: throwing overboard unneeded stuff in order to keep afloat: what to hold onto, what to throw away, what to repurpose? These are hard choices that require a different culture, reinventing our prior logics along the way. Although we are not starting from scratch, often it will feel like it.
Transitioning will mean considering these questions:
Where are we?
How did we get here?
What can happen?
What should we do?
When the future is unknown, we will need to design, plan and implement for extreme flexibility—in where we live and how and in what? When many of the important decisions for transitioning will emerge, we need guiding principles that ground our intent as we work towards pathways which integrate people and the earth.
Such principles could include the architect Chris Alexander’s guidance: we chose what is lively over what is deadening. It includes Erich Fromm’s discussions of how social arrangements, such as competitiveness and stress on self limit the development of character. And we could bring in how the Psychoanalyst Erik Erikson suggests a detailed view of the human life cycle can become a template against which to judge the value of social projects. Gardenworld will encourage us to study and reflection, developing an awareness of self and others, in many directions. The future could be for learners and lovers.
For example, an initial set of principles, a kind of new ten commandments that focus on ethics for the digital age, could include:
1. Each day do something for the person you know who is having the worst time.
2. Each day do something for the person you know *of* who is having the worst time.
3. Each day do something about the very worst situation you know about (its ok to be myopic – just do it) in the world.
4. Network the resulting projects.
5. Teach others to participate.
6. Leave your local habitation more beautiful, at the end of the day, than you found it. Do something about it.
7. Do something, each day, to weave the tapestry of community conversations, consciously, by having at least one conversation you would not have otherwise.
8. Create culture with your children.
9. Study harder beyond current affairs or narrow profession.
10. Smile honestly and enjoy this life, even in its worst moments.
Other candidates for thoughtfulness. · Be careful on reading adds · Put Relationships before materialships · Hate or anger is a sign of not seeing strategically · Love may mean narrowing of focus · Stay healthy · Respect other’s gods · Bring others into your conversations · Speak with intent · The way up and the way down are the same · Eating towards health · breathing towards relaxed · Sex towards love · politics towards inclusions and community · foreign affairs towards delight · business towards refreshing · money towards real use and beauty · art towards beauty and revelation · movement towards grace · friendship towards depth · language towards quality · education towards complexity · childhood towards fullness · lies towards the minimum · violence towards comprehension · architecture towards the hospitable · reading towards the uncomfortable · science towards the real unknown · sleep towards dreams · work towards meaning · self at times towards others · at times towards the whole · and you will be natural
We probably need new forms of action that take place outside the existing constitutional and legal structures of government. In practice, this will mean deepening our understanding of the human and our place in life and death by asking, Who are we. What do we want? How do we thrive? We need an ethics that takes caring seriously but also includes some aspects of science: honesty, experimentalism, the legitimacy of questioning, and knowing there is no final state of culture but a continuing evolution as humans and circumstances interact. We should work towards a feeling of joy in participating, knowing that danger lies at the edges—and sometimes in our midst, this is not only ok, it is the dance life offers. In order “to make the frozen circumstances dance, we have to sing to them their own melody”. Our task is to develop the melody the earth offers us and turn it into a culture. We need to live the questions,
and this is the intent Gardenworld invites.
You need to cooperate, bring anyone you are meeting into the conversation
Take care of those who are hurt
Make all efforts help build toward survival and flexibility
To the extent that you can, build toward Gardenworld (food, habitat and aesthetics)
Try to think longer term
One view of Gardenwotld come from permaculture
Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems.” -Bill Mollison, cofounder and father of the movement,
Two things that Gardenworld adds. First is that Gardenworld is primarily growing healthy humans in a permaculture like environment. Second, Gardenworld assumes that conditions will keep changing and that this year’s permanent will need to give way for next year.
Gardenworld is an intent to organize this difficult transition, organizing people to re-engage with the task of production from which they have been mostly removed by the rise of corporations. Most people want to live in a combination of civilization and nature but we are not good at it. What is at stake is educating people in cooperation to be spiritually sensitive persons. Rather than introduce a completely new future, we can work towards an image people already believe. Nature and relationships are attractive to most people. Consider your own best experiences with nature, and if you have them, your best experiences with farming, gardening, and landscaping. We need to organize our ways of being across the human life cycle — from newborns to great grandparents — into something like Gardenworld. Growing, as the early humans knew, requires thoughtful reproduction of people, animals, and plants. Gardenworld returns production and reproduction and its needed skills to the center. Those critical of the industrial model such as William Morris and Lewis Mumford have said that capitalism has developed control over others, by making them want to get ahead by getting a little bit of that capital so that they are willing to work long hours through school and employment. The house that they buy, because they own so little of it, requires long hours o earn the money that's then paid to the capital owners. Describe the draftsman movement, a paragraph about sennett and one about Arts and Crafts. Mention Morris and Mumford
Gardenworld and The modern
Gardenworld is in its core the opposite of the modern that has dominated the last century.We have built a society where owning things is more important than having relationships. The children, and now also the adults, at the breakfast table with wireless Phones is a symptom, maybe even the cause, of social decay. Gardenworld (or any alternative) supports the development of an attractive civilization and your personal development as a thinking, feeling, reflective, healthy person. Can caring, art, love, curiosity, appreciation replace “mine”, fences, door locks, anger, addictions? We must try.
Modernism has been very seductive, drawing us into a designed material world driven by dollars per square foot, not by the shape of livable space with friends and cooperation.
One of the most powerful analyses of the present culture comes from Guy DeBord and his Society of the Spectacle. He says that the media taken as a whole is the main product of society and if something isn't in the spectacle it isn't felt to be real. The result is, instead of being at home with friends and family we hang on each moment we can return to the media, to participate, to be informed. But in the media we have lost our self.
Few people have taken in the innovations im our own culture culture: Picasso Stravinsky, Proust, Joyce, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the scientists like Schrodinger and his reflections on the nature of the universe. In deed, science is still an untapped resource for amazement and curiity. Science is so badly taught in ways that ignore why the question was interesting.- but they have taken in much of the material side of the modern with its mass produced plastic metal and glass. The modern as a culture and society is a very complex interweaving of tech, commercialization but weak on human feeling. The democracy we have seems way too weak to govern such complexity, and old hierarchies holding on are preventing the innovations and imagination we need. The result is a breakout of irrationality that builds on human feelings without coherence of a culture. The emergence of science with its abstraction and its focus only on “truths” which hold for all time missed the emotional and the individual (only universal cases mattered to science) The modern, as a replacement for the medieval christianity that broke down with wars, population and the reformation, is not an adequate culture. It leaves people too anxious, too competitive ( making losers of others).
We see what happens when all thinking is technical in style and method, and we are not teaching. STEM about the humans to which tools are attached. We have too many children who cannot draw nor feel in their hands any music making beyond button pushing.
Human relationships require a development of the sensuous, a feeling for texture and the body. The Modern is peculiar.
Tate modern Gallery
Swirling and interesting as if organic but cold as dry ice. To touch, the marble and the railing are cold and the feeling is one of potential falling. Attractive, interesting, but devoid of human feeling or care. Note how few people, and no place to sit.
We Westerners (the Chinese equivalent is easy to find) have been convinced that our superiority is the leading edge of an ever-expanding destiny. In the West destiny means more science, technology and abundance. In China it means longevity and coherence of the culture. Most cultures believe social life to be circular - what goes up comes down.
Modernity is dependent on fossil fuels. The quantity is almost unimaginable. A trillion tons of co2 each day. A car driven on a tank of gas adds almost half a ton of CO2 just by itself - one car? And we drive the freeway looking at the long stream coming toward us - and fail to cost out this weird use of energy.
But we long prepared for it, using black slaves the way we use black oil. The facts of slavery are terrifying to anyone who looks. Slavery was the machine of British wealth and empire. Profits from slavery financed much of the industrial revolution.
An over-reliance first on slavery, then coal, then on oil, “fueled” population increase. Populations breed till they come up against the limits of their food supply, currently dependent on oil for transportation, mechanization, and fertilizer. What was mined and pumped was burned into the atmosphere and the whole hidden world of fossil fuels under the earth is now surrounding us in the air. This sets up crucial conditions for why we need Gardenworld. We are being killed by the ghosts of past carbonized lives.
Gardenworld and science
Science is the leading edge of our expectations for the future. But what is science? We can treat it as a social institution that evolves according to its own criteria. But science has since Francis Bacon been an instrument of the state, of ambition, of power. It is skewed in method toward a focus on the eternal, downplaying the individual, the unique, the personal. Science is much more political than usually thought.
I like the view that science is a phase in the history of art that came into prominence as artists thought more about the chemistry of the material for making art: dyes, bronze casting, pigments and binders. Science, as organized curiosity, is one of the great humanities.
Economics and Gardenworld
The role science played in the evolution of economics is a study in shifting sources of power in society, from agriculture, land and tax to craft, trade and finance. Quantity and calculation rather than understanding. Science has narrowed its range of interests. Microchips are well understood - governance is not..Why did this happen? Great cultures are human centered with recognition of the larger sense of space and time. Weak cultures are struggling with the conflicts of the moment with focus on the technocratic. In our time this come down to a struggle to mechanize the world2 in order to thrive in it. But it is not a human world. Take as an example, a computer playing chess (or go). When it “wins” it has no experience of winning. Humans play to experience the drama of playing. Not the computer, which has no experience of playing. It does not know that it won. It is impossible to imagine a computer saying “that is disgusting” other than by a release of pre-programmed text the computer would have no experience of having said.
For economics this comes down to data sets that can be put in mathematical form: differential equations or matrix algebra. Science has taken the view that things that can be made into “laws” are worthy of science. Unique events not so. This is political because it implies that the economy should be left alone to equilibrate, without interference by the state and the rest of society.
Mary is standing by herself on the living-room floor. Newton’s f=ma tells us how much she weighs. But Mary sees Jane’s dropped handkerchief, which suggests a drama. Economics deals with things like the first but ignores (as unscientific) things like the second. But real life, including economic life, is vastly more made up of events like the second. This is important for climate breakdown discussions. Economics talks easily about shifting energy sources from fossil to wind and solar but does not discuss how. Harry will need to get rid of the family’s gas furnace and replace it with an electric. Who pays? How many such heaters have to be made? How long will it take? There are 80 million gas heated homes in the US.
If science was interested in the world it would explore both unique events which turn into narratives, and universal which turn into equations.. In that sense science is not scientific but ideological.
Gardenworld and Technology
A threat to the social realization of the benefits of technologies is that they are driven by seeking profit for investors, not the good of society. Finance as the mechanism to make capital in the social system available for projects has been our ideology. In fact, it was created by people who held previous profit as capital and wanted to make more with it. The story that capital funding projects for the population that desired goods is belied by the history that says early finance was mobilized to lend money to Kings for national wars. Yet the system more or less worked.
In 2007 financial service profit accounted for forty percent of the entire US business profit, making finance not a service to economic activity but a core piece of economic activity itself. Finance went through an evolution that was uncontrolled and its inner logic of dominance through exploiting advantages increased. Finance is woven through technology, both as a tool for accounting and communication, and as a target for investment with high payoff (Musk, Beezos, Clark, Gates) The result is that tech innovation is enhanced if it can make a profit and the social good is ignored.
Carlotta Perez, the Brazilian economist, has eloquently analyzed how such a diversion of profit means that less money is available for investment in new tech. She has suggested rather strongly that the promise of, for example, computerization, moving from broad adoption to ubiquitous computing, has just begun, but cannot be realized without much more capital investment, capital which is not available because it is off bubble making elsewhere in the economy, or invested in private islands and safe enclaves.
“Welcome to reality.”
“Don’t worry, I am just passing through.”
-Strauss’s Capriccio, 1941
The problem is, this kind of operation continues the process of making the rich richer without much work (having become rich the game is to lend money) and helps continue the bad distribution of wealth in society. In this transaction, technology is seen not as a way to solve social problems, but as a way to make money.
Technology, helping put the society at risk in terms of wealth, is giving it a bad name. Technology advocates, in fact, seem unaware of the negative consequences most non-technologists have a feel for. The obvious bad technologies: Hiroshima, Chernobyl, thalidomide, pollution, climate breakdown, and the dominance of finance based on computerization.
Perhaps it’s worth remembering, “The invention of agriculture was the first act of what we call technology. The Greek word techne not only describes a form of knowledge (logos), as we have seen; it is also the abstract form of techno, to “generate” or “engender.” Men, like the gods, were the teknotes, the creators, and what they made, the tekna, were their creations. The simple act of cultivation thus marked the beginning not only of humans’ independence from nature but of their long struggle to make themselves masters of nature
To what end will technology support us or prevent the transitions of climate breakdown? The sustainable future, given the size of the population and dependence on tech, has to be a high tech future, especially using nano-tech and biotech in combination with small local craft production and new farming. If we are diligent and lucky this can be a new world, and it can be an attractive one, but only if technology is seen as avoiding self-serving financial interests, a system to be gamed,--- otherwise, the willingness of the public to support tech development and its distribution will turn into revolt.
There is no question that rethinking tech and society is underway. The mayor and now ex-mayor of Bogata, Enrique Peñalosa, who exhibits humanity and imagination as he forthrightly questions the role of the automobile (“auto” implies it goes by itself- better to call it the oil-mobile).
Man With a Plan Interview by Deborah Solomon
Q: As a former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, who won wide praise for making the city a model of enlightened planning, you have lately been hired by officials intent on building world-class cities, especially in Asia and the developing world.
A. What is the first thing you tell them? In developing-world cities, the majority of people don’t have cars, so I will say, when you construct a good sidewalk, you are constructing democracy. A sidewalk is a symbol of equality.
I wouldn’t think that sidewalks are a top priority in developing countries. The last priority. Because the priority is to make highways and roads. We are designing cities for cars, cars, cars, cars, cars. Not for people. Cars are a very recent invention. The 20th century was a horrible detour in the evolution of the human habitat. We were building much more for cars’ mobility than children’s happiness.
GardenWorld raises the technology issue to one of policy and choice, more than of profit. What kind of world do we want our efforts to work toward? For what ethics will technology be fit to serve? What are the first principles technology is in service of? Simply removing existing subsidies on old technologies would do a great deal, though it is increasingly realized that these may not be enough to move us toward graceful sustainability. Part of the reason why such changes are not enough is that those “old technologies” and “existing subsidies” are a very complex web of interwoven institutional arrangements that are getting in the way of technical innovation for human good. When thinking about tech and Gardenworld we have to reflect on the possibility that, if we lose the grid for energy and communication, we might not have the tech to worry about. No chips, no computers, no Internet.
Technology is the answer. But what was the question? Cedric Price
It is not clear that the internet will survive much collapse. The grid, electricity and viable computers would be necessary. But I think we can assume that if the existing technologies can be salvaged they will be, at least for a while .
Tech is the extension of the human body and mind - this is conventional hope. Tech is also the suppressor of the human body and mind. War, prisons, invading technologies which make us passive. Amazon is moving toward sending me books it thinks I may want and I can send them back no charge if I don’t. Google knows who I will vote for , or should vote for, before I do. When will someone just suggest that Google actually vote for me, since it knows better than I do which candidate favors my interests?
Here is a fantasy. You get a note from your iPhone this afternoon reminding you of a meeting you have in two days. The note says a driverless Uber will pick you up at 1 in the afternoon, conveniently after lunch, to take you to the meeting. (Place unspecified click for more information). Also here are attached two papers you should read before you arrive you will be expected to comment on. In two days, after some more messages, the car is in front of your house and shortly you arrive at the meeting in a place you have never been (click for more information). You walk into the meeting - all formalities handled by your iPhone and electronic badge. You listen, are invited to make a few comments, and get a message on your phone “A driverless Lyft will pick you up at and take you to a hotel because at commute time traffic would take too long to drive you home. We have arranged for dinner at 7 and arranged a date for you. Have a good evening.” The next morning you are picked up and driven home.
Very convenient, but you were never engaged as a person, yet armies of young are working to make this a reality.
Tech is complicated. We have never been able to figure out how to integrate it with democracy. We did not get to vote on cigarettes, TV, nor cars. These are market rather than democratic procedures for making social decisions, one dollar one vote. Advertising replaces conversation.
The earliest compounds - walls around a collection of huts- were long considered means for keeping others out, to avoid their stealing crops, cattle, women and children. It turns out those walls were to keep prisoners in and early humans fought hard to stay outside. Inside was a loss of diet, freedom to move, slave labor (how much of modern society is like this?)
In the flow of technology and power, money and status, in a bath of fear and insecurity, empires clashed and millions died in the 20th century. It is hard to recall the scale of those events, given that contemporary events, such as Iraq, Grenada, Afghanistan, are so much smaller in scale, and even Katrina was small in comparison to the great wars of the last century. But huge movements are afoot today. The flow of digitalized property, dominance of financial institutions, people pushed off the land, and the promises of new bio and nanotechnology are flooding our old expectations. Obvious tech will be a major part of a successful GardenWorld, but how? I take as a model the career of Fredrick Law Olmsted who used parks in Boston, New York, and others as the liver and kidneys and lungs of the cities that surrounded his parks. He used the capacity of nature to clean the environment. But he also enhanced the beauty of each project and made it a real extension of the quality of life of the people. Try to imagine Manhattan without Central Park.
What will the presence of tech be in Gardenworld? The future role of technology is likely to focus on surveillance, coordination, and distribution, becoming the nervous system of Leviathan. This might be helpful but the promise might turn sour into a police state.
Technology is not going away and it will either be used to further centralize power and authority or to help open it up, as in the promise of the Internet and be a major part of GardenWorld. This in fact is the major and more likely future scenario. The tech future will be dominated by big data and AI held by powerful management systems integrating a few corporations and a few governments. The idea is that big data knows everything (billions of sensors world wide, And the world can be managed from there. Technical people often love this image: everything is counted and correlated. all human ambiguity is reduced to cause and effect. People will argue that this is the only way to deal with climate management - and getting rich while dividing humanity into the players and the disposables.
Gardenworld and politics.
This is critical. Most talk of change leaves the basic structures intact: nation-states political parties, regimes of property and wealth. Imagine sitting at a chessboard playing the game within the existing rules but not changing the rules nor the structure of the board. Our task with Gardaworld is to look at ways of changing the rules of the game and the board we are playing on.
add all the prose on propertyfrom ch 1?
Politics follows from conversations and organizing to support interests. It's very unclear how this will happen. More discussion about politics in chapter 7, “What should we do”. Just to say now, this is going to be difficult.
Book list for this chapter
Harrison, Robert Gadens and the Human Condition.
Arts and Crafts
Schoemaker, Small is beautiful
Fuller, Grunge of the giants.
John Von Heking The Form of Politics
Gary Wills, Inventing America