THE PARADISE IMPERATIVE
Humans must create paradise or they cannot live on the planet Earth. Paradise here is described as a human community that lives in perpetuity and in peace on one place on the earth, over many generations. In the modern view, generated from the Alternative Culture and Cultural Creatives, we have a permaculture design in a valley that has been ecologically restored and has added additional trees in different ecological niches to create a food forest of fruits and nuts. Under the forest canopy are tall bushes also of fruit and
nuts. Under this, the lower berry bushes and vining plants grow.
Lower, are the forbs: perennial vegetable plants that grow year after year and require no disruption of the soil community. Below this are the perennial tuber plants and also down in the soil are the edible mushrooms. This is a perpetual food design that will produce more food per acre than the industrial agricultural system, without digging, disrupting and damaging the thousands of species of the soil community, and at the same time, continually building soil fertility and preventing soil erosion.
Next, we add hand-made housing of straw-bale, adobe, log, rammed earth, or other local material, along with attached solar green houses according to many successful contemporary designs. The humans, of course, maintain a stable population and live with a stable biological unit.
Then we add a new human culture based on aiding the life force rather than its consumption and destruction.
Paradise is obviously not a new idea. Richard Heinberg in his book
Memories and Visions of Paradise says, " We are faced with some extraordinary facts. In virtually every culture on Earth we encounter a myth telling how humankind originated in a time of peace, happiness, and miraculous power and, because of some mistake or failure, degenerated to its present condition. Moreover, nearly every tribe and nation reveres the sayings of some ancient prophet who foretold the corrupt human world will one day be consumed in a purifying cataclysm to make way for a renewed Golden Age. And, as if the similarities of these ancient myths and prophecies were not remarkable enough, we are confronted by the additional fact that much of our civilization's greatest literature and many of its most inspiring theories and experiments seem to derive their vitality and appeal from these mysterious memories and visions of paradise."
This paradise can be done now. All of these systems have been worked out in the thousands of ecovillages around the planet and in many other similar designs. The above permacultural design has the effect of putting us in biological adaptation to the planet Earth. This is the key and crux of the matter. We as a species must be biologically adapted to the biological energy flows (food chains, biological webs) or we, as a species, cannot live on the earth. This is not to say that we must adopt a loin cloth and eat roots and berries such as the incredibly successful two million years of our ancestors, but it does mean that we somehow must biologically adapt to the earth.
This means that the very foundations of our human culture of materialism must change.
THE CULTURE OF LOOTING
Human agriculture has been one of the most ecologically destructive disasters to hit the planet. When agriculture began and the first plow or digging stick was struck into the breast of Mother Earth, the destruction began. Soil scientists say that it takes between three hundred and a thousand years to accumulate each inch of topsoil in optimum ecologies. This is what agriculture drains from the earth.
Surpluses from the life force of the earth is what the civilized are after and have been after for eight thousand years, draining the fertility of the earth through agriculture, overgrazing and deforestation The more surpluses that members of the empire can haul to the capital city, the more their social stature, in a materialistic society. Now that ninety per cent of the large fish in the ocean are gone, we are down to ten per cent of the planetary forest and soil erosion, exhaustion, and desertification are racing ahead on all continents. Even the unconcerned can see the problem. "Civilization," since its inception has accomplished its growth by sucking the fertility out of the life force of the planet.
The phrase, "survival of the fittest," was taken up out of Charles
Darwin's theory of evolution and made into a violent cultural norm by the British Empire. "Social Darwinism" soon followed. Those who ruled by violence, theft and lies, considered it obvious that they were the 'best," and on the forefront of evolution, since they ruled. Those who ruled Babylon in the now ecologically destroyed "fertile crescent," the Han Chinese who ruled a country that was once half covered by fertile temperate zone forest and those imperial rulers who occupied the once fertile Indus River Valley, no doubt thought they were the "best" - eight thousand years ago. That human culture has descended through the years to the point that "pioneers" on their way to loot the U.S. west, killed thousands of buffalo, took their tongues to market for money and left the carcasses to rot on the plains. This is an appropriate image of the culture of civilization and its ten-thousand year project of killing the life force of our planet.
A CULTURE OF ADAPTATION
Another part of Darwin's theory - that the English ruling class neglected - is the value of biological adaptation. When the banker leans on the farmer, the farmer leans on the soil, for more surpluses.
The city dweller eats some of the food and throws the scraps, along with all other organic material in the landfill where its mass becomes an ecological problem. This is a simplified version of the whole of the culture of empire. There is no reward for the upstream supplier of biological energy, there is simply looting. The ecology that provided the soil is not rewarded with the organic material so as to continue its growth. In many cases the old growth forest that originally provided the topsoil is gone.
In a great cultural turn-around, thousands of ecovillages have sprung up around the planet, pointed toward reversing the civilized cultural values and seeking adaptation to the planetary biology. Biological adaptation is the only way that the human species can be on this planet in perpetuity.
Much concern has been expressed recently about economic collapse, but the big collapse right behind it is what most people in the materialistic society do not see. This is the biological collapse of the life force of our planet. In this late stage of the "crisis of empire," the only beneficial act one can do is to seek biological adaptation in some manner. All other activities are frivolous and pointless.
As the culture of looting crashes in flames, our hope is that some of the thousands of ecovillages around the planet will survive the cataclysm to thrust a new pattern of cultural values, and a new adaptation to the life force, into the future.
By William H. Kotke, author of, The Final Empire: The Collapse of Civilization and the Seed of the Future and Garden Planet, both books available through the usual sources.