Until now, advancement in the human race has been largely a haphazard collection of minor improvements, leading to ever increasing knowledge fragmentation and specialization. All of our technology, laws, and customs have become so complex that it is difficult for any to understand more than just a tiny fragment of what is going on.
This has lead to a bevy of unexpected problems, sometimes called emergent behavior, that was never designed in to our society, but exists nonetheless. This includes:
- Excessive concentration of resources
- Large scale environmental pollution / resource consumption
- System wide instability
Why Permaculture Is So Important
Permaculture is a systems level approach to design, that seeks to rectify the prevalence of on direction resource flows (harvest → use → trash) and establish circular resource flows that unsure infinite survivability for the human race. The purview of permaculture is extensive, but is largely operative on the farm or homestead scale. This is conducive with the idea that human systems should be designed on the individual scale, and largely understandable in their entirety.
Working Towards Individual Ownership
Permaculture champions that self-sufficient community as a means of increasing both environmental sustainability as well as systems level stability.
Permaculture promotes the design methods, technology, and skills to allow small scale communities, families, or individuals to be largely self sufficient in terms of food, water, shelter, heat, and potentially clothing. Although not directly treated by permaculture resources, just a situation also would give such a community tremendous autonomy of economy and in terms of thought.
A people that is not beholden to large institutions — corporation, governments, churches — for their material survival have a true freedom not commonly experienced even today in Western cultures. That is the freedom to live and think without fear that external reprisal could lead to loss of livelihood.
By putting foremost a concept of ownership that derives from the responsibility of stewardship, those people who work the land and love the land should be entitled to the fruits of the land. In this way it is possible to perhaps limit the universal tendency for the rich to get richer, which ultimately leads to environmentally and socially destructive practices.
One huge, and often hidden, danger in our current economic system is an inherent instability. The effects of this instability can be seen in the onslaught of global market slumps and depressions. More than just a game with numbers, these events have real impact on human lives.
With the propensity for centralization and complexification already observed over the recent centuries, this instability will only increase.
Centralization, leads to “too big to fail,” which is another way of saying we have no backup plan if the current methods fail. In the past, many community services including child care, garden level food production, and other essential tasks operated largely outside of the capitol markets. There was no money exchange, because families or communities provided for themselves.
Now, all food is bought, much of child care is paid for. Which means ever aspect of our lives is tied to cash flow. A cash or currency that could crash or inflate almost instantly, given the right conditions. This isn’t just a theoretical exercise either. This has actually happened many times in the 20th century, and will happen again.
Focus on Small Scale Systems
The good news, is that there is something we can do about all this. By building up a foundation of small scale systems that produce the fundamental ingredients of our survival — clean food, efficient homes, warmth, goodness, and love — the permaculture family or permaculture community can potentially weather the storm and survive what could be the eminent collapse of humanity.