In a recent article “Beyond Trump: Rebooting the System from inside the Death Machine,” Nafeez Ahmed, Andrew Markell, and Gunther Sonnenfeld articulated their perspective on Trump’s rise to power less succinctly and with fewer no-nonsense tools than I intend to offer in this essay. While coming close to the heart of the matter, they didn’t quite arrive which often happens when attempting to clarify “the crisis of civilization.” After all, we’ve never been here before, and if we’re honest, we must admit that we have difficulty articulating it for ourselves and never quite know how to articulate it to others.
Susan Tchudi speaks with with Carolyn Baker about her new book “Dark Gold: The Human Shadow and the Global Crisis.”
But when I hear arguments that “we need” to stand up for our ‘inherent’ rights and freedoms, and wrest ‘control’ of the levers of power from the obscenely wealthy elite, and denounce and protest injustice and inequality, and acknowledge and renounce our role as privileged oppressors, as the first steps to a true social revolution in and political and economic reform, leading, somehow, to a radical redistribution of wealth and power, and a more just society, I am reduced to despair.
There are a lot of people who still believe and teach that anyone can be rich if they are willing to work hard enough. That if we have the right attitude, if we just do the right things, and that if we’re willing to do “what it takes,” and know how to game the system, that we, too, can have it all. But what many of us are beginning to wake up to is that the current monetary and economic paradigm only works with winners and losers. It creates scarcity and separation and it’s never been more obvious than it is today with more and more money and resources concentrated into fewer and fewer hands…leaving on the other side, more and more people struggling to live – survive, including children – on less and less. Winners and losers.
In America, the transition to this vision will involve a severe disruption of our present way of life. In other countries where people still practice small-scale farming akin to modern permaculture, the transition might be much smoother. They can leapfrog the 20th century directly into the 21st, without repeating our ecologically and socially devastating mistakes. People in other lands can adapt the principles of permaculture to their own specific environmental and social circumstances. This is not about clever white people inventing a new model and imposing it on someone else. (Indeed, many permaculture techniques have been adopted from indigenous farmers around the world.) It is about everyone learning from everyone else, all guided by the ideal of wedding agronomy to ecology and fostering bioregional food self-sufficiency.
Michael C. Ruppert, author, former Los Angeles Police Department narcotics investigator turned investigative journalist specializing in Peak Oil and Collapse, says, “Until we change the way money works, nothing changes.” The way we use money is part of a dying system that no longer serves mankind. It creates scarcity, fear, and separation and the system as it has existed for over 5,000 years creates a world of “haves” and “have nots,” that allows the accumulation of wealth into fewer and fewer hands, leaving more and more people on the planet struggling for survival. But it’s not just the extreme wealthy that are at fault…It’s us, too, because we bought into the separation mode hook, line, and sinker!
Wherever I go and ask people what is missing from their lives, the most common answer (if they are not impoverished or seriously ill) is “community.” What happened to community, and why don’t we have it any more? There are many reasons – the layout of suburbia, the disappearance of public space, the automobile and the television, the high mobility of people and jobs – and, if you trace the “why’s” a few levels down, they all implicate the money system. More directly posed: community is nearly impossible in a highly monetized society like our own. That is because community is woven from gifts, which is ultimately why poor people often have stronger communities than rich people. If you are financially independent, then you really don’t depend on your neighbors – or indeed on any specific person – for anything. You can just pay someone to do it, or pay someone else to do it.