How do we transition from the world as it is now towards localized, horizontally organized communities, which utilize cooperative economics, permaculture design logic and renewable energy? How are we supposed to bring people together when society is fragmenting? How do we stop the wars? Avert the unthinkable?
The first obstacle is psychological. Most of the population has been conditioned to powerlessness and fatalistic assumptions. This sense of powerlessness is disguised by a layer of cynicism, which frames the will to make a difference as presumptuous or naive. This weak minded view is quite popular, because it removes any sense of personal responsibility. If the outcome is already determined, then there’s no point trying. Apathy and cowardice can thus be played off as the wisdom that comes with age. This mindset must be uprooted and replaced.
The antidote is a moral imperative; a commitment to work for a higher cause, to improve the outcome for future generations.
The stakes are high. To be a passive observer during this chapter of history would be unconscionable. Even if the odds seem stacked against us, we must do what needs to be done. Taking action changes the equation. The odds can be turned on their head.
As isolated individuals our potential is limited. To prevail we must unify and mobilize a contingent. To succeed a new mindset must multiply; spreading from mind to mind like a virus of perception.
This commitment becomes the backbone of our decision making process. The role we play and the specific course of action we take must come from within.
Each individual has different skills, assets, liabilities and constraints. A young person with little experience will have a different range of action than a teacher, a carpenter, carrier soldier, or agent of the state.
Some will speak out. Some will lead by example. Others will work behind the scenes.
Some will inspire with a vision of positive change. Others through acts of disobedience. Some will risk everything, lay it all on the line. Others will be cautious and strategic in their actions. Decisions of this magnitude are existential (or spiritual).
To set a positive example someone may decide to start a compost and gardening coop in their neighborhood. Another person may challenge city code by planting a food forest in their front yard. Others will leave the cities all together, and set up off-grid.
WARNING: Beware of those who advocate the initiation of violence as a tactic. This approach utilizes faulty psychology, plays right into the hands of those in power, and is doomed to fail.
In an armed struggle the establishment will almost always win. They control the police, military, intelligence apparatus, and media. They are waiting for you to give them an excuse.
Those who initiate violence are framed as criminals or terrorists, and are dealt with as such. The ensuing crackdown is viewed as a restoration of law and order. Potential allies distance themselves. Enemies applaud their demise. The general public looks the other way.
To succeed you must reach hearts and minds. Those who forget this relegate themselves to the dustbin of history.
Conformity and authority can be short circuited by a single voice, a vision projected without doubt, without fear. Use simple concepts, adapted to cultural environment. Repeat, reiterate, anchor with imagery, galvanize with emotion.
Like it or not, those who speak out and take action often find themselves in a position of leadership. This role must not be taken lightly.
As the system falters we have a brief window of opportunity; a chance to fundamentally rethink and restructure. If this moment is not seized by those who seek a better world, it will be seized by those who seek power and control.
Those who move their communities towards local resilience now, integrating the positive application of human instinct to cultivate a culture of peaceful cooperation and open source innovation, will be well positioned for the times ahead. In this way decentralized systems can be built in parallel, gradually rendering the current socio-economic paradigm obsolete.
But what would a minimal starting point look like in concrete terms? Could you provide some specific instructions?
The answer to those questions must be prefaced with a warning.
Society conditions us to await instructions and follow orders. This approach will not serve us here. There will be no centralized command, control or membership.
Those who are committed to improving the outcome for future generations must be guided by a sense of personal responsibility and initiative. We must be creative; act outside of the box. Don’t ask for permission. Don’t wait for someone to hold your hand.
You will need an ethic of perpetual learning, and a strong commitment to logic and evidence. The desire to grow and develop must be intrinsic.
For example if we start with local resilience, we have several points of departure.
Production: Learn how to find and / grow food in the region you have chosen as our home base. To minimize your dependence on agrochemical inputs will imply learning about things like compost, soil composition, plant families etc… Much of what you need to learn can be found in books, or for free on the internet, but for knowledge to become power it must be integrated in the real world. You will need to get your hands dirty.
Start with something simple. Plant a tree. Create a garden bed. Make a compost for your kitchen scraps. If at all possible volunteer on a farm. Pick up hands-on experience, learn practical skills, build connections.
Organization: Network through topics of interest. For example you could look up permaculture, organic agriculture, or re-wilding groups in your area or online. Look for events, meet-ups, physical meeting points. Crash the party. Ask questions. Make friends.
Listen to everyone, especially those you disagree with. Study their perspective. Look for points of resonance on core issues. Recognize and avoid unproductive points of division. To draw together a more tightly knit group from this wider network, look for a unifying cause or shared project. If such a project doesn’t exist, create one.
Learn how to work effectively with small groups, and cultivate strong relationships. For many westerners this can be quite difficult. Most haven’t been raised with an example of how to live in community. Most have never spent time in a stable, horizontally organized culture. It might help to study conflict resolution, active listening etc… Researching the culture and traditions of various tribes can also be informative. Ultimately your success or failure hinges on your ability to stay calm, empathize and find a win-win.
Exchange: Look for any opportunity to facilitate cooperative economics in your community. For example if you have built a network around food production, propose a work exchange. Rotate between gardens with the whole group volunteering for a day. Make it a potluck so that the host is not burdened by the experience. Make it fun so that everyone wants to do it again. Bring instruments. Light a fire in the evening.
These are just examples. There are countless angles you could take. Endless permutations.
Here is where the cultural modules unify to become more than the sum of their parts. The three components of local resilience: production, organization and exchange are more than just a formula to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and debt based money. Local resilience contains the formula to build tribe.
Peaceful continuity is a cultural module designed to cultivate (and spread) an ethic of peace.
Non-Aggression: If someone in our circle initiates verbal or physical aggression, or promotes war we each have the responsibility to call it out. Even leaders must be held to account. Silence is complicity.
Conflict Resolution: Deescalate. Look for the common ground. Be the bridge that unifies.
Consensus Building: Always work towards the best possible outcome for all. Intolerance and forceful behavior are signs of emotional immaturity.
A culture of peace facilitates decentralization. Violence and infighting creates a pretext for iron fisted order. War creates a pretext for standing armies and other totalitarian structures.
The scale of the mission is massive. Our philosophy of action must be adaptive. Keep it simple. Improvise with what you have. Improve iteratively.
It starts with a commitment. The will to stand up, speak out, and do what needs to be done.
Every step we take towards Local Resilience and Peaceful Continuity inherently improves the outcome for future generations. These are principles worth striving for. These are ideas worth spreading — from mind to mind like a virus of perception.
This is how you take your power back. This is how you save the world.
- Cultural Modularity - For an idea to spread it must be adapted to its environment. Rather than attempting to reach critical mass by convincing a population to accept a new, monolithic world view, it is far more effective to work with simple and compact ideas capable of bypassing cultural filters.
- Adaptive Action - Rewiring civilization is a large, dynamic project, fraught with unforeseen obstacles. Formulating a detailed master plan, to be completed in stages, like a car being assembled on a factory floor, would be a recipe for failure. To succeed, we must set small, realistic targets which can be rapidly attained; evaluate the results, and improve iteratively.