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  • Eric Reinhardt
    ... From: Culture Change Subject: A Better Way of Making a Living For Humanity To: culturechange@lists.mutualaid.org Date: Friday,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2009

      --- On Fri, 1/2/09, Culture Change <info@...> wrote:

      From: Culture Change <info@...>
      Subject: A Better Way of Making a Living For Humanity
      To: culturechange@...
      Date: Friday, January 2, 2009, 2:33 AM

      Hello, we hope your new year's starting out with a bang!  But... (!):
      Our end-of-the-year 2008 appeal for your $upport has netted us only $30
      (thirty) so far.  What is Culture Change worth to you?  Please donate now
      if you have not done so in the past year. Use our PayPal button for secure
      online donating, at
      You can also send a check via standard mail to the address at bottom.
      Thank you.

      A Better Way of Making a Living For Humanity
      By Chuck Burr

      We are no more able to find our way forward living as Homo modern as we
      are living as Homo hunter-gatherer. Both ways are blocked. Living today on
      the infinite growth treadmill as Homo modern results in the death of our
      planet. Homo sapiens has exploded our population to a level that we can no
      longer run back into the forest to make a living like the Mayan did. So
      what are we to do?

      The questions is actually, not “what are we going to do?”, but is “how are
      we going to make a living?” First let’s rule out the obvious: we can no
      longer make a living as Homo consumer. Peak oil will put an end to our
      happy motoring and consuming lifestyle before we get the chance to consume
      the world.

      A new International Energy Agency (IEA) report shows the decline of global
      oil production has been recalculated at 9.1% per year, up from 5.8%
      earlier in 2008. The weakened global economy will buy us a couple more
      years, but after that the decline of world oil production will be far
      steeper than its rise. We started the last century slowly, but we are now
      running our fossil fuel economy full speed with the easily extracted oil
      gone and only the hard or impossible to extract left.

      The end of plentiful cheap energy will mean a reduction in the complexity
      of our society so significant that few today comprehend it. I wonder if
      President-elect Obama has any idea what is in store for us. Watch to see
      if restoring “growth” is his mantra when inaugurated. This year we saw the
      end of investment banking and the beginning of the end of suburbia in the
      form of the mortgage crisis. Peak oil’s curtailment of happy motoring has
      not even kicked in yet.

      Next, the experiment of the agricultural revolution fails, as it has
      created overpopulation and overshoot of carrying capacity via a "food
      race." The food race drives population growth with growth in food
      production; every increase in human population is met with an increase in
      food production.

      The agricultural revolution made us powerful, but it has also meant the
      greatest mass extinction since the end of the dinosaurs 65 million years
      ago. Just when we need earth’s resilience in her biodiversity the most,
      Homo modern is destroying it by converting what is left into human

      Combine agricultural-revolution population with peak oil and you get a
      nightmare. At the start of the last century, there were only one billion
      on the planet, today there are almost 6.8 billion. That means that 5.8
      billion people are here one way or another because of oil, and oil is
      about to run out.

      The obvious being eliminated, that we are not going to make a living as
      fossil fuel consumers nor as hunter-gatherers, how are we going to make a
      living in the future? What if I told you I had a way to make a living that
      has worked for 150,000 generations and it does not involve running into
      the forest?

      The answer is tribalism, or, as I describe in my book Culturequake: The
      Fall of Modern Culture and the Rise of Earth Culture, tribal communities.

      Tribalism is misunderstood by Homo modern as “living a hunter-gatherer
      lifestyle.” Hunting and gathering is only one way of making a living;
      there are a million other ways to make a living. The important point is
      not “what” you do to make a living, but “how” you make a living. Make a
      living doing what ever you are best at, whether it is on a permaculture
      farm or fixing bicycles, it makes no difference.

      Tribalism has over three million years been the evolutionarily proven form
      of human social organization. Bees make a living in hives, deer in herds,
      whales in pods, birds in flocks, and humans in tribes. There is no getting
      around it. If you think that civilization is the new answer, you are
      deeply mistaken. In the mere blink of an eye, 500 generations,
      civilization has brought the world the point of mass extinction. It might
      be working for a wealthy westerner, but it is not working for the other 95
      percent of the human population nor the 30 million other species on the

      Tribalism has two primary components that enable the average person to
      make a living from generation to generation without being stressed out or
      exploited. First, a tribe is simply a group of people making a living
      together. Everyone in the tribe does not even have to have the same
      beliefs; they just have to want to make a living together.

      Second, tribe members have a strong incentive to share what they have made
      or found with other tribal members. This gives everyone else a strong
      incentive to share as well. There is no one leader or boss as in our
      hierarchic agricultural revolution culture. Being the main scheduler, for
      example, is just another job. When food is scarce everyone goes hungry; no
      one keeps a surplus to him/herself.

      Generally, tribes are thought to be fewer than 150 people. British
      anthropologist Robin Dunbar theorized this number of people to be the
      limit with whom we can maintain stable social relationships in which we
      know each person. He suggests that numbers larger than this require more
      restrictive rules, laws, and enforcement. I suggest this number does not
      require a hierarchy; everyone can be an equal.

      So what should you do? The universal advice I got from older people when I
      was growing up was “do what you love to do and you will be good at it.”
      You will make the biggest impact with your life that way. Find like-minded
      people and find a way to make livings together that you all enjoy.

      Have no hierarchy; work from a group consensus. Produce no surplus; make
      just what you need locally and your population will be stable and will not
      be in overshoot.

      Do this and you give your children a bright future. The one great benefit
      of a tribal community is cradle-to-grave security. In our Homo modern
      culture, we “make things to get things.” In a tribal or Leaver culture,
      you “give support to get support.” It is a completely different story or
      cultural meme. Memes are to cultures what genes are to people.

      Also, by living a better story, we create a new cultural meme that is more
      likely to be replicated than our current modern cultural story or meme
      that, “civilization must continue,” and “the world was made for man.” I
      mean really, how poor a story are these?

      A far better story is that our children and we can make a living without
      destroying most of the other life on earth. The real exciting part is that
      not only can we survive, but we can thrive! We can thrive amid a riot of
      cultural diversity among different tribes all making a living differently.
      We will also be living within the natural carrying capacity of our
      surroundings; a far greater result than what we have today.

      So this is our resolution for the new year: To find “our people” and to
      make a living together. Maybe being laid off from building pyramids for
      someone else could be a blessing in disguise as an opportunity to walk
      away from modern consumer culture.

      Postscript: Use this winter as a time to catch up on your reading. Besides
      reading Culturequake.org, read

          Gaia’s Garden, by Toby Hemenway

          Beyond Civilization, by Daniel Quinn

          Dunbar’s Number: en.wikipedia.org

          The Meme Machine, by Susan Blackmore

          Overshoot, by William Catton

          Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, by Toby Hememway

          Culturequake: The Fall of Modern Culture and the Rise of Earth
          Culture, by Chuck Burr

      Visit Culturequake.org to learn more about the Culturequake book and the
      online Magazine. ©2008 Chuck Burr LLC


      Further reading:

      "A Return to Tribes" by Jan Lundberg, Culture Change Letter #114:

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