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Autumn in the Wider World

Updated: Oct 7, 2019

Putting all the unpleasant nonsense of Brexit, Johnson and Trump to one side we have seen Greta Thunberg inspire over 20 million followers in 185 countries in protest against climate change. We have seen XR (Extinction Rebellion) continue to attract thousands of supporters onto the streets. We have seen varous scientific committees of the United Nations pressing Governments urgently to take action – not only on climate change but also on the serious soil erosion and degradation caused by modern industrial agriculture (and the lust for cheap food).

There is no doubt that all this fuss and bother has hugely raised awareness. Almost every large organisation which has an interface with the public is now making at least token efforts to show they “care”. But at a political and national level there is unlikely to be any significant change.

Yes – the protesters will demand new laws, targets and regulations and some politicians will change their rhetoric BUT YOU CAN BE SURE THAT NOTHING SIGNIFICANT WILL ACTUALLY BE DONE. The vested interests are too strong and the possibilities of change from populist democracy too weak.


Problem Number One

Despite the concerns and good intentions of the many millions of global protestors, they are really directing their anger and frustration in the wrong direction. Change can be made to happen in two quite different ways.

From the top down – where governments introduce new laws, taxes and regulations; or from the bottom up – where individuals change their own lives to achieve a greater degree of “right” living but also to “boycott” corporations whose activities they disapprove of.

Sadly I have seen no evidence whatever to show that the leaders of these important protests are encouraging their supporters to take real action to put their own lives in order – rather than waiting for Governments to act “from above”.

As David Holgrem (co-founder of Permaculture) has said (here)– the prospect of a political majority shouting for “less” can never work. It is very sad that the leaders of these mass protest movement have not yet realised this! How long, I wonder, will we have to wait until a new type of “protest” organisation appears where the members themselves pledge to take action independent of government.

Problem Number Two

The changes we need to have to avoid soil degradation and climate change can NEVER be achieved just by using the old policy tools of taxation and regulation. Our profit seeking corporations, our banks creating money from debt and our politics based on populism must always continue to predate on Earth's resources in order to survive.

It is our cultural systems which we need to change not simply our laws. It is true that, thank goodness, XR has included a demand for “sortition” to replace populist democracy. But this is the only ray of hope on the horizon.

No real progress can be made until our institutions of banking, money, corporations and “democracy” have been completely reformed. There is still very litte sign anywhere (in the media, art or academia) that this vital reality has yet been recognised.

(You can check out “sortition” at

There is very little sign that any creative thinking is being directed to the next generation of cultural institutions which might be life enhancing rather than life threatening.

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