I’ve been meditating on this idea of the nation-state for a while. A gentleman that came to our Massachusetts Zeitgeist Day event in Cambridge last March commented that unless we get rid of the idea of nation-states, we will never have peace on the planet. I completely agree, and I wanted to just write a post about it as it’s been on my mind. It’s especially pertinent now, as it seems war with Syria (and whatever slippery-slope conflicts emerge from that) might be inevitable.
I got back from a 9-day immersion permaculture course about a week and a half ago. It was in central Vermont at two gorgeous sites, courtesy of Whole Systems Design. I will probably write some posts about it, but it might be hard because there are no words to describe how unbelievably awesome and empowering it was. But I had a conversation with another student, a Canadian, who said he really liked the fact that Americans fly their flag so proudly, as to him it represented the ideals of the Constitution. While I can’t really argue with most of the Constitution—it is a great, living document and one of the most progressive government foundations of it’s time—I can argue that it’s time to move past it and stop identifying ourselves with the idea of country.
As members of a country, we swear allegiance to something greater than us. That feels good and makes us feel we are a part of something larger, something every person needs in their life. But when we so fervently identify ourselves with this notion of country, we are doing so at the behest of our own interests most of the time. How can something controlled and commanded so far up the hierarchy from us, have all of our best interests at heart? It claims to represent all of its people, but every one of us lives within different circumstances and needs different things. There are as many considerations to take into account as there are people in the country. By defaulting to believe what your country (ie. the media, corporations and government officials in the Westernized world) tells you is best, you ignore your own needs and situation. The idea of hierarchy necessarily weeds out individuals needs for the “greater good of the country.” That sounds pretty noble, right? We all must make sacrifices so that more people can have it good, right?
Unfortunately, the way most of our nation-states work is that the majority of people make sacrifices that benefit the rich. Perhaps it didn’t use to be that way, but it is now. I’ve had several people mention lately in discussions how our economy is failing and it’s because of the welfare mother, or because people are working under the table and not paying taxes, or illegals aren’t paying taxes. And in every instance I almost lose it because they are either not mentioning or not aware of the fact that corporations have dodged paying their taxes in this country to the tune of $32 TRILLION dollars. That’s trillion with a T! $32 trillion dollars that is supposed to be circulating in our economy is sitting in offshore accounts in the coffers of GE, Apple, EXXON, etc. Most of these corporations ended up having an effective tax rate of 0. Yet every day many people think our economy is struggling because of people on welfare or illegals taking their jobs. So now you have the hard-working people of this country who are being taxed on everything, and they are angry about it (I understand, as I have to pay “self-employment” taxes on my work as freelance designer and it’s way too high). But their anger is directed towards the poorest and weakest, instead of towards the multinationals that are raping our economy. So, we make sacrifices and pay higher taxes and fight amongst ourselves, while the multinationals get away with murder (literally, in a lot of cases).
It is the same when a military general makes the decision to sacrifice some soldiers for the “greater good” of everyone (except, of course, for those sacrificed soldiers). It is the same when the rich accumulate wealth by cheating, manipulation and tax evasion, while those sacrificed are the poor, weak and homeless. Do we honestly want to live in a world where human lives are trashed at the behest of greedy psychopaths, whom we are told we desperately need because they “create jobs” and let their wealth “trickle down?” I haven’t seen many jobs materialize lately, except the part-time, no-benefits, mimimum-wage paying jokes Wal-Mart, McDonald’s and Macy’s are offering. I haven’t seen anything trickle down except suffering and mental health problems.
And now we have a new war looming on the horizon. From what I can tell, an attack on Syria is basically going to incite WWIII. I can’t help but think that that’s what the-powers-that-be want. How can it be otherwise? The people of this country do not want another war. Another war will not and cannot benefit us. We don’t have the money, no one wants to fight, and it’s all because of a “supposed” chemical weapons attack by a cruel dictator. How strange that Assad would pull this attack just a few days after the UN inspectors got there. How strange that the UK actually sold “chemical weapons” to Syria back in February (we won’t even go into the fact that these chemicals are the same that are being pumped into our water supply—yep, sodium flouride—I’ll let this video do the talking on that point). Our allies sell someone in Syria chemical weapons, then we want to go to war because someone used chemical weapons there (and, I won’t go into it here, but there is mounting evidence that the rebels are the ones using the chemical weapons and a lot of military personnel are recognizing this for what it is: helping Al Qaeda in a Syrian civil war). How dumb does our administration think we are? War is being perpetuated by the military-industrial complex to make war mongers money because that keeps the economy going. If you don’t believe me, read War is a Racket.
My point with all of this is that if we were not organized into imaginary nation-states, wars would be a lot harder to start and maintain. A few people may want to go bomb Syria, but how far would they get without the taxes, will and devotion of a nation of citizens? Let’s be honest: when it breaks down, war is waged by childish, arrogant man-babies (and a few women-babies) who have giant, wounded egos and hubris coming out of their ears. It is played off as a necessary evil for the good of all, but it really is a tool to keep these man-babies in power and for them to play out their recess wounds on the big stage. Why should we support this?
The question is, how can we possibly start removing our energy from the momentum of the corrupt nation-state? How can we extract ourselves from the machine of violence, and become resource independent within our communities?
Let’s all say it together: Everybody Permaculture!
If your livelihood is not based on this tired old nation-state and its charade of an economy, you are freed. The “U.S.” becomes a false god, revealed in all it’s miserable glory for what it is: an old, tired institution that no longer can help us and that doesn’t really care about us either. If it did, it would listen to it’s population and stop beating the drums to go to war. Our real allegiance is to the planet, the universe and all the beings contained therein. The phrase “think globally, act locally” rings true, especially now that we can think globally. We understand what that means, thanks to the internet and international travel and space exploration. Our consciousness has expanded to include the entire planet. We can finally see what effect our current way of life is having on the rest of the world, and we can choose to start extricating ourselves from the madness by producing our resources locally, cleanly and sustainably, all while regenerating our landscapes and leaving a better world than one we have inherited.
I want you to imagine many, many individual communities, feeding and housing their people with local resources and developing local, sustainable, steady-state economies with real produced goods and technologies. People living happy, thriving lives, working with their neighbors and creating a culture, a feel and a sense of place. Imagine these communities are all linked via the internet, learning from each other. Imagine open-source designs and ideas being freely circulated, patent-free, yet solutions are tailored to each individual and community. People are empowered with the concepts of permaculture to create absolute abundance for themselves, not sacrificing well being for some false “greater good” of the national or global “economy.” We can actually create a world where there are no losers, because there truly is enough for us all. For some serious experienced-based evidence for just what permaculture techniques are capable of, check out this amazing essay/response permaculturist David Blume penned in response to a woman who called permaculture “a hippy-dippy, hunter-gatherer, landscape system.” His facts and analysis about the astronomical yields and ecosystem-building effects the techniques will have on land will astound you. Not to mention his spot on discussion of why our Westernized system refuses to recognize that there are alternatives to giant, monocropped agrifarms. Here’s a small excerpt from the essay:
“On approximately two acres— half of which was on a terraced 35 degree slope—I produced enough food to feed more than 300 people (with a peak of 450 people at one point), 49 weeks a year in my fully organic CSA. My yields were often 8 times what the USDA claims are possible per square foot. My soil fertility increased dramatically each year so I was not achieving my yields by mining my soil. On the contrary I built my soil from cement-hard adobe clay to its impressive state from scratch. By the end I was at over 22% organic matter with a cation exchange capacity (CEC) of over 25. For reference, most Class I commercial agricultural soil is lucky to hit 2% organic matter…And I was only producing at a fraction of what would have been possible if I had owned the land and could have justified the investment into an overstory of integrated tree, berry, flower and nut crops along with the various vegetable and fruit crops. The farm produced so much income that I was routinely in the top 15% of organic farms in California.”
What I just wrote would blow a gasket of someone in the big ag business. It simply doesn’t compute. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is you and me all the regular people of this world get it and start DOING it! Let’s move towards a society where we don’t have some figurehead(s) making decisions for an entire nation of people that couldn’t possibly be good for all of us. Let’s move towards a society where we deal with our resource management locally for the most part, where we direct our attention to our communities and neighbors, where we no longer rely on the safety net of a hierarchical government that doesn’t really give a shit how we’re doing. Hierarchy begets inequality and gets people killed and trampled on, yet somehow we feel it is a noble thing. That is the lie of the current capitalistic system–there is not enough so we must work hard and see who comes out on top and the ones at the bottom must be losers and slackers. What a joke. (A great side note on hierarchical structures—they are actually killing us, via stress).
My husband and I are actually moving up to Vermont in about three weeks, to begin the dream of producing our own resources and living sustainably while regenerating and improving our land (which we’re still looking for). Trying to find an affordable place to do that around Boston is just not possible. Plus so many of my connections, family and social resources are up in Vermont that it seemed silly not to be up there. I was up there visiting my parents recently, and my dad said he had just installed a flag pole. I always thought I would never have a flag pole. But I’m possibly reconsidering, only if I can fly the flag of the Earth. Maybe a flag printed with Bucky Fuller’s Dymaxion Map. To me, anything else automatically creates separation, you and me, them vs. us. It reinforces the competitive mindset that our current economy thrives on. Remember: we no longer have to compete with each other. There doesn’t have to be losers. There is another way. Let’s take that human ability to learn and adapt and use it to expand our consideration past the self, past the family, the town, the state or the country. Let’s consider ourselves Earthlings and treat the Earth like its the only home we have.