Inspired by a recent talk with Graham Smith (@kafkanarchy84) of Voluntary Japan, I decided to put together a collection of quotes from different books on Permaculture, specifically chosen with anarchists/libertarians/voluntaryists in mind.
While there are certain aspects of Permaculture that are closer to conventional (or perhaps radical) leftist ideology, I have chosen those parts of the text that prove that there is at least as much of an affinity with, say, anarcho-capitalism. Why? Because there is a great deal of interest – and worth – in the Permaculture canon: both as a means of greater attaining self-reliance (and thus lesser dependence on the state) and as a means of re-examining concept such as production, capital and wealth. And because if concepts such as voluntaryism and other forms of – true – free-market capitalism are to get anywhere, then people in these movements have to acquaint themselves with seemingly left-wing liberal-friendly movements such as Permaculture, and realise that there is a common language just waiting there to be discovered, with which bridges can be built between perceived “adversaries,” concentrating on more important matters than name-calling and driving each other away. If alternative “movements” such as anarchy and voluntaryism are to remain truly alternative and to remain independent of the carefully controlled left vs. right, republican vs. democrat false paradigm, then they have to learn to engage with those in other freedom, self-reliance, mutual cooperation and produce-based systems as Permaculture. If not, they well probably just be sucked into the firestorm that is coming, the flames of which are being frenetically stoked by those in the mainstream media and political parties.
The first book I have chosen is “Travels In Dreams: One Fat Foot In Front Of The Other,” the auto-biography of Bill Mollison (the co-founder of Permaculture). As you might expect, it touches on a great deal of different subjects (it’s far from being a manual), giving a pretty good idea of the nature of the man himself – by all accounts a quite exceptional human being – and, by extension, of Permaculture, its aims and its approaches. Born in Tasmania in 1928, Bill Mollison worked as a logger, a fishermen, a trapper, a botanist, and as an academic all before deciding to pack it all in in 1979 to dedicate himself full-time to Permaculture.
What, then is Permaculture? In Bill’s own words:
“Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Without permanent agriculture there is no possibility of a stable social order.”
And as for the movement that was to transmit this design system:
“It’s a revolution. But it’s the sort of revolution that no one will notice. It might get a little shadier. Buildings might function better. You might have less money to earn because your food is all around you and you don’t have any energy costs. Giant amounts of money might be freed up in society so that we can provide for ourselves better… So it’s a revolution. But permaculture is anti-political. There is no room for politicians or administrators or priests. And there are no laws either. The only ethics we obey are: care of the earth, care of people, and reinvestment in those ends.”
Oh, and another good reason for starting with this book: since Bill passed away last year (at the age of 88), the book has dramatically increased in price and become even harder to get hold of and to read (in fact, it was already out of print), so publishing this long list of quotes here will hopefully make up for that, allowing those would love to own the book for themselves to at least have a look inside…
“‘What drives you?’ This I find a common question. I guess I do work hard at times. I think they expect that I have got religion, found my vocation. No! Anger drives me. Fury. Not, and never, love or self-sacrifice.
The sort of anger I have is banked, like a great heap of coals under a skin of sawdust. If I get more fuel, more anger, I stoke it; I know that violence breeds violence, injury, injury. Feuds never end. Outright anger and terror stupid and ineffective, whether from the streets or the government agencies.
The anger is against the stupid way people in power handle problems, like spoilt children, like idiots. I have frequently called governments knaves and fools and I mean it/ There are good, current, de-bugged solutions to every modern problem. It needs only slight research to find at least 3 or 4 solutions to any social concern (drugs, homelessness, smog, pollution generally, employment, etc., etc.)
Yet these are not researched, not adopted, not even known. Our leaders do not act as though they want to help solve any problem but that of manipulating society so that they can stay in power, even if that means starting up a civil or external war to do so; to divide our society with ‘votes’.
We can all see it; we should all be angry, all in action with all our bodies out there. I am also angry that I have had to put down the work I love to do – watching natural systems – to do work to prevent the loss of these systems. In other terms, I can’t spend time with my family, because I have to fight, to give them a chance of survival. I am furious, and will stay angry while I am alive and I will work at real solutions until I die with sidelong glances at my beloved natural world. And I hope all our kids are angry too; their world is laid waste by fools, for greed or power. Fools.
Angry too that we have failed ourselves, have not used our wits, refuse to believe that we are heavily engaged in the last war of humankind; the battle to stop ourselves killing the world. To take on the guilt and go for the the job.
First feel fear
Then get angry
Then go, with your life, into the fight.
Scared, but more angry than scared.
I have a few, very tough friends; capable of a controlled anger that would take them forward against any odds. This is how I drive myself.
If you are not angry now, you must get angry by the twentieth or fiftieth time you see how people are treated by the sort of governments we have set up. Anywhere in Aboriginal communities, anywhere in black America, anywhere in the gulags and homelands, we are all terribly diminished. To go too often is to die of charcoal, burn out and become old. The anger stays, but the flame of life flickers low.” pp. 16 – 17
“Movements which evolve sophisticated hierarchical control (main religions) and which involve millions of people, keep their founder’s fame alive while they are relevant. They may last thousands of years, but inevitably decline and pass into history, leaving a lot of archaeological remains; some of which reveal a very different picture of the founder than the evolved myths of followers; it is these accounts of miracles and apparitions that in the end undermines the belief of the people; they may begin to look like cheap tricks in the long term; become tawdry, unworthy.
Religions and political movements live or die on the behaviour of their followers. We can be thankful for fanatics as they most help destroy their beliefs in the minds of others. If a political system or belief can produce a Hitler, a Stalin, a crusade, torture, or assassinations, who in the people want it? Such systems are an obvious danger to all people. The Charles Manson effect. The Waco syndrome.” pp. 18 – 19
“True fame is to so change things that it seems natural to everybody, but no one knows who thought of it.” p. 19
“A warrior carries no arms, but perhaps a coupe-stick to touch the enemy; his weapons are ridicule, taunts, words; for he seeks to humble his enemies with common sense. He would never develop weapons of mass murder, or recommend violence, for violence never changes anything, and his goal is change; If people come with him at times, they are welcome, but just never be necessary, for he or she has no right to endanger others, who may not want to die; who have not made their own decisions.
And a warrior must keep on the move, always appearing elsewhere, or at times disappearing, so that his enemies are always uncertain of his whereabouts, even his existence. He will often be reported as dead, but may in fact still live. Even if he does die, he may not entirely die but lives in those he has touched; they are as dragon’s teeth, and can spring up anywhere, and he looks out of their eyes.
Much of what he knows he cannot tell, so tells a little of everything in many places, scattering his knowledge so that it cannot be found but is spoken everywhere. If the warrior is a man, he tells some secrets to women; if a woman, she tells some to men. He knows all life is short, a shadow on the water, and tries to deal only in long term change. He knows he is never important, but that there are important things to do past his lifetime, so he seeks to leave messages for the future, messages that will float on the seas of time, roll off a thousand tongues.
He dreams that he has lived or lives, and knows life itself is a dream. A warrior is not an army, nor does he seek an army; he is humble so that he is underestimated or overlooked. He is dangerous only if he wants nothing for himself, so that he lives outside any form of influence; and only so much that he breeds other warriors who are themselves misty, dreamers of the same dream, alone, and invisible. He must seek not to change things, but people; and to change them to their advantage; to make the change towards a sane and achievable goal. And even if he only partly succeeds, there he has lived, and his dreams are others’ dreams. Even if his name and work are forgotten, he may liven the concepts of others; they become the dreams of the dreamer, and themselves will pass into dreams.” pp. 20 – 21
“[Permaculture] was perceived as subversive, because it didn’t have a hierarchy, therefore it was potentially dangerous. And people ‘were not ready for it yet’. At this stage, and until today, many institutions, always at private meetings offer to take it over and give it credibility. I think that they have lost hope of late! Can you hijack a good idea? Can you control a mutinous crew? Where do you get credibility?” p. 26
“Finally (today), with hundreds of itinerant teachers turning up anywhere, the system is beyond restraint. Safe at last, and in a geometric growth stage. We won. Permaculture is permanently ungovernable.” p. 27
“So we have a unifying, harmless, and beneficial educational message, which is all-inclusive, to convey to others. As Permaculture is open to new information, and to every person, it results in highly individual expressions or projects everywhere. As we are largely self-funded, we cost very little, and are not controlled by outside monies. Thus we are not subject to any external controls beyond our own ethics, or own will to act. As we are a non-hierarchical network joined only by volunteer or the user-pays principle, we have no internal status differences, and we relate as equals. As we never need to vote, we are democratic; each acts as they see beneficial.
People who want to complain about something are asked to set up their ideal system, not to attack or criticise others. A critic thus becomes somebody who not only let themselves in for a lot of work, but who frequently shoots themselves in the foot. As we teach students and encourage them to become teachers, we are self-generating and our numbers are increasing exponentially; and as our students have to pay for training, hey are self-selected and already self-persuaded of the value of such education. Self-motivated. It follows that poor teachers lose students, good teachers are well supported. The quality of education, although based on a common curriculum, is thereby preserved by student support, or poor teachers are abandoned by student derision.
If somebody is motivated to study for many hours, they want value for their trouble. Because Permaculture teaching centres or individual teachers are locally organised, where legal systems such as trusts or teaching institutes are set up, they are independent; and because anyone who has trained can set up such a centre, there are no unique preserves, no defended territories, no permissions needed from anybody else. This also is democratic, immune to control by others.
In effect, the whole worknet that is Permaculture system is world-wide, everywhere autonomous, self-correcting, open to information, includes all races, sexes and beliefs, and is self-generating and self-funded. Such workouts inevitably become their own nation, with ethics and information in common; information is freely passed everywhere, and both builds and energises the system. Such systems do not appeal to, and cannot be controlled by materialistic, hierarchical, power-centred, or secretive elites; they cannot be controlled by money, orders, or force. They are changed, in the sense of being better ordered in total, only by information. They promise in the end, to change whole societies and extant nation states.
Almost incidentally, the present Permaculture system is already the most comprehensive and widespread ‘aid’ organisation in the world. But it is aid without debt; aid controlled locally; aid without impoverishment, and with only minor reliance on material goods. it is also becoming its own education system, its own market, its own source of expertise, and controlling its own land base, with a great influence over land-use everywhere. We are idealists who believe that idealism is the only realism.” pp. 31 – 32
“As its the world around us, so it is with our concepts and habits. We resist changing these, and our mode of work. It frightens us.
That is why the apparent security of salaried bureaucracy is resistant to change; even to action. If you stay in place long enough, you may hope to see the bodies of your enemies float by. To do nothings to escape the chance of error, or blame; to be always ready to agree, but never to act. Many dictators have arisen on the basis of waiting for others to err, to be assassinated, or to die. Ineffective bureaucrats males the most ruthless of dictators.
And if we have spent all our lives doing (or not doing) our work in one mode, and a new mode challenges, then to admit we need to change is to admit that all our life’s work was misdirected, and it takes modesty or fear to do that. Sometimes, people (like myself) revolt against their work; if it proves to be harmful or destructive in retrospect. Life changes may then occur as a revelation; new ways are actively sought and tried. We give up our old ways and start again, no matter how late in life. And it is then that we are resisted by conservatives of all genres, who fear change more than they fear destruction or decay. Who prefer to live in a rotting house than to try a new one.
A great many sectors of society are stultified, clinging to what they know, inflexible. So it is that people can see threat in new ways of living. They express their fear by asking for proof that the new way works, or makes money, but they themselves have never had to prove that their way words. If it did, no change would be necessary. If agriculture preserved or created soils, forestry expanded forests, or industry provided full and meaningful employment, there need be no change.
If financial systems had funded such work, we would not need alternatives. But none of this is so; they have proved beyond doubt that their way of doing thins is bankrupt. They have set the stage for change by failing their duties to society and to the earth. ‘We will not change our ways,’ a British matron assured me. ‘Oh yes you will,’ say I, thinking of the mess they are in. ‘Your only decision is to choose which way to change; your life-support systems are failing, and that will change you beyond recognition.’ And so it will.
We must all, always, be actively seeking to change in response to information. Or perish in a mess of our own making. Any change is resisted by people. It is hard to see our own faults.
To make change you have to push. This does not make you popular, and may in fact make you a target for groups interested in the status quo; in preserving the world as it is (decaying rapidly). For many industrial groups, the throwaway society is profitable. For all agrochemical groups, poisoning soil, water, and people is profitable. It is profitable to sell unnecessary and poor quality products, and to keep some products food artificially low in price, by public subsidies. A well-fed society is unlikely to want change; this is a basic tenet of corrupt government.
The most profitable occupations today are those of armaments, drugs, gambling, and money manipulation. All are inherently destructive. Why is, do you think, that the ‘Fortune 500’ do not list any arms traders, drug runners, crime bosses, or confidence men? Where is all that money earnt? Perhaps they are listed, but give a more acceptable source for their wealth.
We are encouraged, mainly by advertisement, to take up the ‘easy’ life of debt. Your bank advertises those useless things that make you feel rich but become poor – at least my bank does. A holiday, a new car, a boat, appliances. Everybody talks about your rights; nobody gives you a clear picture of your responsibilities. So that every easy decision you make,creates another increase in your security needs, more ‘law and order’. Inevitably you too become a victim of the spendthrift society, part of the junk. Sold down the road of easy credit, easy life, rights without responsibilities.
All of this is only the debt deferred; we all must pay heavily in the end. Nature pays most, and if she goes bankrupt, we perish.
Then, start to fight for change.” pp. 48 – 50
“Sadly, we have to keep moving, one way or another, to earn our keep and to support our existence, and that of others. We rarely spend much time thinking about this whole drab area of our life, and often fall into work as we would fall into a sewer, more or less accidentally. This is, apart from apathy, often the result of our educators, who almost invariably urge us to become educated so we can apply for (or be eligible for) a good job.
This passive, even fatalistic acceptance that jobs must be applied for, that we don’t create our own work, is to widespread as to be regarded as normal, and from 80-90% of modern societies are ‘normally’ employed. That is to say, a large proportion of people have been employed by somebody, and for 40 to 60 hours a week, or more, turn up to do as directed, or to direct others. Many such people see no sense in their work; some feel oppressed by work; few people at any occupation that has real meaning to their own life. Even fewer can set their own schedules.
A few fortunate people profess to love their work, or just love any work; others will only work at occupation that they believe give them dignity, and where work has meaning for them, but most people, in their bitter moments, admit they work only to get money support their needs, and this is, in the long run, not enough.
‘I hat these people,’ confesses a nurse working for Aborigines.
‘Why, do you think?’ say I.
‘I am only here for the money, but they seem to have meaning in their lives, poor though they are,’ she confesses.
Why should they be happy, having nothing? When she has a lot, but is unhappy? Hateful! Devalues her life!
Of the 10% (say somewhere from 2% to 50% in different paces) unemployed, some are paid by social welfare to compensate for injury or hard luck; some just exist at a low level (a friend calls them ‘bottom feeders’), and some lead a rich but individualistic existence, outside the pale. Feral, free, independent, but at times, very productive; many of this latter group are my friends; I suspect I am one of them. If you ask them about their lives, they may find it hard to define their work in statistical terms, ‘a bit of this, a bit of that’. But they have one thing inc common; they work in accordance with their beliefs, lead the sort of life they think is moral, and they make their livings by their work; they are not unemployed, not coerced, not defined by others, not reliant on government or its welfare agencies. They have found a way to exist that is not usual in society, a niche of their own.
Farmers, hunters, fishermen, craftsmen, artists, and itinerants fir largely into the feral category; many are fiercely independent; all are difficult to organise. Also inventors, writers, some performers, clowns, and a few scientists out on their own.
And general contentment with work, ‘I wouldn’t be doing anything else.’ All my life, I have tried to invent my work, to do the thing I love to do, and if possible to make enough goods or money to live on, to may my way with spuds, fish, furs, or in the last resort, dollars. But dollars have never impressed me, no happiness.
A big pile of winter firewood, long strings of garlic, a bag of onions, a big box of potatoes, a tank of water, a clear day. That’s happiness.” pp. 129 – 130
“We have set up a system of government by nincompoops. Is suppose it is refreshing to think that when all natural populations are gone or useless, we still have bureaucrats to eat, but I suspect they will taste awful; deformed mental dwarfs.” p. 368
“Outside slaves, employees, and the socially-suffocated unemployed, lie very few people. They are even labeled ‘self-employed’, which is to say, unemployed by someone else, therefore not employed. Not employed people are farmers, (those without subsidies), fishermen, many small businesses, many artists (those without scholarships), outlaws generally, and weirdos who pursue their own path, and manage to live at it, like buskers or clowns. I belong in this latter category, and act the clown for my living. I also collect weirdos, and have many own them as my friends. It is a hard question to ask oneself: ‘If I associate mostly with weirdos, am I a weirdo?’” p. 418
“Politicians give lip service to family life, while destroying its milieu – village life. Financiers do not even pretend a social morality; few practice even fiscal morality, and governments provide their safety net. The debts of criminals and tricksters become public debt. Banks and their advice have replaced the power of governments; they in fact control most governments. Theirs are the policy decisions that are funded, non longer those of people or elected officials.” p. 422
“We owe our children competence, not amusement; reality, not a fairy world that never existed. The discipline of making or earning for themselves, not instant gratification. Otherwise, we set up expectations no-one can meet, nor any society, and eventually evolved a mob of useless kids who reject any sort of discipline and who want everything now; including cars. This is what most Western societies are building – probably including China ) no-productive consumers of everything. The advertising industry and sales-men generally, are not so much to blame as guilty of collusion on a grand scale. Collusion, that is, in disempowering and devaluing children as useful members of their societies. Game-players and rug-rats, underfoot and bored. Consumers.” p. 427
“… all soldiers must admit that civilians are more fun to shoot, and safer too. After all, in modern wars, four civilians are killed for every soldier, and it is much safer in the army than out. And now they arm the police (who were never trusted with weapons in wartime), and they shoot a lot of people, too; about 70% of all Americans that die of gunshot (and that’s a lot) are shot by police. Great fun for them, but as a cilia I feel uneasy, and finger my garrotte and club.” p. 440
“No policemen were armed in peacetime, but the whole community helped them out if necessary. Today, they are over-armed, and account for many killings and beatings in civil society; they have become distrusted and feared; especially in America.” p. 451
“As taxpayers and voters, we need to set up a monitoring system on our public ‘servants’, who can be more arrogant, and less competent, than a bandit chief. Why do we never require performance from our institutions; just that they satisfy the fiscal auditors. I begin to doubt that any public institution can carry out effective work, and here I speak from a global overview in such areas as ‘aid,’ agricultural education, and local administration. We need to put death dates on all departments, to clear them out, readvertise, start anew. Or we inevitably evolve stagnant inefficient bureaucracies.
My unhappy careers in public agencies (I include the university here) has left me disillusioned with political processes, and all such agencies are subject to political processes and pressures. The shade of politics scarcely matters; all bring pressures to bear where they wield financial power. I will not willingly accept any gift or grants from any government; dirty money indeed. All effective agencies, and in particular those pretending to aid others, should self-fund. It is hypocrisy to teach self-reliance and practice begging at home.” p. 507 – 508
“I start to wonder about ‘nations’, and think of those who call themselves nations, some of them wave flags, sing national anthems, profess patriotism (love of the fatherland). They areal, it seems, governed by gerontocracies; peevish, greedy, pitiful old men. One or two of whom in the whole world may be statesmen (Nyere? Gorbachov?), but most of whom are untruthful, cunning, hypocritical, ruthless, and truly unwise.
When I think of the gerontocracies, I think of the terribly repressive, wasteful, corrupt and cruel regimes of Papa Doc, Stalin, Hitler, Idi Amin, Ceausescu, Heneck, Pinochet, Khomeini, Marcos and so on; all would be forever; all nepotic; all with secret police and secret or ope torture and repression all with hidden wealth, all professing love of their people, all ‘patriotic’, all seeing themselves as fathers of their country, all describing other peoples as ‘worms’, ‘bacteria’, ‘insects’, ‘gooks’, ‘dogs’, ‘savages’, ‘unbelievers’…
What is a nation? We can take as basic definition, one people, one language, on e law, one way of country and custom. There are thousands of examples: Saomi, Basque, Irish, Kurd, Tartar, Ainu, Hawaiian, Shoshone, Koi, K’ung, Xhosa, Pitjantjatjara, Tamil, Aranda etc. None, or vanishingly few, are represented at any international body, yet are truly nations (they are not as yet, a United Nations, or we would have a very different world ethic).
All have been ravaged and are being ravaged by the mongrel nation states of the patriotic gerontocracies, the frightened mishmash of smashed tribes who make up modern states, easily led to war, easily enslaved by materialism, easily frightened by ‘external enemies’, and feeling the safety that a bully or coward feels when drowning a weak opponent, so easily led to kick the minority nations; their victories in this regard are horrific, like the victories of those who smash any indigenous ‘natural’ system and thereby reduce the sum total of human information. Sooner, or later, all such empires tear themselves apart in senescence, as a result of their ethic of cancerous growth. It is only necessary to endure; they too will pass.
One can travel among nations, for there are new things to learn, but to travel between nation states is to never leave home; all hotels, motels, supermarkets, shops, churches, castles, art galleries (loot stores), and materialistic cities are in truth one. When they war, it is a patricide of the patriots. God is on every side, and is therefore the true terrorist and aggressor. God, Marx, Allah, all are excuses to kill others; all are men.
When I came to America, I found no Americans; I found many ‘freedom fighters’; Mexican, Blacks, Hawaiians, Puerto Ricans, women, environmentalists, pacifists, and so on; surrounded by an hostile nation-state, fearful of genocide, but prepared to fight to survive if necessary, or if the cracked monolith of the state weakened. We see it in Russia today, America tomorrow.
I found, to my surprise, starving, hungry, exploited people sleeping 5 to a bed, landless people, homeless people,, undefeated nations imprisoned on ‘reservations’; broken treaties, endless and long maintained resistance, and a readiness for forgiveness if treated fairly and as a people.
From the hill country of Kentucky, to the col sub-artic basins, from islands to mountains, ruthless gerontracies over-rode the nations, the poor, and the misinformed.” pp. 528 – 530
“My first trip overseas as a teacher was to North America, when I planned to survive as an itinerant lecturer. Friends (American) who know, warned me that I would perish; I thought of myself as travelling into the belly of the beast. This was the country that contrived a war in Vietnam (which later involved Australians) and was roundly defeated.
This was the country of the F.B.I. with its silk-stocking-clad, kinky cross-dressing director, J. Edgar Hoover. Of the C.I.A., who casually assassinated elected leaders of other countries, and who ran heroin (using the Dugan Hand Bank in Australia) to fund themselves; also cocaine. George Bush was an ex-director; and they elected him president. The country of trials of radioactives, biological weapons and other systems of control, on its own people. Never mind, most C.I.A. people are retired as Vatican diplomats, or work in their ageing airlines or the drug business.
In this country, the mafia worked with the upper echelons of government, and were protected by public figures. and lots of people were shot by guns, the majority by police or federal agents; a lot of people have a sort of license to murder. And all Americans are very rich and ruthless; we learn this by watching their T.V. programmes, like ‘Dallas’.” pp. 531 – 532
“I don’t like places that have a lot of rules! It means that they don’t trust people, want to punish others.” p. 543
“I am developing a theory; if you get enough bureaucrats, you get vast unemployment because they never let anybody do anything. It is a lot easier to sit on your ares and take unemployment, thus generating more bureaucrats, who never let anybody do anything … the never-ending story. This may well be proved to the cause of the end of the world. It’s a theory. Has anybody ever reduced the need for permits?” p. 555
“Government subsidy of rice is becoming uneconomic as population grows; so ‘new’ families are not accepted, some ration cards are withdrawn, homeless and migrant people are ineligible, rice quotas are reduced from 25 to 15 kg per family. Politically, it is ‘death at the polls’ to totally end the scheme, but it is economic ruin to continue it. The government, helped by banks and insurance companies, has painted itself into a corner. Rice production falls, population grows, nutrition falls, irrigated lands deteriorate, and the drylands or rain-fed agriculture (traditional agriculture) remains idle, ‘uneconomic’ because fiscal policy, export demand, and misdirected subsidies has made all but rice, sugar, and wheat crops ‘uneconomic’. The few legume crops (local protein) still grown, are increasingly exported as ‘health foods’ to elites in the western world.
Unless there are dramatic, human-centred, sane policies, and unless political-economic policies change, a catastrophe looms. […] The time is rapidly passing to avert such catastrophe by adopting food tree crops, drylands water harvesting, local food-reliance; but such things are resisted by those growing rich on subsidies and exports, and these are the people who support political parties, and they are the large land-owners.” p. 594
“Of doctors, some say that they have a terrible need for dependants, can’t stand to cure, must always have re-visits. Of welfare officers, priests, grocers, bureaucrats. Come back tomorrow, we’ll fix it again and again.” p. 685
“The leader makes a decision. Go up this track, eh? And gets lost. All sit down, argue, someone else moves off. Success. New leader. Leaders are for sacrifice, blame, praise. Your sitting ducks. Like a politician in an emergency crisis, many lead from the rear, unwillingly, making bad decisions, one step behind the times. Reviled by all, compelled to be unpopular. Blood, sweat, tears, irrelevance.
Where the people go, our leaders may one day catch up. But if someone turns up with a leader’s flag, it is time to go home. They seek only to usurp, to gain glory.” p. 701
“Tyrants are demagogues, and all demagogues are potentially tyrants. They appeal to the least thinking, least tolerant, least sane, least humane, least responsible in all of us. And to the self-doubting; the simple-minded (final and simple solutions – kill them all); the destructive (smash it all); the sociopaths (report on them all); the victim (buy it all). Successful tyrants can voice the prejudices of dozens of minorities, and evolve all of them in crime.” p. 724
“In a family, one compulsive gambler was enough to reduce that family to poverty, on a level with drug addicts, especially alcohol addicts. As governments make a packet out of gambling via taxes, and as many parliamentarians in Tasmania gambled at the casino, and had shares in racehorses, gambling was also a problem at parliamentary level – a dangerous potential for undue influence existed, and probably still exists. How does a member of parliament vote when threatened with foreclosure of debts?
It is the same with alcohol; one of the worst (if not the very worst) of drugs, but permitted not only because most elected members drink, and actually have bars at parliament, but also gain because government taxes alcohol to preserve itself. A week or two with alcoholics would put most people off for life, but instead we get glamorous advertising and silly wine writing by yuppies. We all know prohibition doesn’t work, ant more than it does with cocaine, heroin, or marijuana.
The problem really intensifies when drugs are ‘illegal’, and this expensive. Fortunately for society, injected drugs become an easy way for AIDS to enter mainstream blood supplies and thus middle-class families, and today rapid de facto decriminalisation is proceeding in a vain attempt to halt the AIDS epidemic; there still remains the child prostitution, victims of poverty, and a sure way to spread AIDS to businessmen and clerics.
To keep drugs illegal, it needs judges, police, parliamentarians, and businessmen all profiting from them. Also, to keep them legal and taxed. The ‘drug problem’ is really one of graft and corruption in the ‘legal’ areas of society. Where neither punitive measures or taxes are applies, drugs are not a problem (marijuana in Nepal; opium when it was 50% of pharmacopoeia, before 1950). I think it was very appropriate that, when Parliament was being refurbished in Tasmania, it used West Point Casino as its refuge and venue. Why not the jail?
[…] So, to cure any drug problem, take Nancy Reagan’s advice and just say ’No,’ ‘No’ to taxes on drugs and the criminalisation of drugs, and the problem will disappear, together with a lot of rich people’s power base. Fortunately, we have democracy…” pp. 816 – 817
“One of the choices put to a staid committee in a ‘moot’ was: You are about to have a delicate brain operation, needed urgently. The hospital administrator tells you, in confidence, that only three surgeons are available. One is, unfortunately, an alcoholic, one smokes hash, and one takes heroin. Take your choice. If you are wise, and choose the heroin addict, why (in your democracy) is drinking legal, other drugs banned? Especially when we all drive cars and at least give lip service to non-violent behaviour, and more especially in the home. Violence on the roads and domestic violence is a by-product of our alcohol promotion. Alcohol is a useful relaxant up to a slight level, and a terrible disinhibit at medium levels. For some things we do, as we say, ‘we need to get drunk.’ Like going into suicidal battle or acting as executioner. The real problems arise when drugs are glamourised, mass-produced, and sold. When we grow our own, and try to keep it secret, problems do not arise. Modest consumption at low cost is the result. No-one desperate, no-one very drunk. And when I am emperor, this is how it will be. No advertising, no mass production, multiple home production, minute cost. No real social problem.” pp. 817 – 818
“That the labour of good people is spent in nonsense is obscene. That we pay idiots huge sums to debate nonsense is obscene. That they teach our children how to become slaves is reprehensible. And finally, that poverty or aid has become an industry, like lawns or horse-racing, is probably lethal to the earth. Think about it; and stop!” p. 830
“Political parties are like the suburbs, accepted only by the naive as permanent, very much like bad art-nouveau, like paper money.
I find them all incredible, the political parties of ridiculous men, failed and cliche-ridden orators, believers in the reality of our fiscal economy, ill-read, ill-researched, ill-blown. Ignorant of energies and needs, wedded to economics and wants. Like actors in rehearsal, self-supported and affected only by their own applause. Unreal.
Suburbs are the stalags of the industrial society, the wife-child minding camps of the 40 hour automata, the cemeteries of living women.
Seize the streets, the villages, the farms, reassert the power of the lettuce, the commerce of barter, the morality of needs.
Like parlour dogs, we salivate for dollars, not food, and live in our Housing Commission Skinner-boxes, white rats of the mass salesman, who are white rats of the white rats, the entrepreneurs.
You accuse me of being communist, anarchist, socialist. What are these words? A way for you not to understand me, hide me behind a label in your empty mind? All such words are of political parties, the betrayers of democracy, and I not only do not belong to any political party; I despise all of them equally. For they represent themselves, no-one else. Not us. It is true of all systems of belief.” pp. 832 – 833
“There are a few, but increasing private aid volunteers, and a few self-funded groups; they don’t have Toyotas, offices, or TV ads, but they do work with people, on the ground.Any group that educates on the ground makes permanent changes for the better. Very few do this, so they can still be well-paid overseas experts; if they tell nobody what they know, they remain experts.” p. 836
“Only people who live on the job and are part of the community involved, should be helped, and that modestly, to feed resources into their area. Local training programmes in health, nutrition, sustainable food and energy systems, appropriate housing, and community health, with local graduates, are the key to the permanent changes we seek. The costs are minute, for the benefits. If we don’t do this things, we don’t to help or to solve problems. We intend to perpetuate the disasters caused by such wowsers as the World Bank and IMF, FAO, Who, and all that lot. Not to mention USAID, AIDAB, and on and on… you can recognise them by the fact that they all use initials; they are from the beginning, obscurantists, and get worse every year. When we do get democracy, we can fix this up quickly.” p. 840
“Given rules, we must have courts, and gaols (jails). Societies without gaols, police, courts, lawyers, and the guillotine proceed by commonly agreed principles and natural law (laws protecting nature and thus the common wealth). Societies with massive gaols proceed by rules, prescriptions, by-laws, and a large set of ‘law and order’ industries; they rule by by-law and punishment, and must fail. In the end, such societies blame ‘others’ and inevitably, such others become a majority, and revolution results.” p. 845
“At least two sections of society like to criminalise plants or other innocent organisms. One group are the cattlemen, or horsemen and they define a set of plants that cattle don’t eat as illegal weeds, or even noxious weeds. They are greatly supported by the spray companies, local government, and agricultural departments. Condemn them to death; spray them dead. Most of these weeds grow in response to over-clearing and over-grazing; trying to repair soils and shut out the main destructors – cattle and horses. If we were all horticulturalists, we could perhaps spray cattle as noxious animals, which they now are in global terms.
In Australia of late, we have a big TV push on spraying ‘woody weeds.’ These turn out to be native trees, including sandalwoods, and are sprayed by the square mile. That they are worth much more than cattle, per hectare, seems irrelevant. That almost all of our burrs came in with cattle, horses and their feedstock is long forgotten. White-clad men in white trucks continually patrol our roads spraying almost anything; they are paid to do so by local councils. So our drains and rivers fill up with oestrogen analogues and poisons. I know this will eventually make all these men impotent, including the cattlemen and councillors, but expect that this will just annoy them further, so they spray more things. So it goes, a closing noose.
The other group are diametrically different in outlook. These are the eco-fascists and those displaying the Canute syndrome. If you remember, Canute ordered the tide to stay out. He got wet feet. Eco-fascism or infantility? Anyhow, the people who want everything to remain the same, and only indigenous plants grown anywhere. Indigenous to where? Not to the earth, but tot eerie part of the earth; to their backyards? If they, or anyone, tried to eat the indigenous flora that once grew in their backyards, they would (happily) either perish or mutate to koalas. Koalas, bless them, are harmless furry little things that eat eucalypt leaves and piss madly if handled roughly.” p. 846
“[W]e need to teach basic skills, even to take students for that specific purpose. Such humane outlets are opposed by the ‘left’ (unions) and the ‘right’ (exploiters and commercial interests). The very idea of even limited self-reliance is anathema to all extant political parties. They see regional self-reliance as subversive, all governments, since Cambodia (and Kissinger’s ‘Think-Tanks’) realise that constant destabilisation of the person, the family, the village, the region, and the means of production is in the short term profitable (loot being seized cheap or sold), and in the long term provides helpless markets for mass-produced goods, which being produced by robots and very large machines, needs less people every year.
Nations that devote themselves to technological efficiencies (Japan, Western Europe, parts of the USA) cannot exist without destabilised ‘regions of influence’. They need to be able to buy cheap and sell dear, and they can only do so if they have subject populations on the grand scale. For even 5% of the world to have choices, 95% of people must be subjected to a lesser quality of life. The panacea is (as in all Indian films) that the hero or heroine might ‘win’, might kiss a frog or meet a Fairy Queen, might (via the great leveller, democracy) become a president, and have their own secret service. Bullshit.
All we get from kissing frogs is cold lips. Democracy is a glamorous illusion, costing the earth to maintain, and carefully preserved for very privileged groups of overused political parties (those who already have lots of money and power). You have to marry into privilege to get it, and if you get it by accident, you must compromise to exist. Less than 10% of us belong to political parties.” p. 850
“I formed an inner determination never again to put myself in that position where my work was not applied; never again to separate myself from the public good; never to accept government funds that controlled projects and (by 1979), I left all compromised institutions behind to form my own institution, funded by ourselves. If you ask how Permaculture was formed, it was formed out of a long period of anger, and anguish for my country. We, at least, are free to research and tell the truth. No institute funded by the government can do this.
[…] All scientists with goodwill and guts should form alliances and research independently. They should be free to make their findings known to the public, and they only do this outside government funded institutions. It’s a hard life out here, but it’s a fighting life.” p. 861
Next in the series: “Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal” by Joel Salatin