The future is Amish, not Mad Max

by Bart Anderson
Energy Bulletin
Interview Excerpts

A change in worldviews may be more possible than it seems at first. When conditions are ripe, people’s ideas can change very quickly.

During the last century, China went from a backward feudal society, to an epic struggle with a military invader (Japan), to an ultra-left Communist society under Mao, to a spectacularly successful neo-capitalist power.

For us to change to a more sustainable way of life actually is a less extreme transition than what the Chinese went through. Many of the ideas and technologies for sustainability are already developed. Traditional forms of sustainability are still present and can be revived.

A couple of years ago, I sat down with Julian Darley, co-founder of the Post Carbon Institute, and wrote our ideas down on a napkin. Our program, so to speak:

  1. Energy decline is inevitable.
  2. Big energy is not the way out.
  3. Reduce consumption and population.
  4. Start from where you are.
  5. Produce locally.
  6. Relish the power of symbolic seeds.
  7. Honor public service.
  8. Anyone is welcome. (non-sectarian, not promoting any political party)
  9. Hope and reason. (no rants, not fear-based).

If there were one suggestion I could make, it would be: “Take your time and go deeply into the subjects of depletion and sustainability.” In the light of peak oil, our common ideas about progress, economics, science and politics are in drastic need of revising,

Sometimes it feels like the words of the song: “Everything you know is wrong.”…

The old-fashioned virtues should be making a comeback in a low-energy world. For example:

  • Being able to be happy with few material possessions.
  • Self-reliance and do-it-yourself skills.
  • Loyalty to family, community and place.
  • Relationships rather than The Market.
  • Prudence and thrift.
  • Honesty, hard work and sobriety.
  • Some belief system, whether it be religious or political.

It does sound like a traditionalist’s wish list, doesn’t it? A strange thing happens when people begin imagining a world after cheap oil. One realizes that these characteristics have a survival value.

Keep reading The Future Is Amish at Energy Bulletin→

See also Transition United States


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