From PEAK OIL HAUSFRAU
What I do in lieu of watching television
[Update: See TRIBES below]
Riots and toppling governments in the Middle East, states taking drastic measures to balance their budgets, oil and food prices rising. The implications of all this turmoil are enough to make me start breathing into a paper sack. I can’t affect what happens in Libya or Wisconsin, but I can take action where I am, not only on my (semi-) urban homestead but also in my neighborhood and city.
Our neighborhood is beginning to organize, starting with small, simple actions like setting up a Facebook page, organizing a LitterBlitz, having regular meetings and newsletters with helpful information (weatherizing programs, useful resources, encouraging community action), and applying for trees for a tree-planting. We also hope to set up a neighborhood patrol. Eventually I hope that these baby steps with will result in greater community cohesion and trust that can be leveraged to build resilience.
Transition OKC continues to work toward supporting and expanding our local food capacity – the ability to feed ourselves. We have been facilitating meetings of a group of local food advocates for the past six months to help strengthen the existing network of local farmers and food entrepreneurs. Our TOKC team is also planning to host a Permaculture Design Course in the fall. I have wanted to take a full permaculture course for many years and I’m excited to finally have the opportunity.
On a smaller scale, a group of twelve of our friends is working to develop our own small gift economy. We have banded together to help each other become more sustainable and resilient through this extended recession, with more trouble on the horizon. We plan to support each other with growing, preserving and storing food, improving our homes, helping each other build our small businesses, and sharing and gifting items among ourselves. It’s comforting to have this group to depend on during uncertain times.
Could chaos in petro-states lead to oil shocks, rapidly rising prices, economic shutdown, oil rationing? Could states slash budgets to the bone rather than raising taxes on wealthy corporations and individuals – condemning millions to homelessness, hunger and even worse? These are distinct possibilities, possibilities that we can deny, avoid, become angry or anxious and depressed, or do something about.
Although the scale and scope of changes that are coming are probably beyond our imaginations, even small actions can help ourselves, our families and communities deal with the future. We may never be 100% prepared, but any preparation is better than none. Any food storage, gardening practice, practical skill learning, any cash savings, is better than none. Any community building is better than none. You don’t have to have a perfect plan or the perfect urban homestead or the perfect group to get started. Just get started – or take your plans to the next level. Today.
One of our most fundamental cultural beliefs is this, that Civilization must continue at any cost and not be abandoned under any circumstance. This notion seems intrinsic to the human mind –self-evident, like The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Implicit in this belief about civilization is another: Civilization is humanity’s ULTIMATE invention and can never be surpassed. Both these beliefs exemplify the cultural fallacy, which is the notion that one’s beliefs are not merely expressions of one’s culture but are intrinsic to the human mind itself. The effect of this fallacy is that it’s almost impossible for the people of our culture to entertain the idea that there could be any invention beyond civilization. Civilization is the end, the very last and unsurpassable human social development.
No one is surprised to learn that bees are organized in a way that works for them or that wolves are organized in a way that works for them. Most people understand in a general way that the social organization of any given species evolved in the same way as other features of the species. Unworkable organizations were eliminated in exactly the same way that unworkable physical traits were eliminated–by the process known as natural selection. But there is an odd and unexamined prejudice against the idea that the very same process shaped the social organization of Homo over the three million years of his evolution. The people of our culture don’t want to acknowledge that the tribe is for humans exactly what the pod is for whales or the troop is for baboons: the gift of millions of years of natural selection, not perfect–but damned hard to improve upon.
Civilization, in effect, represents an attempt to improve upon tribalism by replacing it with hierarchalism. Every civilization brought forth in the course of human history has been an intrinsically hierarchical affair–in every age and locale, East and West, as well as every civilization that grew up independently of ours in the New World. Because it’s intrinsically hierarchical, civilization benefits members at the top very richly but benefits the masses at the bottom very poorly–and this has been so from the beginning. Tribalism, by contrast, is nonhierarchical and benefits all members with notable equality.
It’s out of the question for us to “go back” to the tribalism we grew up with. There’s no imaginable way to reestablish the ethnic boundaries that made that life work. But there’s nothing sacrosanct about ethnic tribalism. Many successful tribal entities have evolved inside our culture that are not ethnic in any sense. A conspicuous example is the circus, a tribal enterprise that has been successful for centuries.
Beyond civilization isn’t a geographical space (is not, for example, somewhere you “go and start a commune”). Beyond civilization is an unexplored cultural, social, and economic space. The New Tribal Revolution is our “escape route” to that space.