It is imperative that a very different conception of development should be adopted as quickly as possible. It is not difficult to imagine a sane, sustainable, just and fulfilling alternative.
This book provides a fairly short but detailed critical discussion of the nature of our basically capitalist economic system, its faults, why it is not just unsatisfactory but is leading to global breakdown, the alternative we must work for, and how to achieve it.
By becoming involved in the many emerging local initiatives activists are likely to be in the most effective position to acquaint participants and onlookers with the need to dump capitalism and build local needs-driven economies under local control.
The fundamental defining principle of a capitalist economy is that what happens is determined by what will maximise the profits, income and wealth of the few who own most of the capital, by competing in the market place.
The Simpler Way is an ‘eco-anarchist’ vision of a world where self-governing communities live materially simple but sufficient lives, in harmony with ecological limits. Central themes discussed in the following pages include a radical critique of consumer capitalism; the need for fundamental system change; and a transition theory based on building a new society from the grassroots up.
Despite appallingly difficult circumstances the Kurds in the region of Rojava are building a society that is totally different from the Middle Eastern norm. Very few people understand that this is the kind of model we must all adopt if we are to achieve a sustainable and just world.
The global predicament cannot be solved other than through a Transition Towns movement, and the emergence of such a movement has been of immense importance. But I fear that the present movement is not going to do what’s needed.
Few have made a more commendable contribution to saving the planet than George Monbiot. His recent book, Out of the Wreckage, continues the effort and puts forward many important ideas…but I believe there are problems with his diagnosis and his remedy. … the main goal is not a town containing nice things like community orchards, nor indeed one with robust community, but a town we run on principles of frugal, cooperative, needs-focused, local self-sufficiency.
This is a remarkable and inspiring movement in Spain, now involving hundreds of people in what I regard as an example of The Simpler Way transition strategy … which is primarily about going underneath the conventional economy to build our own new collective economy to meet community needs, turning our backs on and deliberately undermining and eventually replacing both the capitalist system and control by the state.
In Curing Affluenza Australian economist, Richard Denniss puts forward proposals to tackle “that strange desire we feel to spend money we don’t have to buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t know”. This disease of ‘affluenza,’ he argues, “is economically inefficient… the root cause of environmental destruction and… global inequality”…But in my view his diagnosis, as well as the proposed remedies, are far too mild to adequately deal with our societal ills.
It is likely that the coming oil crunch and global financial contraction will aid our cause and encourage more people to see the sense in localism and de-growth – but, until then, activists must doggedly go on raising awareness wherever they can. Even if it does not feel like it, every conversation counts!
We can and must shift to renewables, but there must also be dramatic reduction in energy consumption, rich world “living standards” and GDP.