Reinhabiting the Economy

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/08/03-2

BUCHAREST – Serge Latouche, professor emeritus of economic science at the University of Paris-Sud, is one of the main proponents of “the society of de-growth”.

The need for a ‘de-growth’ society stems from the certainty, he says, that the earth’s resources and natural cycles cannot sustain the economic growth which is the essence of capitalism and modernity. He calls for “abandoning the objective of growth for growth’s sake, an insane objective, with disastrous consequences for the environment.” The need for a ‘de-growth’ society stems from the certainty, he says, that the earth’s resources and natural cycles cannot sustain the economic growth which is the essence of capitalism and modernity.

Living in Place

This “Orion” article and commentary conflate rationalism and scientific understanding with technology and capitalist exploitation. It assumes that because capitalism uses the language of science to justify exploitation of the natural environment, that it is science that is at fault, not an unrealistic economic system.

More importantly, the article fails to acknowledge theoretical and practical environmental work that has already been done, and is contiuing right now.

We call it Living in Place, or reinhabitory strategies, based on the work of Peter Berg, Ray Dasmann, Gary Snyder, Ed Abbey and many others.

Living in Place is akin to bioregionalism, that is, living in a place in full knowledge of the biological and geophysical cycles of the bioregion in which we live, and living such that we do not consume resources faster than they are naturally replenished, or produce waste faster than it can be naturally dispersed.

Living in Place is based on a scientific understanding of our bioregion, that is, based on observation and testing. It does not rely on spiritualism, supernatural beings, nonphysical reality or any other irrational belief about the natural world. The problem with belief is that it is subject to change at a whim, unlike science, which relies on observation and verification. Reality is what hangs around when we stop believing in it.

We can no more walk away from civilzation, than we can shed our skin. Our civlization is more a part of us than our personal identity; it transcends the individual. Our culture is what teaches us how to be a human being, and it is culture that persists in telling us dysfunctional stories about how to live in a world of finite resources.

In order to change our relationships to the natural world, we must change the stories our culture tells us about how to be a human being.

This is the work of reinhabitory strategies. This is how we relearn how to Live in Place.

Michael Lewis
Leona Gulch
Pacific Place