Hi everybody it would be very interesting to hear your views on this proposition:
The western world should gradually reduce the working week to 24hrs max, the possible benefits: Sharing out the available work and reducing unemployment; giving people more time to pursue and plan community events; More time to spend with children/family; Time to help old or disabled family members; Increased time to do voluntary work; Creating a less materialistic society; Time to pursue crafts, cooking, allotments, creative crafts. Basically, moving away from the materialistic consumer society of today towards a more spiritual people centred sustainable society..... Eventually the 1st world will have no choice because of resource depletion, growing demand from the “emerging nations” world population growth, but most of all the forecasted gradual reduction of the worlds primary energy source, Oil...
Many thanks for this. I like your propositions. I also agree that the issues seem to have their own momentum, and are bearing down on our current way of life as imperatives rather than lifestyle choices.
I find myself struggling to make sense of the contradictions that the idea of sustainability throws up. I suppose I would say that for me the ground we stand on is that our current way of life - industrial civilisation - is not and never has been sustainable. Increasingly, I tend to prefer words like recuperation or reorientation to sustainability.
The word sustainability is, for me, closely tied to a list of things we 'should' be doing to take the emerging crises in hand. The list tends to be of things that are all good in themselves, and I agree we should indeed be doing them to the best of our ability. I'm just not sure they represent a realistic plan to turn around the juggernaut of industrial civilisation.
I think we need a more unconditional basis from which to build such a cultural recuperation - perhaps basing our choices on faith, rather than on hope? For many, hope tends to collapse into despair, as we learn of the sheer scale of the problems.
The only bit I didn't agree with in your proposition was the idea of a 'people centred sustainable society'. I think the current crises are in part to do with our having created a people-centred society. What would it mean to work towards an earth-centred society? Among other things, for me, that idea implies an awareness of our radical dependency on the complex life-systems that we are embedded within, and of which we are neither the centre, nor the apex.
The many human societies that have lived upon their particular land-bases for tens of thousands of years - or more - show that unsustainability is not a given for human communal life, and that this kind of relatedness to that which sustains us is possible.
I think we have much to learn from indigenous culture. Its where we came from, and I'd suggest its where we will return to, sooner or later. Whoever 'we' might be when we get there.
Namo Amida Bu
Greetings Mat. I feel we are not serving people or the planet. The externalization of cost and debt against the interest of vast majority and the planet is happening because of misunderstanding of the nature of currency and privatization of credit and money generation. We cannot go back to indigeneous way of living but we surely can learn from them how to live in harmony with other people and nature. Is there any talk in UK about breaking free from privatized debt-based money system (most people do not know), corporate power and role of money in politics. I live in US, but the money and market systems are pretty much same in much of globalized post-colonial world.
Hi Susmita, thanks for this.
I'm sure you're right, yes - we can work towards that, to whatever version of that we bring forth in our shared lives - and many people are out there doing just that already.
What that means will always be a work in progress I suppose. I agree we cannot 'go back'...not seven billion of us anyway. But perhaps we can learn from cultures that offer other ways of living, and begin to sow seeds of an alternative to consumerism.
I sometimes think that we are short on hope because the media doesn't really reflect the rich diversity of responses to the cancer of debt-based economic growth that are going on in the world, all over the world, already.
Hope is like a road in the country;
there never was a road,
but when many people walk on it,
the road comes into existence.
Namo Amida Bu
Steven, that sounds like the direction we need to go. However, would the western world accept the paycut and simple living that comes with 24hr work week? How to equalize and decentralize concentration of wealth and reduce poverty and inequity?
What do you think of Basic living grant (Income) for all for a day or 12 hours of community work?
The biggest problem/obstacle is the cost of housing, 25 years of indentured labour, and the regulations (planning etc) that keep people tied into the system.... rental is not an answer either, too many buy to let leaches competing with the first time buyers pushing prices ever higher out of their reach.. Average first time buyer now is 29 years in England, 30+ in the South East, and the extortionate rents they have to pay prevents them saving for the deposit...
But the real problems will come from without...
A perfect storm.... Peak oil and peak almost every other commodity we have become reliant on for the current society along with climate change and a rocketing world population.... 21st century will not be an easy one! Unless we change we will create such a divided society that civil unrest will almost be inevitable, what work there is needs to be shared out... Let us hope we adapt before the train hits the buffers!