If the truth of where we exist is imagined as being the surface of an immense tabletop with every truth laid bare on its smooth surface and visibly linked together, then we would expect to see a clear view in every direction from wherever we stood.
Instead we arrived late and found that the tablecloth of consensus has been laid out over it. Though in places it is smooth and transparent in others it is crumpled and obscures the truth. Consider for example the 60% of humankind who require money in order to eat. Why is it we don’t teach the children how to grow food? Why is it not on every school curriculum? Why has it become so inconvenient to grow for ourselves?
Not really. The basics are easy to understand: after that it’s just practice. Growing a peach tree is no harder than growing a carrot. The tree may use a thousand time more space but it produces a thousand times more food with a thousandth of the effort.
To grow enough food to properly feed a family of 4 requires about 0.5 acre; dairy and poultry add another 0.2 acre; forest resources yet another 0.2. Add a bit more for housing and recreation, in total about an acre per family. Although city families may live on a tenth of that actually they’re paying for the whole acre through the food they’re buying in. But they’re trapped.*
Not only have people forgotten how to garden but most have never known what life was like when it was the norm. Now we, the traffic-people, having reverted to hunter-gatherers, swarm out to collect the banker’s self-rotting fungus in order to swap it for whatever we can get. Trapped by our junk, tribalised by our pettinesses, sighing now and then at the moon sighted through our windscreen.
End of history?
Top down neo-liberalism has essentially failed but nobody knows what to replace it with. No need they say… though stretched over the barrel of globalisation in our self-admiration we see our scientific materialism, with all its digitalia, as the pinnacle of sophistication on this planet – i.e. a more advanced civilisation only requires better technology and better policy. But that’s just a crinkle in the tablecloth of consensus, which, just like neo-liberalism itself, needs to be straightened out from the grassroots up.
Vector your Gardening
Gardening is everywhere sold as a way to save money, to eat better, to save the planet – mostly by people who are trying to make a living out of it themselves. Forget that, accept the convenience of industrial food from nowhere at supply-chain controlled prices. Hopefully, moving away that will become a real option, but right now gardening is the tool of choice for healing our broken society, to fill the moral gap left by our neo-liberal fall, to reinstate sharing. Share the food certainly, but especially share the plants which are yet to become that food. Grow plants and seedlings to give them away. It’s an easy hobby, and people don’t forget who it was who gave them.
It’s a simple step, one which lies the same direction as discovering a love of the land inside you, as finding your sense of place in the larger order of things, as creating civilisation based on freedom and abundance. The things you see around you now do not lie in that direction. They’re more about finding a sense of place in the smaller order of things.
Plants don’t lie. They don’t need a lot of care but they show it, and others will notice. You don’t need to tell people about your plan to change the world, just get on with getting better at it. And help others get better at it too, as a moral obligation. True civilisation rooted in true sustainability has a moral dimension. Empire is not a moral expression of civilisation.