How Soon Is Now (excerpt)
We can repurpose our industrial and commercial system as a ready-made infrastructure to mass-produce and mass-market regenerative solutions for communities around the world, providing people with the tools and technologies to become self-sufficient in food and energy production. We already have functional prototypes in many areas. We can scale them rapidly and distribute them globally, just as McDonald's or WallMarts assemble and disseminate their cookie-cutter franchises. A global network of land-based and urban communities could function as training centers for the new planetary culture, inspiring young people, particularly, with a new vision of the future, teaching nonviolent communication, community organizing, distributed ‘DIY’ manufacturing, permaculture, as well as meditation and shamanic vision quests, and so on.

As a new direction, we can integrate the power and efficiency of the capitalist system - in innovation, marketing, manufacturing, and so on - to undertake a planetary re-tribalizing of humanity, supporting local autonomy, reconnecting people with their local environment, on a global scale. We would design and distribute a new socioeconomic operating system which emancipates local communities and gives people a basic subsidy, while supplying tools and education for resilience and self-sufficiency. We would use our global communications infrastructure to unify the human community, as a whole, by agreeing on a set of core principles, including peace and mutual respect.


Developing techniques for human beings to share, conserve, and use resources more efficiently is already a growth industry and will become a vital necessity in the time ahead. We are seeing the much-vaunted growth of the "sharing economy," but we have only taken the first, tentative steps in this direction. For many young people, ownership seems increasingly onerous, an unnecessary burden. Rather than possessing things for the sake of ownership, we want to be able to access what we need, when we need it.


Imagine, for instance, we use the geo-locating services embedded in networks such as Facebook and Google for hyper-efficient social cooperation, for ride-sharing and energy conservation, for collaborating on community projects, for getting tools to people when they need them. Imagine if this were supported by "time dollars" or other forms of community currency that would build and strengthen local relationships. Imagine if, as a goal of society, we sought to apply all of our technical skills to create happy, self-determined local communities built on firm foundations of transparency, trust, and mutual aid. Imagine that we liberate the incredibly potent tools we now possess from the deformations and constraints of the Capitalist profit system, and redirect them to awaken the planetary consciousness, coordinating the efficient creation of a sustainable, regenerative civilization.


We have already transitioned away from the traditional model of employment that was the basis of the modern, heroic stage of industrialization. What we will want to establish in the future is a social design where people are liberated, as much as possible, from drudgery, freed entirely from debt, and given the opportunity to explore their creative, productive, and spiritual capacities to the fullest, while replenishing their local ecosystems. Before we can get there, however, we must first turn our attention to the ecological crisis, and apply every means to forestall and reduce its impact, while adapting to the new conditions that emerge from it.


Gandhi proposed, "Civilization in the real sense of the term consists not in the multiplication but in the deliberate and voluntary reduction of wants, which alone promotes real happiness and contentment and increases the capacity for service.” I think there is some truth in this idea. We have given little consideration to the direction of our civilization, which seems an unstoppable machine with a will of its own. For many people, any contradiction to the modern faith in comfort and technological progress is surprising, even shocking. Given the option, however, most people might be far happier living with considerably less, if they could become more connected to nature, more integrated with community, with more time to share with their family and nurture their own inner development.

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