Monday, April 16, 2007

Busy

Things have been busy around the property recently, I have rebuilt the hot house entirely, built a proper compost bin, bought two water tanks and got a lot of our winter vegies planted. I will post some pictures and other stuff I have been up to in the next few days but until then here is something I wrote the other day. Its grossly simplified so hopefully it is more understandable. I have made a lot of generalisations in it for the sake of space.

Civilization

Civilization can be defined by the rise and growth of cities. Cities initially arose around the Fertile Crescent a once lush area in the Middle East. The rise of city was a direct result of agriculture and the domestications of grains and several other crops. Because these crops produced large amounts of food in a small area they allowed people to form permanent settlements. As these settlements increased in size laws and governments became necessary to manage the large numbers of people in one place.

A convenient and accurate definition for a city is a group of people living in large enough numbers to require the importation of resources. As cities grow their immediate surroundings are denuded of resources such as timber or land on which one can grow food. As a result cities are forced to get these resources from a greater and greater area. Because the cities and in turn countries require these resources to continue if those in the surrounding area such as indigenous will not give them the resources voluntarily then they must take them by force. This pattern of destruction of land around cities leading to the destruction of indigenous for resources has been the hallmark of civilization.

Our civilization is built on agriculture and a narrow range of domesticated crops. Agriculture as it is currently practiced allows for a huge amount of food to be produced and exported to cities but this comes at a great cost. Modern agriculture strips away topsoil and nutrients and slowly but surely turns fertile land into desert. It is impossible to have our current cities without systematically destroying our land waterways and other nonrenewable resources. Traditional, sustainable forms of agriculture generally require people growing their own food where they live; this is simply not possible with out cities.

Since the industrial revolution we have become more and more dependant on a narrow range of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are now used to make all our fertilizers (natural gas) pesticides and herbicides (oil) to transport our food (oil) and to power our homes (coal). As well as relying on fossil fuels for our food supply all plastics and synthetic substances are made out of oil. If we were forced to give up our addiction to fossil fuels then civilization as we know it would be completely unable to exist.

As cities and civilizations became larger hierarchies arose to manage and control irrigation projects, cities and taxation. Religion and patriarchy also became a more prominent way of controlling people. In a city almost everyone we interact with is a stranger this makes law and social control mechanisms necessary to regulate our behavior. Interacting with hundreds of strangers daily we must suppress our inborn distrust of the unknown we must deaden our senses to the rush of new faces and sounds around us.

Our planet cannot sustain civilization as indefinitely, our land and oceans simply cannot go on providing food forever. Our current lifestyle and food supply is built on cheap oil, this must end if global warming it to be halted. And if we are serious about building non – hierarchical societies then we must limit our communities to a size where everyone is able to play a part in local decision making.

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