Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad? Tá deireadh na gcoillte ar lár
What will we do in the future without wood? The end of the forests has come.
Feasta‘s aim is “to identify the characteristics (economic, cultural and environmental) of a truly sustainable society, articulate how the necessary transition can be effected and promote the implementation of the measures required for this purpose”. (http://www.feasta.org).
Today the challenges seem greater than ever. How can the human species learn to live in harmony with the Earth, the rest of the natural world and with each other? For the last 15 years the Retreat Lodges at Rossbeigh, Co Kerry have proved to be a good place to think and talk about these issues: built with stone walls and a slate roof, the windows look out over tidal marshes and sand-dunes to the forty-mile long Dingle Peninsula and across Dingle Bay to the Blasket Islands and the Atlantic.
John Jopling is now re-launching the week-long Feasta residential courses held here for the last 16 years. The following programme is proposed:
- Series title: “Learning for the Future”.
- The courses will be held once a year – possibly increasing to twice a year
- They will ideally be announced 6 months ahead, naming subjects and key people.
- The first week in the new format will be the last week of June 2017.
- Each week will feature three or four main subjects.
- Each subject will be led by a key person.
- There will be 8 or 10 other participants.
- In addition there will be time for single session topics using “Open Space”.
- These might include talks about eg local wildlife.
- and/or ideas people are working on.
- Reading matter may be circulated to intended participants in advance.
Relevant topics could include:
- Gaia, Dark Mountain, systems-change and emergence, the Viable Systems Model.
- Climate change, biodiversity, the interdependence of species, other global boundaries.
- governance systems and economic systems such as De-growth
- the role of compassion and non-violence.
- commons, localisation, global citizenship, community ownership, co-ops, co-housing, community currencies, permaculture.
- topics such as wealth, inequality, ownership, corporate structures, money, taxes, citizens income, energy, cities, nano-technology.
Please feel free to suggest other topics – but be prepared to present them and/or suggest people who will, as the guarantee of well prepared discussions by people with expertise is important to making the courses a success.
The event explored a new practical solution to global inequality and poverty. Feasta’s Caroline Whyte, who is involved in the CapGlobalCarbon campaign, was on a panel discussing practicalities.
By the time Zerbanoo’s newsletter arrived, there had been a decision which dashed the dreams of Chagossians.
She recalls that the Feasibility Study of 2002 was finally discredited in 2012 but immediately Wm.Hague announced a new one which reported in 2014 that there was no obstacle to resettlement. Then in June 2016 the Supreme Court decided that any failure to follow the new study could be attacked in Court as “irrational” and gave leave to challenge the Marine Protected Area which Wikileaks had disclosed was intended to prevent resettlement. This followed a decision of a UN Maritime Tribunal which held the MPA unlawful because it did not respect the rights of Mauritius as a neighbouring state and one with residual sovereignty rights to Chagos. The UN required Britain to start negotiations over the return of sovereignty of the islands to Mauritius.
Her husband Richard had been giving legal services pro bono for 20 years since meeting exiled islanders in Mauritius and the first court victory in 2000 led to premature hopes of a humane solution. Zerbanoo commented ruefully: “But foreign policy is not changed so easily, and FCO had many tricks up their sleeve, requiring two decades of court cases and parliamentary oversight to turn the tide and bring the islanders back home. The effects of the 9/11 attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were all deployed to defeat resettlement”.
Shamefully, Chagos islanders who were expelled in the 1960s to make way for military bases will not be allowed to return to their Indian Ocean homes, the British Foreign Office announced in November 2016, citing the UK’s interest in its “defence relationship” with the US.
Reacting to the decision, David Snoxell, who was deputy commissioner for British Indian Ocean Territory in the 1990s, said: “A small-scale resettlement could have been tried and 15 years of deception, litigation, wasted public funds and damage to the UK’s human rights reputation avoided. Judges at all levels have deplored the treatment of the Chagossian population since 2000. I cannot recall any other issue, at least in the 35 years that I was in the diplomatic service, which has so let down the FCO, undermined our ethical standards, been so carelessly and unsympathetically handled and caused so much unnecessary anguish than this one. I still feel ashamed at the way the FCO has treated and tricked a people whom we had a sacred duty to protect.”
The US is to be granted a further 20-year lease to use the military base on the largest island, Diego Garcia, when it comes up for renewal at the end of this year.
Later, in Part 2, Zerbanoo’s news of cheering work at the Asha Centre.
Dear friends, Donald Trump’s candidacy – with its simplistic policy positions and its undercurrent of racism and sexism – left most of us believing he couldn’t possibly win. Now his victory is a visceral shock from which many have still not recovered. To better understand what happened – and why – we need to broaden our horizons. If we zoom out a bit, it becomes clear that Trump is not an isolated phenomenon; the forces that put him in the White House have been growing throughout the Western world for some time. Earlier this year, the Brexit vote in the UK was also based on fear and narrow-minded nationalism, not on a sophisticated critique of EU economic policy.
Right-wing extremism is on the rise in many other parts of Europe; even in my native country of Sweden, where racism was all but absent during my younger years. If we zoom out even further, a broader pattern emerges. Almost everywhere in the world, unemployment is increasing, the gap between rich and poor is widening, environmental devastation is worsening, and a spiritual crisis – revealed in substance abuse, domestic assaults, and teenage suicide – is deepening.
By looking from a global perspective it becomes apparent that these many crises – including the rise of right-wing sentiments – share a common root cause: an increasingly corporatized and globalized economic system that is devastating not only planetary ecosystems, but the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
Over the last three decades, governments have unquestioningly embraced “free trade” treaties that have enriched global corporations while impoverishing their own citizens. By allowing corporations to move unfettered around the globe in search of the lowest wages, these treaties have put workers throughout the industrialized world in competition with workers in the global South who will accept a fraction of a dollar per hour. This is not a contest that workers in the North can win. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) resulted in a net loss of 680,000 American jobs, and the Permanent Normal Trade Relations deal with China led to a net loss of another 2.7 million jobs. These job losses are a direct result of increasing global competition through corporate deregulation.
At the same time, the infiltration of big business throughout the global South – most often with the support of national governments and backed by international financial institutions – has eliminated many of the livelihoods that local economies in those countries once provided. With locally-adapted ways of life systematically undermined by economic policies geared towards the big and the global, millions of desperate people in the South find themselves with just two options: to accept minimal wages and appalling working conditions in industrial metropolises, or to migrate. It is estimated that, as a direct result of heavily subsidized corn flooding the Mexican market under NAFTA, 2.4 million small farmers were displaced, and subsequently funneled into crowded urban centers or across the border to the US.
So the loss of jobs in the US and the migrant crisis in the South are two sides of the same coin. But instead of looking at the flawed rules of the global economy that are behind both problems, people have been encouraged to point the finger at the cultural “other”. As worldwide competition for increasingly scarce jobs has increased, so have divisiveness, fundamentalism and racism.
Until recently, corporate-funded media and think tanks have steered both grassroots activism and high-level policy-making away from consideration of the economic root cause of our social and ecological problems. The global economy was treated as “evolutionary” or inevitable, and the policies promoting it went unquestioned; the crises escalated, and the only ‘solution’ offered was to double down on more of the same: more economic growth, more development, more deregulation. As people’s lives and the natural world deteriorated, it’s no surprise that disenchantment with the political process became widespread.
Nonetheless, the trade treaties – notably the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – were a hot topic during the recent American elections. First and foremost, this represents an important victory for the people – for the grassroots – whose voice is finally being heard. While the mainstream media has propped up Donald Trump as the figurehead of opposition to the trade treaties, we need to keep in mind that the first cross-sector demonstration against the TPP in the United States was in June 2010 — five years before Trump announced his candidacy. Resistance to the trade treaties has come from diverse people’s movements from around the world, and is growing stronger day by day.
Corporate rule is not only impoverishing people worldwide, it is fuelling climate change, destroying diverse ecosystems and cultures, undermining community and accelerating the spread of consumerism. These are undoubtedly scary times. Yet the very fact that the seemingly distinct crises we face are linked can be the source of genuine empowerment. Once we understand the systemic nature of our problems, the path towards solving them – together, rather than one by one – becomes clear. And that’s why the anti- trade treaty movement has been dubbed “the movement of movements”. By targeting the trade treaties and campaigning for the re-regulation of global businesses and banks, we not only resist the increasing corporatization of our planet, but actively begin to reverse the negative effects of economic globalization in our own communities. We can start to bring the economy home – to localize – by reweaving the social and economic fabric at the local level.
In many areas of the world, from the USA to India, from China to Australia, people are beginning to do just that: they are forming local business alliances, starting local finance initiatives, exploring locally-based education and energy schemes, and, most centrally, building a local food movement. All of these efforts are based on the principle of connection and the celebration of diversity.
In communities around the world, the profound environmental, economic, social and even spiritual benefits of reconnecting locally are becoming clear for all to see. As the scale and pace of economic activity are reduced, anonymity gives way to face-to-face relationships, and to a closer connection to Nature. The bonds of local interdependence are strengthened, and a more secure sense of personal and cultural identity begins to flourish. People feel connected to others, rather than in competition with them.
At the same time, localized economies are good for the environment: they increase the number of jobs not by increasing consumption, but by relying more on human labor and creativity and less on energy-intensive technological systems – thereby reducing resource use and pollution. And shifting from global to local promotes “re-wilding” and the restoration of biodiversity.
By spreading economic and political power among millions of individuals and small businesses – rather than in a handful of corporate monopolies – localization also has the potential to revitalize the democratic process. Political power is no longer some distant impersonal force, but is instead rooted in community.
Localization is sometimes painted as elitist – another plum for the already privileged peoples of the global North, but offering little for the less prosperous South. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it is only by weaning themselves from dependence on an exploitative global market while increasing national and regional self-reliance that countries in the global South will be able to find lasting prosperity.
Moving towards the local requires more than simply working on the ground within our own communities: we also need to do the hard work of pushing for change at the national and global levels. Treaties need to be re-written, regulations amended, taxes and subsidies reassigned, environmental and human rights strengthened. Unlike the narrow isolationism sought by Donald Trump, opposition to globalization requires cross-border cooperation, while revitalizing local economies demands collaboration and a willingness to learn from others.
The American people have made it perfectly clear that they want fundamental change. Trump may offer the illusion of such change, but little more. Our task now is to show that there is a genuinely different way: a path towards wholeness and sanity. The rapidly-growing localization movement is an unstoppable force. It is still in its early days, but it is already providing hope and sustenance to millions of people around the world. Together, we will keep that hope alive.
One evening in July, under cover of the fading light, Tracy climbed over a wall to get into the grounds and corrugated iron sheds of a small farm in the English countryside. With a cameraman, she waited until dusk. They hoped the farm workers had clocked off by then, but couldn’t be sure. If caught, they faced being prosecuted for trespassing.
It was a nerve-racking mission, but one worth taking to shine a light on the sickening conditions in which pigs are being kept in Britain. Their findings were recorded in photographs which may be seen here.
Pig factories taking advantage of cheap labour and lax welfare laws are pushing British farmers to the wall
Tracy points out that much of the pressure to cut costs is driven from abroad. The fact is that bacon sold as British is often not British at all. Some 54% per cent of our pork is imported – mostly from pig factories in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands – and made in conditions that would be illegal here.
In Chile, she filmed the local people’s successful battle to close the world’s biggest pig farm, housing 2.5 million animals. These cheap imports from giant corporate animal factories undermine British farmers who, with higher welfare standards and smaller farms, cannot compete. Cutting corners in animal welfare becomes the only option to avoid bankruptcy. In the past 15 years Britain has lost half of our sow population, with many small and medium-size farms being forced to close.
Increasing human resistance to antibiotics
Animal factories also pose a serious risk to human health. Keeping animals in unnatural and unhygienic conditions promotes disease, so factory pigs are routinely given doses of antibiotics. Alarmed at increasing human resistance to antibiotics, doctors and hospitals are cutting back. But at the same time their use by factory farms is increasing. In the UK, 45% of antibiotics sold are to treat animals. In the US more than 80% of all antibiotics are used by agribusiness. This is fuelling the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and making some human diseases more difficult to treat.
Buy one and half sausages from a farm where they are raised humanely for the same cost as two sausages from a factory-farmed pig
Yet we can act. By using our power as consumers, we can choose pork that carries the RSPCA Assured label, is free range, outdoor bred or organic – and change the system. The power is in our purse. Two sausages from a factory-farmed pig costs the same as one and half sausages from a farm where they are raised humanely. Surely avoiding animal cruelty and saving antibiotics is worth half a sausage?
Like networker Colin Hines, she points out that the government could impose high tariffs on cheap imports to guarantee the British farmer a fair price, but it is reluctant to do so. That leaves it up to you and me, the consumers. Buying higher-welfare meat ensures the survival of our farmers.
Tracy Worcester ends: “I grew up in the countryside near farmers who loved their animals. I know that if it were economically viable, farms like the one I visited last week would prefer to treat their animals well . . . Each time we buy pork we vote for the system that produced it. Vote for pigs raised in this country on farms where they are allowed to roam and feel the sun on their backs, and where our farmers receive a fair price for good animal husbandry.
Read more about her campaign: http://farmsnotfactories.org/
A forthcoming Schumacher College course on the work of David Fleming. Course dates: Monday, 6 February, 2017 to Friday, 10 February, 2017
“How should we live?” “What work should we do?” “How can we resource ourselves and each other?” It’s time to reclaim these questions from the economists. Sparked by the posthumous publication of Dr. David Fleming’s extraordinary book Surviving the Future: Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy (link is external), we invite you to an exploration of what ‘lives well-lived’ look like in this time of transition.
Fleming’s work highlights that “most of human history was bred, fed and watered by another sort of economy. But the market has replaced, as far as possible, the social capital of reciprocal obligation, loyalties, culture and traditions with exchange, price and the impersonal principles of economics”
As the market economy continues to crumble under the weight of its own impossible need for perpetual growth, we should admit that for all its destructiveness, we will miss its essential simplicity, the comforts it delivers to many and the freedoms it underwrites. And as ‘austerity’ bites and capitalism’s former largesse continues to shrink away, that future is becoming daily reality for ever more of us.
Such a time brings fear and uncertainty, but also great possibility. The forces that have cocooned us are failing, but these are also the forces that constrained us. This is a time of loss and freedom, if we can minimise our dependence on the market and find sustenance with deeper
Now is the time to repair or replace the atrophied social and ecological structures on which most human cultures were built, as the basis for a nourishing, cohesive society that might survive the turbulent times to come. This is the story of our times, and living it imbues our days with meaning.
With Shaun Chamberlin, Rob Hopkins, Mark Boyle and Stephan Harding
Shaun Chamberlin (link is external) is the editor of his late friend David Fleming’s posthumous book Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It, and the paperback version Surviving the Future: Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy. Shaun was a co-founder of Transition Town Kingston and author of the movement’s second book, The Transition Timeline (2009), and has since contributed to more than ten other books. Living on little money has enabled him to devote himself to roles such as chair of the Ecological Land Co-operative and a director of the campaigning organisation Global Justice Now, and he is currently Chelsea Green Publishing’s commissioning editor for the UK/Europe. Read the Q&A put out by Positive News.
Rob Hopkins (link is external) is the co-founder of Transition Town Totnes and of the Transition Network. This grew out of many years’ experience in education, teaching permaculture and natural building, and setting up the first two-year full-time permaculture course in the world, as well as co-ordinating the first eco-village development in Ireland to be granted planning permission. He is author of The Transition Handbook (2008), The Transition Companion (2011), The Power of Just Doing Stuff (2013) and 21 Stories of Transition (2015), served 3 years as a Trustee of the Soil Association, and was named by the Independent as one of the UK’s top 100 environmentalists. He lives in Devon and grows food for his family.
Mark Boyle is widely known as ‘The Moneyless Man’, after living completely without money for almost three years, an experience which formed the basis for his first book, The Moneyless Man (2010) and his second, The Moneyless Manifesto (2012). He is also a trustee of the Streetbank sharing network, holds a degree in Business and spent his earlier professional career involved in the management of organic food companies. He is the author of Drinking Molotov Cocktails with Gandhi (2015), and is currently engaged in creating a fully localised, land-based gift economy in Éire, putting his holistic ideas into practice.
Stephan Harding is Programme Coordinator of the MSc in Holistic Science and resident Ecologist at Schumacher College, teaching on the MSc core modules and on many of the short courses. He holds a doctorate in behavioural ecology from Oxford University, and before becoming a founder member of the College taught ecology at the National University in Costa Rica. He is a close associate of James Lovelock and an expert in the study of Gaia theory and deep ecology. He is the author of Animate Earth (2009) and Grow Small, Think Beautiful: Ideas for a Sustainable World from Schumacher College (2011).
David Fleming (1940-2010) was an inspiration to all our teachers. He himself taught at Schumacher College, and was a visionary thinker and writer who played significant roles in the genesis of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement, and the New Economics Foundation, as well as chairing the Soil Association. He was also one of the early whistle-blowers on oil depletion and designer of the influential TEQs carbon/energy rationing system. He read Modern History at Trinity College, Oxford, and later earned an MBA and then an MSc and PhD in economics (in 1988). These enabled him to better engage with and confound the mainstream, in support of his true passion and genius: understanding that diverse and mysterious thing “community.” His Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It (link is external) was the work of over thirty years, and will inform this short course.
Course fees include all meals, field trips, materials and all teaching sessions. The programme will run from Monday to Friday afternoon, and includes four nights private accommodation and all vegetarian meals from the first lunchtime you arrive through until the lunchtime before your departure.
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“There are too many checks and balances in the U.S. political system. Both Congress and the Senate may be under Republican control, but the Republican Party is far from synonymous with Trump. And in a highly interdependent world our political leaders don’t have nearly as much power as we think.
Reassurance then gives way as we, the ‘Broad Middle’, are arraigned:
“No, the real danger now is not Trump, Brexit or the rise of the Far Right but the failure of the rest of us – the Broad Middle, as we might call ourselves – to take globalization seriously. The widespread distrust of the political mainstream may be stoked by immigration, unemployment and wealth inequality, but the deeper driver of all these issues is actually globalization. Or, to be more precise, unregulated globalization”.
He then quotes Gordon Brown’s analysis following the Brexit result: “The elephant in the room is globalisation – the speed, scope and scale of the seismic shifts in our global economy. And the most obvious manifestation of the world we have lost is the hollowing out of our industrial towns as a result of the collapse of manufacturing in the face of Asian competition. These towns are home to a disproportionate share of the semi-skilled workers who feel on the wrong side of globalisation and who opted to vote leave. Unable to see how globalisation can be tamed in their interests, they have, not surprisingly, become recruits to an anti-globalisation movement whose lightning rod is migration.”
And asserts that the deeper driver of all these issues is actually unregulated globalisation, itemising a few of the international agreements and regulations needed if the global economy is to work for all:
- Binding agreements on climate change,
- on raising fair taxes on the rich and the multi-national corporate tax avoiders
- and re-distributing the revenue generated to poorer nations, allowing their peoples to make a decent living at home instead of having to migrate.
He says that instead of focusing on these objectives we’ve allowed ourselves to be distracted by all manner of other peripheral concerns. While we, citizens, have immersed ourselves in identity politics, anti-war protesting, and the like, mainstream politicians have been treading water, unable to see the new globalized reality through their out-dated national glasses.
Only when we focus on binding global agreements will we be taking globalization seriously. For only then can we make common cause with the poor and the disaffected middle classes who should be supporting us but who, because of our distraction, have instead been lured to the political extremes.
That doesn’t mean a global government, only global cooperation
His new book, The Simpol Solution, written with Nick Duffell, sets out the process by which the Broad Middle can make binding global agreements happen and make them stick. Noam Chomsky said , “It’s ambitious and provocative. Can it work? Certainly worth a serious try”.
And Simon Anholt commented, “I nodded until I got a crick in my neck. I haven’t read a book for years that I agreed with so deeply and so consistently – nor felt so keenly that these are messages the world needs to hear. The clarity, simplicity and profound importance of this book are beyond question. Please read it, and please encourage others to do the same.”
Read the full article here: www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/john-bunzl/donald-trump_b_12879498.html
An induction day interview with Rianne has been recorded in Milton Keynes on audio tape. For the next three years she will be examining ethical issues surrounding new technologies used to administer humanitarian aid. Her previous practical work has been in disaster management, focussing on manmade complex emergencies.
Research title: “To what extent is the humanitarian sector contributing to the militarisation of global surveillance? An exploration of the iris scan (for Syrian refugees in Jordan) and UAV/drones (Somalia)”
Her research will deliver case studies on the impact of drones and the use of retinal scans. As news comes in of drones doing good work, such as delivering medicine, there should be some way in which people on the ground can differentiate those from armed UAVs.
One problem with the use of iris scans to determine who is entitled to aid is that only the head of the household is given a retinal scan and if s/he is ill, no food can be collected. Another is the possible misuse of databases storing such information or the consequences of the data leaks so often reported.
International aid is assumed to be spent on food and medical aid, but to what extent is that money remaining in the West to fund the development of such technologies, perpetuating the power divide?