TO A SUSTAINABLE AND JUST WORLD.
330 pages. $(A)30.
The basic points
this book argues are:
- Most current
discussions of global problems, solutions and strategies are mistaken. The problems
(environment destruction, resource depletion, Third World poverty and
underdevelopment, armed conflict, social breakdown and a falling quality
of life) are far bigger than most people realize, and they cannot
be solved by technical advance within a society whose basic structures
and values creates them.
- We are entering an
era of intense and insoluble resource scarcity. We must develop
ways of living well on much lower rates of resource use.
- The basic cause of
the predicament is far too much producing and consuming going on. We are far beyond sustainable levels of resource consumption,
“living standards” and of GDP.
Rich world rates can’t be kept up for long and could never be
extended to all the world’s people.
- Yet our supreme
goal is economic growth, i.e., increasing production and consumption
- The global economy
is massively unjust. It delivers most of the world’s
resources to the few in rich countries, and gears Third World productive
capacity to rich world super-markets, not to meeting the needs of the
world’s poor billions. Rich
countries must move down to living on their fair share of global wealth.
- These faults
cannot be fixed within or by a society driven by growth, market forces,
production for profit, or affluence. These are the causes
of the global sustainability and justice problems. Consumer society cannot be reformed
to make it sustainable or just; it must be largely replaced by a society
with fundamentally different structures.
- The alternative
has to be
THE SIMPLER WAY, a society based on
non-affluent lifestyles within mostly small and highly self-sufficient
local economies under local participatory control and not driven by market
forces or the profit motive, and with no economic growth. There must be an enormous cultural change,
away from competitive, individualistic acquisitiveness. The book details the reasons why
this Simpler Way vision is workable and attractive, promising a higher
quality of life than most people in rich countries have at present.
- What then is the most
effective transition strategy? Chapter 13 argues that most
strategies, including green and red-left as well as conventional
strategies, are mistaken. The
essential aim is not to fight against consumer-capitalist society, but to
build the alternative to it.
This revolution cannot be achieved from the top, either by
governments, green parties or proletarian revolutions. This can only be a grass-roots
transition led by ordinary people working out how they can cooperatively
make their local communities viable as the global economy increasingly
fails to provide. The
Eco-village and Transition Towns movements have begun the general shift,
self-sufficiency initiatives such as community gardens and Permaculture
must be informed by the awareness that reforms to consumer-capitalist
society cannot achieve a sustainable and just society. Nothing of
lasting significance will be achieved unless it is clearly understood that
our efforts in these local initiatives are the first steps to the eventual
replacement of the present society by one which is not driven by market
forces, profit, competition, growth or affluence. This awareness is far from
sufficiently evident in present green initiatives. The most important contribution
activists can make is to join community gardens, Transition Towns
movements etc. in order to help to develop this wider and radical
global vision within participants.
- The last chapter
offers a practical strategy that can be
implemented in existing suburbs, towns and neighbourhoods.
The book is intended as a fundamental
challenge to people concerned about the fate of the planet, arguing that most
current analysis and action is tragically misguided and wasted. It seeks to show an irrefutable logic
– i.e., when the magnitude and causes of our predicament are grasped it
is obvious that the problems cannot be solved within consumer-capitalist
society, and that the solution then has to be some kind of Simpler Way,
and that working for the transition then has to centre on the development
of largely self-governing communities.
The book is addressed mainly to activists,
hoping that it will help green people to apply their scarce energies to the
most effective purposes. It should
also be of interest to a wide range of students of social theory as it deals at
length with crucial issues to do with social cohesion and change,
sustainability, Marxism, Anarchism, economics, government, education, Third
World development, globalization, settlement design, limits to growth, values,
global peace and justice, and the nature of the good society.
email: -- Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
By post: --
Envirobook, 7 Close St., Canterbury,
Australia, 2190. $30, Post free.
Overseas orders: -- NZ $(A)30, add $(A)11 for postage. --- US, Canada
and Middle East $(A)30, add $(A)15.70 (airmail),
$(A)11.20 (seamail) --- Rest
of world $(A)30, add