Should we move to local communities/economies? (Deep Economy

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Should we move to local communities/economies? (Deep Economy

Postby Diethert on April 14th, 2014, 12:52 pm 

Hi everyone,

I’ve just read Bill McKibben’s “Deep Economy” in which he argues that economic growth is no longer “better”. It creates inequality, leads to individualism and doesn’t make us happier at all.
He shows (mostly by telling anecdotes and pulling statistics) that we should move away from the vast globalized economy towards local economies.
According to McKibben local economies might produce less stuff, but will yield to better relationships and will be far more durable.
Durability is another recurring theme in his book, he argues that we no longer will have the (planetary) energy to keep the current system going, which will mean that we have to move to a more ecological economy.

I found it a pretty interesting book, it truly does point out the exact pickle we’re now in but I do have some thoughts and questions about McKibben proposed alternative which I would like to throw at you;

What are your thoughts on local communities?
Are they too deal in theory?
Is mankind “good” enough to be part of such a community, aren’t we too greedy?
How to get away of our sense of what constitutes as progress?
If we are to move to a new form of economy how would that even be possible given that our current economy has such a huge momentum?
Can it be done within a period of 20 years, 50, 100?
Should there be a massive redistribution of wealth?
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Re: Should we move to local communities/economies? (Deep Eco

Postby Paralith on April 14th, 2014, 1:30 pm 

Hi Diethert, and welcome to the forums.

That book sounds very interesting. I'll add it to my to-read list (which is very long, so it may never actually get read, lol).

My background is in evolutionary anthropology, so it makes sense to me that humans are generally happier in smaller, local communities. We are an extremely prosocial species, each of us highly dependent on cooperative relationships we form with other people, but in the past most of those relationships were direct, face-to-face relationships. We knew all our cooperative partners personally. We saw directly how everything we needed and couldn't get by ourselves was provided by these people around us. Today, many of the essentials of my every day life are provided by humans on the other side of the planet who I have never and most likely will never meet, let alone get to know as a person. I am dependent on them and they are dependent on me, just like in human societies of old, but we don't feel like we're dependent. We don't feel like we need each other as much as we do. In that situation it is far too easy for us to take advantage of each other, for one of us to leverage the other cruelly and unfairly to benefit ourselves as much as possible. It is far too easy to bend that cooperative relationship until it breaks, and we won't realize what we've lost until it's gone.

But as proscocial as humans are, we also have a lot of trouble when it comes to limiting ourselves, and limiting our growth. We are very resource focused, and when we've got something in our jaws that gives us a way to build up and build up our resources, we don't like to let it go, not for all the objective or logical reasons in the world. We are less willing to sacrifice our personal relationships with those close to us, but again, in a global economy we don't have personal relationships with most of our cooperative partners. So long story short, I have no idea how we could effect a world wide change to move from highly profitable global economies to less profitable local economies. I think this drive to grow is, in many ways, reinforced by our biology. This is not to say we can't change - only that change will be difficult. I wonder if McKibben offers any real advice on how to change, or if he only tells us that we should?

I don't know if there should be a massive redistribution of wealth. Certainly, doing so against peoples' will is not going to solve any problems. If everyone's desires are still exactly the same after the redistribution as they were before, the inequality will inevitably emerge again without extreme regulatory effort.
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