Gardenworld Politics

Here is a  link to the  draft chapters of Gardenworld Politics:   link

The blog posts that follow are about the book, about news that pertains to the book. Gardenworld Politics  brings together the need for food and habitat with  humans engaged in the craftsmanship of  making new communities that meet needs and are attractive. The book  considers the major alternative, the technological acceleration scenario.

Blog below, newest post on top .

2174. Civilizational dynamics

Two propositions.(stimulated by  Daniel Schmachtenberger)

I used to say, when people asked me about my then library of about 4000 books, “They are moslty about culture and culture change, because if ours doesn’t we are in trouble.” I read Toynbee  and his disappearance of 28 civilizations and persisted in th human trick of declaring to myself that our civilization was different –  too diffuse, too locally coping, to seriously disappear.

Humans are inventive and creative. The combination is lethal as competition uses inventiveness for ever more destructuve weapons. Since changing our inventivess is impossible, perhaps we can crate a cooperative cultire.

The unit of analysis is the civilization – following Toynbee and the disappearance – of all previous civilizations, what can we do to prevent the disappearance of this one?

Can we, even if we believe it, hold on to this level of analysis?

Joseph Tainter proposes that

as a society (civilizations?) grows more complex, the cost of maintaining the system increases faster than the system’s surplus until the entire surplus is used up in maintenance and, because the system is in motion,   overshoots and collapses.

Moreover, elites are as they are because they own or manage the key infrastructures, and, as these get into trouble, instead of fixing them, they cut costs to get cashe out for themselves, hurrying the collapse.

We should ask, “OK, now what?”





2173. “More” in economics

More pollution, more population, more co2, more temperature, more debt, more stuff, more racial strife, more inequality of income, more prices on real estate rising faster than income, less topsoil thru more agribusiness, fewer fish in the ocean through more ocean bottom stripping with mile long nets, fewer birds in the sky?

“All our exponential curves lead to catastrophe”

Is there possibly something wrong with the more model?

Can economics intervene or only carry it out through the default assumption of growth as necessary?

2172. Policy without politics?

Most people think that policy is the way to cope with climate, and for many that policy means creating jobs.


  1.  This leaves out politics, th mobilization of force through voting,  reulations and initiatives, as if good ideas along will change our approach.
  2. it relies on creating jobs when it is not clar how to create jobs that themslves do not use nore energy.

From CSIS eewport.

the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to lead the way. Now, after a year and a half of work, the committee released a comprehensive report Tuesday aiming to chart the U.S. course toward solving this existential problem.
The plan focuses on fusing climate solutions with economic growth and job creation, laying out 12 key pillars like investing in infrastructure, developing renewable energy, building resilience to climate impacts, and prioritizing environmental justice.
The chair of the committee, Representative Kathy Castor of Florida, told CBS News, “Climate solutions are economic solutions. Solving the climate crisis means putting Americans back to work in clean energy jobs that will grow our economy.”


2171. Gardenworld and community land trust

This articvle from Harpers is very suggestive and helpful. Many good quotes so I pick one

In 2013, South Bronx Unite asked local residents what they wanted in their neighborhood and found an overwhelming desire for arts spaces, recreation centers, and health services.

Ths challenges the idea that social innovation needs to be about the basics, food and housing . Perhaps the basics start  with  health and art. Blending food, habitat and arts seems like a winning combination.

Source at Harpers
Report] We Shall Not Be Moved, by Audrea Lim | Harper’s Magazine

2170. Education and the derailed future.

Hard to talk sensibly about education without some narrative about the probable state of society. Even with serious change people will try to hold on to old structures, but that seem unrewarding and circling the wagons. But real changes are probably coming. What should be the approach to education for such changes?

My guess is that much of current education will seem a waste and serious skills, including technical, can be absorbed rapidly if the motive is high. Watch the way a lawyer masters a new field for a single case. Let’s say the major task will be to assess and inventory food supplies and design new none cash ways of distributing these to a scared. demoralized and maybe violent population? What kind of education…..?

2169. Math, models and narrativers in economics

Last week at an economics  seminar the focus was on modeling the speed of recovery. The method was to get data by industries. Each industry had a different curve of recovery, all recovering back to pre COVID output.

There was no room in the model for the emergence of new industries or trends – green jobs for example. The model ends up then supporting a very conservative – no structural change – agenda.

This seems to be an artifact of the mathematizing of the data because assumptions have to be made to make modeling and equations possible. The assumption of total recovery makes modeling possible. There are other assumptions but they are more like narratives than equations because the model would have to make assumptions about where divergence from recovery happens, and this is more a narrative than simple changing the parameters. We do not teach people to create such narratives and so end up supporting the most conservative part of public policy. In this case recovery rather than taking advantage of economic stress to rethink the economy.

2168. Free will and society

On free will. Isn’t there a spectrum of predictability? She will get up in the morning and have coffee, but I am less sure about her reaction to the front page of today’s New York Times. That spectrum of predictability (people will stay on the socially sanctioned side of the road when driving) is enough for society to hold together. (and we may be losing it)

I like Bergson’s view. A simple one cell organism responds to things in its environment, like light or ph and its reaction predictable. As the organism gets more complex, the range of things it can respond to in the environment such as shapes and tastes – and the range of responses, increases – until the point where predictability is impossible. This is free will. Seems reasonable to me.

2167. diagnosis and action

Provocation 258 June 22

We seem to have lots of discussion about what is wrong or broken but so little discussion of what to do. This action paralysis affects much of society, not just economics, but does economics have a role in breaking out of the critique thought collective into the realm of action?

This is more crucial because as we, hopefully, are on the down ramp of COVID, we are on the up ramp of climate urgency.

2166. Key words in economics – histories

Keywords in economics.
Doug Carmichael

Key words have histories. In economics, concepts and their words are treated like Lego blocks: fixed shape and content. But if we are thinking about changes in future economics, being aware that the things we are dealing with have been fluid over time is helpful to rethinking now. There are a number of interesting words I have listed at

You can find more at , and The Oxford English Dictionary, sources always immediately available and unused.

Here are a few words that have the most importance for understanding where we have come from in economics.

Economics itself as is widely known contains two parts, eco and nomos. Eco is normally translated as household, but in its use by Plato and Aristotle and others it meant estate, because the cattle ranch (think of Osysseus’s home) was the form of home ownership among the greeks. Nomos, meaning man made law, procedure rules, norms, even method. But in earlier greek in the form nomoia, it meant equal distribution. A law is not created unless there is a need, which, in this case implies there was a general tendency toward unequal distribution to which nomia was the reaction. Its early use seems to have a history something like: cattle were grazed on open land and, as those cows in the herd became identified with a person in something like ownerships, but the grassland was open until increasing population in cattle and people led to conflict and it was decided to measure out the grassland in equal portions. Of course as we know each acre is not equivalent in value – water, enarnedd to buildings, soil – so that equal distribution of land gave way to more complex forms of trying to maintain equality.

The Greeks being the inquisitive type, saw that a well managed estate would produce a surplus, and their question was, for what purpose should we have a surplus? For leisure time for the discussion of philosophy and politics. Leisure here meant something not like blissful consumerism, but use in study and talk which, for the Greeks, were key aspects of social life.

When Rome became central in The mediteranean, this meaning of surplus mitigated in to the empire, and when that gave way to christianity, the word economy went with it. The idea was that the land was god’s estate to be managed by people for the good of their own development, and surplus was the basis for time for prayer, meditation, art. The monasteries became the form that took. We are not aware that the word econmoia is used throughout the new testament because western historians read the bible, not in original Greekm but in Latin, and Cicero, doing the translation replaced economics with distribution, with throwback to the old nomia,losing the sense of history and its implications. It is a shock to economists now to learn that economy is even in the new testament. * see Agamben, The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government

Capital is the evolved meaning from the word in Latin for cattle, cap, head, as in the still used head of cattle, Early estates and empired were highly dependent on cattle, from hunter-gatherers to herdsmen to enclosed pasture land, beef was central to diet. See Against the Grain by James C. Scott) . When Odysseus landed, many cattle were “sacrificed: and fed the soldiers and crews. The idea of sacrifice maintained the culture of the hunter gatherers where the kill ws shared. (this is the kind of complex evolution we might anticipate for the future). Apparently Athens at the time of Plato had a herd of 100,000 cattle used for sacrifice – a Greek seeking religious connection would come from the countryside , contribute money to a priest for a sacrifice which then fed the population. Obviously this had to be extensive, but these were not vegetarians. (see Mcinerny, Jeremy Cattle of the Sun)

Private property. The powerful word property started out as proper as a sign in society of a person’s status, as in the still widely used, “Are you dressed properly for the meeting?” and the more action oriented “act properly” (to show your breeding, your class position. act properly.) What was a sign of status in a community of signs morphed into something that could be owned – a thing – and marketable. An amazing transformation we should experience the logic of as we think about the future. Much of the motive for property is still as s asocial sign, “my island, bmw, Tesla, house on the hill, is larger than those of others. And we have :trophy spouse”.

Private is even more complex. It comes from Latin privato, to remove from the public. The Etymological Dictionary online has

“The original Latin meant “remove from the pub;ic”. (From Latin prīvātus (“bereaved; set apart from”), perfect passive participle of prīvō (“I bereave, deprive”), from prīvus (“single, peculiar”). That is, death from the group. What is private is a death and the state bereaved. “

This is stunning and implies a whole critique of the individual in relation to the community.

The histories of these words contain implications for understanding their present use. But more importantly, contain hints at future use, which it is our task to develop.

(this is an excerpt from the draft book, Gardenworld Politics, draft chapters at draft


View at


View at


2165. Those at the top not integrated with society.

Provocation 257 June 15 The top is not integrated with society.

Blacks, poor whites, policemen, are all part of the underclass in contemporary society. We probably need elites (for experts, continuity of relationships, continuity of memory on how the system functions). But then how are the educated, who gets educated, how are they moved up, how are they rewarded? The problem for society is that elites are somewhat removed from the real situation, the real trends, in society, and their children, who seem to have enhanced access to elite careers, are often spoiled and smug and not experiencing the real society. The elite group and their networks are like a cloud cover interested in its own cloud dynamics and only interested in what is on the ground to the extent it is accessing resources, stuff in the ground or skills in people, or the wealth of relatively poorer people (via mortgages, credit cards, foreclosures).

Economics and its constituents are mostly people with careers in the cloud dynamics. The cloud of course casts its shadow on the ground. Even progressive economists use the technical vocabulary of classical economics and what they publish seems to be written for those in the cloud, not those real people leading painful drained lives.

This makes it hard to do new economic thinking, because the real factors of economic life (quality of life, poverty, red lining, changing desires) are mostly on the ground and not in the cloud.

The INET seminar with Anwar Shaikh at

is good. The question is how then to apply this critique and make new demands on economics?

Economics mostly works for the elites because what it publishes either directly supports the elite need for growth, is of interest and written for elites, or supports the publications that put a good face on economics as it works for elites.

One result is the lack of direct focus on meeting serious problems. For example:

The role of cancerous growth: population and fossil fuels use have grown together, and now that growth, always to be self limiting, is at an end: either we manage that end, or ir is done to us, by rising temperatures that make an increasing share of the earth uninhabitable (some of it already has) and incapable of growing crops, either because seeds fail at higher temperatures already reached in some places, or there are no people to tend them because the temperatures make living impossible.

If anyone doubts this picture, send me an email

If anyone does not think this is a disaster send me an email