from the new draft of chapter 1.
The future for humanity must include technology, democracy, science, biology, human history, personal life, culture, civilization and a theory of governance. It has to do with putting the ambiguous “human” together with the ambiguous “nature.
But we are stuck at a bottleneck of interlocked issues we are all aware of but in isolation from each other, not together as a system: population, inequality, robotization, climate, war, weak and corrupt governance, and poor quality of life, all issues of human making on the planet, that keep us from getting to the future. I would like to add that culture too is in decline: the appreciation of art and music, poetry and dance, architecture and landscape.
The pain felt by almost everyone is not represented in the press or policy. It is all kept numerical and cool. The vision of GardenWorld, or something like it, is necessary to have an organizing leverage point for our efforts at making a better world. Popular culture tends to be pounding and rude, not encouraging of creativity, reflection and compassion. The book is about GardenWorld as a viable and shared image of the good life in the future on this planet in this century., what it is and the politics of and economics and the legal structures for getting there. We cannot get to GardenWorld without some serious rethinking of politics and economics. Corporations, “bodies”, are designed to treat the society outside themselves as food to digest, not a source of partnerships among peers. Politics, which was hoped to be representative, only allows the choices it wants.
We have discovered our interdependence with nature, but don’t have a view of what to do with it. GardenWorld replaces that vacuum with a promise. Whether the world falls apart, or hangs together, GardenWorld would be helpful. It is, as the futurists say, robust across scenarios. We need an image of what we are trying to accomplish and how we want to live. There is so much green talk, but we lack a vision of how it coheres around the way we might live our lives. An uncomfortable result now is that we are both anxious to hold onto old ways and anxious to move to new ones. Should we trade off economic well being for the environment? No way most have been saying. Should we ignore the ecological impact of a full speed economy and technical investment? Not wise, most would say. Stuck between these two plausible attitudes.
Much of the life as we have known it is over. As the weeks go by it seems increasingly more essential to understand, develop and broadcast this agenda I’ve called it GardenWorld. We need a view of greening our world and loving our children that is aesthetic, providential, flexible, and doable. We need an image of where we could evolve to, starting in the very near future, that is positive, if we pull away from industrialization and consumerism, from militarization, securitization, and all the fruits of mistrust.
We need to like each other which means we have an obligation to be likable. Adam and Eve were beautiful in the Garden of Eden, and we have to learn how to find the garden of the future also beautiful and to find ourselves beautiful in it. We need to learn how to make each other feel secure in the world that, for a while a least, will be full of anxiety.
GardenWorld is essentially a return to the core of human life, production and reproduction, companionship, culture, and food. Early human communities grew people and used the environment to do it. Its meant knowledge of plants and animals and of each other. The use of the land was to nurture communities that blended the human and the organic in a fully engaging culture. Art and meaning were central to the project of growing humanity. Human activity was simultaneously pragmatic and aestheticized. Utility was always embedded in stories, myths and design. We have reduced too much of the land to a commodity owned by corporations for the purpose of growing more commodities.
We have unfortunately built up habits and expectations that are going to be hard to give up. But as you know from experience private spaces are harder to find and air travel, Internet, things we use daily we will find are taken from us. The idea that relationships with people and the land would replace these technologies seems a bit far-fetched though we are ambivalently attracted to such a future. In too many ways we have learned to dislike each other and to live with it. Result is we are not good at growing food nor each other.
Things we thought we like, all the technology, the numeracy in the accounting of things, efficiency, and industrially supplied and corporate manipulated markets are beginning to wear down and we do not know how to replace them with things that are more deeply spiritual and organic, and lets face it, humanly successful in terms of lives we are happy to be living.
The very idea of organic frightens many people. And spirituality for many is Halloween and nightmares, the mumbo-jumbo of the ju ju man whose wife is selling unwholesome looking hot food over a kerosene stove down the street in some unpronounceable city.
I am not prepared for the world I think is coming. I am too soft. Too old. Maybe too sentimental. Maybe too indoctrinated by technical perspectives to be truly warm hearted. But we will all need to extend our basic skills of material reuse and basic habits of compassion and companionship – and broad eclectic study of the world.
Quality of life choices are easier in the GardenWorld context because such a context tells us about what we are trying to achieve. If people are facing a deteriorating social and physical environment the choices they make will not be the ones that align personal well being with the environment. In moving toward GardenWorld, where alignment of the human and nature is the intent, a convergence of desires and actions is more likely. Simply being in a more natural environment, a city garden, a suburban back yard, often reminds us of who we are and how to live a little better.
The Garden of Eden beckons, but we have lost our way – Waiting for Godot – like people milling around the gate after the flight was cancelled. We act as if we no longer know where we are going, and tend to drift off, one-by-one to nowhere in particular. But I think this is only on the surface – what we are willing to show. Hidden inside our private experience I think we have a robust image – often without words – of what we want from a good life. Most people, across class lines and national boundaries, would like to live in a blend of nature and civilization. Why do we not use our resources and technology – our wealth – to go there?
Most people would like to live in a blend of
nature and civilization. Why do we not use
our resources and technology– our wealth
to go there?
GardenWorld is a turn away from the rationality of production with its irrational conclusion that more stuff means more happiness. Clearly “happiness” is a deeper problem to which “more” is a pathetic and destructive answer. This book is based on the core idea that we have lost a public vision of the future and our education has stunted individual imagination for the better life. Democracy and technology no longer seem to mobilize hope, but fear. And yet a direction already exists in the minds of most people, and they would vote for it, if were offered by the political leaders. And it will not be, at least in the early phases. Politicians vote for what is. The hope is that people will do some inventing and creating themselves. With the Internet creating the possibility of discussing everything, including why, and how to live, the hope is not impotent