6/26 Open Thread: Time for Degrowth


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Date Stuff:

We use these names for months derived from Roman and Teutonic Gods and goddesses and suchwhat, and, really? How about 6, spelled SIX, for the sixth month, it's at least not magical. And on this day, 6/26, we lost Clifford Brown and Nora Ephron, but also Strom Thurmond, so there's that. According to FamousBirthdays.com, a lot of "famous" people were born on 6/26 (https://www.famousbirthdays.com/june26.html); do yourself a favor and don't look.

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MODA BIG BIRTHDAY SALE

I keep trying to get it together to write my great Just Shut it Down Now! column, but I'm either miles off in some other direction or tiptoeing around the edges. So here I am again skirting the issue again, but at least pointing in the right direction. I got the word "degrowth" from an article in Vice called The Radical Plan to Save the Planet by Working Less. It is worth reading in its entirety and not easily subjected to fair use abstraction, so here's a link: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/bj9yjq/the-radical-plan-to-save-the-p... . The article calls degrowth a new idea, but it is really just a new word. Many have been dancing around it for a loooong time now, and it is implicit in one of the environmentalists mantras, which I hope to get to in a bit.
What it is:
he article cited above says that Degrowth "calls for a dramatic reduction in energy and material use, which would inevitably shrink GDP."
We are further told that the degrowth "movement" requires a complete change in our economy, our goals, and our social norms

by designing a social upheaval that disentangles the idea of progress and economic growth once and for all. This new accounting of economic success would instead focus on access to public services, a shorter work week, and an increase in leisure time. Their approach, they say, will not only combat climate change, but free us from a workaholic culture in which so many struggle to make ends meet.

It further advises that this will require income and wealth re-distribution.

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So, basic name dropping calls forth Edward Louis Bernays, and The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard, not to mention Ike. Ike and his advisers were aware of and open about the fact that a continuation of post-war prosperity would require the populace to continuously consume, and to consume ever more and more in order to keep the US industrial machine running at or near capacity. It took almost no time at all for the US citizenry and other US residents to become almost universally referred to as consumers. The US consumers lived up to that name constantly consuming ever more and more in a death spiral of national over consumption and overproduction that is killing the planet. Not by ourselves, mind you, the rest of the world is helping out, but we have long been the driving wheel. Arguably, degrowth should start here, backing off of the over consumption and overproduction throttle and raining in the runaway "growth" that is, to a shocking extent, largely if not mostly waste.
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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and, for good measure, throw in Refurbish and Repurpose. That, all things being equal, is a cry for degrowth just as sure as you're born. From the simplistic point of view, it isn't hard either. The US consumer's activity cycle is to get up, go to work or start work at home, intermingling some consumption with one's work, if only in the form of meals, then knock off and go home to consume advertising, PR and propaganda, openly presented as the "price we pay" for yet more advertising, PR and propaganda disguised as "entertainment", and for the lucky and/or discerning, consume in a little real "entertainment" in the process somewhere. Then there comes the shopping, in person, online, over the phone and by mail. Not merely food, though we do massively over consume that too, throwing mountains of it away in the process, but everything else under the sun. Very little of it is really based on any real need for the items to be consumed either, as opposed to a perceived need or simple desire. We buy stuff on a whim that sits around unused, replace stuff long before it is worn out, or even well worn, and indirectly buy and consume the prodigious amounts of fuel that it takes to ship all of this crap to us from all over the world. Wanna know what else we massively over consume? The packaging that all that comes in, mountains of it, and the energy and labor to haul it off and get rid of it. Should I mention the fact that "our", cough, cough, government consumes untold amounts of resources on killing people and toppling governments that are insufficiently enthusiastic about doing "our" bidding and being "our" lackeys and consuming "our" products and way of life? Probably best not, not yet.
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Clearly we could cut back on a lot of that if we simply gave a little thought to our activities, habits, and way of live, but there is a huge industry devoted to trying to make sure that we never do any such thing. Of course, it isn't the 50s anymore, we don't need to keep that industrial machine humming because it is mostly gone, we manufacture very little any more, but we still produce and consume like there is no tomorrow and a world of support industries have grown up to replace manufacture. The problem with degrowth as a solution, cutting consumption to the bone, is that those already struggling to keep afloat will be hardest hit. "If you slow down the economy, even a little, we'll lose jobs and people will starve and die". That line, in some form, has been with us since Ike, and may have been more truthful when we had mucho manufacturing and industry, but it is also significantly true today. Wealth and government largesse, Reagan, Chicago School economics and modern propaganda to the contrary, never trickles down, but grief and woe invariably do so.
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So what do we do? This is truly an existential crisis for us all, but it is one that cannot be solved by our war machine, or can it? The frauds that serve as our politicians, information sources, and opinion makers have been trying to fabricate existential crises for us to be fearful of for ages now. Russia, russia, cuba, nam, russia, civil rights marchers, panama (really?), russia, russia, iraq (again, really), afghanistan, "the left", russia-russia, russia, BLM, Syria, iran, russia, russia, china, mexico (oh jeebus that's laughable), china, russia, russia, badger, badger, badger, badger, snaaake, snaaake (oops, sorry, carried away). The commonality there is the "need" for military intervention. The lack of such a need for the climate emergency is why we have denial, censorship, and inactivity. As ever, WE must be the solution. We have a true dilemma that, as far as I can tell, is not susceptible to capitalist, incrementalist, market based or governmental solutions. To quote the immortal Jerry Garcia: "Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us."
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Solving this will require cooperation and determination. For many it will require behavioral change, and all of us need to indulge in serious analysis of all of the factors involved to try to find solutions.
Part A: Simplistically, a solution presented in the article is Degrowth followed by wealth and income redistribution. Arguably, the order isn't particularly relevant, but that second step will be very difficult to accomplish, so we need to keep analyzing and think it through before just saying, "well, that's the solution and it isn't doable", because the problem must be solved. So, degrowth by cutting consumption, fine. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose, Repair, consciously and continuously with repair, reuse and repurpose as a first reaction to damage and true obsolescence, the new and improved paradigm and behavior mode. Ignore ads and fads enjoy and make do with what you have, try to remember how people amused and entertained themselves before jet skis and the like. Hang on to your old stuff and consciously dismiss all commentary about stuff being old, unfashionable, out-of-style and not-up-to-date as shallow and silly. Reconsider being a collector of any tangible assets some sort of antique. A small start, but one that most of us can start doing right away.
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Part B: It seems as if it would be an established truism that a single finite planet could not support an infinite population. Nonetheless, the populace as a whole seems impervious to the obvious corollaries. We must reduce the pace of human procreation. We do not with to even consider getting government remotely involved in such a thing because of the horrible risks, nor do we wish to make this an involuntary thing no matter how determined. Thus, as with reining in consumption, we must ourselves voluntarily rein in procreation. Yet, within the past two years I have heard of more than one nation with a declining birth rate because its politicians, economists and suchwhat were bemoaning said declining birthrate and casting about for "solutions" to said "problem". I'm not going to belabor any of this or point to the various cults religious sects that make procreation some sort of holy obligation, so I'll just toss out one motivator - do you really want to bring a child into the world that we are creating and bring it up in that world for so long as you and it survive? Is it at all fair to the as yet unconceived child who will be subjected to this future?
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Part C: I asserted that this crises is not amenable to a military solution, which is not strictly true. It is not amenable to a Traditional military solution, bombing, killing and all that, but the military could play a big role. So, 700 billion, 750 billion, whatever. Russia, russia, russia, russia is around 60, partly in response to the constant threats from US/NATO, China around 250, that's both Eurasia and Eastasia, my fellow Oceanians. And that's less than 1/2. So what if we hacked the defense budget in half and closed all or nearly all of our foreign bases, brought the troops home and stopped our overt and clandestine military operations abroad. Take most of the money out of weapons and armament procurement. There is a significant degrowth right there. Better yet, it is stuff that is unnecessary, wasted useless crap. There is also a boatload of money made available for some form of "redistribution" to lessen the deleterious effects of degrowth on those least able to withstand its rigors. Lessee, some sort of minimum base income? Inexpensive housing (real housing, not tenements)? Setting up community gardens? Who knows, I'm not proposing hard and fast remedies, simply some possibilities that we really need to explore because we absolutely must do something, and we must stat now.
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Part D: About that redistribution, it is locked in anyway, and only a question of how soon, unless the oligarchs start resorting to mass killings (wars do, historically, serve this purpose if none other). In the last decade many who study and ponder such matters have noted that we have the technology and know how to produce all that we need with relatively minimal employment relative to the total population. Solutions to the coming "unemployment crisis", often in the form of seriously reduced work weeks and split shifts have been proposed. Of course said crisis has been forestalled by the creation of ever more an more artificial perceived needs and the continued growth of the service economy. Nonetheless, if we hammer down all of the fake demand starting with the least utilitarian/useful junk, we'll reach a point where the service economy won't be sustainable either. The elites can only use so many serfs per capita, and the rest of us can hardly get by reciprocally serving each other burgers and tort claims. Capitalism depends not only on escalating consumption, but also on steadily concentrating all assets and revenues into fewer and fewer hands. That is simply an impossible combination, and if you begin, as we must, to degrow consumption, the concentration must also fall off.
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The Need for Narrative Control: We got in this mess because the public narrative was controlled by those with agendas and goals that were/are inimical or the public good and our long-term survival, slowly but surely revealed as a flock of sociopaths. It has become steadily worse as more and more unsustainable mishegosss got established as a base set of assumptions, expectations and behaviors upon which ever more and more outlandish bullshit was built. We need to take control of the principal narratives and to do so rapidly. We cannot replace TV and radio ads, billboards, and the like with appropriate, better messaging, except to a limited extent. We certainly cannot eliminate the government, MIC, war=machine propaganda an its mass media support, overt and covert. What we must do is develop (or redevelop) our own sources to provide a constant drumbeat of information, inspiration and exhortation on the need to stop unnecessary consumption, just stop it, on alternative public, private and college radio and tv, bloggers, video bloggers, freeway bloggers, signs and posters, leaflets, broadsheets weeklies and the like with a three part message.
Stop unnecessary personal consumption
Severely cut military spending, especially weapons development and procurement
Use the money from the military budget to fund essential public and social services

There will be a ton of pushback, especially from "our" government. We even have allegedly liberal political candidate wannabees out in front of any attempts to correct things, calling for revitalization and/or enhancement of our so-called intelligence agencies and then using them to established an approved narrative and to shut down competing narratives.

A very tall order, I know, but we have to do it, and do it in the face of what will be well organized and well funded opposition, and that starts with individual action and to trying to figure out workable solutions and then putting them out there.

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Image is public domain.

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Its an open thread so have at it. The floor is yours
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QMS's picture

being sacrificed on the alter of extreme wealth
for the sake of the planet

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Listen to your higher mind.

enhydra lutris's picture

@QMS
I wrote the other day focus on the US for obvious reasons, but we are not alone, and this must become a movement or cultural thing and must go global where applicable, IMO. Thanks for reading.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

detroitmechworks's picture

Sorry,not in a particularly serious frame of mind. Smile Way I figure it, the Reduce Reuse Recycle Refurbish and Repurpose movement is just the way I have to live anyway. Don't need a Gym, I got other humans. Smile

Sorry for being flippant and strangely 80s. Just once in a while feel like being a bit relaxed and happy. With everything that's going on the world these days, one of the main benefits of going 5R is not worrying about it so much. Has a nice little tinge of the Cynic that I enjoy.

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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

enhydra lutris's picture

@detroitmechworks
comment, sorry.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

magiamma's picture

Et al

You forgot dirty hippies and squirrels. Dayum. Best post evah. Bring it down. Down. Down.

Thank you so much. Synapses are over firing. More later after I digest more. Just back. Excellent. Thanks again.

Have a good one, all

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enhydra lutris's picture

@detroitmechworks
"right action", which you've already embraced and spreading the message. Getting the narrative out there is the biggest hardest step, because nobody wants to hear this.

Thanks for the fun clips and have a good one. @magiamma
Dunno how I managed to do this, but it is a reply to DMW.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

enhydra lutris's picture

@magiamma

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Unabashed Liberal's picture


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and, for good measure, throw in Refurbish and Repurpose.

Have to admit, Mr M and I haven't always been very good at accomplishing the above. (actually, that's a gross understatement) But, now that we're looking to relocate to a faraway location, we've finally going to have to address our over-consumption, and we're preparing to rid ourselves of a lot of excess possessions. Lucikly, there are several local charities that accept goods/furniture/clothing, etc., and, even do pick up.

Not certain if it was you, or, Joe, EL--but, are you one of those people who use a "Note Pad" app? I was thinking that I've seen someone, here, talk about really liking one. If it was you, may I ask which one you recommend? If not, just disregard. Thanks.

Have a good one!

PleasantryMollie

“Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.
~~Roger Caras

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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

@Unabashed Liberal @Unabashed Liberal
Use it up
Wear it out
Make it do
Or do with out

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Unabashed Liberal
me. but it isn't an app. It's software written for Windoze (and maybe apple too, dunno) that runs inside of a Ubuntu function called Wine, which you can think of as a windoze emulator++.
The program is NoteTab Pro, I've been running since the early days of CompuServe, a lot of the various staff etc. there did. I couldn't run it on ubuntu for quite a while for technical reasons and got out of the habit of using all of its features, I don't even have all of them loaded, but it is a very powerful program, not just as an editor, but as free-form database and a ton of other things. There used to be a shareware version you could test drive. It comes from Fookes software ( https://www.fookes.com/ ). I highly recommend it.

have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Unabashed Liberal's picture

@enhydra lutris

cut out for a bit, and, so, just now saw your reply and link.

Already bookmarked. Now, gotta check it out, and see if a relic OS, like the one on this computer--Windows 7--can work with one of their versions.

We intentionally opted to get a laptop with '7' on it (several years ago), because of all the horror stories we've about about '10.' I'm still planning to get a Linux Mint (or, something similar) loaded on another laptop we have retired, since Microsoft no longer updates the OS loaded on it, like the security patches.

Anyhoo, there's a dinky Notepad (default) app on this laptop, but, unless I'm doing something wrong, I can't even do a 'copy and paste' on it.

(IOW, the only thing you can 'save,' is what you've typed directly into the file. I'm hoping to find something more sophisticated than that.)

Again, thanks. I 'thought' it was you, or Joe!

BiggrinMollie

“Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.
~~Roger Caras

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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

Anja Geitz's picture

As someone who works in retail and sees how consumerism grips us, I've begun to notice the sheer excess we've become accustom to. When did the idea that we had to have a different meal every day become "normal"?

I live off left overs, and except when I cook, my meals don't change until I run out of whatever I bought. I have friends and neighbors who habitually have food go bad in their fridges simply because they buy too much. It's a terribly unsustainable habit many of us seem to take as a given when it is most assuredly not.

P.S. I'm all for less work, more leisure time, and sharing what I have Smile

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If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

enhydra lutris's picture

@Anja Geitz
for 2 or 3 days several days a week with an occasional 1 night only meal so we wind up with a food schedule vaguely like S-a, M-b, T-a, W-special, T-b, F-x, S-y, S-x, M-special, T-y, and so forth. When cooking for two, it is hard to make stuff like enchiladas or goulash, and especially meatloaf or leek fritatta that aren't enough for several meals.

Have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

It would amount to almost a movement or religion. We are so tied up in stuff. The shame of not affording something equates with not deserving something. The wealthier you are the more deserving you are of more and better stuff. If you're poor and you have way too much stuff you're a hoarder. If you're rich, well, how can you have too much stuff? Wonder if John McCain ever figured out how many houses he owned? Maybe he should have asked John Kerry.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Snode
psychological driver, which I failed to think of and address, but needs to be brought up and reversed, the real shame is in excess, and the real merit is in moderation.

Thanks and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

earthling1's picture

I 've been writing about the 5Rs since joining C99% and adding to it in new and unigue ways. Like when I bring up hot water in the kitchen, I capture the cold and cool water sitting in the piping streching back to the water heater. Usually about a gallon, which I then use to water house or garden plants.
A gallon saved from going down the drain doesn't seem like much but it adds up if a hundred people do it, or a thousand people, etc.
Plus it saves going down the line to the treatment plant, where normal population growth is maybe mitigated from the need to build a bigger treatment plant.
The obvious need to conserve a most valuable resource, fresh water, goes without saying.
Taking a bite out of consumption is another issue I'm addressing on a personal level.
Credexit, I've written about it before. Moving to a cash only lifstyle has been both gratifying and profitable. I get cash discounts in the most unexpected places. The lawyer who did my last will and testament gave me a $300 discount for paying in cash ( it involved creating a Trust Account).
I got rid of all my credit cards years ago and have not gone wanting.
My favorite saying: Every time you use cash, a Capitalist goes to Hell.
And it certainly cuts down on buying frivolous crap.
We buy and cook one 5 pound roast and plan out four days of dinner, lunch, and even breakfast (mochaca co huevos, mmmmm)!
Nothing goes to waste, or it goes to the compost pile.
It's a way of life that becomes a part of your life. It becomes who you are. It becomes natural, normal, everyday way of living.
Thanks for bring this up and the OT.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@earthling1
sink or shower up to temp goes in two large trashcans out back which are used for hand watering edibles, rinse water from rinsing dishes, etc., goes on non-edibles, of, or really bad, on gravel paths where it can filter down into the soil.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

magiamma's picture

requires a complete restructuring of society. There is some hope that we the people will step up and stop consuming, maybe.

But the military, not so much. Since 9/11 it has bought an average of 120 million barrels of fossil fuel annually and averaged 153 million metric tons of carbon pollution annually.

https://gizmodo.com/tag/groundbreaking-report-gives-us-a-glimpse-of-the-...

That's just fossil fuel. The problem is so big I cannot even imagine how we might begin, how people might step up, how the technosphere would capitulate. Food for thought.

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enhydra lutris's picture

reducing consumption requires a complete restructuring of society.

We need o rapidly create a culture and consciousness such that excess consumption, let alone waste is heavily stigmatized and the 5Rs are exalted, somewhat like during WWII without the clout of rationing and government programs, but even moreso, and pronto, using all available media-like avenues available to us.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

magiamma's picture

@enhydra lutris
But how? My current thought is to meet w community influencers and see where that goes. Maybe all those online influencers could if they would. Dunno how to reach them. Yes, pronto.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@magiamma
or at least those who aren't funded by advertising, or whose advertizing is for ideas and such instead of stuff. How to get them going is an interesting question.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

ggersh's picture

until the gods came. Modern man just cant get
out of the way making all the wrong choices.

EDIT: my spelling stinks

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trump will be amerika's last president

so now that the D's are a wholly owned subsidiary of the CIA
anyone saying that we live in democracy is a conspiracy theorist.

enhydra lutris's picture

@ggersh
see what would transpire if we changed some variables, like magically preventing the arrival of the europeans.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

studentofearth's picture

A quick care ride or hop on a plane for an adventure, diversion, business or get together with friends/family. Along with the travel is the increase of trash generates with restaurant meals, beverages, printed material and purchasing single use items.

Sharing the skills, habits and practices one develops without being perceived as judgmental or bragging is difficult. Learning to be content and happy with one's life is not a considered a worthwhile goal in a society focused on increasing consumption.

Thanks for the discussion today.

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Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

enhydra lutris's picture

@studentofearth

Sharing the skills, habits and practices one develops without being perceived as judgmental or bragging is difficult. Learning to be content and happy with one's life is not a considered a worthwhile goal in a society focused on increasing consumption.

The second sentence, especially needs to be worked on as a learned behavior that can be dealt with by further education.

Oddly enough, we find that our trailer camping has evolved be be very low waste, beyond the fuel to drag it around, because to have trash at camp x means we had to pack it and drag it there. As a result everything goes in re-usable containers, and because we have small holding tanks, we are also extremely miserly with our water. I think it reflects a reversion back to early backpacking habits when one simply couldn't carry excess. I'd suggest promoting that, but I don't know it our dwindling wildlands could handle a huge influx of beginning backpackers at this juncture.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

studentofearth's picture

@enhydra lutris efficiency habits. 50 gallons of water and the food we brought in to cook on the camp fire was to last the week for 3 people. When my folks bought a camper the campfire was no longer a necessity. But, even visiting once a year left a long term impact on the land. I have no visited that area in a long time. It is now actively used by outdoor enthusiasts - mountain bikes, ATV (all terrain vehicles) and four wheelers. They are as destructive as timber companies clear cutting sections of the forest.

No easy answers. Learning to appreciate mental experiences of another's shared adventure is one method that is starting to work for me. Could feel springtime in the southern desert with the photos shared earlier this year from your trips. But is did not trigger the urge to experience it myself as most travel brochures suggest.

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Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

lotlizard's picture

and it certainly helped motivate people in East Germany to overthrow the system post-war occupation imposed on them, and do it peacefully.

After all they’ve been through to win the blessings of consumerism for themselves and their posterity, it’s a bit hard to sell them on the idea that now, when it comes to severe limits on “unnecessary” convenience and consumption, surprise! the West’s experts and elites have decided that East Germany had the right idea after all.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@lotlizard

“Consumer goods = freedom” was the West’s anti-communist message

It also became a thing here at home, "this is why we're special" or "this is who we are", and it continued right up to today. Recall GWB after 911 telling everybody to go out and shop, even to go borrow in order to buy things.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --