Monday, May 30, 2011

New LTG Rule #1: Take it easy

The lesson from Limits to Growth is that we not only have to do things differently, we have to think differently, and have different goals that fit within a sustainable non-growth way of life.

To that end, I propose as New Rule #1 is simply "Take it easy."  Aim to do less, both in consuming AND producing.  Don't aim to do nothing (that's actually quite hard anyway), but aim to do less than before, less than others do, less than you feel ordered or driven to do.

I realize there is an inherent problem here.  Our capitalistic go-growth society has inherently had an inconsistency.  We have been hugely industrious in creating big messes, in despoiling the commons (the air, water, other resources, and claiming wild areas for our productive uses that take away their utility for other species) but not so industrious in cleaning up the messes we have created, probably because there's much less profit (or none at all) in that.  It could well be argued that what we need to be is less industrious in creating these messes, but more industrious in cleaning up both old messes and the new ones we are creating.  OK, there is a lot of truth in that, worthy of another rule.  But to start with, we mainly need to create smaller messes in the first place, which is where this rule #1 fits in.  And quite often, if we take things a bit more slowly, we find the first thing that disappears is the biggest part of the mess.  "Haste makes waste" as the old saying goes.

In this form, Rule #1 is quite consistent with Taoist philosophy (as I understand it).  Actually, I've been following this rule pretty well for a long time.  In college, friends of mine described it as "The principle of least action" (with apologies to Isaac Newton).  It generally works out better than expected, while the opposite rule, do as much as possible, often quickly becomes self-defeating.

1 comment:

  1. Wish I could have been there for the discussion and Galbraith dvds. I've been doing pretty well on New Rule #1 for some time now.