Monday, December 13, 2010

Changing the system

Posted as a comment on a LinkedIn blog today, titled "Empowering Rural Communities" (slightly edited):

Bati Energy, this topic is very timely and, I think, represents a vital part of the re-thinking that must be done to move us forward as cultures and people-- let alone as energy consumers.

I agree that the bureaucratic model of taxes and services must be radically altered-- probably scrapped. This change may take generations to achieve, as the same gov't model has been adopted by all developed nations and is thoroughly entrenched.

I agree wholeheartedly with Laura that timebanks will be a great tool in any viable alternative economic model. You might look into the Transition Initiative movement out of the UK. Rob Hopkins started it only a few years ago and already it is taking off worldwide-- with Transition Towns and Hubs springing up across the globe. That seems proof the time is ripe for alternative organizational models to take flight. Essentially, Transition is about preparing for Peak Oil and Global Climate Change by re-localizing economic activity and (ultimately) instigating workable, local Energy Descent Action Plans. But it's not a "hunker down / survivalist" movement; it's about creating a BETTER future than the present that we have under Cheap Oil's reign.

In India, however, the problems are different from in America: there, I would say, it's a lack of sufficient services and their equitable distribution; the traditional corruption of the political system (and the holdover social stratification of Indian society) makes the simple act of redistribution a severe challenge. In America, though we certainly have a corrupt political system and we're heading rapidly into a crisis of dangerously inequitable distribution of wealth, we have, overall, an excess of energy, and a deeply-rooted apathy and ignorance that our consumer culture has engendered over several postwar generations. Most Americans don't have a clue about where their energy comes from, nor the true cost of the energy they use, nor what constitutes efficiency in any of the appliances or systems they use daily. Here, we need education to end ignorance and apathy; in India, perhaps grassroots organization of the sort that Ghandi so brilliantly encouraged will be the prime tool.

In all cases, I think the change must come from the grassroots rather than from the top of entrenched bureaucratic systems, bloated by their own vested interests--- namely, Big Oil, King Coal, armies of Congressional lobbyists, and a financial system designed by and for the biggest accumulators of wealth.

Local organization and local economics will be the drivers of change in the near future. See more at BALLE and Transition Network.

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