Agriculture & Permaculture: Overview

Photo by Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash

“In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”

-from the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

The history of agriculture and self-sustainability is a field of study that is necessary for all cultures in order to survive and to thrive. One can delve into ancient civilizations and find similarities to agrarian practices being used into the present day. With the innovative technologies created over the past two hundred years, humanity stands on a precipice balancing precariously between the secrets of the soil and the natural world versus an artificial bio-chemical profit-driven food industry. The adverse effects of globalization have severely damaged small, local farming operations both in the U.S. and throughout the world. There has been an orchestrated agenda to fully control food production, processing plants, distribution networks and delivery systems; simultaneously, there is a grassroots movement for more local, sustainable food production that is gaining momentum and challenging the tentacles of globalization.

In a comprehensive study of this pressing problem, editors John Cavanagh and Jerry Manders compiled the book Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World Is Possible. The following quote sets the tone for part one (A System in Crisis):

“Sold to the world as a panacea for all problems, economic globalization has not lived up to its advertising. It has not lifted the poor; it has instead brought record disparities in income and wealth between rich and poor nations, and rich and poor within nations. It has greatly inhibited democracy and social justice; it has destroyed local communities and pushed farmers off their traditional lands. And it has accelerated the greatest environmental breakdown in history. The only real beneficiaries of globalization are the world’s largest corporations and their top officials, and the global bureaucracies they helped to create.”

– page 17: Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World Is Possible

Part I discusses the worldviews that brought this system forward and the reasons for its failure, reasons deeply rooted in the system’s basic structure and design.

The next quote sets the tone for part two (“Alternatives in Action”):

“From the bottom up, a process of correction and readjustment is under way. Millions of people have risen to demand a new system and new idea; many are already putting their ideas into practice. In part 2 we present a range of alternative expressions, from conceptual to practical: new principles that build a framework for a viable system that works for people and the environment rather than corporate profit; ideas for reclaiming the commons, which was once used by all peoples but now is largely privatized; concepts for achieving a meaningful power shift away from the global toward the local; and direct management where “the rubber meets the road,” where the global economy starkly affects the local: energy and oil, transport, manufacturing, agriculture, media and so on. Finally, we review a panoply of grassroots initiatives from around the world. Taken together, these events and actions reveal a new system busting through from within the old.”

– page 75: Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World Is Possible

This last quote sets the tone for part three (“Global Governance”):

“Global systems are now dominated by two power centers: a small number of gigantic global corporations and the Bretton Woods’ “unholy trinity” – the World Bank, the IMF, and the WTO. Combined, they have achieved de facto global governance. Though none were elected to rule, and none are transparent or democratic, their powers can overwhelm nations. Drastic revisions and replacements are mandatory. We offer a long list of suggestions for reigning in corporate powers. As for global bureaucracies, new institutions must replace most of the functions of failed older ones, new institutions that answer to a different hierarchy of values that are consistent with the ten principles for sustainable societies. We close with a chapter on ways in which you can become directly involved in achieving these changes.”

– page 269: Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World Is Possible
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