Monday, October 22, 2012

Of food, talks and forums

Lots has been happening — including our Blue Mountains region gearing up for lots of projects and energy into constructing a peak everything alternative — and I've neglected this blog for a couple of weeks so this post makes a few different points.

Firstly, have you caught up with the great article 'Treating food like stocks and shares is a recipe for disaster', on how financial sector transactions are impacting on food prices? It's by Heather Stewart and appeared in the 14 October issue of The Observer. It provides leads to other useful articles and links.

Secondly, take a look at our U-Tube video of extracts from the 30 May forum on Life Without Money in LondonDerek Wall (Green Party councillor, former Principal Speaker for the Green Party and author of Babylon and Beyond and The Rise of the Green Left) was in conversation with me and Life Without Money contributor Adam Buick (regularly published in the Socialist Standard) at Bolivar Hall, 54 Grafton Way, London. That night around 40 people participated in a stimulating discussion on why we, as a society, need to go money-free and how we might do it. We'd already posted a transcript of Adam's talk here (below).

Thirdly, each year the Postgrowth Institute leads a Free Money Day in mid-September, which seems to be more of a consciousness-raising event than anything else. This report again leads and links to further material on this year's activities.

Fourthly, just to report that at least 20 people turned out to chat about themes in Life Without Money on Thursday 11 October at 6.30 pm when Anitra talked with Clair Woods to over 20 people at one of the In Conversations series held regularly at Travellers Bookstore in Collingwood, Victoria, Australia. The main focus was experiences of daily life in two remarkable North American intentional communities, Twin Oaks (Virginia) and Ganas (NYC), and in Spain exploring squats (such as Can Masdeu, Barcelona) and a 'post-industrial village', Ca La Fou. The event was For more details email Claire Woods at shop@travellersbookstore.com.au or phone (03) 9417 4179.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Kirk Huffman's take on Vanuatu

Veteran ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) journalist Sean Dorney recently interviewed Kirk Huffman on his 'Making land work' article in Explore magazine — Radio Australia, 28 September, here. Some excerpts follow.
DORNEY: Kirk Huffman argues that the drive to try to make land in Melanesia economically productive under the "Making Land Work" policy is misguided — that it will simply lead to land alienation, ongoing disputation and probably poverty.
HUFFMAN: ... land has been working for Melanesians, and working well for Melanesians for thousands of years. It's just that, I guess, any sort of project that economists, development economists are involved in — because they only think about money — they think that land is not working for someone unless it's making money. That's a bit ridiculous in Melanesia where you've got the world's highest percentage of people who are still basically self sufficient and still living on their own traditional land. The land is actually the biggest employer in the whole of Melanesia! It doesn't just sort of hand out shillings at the end of every week like in the White Man's World. In the White Man's World money has become the God. Everything is focused around this thing called money. If you look at money, modern money, from a Melanesian point of view the closest comparison you can make is that it's rather like an addictive drug. It's useful and beneficial in small quantities but if you over-do it it can become addictive and very socially divisive. And you get what we call in Vanuatu: 'Sick belong money!' Money sickness.

... It does seem to me a little bit strange that something that is promoted as development is something that essentially means that traditional land custodians essentially lose control over their land. There must be a better way around all this. There must be a better way around all this. OK, if you want development — right, one needs this, one needs that — we all know that. But let's have the kind of development that is relevant for us. You know, we don't need outdated and faulty economic theory forced onto, essentially, almost self-sufficient island nations and cultures. Because if you pull them into, fully into the modern, highly unstable financial situation a little glitch or a hiccup or a collapse on the far side, the isolated side of the world like, for example, the United States or wherever, you could actually affect people in Melanesia. And it's not fair! You'd think economists would actually learn something. It needs economists to respect the fact that there may be parts of the world that their type of economic theory does not fit. It's actually a clash of cultures between a Western, money obsessed, capitalistic, individualistic system against Melanesian systems which are actually much, much older, a lot more sophisticated, a lot more communally-orientated, a lot more geared to self-sufficiency and profound thinking about ways of looking at the environment where you're actually part of the land. The land is actually part of you ...