Hey Owen Jones, I wrote you a letter!

Hi Owen Jones,

I watched Hypernormalisation yesterday, I dont know what you thought of it but the things that stood out for me strongest was the statement that many radicals have disengaged from the political process because it is too complex and slow and also the comments that Occupy ran out of steam as it had no new vision to offer, just righteous anger and a great operating system. The whole thing has got me thinking about how we can articulate that alternative vision to the crumbling current one, and in doing this might help re-engage a great number of people with the political process.

I do like a lot of what you say and respect where you seem to be coming from in a lot of what you say about the Labour party and its future prospects.  I am not a politico, and am not up with all the names and jobs and machinations that makes it all work but I think I have something of value to offer to the process and don’t really know how to engage properly in a way to get heard. I think everybody is missing something really quite big and in that might lie a huge opportunity for Labour to seize new territory and develop its own agenda.

I hope I haven’t lost you already, I will try to be brief as I can.

The future is going to be different, really different, for several big reasons. Thomas Piketty, Ha-Joon Chang or Paul Mason all put it better than I can but we cannot escape the fact that the neo liberal paradigm has run its course and many people can see that, however there is really nothing to put in its place, so we all carry on. Essentially we are still preparing for the wrong future.

If Labour can frame and articulate a new vision they stand to capture the new territory that our economy is heading towards, before most people have seen it coming. I need to enlarge a little here I think.

I am not here to say Climate Change is THE problem. Climate change and what is driving it is a symptom of a much bigger problem, essentially the fact that our short-term economic goals put us directly at odds with the long-term ecology of our planetary system. We are always prepared to sacrifice one more pristine ecosystem to fuel the monster of economic growth.

The proposal I am making is that whosoever can advance an economic mechanism that delivers the food, energy, services or whatever that society requires in a way that also restores and enhances the environment has essentially cracked the whole Malthusian population vs resources face-off in one go.

But how, you make ask?  If you listen to James Hansen of NASA for example what he has to say is alarming at least. But also exhilarating. 10% year on year reduction in emissions until it is zero, then we have to drive co2 levels back down to 350ppm by the end of the century or there abouts to head off the worst case scenarios. In short, a carbon negative economy. There are no policies out there currently that get us anywhere near that and to my logic someone needs to start formulating some and leading us in that direction.

Why exhilarating? Well because it requires re-inventing the economy, agriculture needs to be transformed into something quite different, energy we know about, but transport will be a huge change as well. For the rising generation who have nothing to aim for in the current economy, no stake in it other than a dodgy degree certificate and a load of debt and no chance of having a home etc. this is a much more interesting prospect potentially.

Some examples: we can build houses from straw bale and local timber for a fraction of the cost, they sequestrate carbon in their structures and have a fraction of the embodied energy. They can be largely grown to order, processed locally and built by user groups and co-ops. Suddenly housing is a carbon sink and co-operative enterprise and with a tweak of planning laws, affordable and low impact.

I have much experience in community food growing, fruit and veg, chooks and eggs are easy to produce on a small and local scale. You can involve the whole community in growing and related activities and it rapidly becomes part of the social and caring economy and the food it produces almost a bi product.

I am not saying these things can replace the current system, but they offer a transition away from it that is inventive and inclusive.  I have just launched a local project with our High School where I will be challenging them to visualise the future they want and to start to imagine how they might be ale to help make that happen.

So much to say, but I shall press you no more, so happy to talk more about permaculture, regenerative economics and finding ways to inspire the next generation to do something positive and creative.

Steven Jones

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