Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
If we commit ourselves to abundance, we can halt the irreversible tide of species destruction. We could celebrate the diversity of life and set a standard of preserving it, by the mutual consent of people around the world. All our food could be naturally wholesome and nutritious, except when we’d rather it be otherwise. We could live on farms or we could live in cities, as we wish. We could live at the edge of the mountain wilderness, or the edge of the ocean. Some of us would no doubt choose to work very little. Others would work hard to achieve something – new discoveries or greater personal wealth.
In a stable human population, corporate success will be determined by some criterion other than the greatest number of products at the lowest price. The value of scale will be reduced; the value of quality will be enhanced. Products and companies that support our shared values of beauty, abundance and the preservation of nature will earn more. Quality will be defined, in part, by how well a product or a company supports those values. Innovative, conscientious companies will succeed. Less innovative companies will try harder. Our possessions will be more beautiful and more durable.
As our population declines, territorial conflicts will become absurd. With more land, more energy and more food available each year, military conflict will seem more wasteful and more stupid than ever. We can decommission most of our armies. Rather than competing with faster jets and more powerful bombs, we will race to see who can preserve more natural beauty and attract more tourists. Who can print the most beautiful books? Who can build the most reliable and elegant machines? Who has the best skiing? Who has the best beach?
Back at the beginning of this blog post series I challenged you to form a personal vision that idealizes our future. I challenged you to be unrealistic. Now I find I’ve failed to meet my own standard. Why is it unrealistic to believe we can agree that clean air and water are important and limited resources? What’s so crazy about wanting a couple of kids, and no more? How insane is it to think we could imagine a world of beauty and abundance?
That’s what I’m going to aim for.