Paul Wheaton’s Permaculture? Or permacapitalism.

I have referred readers to at times, since it holds gobs of stuff on various permaculture techniques. However, today I read an article that makes me back off. And it raises a good question: what are the values that we live by? If this author is to be believed, the ethics of permaculture — Earth Care People Care Fair Share



are not being honored or practiced by Paul Wheaton, whose site boasts of being “the largest permaculture site on the internet.”

Let us be aware that permaculture, once so offbeat that no one had ever heard of it, has now reached the evolutionary stage where its very success has opened it to the danger of being seriously co-opted and diluted, even ruined, by mainstream culture and values. In this new twist, permaculture reminds me of our local struggle to reinvigorate local food co-op values with two giant supermarkets that sell natural food coming to town and breathing down our necks. (Whole Foods seems to have weathered its GMO controversy, and has even expanded its Local Food Loan Program to small producers.)

BTW: this next evolutionary stage is inevitable. I remember it with feminism, a deeply radical spiritual movement to begin with — which then tended to morph into just another capitalist success story: “women get ahead just like men do;” More poignantly, I couldn’t help but notice how the process of co-optation works with one of feminism’s offshoots, the crone movement: I remain deeply and viscerally aware of this one because the magazine I founded and ran, Crone Chronicles, helped to start that movement. See this:

PHOTO ESSAY: Crones Counsel XXII

Just like feminism, the crone movement still tends to morph and dilute to become more acceptable to the mainstream — so that instead of deep attunement to a long-buried, and deeply subversive archetype of the Crone, we focus on the surface values of “looking good and remaining active” into old age.

The key, whenever we are nurturing a potent seed of transformational cultural change, is to remain awake and aware as to the primordial capacity of the seed. In this case, we must pay close attention so that what we are doing and being remain in harmony with the powerful permaculture ethos that hearkens back to nature’s perma-cultural (permanent cultural), continuously regenerative, mutually interdependent, web of interaction with each other and earth, water, fire and air. Otherwise, we continue and accelerate contemporary — and artificial, resource-depleting, and thus doomed — self-centered capitalist culture’s blind allegiance to promoting (few) triumphant winners at the expense of (many) abject losers.

The choice is clear. We make that choice — either generosity and love of abundance (permaculture) or selfishness and fear of scarcity (capitalism) — with every breath we take, every move we make.

Via Keith.

Permaculture isn’t dead. It just smells funny.



About Ann Kreilkamp

PhD Philosophy, 1972. Rogue philosopher ever since.
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3 Responses to Paul Wheaton’s Permaculture? Or permacapitalism.

  1. CindyW. says:

    yes – thank you for this, re crone awareness, feminism, and permaculture. I remember reading that Wendell Berry stopped using the term “sustainable” years (decades?) ago, because he sensed it was being co-opted then. A man (my deceased husband) used to complain to me about some of the forms of feminism prevalent in his healthcare world (i.e. “women’s medicine”, with only women practitioners welcome to offer such care). I explained that it was not women (esp not traditional feminists) driving the terminology, but market researchers, who planned to exploit a new market niche.

  2. consentient says:

    Thank you very much for the link. You are correct that Wheaton viciously attacks anyone who challenges his capitalist model. I can only hope that the cult of support he currently enjoys ebbs away over the next few years and he is forced to go back to Google with his tail between his legs, knowing that he failed in his mission to capitalise on an anti-capitalist counterculture 🙂

  3. Ben says:

    Great article that I fully agree with. Your note / the reference to the original goals of permaculture is more important than ever – thank you very much for this interesting article, Ann!
    Could anyone imagine buying a book about Permaculture at Woolworths or in a big supermarket? Here in germany this is reality today:
    “The book about Permaculture, it is right next to the shelf with the genetically modified vegetables …”

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