Sunday, February 6, 2011

Insane Locavore quote of the day

Various people have told me to broaden my horizons and stop reading and viewing so much libertarian propaganda.
So yesterday I went to Barnes & Noble and picked up this month's copy of Adbusters, the most anti-capitalist publication I could get my hands on.  (The New York Holy Times was sold out.) 

Adbusters is a big-time environmentalist, anti-capitalist, anti-consumption and anti-marketing periodical.  They have a visceral hatred of shopping malls.  Adbusters gives the impression that the Soviet empire fell because of bad luck and poor execution of the Marxist roadmap.  "Profit", the concept that supports Adbusters, is in such ill-repute that I would feel guilty about ever purchasing a copy.   

Adbusters supports something called "Buy Nothing Day"

(It's on November 26th.  You're supposed to purchase nothing.  Don't support your neighbors, your friends, or anyone but yourself.  Don't swap your own stuff for anyone else's. Regardless of their intent, that'll be the result.)

They do have some cool advertising parodies.  Here's one taking a stab at Joe Camel.

I was kind of enjoying their (ahem) unique point of view until I got to this quote.  It's from a guy named Bill Mollison, founder of something called the Permaculture Movement.

"We're only truly secure when we can look out our kitchen window and see our food growing and our friends working nearby." - Bill Mollison

Oh for the love of God.  Where to begin, where to begin. 

We are more secure than we've ever been because we can't look out our kitchen windows and see our entire food supply.  If the view from your kitchen is your only food supply, and something happens to the area in front of the kitchen window, you're in deep, deep shit.  Google the word "famine" when time permits. 

But if you have cheerfully taken part in the capitalist evils of globalization, you don't have to worry as much.  Iowa could waste its entire wheat crop by converting it to enthanol or some other useless boondoggle, and it will hurt me.  But there's always Nebraska.  And Canada.  And Russia.  The Ukraine.  As long as those places are growing wheat, and as long as someone in our government doesn't shut down the supply of wheat (to protect American jobs), then I'll probably be okay. 

As long as some raving locavore doesn't require me to live off what's visible from my kitchen window, I'll be okay. 

 But wait, Mr. Bill Mollison, founder of the Permaculture Movement, there's more.  I've got more for you.  Where are you going to get your kitchen, the kitchen you're going to look out from to view your wheat, your bananas, your strawberries, your lowfat decaf triple-skinny mocha, your carrots, lettuce, arugula, your mineral supplements and your chicken, fish, and occasional slice of roast beef?  Where will this kitchen be produced?  The kitchen itself.  The wood, the brick, the sheetrock, the heat and air vents, the electrical wiring, the ducts, the oven, the stove, the sink and the water faucets?  The refrigerator?  Pots, pans, and George Foreman Grill?  Does that have to come from your front yard?   

Will you need to grow the trees for wood within view of the damn kitchen, just to feel safe?  Are you going to set up a kiln to make bricks out of local mud?  Mr. Mollison, have you ever looked at the different locations that Adam Smith's Invisible Hand blindly coordinates in a united effort to put ceramic tile on your countertops and your floors?  Are you going to go off into a blind lefty panic if some of that stuff is manufactured by little dark people who don't look like you, you racist son of a bitch? 

Sorry about that.  I can't stand racism masquerading as compassionate save-the-earth do-goodism.  Back to the topic at hand....

Let's get to the window itself, that window Mollison is looking out of to see his garden and his wheat field and chickens and goats and fish tank and brick kiln and lumber forest and all the other things required to make Bill Mollison feel safe from the efforts of other people in strange places with funny names. 

Bill, do you have any idea, any idea at all, what goes into making a damn window?  Do you want all that going on in your front yard?  Or is food the only thing that makes you break out in fantods if it's handled by Mexicans?  Is it ok if Mexicans or Canadians, or people from across the county line make your window? 

"We're only truly secure when we can look out our kitchen window and see our food growing and our friends working nearby." - Bill Mollison

Ok, we're getting to the end of that insane sentence.  "We're only truly secure when we can look out our kitchen window....and see our friends working nearby."  Hell, is there going to be room for them if Bill Mollison requires all of this industry in his front yard?  Or are they all going to be Bill Mollison's employees? 
What will the view have to look like from their kitchen windows if they have the same phobias and anxieties that afflict Bill Mollison? 

Do you think we might all be better off if we allow everyone else in the world to compete for the honor and privilege of producing our food, kitchens and windows?  And we can give them what we produce in return?  And maybe, just maybe, they can one day have a kitchen of their own?  With windows? 

Sorry for such an ill-tempered rant.  I wrote Mollison's sentence down in my notepad yesterday and just found it a few minutes ago.  If you want to read a more calm and measured explanation of the evils (yeah, evils) of Bill Mollison's worldview, check out "The Future And Its Enemies" by Virginia Postrel. 


Nick Rowe said...

Nice post. You really nailed them. This is one for the "best of Was" file.

A friend of mine, a locavore and carless environmentalist, has just been lamenting the closure of all her favorite stores close to her home.

It's a rude awakening when you get what you want but don't want what you get.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I'm not proud of calling the dude a racist (as of this a.m., anyway), but I'm totally SICK of racist protectionism. Sick of it, sick of it.
I don't like it.

Adam said...

It always amazes me that many environmentalists do not understand the Division of Labor and what goes into making their goods. Murray Rothbard's "Ham Sandwich" analogy should be read by everyone who advocates 'local everything'.

Anonymous said...

i see your point, but to clarify, the vast majority of people involved in permaculture (which is really just a set of design principles mostly applied to gardening/landscaping) are capitalists.

permaculture systems are designed so their is a great deal of resilience, stability, just the opposite of the types of practices that create famine.

and yes, actually, pc types actually are into construction using things such as cob and compressed earth bricks, so stuff youd actually put together in your yard. you might be surprised what you can build of mud.

its not racist protectionism, its a response to all the toxic, nutrient depleted food provided at any average store. that system is completely broken, "Certified Organic" is a joke.

yes, the vast majority of permaculture types would still need to import metals, salt, etc at the very least.

and fwiw, there's a growing body of research supporting the idea that humans shouldnt eat nearly so much grains, and that a paleo-style diet is the healthiest.

research > rant

Dick Stanley said...

It is comforting that these folks are so far "out there" that hardly anyone has even heard of them.

Amon said...

Did anyone else notice that the Hyundai Superbowl ad reproduces the image of the circle of hands from the Permaculture Movement site?
When I saw that picture on the permaculture page, I knew I had seen it before.

Amon said...

Guess I should have specified where.
At about the :18 second mark it is done with a circle of car seats & at :16 seconds with legs.

This was a great blog post. I learned more about the term Locavore as I had only previously heard it on Food Network. Bunch of wackos for sure.
Don't get me wrong, I love hitting my local farmers market for farm fresh eggs & tomatoes etc when they are in season. Having grown up in the country & being accustomed to raising our own eggs & vegetables while we could, I think they taste better.
At any rate, thanks for the heads up on the whackos I might run into there.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Hey, if someone wants to buy local, support local business, etc., that's their business. Just as long as they don't lobby government to require everyone else to do the same, require tags showing "food miles", prohibit imports, enforce quotas, and protect Florida's Fanjul family. Which is what most of this crap is about.

Anonymous said...

To the tune of Gilligan's Island.

Come listen to a story of a community that wanted only locally grown.
They thought that'll be the way to go, eat only what they've sown.

They drew up an ordinance, to buy nothing from afar.
They pledged that nothing would then come in by train, ship or car. (Train, ship or car !)

No lemons!, No Limes, No pineapple! Not a single citrus fruit!
No papayas and no mangoes, and bananas were out to boot !

No maple syrup or fluffy rice cakes, they were three hours away by car !
No cod nor scrod nor crab nor shrimp, all shores were just too far ! (All shores were just too far !)

They sowed their fields with assorted grains of wheat, oats, barley and rye.
But, too late they realized, their land was just too dry !

And the cows they kept ate what little what was left. And within the ensuing drought,
their utters were left quite bereft, and their calves all died out. (Their calves all died out!)

The children cried, the elderly moaned for days when they were fed.
But now they only dreamed of that, when they tossed in bed !

Anonymous said...

Calling Mollison a racist seems a bit off the mark to me. He has taught Permaculture on every continent, using local materials, and incorporating local techniques. He does not come in as "the great white saviour" preaching only one way of doing stuff. Many of the techniques used in Permaculture are informed by cultures from all around the world.
As for seeing world wide food production as better security than "kitchen window" food production, if there is an industrial dispute on the docks, holding up imports, if there is a major shortage of fuel, if there is a war.... so many things CAN interupt "international" and even interstate food. We are lucky to have these things, but we should not kid ourselves that they are secure.

permacultureadrian said...

The Whited Sepulchre said...

"Hey, if someone wants to buy local, support local business, etc., that's their business. Just as long as they don't lobby government to require everyone else to do the same, require tags showing "food miles", prohibit imports, enforce quotas, and protect Florida's Fanjul family. Which is what most of this crap is about." That is NOT what Permaculture is about. It is about taking responsibility for feeding oneself. There is even a passage in the Designers Manual that calls Permaculture non-political, or apolitical.
Permaculture is NOT about prohibiting imports, but about recognising that imports may not always be available. It is not about enforcing quotas. WHat sort of quotas could a person in a city appartment block be expected to produce? They certainly can supplement their food with stuff they grow on their balcony, but if the aim is to get people and communities growing a proportion of OWN food, what would even be the POINT of quotas?