conception of post-civilization all-weather wear by mary mattingly
My regular readers know that I don’t expect we will be able to resolve the combination of cascading crises — led by climate change, the end of oil, and the collapse of the unsustainable and debt-laden industrial growth economy — that will face us in the coming decades. While I don’t advocate doing nothing to mitigate the damage we are doing now, just because it won’t be enough, I also think it would be useful, for our descendents who survive the end of our civilization, to imagine how they might live, with much smaller numbers and at a subsistence level, sustainably, responsibly, comfortably and joyfully. I think the crash of our culture will be ghastly, but I see no reason why life for those after the crash should not be delightful.
So here is a dispatch from the future, a report from a member of one of many diverse post-civilization communities, telling us how they measure ‘success’:
June 28, 2110: A letter to my great-great-grandfather, who died 100 years ago today:
It’s funny:By the measures of humans from civilization culture, our community would be described as migratory, but we think of it as just the opposite. Yes we migrate around a territory that provides us with all the food and resources we need, in a twenty-year cycle, but the whole territory is our community. We share it with many other creatures, some of which also migrate, but we do not go beyond it — our community is defined by this territory, this land that we belong to and are a part of. By contrast, civilization culture humans could never sit still, they had to travel all over the world, to places not even suited to human habitation, and then create artificial environments to allow them to live in those hostile places. To us, they were the migrants and we are the settled ones.
Our community’s culture is very different from those of our neighbouring communities, even though the natural environment is not dissimilar. That’s a mark, I think, of the fact that after civilization’s fall we self-selected into new communities, and as we formed the differences between these communities were immediately pronounced, because of our different interests, beliefs and strengths, and as time has passed the isolation of our communities, which we have negotiated deliberately to limit our vulnerability to the plagues that wracked our species in the final years of civilization culture, has entrenched and enhanced the differences between communities. While all six of the communities in our tribal federation use sign language for oral and visual communication, we are the only one of the six to use English as our written language. The clothing, body decoration, festivals, entertainments and art of these six communities are also very different, and while we study the others, the divergence and uniqueness of how we communicate, live and interact becomes ever larger with the passage of time. We understand that this was also true among pre-civilization and non-civilization indigenous cultures in the millennia before the crash.
What is also interesting, in terms of cultural diversity, is how each community here chooses to measure its ‘success’, or what might better be called its ‘fitness’, its ability to adapt to changes in the environment of which we are a part, and to co-evolve that environment in ways that work for us and delight us. We began with a ‘scorecard’ that was developed by an Internet philosopher (of all the things we lost in the crash, the Internet is what I mourn most) almost a century ago. We found this scorecard well-suited to us and we have not changed it very much since.
The purpose of our community self-assessment is to set the agenda for our community meetings. While we have learned to adapt and co-evolve well as a community, and we take pride in the fact that we assess ourselves generally as very ‘fit’, there are always some areas where our self-assessment is low enough for us to discuss and achieve consensus on some options and possibilities for action. In accordance with the wisdom of our aboriginal ancestors, those who were wiser than the civilization culture leaders, we do not make decisions on what individuals should or must do. Our meetings are focused on the areas where we have assessed ourselves as not very fit, and at those meetings we tell stories that suggest why that is the case. There is no group decision coming out of the stories. The decision on what to do is left to the individual members to make; it is their responsibility. We do not tell people what to do or criticize them for what they choose to do, or not do.
Our self-assessment has three sections: Individual Self-Sufficiency and Well-Being, Community Self-Sufficiency and Well-Being, and Community Sustainability. Here are the elements of each of the self-assessments, as they have evolved to date:
Individuals’ Self-Sufficiency and Well-Being:
Community’s Self-Sufficiency and Well-Being:
At each of our meetings there is something to discuss, something that does not fit well. Usually it is some unhappiness of an individual member, which we address by listening, empathizing, acknowledging, and telling stories that might be helpful. We generally do not proffer advice unless it is specifically requested. Sometimes the issue is a dispute or conflict between members of the community. We use the same approach, encouraging each member to hear, acknowledge and appreciate the position of the others. Usually that understanding is sufficient that the conflicted members resolve the issue themselves. In rare situations where there is no resolution, one or more members will elect to leave the community. This is a time of sadness for us, but we respect and honour the decision. Likewise, we will occasionally welcome to our community someone who has elected to leave another community in our tribal treaty area.
Perhaps because of our strong focus on learning and practicing capacities, we have been much more successful at this than many other communities. These less competent communities seem to have more conflict, more anger, more dysfunction than ours, and this causes us great concern. Our study of civilization culture suggests it was this lack of individual capacity, and the related lack of community cohesion and competency, that led to the massive centralization of authority, the dysfunctional hierarchies of large, rigid and unsustainable systems, and the atomization of community.
Without the strength of community, it is hard for us to even imagine how civilization culture lasted as long as it did.
Category: Creating a Community-Based Society