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[A deep-green argument for Localisation & devolved governance]

Coccurrent with the cloak & dagger complexity of world affairs; the response in the name of Love for Nature & Humanity is always profoundly simple.

On Trangias Not in Tangiers

As an outdoor practitioner & resident of the UK I belong & participate actively in this society, but it is true to say that the prevalent attitudes of the people i meet who spend time in Nature and care for the Earth is far flung from the antithesis of culture we call the mainstream; especially when compared to the values we see modeled by our political leaders. Perhaps, by virtue of our values; we may even be called extremists!

Take it or friluftsliv it…

Any ley(wo)man who cares to survey the geopolitical ordnance will sooner or later realise that the captains of Western society are behaving like Arne Swarzenegger. It’s time to dust off the cobwebs & bring out the big guns; a cultural captain called Arne Naess.
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Get the kettle on, because if you, like our friend Abraham Maslow feel that the purpose of society, culture & Land is towards the Self-Actualisation of its inhabitants. Well, check Arne Naess out, because this emissary between mountain & man has a recipe for bringing out the kind of characteristics you’d like to see your neighbours and loved ones displaying.

Steady as she goes…

“The maximum success of self-realisation is realised through a certain balance of interactions between organisms and environment. The stimuli are not to be too erratic and not too monotonous. The organs of control must not completely dominate influences from the outside nor get overwhelmed. The limited possibilities of control make it, on the whole, important to have a fairly high degree of control of the spatially (personal) near environment, or the environment in which the basic needs are satisfied. If a basic need is only met through a many-stage interaction with remote areas, there are likely to be more forms of erratic obstacles, more dangers of being cut out through processes of chance character.

Let this be illustrated with the life-space models of the kind gestalt psychologist Kurt Lewin made use of (figure 7.1 ); painstakingly written on this rye/wheat sourdough and, respectively; a beetroot (my italics).

Let A represent a living being in a two dimensional space having four vital needs to satisfy. If the immediate environment furnishes, at least normally, satisfaction of the four needs, A can limit itself to try and control remote areas only if something unusual happens to the nearest. The quadruple a1/1 to a¼ symbolises the four sources of need satisfaction.
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If the sources a2/1 , a2/3 , a 2/5, a 2/7 and separated from A by interposed, qualitatively different parts a1/1 to a ¼ of the environment, the organism is vitally and normally dependant upon control of these parts and also of a2/2, a2/4, a2/6, a2/8, the parts adjacent to the sources with another set of qualitatively different properties.
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The illustration shows how the requirement of control increases with the remoteness of sources of satisfaction of needs- remoteness being measured in terms of distance of lifespace, not in kilometres. Making the supposition of limited means of control, the increase of remoteness correlates with an increase of dangers, of inadequacy of powers of self preservation and therefore with a decrease of Self-realisation potentials.

By the degree of local self-sufficiency and autonomy we shall understand the degree to which the living being has its sources of basic need satisfactions, or more generally sources of self-realisation, nearby in the life space and, secondly, to what degree the organism has adequate control of this area to satisfy its needs.

The above model has been introduced with single living beings, especially persons, as units of life. This is didactically sound as long as it has no scientific pretensions. The same model is useful if taking collectives- communities, neighbourhoods, societies, tribes- as units of life. But in that case we clearly need a model illustrating the relations within the collectives as well. Here we will not go into this.
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By definition, single persons have less than maximum control over decisions of centralised authority, possibilities of control approach zero. The greater the manifold of persons and situations to be controlled, the greater the number of levels needed. Further, the greater the number of qualitatively different functions which are controlled, the more rapidly will the control by single persons tend towards zero. Centralisation is here intended to be defined through the above factors.

“Get to the Chopper”

Using the reasoning suggested above, a set of hypothesis (H) and norms (N) are:

H8: Local self sufficiency and cooperation favours increase of Self Realisation.

H9: Local autonomy increases the chances of mantaining local self-sufficiency.
H10: Centralisation decreases local self-sufficiency and autonomy.
N6: Local self-sufficiency and cooperation!
N7: Local autonomy!
N8: No centralisation!


Doubt no 1: Does not realisation beyond a certain point of the norms N6, N7, and N8 interpreted individualistically lead to strange conditions of life, in some ways similar to the terrifying ‘state of nature’ in the political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes?

Doubt no 2: Do the lessons of ecology really support these norms? Rejecting the individualistic interpretation, we are therefore confronted with the difficult task of making them more precise with the help of other justifications, taking into account a serious concern of both individuals and collectives.

[From Ecology, Community & Lifestyle. Arne Naess. Published by Cambridge Press.]

Hasta La Vista; baby.

Suffice to say, from an outdoor/experiential learning perspective; a culture (no matter how small or transitory) built on these premises is highly desirable. On a wider level, next time you hear the greens or the radical independents harping on about localisation of agriculture, energy, education, health, decision making, banking, divesting & all the other myriad of things to reclaim from the clutch of neocolonialism; consider that local autonomy has the potential to bring with it not just security & resilience; Local self sufficiency and cooperation increases the potential of self realisation of everything round you.  What can be more satisfying than that?

How can we even consider the alternative?

At the time of writing we head to bomb Syria, political leaders gleefully celebrate the Paris COP20 summit whilst Dragon Class tankers of fracked gas head from plundered North American lands to Scottish shores. I dread to think what would happen if the supermarket trucks didn’t deliver in the morning.

I’m off West to gather some Nori; I’ll be back.



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