ONE STRAW REVOLUTION

“The current system,” Eilif murmurs, wielding a machete in hat and sunglasses at the bottom of the hill where we’ve been hauling out crabgrass, “is based on war. War against nature. In this system, you attempt to force, coerce and control nature, so you use machines, pesticides, herbicides, bulldozers.”

He moves over to the wild side of the hill, machete still in hand, “Taoism and natural farming, by contrast, is about harmony. We do not use the machete like this,” he gestures, sweeping the machete in the characteristic swinging motion or slash I’ve been accustomed to in the Amazon, “but like this.” He holds the top of the long grass, and gently saws off the bottom.

“And in doing so, we can be selective. We don’t kill indiscriminately, but leave wild nature, we leave the wild flowers, the bushes, the small trees emerging. This is diversity. And we plant in amongst them, in the spaces between, rather than forcing the area to have exactly and only what we want and know about.”

Six of us sit on the bottom of the hill on the dirt, watching. Eilif is a 53 year old, wizened, strong, slender and soft-spoken Norwegian who looks mostly at the ground as he talks – anywhere but us. He gives the air of a man afraid of confrontation, uneasy with direct eye contact – either from culture or from a lifetime of persecution – but he presses on, umming and ahhing profusely throughout his speech.

The volunteers inform me they’ve spent most of their two weeks here so far weeding – pulling out crabgrass, in particular – and they don’t understand why. Fukuoka does, after all, write My conviction was that crops grow themselves and should not have to be grown. I had acted in the belief that everything should be left to take its natural course, but I found that if you apply this way of thinking all at once, before long things do not go so well. This is abandonment, not “natural farming.”…The usual way to go about developing a method is to ask “How about trying this?” or “How about trying that?” bringing in a variety of techniques one upon the other. This is modern agriculture and it only results in making the farmer busier. My way was opposite. I was aiming at a pleasant, natural way of farming (farming as simply as possible within and in cooperation with the natural environment, rather than the modern approach of applying increasingly complex techniques to remake nature entirely for the benefit of human beings.) which results in making the work easier instead of harder. “How about not doing this? How about not doing that?” That was my way of thinking. I ultimately reached the conclusion that there was no need to plough, no need to apply fertilizer, no need to make compost, no need to use insecticide. When you get right down to it, there are few agricultural practices that are really necessary.

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MY FAVOURITE ONE STRAW REVOLUTION QUOTES

Many of these feature in future blogs on related issues inspired by conversations I had at Eilif’s farm.

From Frances Moore Lappé and Wendell Berry (Introduction and Preface)

‘While Fukuoka does have his list of do nots, The One Straw Revolution is ultimately about having more, not less. Nature can do the work we unnecessarily take on ourselves so what Fukuoka terms ‘natural farming’ is less labour intensive.’

‘I advocate ‘do nothing’ farming and so many people come, thinking they will find a utopia where one can live without ever having to get out of bed. These people are in for a big surprise.’ The argument here is not against work; it is against unnecessary work. People sometimes work more than they need to for the things they desire and some things that they desire, they do not need.’

‘Mr. Fukuoka is a scientist who is suspicious of science – or what too often passes for science. This does not mean that he is impractical or contemptuous of knowledge. His suspicion, indeed, comes from his practicality and from what he knows….Fukuoka condemns the piecemealing of knowledge by specialization. Like Howard, he wishes to pursue his subject in its wholeness and he never forgets that its wholeness includes both what he knows and what he does not know. What he fears in modern applied science is its disdain for mystery, its willingness to reduce life to what is known about it and to act on the assumption that what it does not know can safely be ignored….Mr. Fukuoka’s is a science that begins and ends in reverence – in awareness that the human grasp necessarily diminishes whatever it holds…Humans work best when they work for human good, not for ‘higher production,’ or ‘increased efficiency.’

‘It is not knowledge, he seems to say, that gives us the sense of the whole, but joy, which we may have only by not grasping.’

When it is understood that one loses joy and happiness in the effort to possess them, the essence of natural farming will be realised.’

‘Even so, the myth remains that organically raised produce is inevitably more expensive than food produced with the benefits of chemicals and must therefore be a luxury, impractical for the masses. Even many who are deeply engaged in the sustainability movement revert to the idea of ‘lack’ or of doing without in order to save the environment. Fukuoka, by contrast, encourages us to trust in nature’s bounty.’

‘The assumption that confronting scarcity is an immutable fact of human existence…has led to the paradox we see today: life stunting overwork and deprivation for the majority alongside life stunting overwork and surfeit for the minority.’

‘Today’s agribusiness companies lure farmers to their products by promising that by applying them to their fields according to fixed, prescribed schedules, without much thought to their unique circumstances, farmers can be sure of reliable profits. This might be termed ‘know nothing’ farming – very different from Fukuoka’s ‘do nothing’ farming…his is not a simple farming, but more complex, aligned farming.’

‘Fukuoka also implies that our fixation on control over nature has led us to assume that visual order – the straight, weeded rows of uniform fields – is superior farming. It something appears random, we assume it’s wrong. Because it doesn’t match our learned aesthetic. But as we come to experience nature as complex patterns of relationships of which we ourselves are part – patterns having nothing to do with the human, visually ordered world – he suggest we can come to see beneath appearances. Might we, like Fukuoka, find beauty in what we before perceived as distressingly random and untidy?’

From the Editor:

‘If the newcomer expected ‘natural farming’ to mean nature would farm while he sat and watched, Mr. Fukuoka soon taught him that there was a great deal he had to know and do. Strictly speaking, the only ‘natural’ farming is hunting and gathering. Raising agricultural crops is a cultural innovation which requires knowledge and persistent effort. The fundamental distinction is that Mr. Fukuoka farms by cooperating with nature rather than trying to ‘improve’ on nature by conquest.’ — Larry Korn

From Fukuoka below:

‘That realization completely changed my life. It is nothing you can really talk about, but it might be put something like this: “Humanity knows nothing at all. There is no intrinsic value in anything, and every action is a futile, meaningless effort.

‘It is generally thought that there is nothing more splendid than human intelligence, that human beings are creatures of special value, and that their creations and accomplishments, as mirrored in culture and history are wondrous to behold. That is the common belief, anyway…One night as I wandered, I collapsed in exhaustion on a hill overlooking the harbour, finally dozing against the trunk of a large tree. I lay there, neither asleep nor awake, until dawn. I can still remember that it was the morning of the 15th of May. In a daze, I watched the harbour grow light, seeing the sunrise and yet somehow not seeing it. As the breeze blew up from below the bluff, the morning mist suddenly disappeared. Just at that moment, a night heron appeared, gave a sharp cry, and flew away into the distance. I could hear the flapping of its wings. In an instant, all my doubts and the gloomy mist of my confusion vanished. Everything I had held in firm conviction, everything upon which I had ordinarily relied was swept away with the wind. I felt that I understood just one thing. Without my thinking about them, words came from my mouth: “In this world there is nothing at all…” I felt that I understood nothing (To “understand nothing,” in this sense, is to recognize the insufficiency of intellectual knowledge.).

I could see that all the concepts to which I had been clinging, the very notion of existence itself, were empty fabrications. My spirit became light and clear. I was dancing wildly for joy. I could hear the small birds chirping in the trees, and see the distant waves glistening in the rising sun. The leaves danced green and sparkling. I felt that this was truly heaven on earth. Everything that had possessed me, all the agonies, disappeared like dreams and illusions, and something one might call “true nature” stood revealed.

I think it would safely be said that from the experience of that morning my life changed completely.’

‘On this side is the wharf. On the other side is Pier 4. If you think there is life on this side, then death is on the other, if you want to get rid of the idea of death, then you should rid yourself of the notion that there is life on this side. Life and death are one.’

‘I went to Tokyo and stayed for a while, passing the days by walking in the park, stopping people on the street and talking to them, sleeping here and there. My friend was worried and came to see how I was getting along. “Aren’t you living in some dream world, some world of illusion?” he asked. “No,” I replied, “it’s you who are living in the dream world.” We both thought, “I am right and you are in the dream world.” When my friend turned to say good-bye, I answered with something like, “Don’t say good-bye. To part is just to part.” My friend seemed to have given up hope.’

My conviction was that crops grow themselves and should not have to be grown. I had acted in the belief that everything should be left to take its natural course, but I found that if you apply this way of thinking all at once, before long things do not go so well. This is abandonment, not “natural farming.”’

The usual way to go about developing a method is to ask “How about trying this?” or “How about trying that?” bringing in a variety of techniques one upon the other. This is modern agriculture and it only results in making the farmer busier.

‘My way was opposite. I was aiming at a pleasant, natural way of farming (farming as simply as possible within and in cooperation with the natural environment, rather than the modern approach of applying increasingly complex techniques to remake nature entirely for the benefit of human beings.) which results in making the work easier instead of harder. “How about not doing this? How about not doing that?” That was my way of thinking. I ultimately reached the conclusion that there was no need to plough, no need to apply fertilizer, no need to make compost, no need to use insecticide. When you get right down to it, there are few agricultural practices that are really necessary.

‘The reason that man’s improved techniques seem to be necessary is that the natural balance has been so badly upset beforehand by those same techniques that the land has become dependent on them.

‘This line of reasoning not only applies to agriculture, but to other aspects of human society as well. Doctors and medicine become necessary when people create a sickly environment. Formal schooling has no intrinsic value, but becomes necessary when humanity creates a condition in which one must become educated just to get along.

‘In raising children, many parents make the same mistake I made in the orchard at first. For example, teaching music to children is as unnecessary as pruning orchard trees. A child’s ear catches the music. The murmuring of a stream, the sound of frogs croaking by the riverbank, the rustling of leaves in the forest, all these natural sounds are music – true music. However, when a variety of disturbing noises enters and confuses the ear, the child’s pure, direct appreciation of music degenerates. If left to continue along that path, the child will be unable to hear the call of a bird or the sound of the wind as songs. That is why music education is thought to be beneficial to the child’s development.

‘The child who is raised with an ear pure and clear may not be able to play the popular tunes on the violin or the piano, but I do not think this has anything to do with the ability to hear true music or to sing. It is when the heart is filled with song that the child can be said to be musically gifted.’

‘Almost everyone thinks that “nature” is a good thing, but few can grasp the difference between natural and unnatural.’

‘If a single new bud is snipped off a fruit tree with a pair of scissors it may bring about disorder that cannot be undone. When growing according to the natural form, branches spread alternately from the trunk and the leaves receive sunlight uniformly. If this sequence is disrupted the branches come into conflict, lay one upon another and become tangled, and the leaves wither in the places where the sun cannot penetrate. Insect damage develops. If the tree is not pruned the following year more withered branches will appear.’

‘Human beings with their tampering do something wrong, leave the damage unrepaired, and when the adverse results accumulate, work with all their might to correct them. When the corrective actions appear to be successful, they come to view these measures as splendid accomplishments. People do this over and over again. It is as if a fool were to stomp on and break the tiles of his roof. Then when it starts to rain and the ceiling begins to rot away, he hastily climbs up to mend the damage, rejoicing in the end that he has accomplished a miraculous solution.’

‘To grow crops in an unploughed field may seem at first a regression to primitive agriculture, but over the years, this method has been shown in university laboratories and agricultural testing centres across the country to be the most simple, efficient, and up -to -date method of all. Although this way of farming disavows modern science, it now has come to stand in the forefront of modern agricultural development.’

‘Therefore, one may ask why this truth has not spread. I think that one of the reasons is that the world has become so specialized that it has become impossible for people to grasp anything in its entirety…This sort of thing goes on all the time. Specialists and technicians from all over Japan have come to this farm. Seeing the fields from the standpoint of his own specially, every one of these researchers has found them at least satisfactory, if not remarkable. However, in the five or six years since the professor from the research station came to visit here, there have been few changes in Kochi Prefecture.’

‘Self-styled experts often comment, “The basic idea of the method is all right, but wouldn’t it be more convenient to harvest by machine?” Or, “Wouldn’t the yield be greater if you used fertilizer or pesticide in certain cases or at certain times?” There are always those who try to mix natural and scientific farming. However, this way of thinking completely misses the point. The farmer who moves toward compromise can no longer criticize science at the fundamental level.’

‘Scientists think they can understand nature. That is the stand they take. Because they are convinced that they can understand nature, they are committed to investigating nature and putting it to use. However, I think an understanding of nature lies beyond the reach of human intelligence.

‘I often tell the young people in the huts on the mountain, who come here to help out and to learn about natural farming, that anybody can see the trees up on the Mountain. They can see the green of the leaves; they can see the rice plants. They think they know what green is. In contact with nature morning and night, they sometimes come to think that they know nature. However, when they think they are beginning to understand nature, they can be sure that they are on the wrong track.

‘Why is it impossible to know nature? That which is conceived to be nature is only the idea of nature arising in each person’s mind. The ones who see true nature are infants. They see without thinking, straight and clear. If even the names of plants are known, a mandarin orange tree of the citrus family, a pine of the pine family, nature is not seen in its true form.’

‘An object seen in isolation from the whole is not the real thing.’

‘Specialists in various fields gather together and observe a stalk of rice. The insect disease specialist sees only insect damage; the specialist in plant nutrition considers only the plant’s vigour. This is unavoidable as things are now.

‘As an example, I told the gentleman from the research station when he was investigating the relation between rice leaf-hoppers and spiders in my fields, “Professor, since you are researching spiders, you are interested in only one among the many natural predators of the leafhopper. This year spiders appeared in great numbers, but last year it was toads. Before that, it was frogs that pre dominated. There are countless variations.”’

‘The irony is that science has served only to show how small human knowledge is.’

‘In making the transition to this kind of farming, some weeding, composting or pruning may be necessary at first, but these measures should be gradually reduced each year. Ultimately, it is not the growing technique, which is the most important factor, but rather the state of mind of the farmer.’

‘There is no need to prepare compost. I will not say that you do not need compost-only that there is no need to work hard making it. If straw is left lying on the surface of the field in the spring or fall and is covered with a thin layer of chicken manure or duck droppings, in six months it will completely decompose.

‘To make compost by the usual method, the farmer works like crazy in the hot sun, chopping up the straw, adding water and lime, turning the pile, and hauling it out to the field. He puts himself through all this grief because he thinks it is a “better way.” I would rather see people just scattering straw, hulls, or woodchips over their fields.’

But if farmers would stop using weak, “improved” seed varieties, stop adding too much nitrogen to the soil, and reduce the amount of irrigation water so that strong roots could develop, these diseases would all but disappear and chemical sprays would become unnecessary.’

‘Looking at the many research testing centre reports you can find the results of using practically every chemical spray on record. However, it is generally not realized that only half of these results are reported. Of course, there is no intention of hiding anything, but when the results are published by the chemical companies, as in advertisements, it is the same as if the conflicting data had been concealed. Results that show lower yields, as in the experiment with the stem borers, are checked off as experimental discrepancies and discarded. There are, of course, cases in which insect extermination results in increased yields, but there are other cases in which the yield is reduced. Reports of the latter rarely appear in print.’

‘Before researchers become researchers, they should become philosophers. They should consider what the human goal is, what it is that humanity should create. Doctors should first determine at the fundamental level what it is that human beings depend on for life.’

‘Modern research divides nature into tiny pieces and conducts tests that conform neither with natural law nor to practical experiences. The results are arranged for the convenience of research, not according to the needs of the farmer. To think that these conclusions can be put to use with invariable success in the farmer’s field is a big mistake.’

‘It appears that things go better when the farmer applies “scientific” techniques, but this does not mean that science must come to the rescue because the natural fertility is inherently insufficient. It means that rescue is necessary because the natural fertility has been destroyed. ‘

‘The fact of the matter is that whatever we do, the situation gets worse. The more elaborate the counter measures, the more complicated the problems become…When a decision is made to cope with the symptoms of a problem, it is generally assumed that the corrective measures will solve the problem itself. They seldom do. Engineers cannot seem to get this through their heads. These countermeasures are all based on too narrow a definition of what is wrong. Human measures and countermeasures proceed from limited scientific truth and judgment. A true solution can never come about in this way (By “limited scientific truth and judgment”, Mr. Fukuoka is referring to the world as perceived and constructed by the human intellect. He considers this perception to be limited to a framework defined by its own assumptions.).’

‘Since natural food can be produced with the least expense and effort, I reason that it should be sold at the cheapest price…As for the consumer, the common belief has been that natural food should be expensive. If it is not expensive, people suspect that it is not natural food. One retailer remarked to me that no one would buy natural produce unless it is priced high.’

‘…It is the same with fertilizer and chemicals. Instead of developing fertilizer with the farmer in mind, the emphasis is on developing something new, anything at all, in order to make money. After the technicians leave their jobs at the testing centres, they move right over to work for the large chemical companies.’

‘Food and medicine are not two different things: they are the front and back of one body. Chemically grown vegetables may be eaten for food, but they cannot be used as medicine.’

‘The fundamental question here is whether or not it is necessary for human beings to eat eggplants and cucumbers during the winter. But, this point aside, the only reason they are grown during the winter is that they can be sold then at a good price. Somebody develops a means to grow them, and after some time passes, it is found that these vegetables have no nutritional value. Next, the technician thinks that if the nutrients are being lost, a way must be found to prevent that loss. Because the trouble is thought to be with the lighting system, he begins to research light rays. He thinks everything will be all right if he can produce a hothouse eggplant with vitamins in it. I was told that there are some technicians who devote their entire lives to this kind of research.’

‘The goal is to have only a few people in farming. The agricultural authorities say that fewer people, using large, modern machinery can get greater yields from the same acreage. This is considered agricultural progress. After the War, between 70% and 80% of the people in Japan were farmers. This quickly changed to 50%, then 30%, 20%, and now the figure stands at around 14%. It is the intention of the Ministry of Agriculture to achieve the same level as in Europe and America, keeping less than 10% of the people as farmers and discouraging the rest.’

‘Agriculture must change from large mechanical operations to small farms attached only to life itself. Material life and diet should be given a simple place. If this is done, work becomes pleasant, and spiritual breathing space becomes plentiful.’

To break experience in half and call one side physical and the other spiritual is narrowing and confusing. People do not live dependent on food. Ultimately, we cannot know what food is. It would be better if people stopped even thinking about food. Similarly, it would be well if people stopped troubling themselves about discovering the “true meaning of life;” we can never know the answers to great spiritual questions, it’s all right not to understand. We have been born and are living on the earth to face directly the reality of living. .. Just to live here and now – this is the true basis of human life. When a naive scientific knowledge becomes the basis of living, people come to live as if they are dependent only on starch, fats, and protein, and plants on nitrogen, phosphorous, and potash.’

‘Moreover, the scientists, no matter how much they investigate nature, no matter how far they research, they only come to realize in the end how perfect and mysterious nature really is. To believe that by research and invention humanity can create something better than nature is an illusion. I think that people are struggling for no other reason than to come to know what you might call the vast incomprehensibility of nature.’

Is nature ‘perfect’? Does scientific understanding destroy wonder and mystery, awe and reverence, or increase it?

‘I do not particularly like the word “work.” Human beings are the only animals who have to work, and I think this is the most ridiculous thing in the world. Other animals make their livings by living, but people work like crazy, thinking that they have to in order to stay alive. The bigger the job, the greater the challenge, and the more wonderful they think it is. It would be good to give up that way of thinking and live an easy, comfortable life with plenty of free time. I think that the way animals live in the tropics, stepping outside in the morning and evening to see if there is something to eat, and taking a long nap in the afternoon, must be a wonderful life.

‘For human beings, a life of such simplicity would be possible if one worked to produce directly his daily necessities. In such a life, work is not work as people generally think of it, but simply doing what needs to be done.’

‘…among natural farming methods two kinds could be distinguished: broad, transcendent natural farming, and the narrow natural farming of the relative world (This is the world understood by the intellect.). If I were pressed to talk about it in Buddhist terms, the two could be called respectively as Mahayana and Hinayana natural farming.

‘Broad, Mahayana natural farming arises of itself when a unity exists between man and nature. It conforms to nature as it is, and to the mind as it is. It proceeds from the conviction that if the individual temporarily abandons human will and so allows himself to be guided by nature, nature responds by providing everything. To give a simple analogy, in transcendent natural farming the relationship between humanity and nature can be compared with a husband and wife joined in perfect marriage. The marriage is not bestowed, not received; the perfect pair comes into existence of itself.

‘Narrow natural farming, on the other hand, is pursuing the way of nature; it self-consciously attempts, by “organic” or other methods, to follow nature. Farming is used for achieving a given objective. Although sincerely loving nature and earnestly proposing to her, the relationship is still tentative. Modern industrial farming desires heaven’s wisdom, without grasping its meaning, and at the same time wants to make use of nature. Restlessly searching, it is unable to find anyone to propose to.

‘The narrow view of natural farming says that it is good for the farmer to apply organic material to the soil and good to raise animals, and that this is the best and most efficient way to put nature to use. To speak in terms of personal practice, this is fine, but with this way alone, the spirit of true natural farming cannot be kept alive. This kind of narrow natural farming is analogous to the school of swordsmanship known as the one-stroke school, which seeks victory through the skillful, yet self-conscious application of technique. Modem industrial farming follows the two-stroke school, which believes that victory can be won by delivering the greatest barrage of sword strokes.

‘Pure natural farming, by contrast, is the no-stroke school. It goes nowhere and seeks no victory. Putting “doing nothing” into practice is the one thing the farmer should strive to accomplish. Lao Tzu spoke of non-active nature, and I think that if he were a farmer he would certainly practice natural farming. I believe that Gandhi’s way, a method-less method, acting with a non-winning, non-opposing state of mind, is akin to natural farming. When it is understood that one loses joy and happiness in the attempt to possess them, the essence of natural farming will be realized. The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings (In this paragraph Mr. Fukuoka is drawing a distinction between techniques undertaken in conscious pursuit of a given objective, and those which arise spontaneously as the expression of a person’s harmony with nature as he goes about his daily business, free from the domination of the volitional intellect.).”

“The reason for all the confusion is that there are two paths of human knowledge – discriminating and non-discriminating (This is a distinction made by many Oriental philosophers. Discriminating knowledge is derived from the analytic, willful intellect in an attempt to organize experience into a logical framework. Mr. Fukuoka believes that in this process, the individual sets himself apart from nature. It is the limited scientific truth and judgment. Non-discriminating knowledge arises without conscious effort on the part of the individual when experience is accepted as it is, without interpretation by the intellect. While discriminating knowledge is essential for analysing practical problems in the world, Mr. Fukuoka believes that ultimately it provides too narrow a perspective.). People generally believe that unmistaken recognition of the world is possible through discrimination alone. Therefore, the word “nature” as it is generally spoken, denotes nature, as it is perceived by the discriminating intellect.

‘I deny the empty image of nature as created by the human intellect, and clearly distinguish it from nature itself as experienced by non-discriminating understanding. If we eradicate the false conception of nature, I believe the root of the world’s disorder will disappear.’

‘In the West natural science developed from discriminating knowledge, in the East the philosophy of yin -yang and of the I Ching developed from the same source. But scientific truth can never reach absolute truth, and philosophies, after all, are nothing more than interpretations of the world. Nature as grasped by scientific knowledge is a nature that has been destroyed; it is a ghost possessing a skeleton, but no soul. Nature as grasped by philosophical knowledge is a theory created out of human speculation, a ghost with a soul, but no structure.

‘There is no way in which non-discriminating knowledge can be realized except by direct intuition, but people try to fit it into a familiar framework by calling it “instinct.” It is actually knowledge from an unnameable source. Abandon the discriminating mind and transcend the world of relativity if you want to know the true appearance of nature. From the beginning, there is no east or west, no four seasons, and no yin or yang.’

‘If people will acquire food through “no-mind” (A Buddhist term which describes the state in which there is no distinction between the individual and the “external” world.) even though they know nothing at all about yin and yang, they can attain a perfect natural diet.’

‘Buddha said, “Form is emptiness and emptiness is form.” Since the “form” of Buddhist terminology indicates matter, or things, and emptiness is the mind, he is saying that matter and mind are the same. Things have many different colours, shapes, and flavours, and people’s minds flit from side to side, attracted to the various qualities of things. Actually, matter and mind are one.

‘In the world, there are seven basic colours. But if these seven colours are combined, they become white. When split by a prism the white light becomes seven colours. When man views the world with “no-mind” the colour in the colour vanishes. It is no -colour. Only when they are viewed by the seven-coloured mind of discrimination do the seven colours appear…Water undergoes countless changes but water is still water. In the same way, although the conscious mind appears to undergo changes, the original unmoving mind does not change. When one becomes infatuated with the seven colours, the mind is easily distracted. The colours of leaves, branches, and fruit are perceived, while the basis of colour passes unnoticed.

‘This is also true of food. In this world, there are many natural substances that are suitable for human food. These foods are distinguished by the mind and are thought to have good and bad qualities. People then consciously select what they think they must have. This process of selection impedes the recognition of the basis of human nourishment, which is what heaven prescribes for the place and season.’

‘Flavourful foods are not flavourful in themselves. Food is not delicious unless a person thinks it is.’

‘Just playing or doing nothing at all, children are happy. A discriminating adult, on the other hand, decides what will make him happy, and when these conditions are met, he feels satisfied. Foods taste good to him not necessarily because they have nature’s subtle flavours and are nourishing to the body, but because his taste has been conditioned to the idea that they taste good.’

‘Culture is usually thought of as something created, maintained, and developed by humanity’s efforts alone. But culture always originates in the partnership of man and nature. When the union of human society and nature is realized, culture takes shape of itself. Culture has always been closely connected with daily life, and so has been passed on to future generations, and has been preserved up to the present time.

‘Something born from human pride and the quest for pleasure cannot be considered true culture. True culture is born within nature, and is simple, humble, and pure. Lacking true culture, humanity will perish.’

‘The diet of non discrimination – Food is food and food is not food. It is a part of man and is apart from man.’

‘When food, the body, the heart, and the mind become perfectly united within nature, a natural diet becomes possible. The body as it is, following its own instinct, eating if something tastes good, abstaining if it does not, is free.’

‘It is impossible to prescribe rules and proportions for a natural diet (A definite code or system by which one can consciously decide these questions is impossible. Nature, or the body itself, serves as a capable guide. But this subtle guidance goes unheard by most people because of the clamour caused by desire and by the activity of the discriminating mind.). This diet defines itself according to the local environment, and the various needs and the bodily constitution of each person.’

‘It appears that, by applying the system of yin and yang, people can explain the origin of the universe and the transformations of nature. It may also seem that the harmony of the human body can be determined and consciously sustained. But if the doctrines are entered into too deeply (as is necessary in the study of Eastern medicine) one enters the domain of science and fails to make the essential escape from discriminating perception.’

‘People complacently view the world as a place where “progress” grows out of turmoil and confusion. But purposeless and destructive development invites confusion of thought, invites nothing less than the degeneration and collapse of humankind. If it is not clearly understood what the non-moving source of all this activity is – what nature is – it will be impossible to recover our health.’

‘People study because they think they do not understand, but studying is not going to help one to understand. They study hard only to find out in the end that people cannot know anything that understanding lies beyond human reach.

‘Usually people’ think that the word “non-understanding” applies when you say, for example, that you understand nine things, but there is one thing you do not understand. But intending to understand ten things, you actually do not understand even one. If you know a hundred flowers, you do not “know” a single one. People struggle hard to understand, convince themselves that they understand, and die knowing nothing.’

‘People think that when they turn their eyes from the earth to the sky they see the heavens. They set the orange fruit apart from the green leaves and say they know the green of the leaves and the orange of the fruit. But from the instant one makes a distinction between green and orange, the true colours vanish.

‘People think they understand things because they become familiar with them. This is only superficial knowledge. It is the knowledge of the astronomer who knows the names of the stars, the botanist who knows the classification of the leaves and flowers, the artist who knows the aesthetics of green and red. This is not to know nature itself-the earth and sky, green and red. Astronomer, botanist, and artist have done no more than grasp impressions and interpret them, each within the vault of his own mind. The more involved they become with the activity of the intellect, the more they set themselves apart and the more difficult it becomes to live naturally.

‘The tragedy is that in their unfounded arrogance, people attempt to bend nature to their will. Human beings can destroy natural forms, but they cannot create them. Discrimination, a fragmented and in- complete understanding, always forms the starting point of human knowledge. Unable to know the whole of nature, people can do no better than to construct an incomplete model of it and then delude themselves into thinking that they have created something natural.

‘All someone has to do to know nature is to realize that he does not really know anything, that he is unable to know anything. It can then be expected that he will lose interest in discriminating knowledge. When he abandons discriminating knowledge, non-discriminating knowledge of itself arises within him. If he does not try to think about knowing, if he does not care about understanding, the time will come when he will understand. There is no other way than through the destruction of the ego, casting aside the thought that humans exist apart from heaven and earth. ’

‘There is no east or west. The sun comes up in the cast, sets in the west, but this is merely an astronomical observation. Knowing that you do not understand either east or west is closer to the truth. The fact is, no one knows where the sun comes from.’

‘The joy of life does not depart in death. Death is no more than a momentary passing.’

“The world itself is a unity of matter within the flow of experience, but people’s minds divide phenomena into dualities such as life and death, yin and yang, being and emptiness. The mind comes to believe in the absolute validity of what the senses perceive and then, for the first time, matter as it is turns into objects as human beings normally perceive them.

‘The forms of the material world, concepts of life and death, health and disease, joy and sorrow, all originate in the human mind. In the sutra, when Buddha said that all is void, he was not only denying intrinsic reality to anything which is constructed by human intellect, but he was also declaring that human emotions are illusions.

“You mean all is illusion. There’s nothing left?”

“Nothing left? The concept of ‘void’ remains in your mind apparently,” I said to the youth. “If you don’t know where you came from or where you’re going, then how can you be sure you’re here, standing in front of me? Is existence meaningless?””

‘Originally, human beings had no purpose. Now, dreaming up some purpose or other, they struggle away trying to find the meaning of life. It is a one -man wrestling match. There is no purpose one has to think about, or go out in search of. You would do well to ask the children whether or not a life without purpose is meaningless.

‘Once he inquires what nature is, he then must inquire what that “what” is, and what that human who inquires what that “what” is. He heads, that is to say, into a world of endless questioning.;

‘In trying to gain a clear understanding of what it is that fills him with wonder, what it is that astonishes him, he has two possible paths. The first is to look deeply into himself, at him who asks the question, “What is nature?”

‘The second is to examine nature apart from man.

‘The first path leads to the realm of philosophy and religion. Gazing vacantly, it is not unnatural to see the water as flowing from above to below, but there is no inconsistency in seeing the water as standing still and the bridge as flowing by.

‘If, on the other hand, following the second path, the scene is divided into a variety of natural phenomena, the water, the speed of the current, the waves, the wind and white clouds, all of these separately become objects of investigation, leading to further questions, which spread out endlessly in all directions. This is the path of science.

‘The world used to be simple. You merely noticed in passing that you got wet by brushing against the drops of dew while meandering through the meadow. But from the time people undertook to explain this one drop of dew scientifically, they trapped themselves in the endless hell of the intellect.

‘Water molecules are made up of atoms of hydrogen and oxygen. People once thought that the smallest particles in the world were atoms, but then they found out that there was a nucleus inside the atom. Now they have discovered that within the nucleus there are even tinier particle. Among these nuclear particles, there are hundreds of different varieties and no one knows where the examination of this minute world will end.

‘It is said that the way electrons orbit at ultrahigh speeds within the atom is exactly like the flight of comets within the galaxy. To the atomic physicist the world of elementary particles is a world as vast as the universe itself. Yet, it has been shown that in addition to the immediate galaxy in which we live there are countless other galaxies. In the eyes of the cosmologist, then, our entire galaxy becomes infinitesimally small.

‘The fact is that people who think a drop of water is simple or that a rock is fixed and inert are happy, ignorant fools, and the scientists who know that the drop of water is a great universe and the rock is an active world of elementary particles streaming about like rockets, are clever fools. Looked at simply, this world is real and at hand. Seen as complex, the world becomes frighteningly abstract and distant.

‘The scientists who rejoiced when rocks were brought back from the moon have less grasp of the moon than the children who sing out, “How old are you, Mr. Moon?” Basho (A famous Japanese haiku poet (1644-1694).) could apprehend the wonder of nature by watching the reflection of the full moon in the tranquillity of a pond. All the scientists did when they went off into space and stomped around in their space boots was to tarnish a bit of the moon’s splendour for millions of lovers and children on the earth.
’

‘In nature, the world of relativity does not exist. The idea of relative phenomena is a structure given to experience by the human intellect. Other animals live in a world of undivided reality. To the extent that one lives in the relative world of the intellect, one loses sight of time that is beyond time and of space that is beyond space.’

‘You might be wondering why I have this habit of picking on the scientists all the time,” I said, pausing to take a sip of tea. The youths looked up smiling, faces glowing and flickering in the firelight. “It’s because the role of the scientist in society is analogous to the role of discrimination in your own minds.’

The world itself never asks whether it is based upon a principle of competition or of cooperation. When seen from the relative perspective of the human intellect, there a re those who are strong and there are those who are weak, there is large and there is small.’

‘Now there is no one who doubts that this relative outlook exists, but if we were to suppose that the relativity of human perception is mistaken – for example, that there is no big and no small, no up or down – if we say there is no such standpoint at all, human values and judgment would collapse.’

The ones who live peacefully in a world of no contradictions and no distinctions are infants. They perceive light and dark, strong and weak, but make no judgments. Even though the snake and the frog exist, the child has no understanding of strong and weak. The original joy of life is there, but the fear of death is yet to appear.

‘People distinguish between Self and Other. To the extent that the ego exists, to the extent that there is an “other,” people will not be relieved from love and hatred.’

‘The heart that loves the wicked ego creates the hated enemy. For humans, the first and greatest enemy is the Self that they hold so dear.’

‘People choose to attack or to defend. In the ensuing struggle, they accuse one another of instigating conflict. It is like clapping your hands and then arguing about which is making the sound, the right hand, or the left. In all contentions, there is neither right nor wrong, neither good nor bad. All conscious distinctions arise at the same time and all are mistaken.’

The act of defense is already an attack. Weapons for self-defense always give a pretext to those who instigate wars. The calamity of war comes from the strengthening and magnifying of empty distinctions of self/other, strong/weak, attack/defense.’

‘There is no other road to peace than for all people to depart from the castle gate of relative perception, go down into the meadow, and return to the heart of non-active nature. That is, sharpening the sickle in- stead of the sword.’

FOUR PRINCIPLES OF NATURAL FARMING

Extracts from Fukuoka’s ‘One Straw Revolution’:

The first is NO CULTIVATION, that is, no ploughing or turning of the soil. For Centuries, farmers have assumed that the plough is essential for growing crops. However, non-cultivation is fundamental to natural farming. The earth cultivates itself naturally by means of the penetration of plant roots and the activity of microorganisms, small animals, and earthworms.

When the soil is cultivated, the natural environment is altered beyond recognition. The repercussions of such acts have caused the farmer nightmares for countless generations. For example, when a natural area is brought under the plough very strong weeds such as crabgrass and docks sometimes come to dominate the vegetation. When these weeds take hold, the farmer is faced with a nearly impossible task of weeding each year. Very often, the land is abandoned.

Cultivation of the soil should be discontinued, if gentle measures such as spreading straw and sowing clover are practiced, instead of using man-made chemicals and machinery to wage a war of annihilation, then the environment will move back toward its natural balance and even troublesome weeds can be brought under control.

The second is NO CHEMICAL FERTILIZER OR PREPARED COMPOST (For fertilizer Mr Fukuoka grows a leguminous cover of white clover, returns the threshed straw to the fields, and adds a little poultry manure.). People interfere with nature and, try as they may, they cannot heal the resulting wounds. Their careless farming practices drain the soil of essential nutrients and the result is yearly depletion of the land. If left to itself, the soil maintains its fertility naturally, in accordance with the orderly cycle of plant and animal life.

I have been known, in chatting with soil fertility experts, to ask, “If a field is left to itself, will the soil’s fertility increase or will it become depleted?” They usually pause and say something like, “Well, let’s see … It’ll become depleted. No, not when you remember that when rice is grown for a long time in the same field without fertilizer, the harvest settles at about 9 bushels (525 pounds) per quarter acre. The earth would become neither enriched nor depleted.”

These specialists are referring to a cultivated, flooded field; if nature is left to itself, fertility increases. Organic remains of plants and animals accumulate and are decomposed on the surface by bacteria and fungi. With the movement of rainwater, the nutrients are taken deep into the soil to become food for microorganisms, earthworms, and other small animals. Plant roots reach to the lower soil strata and draw the nutrients back up to the surface.

If you want to get an idea of the natural fertility of the earth, take a walk to the wild mountainside sometime and look at the giant trees that grow without fertilizer and without cultivation. The fertility of nature, as it is, is beyond reach of the imagination.

Cut down the natural forest cover, plant Japanese red pine or cedar trees for a few generations, and the soil will become depleted and open to erosion. On the other hand, take a barren mountain with poor, red clay soil, and plant pine or cedar with a ground cover of clover and alfalfa. As the green manure (Ground cover crops such as clover, vetch, alfalfa which condition and nourish the soil.) enriches and softens the soil, weeds and bushes grow up below the trees, and a rich cycle of regeneration is begun. There are instances in which the top four inches of soil have become enriched in less than ten years.

For growing agricultural crops, also, the use of prepared fertilizer can be discontinued. For the most part, a permanent green manure cover and the return of all the straw and chaff to the soil will be sufficient. To provide animal manure to help decompose the straw, I used to let ducks loose in the fields, if they are introduced as ducklings while the seedlings are still young, the ducks will grow up together with the rice. Ten ducks will supply all the manure necessary for a quarter acre and will also help to control the weeds.

I did this for many years until the construction of a national highway made it impossible for the ducks to get across the road and back to the coop. Now I use a little chicken manure to help decompose the straw. In other areas, ducks or other small grazing animals are still a practical possibility.

Adding too much fertilizer can lead to problems. One year, right after the rice transplanting, I contracted to rent 1 1/4 acres of freshly planted rice fields for a period of one year. I ran all the water out of the fields and proceeded without chemical fertilizer, applying only a small amount of chicken manure. Four of the fields developed normally. However, in the fifth, no matter what I did, the rice plants came up too thickly and were attacked by blast disease. When I asked the owner about this, he said he had used the field over the winter as a dump for chicken manure.

Using straw, green manure, and a little poultry manure, one can get high yields without adding compost or commercial fertilizer at all. For several decades now, I have been sitting back, observing nature’s method of cultivation and fertilization. In addition, while watching, I have been reaping bumper crops of vegetables, citrus, rice, and winter grain as a gift, so to speak, from the natural fertility of the earth.

‘Farmers came to believe in compost as though it were the protective deity of the soil. Now again there is a movement to make more compost, “better” compost, with earthworms and “compost-starter.” There is no reason to expect an easy acceptance of my suggestion that prepared compost is unnecessary, that all you have to do is scatter fresh unshredded straw across the field.’

The third is NO WEEDING BY TILLAGE OR HERBICIDES. Weeds play their part in building soil fertility and in balancing the biological community. As a fundamental principle, weeds should be controlled, not eliminated. Straw mulch, a ground cover of white clover interplanted with the crops, and temporary flooding provide effective weed control in my fields.

Here are some key points to remember in dealing with weeds:

As soon as cultivation is discontinued, the number of weeds decreases sharply. Also, the varieties of weeds in a given field will change.

If seeds are sown while the preceding crop is still ripening in the field, those seeds will germinate ahead of the weeds. Winter weeds sprout only after the rice has been harvested, but by that time, the winter grain already has a head start. Summer weeds sprout right after the harvest of barley and rye, but the rice is already growing strongly. Timing the seeding in such a way that there is no interval between succeeding crops gives the grain a great advantage over the weeds.

Directly after the harvest, if the whole field is covered with straw, the germination of weeds is stopped short. White clover sowed with the grain as a ground cover also helps to keep weeds under control.

The usual way to deal with weeds is to cultivate the soil. But when you cultivate, seeds lying deep in the soil, which would never have germinated other- wise, are stirred up and given a chance to sprout. Furthermore, the quick-sprouting, fast-growing varieties are given the advantage under these conditions. Therefore, you might say that the farmer who tries to control weeds by cultivating the soil is, quite literally, sowing the seeds of his own misfortune.

The fourth is NO DEPENDENCE ON CHEMICALS (Mr Fukuoka grows his grain crops without chemicals of any kind. On some orchard trees, he occasionally uses machine oil emulsion for the control of insect scales. He uses no persistent or broad-spectrum poisons, and has no “pesticide” programme.). From the time that weak plants developed because of such unnatural practices as ploughing and fertilizing, disease and insect imbalance became a great problem in agriculture. Nature, left alone, is in perfect balance. Harmful insects and plant diseases are always present, but do not occur in nature to an extent, which requires the use of poisonous chemicals. The sensible approach to disease and insect control is to grow sturdy crops in a healthy environment.

Let us say that there are still some people who think that if chemicals are not used their fruit trees and field crops will wither before their very eyes. The fact of the matter is that by using these chemicals, people have unwittingly brought about the conditions in which this unfounded fear may become reality.

Recently Japanese red pines have been suffering severe damage from an outbreak of pine bark weevils. Foresters are now using helicopters in an attempt to stop the damage by aerial spraying. I do not deny that this is effective in the short run, but I know there must be another way.

Weevil blights, according to the latest research, are not a direct infestation, but follow upon the action of mediating nematodes. The nematodes breed within the trunk, block the transport of water and nutrients, and eventually cause the pine to wither and die. The ultimate cause, of course, is not yet clearly understood.

Nematodes feed on a fungus within the tree’s trunk. Why did this fungus begin to spread so prolifically within the tree? Did the fungus begin to multiply after the nematode had already appeared? Alternatively, did the nematode appear because the fungus was already present? It boils down to a question of which came first, the fungus or the nematode.

Furthermore, there is another microbe about which very little is known, which always accompanies the fungus, and a virus toxic to the fungus. Effect following effect in every direction, the only thing that can be said with certainty is that the pine trees ace withering in unusual numbers.

People cannot know what the true cause of the pine blight is, nor can they know the ultimate consequences of their “remedy.” If the situation is meddled with unknowingly, that only sows the seeds for the next great catastrophe. No, I cannot rejoice in the knowledge that immediate damage from the weevil has been reduced by chemical spraying. Using agricultural chemicals is the most inept way to deal with problems such as these, and will only lead to greater problems in the future.

I am not saying that I advocate the use of so-called harmless “organic” sprays such as salt-garlic solution or machine oil emulsion, nor am I in favour of introducing foreign predator species into the orchard to control troublesome insects. Trees weaken and are attacked by insects to the extent that they deviate from the natural form. If trees are growing along a pattern of unnatural development and are left abandoned in this state, the branches become tangled and insect damage results. I have already told how I wiped out several acres of citrus trees this way.

Nevertheless, if the trees are gradually corrected, they will return at least approximately to their natural form. The trees become stronger and measures to control insects become unnecessary. If a tree is planted carefully and allowed to follow the natural form from the beginning, there is no need for pruning or sprays of any kind. Most seedling trees have been pruned or their roots have been damaged at the nursery before they are transplanted to the orchard, which makes pruning necessary right from the start.

Additional Notes on Practices from Fukuoka and Eilif:

  1. Don’t water too much – gives a chance for strong roots to develop and higher insect resistance ‘With insect damage, the situation is the same. The most important thing is not to kill the natural predators. Keeping the field continuously under water or irrigating with stagnant or polluted water will also lead to insect problems.’
  2. Don’t prune too much – allows the natural form, and the plants are more insect resistant and immune.
  3. Weed carefully – keep beneficial wild plants. Don’t just haul everything out just because you don’t know what it is!
  4. Direct seeding / broadcasting / clay pellets.
  5. Machine oil emulsion (‘’ if a solution of machine oil, a chemical relatively harmless to the predators, is diluted 200 to 400 times and is sprayed lightly in midsummer, and the insect communities are left to achieve their natural balance after that, the problem will generally take care of itself.) or ashes for pesticide? Wait for natural predators to come. Allow for SOME pests – e.g. stem borers attack weakest maize crops so naturally thin it out and allow more light to lower leaves of remaining branches and higher overall yield compared to where no stem borers allowed.
  6. Simple hand tools – minimal disruption to nature.
  7. Mulch haphazardly not neatly.
  8. Rotate crops esp grains and winter crop. Seed winter crop while grain still standing
  9. Grow veggies like wild plants (‘semi wild’) – ‘In growing vegetables in a “semi-wild” way, making use of a vacant lot, riverbank or open wasteland, my idea is to just toss out the seeds and let the vegetables grow up with the weeds…The important thing is knowing the right time to plant. For the spring vegetables the right time is when the winter weeds are dying back and just before the summer weeds have sprouted…It is best to wait for a rain, which is likely to last for several days. Cut a swath in the weed cover and put out the vegetable seeds. There is no need to cover them with soil; just lay the weeds you have cut back over the seeds to act as a mulch and to hide them from the birds and chickens until they can germinate. Usually the weeds must be cut back two or three times in order to give the vegetable seedlings a head start, but sometimes just once is enough…Where the weeds and clover are not so thick, you can simply toss out the seeds. The chickens will eat some of them, but many will germinate. If you plant in a row or furrow, there is a chance that beetles or other insects will devour many of the seeds. They walk in a straight line. Chickens also spot a patch that has been cleared and come to scratch around. It is my experience that it is best to scatter the seeds here and there. Vegetables grown in this way are stronger than most people think. If they sprout up before the weeds, they will not be overgrown later on.
  10. Grow right things at right time – don’t try to extend growing season or make it earlier (applies to greenhouse use too)
  11. Be prepared for failure in early years. Also ‘do nothing’ does not mean ‘abandon’ – sometimes intensive techniques might be needed for regenerating soils after long time of misuse.
A QUICK COMPARISON OF NATURAL FARMING, PERMACULTURE, RESOURCE-BASED ECONOMIES AND THE CURRENT SYSTEM
  NATURAL FARMING PERMACULTURE RBE CURRENT SYSTEM
Definition ‘Do-nothing’ farming which minimizes human effort  Permaculture is the study of the design of those sustainable or enduring systems that support human society, both agricultural & intellectual, traditional & scientific, architectural, financial & legal. It is the study of integrated systems, for the purpose of better design & application of such systems.

 

 

A society without money, barter or trade, with the awareness that Humanity is One family and where technology, science and spirituality is used to it’s fullest to develop and manage the planet’s resources to provide abundance for everyone in the most sustainable way. NA
Principles / Philosophy 1.     No tilling

2.     No fertilizer or prepared compost

3.     No pesticides or herbicides

4.     No pruning or weeding

 

Based on Taoism, ‘no-mind’ – 3 principles are no effort (or less effort), creating harmony and acting with reverence.

1.     People care

2.     Earth care

3.     Surplus share

 

Principles:

  1. Observe and interact.
  2. Catch and store energy.
  3. Obtain a yield.
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback.
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services.
  6. Produce no waste.
  7. Design from patterns to details.
  8. Integrate rather than segregate.
  9. Use small and slow solutions.
  10. Use and value diversity.
  11. Use edges and value the marginal.
  12. Creatively use and respond to change.

 

No list of principles as such, but ‘moneyless,’ access-not-ownership, tech-automated, abundance and maximizing efficiency are probably good principles for a start. Survival of the fittest.

More is better.

Growth is good.

Money can buy happiness.

Competition is a fundamental fact of life.

Human needs and wants are unlimited compared to scarce resources.

Maximise efficiency and productivity.

Bigger is better.

Control Flow with nature.

Follow nature.

Letting go.

Design methodology with room to adapt to nature after interacting and observing. High level of control and design. Evolutionary adaptation possible but only through tech-feedback. Not consciously designed but ad hoc emergent and partially designed through special interest groups (corporates).
Ideas on randomness/chaos Accepts uncertainty and chaos and flows with it. Accepts uncertainty but attempts to design system so as to minimise it. Presumes everything is knowable and hence predictable, given enough information (if we could only measure all variables). Is fooled by randomness.
Fundamental issue

(as each practice sees it)

The reductionism of science and agriculture and the danger of thinking we know-it-all . Peak oil and climate chance, endless growth. Capitalism and monetary system. Money is issue. Scarcity and distribution of resources.
Response to issue Semi-wild, semi-primitive back to basics life with deep connection to nature. De-growth, localization, the prosperous way down / graceful descent. A fully interconnected global system without money and with machines to do work of production and distribution. Creating abundance. Increasing consumption, growth, productivity and GDP.
Who’s in charge Nature People Technology Special interest groups, mega rich, ‘fun bus’ / money.
Information flows Intuition, inner knowledge + know-nothing, no-mind. Less conscious “experimentation’ though is present.

Less use of maps and designs – data is stored in head.

Traditional knowledge, indigenous cultures, best practices from around the world and mixture of science / experimentation. Considers that there is no such thing as inner knowing, intuition or gut feeling – all is logic and rational and science informs all. Truth is ONLY obtainable through reason, judgment and experimentation. Experts and specialist knowledge alienates citizen science.

Manipulated science / biased rationalism / monopolized knowledge.

Appearance Localised communities of self-reliant agriculturists with polycultures, bioconstruction, renewable energy, diversity etc. Localised communities of self-reliant agriculturists with polycultures, bioconstruction, renewable energy, diversity etc. Globalised community without national boundaries; highly technological ‘space-age’ design. Diverse.

Developing countries show failure of ‘development’ most clearly. Developed countries just hide it better.

Value for diversity High High Low – idea of what difference does difference make? Idea that cultural divides us hence destroy culture and have unified global language, no borders. Very low – monocultures, supermarket processed foods with mostly few ingredients, standardization of products and education, homogenization of culture to American culture…
Type of people attracted Spiritual folk esp those interested in Buddhism, people willing to live humbly, simply, with few possessions, in nature. Designers, creatives, revolutionaries looking for a framework, systems-thinkers with a soul, gardeners, students, urban planners, architects, artists. Scientists, engineers, economists frustrated with current system but uncomfortable with life in nature. Self-professed radical thinkers who would like to sound intelligent.  
Role of technology Very Low – use as little as possible, disrupt nature as little as possible. Low – principle of Appropriate Technology. Extremely high – current system not using tech to the extent we could be. High
Scale of application Local Local, autonomous community groups Global – tech mastermind Global – corporate mastermind
What each say about each other PC is ‘narrow’ natural farming under NF, a commercialized version of NF.

 

RBE is fundamentally flawed with science as its god and no reverence.

 

Current system is a regression and makes no sense holistically.

PC is a sexy, modern codified version of NF – they are essentially the same.

 

RBE based on dangerous assumption of unlimited energy (for tech) and fails to note that the highly interconnected critical hub infrastructure it relies on is fragile and also on the ‘cusp of collapse.’ RBE is pie-in-the-sky solution for tech-dreamers unwilling to change their way of life and continue current consumption.

 

Current system is on the cusp of collapse due to peak oil, peak debt, peak complexity and peak planet.

NF is archaic and back to caveman times.

 

PC is a useful tool but lacks AI and technology.

 

 

All are radical too-hard solutions, seen as a regression to more primitive times, with potentially RBEs more appealing to those unwilling to decrease consumption.
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