Moving from sub-linear to supra-linear: Permaculture? How narrow compartmentalised ‘single bottom line’ fragility is not only a characteristic of capitalism and corporations but civilisation (city-focused society) as a whole, based as it is on linear growth. Geoffrey West of the Santa Fe Institute points out unintentionally how the sublinear physical processes of the complex adaptive system we call civilisation are the wrong way ahead for our economic systems. In a world of infinite connectionism the city-based model may well collapse.
For me the question is not about continuing to invigorate the economy under the current model of cities but to change what we mean by city in information space: With information technology the city need no longer be a place of growing population density but a node of connection density. That node could be physically anywhere and everywhere – hence permaculture. Every family, every village hyper-connected informationally directly at its production centre, Gandhi’s ‘Swadeshi’ of the permacultural ecovillage transposed to the 21st cyber-century.
We have all the tools to do it, and what is inspiring to me is that it could just happen naturally (and with a little help from Rob Hopkins!), and may already be happening despite the warnings offered by Adam Curtis’ ‘All Watched Over By Graceful Loving Machines’.
If we can rewire our society for superlinear growth (a challenge and call to action for all connectionists!) then we stand a chance of solving today’s most critical problem – sustainability. One kind of rewiring I can envision is that of permaculture – a culture of complex technological problem solving situationally aware at its relocalised nodes physically connected to its core production process: Kaisen – immediate locatedness but interconnected informationally to the production process, The Soil, and the society that emerges directly around the natural processes which the soil gives life to. Hierarchical organisation is unsustainable, and there is a hyper-connected culture of cyber-cities superimposed over relocalised rhizome-distributed living styles, and it is heading our way.