Growing Beyond Politics

The dominant reality we face is one of substantial ongoing political stalemate, social and environmental degradation. This sets the frame of reference for those who are serious about more fundamental change.

There is little indication that economic strategies have the capacity to change most of the deteriorating or stagnating economic, social, and environmental trends - including, among others: rising inequality, high levels of poverty, staggering levels of suicide, increasing corruption of the political system and a rapidly changing climate.

The real action must inevitably be at the local level. It should be clear that we no longer face a political problem that can be solved by electing the right people in the next local or national elections. The deeper trends indicate that we face systemic problems - problems that can be solved only by building a movement that embraces a long-term vision of alternative arrangements in addition to achievable short-term goals.

Importantly, we are beginning to see the emergence of grassroot initiatives that suggest such a long-term vision. There are possibilities in many potential areas.

  • democratise wealth, ownership and institutional literacy,
  • increase the use of renewable energy, recycled resources,
  • build cooperative enterprises and neighbourhood initiatives.

Yet overshadowing the potential of such initiatives lies the need for environmental sustainability, and in this regard the significance of food production is most often ovelooked. Try as it might industrial agriculture will, by its very nature, never be sustainable. Presently it produces only 30% of the world's food but is responsible for a staggering 50% of the CO2 now in the Earth's atmosphere; along with the loss of much of the world's rainforest, its aquifers, soil, pollinators; and the list goes on ...

The only truly sustainable solution is the return to biologically-based (organic) agriculture - something actively opposed by Big Ag, Big Food, and others. Yet, for humanity to survive it own ruination there really is no alternative. Food production must necessarily adopt more artisanal and locally-oriented models. The implications are huge: not just in restructuring our institutional and business models but more fundamentally in how and where we must live.

The books available here in the Peasants Bookshop have all been selected with a view towards building that wider understanding of the changes ahead. We hope you will also get involved and help build a more sane and balanced future.   A great deal more about these issues can be found on the Peasant NZ website.