28 Aug 2010
Ted Trainer wrote a piece for my first book 'Getting There- Steps to a Green Society' published in 1990 (on green strategy if you are asking).
His book Abandon Affluence! looking at why capitalist growth was wrecking the planet was very important to my political education, he has feed his ideas into the Australian Green movement which is flourishing with Green Party gains and the amazing Green Left Weekly.
He has written an interesting but friendly critique of the Transition Towns movements here.
This is from an interview with him on the 25th anniversary of Abandon Affluence!
Could you explain more about your concept of the “simpler way”?
It can be summarised in a few principles.
First, lifestyles cannot be affluent. This doesn’t mean deprivation at all. It means having perfectly adequate food, clothing and shelter — a better lifestyle than most of us around the world have now — but without the wasteful gadgets and jet-away holidays.
We’d have to provide ways of life that provide us with alternative satisfactions.
The second principle is localism — mostly small, highly self-sufficient local economies. It doesn’t mean we wouldn’t still have big economies, but they’d be much less important. So most of what you’d need would come from the neighbourhood and the region.
The third principle is participation and cooperation. We need a totally new economy. It can’t be driven by profit. It can’t be driven by growth. I believe it could be largely private. By that I mean it could have mostly small enterprises and co-ops and so on.
So I don’t see a problem with the economy including small private enterprise, as long as they weren’t trying to become tycoons and as long as they were driven by an enjoyment in contributing to the wider neighbourhood.
Not trying to get rich, but making a contribution to a community that is enjoyable to live in.
Unless we get rid of acquisitiveness, competition and individualism we won’t achieve anything.
I’m more optimistic about what the simple way could be like. Our hopes depend on whether we can inspire enough people to make a contribution. The simpler way is not only a much more rewarding way, but it’s going to be dead easy if we’ve got enough sense to just get together and dump the old greed and competition — the capitalist way.