I had flown out of India on Sep 17, two days after the iconic Lehman Brothers had filed for bankruptcy. It’s fall had rumbled around the world in the fortnight we were at the PDC; stock markets had plunged, corporations failed, jobs were being lost and countries were slipping into recession. Ideologues of Total-Capitalism were either wringing their hands or running for cover.
The world that Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher had conjured up was falling apart. It was a world where ‘wealth’ was created out of thin air with nary a need for hard work nor care for natural resources. All you needed was the wizardry that Wall Street had invented and taught wizards around the world. You dealt in strange products -neither grown nor manufactured; they were mysterious packages going by the names of collateralized assets , currency swaps, hedge funds, derivatives and futures. All you needed to know was how to bet which way the investing herd would turn. The world had been seduced by the ease with which ‘wealth’ can be had for all. Even the dour Chinese suspended their centuries of wisdom and believed the colour of the cat did not matter as long as it caught the mice. [Everyone tittered taking it for a witticism while in fact it dripped with the cynicism that means don’t matter as long as the end was met]. A whole big Ponzi scheme was set in motion. Endless consumption resulted in demand for oil, oil wars and climate change.
Eerily, Bill Mollison was beginning his counter-revolution almost exactly when Reagan became President in 1981. Bill was urging a sustainable way to permanent wealth, by caring for nature and working within its rules. He was not against technology but against greed and sloth.
In one of the classes a puzzled Geoff Lawton had mused: “When I did my PDC, taught by Bill in 1983, I was certain that his idea’s worth being so obvious, the world would be Permaculturised by 1990”. Alas, the aha-moment arrives by individual appointment and seldom collectively.
Despite a 30 year romance with trees, it was not until I chanced upon this factoid, I realised what was worthwhile in life; it is to me, creating or conserving soil fertility. The purpose of man is to be but a part of all living forms -not apart from them- and to cooperatively serve the sustenance of the planet. For me, the Melbourne PDC was a revalidation of that conviction. Over 60 of us fanning out to various parts of the world after our rendezvous with Bill, had either had our aha-moment or were readied for it.
I flew back to pointReturn with a calm confidence about its relevance.