Thom Hartmann, in The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, gives us an idea of the magnitude of change that will be required. He reminds us of the Older Culture view, the tribal culture, of which Native Americans are an example. These cultures held a different notion of the place where humans stand in the order of creation: We are part of the world. It is our destiny to cooperate with the rest of creation. This is what it will take to achieve a sustainable society.
According to Hartmann, tribal or Older Cultures have five primary traits:
• political independence,
• egalitarian structure,
• they get their resources from renewable local sources,
• they have a unique sense of their own identity, and
• they respect the identity of other tribes.
Hartmann contrasts this with the structure and nature of Younger Culture city/states: political dominance, hierarchical/clear authority structures, get their resources through trade and conquest, absorb other cultures into their own identity, genocidal warfare against others.
Hartmann points out that the Older Culture was in place for more than 10,000 years of human history before our current Younger Culture came through and wiped out much of Older Culture. Yet the Younger Culture hasn’t been all that successful, hitting “peak” within a comparatively short span of time.
Our political-economic system is inextricably the Younger Culture: Political dominance, hierarchical and clear authority structures, trade and conquest, and homogenization of cultures are what defines it.
We can’t simply pick and choose and expect to attain a sustainable society. We cannot select “get resources from renewable sources” from the Older Culture list, while retaining political dominance, hierarchical structure, and conquest from the Younger Culture paradigm. It’s going to take much greater fundamental change.
That is why, as we create new structures for the Great Turning of society, the road forward won’t be lead by existing government or political parties. It must be lead grassroots, by the people.