I've recently read to other books that have helped me see the robust potential for our economic recovery and renewal:
- Upside of Down - Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization / Thomas Homer-Dixon
- Eating Fossil Fuels - Oil, Food and the Coming Crisis in Agriculture / Dale Allen Pfeiffer
I'm not expecting any financial bailouts to work that merely re-inflate the credit bubble, excessive spending or corporate globalization ambitions. The resurgence of prosperity will come about from the underlying potential for innovation, communities of practice and crowdsourced resources. The next economy will resemble the ways Barak Obama got elected and the Web 2.0 spaces have blossomed with user-generated content. There are good reasons to expect us to rebound in these ways.
When a forest is on the brink of collapse, it's potential for recovery can be found in the soil and outside invaders. The forest has become an overly efficient, rigid, tight-coupled, closed system. It lacks variety, redundancy and flexibility. The forest has morphed into a control freak that demands conformity, not creativity, innovation and deviance. It needs to be disrupted by novelty in the soil and outsiders ready to exploit new niches as they become available. The forest gets saved by a partial collapse that opens the closed system. The disruption may come from a lightening strike, drought or insect blight. The "ruined" bare spots create opportunities for new growth, participants and inter-dependencies. The ecosystem restores the loose coupling, redundancy and diversity which makes for sustainable resilience.
When the USSR collapsed, Cuba lost its financial subsidies and oil supply. Yet rather than imitate North Korea's agricultural system breakdown, Cuba realigned itself from it's toxic dependency on foreign aid and oil. Urban gardens sprang up in great numbers. Lots of food did not need to be transported at all, and some, only short distances. The use of pesticides and fertilizers was eliminated by permaculture farming methods. The diet of Cuban citizens was enhanced by the home-grown foodstuffs which improved their health also. The government intervened to protect the small farmers as opportunities appeared to maliciously exploit temporary scarcities, vulnerabilities and dependence on others. The levels of mutual aid, cooperation and inter-dependence greatly increased to everyone's benefit. A green revolution emerged from a groundswell of initiatives, like an edible YouTube or Wikipedia.
I'm expecting the next economy to deliver more than local food. I'm foreseeing the next generation service economy to be less reliant on borrowed money and customers with big incomes. The table is more solid than chasing after big bucks. There will be many more social entrepreneurs living by simple means and cooperative arrangements. We'll each be making a living looking out for each other with online support.