You don’t have to be all that astute to figure out that economic growth is pretty much done in the US. Sure, the mainstream media keep a steady drumbeat of optimistic drivel about how the economy is bouncing back and recovery is imminent, but most of us know better.
We know that jobs are harder to find, money is harder to come by, and the majority of us are simply having to learn to live with less. So what is life like if the economy stops growing, and what role does subsistence farming play in our response to it? For starters, it means that banking as we now know it won’t make much sense any more, because the fundamental model of banking is lending money for interest, and interest stops making any sense if the economy is stagnant or shrinking. In turn, that means that, as long as money has any value, it will be increasingly scarce, and the flow of it through the economy will slow down. Money will become less important to individuals. That means it will matter more what each of us can produce on our own.
And now we’ve arrived at subsistence farming. The more we can produce for ourselves, the happier we can be with little or no money. Subsistence farming will become more important in the days to come, although we may not call it that. We may just call it “home gardening,” or “Do It Yourself.” But whatever you call it, it means that we’re about to have lots more company. And that’s a good thing.
Here’s the book that helped us realize that economic growth is part of our past, not of our future: The End of Growth by Richard Heinberg.
And if you’re looking for a quick summary of Heinberg’s thesis, here’s his article in The Guardian.
If the term “gift economy” is new to you, here’s a short explanation.