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Barn raising to chain gangs: the mechanics of community  RSS feed

 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I just read a very good blog post about communities as direct competitors to fossil-fueled machines:

Greer on large-scale labor

I think this is a worthwhile analysis to inform the building of communities. It focuses on what a community's role has traditionally been in the global economy, with a view to what it will probably become.
 
                    
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Very interesting blog.  You've posted stuff from that blog before, right? 

I've heard it said that fossil fuels give everyone in the USA the equivalent of 200 slaves.  That's a lot of stuff we can get done without lifting a finger.  But what kind of personal relationship do you have with a slave?  Kind of ties in with the thread I think you posted about the electric house that jack built.  Fossil fuels "work and work and never shirk" but what kind of a relationship can you have with an electrical outlet? 

When we return to man power, will human slavery become more popular?  Will community and altruism and co-operation carry the day?  Or will forced labor become the norm for everyone but the elites?  That could be another part of the "third worlding" (another interesting point Mr. Druid made) of the USA.  Those non-lethal weapons they're testing on the citizens in Iraq are prime to be used on us. 
 
Matt Ferrall
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IMO slavery was only disposed of when the fossil fuel capacity was realized.I am always amazed when people idealize being a farmer-traditionaly a slave task.Agriculture itself is an extremely simplified ecosystem in order to make use of unskilled slave labor.Unless we change the form of production,slavery will probably be re instituted.People will always(and rightly so)avoid the drudgery that production(of surplus) models require.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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The slavery issue is discussed in some depth in the comments. The blog author points out that slaves do, in fact, shirk: slave-based economies suffer for it, as history has shown. It's interesting to read Cato the Elder's blunt accounting of how many managers, employees, and slaves were best for different types of farm in early Rome. They seemed to be a significant, but not overwhelmingly important, part of that system.

Mt.goat: I couldn't agree more, eliminating drudgery is better than building robots to do it. I've read similar ideas from Schumacher (here, I think) and they made a lot of sense.

Marina: That's an interesting question, but I wonder if you're rushing to make it a dichotomy. I bet slavery will be tried as one response to our predicament over the course of the next few decades, but will not be able to compete with other systems. I'm not sure the winners of that competition will all be altruistic, though.
 
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