I listened to the interview with Maddy Harland of Permaculture Magazine, and I perceive that permaculture has two streams of direction. The first stream, which seems to have the edge on this forum (or at least with Paul Wheaton), is the "individualistic stream." The second stream, which seems to have the edge with Permaculture Magazine (or at least Maddy Harland), is the "socializing stream." My heart lies with the individualistic stream because I believe this stream better represents the intent of permaculture.
What is this intent? Permaculture is the craft of rewilding the individual, the society, and the environment.
Certainly, permaculture design is an important part of this. But isn't the underlying reason for all the design work to approximate the infinite functional interrelatedness of a pristine wilderness setting? In fact, isn't the idea to "design" an environment in which the human design is less and less apparent and the wilderness processes more and more active, albeit “enhanced”? I like the idea of permaculture making the human element a part of the wilderness system, rather than the wilderness system made a part of the human system.
Some may say it's a matter of the individual, but from my perspective, permaculture becomes lost to human industry without the absolute, though abstract, model of "wilderness." "Nature," as some have previously noted, is another term for this. But just like the term "natural" applied to grocery-bought foods, it can mean anything. "Wilderness" emphasizes the idea of "wild," which involves a deeper idea of the design mystery behind the organization of the nonhuman world. It is the (negative) impact of humans on the environment which necessitates permaculture in the first place. The wilderness doesn't need humans; humans need the wilderness. Just my thoughts on the matter.