From Economy to Ecology: Delusions of Sustainable Growth
From little things, big things grow. The biology of growth has its social counterpart in metaphors of growing. Just which seeds are planted, and how they are allowed to grow is an economic and an ecological concern. Knowing how the social metaphysics of growth function can help us foresee the weeds from the plants in our future economic designs.
When we look at the Christian parable of the mustard seed we find a foundational metaphor for Western understandings of and mistakes about growth.
The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field; Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. (Matthew 13:31-32)
This paper will use the parable of the mustard seed to critique our existential apprehensions of a world dominated by natality and mortality in equal measure. Special attention will be paid to Australia as an example of a Western society in crisis. Recent works in the areas of sustainable futures and society by Jared Diamond and Tim Flannery will be used to inform the analysis at the practical level, while the existential philosophy of defuturing, by Tony Fry, will be used to open up ontological possibilities that our cultures often obscure.
Keywords: Oikois as Household, Economy, Ecology, Natality, Life as Garden, Defuturing, Social Failure
Dr. Keith Russell
Senior Lecturer, School of Design, Communication and Information Technology, University of Newcastle