Posted by Big Gav in paul hawken
WorldChanging has an interview with Paul Hawken, "Sharing His Thoughts with Worldchanging About Optimism, Doomers and What's Next" - Worldchanging Interview: Paul Hawken.
At the end of the Beginning chapter of "Blessed Unrest," you say you didn't intend it, but optimism had found you. To our readers who may have not found optimism yet, or vice versa, could you talk a little about what you had discovered in writing "Blessed Unrest" and how optimism found you?
What I discovered was people, themselves. And really just the number, and the breath, and depth of the ingenuity and authenticity in which people really applied themselves to being problem solvers and alleviate suffering, to addressing the ills of the world, and innovating and re-imagining what was possible. And they are organizing around different ways and different issues around different cultures and different manners. And when you stand back and you really get to see, if you will, not visually, not directly, but see it in a conceptual way, how large and diverse this movement is, then you just have to either laugh, or grin or smile.
That's why I did the appendix for "Blessed Unrest." It wasn't just the number of people, it's what they were doing. If everyone was just trying to save panda bears and dolphins we would be in big trouble. But they aren't choosing just the sentimental, charismatic species. Of course people are doing that and that's what gets the money. But the fact is that there is a level of granulation in terms of policy and issues that was to me, the most sophisticated map of the coming world that I have ever seen. And I didn't make it, I drew it out of the 100s of thousands of NGO's and non-profit organizations. I was blown away by what I found, and saying, my God humanity has a hold on this. We have a handle on this, we really do.
Now then, you know what we pay attention to instead? All the institutional obstacles, and the resistance, and corruption, and financial chicanery, and on and on and on. And you look at that and you want to just jump off a bridge. And because you just see that, humans seem self serving, greedy, short sighted and violent. And if you just look at that, you just drink that potion, its toxic.
Personally, I was a pessimist. It wasn't until I learned about the idea of natural capitalism and heard your speech at Bioneers about "Blessed Unrest", did I connect with optimism. I must admit, that the word capitalism wasn't the easiest word to fit with my understandings of fairness in the world much alone optimism. I've heard you say that you used the word capitalism on purpose. What can you say about people who struggle with the concept or word, capitalism. And could you maybe help them better understand what you mean by "Natural Capitalism?"
Three years before the book came out, I had written an article called "Natural Capitalism," and coined the term. And what I was writing about was Natural Capital, and that was (coined) by E. F. Schumacher. And what he was trying to say, as an economist, was (take a) look at this form of capital -- living systems and ecosystems services, what we call resources. We don't put this on the balance sheet of the world. We count it as zero, until we cut it down, extract it, mine it, kill it. And then it has value. But before we do that, it has zero value. That's crazy. It has more value before we touch it.
So, then it goes to Herman Daly, and what Herman Daly was saying is that the limiting factor to human prosperity to the world wasn't human productivity, but the productivity of our resources because we are in a resource restrained world caused by our industrial systems taking so much, so often and for so long. Therefore, when you have an economy and you see what the limiting factors are to development, then you work on maximizing what is limiting. And what is limiting to us isn't people, we have lots of people, too many some may say.
So my reason for writing the piece in Mother Jones, which was written in '96 and published in '97 (and the book in '99), was to say what kind of economy would it be if we were to maximize the production of natural capital, rather than maximizing the capital of people? When you maximize the productivity of people, you use less people. Well we have more people than there are jobs. Basically we are using less and less of what we have more of, and with natural capital, using more and more of what we have less of. And we are using more of it (natural capital) to make people more productive, to use less people. So this is upside down and backwards, we should be using more and more people to use less and less natural capital.
So when it came to titling it for the magazine, we called it Natural Capital -- "ism." It had nothing to do with capitalism, as such. It was actually meant to tweak the Mother Jones readers. And some of them were really mad, and my editor was fired for it. And was fired by people who had not really read the article. They felt like it was just about granola capitalism, or we were justifying capitalism. And it had nothing to do with capitalism, and it still doesn't. Now Amory (Lovins) and Hunter (Lovins) interpret it that way. But as a coiner of the term, and as one of the two authors of the book, I can tell you that "Natural Capitalism" is in no way meant to imply or be a justification or bull work to capitalist systems, which I think, are basically pathological.
I believe in commerce, I believe in entrepreneurship, I believe in business, I mean I want to make it really clear. But capitalism? No. I don't hold trump with that at all. It was meant to be a double entendre. A pun, a pun. ...