The permaculture chapter: Disclaimer and Introduction


See HERE for the provisional contents page of the study,

which gives you a proper chronology of sections.

Note: the content below is all in first draft format. It will change considerably during the time it takes for the study to be completed (especially by way of more academic support, generally). I post now ‘for interest’s sake’.

Important disclaimer

This chapter is the sixth of the study. Five chapters precede it. Frequent references are in this chapter made to content that appears in the preceding chapters. If this chapter is approached as a ‘stand-alone’ chapter, i.e. approached with a lack of knowledge about what precedes it, then there will be the occasional statement or point raised that seems to lack appropriate academic elaboration, explanation, and/or argument to support it. Consultation of the content of previous chapters will prevent such seeming issues. This is most obviously the case with the final paragraphs of the sub-sections constituting the discussion of the twelve permaculture principles; there, short references are made to relevant content from Chapter 5 – it might seem that more explanation is needed to justify the ‘connections’ between content, but this would be completely redundant due to the provision of elaborate details that are already evident in Chapter 5.  So it is very important that this chapter is not approached in isolation from the rest of this study.

It is likely the case, quite understandably, that this chapter may be read by permaculturalists seeking to ascertain whether or not the researcher has ‘done justice’ to their understanding of, and experience with, permaculture. Permaculture enthusiasts are likely to turn straight to this chapter and therefore might suffer more than others from confusion or indignation when they encounter themes, ideas, issues, and points that have been explored in previous chapters. It must be remembered that in this study each chapter acts as an added foundational layer upon which each following chapter is built. Therefore, though it is certainly possible to read this chapter without knowledge of what precedes it, it is highly recommended that previous chapters are carefully consulted.


At this point of the study, a clear (albeit broad) dichotomy has become apparent, a dichotomy that can be referred to when articulating various aspects of the ecological crisis focused on in Chapter 1. On one side of the spectrum are aspects of general Promethean worldviews (Chapter 3), Promethean systems (Chapter 2), change-prevention ‘mechanisms’ (Chapter 4), and their associated pernicious ecological consequences (Chapter 1). The relationship between these Promethean components is admittedly complicated, and this study has so far aimed mostly to bring together information, themes, issues, concerns, and points of critical analysis, that have arisen while research was conducted into the ecological crises (Chapter 1), its direct physical causes (Chapter 2), the ideologies that underlie ecocidal human actions (Chapter 3), and some of the factors that prevent changes in human society away from the Promethean status quo (Chapter 4).  On the other side of the spectrum are various arenas of Orphic potential (Chapter 5), arenas in which ‘alternative’ attitudes can be cultivated, thereby working to undermine the Promethean stronghold that has dominated human society for centuries[1].

Having drawn attention in previous chapters to the dichotomy between dominant Promethean worldviews and peripheral Orphic ideas, it is important to draw attention to what has not so far been encountered in this study: information pertaining to any kind of viable transition from Promethean dominance, domination, and widespread ecological destruction, to a societal dispensation where Orphic ideas have something of a platform where human actions can be influenced towards ecological sensitivity and harmony. Pointing out this lack of a clear path to transition is not to suggest any shortcomings of the Orphic ideas explored in Chapter 5, because as was glimpsed in Chapter 3, the Promethean paradigms that have dominated historically are perpetuated via specific ‘mechanisms’ that prevent social change away from the Promethean. It therefore follows that ‘alternative’ ideas, such as the Orphic ones encountered in Chapter 5, have little fertile ground in which to root – because such ground is already occupied by dominant Promethean ideas perpetuated almost exclusively by ACID – ‘advanced’, competitive, consumer capitalist, industrial, democratic, dominion.

The lack of a transition map, so to speak, of how to move from the ubiquitous clutches of the Promethean towards a dispensation where the Orphic is of more practical influence (especially when the former is actively marginalised and negated by anything alternative to it – see Chapters 3 and 4 for examples of how this happens), is where permaculture becomes highly relevant. It will be seen throughout the rest of this chapter that permaculture is constituted largely by Orphic ideas, ethics, principles, and imperatives, and it is important to point out that these are all easily ‘translatable’ into actions that could be performed by any person, group of people, or community, be it in their own home, village, town, city, or country. Indeed, Bill Mollison, the founder of Permaculture as a holistic system of design[2], says he believes that the practicalities of permaculture “can be achieved by anyone” (1988: 1) – and this claim will be well evidenced in this chapter. It is this remarkable accessibility of permaculture that makes it so appealing, especially in the context of such a bewilderingly complicated global ecological, economic, social, technological and political Promethean context. It is partly due to this accessibility, this attractive viability of permaculture, that has led to an entire chapter of this study dedicated to it; but also because, as will be seen below in this chapter, permaculture theory and practice are directly relevant in light of various themes, issues, and areas of analysis already encountered throughout Chapters 1 to 5. What will be encountered in this chapter constitutes something of the Orphic ‘response’ to the Promethean as it appeared in Chapters 1 to 4, a response that began with the Orphic ideas explored in Chapter 5.

[1] See Chapter 3 for information pertaining to the centuries-long Promethean stronghold.

[2] At very least, he coined the name ‘permaculture’ and was a founding member of the Permaculture Research Institute.

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