...All of these "contradictions" make perfect sense to the Amish
-- who are not strictly anti-technology as we would like to think -- who
examine each technology from a community perspective and make a
community decision about whether or not to accept and use that
So they have a pragmatic view rather than a Natural-Law, absolutist
perspective. I think that is healthy.
> (Okay, most likely the men make the community decision.) Their
> criteria for acceptance are not technological or scientific in nature,
> but rather the impacts that adopting this technology will have on the
> community and Amish way of life
IMO this is exactly the right basis for making decisions. Not
everything that is feasible or even natural is desirable to the
community. The difficulty comes in trying to decide in a pluralistic
> The Amish are living an "illusion" as you term it
I did not say the Amish were "living an illusion", I said the idea that
life was wonderful in the distant past is probably an illusion.
> The key point is that they decide on the basis of social and community
> criteria what technology they want to accept. This is easier(?) for
> them than the larger society because they are a homogenous society
> with a central belief system.
The Amish have an authority structure that is able to make decisions and
enforce them in the community.
> Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on one's views) for the rest
> of us, we in the larger society have to constantly examine the
> criteria we are going to use for saying something is "organic" or
> "good" on the basis of competing belief systems.
Less-free systems are efficient because it is possible to exercise power
to impose a belief system on the community. Take birth control in China
for example. People don't have a lot of input in the matter. My point
is that power is more important than consistency of values. It could be
that Amish communities too have power dynamics that supercede values and
> While scientific rationality and market logic underly most of our
> decisions and tend to be the dominant belief systems in most parts of
> U.S. society, they are not the only ones as one can see in the posts
> on grafting. Thus, scientific criteria have to be juggled with moral
> and social criteria and unfortunately we are none too clear on the
Presenting "scientific rationality" and "market logic" as "belief
systems" in opposition to "moral and social criteria" is very confusing.
I think you are comparing apples and oranges here.
You skirt the issue at this point. Our society has ways to decide these
things. Douglas can go to the Legislature and try to get a law passed
to restrict grafting. Suppose I were growing a big crop of thistles
along with my grafted trees. Letting these go to seed violates the
noxious weed law in most states. People formulate and pass
environmental laws. The County has power and authority to enforce
regulations like this.
IMO one of the primary contradictions of the environmental movement is
the implicit desire for strong controls on behavior versus the highly
individualistic, even anarchistic personal lifestyle of the proponents.
For example, I pulled this description of the Halifax EcoCity Project
from a posting on the Ecopsychology list:
"The Halifax EcoCity Project is a proposal to build a piece of
EcoCity on a 2.4 hectare site in the central business district of
Adelaide, South Australia. The project will be a mixed-use ecological
development with 350-400 houses, on-site green businesses and extensive
community facilities....Materials will be non-toxic, allergy neutral,
with as little embodied energy possible and drawn from ecologically
sustainable sources. On site food production will be encouraged.... Cars
are excluded....'barefoot architecture program' ensuring diverse and
individual design within a strong basic framework."
This is very appealing in many ways, but it sounds like an expansive
version of the neighborhood association common in suburban U.S. that
dictates what color you can paint your house, etc. That kind of thing
has always rubbed me the wrong way. I guess they will import
like-minded people. In the long run, this will require a great deal of
social control to maintain. It sounds like a green version of Calvin's
IMO the green movement needs to become integrated in the
actually-existing communities that deal with the mundane problems of
ordinary life. Activists need to galvanize local sentiment toward
eco-friendly behavior in local political involvement, as messy as that
is. Local politics is the basis of decision-making in a pluralistic
society. As long as Greens take a top down approach, working from
academia, trying to influence mainly National policy, with media events,
and exogenous activists, they will be perceived as part of the clueless
cultural elite by local people.
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