Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Self-Sufficiency Economy, Thailand

December 5, 2012 (excerpt LocalOrg) In 1997 the bottom fell out of a series of unsustainable economic bubbles that had been developed across Asia, thanks to the international banking cartel's International Monetary Fund (IMF). Like in Cuba, the writing had been on the wall - the same reckless spending and debt accumulation that preceded the Great Depression was on extravagant display, particularly in Thailand where clearly, even across its urban skylines, it seemed things were growing too fast, too unsustainably.

When the plug was finally pulled, construction stopped, businesses went bankrupt, businessmen began hanging themselves, and across the country destitution began to set in. Half-completed mega-structures littered Thailand's capital of Bangkok like gargantuan skeletons for the next decade.

While the backlash against the IMF was swift in Thailand, a degree of insidious "liberalization" was implemented, and while the country slowly built itself back up, clearly a new theory of economics would be needed to prevent a similar, or worse collapse from jeopardizing the stability and prosperity of the Thai people. 

While politicians are busy selling the idea that the summation of human empowerment comes from "democratic elections," Thailand's ancient monarchy, an institution over 800 years old with the current dynasty having ruled since about the same time the US has been a nation, proposed self-sufficiency from the grassroots up. 

Self-sufficiency as a nation, as a province, as a community and as a household. This concept is enshrined in the Thai King's "New Theory" or "self-sufficiency economy" and mirrors similar efforts found throughout the world to break the back of the oppression and exploitation that results from dependence on an interdependent globalized system.

 Image: The Thai King's vision of self-sufficiency in Thailand. It constitutes a "socioeconomic ark," that is designed to evolve from simple agrarian techniques, to selling off surplus, and eventually adapting advanced technology to not only survive the flood waters of economic collapse, but thrive above them.  Self-reliance is the hallmark of real freedom. 

The foundation of the self-sufficiency economy is simply growing your own garden and providing yourself with your own food. This is portrayed on the back right-hand side of every 1,000 baht Thai banknote as a picture of a woman tending her garden. The next step is producing surplus that can be traded for income, which in turn can be used to purchase technology to further enhance your ability to sustain yourself, improve your life-style, and develop your community.

Image: The Thai 1000 baht banknote. Left is one of the many dams controlling floods and producing electricity throughout the Kingdom. Center is the current King of Thailand. Right is a depiction of a local garden providing food in a self-sufficient manner. 

The New Theory aims at preserving traditional agrarian values in the hands of the people. It also aims at preventing a migration from the countryside into the cities. Preventing such migrations would prevent big agricultural cartels from moving in, swallowing up farming land, corrupting and even jeopardizing entire national food supplies (see Monsanto).

Also, by moving to the city, people give up private property, cease pursuing productive occupations, and end up being folded into a consumerist paradigm. Within such a paradigm, problems like overpopulation, pollution, crime, and economic crises can only be handled by a centralized government and generally yield political solutions such as quotas, taxes, micromanagement, and regulations rather than meaningful technical, and most importantly, permanent solutions.

Also, such problems inevitably lead to a centralized government increasing its own power, always at the expense of the people and their freedom. The effects of economic catastrophe are also greater in a centralized, interdependent society, where everyone is subject to the overall health of the economy for even simple necessities like food, water, and electricity.

Image: A slide presenting the "New Theory" depicting a manifestation of greed leading the people from their rural private property and into a "city of extravagance." If Agenda 21 had an illustrated cover, this could be it.
Image: The goal of the "New Theory" is to have people return to the countryside from the cities and develop their communities in a self-reliant manner. It is, in other words, Agenda 21 in reverse. 

Under the "New Theory," demonstration stations all across Thailand have been created promoting education in matters of agriculture and self-sufficient living.

Thais in general have a very self-reliant nature, and have weathered well the latest global economic downturn because of it. By further enhancing this self-reliance, particularly by leveraging education and technology, and by expanding self-reliance from agriculture to all aspects of modern civilization, the healthy cells of vibrant, technologically advanced communities can begin forming the structures of a healthy, vibrant, independent nation. Those that wish to gamble in the global casino-economy may still do so, but with the vast majority of the people isolated from the inevitable consequences of these unsustainable, unproductive practices.

For others around the world, the example of the Thai King's localized self-sufficiency model provides a framework for constructing similar local socioeconomic "arks" that will not only survive the floods of economic tragedy, but float above them. We can envision not only local agriculture feeding us, and the adaptation of technology to augment rudimentary skills to diversify our economic activity, but we can integrate emerging local institutions like hackerspaces, FabLabs, community labs, as well as leverage resources such as open source software, hardware, and open courseware education

Read the entire article, "Don't Survive the "Collapse" - Prevent It" on LocalOrg.