Many who deplore the cutthroat, dog-eat-dog treadmill of competition and “growth” in our community-level economic activities (for example, in our individual lifestyles, or running a small business) still implicitly concede this grim path as being normative, as being some law of nature. They may plead for a more laid-back way of life, or a “business model” which seeks to stabilize at a certain size and symmetry, as merely a viable alternative which has a right to co-exist with the corporatism death march. They may represent their ideas as comprising some kind of alternative lifestyle.
But this is the wrong way to look at things, and the wrong way to express these ideas. It complies with the party line of government and corporate media, which would represent, for example, corporatist agriculture as normal, reasonable, in accord with the laws of nature, while something like Polyface farm is represented as a fluke. (Although recently the corporate media has moved from ridiculing it to fighting it, which is a positive step.)
To act naturally and rationally is to act toward a well-contemplated goal in terms of size, symmetry, sustainability. The only normative, normal act is the act in harmony with nature. To the extent that any aspect of human affairs can be called a law of the universe, it’s only this naturalistic imperative. Capitalism, corporatism, power concentration, top-heavy hierarchy, infinite “growth” – these, on the contrary, are insane, irrational, abnormal by any natural or historical measure.
So when we call for rational degree in things, when we laud the vibrant life of human communities, and the human scales and speeds of relocalized human economies, we’re not positing some exotic “alternative” in reaction to a normative baseline of bigness, breathless pace, and infinite, totalitarian goallessness. On the contrary, we’re reasserting the claims of sanity, rationality, sustainability, and nature, against the temporary derangement of the human project on account of a handful of maniacs and criminals.