Life Rules

A comprehensive analysis of our present environmental, economic, social, and political circumstances combined with a holistic treatment protocol for restoring health to vulnerable human and natural communities.

| April 2013

  • Life Rules cover
    Nature’s Blueprint for Surviving Economic and Environmental Collapse
    Cover Courtesy New Society Publishers

  • Life Rules cover

Corporate capitalism has ravaged the planet the way HIV ravages the human body, triggering a Critical Mass of cascading environmental, economic, social and political crises. Economic and climate instability, collapsing ecosystems, peak fossil fuels and devastating resource wars-if Earth were a patient, her condition would be critical.This sobering yet essentially optimistic manifesto is required reading for anyone concerned about our ability to live well and also within Earth's means. A powerful tool for community transition and cultural transformation, Ellen LaConte's Life Rules (New Society Publishers, 2012) offers a solution to our global challenges that is at once authentically hopeful, deeply inspiring and profoundly liberating.   

Nature, or Life as a whole, is not a political phenomenon in any obvious sense. Derived from polis, the Greek word for “city,” politics could be considered antithetical to Life because cities as they’ve existed so far have tended to destroy other-than-human life forms and natural systems. Historically, politics is about people. It favors people as if we were not a part of but were larger than Life. More accurately politicsis about — and most politics favor — some people.

But other-than-human species operate in some ways that resemble political activity. Life has lasted as long as it has because other-than human species, beginning with bacteria, worked out — and Life encoded — organizational systems, methods of self-governance and economic behaviors and relationships that allowed them to live together in a fairly orderly manner, given all the chaos (both creative and destructive) that haunts Life’s hard-won, relative orderliness. That’s what politics is supposed to do: Keep a lid on chaos. And to a certain extent politics and governments do that. They facilitate people living together in a surprisingly orderly manner, given that both creative and destructive chaos is always trying to erupt, even in human societies.                         

But Life’s politics accomplish one other absolutely vital thing: They help other-than-human species live within Earth’s means. Life’s socio-political arrangements and relationships hold chaos and order in a creative tension that prevents other-than-human species from exceeding the limits of a finite planet and putting Life on Earth out of business.

Human politics and governments do not help us live within Earth’s means. Both have been compromised by and have yielded to an undeniably chaotic force: the viral global economy. For while leaders and Powers try to manage the economy and like to think they can and do control it, it has long since gone beyond human control. No combination of political efforts (equivalent to the medical efforts that produced an effective cocktail of drugs to check HIV) has succeeded in checking the global economy’s influence, aggressiveness and spread. In both its creative and destructive aspects it has proven to be more unmanageable than the virus I’ve compared it to.

Since much of the activity we group under the label “political” at every level of every society has been distorted by money and many politicians have become the playmates and servants of the Powers, politics has devolved into ancient, failed, chaos-fueling behaviors: bought-and paid-for politicking; rabid factionalism and partisanship; me first, us versus them and “break out the big guns” attitudes.

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