Infinite Growth on a Finite Planet: Possible and Necessary

Reclaiming our Freedom to Evolve

Will Franks
Sep 13, 2019 · 3 min read

There are strict limits to material growth. We’re fast running up against them and paying dearly for it. It’s now vital that we give up our decadent lifestyles and adapt to a life of material simplicity. And while we’ve been taught to view that as a loss, I can’t help but see it as a massive and liberating gain. Because it means freedom – from this bleak and barren cult of obsession with objects, of insatiable consumption and economic productivity. Because there are no limits to artistic, imaginal, social, psychological, interpersonal, educational and spiritual growth. To these kinds of exploration and development. Evolution is open-ended. So we can have infinite growth on a finite planet, through our infinity of views, perceptions, stories, myths and understandings of existence. To ourselves, to each other, to this living planet and wider cosmos. Spiritual, creative, psychological, and social development are endless, ever-unfolding paths. And in these ways, life is infinite in its potentials. The whole unverse is.

There is no end to the openings and explorations that can play out here, through our relationships, our art, our music, our experiences, our poetry, our service to others, our sciences and philosophies, our imaginations, our loves, our ways of seeing and looking and being. To the beauty we both create and discover here.

The best part is that none of this requires material wealth beyond that which is needed to meet our basic needs. This means that every one of us is free to drop out of the doomed and dismal cult of materialism and material growth — the fundamentalist religions of our time — and to join the emerging culture that is pursuing these infinite kinds of growth.

True, it’s not easy to drop out of the material growth system. It takes courage and resolve — and unfortunately, privelige, too. But people are learning to do it — together. A counterculture of infinite growth is emerging in ecovillages, festivals, monasteries, communities, clubs, and social movements around the world. They are the seeds of a new world. They are gathering deep knowledge and wisdom about how to meaningful, nourishing lives for the good of all. And they are growing, growing into a vibrant, dynamic and evolving organism, networked digitally across thousands, even millions of people around the world — a counterculture built around principles of sustainability, co-development, co-creation, social liberation and collective freedom.

The collapse of the systems driving material growth provide the biggest opportunity we’ve had for centuries to build a free and ecological society. For a mass movement of people opting out. It’s happened before with the commune movement of the 60’s. Most of them didn’t work out, but we’ve learnt a helluva lot of lessons and made a mind-boggingly array of discoveries since then.

What’s more, due to the material scarcity we can expect from climate and ecological breakdown, we need these kinds of life-enriching growth in order to create a strong social fabric that can retain its humanity in the face of incredible hardship. To live beautiful, meaningful lives on a collapsing-blossoming world.

What might the future hold? Eco-monasticism-feminism-festivalism-communalism-metamodernism-confederalism-municipalism?

What do you want it to hold, deep down? What’s utopia for you?

We are nature, and the sooner we remember it, the sooner we can resume evolving – together with all life – towards the edge of chaos. Take our place in the infinite exploration of life’s possibilities for beauty, complexity and freedom. The exploration that we are a product of. The explorer? No other than Gaia. The living planet. Child of the stars, traveller of the cosmos.

The Phoenix Project

Ideas, visions and tools for a better world.

Will Franks

Written by

Naïve utopian.

The Phoenix Project

Ideas, visions and tools for a better world.

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