Can you see beyond a paradigm when you are inside it – immersed, educated, experienced? I wondered this watching yet another episode in the ‘intensify or die’ debate that erupted from the opening of the academic year. The episode can be seen here where Louise Fresco argues for nuance and warns against romantic food nostalgia, such as cows in pasture.
The message; in order to feed the world, we cannot afford ‘irrational’ emotions but we need – more than ever- to trust and give way to science and technology to further rationalise and effectuate efficiency in the food system. We may want human scale, but that’s in fact irresponsible, organic is for the happy few.
Paradigm might be a difficult word here as science itself sees many paradigms existing simultaneously. What I mean is more ideas on how to organise society. Recently, someone explained why it was such a revolutionary thing for Descartes to say ‘I think therefore I am’ at the time. We would now say, ‘yes of course, me too’. At the time, it was the birth of a new and individual awareness which contrasted heavily with the god-given self un-aware collective way of relating to the world.
The rest is history. It brought us the scientific method and the century of the masses, including mass-produced food. Can we look beyond? The Maker Movement for example is pointing to two things 1) the distinction between producer and consumer changes and disappears 2) endlessly expanding niche or even unique product markets. The DIY movement is based on sharing and on new notions of quality and is organised differently with the help of the newest technology. And it may imply much more, new ideas on scale and connectivity to begin with.
If we cannot imagine another society, should we conclude it is not possible? Should we dismiss the ‘irrational’ desire for human scale?