Jordan Brown interviews Joey Moncarz about school, learning, historical memory, civilisation, radical education, and responsibility.
Joey Moncarz is the co-founder and head teacher of the Deep Green Bush-School in New Zealand–a participatory, technology-free, evolutionary and revolutionary school for students aged 5-18–designed to raise intelligent, healthy, mature, responsible young adults who can think for themselves, meet their needs, live a meaningful life and challenge the current system in order to bring about a healthy world.
Jordan Brown: Hello my name is Jore and today I’m speaking with Joey Moncarz, the co-founder and head teacher of the Deep Green Bush-School in Clevedon New Zealand, where there are no computers and no screens. Joey grew up in Miami Beach in the United States, digging in the dirt, catching insects, swimming alongside pelicans and climbing trees. He has worked in mainstream high-schools, and has witnessed how such schools by-design are crippling youth, deceiving them, creating screen addicts, and producing a new generation of industrial slaves, when what this world really needs are warriors to defend the Earth, to stop those who are destroying life, and to stop hoping that one day someone else will do it for us. Thanks Joey for taking the time to chat with me today.
Joey Moncarz: Oh, sure thing Jordan—glad to chat.
Jordan Brown: So, I have a quote here from Jules Henry, an anthropologist from early 1963 I think, he says, “School is indeed a training for later life—not because it teaches the 3R’s more or less, but because it instils the essential cultural nightmare: fear of failure, envy of success and absurdity.” I guess what I wanted to do by reading that quote was to get you to briefly take us through your experience with teaching in mainstream schools, what you witnessed there, and how you feel like school cripples by design, why that is.
Joey Moncarz: Okay. Well, from what I saw at school, from my years in schools, is that school is about bullying. The bullying is built-in. So you’ve got the government coming through the Ministry of Education or the Department of Education, whatever you call it, dictating to schools what they want them to do to kids. The principals then tell the teachers, “This is the way you have to do it,” bullying the teachers at the risk of the teachers losing their jobs. And then the teachers have to bully the students to do all that, which comes down to the testing and all the other bullshit that kids have to do in school. And of course, the students don’t want to do it because they didn’t evolve to do that kind of nonsense—they’d rather be outside, enjoying themselves, playing. Things like that.
So, it’s a whole system of bullying from what I saw when I was teaching. Most kids hated being there, but they don’t know that there’s a choice, they just learn from their culture and from the mass-media that “when you’re young, you go to school.” So, a lot of them just feel trapped. What it really comes down to is: they hate it. And it’s like wasted lives. They spend 13 or so years, and it’s torturous because young people didn’t evolve to spend their time stuck inside.
And of course too, the whole time they’re in school they’re being lied to. That if they just study hard, that everything will turn out. If they get good grades, they’ll get a good job. But what is a good job? Is there such a thing? And it’s just, you know, “work hard and the government will take care of everything, they’ll provide a healthy society for you.” You might just have to remind them and put some pressure on them when they forget every now and then.
So schools are a whole system of lying, and the big lie is that school is good for them or that schools are there for their benefit. And it’s not just the individual schools that I taught at, it’s by design. Most people don’t realise that schools were not created for the benefit of their children or the benefit of society. Schools have a history and most schools are unaware of this history. School began probably about 200-300 years ago as a tool of Christian religious leaders who wanted to make sure that everyone thought exactly the same, and they were blindly obedient to whatever priest and belief-system they had. A little while later, with the rise of industrialism, the factory owners and the economic elite saw it as a brilliant way to make the population do what they wanted—because no one wants to work in a factory. So, schools are built on the factory model, the assembly line. In a factory you’ve got different parts along the assembly line to manufacture your products. Here, the product is a passive, obedient, ignorant worker-soldier and consumer who will just shut the hell up and do what they’re told. And the way to get that is to send them to this assembly line called school. And you call it year levels—year one, year two or grade levels, and every step along the way they are being told what to think and what to do. And then they’re being tested—that’s quality control—so they’re tested every step along the way and if you pass the test then you are stamped “smart,” and if you don’t pass the test you are stamped “stupid.” And so you go through your 13 years, being stamped “smart,” “stupid,” or a combination. You’re extremely insecure because you’ve been tested so many times. The system only needs a handful of so-called “smart people” to come out so they can help run the system—everyone else will be spat out and will be too stressed or too confused and also suffering from the trauma of 13 years of schooling and the trauma of civilisation to really to do anything about it. That’s the history of school in a nutshell, and we can also look at the specifics of how schools are designed to accomplish that. So it doesn’t matter if a teacher means well—I’d say most teachers mean well, but the whole system of school is not there for kids, it’s there to crush their spirit and break them, like breaking a horse.
There’s a whole number of design features. One of them is that you gotta be stuck inside behind walls, because you have to alienate kids from the natural world. The natural world is where kids—where all humans—would instinctively rather be, but you want to domesticate them and make them accept working in factories and offices, so you’ve got to separate them from the natural world. So you’re behind walls, inside all day, with no concept of the natural world, so you’re ecologically ignorant and pretty much afraid of the natural world. If you don’t spend enough time in it you’ll end up afraid.
The whole school environment is also very “sterile,” in the sense that there’s no healthy ecological community around them, there are no animals, so kids have no sense of what nature is about. It’s not actually sterile—it’s in fact a perfect place if you want kids to get lice, or measles, or chickenpox or any number of infectious diseases, a bacteria wonder-ground. Bacteria love schools.
Then of course, you’ve got obedience to authority. And that is, no matter what subject you are taking about, you have to just follow whatever the teacher says or whatever the principal says. The child has no say. The law forces them to be there. This wonderful institution that we are told is so good for us, we actually need laws to force everyone to send their kids there—so obedience. And of course if you don’t obey, then you’re punished in many ways. You’re shamed, you’re humiliated. And, more and more, you’re also drugged.
There’s also separation by ages. So, humans evolved to play in mixed age-groups. But in school this separation by ages is intentional, because by separating by ages you keep people immature longer. So, compare where it used to be that children grew up surrounded by a mix of ages—the older kids learned to look after the younger ones—and that’s how they gained a sense of responsibility. The younger ones learned from the older ones, and they see this greater responsibility or role-model for them in the older kids. But here in the classroom, where everyone is the same age, there is no-one else to learn from apart from kids of your exact level of immaturity. It keeps everyone immature. And that’s by design. A consumer society needs immature people, because they’ll be the most insecure and you can convince them to buy things—and that’s what it’s all about.
Another level of keeping them insecure is the testing which I mentioned earlier. Constant testing is a feature of schools, and of course the psychopathic values that are instilled in schools such as competitiveness, which was never part of any healthy society in the two million years of human existence, until the rise of agriculture. So if you want a healthy society, competitiveness would not be a value that you promote. And our idea of “success,” which is, wealth and fame no matter how it’s obtained. That’s again not something that would promote a healthy society.
And so those are the desired features no matter what subject the teachers are teaching, no matter how much they care. That can be called the curriculum, and that will teach the kids far more than anything that comes out of their mouths.
Jordan Brown: How about this subservience to authority? Or fear of authority?
Joey Moncarz: Well, if students don’t do what they’re told, they’re singled out, they’re shamed, they’re humiliated in various ways, and teachers kind of take it as a personal affront, an insult, if students don’t see the work as important as they do. Also, students most of the time don’t want to do it because they don’t see it as meaningful, and the reason they don’t see it as meaningful is because 95% of what goes on in schools is bullshit, and is not meaningful. Here in New Zealand, and of course in the States, and probably in Australia as well, one way to deal with this is to drug them…
Jordan Brown: You’re referring to ADHD and quote-unquote “behaviour correcting drug interventions”?
Joey Moncarz: Yes, ADHD only exists when you’re stuck inside of a classroom, otherwise it’s not a problem.
Jordan Brown: So you’re doing something totally opposite with the Deep Green Bush-School. A return to learning how it used to be before industrialism and technology usurped everything. You have a strong focus on freedom, play, observation, imitation and something I’d like to talk a little bit more about: emotional and psychological intelligence, and this being physically grounded in the natural world. And the exercising democratic decision-making with the emphasis on responsibility–that’s very interesting. I mean, I know there’s a lot there, but can we go through some of these? So, let’s say for example. Well, do you want to just talk about the school first and then we can pull apart some of those?
Joey Moncarz: Yes it would be good, now that I’ve bashed mainstream schools for a while, we could contrast it. The Deep Green Bush-School is really a school of responsibility, meaning you can be responsible in the social and ecological sense. We consider the world around us and ongoing collapse. What we want is for the kids to be responsible, and that is to be able to stop those who are destroying and continuing to destroy, and to stop those who are making everyone else’s lives miserable. And that’s what it would be to be responsible for us and really,to be responsible means to start a revolution. That’s the only way to change everything. Huge changes.
But in order for you to have a young person who is responsible and to care about those things the social and ecological health, what they need is social and emotional intelligence. Well actually, I can back up. If you want someone to be responsible, we can ask ourselves the question: “What did the most sustainable cultures that ever existed on the planet do? How did they raise their kids?” And here we are talking about hunters and gatherers and humans that lived as hunter and gatherers for two million years, whereas schools and compulsory education has only been around for 150 years. So for two million years, that’s how we evolved to learn, how kids were raised. And that is through some very broad features across the board. They were given freedom, they played in mixed age-groups, they had a stress free environment, and of course it was screen free as well, coercion free—there was no one telling them what to do, they had healthy adult role models, of course they were in the natural world and they participated in the decision-making. That’s what it took to raise healthy young adults and to have a healthy society. So, we take that and we translate that as best we can to the Deep Green Bush-School, and where it begins, our highest priority here, is the social and emotional health or intelligence of the students.
And how do you promote, well…what is social and emotional intelligence? That would be empathy, compassion, being able to connect with other people, being able to develop your personality, being creative and having imagination, persistence, self-reliance, and being able to become mature and responsible. These are the most important gifts that we can give children above anything else, because it’s the most—and in fact there is science to back me up on this—that social and emotional intelligence is the foundation for all learning that we do in life, whether it’s reading, writing, maths, or any other learning, it’s the foundation for being able to live a healthy and meaningful life. Now, how do you raise a child that has social and emotional intelligence? Well…it’s those features that I just listed before: freedom in the natural world, mixed ages, stress free, coercion free, healthy adult role models, participatory decision-making. That’s what we provide at the Bush-School.
Along with that there comes the physical health—the kids here are outside in a healthy natural setting, they develop their physical health, and they are able to run around all day climbing trees. And with that also then comes ecological intelligence, and that means being able to live within the Earth’s limits, really, at its foundation.
So, if you want young people to care about the natural world then they’re gonna have to bond to it, and the only way they’ll bond to it is if they spend most of their time in it. If you have a kid that’s stuck inside behind walls, behind screens, then they will bond to walls and screens and they will be fearful of the natural world, and they won’t really care when it’s destroyed. So you need them to be outside. That really is the most important, the foundation to social and emotional intelligence: physical health, ecological intelligence. You give them that, you really, you’ve done…well you’ve raised pretty much a full human.
Then from there, we can also point out some other steps along the way, and that’s historical intelligence, which these days people need help with, and that’s understanding the roots of all of our institutions today and not just the history of civilised humans, which only goes back 6,000 years, but the entire history of humans and life on the planet. The history of humans is going back two million years, and once you put humanity in the context of two million years, then everything changes.
Along with that comes critical thinking. And that’s being able to question everything around you really, with the goal being, “What is the healthiest way to live?” “What is right?” That’s what critical thinking is about, being able to question your own assumptions and question why you’re doing the things you do and why you have your own beliefs. The end result is all about responsibility and responsible actions, and doing what it takes to stop those who are destroying, and stop those who are ruining everyone else’s lives, and to enable humans to live in a healthy way again. It’s a really impossible task ahead of us, but you’ve got to do it, you gotta give it your best shot. That’s really the heart of the Bush-School.
Jordan Brown: That’s fantastic. Are there some examples that you could give about democracy in action, responsibility and democracy in action, with the student and teacher interplay, or just how the school runs in general? What does that look like?
Joey Moncarz: Responsibility is absolutely necessary in this school because students aren’t told what to do by staff. There’s no one hovering over them forcing them to do this or that. So they get to come here and decide, how do they want to spend their days? And so they have to be able to do it in a way which doesn’t take away from other student’s ability to enjoy their time here, to do it in a safe way and follow the school rules. Now, the school rules—when we started we had a handful of rules when we began which had to do with safety, and then over the years students, they came up with their own rules, and they can come up with their own rules whenever they want, and they discuss it and they have a vote, they vote on the rules in order to pass them. And what all of these rules come down to is really just clarifying the basics of respecting each other, respecting the land, and respecting the things at school. For example, one of the last rules that they voted on a few days ago was… the question came up, “How many huts can a student build at school?” We’ve got about 25 acres, the question came up, “how many huts can they make?” and after discussions, they decided that well, you can make as many huts as you want.
Jordan Brown: (laughs)
Joey Moncarz: It’s just that you actually have to have something that is a hut—you can’t just point to a tree and say “that’s my hut,” there actually has to be a hut. And, so when it comes to conflicts, we have a peacekeeping system that the students run, so when there’s a conflict they ask another student to be a peacekeeper and that peacekeeping student then brings the students together who are involved, and any witnesses, and anyone else who wants to listen in, and then they discuss what happened, whether a rule’s been broken, and what to do about it, and how they can help remind them not to do it again, or how they can make it up to the other person. And pretty much everyone takes part in being a peacekeeper—from 5 years old to 16. So they all learn how to resolve conflict peacefully and in a fair way. That’s part of the responsibility here. Really what it comes down to is: there’s no one here hovering over you, so if you can be responsible with how you spend your time then you’ll have a great time. I’d also like to point out that what we found is that those who have the hardest time transitioning to the freedoms that they are given at the Bush-School, the freedom that also requires responsibility, are those that spend a lot of time at home playing video games, or just spend a lot of time in general on screens at home. If they spend a lot of time on screens playing video games, then they will find it very difficult here—the video games make them aggressive, and they have the difficulty dealing with the reality of the natural flow of life and time.
Jordan Brown: And that actions have consequences?
Joey Moncarz: That’s right, that actions have consequences, they can’t just hit reset. They’ll complain about it being boring and things like that. They’re so used to distracting themselves with screens, and screens re-enforce an attention deficit and a lack of focus, lack of the ability to concentrate. And the real-world reality, the speed of life becomes “too slow,” everything is, since you’re used to clicking and clicking and clicking, but then life becomes “too slow” and…being here, you just wanna go back home and stare at your screen. Saying that, we have had three teenage boys who were addicted to video games when they got here and they’ve since given up through our encouragement, they’ve given up video games and they’ve come to the point where they can manage their screen time to only use it for really what’s important and they spend most of their time outside or reading or doing non-screen things.
Jordan Brown: That’s fantastic.
Joey Moncarz: Yeah, it’s made all the difference in their ability to relate to other people and relate to the world. I think parents have really…it’s extremely irresponsible for parents to be giving their kids screens and to act like screens actually don’t have consequences.
Jordan Brown: Yes. So, how did you get into this avenue? I mean, what are your passions and interests, how did you come to this work? Of running the Bush-School and challenging these old mindsets?
Joey Moncarz: My passions can be generalised to: the natural world, practical skills, and justice. And these passions of mine, none of them were supported by my mainstream school experience. Actually, everything I learned, I developed in the sense of the natural world, my knowledge of it and practical skills, and also justice came from outside school life, making the effort. Actually, the only skills I got from mainstream schools were reading, writing, and maths. That’s all I became good at. But what I realised as more important, are the natural world and justice. And so my experience in mainstream schools showed me that actually mainstream school has nothing to do with the natural world or justice . In fact, it’s there to perpetuate a system that destroys the natural world and destroys the ability for people to live meaningful lives where they can decide for themselves how to live. And so when I quit teaching mainstream school, I thought I would make an attempt to demonstrate how it should be done. And so that’s what the Bush-School is.
Jordan Brown: We spoke through the week about the common rebuttals that you get, the frequently asked questions you get about, when people hear of this notion of a school that doesn’t have classrooms and the kids are outside and they are free to do whatever they want—did you want to talk about how people react to that initially and what the frequently asked questions are in terms of “How do they get a job,” or “How is this a viable alternative to mainstream schooling?”
Joey Moncarz: Yes, I think everyone who initially hears about the Bush-School thinks that, because they’ve been so well trained, well “How are they going to learn about reading writing and maths?” “How are they going to get a job?” “How are they going to go to university?” So, let me tackle those… Reading, writing and maths—this question is funny in its different ways. First of all… the first question they ask is, “How are they going to learn reading writing and maths?” They don’t ask, “How are they going to develop social and emotional intelligence?” They don’t ask, “How are they going to learn to live within the Earth’s limits?” That right there is the reflection of a big psychological problem, a cultural problem. They’re asking reading/writing/maths. Now, reading/writing/maths—the question, “How will they learn?” also assumes that a mainstream school is the most effective and efficient place to learn these things. This is more bullshit. Here in New Zealand, the Ministry of Education openly admits that 40% of students who are leaving school are considered functionally illiterate and they don’t have the maths skills to function in society either. 40%! Actually it’s a little bit higher for maths. And then looking at the adults in the country, you get the same figures—at least 40% are functionally illiterate and don’t have the numeracy or maths skills to function in society. Okay, so right there, mainstream schools are not very effective. And along the way it’s torturous and your child’s gonna get bullied as well as drenched in wireless radiation from Wi-Fi and 5G and they’ll be trained to be a screen addict. So it’s really effective propaganda and brainwashing to convince parents to send their kids to school. But you know, it works very well. Then the question is, okay well how will they learn reading, writing, and maths, if there’s no one there telling them what to do? Well this comes down to how we evolved to learn, and we evolved to learn through the freedom to observe and imitate those around us. If adults are reading and writing and doing maths and young people see that it’s important and that it’s needed, then at some point they will take an interest in it. It may not be at five years old—they may want to learn to read at 6, at 7, or 8 or 9—everyone has their own time because everyone develops at a different pace, and we’re not robots. In fact, by forcing kids at 5 or 6 years old to learn reading, writing and maths, this is the cause of a lot of what is called ‘learning disabilities’ and that’s because their brain is not ready for it. The brain is not ready to handle those abstract symbolic concepts. So here, if you give them freedom, you’re actually working with how humans evolved.
We have a library full of books and we have staff who read, and talk about books, so children naturally take an interest in reading, writing, and maths, to the degree that it’s actually useful. I studied two years of calculus growing up…absolutely meaningless…worthless in my life. Trigonometry…worthless. What I learned in primary school was enough, and it was more actually than I needed. So, this idea that you have to force kids is a fraud. It’s complete nonsense.
Then the other question is, “How will they go to university?” University—like mainstream schools, is an institution meant to perpetuate the status quo, and it takes those who have been stamped “smart,” or historically have been, and pushes them out into the professional class, the managerial class, who will help run this industrial society which is very good at destroying the natural world and impoverishing billions of people. In that sense, we don’t need university, just as much as we don’t need mainstream schools—the bullshit institutions that we need to get rid of. But if you’re still focusing on how your child will get into a university, there are other things to consider like debt. Most people can’t afford university these days. Do you really want your child to be burdened with tens of thousands of dollars of debt? As soon as they’re done with school, that will make sure that they can accomplish pretty much nothing in their life because they’re going to be too busy trying to pay it off, while at the same time jobs are disappearing.
Also, universities are not for everyone. Here in New Zealand, you don’t need to go to high school to get into university. You can just go when you’re 20 years old and you’re automatically accepted, based on your age. And the majority of…I’d say 95% of all parents I ever spoke to had no idea that young people can get accepted into university at 20 years old and they don’t need any of the bullshit qualifications that they get from high school here, because, you know…they never tell anyone. So, university, if you want your child to go, then you don’t actually need to go to mainstream school. They can go when they’re 20, or in the United States, based on the experiences of the thousands of unschoolers, and students of schools like Sudbury Valley school in which there are no classes, there’s no problem getting into university because universities know that kids who go to these kind of schools or who are unschooled know how to manage themselves, they still have their internal motivations and they are doing it because they want to.
Jordan Brown: I can imagine it would be almost like a culture shock too—to jump into university from the Bush-School, having developed a sense of deep thinking and critical thinking and being practising that from a very young age, and then to turn up into what universities look like now, with I guess how those things have been destroyed in a sense. Do you want to talk about that? I can see that you have a passion for deep thinking and deep learning and instilling this sort of critical thinking and the values of that in young people. Do you want to tell the audience what they are, and why they’re important? And maybe some examples of how your students express this?
Joey Moncarz: Deep learning, or deep thinking will come from the ability to consider life, and also ask the bigger questions: “Why are things this way?” “What is a healthier way to be?” “How can we change things?” “What forces are at work that have made things this way?” Things like that. The only way to develop deep thinking and deep learning would be to give yourself time to actually think. And I’d also say that it needs to be done in the natural world. When do young people have the time to think? It’s part of the culture now and part of the way of thinking is that if you’re a good parent you’re constantly keeping your child busy, so even after school, even after they deal with homework, then they’ve got their sports clubs and whatever other bullshit clubs that there are to keep them busy. The whole idea is to keep them busy. By design. Those in power, or the elite…the last thing they want are young people to take the time to think about the world and why it is the way it is and who is doing it to them. The last thing they want is a population of people who have the time to think. So you have to keep them busy. Now, parents are doing a good job of keeping young people busy, and adults are kept busy because even though we have all of this modern technology and they promised us that we would have more and more leisure time, actually people are working more and more and more for less and less and so everyone is kept busy. The busier everyone is, the less they’re going to think.
Really what it comes down to, if you want to be able to think, you need time to think. Thinking is not something that you can schedule in 5 minutes between appointments. So, the students at the Bush-School have the time to think because the day is theirs and it’s a very calm, stress-free environment. So for example, with our older students, the teenagers…when we write a newsletter every term, they choose the subject, they choose what to write about, and you can have a look—they are on our website—that they choose quite heavy subjects. They’re considering the big picture. They tackled the subjects of civilisation, of New Zealand, they tackled dairy farming, 5G now that 5G has been started. So if you give them the chance and you don’t weigh them down with all that nonsense, then given the chance there will be able to consider and think deeply about life. So you can see why the system doesn’t want young people to think and why they have to be kept busy. Screens are a great way to keep them busy.
Jordan Brown: It feels like a great way to segue into this piece that you wrote called The Plastic Bag Distraction, speaking of keeping everyone busy and creating busy work and being too busy to have the space to be contemplative and reflect or even think. You wrote that work about plastic bags being a distraction and I really connected with the start of it, you wrote, “our failure to recognise the banning of single-use plastic bags as a distraction, is the result of having lost the ability to even identify what is important, what is real, what should be a priority and what is bullshit. Part of the reason we’ve lost the ability to distinguish the real from the bullshit is that our entire lives have been reduced to nothing, but an endless string of distractions.”
Joey Moncarz: Yes. You can see that the distraction starts from when we’re very young and we get sent to school and we’ve got 13 years of being distracted by a whole lot of nonsense, and we’re not given a chance to know what real life is, and then we’re pushed out into university for many, and in the world of work, and work will keep everyone quite distracted just scrambling to pay the bills. And then people fill up their own lives with many distractions such as screens, and professional sports, drugs and alcohol, gambling, that sort of thing. And it’s to be expected because modern life is so traumatising, and all these things are ways of self-medicating, and dealing with existence.
Jordan Brown: So what about this… I’d like you to talk about that being a distraction in the environmental sense. Obviously, yourself and your students in the school itself has a strong focus on the natural world and this notion of rejoining…of being a part of a biotic community again. What is that piece all about? What is this plastic bag distraction? I think it’s very timely so do you want to talk about that a little?
Joey Moncarz: Okay, we… It should be obvious that we… I mean our school is very focused on the ecological state of the planet and a healthy natural environment. But we don’t refer to ourselves as environmentalists because environmentalism in our view is really way off, and they’ve accomplished really nothing in their several decades of being around. More and more has been destroyed, they haven’t accomplished anything. The plastic bag… A lot has been made of getting rid of plastic bags. But people don’t realise that industry, supported by their government servants is not going to give them a better world. And, that if they take away from one place they will create more and destroy more in another place. For example, plastic bags are gotten rid of—but there’s a whole new market for what are called “biodegradable bags,” or “compostable bags.” That’s a whole industry that requires a whole lot of destruction of the natural world to make, as well as the plastic industry, which is still expecting to quadruple in size over the next couple of decades. So it’s a way of distracting people from what’s really going on, and in that essay I also refer to how the chemical BPA was removed from a lot of plastic bottles and people all celebrated that BPA was removed—this harmful chemical—well it was simply replaced by BPS, which is an equally, if not more dangerous and harmful chemical, and this is how industry works. They simply distract people with greenwashing, pretend to do the right thing, and then screw you in another way. This is the history of industry, as well as the history of civilisation—you will be constantly be getting screwed as long as they exist.
In the case of environmentalists, a lot of the solutions that that are given are things like, “buy a solar panel,” or switch to what’s called “renewable energy.” So solar panels, wind turbines, “drive an electric car,” “ride a bike,” things like that. None of these will change anything—in fact they will make it worse because they allow industry to expand. For example, if you are going to make a solar panel or wind turbine you need to do some mining for rare earth metals, you need to mine and make steel, you need to make concrete, and these are extremely destructive, polluting, toxic industries. So the big myth about renewable energy is that that will be a positive thing for the planet, for the environment, for people. But it ignores the fact that all renewable energy will require fossil fuels to produce, and of course fossil fuels require oil drilling, it requires wars to fight to control the oil and it requires the refining and transportation and the burning of fossil fuels. So, renewable energy only means an increase in the burning of fossil fuels. This belief in renewable energy is actually a reflection of total ecological ignorance and of some basic laws of ecology:that everything comes from somewhere—there are no free lunches, and that everything is connected to everything else. But the thing is, that most people just want to be able to live the same way that they’re living now, but just want to feel good about it. They want to be able to drive, they just want an electric car. They want to be able to stare at a screen—they just want it to have a green logo on it and be powered by solar, or something like that. But the only way to make solar panels, and wind turbines, et cetera is to destroy the natural world. And no one is asking “why do you need all that energy to begin with?”
The fact is, looking back in history, as soon as humans decided that they needed more energy than they can get from their own two hands, then they started destroying everything around them, and they started enslaving others, they started enslaving animals to do the work, they started enslaving other people. So the fact is, that the history of civilisation, the 6,000 years of civilisation can be characterised by slavery and war. Because that’s what happens when you think you need more energy than you can get from your own two hands. The only sustainable way of living that humans have ever known is one where they got all of their energy from their own two hands. And I hate to break it to people but that is not going to be an industrial or digital way of life. It’s going to be one where they live simply, with few needs in the natural world, and if they don’t make the transition themselves, then nature will force it upon them and it’s starting now.
Jordan Brown: Yes.
Joey Moncarz: It’s a difficult thought and it’s also frustrating because groups like Extinction Rebellion, which are very popular, are reliant on the belief that renewables will save us. And they are also reliant on the belief that governments can have anything to do with avoiding ecological collapse. These are two huge myths that ignore history and ecology. Governments were never created for the benefit of people, or the planet. Governments exist for the elite, and today they will just do what industry wants them to do. Renewable energy will simply continue a way of life which is destroying. I think if people who actually care about ecological and social collapse want to stop it, they’re going to have to expand their understanding of the world, and actually develop some ecological intelligence and historical intelligence, and that is to view the institutions which arose with civilisation as a problem, and as long as they exist that we can never live and have a healthy way of life. Simply put, I don’t think that most people are actually going to accept that, but that’s what history and ecological intelligence would show us.
Can someone point to a civilisation where the people in it actually lived healthy lives? If you look through the history books, what you see is that in civilisations, most people have been either starving, or on the edge of starvation, and that these civilisations led by their governments and their hierarchy—their kings and queens, et cetera—were engaged in constant war for resources. Resources including slaves and wood, and that they, across the board, were all about destroying the land around them. And of course you could also throw in overpopulation, and that is, any society based on agriculture will regard children as a source of labour and will want to have as many children as possible, and so, they will want more and more kids. And of course agricultural societies become patriarchal, women are owned by the men and children are owned by the men, they’re all property to be used for the accumulation of wealth for the men, going up the to the top of the chain to the elite. It’s quite a sick system, and yes unfortunately we are not going to have a happy society based on patriarchy as well. This is another huge idea that I’ve just thrown in there, but it really comes down to is that humans have been on the planet for two million years and we lived a certain way and now in the last 6,000 it all changed with civilisation, and this had enormous consequences and every civilisation destroyed the land around it. Every civilisation collapsed and now this globalised civilisation is bringing about a collapse on a global scale. So people have the choice, either they can go along with it, and just try to survive until everything collapses—or they can try to do something for their children and future generations and that is to stop the ecocidal and genocidal path of the civilisation. That will take some real effort, whereas going along with it does take effort because people have to survive, but it will not be for the benefit of their children and future generations. People have that choice.
Jordan Brown: Yes. So how can the people support that? Support you, and get involved?
Joey Moncarz: Support the Deep Green Bush-school?
Jordan Brown: Yes.
Joey Moncarz: Well they can contact us through the website. I think what comes after is that they need to…they should organise where they are. If they want to set up something similar they can, they could use our experience, and there are documents that we have and I would certainly help anyone who wants to set one up. But it really comes down to people needing to organise where they are at and doing whatever is needed where they are and maybe making the effort to expand their view of things, and also expand their view of what solutions would be effective. Because what’s sold to us—renewables, solar panels, electric cars—is not going to be effective. Changing our diets to become vegetarian is not going to do anything either. If we got rid of every single livestock animal, that land would then be used for something else, some other development, not to make our lives better.
I think the real challenge is for parents and adults to demonstrate some maturity and responsibility, because it’s irresponsible to continue going along with things as they are—it’s irresponsible to send their kids to school and it’s irresponsible to put kids in front of screens, it’s irresponsible to act as though everything will be just fine by doing the same things that they did and it’s up to them to demonstrate, to role model that maturity and responsibility because children learn through observing and imitating. They need adults to demonstrate what it is to be mature and responsible and that’s doing the right thing for future generations. And really, that’s the essence of the Deep Green Bush-School.
Jordan Brown: Yes, I like that line in your biography actually, the line where you say to stop hoping that someone will stop the destruction for us, that someone will do it for us. That makes me think of my parents’ generation or older people that have washed their hands, “Oh, I used to be civically engaged, or would do things when I was younger, but now you know it’s up to the young people growing up.” I like how you address that; you know, it’s got to be all of us right? And we are doing away with this sort of notion that it’s someone else’s job to fix this—it’s really up to us.
Joey Moncarz: Yes that’s right, no one else is going to do it. Especially not the institutions that give the illusion of being on our side. It’s up to us.
Jordan Brown: Yes. Well, thanks very much Joey for chatting and I appreciate your time. And thanks for everything you’re doing in the world and your work with all of this.
Joey Moncarz: You are welcome, thank you.
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