Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Inner Che

Readers know I'm not a fan of the system I'm a part of.  The capitalist system that I benefit from.  This is the root of the major problems facing the world.  This drive for profit is what drives the wars, the environmental devastation, and so many other individual problems.

But what am I really doing about it?  This is about as radical as I'm prepared to be.

What can I say?  Life is just too damn easy.  Got a good job and work with people I like.  I'm white, which, as Louis CK points out, thank God for that shit.  Got a nice house, go on nice vacations.  Company has 401k and all that crap.  We can go skiing, send kids off to piano lessons and what not.

And you know what else?  Fighting seems futile.  Everyone knows about the militarization of the police.  It's crazy.  And in case you don't know, law enforcement was not developed to keep you safe, it was to control people and prevent them from threatening the wealth of the wealthy.  You know what?  They're good at it, and they're getting better by the day.  And they can be brutal.  With impunity.  Watch this video of various cops just savaging defenseless people.

I'm not saying we should stop organizing, but it's an uphill battle.  Look at Occupy.  For a long time it was ignored by the mainstream.  When it got so big that it couldn't be ignored it was ridiculed by the corporate controlled media.  Bunch of urine smelling hippies, clueless, etc.  Despite that it continued, and that's when the muscle came in, with beatings and assaults coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security, local police, and the FBI, which designated Occupy a "terrorist threat".  I think the establishment felt even that was too out of hand, too much of a threat, and so militarization of police has accelerated since then.

Not to mention the NSA, the CIA, the military.  They have so much power.  Forget the second amendment.  You just can't match their ability to use force.

But does that mean there is nothing you can do?  No.  I think that you can not only do something, you can do a lot.  You really could destroy the system and strip the exploiters of their power.

What's the root of the problem?  In my opinion it's what I mentioned at the beginning.  The drive for profit.  What if in my own life I just stopped giving them money that led to profit?  And then what if more and more people did this to where the rich were no longer able to sustain themselves based on capitalist exploitation?

You might think it's impossible.  You rely on other businesses to meet your basic needs.  But I think that's partly conditioning.  We've been conditioned to think we can't provide for ourselves.  We have to sell our labor and use the proceeds to acquire the things we need.  But why believe that?  Ancients could provide what they needed for themselves.  Heck, animals do it.  We have tools they didn't and don't have.

We live in an amazing time, with so many technological advancements.  There have been many improvements and developments in energy creation and food creation.  Have you heard of aquaponics?  You can grow a lot of healthy vegetables and fish, and after a little setup time it requires minimal work.  Advances in solar power continue at an exponential pace.  You can provide the bulk of your electric needs right now in a way that separates you from the need to rely on a power company.

Of course it will help to keep your energy needs down, and one way to do that is to live in a house that is small and well insulated.  Maybe something like this.  The owner apparently built that for around $55K.  Not super cheap on a per sq ft basis, but my point is that the energy needs should be low, which means solar power could be enough to keep it running.

What if you manage to locate that house in a walkable/bikable location or a location with good public transportation?  Now your car and gasoline needs come down.

Shelter, food, and transportation are the big ticket items.  If you can get yourself to a near sustainable path on that then you can start working smaller details that can lead to further improvement.  For example 3D printers can be had for as little as $100 and can be used to make all kinds of things a person might need.  Check out this solar oven.  The sun can cook your food.  This cool composting toilet can reduce your energy needs further.

I was inspired in my thinking on this by looking at my budget from last year.  For the first time I tracked my expenses very carefully, and you know what I learned?  I spend a lot of money.  And when I do it I feed the very system I oppose.  I just don't see how force can be used to produce the changes our world needs, but maybe we could starve the system.  If half our population lived in a way where their consumptive needs were radically reduced in this way the system would crumble.


Unknown said...

It is, as you said, an uphill battle. A series of gains and losses, victories and defeats. The anarchist/libertarian movement, of which I believe you are alluding to, has a long tradition. There are more distinctions and factions today but the core premise remains the same. The change that you are talking about does not come overnight, it will be a long process. We can use organization to spread the word, as it were, and try to affect policy or at the very least public perception. Unions and workers rights are the key, in my opinion, but that's just what I think. Good blog.

Jon said...

Thanks. Yeah, I think you're right that unions and workers rights are key. These are the organizations that can help gain rights and also communicate the solutions.

What's beautiful also about these tactics in my view is that anyone who learns them has every incentive to share them. It's not like a capitalist society where you want to gain a competitive edge. If I can learn to produce my own food there's no reason for me to not help others learn the same skills. Could this snowball and make a difference? I hope so. Heck, even right wingers can enjoy the benefits of self sufficiency.

Unknown said...

I'm reading "Animal, vegetable, miracle" by Barbara Kingslover. It chronicles a year of her family, eating only food they produce, raise or buy local. I'm inspired. Im feeling the urge to do my own challenge. Hawaii makes it easier than most places to do this, so I am fortunate, but food is expensive and grains are hard to come by.