Survivalism as if self-sufficiency is an illusion.

How do I protect [my disaster supplies] from the unprepared and desperate have-nots if I don’t already have a fort-knox style bunker?

Obviously the first priority will be to avoid conflict in the first place, if possible. The cause of conflict in your question was a shortage of supplies, and the potential aggressors are disorganized. So the easiest way to avoid conflict in that case is to make sure that there are enough essential supplies to go around for your neighbours. . . . That’s why I think that community sufficiency is much more important than just self-sufficiency.

— Aric McBay on Strategies for shortages, from In The Wake: A Collective Manual-in-progress for Outliving Civilization

I often feel self-conscious reading (and liking!) a certain type of anti-civilization literature. I’m trying to come up with a concise way to explain the appeal without just making a joke out of it (crazy survivalists!). Part of it is this struggle to take care of oneself in a cooperative way. The whole anti-civilization argument, at least from the people I’ve been checking out, comes from the premise that civilization makes cooperative self-care impossible, because the civilized are always destroying and overshooting their (our) landbase and depending on imperialism to survive. It’s that situation where one competitive person can ruin a whole group’s attempt to use cooperation and consensus.

So there are a whole lot of ideas in there about resisting a hierarchical, destructive culture without creating a new hierarchical culture in its place.

Douglas Rushkoff on individualism and disempowerment.

Another affirmation that cooperation can be more empowering than only looking out for number one, this time from economics and media theory. This is Douglas Rushkoff in his opening invocation at Personal Democracy Forum 2008 (transcript, video/audio). If you’re going to listen to a whole presentation, I prefer his similar 56th Annual Korzybski Lecture but I couldn’t find a transcript of that one.

The individual we think of today was actually born in the Renaissance. The Vesuvian Man, Da Vinci’s great drawing of a man in a perfect square and circle— independent and self-sufficient. This is the Renaissance ideal.

It was the birth of this thinking, individuated person that led to the ethos underlying the Enlightenment. Once we understood ourselves as individuals, we understood ourselves as having rights. The Rights of Man. A right to property. The right to personal freedom.

The Enlightenment— for all its greatness— was still oh, so personal in its conception. The reader alone in his study, contemplating how his vote matters. One man, one vote. We fight revolutions for our individual rights as we understood them. There were mass actions, but these were masses of individuals, fighting for their personal freedoms.

Ironically, with each leap towards individuality there was a corresponding increase in the power of central authorities. Remember, the Renaissance also brought us centralized currencies, chartered corporations, and nation states. As individuals become concerned with their personal plights, their former power as a collective moves to central authorities. Local currencies, investments, and civic institutions dissolve as self-interest increases. The authority associated with them moves to the center and away from all those voting people.

(Emphasis mine.)

I really notice the undefined “we” in that speech. He is expecting to be heard by people who take European history as their own history.

Interconnected quotations about interconnection.

‘Individualism’ is not to be mistaken for freedom to choose moral, political and cultural alternatives of one’s own making. Each person is expected to operate ‘individually’ but in more or less similar ways and similar directions. . . . ‘Individualism’ in the United States refers to privatization and the absence of communal forms of production, consumption and recreation.

— Michael Parenti quoted by Alfie Kohn in No Contest: The Case Against Competition

This is so similar to the quotation from yesterday, about how disabled people often define independence.

A disability activist perspective on independence, and on working less.

“Professionals tend to define independence in terms of self-care activities such as washing, dressing, toileting, cooking and eating without assistance. Disabled people, however, define independence differently, seeing it as the ability to be in control of and make decisions about one’s life, rather than doing things alone or without help.”

— Michael Oliver quoted by Sunny Taylor in The Right Not To Work: Power and Disability

I looked up Sunaura Taylor after enjoying her discussion with Judith Butler in the movie Examined Life. They talked about walking as it related to disability and gender issues, and about the politics of helping each other and asking for help. At one point they stopped into a thrift store to get a sweater for Sunaura, which was suddenly revealed as a Queer Eye make-over scene such as I have occasionally wished for. Queer shopping with politics intact; it was quite beautiful! I had a little thrill, there in the cinema.

Part of the thrill was seeing the two of them act out an interdependent version of shopping, with Judith helping Sunaura try things on and the store clerk adjusting her usual check out techniques. It was very clear that all of the people benefited from working together, and it was also clear that to accomplish that they had to work outside of usual store policies and etiquette expectations.

I have been finding affirmations of interdependence in a lot of different sources lately, and they really cheer me up. I’m hunting for ways to resist competition and hierarchy without resorting to competitive tactics, and in the meantime it is very encouraging just to watch people cooperate within structures that are set up to facilitate competition. Life affirming.

Taking a different angle on accepting all of us instead of competing to find the winners, here is another quotation from that essay. This is especially for Erin and anyone else who is into working less.

The right not to work is the right not to have your value determined by your productivity as a worker, by your employability or salary… What I mean by the right not to work is perhaps as much a shift in ideology or consciousness as it is a material shift. It is about our relation not only to labor but the significance of performing that labor, and to the idea that only through the performance of wage labor does the human being actually accrue value themselves. It is about cultivating a skeptical attitude regarding the significance of work, which should not be taken at face value as a sign of equality and enfranchisement, but should be analyzed more critically. Even in situations where enforcement of the ADA and government subsidies to corporations lead to the employment of the disabled, who tends to benefit, employers or employees?

One more, because I really like this question:

The minority of the impaired population that does have gainful employment are paid less than their able-bodied counterparts and are fired more often (and these statistics are more egregious for disabled minorities). To ensure that employers are able to squeeze surplus value out of disabled workers, thousands are forced into dead-end and segregated jobs and legally paid below minimum wage (for example, in the case of “sheltered workshops” for those with developmental disabilities). The condescension towards the workers in such environments is severe. Why should working be considered so essential that disabled people are allowed to be taken advantage of, and, moreover, expected to be grateful for such an “opportunity”?

In praise of experiencing underwear.

Fifi, by Strumpet & Pink

Willow, by Strumpet & Pink

Hunting Through the Ruffles, by Strumpet & Pink

Garden of Delights, by Strumpet & Pink

From the Strumpet & Pink website, a goal I can get behind:

Our knickers are experiential and focus
on feeling rather than objectification.

Years ago, my friend Logan talked so much about wanting velvet underwear with the pile facing inwards that someone finally made him some. Fuzzy on the inside.

Apologies for all the skinny, pale-skinned bums. I thought the ruffles were worth it. I am imagining my future undercrafts.