“Social convention domesticates and controls us; it also imprints deeply on the interior life and would turn our one adventure in the universe into a program of patterned social expectation. We rarely break free; indeed, we are generally not conscious of how smoothly we slide along the rails of social ordering. The awakened imagination desists from this domestication. It returns us to our native wildness, to the natural and seamless fluency of our own true nature. Other worlds come into view and we are invited to risk new and original ways of dwelling in the world.”
– John O’Donohue, Beauty: The Hidden Embrace, p. 146
[updated October 22nd, 2014]
by Colin Denny Donoghue
While it’s true many people are wrapped up in a consumer-corporate lifestyle and think trying to change the world is a naïve or impossible task not worth even trying, many other people are more actively compassionate and are giving a lot of time and effort to try and make this world a better place. Some of those engaged in this productive work, like The School of Living, have a better vision than others on how to achieve the goal of a healthier and more just society; from its founder Ralph Borsodi’s book Flight From the City, along with the later Decentralism by Mildred J. Loomis, to current vegan homesteading projects like Ahimsa Village, I find the ideas and praxis of philosophy toward achieving a sustainable society to be very on-target. Unfortunately many others do not yet see how crucial it is for people to be connected to the Earth in a more direct, natural and free way in order for there to be global social-justice, and in order to restore our environment, health, and sanity.
In “close-but-no-cigar” fashion (i.e. missing the crucial point), modern conservationists, scientists, sociologists and radical activists give key ideas for stopping and reversing the destructive ecological & health crisis we face, namely: we need much more decentralization of power, localization of organic food production, and we need much less environmental destruction, pollution, waste and radiation. As good as these ideas are, the critical problem with them is that their version of decentralization, localization and sustainability only go to a certain limited extent (limited within corporate/statist/monetary systemic restraints), and are alternatives accessible only to a relatively narrow segment of the world population. Here I will argue that the decentralist/localization/sustainability movement absolutely needs to go further, i.e. all the way to the universal individual level, in order for us to achieve the significant positive change the world needs. This “extreme” decentralization, localization and sustainable living would not only be more effective, but is in fact the only way to a globalization of equality and personal/environmental health.
The difference in perspective is between inside & outside-the-box thinking; the former is limited within the socioeconomic box (the box that is actually the main source of the problems) looking for within-the-system top-down solutions from State policies and programs (or the International Monetary Fund, etc.), rather than bottom-up solutions from autonomous individuals & the Earth’s ecology. This can also be looked at as a collectivist versus individualist way of thinking, though the former is often mistakenly equated with community, and the latter with a selfish isolationist perspective. In reality, collectivism means forced assimilation into a social-system while individualism has the ethical superiority of valuing individual sovereignty, self-responsibility, and voluntary relations.
So first let’s review some of the best inside-the-box/collectivist strategies for a more sustainable society, and see what their pluses and minuses are; they include:
- The United Nations, and their programs, like “The International Year of Family Farming”
- The Green Party (gp.org), other Political Parties & Organizations, & “Food Sovereignty” Organizations
- “Public” Banking
- “Micro-credit”/loans for Small Traditional Craft Business Start-ups & “Educating” the “undeveloped.”
- “Community Rights” Legal Strategy, e.g. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (celdf.org)
- Ultra high-tech “Sustainable” social-systems/cities, e.g. The Zeitgeist Movement (thezeitgeistmovement.com) & The Venus Project (thevenusproject.com)
- Small-scale Organic Farms
- Intentional Communities & Eco-villages
- Urban Homesteading & Rural “Earthship” Communities
- Government Land Reform programs
- Land Trusts (like those of the School of Living, Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust, etc.)
- Large Community Gardens, e.g. the former South Central Farm (thegardenmovie.com) & Guerrilla Gardening, e.g. as also in Los Angeles (laguerrillagardening.org)
“At least in outline, it is already becoming clear what sort of society people seek once they have broken the spell of the urban-industrial Reality Principle. We can see the postindustrial alternative emerging in a thousand fragile experiments throughout America and Western Europe on the part of the young and the no longer young: communes rural and urban; voluntary primitivism; organic homesteading; extended families; free schools; free clinics; handicraft cooperatives; community development coops; Gandhian ashrams… Here is the new society piecing itself inventively together within the interstices of the old.” … “Their anarchism is the healthiest kind: a natural, rebelliously personal response to the distortions of urban-industrialism life and the technocracy, as spontaneous as the need to breathe free after airless captivity. … Anarchism has always been, uniquely, a politics swayed by organic sensibility; it is born of a concern for the health of cellular structure in society and a confidence in spontaneous self-regulation. … For those who embark on this inner journey, anarchism becomes a natural tendency; it is the political style most hospitable to the visionary quest. … They disaffiliate, decentralize, cultivate non-violent relationships, look after their own needs. … And wherever the community takes up its fight, it gives new life to those values of personal liberty and dignity which the artificial environment has all but obliterated.”
– Theodore Roszak, Where The Wasteland Ends
Most of these examples of people trying to live a more sustainable and satisfying life on this planet are admirable and inspirational, but they are also very limited in what they can accomplish, and that’s because they all ignore the root injustice: humans having to pay, work for or obey other humans just for a place to live & sleep on this planet.
The U.N. Declared 2014 the “Year of the Family Farmer” in response to growing numbers of people wanting to live a more natural, sustainable self-sufficient lifestyle. Many people involved with this are undoubtedly good-intentioned, however this declaration is ultimately just a propaganda scheme; governments will never support everyone having the opportunity to establish independent/sovereign family farms, since that would end the funneling of wealth to themselves, and their corporate partners. This “Year of the Family Farmer” is just another example of politicians pretending to be on your side, pretending that they are really going to do something significant to aid the cause you are a part of, and of course it always turns out to be a lie, just like this will be. This is just like with the U.N. Climate Change Conference of 2012; Increasing numbers of people have become concerned about climate change/global warming, so the governments got together for a big climate change conference and invited people to join the discussion, and what came of it? Basically nothing. As an article stated even just soon after it began: “The United Nations Climate Change Conference beginning in Doha this week is turning into a farce.” But it served its purpose: for most people it reinforced the belief that government is on their side, that they’re “working on it.” So non-activists remain complacent, and activists keep pouring their time and energy into trying to make governing better, continuing the centuries-old quest for establishing “good government.” Some even think we should expand the United Nations to be a One World Government, saying that if there were no separate nations to fight against each other there would be world peace; never-mind that the whole world could become a totalitarian dystopia, never-mind that centralized power over others always leads to corruption, tyranny and destruction. Maybe, just maybe, this quest for establishing good governance is ultimately futile?
I used to be a fairly active member of the Green Party (I would promote and vote for Green Party candidates, etc.) and I still find the work they do to be laudably good-intentioned. They don’t accept corporate funding, are for labeling all GMO food, are against the death penalty, and have “10 Key Values” which include: “Social-Justice & Equal Opportunity,” “Nonviolence,” & “Decentralism.” They are also for a living wage and universal healthcare, along with electoral reforms to increase the level of democracy. Yet what I’ve realized since my Green Party days is that all of these reforms mistakenly take the root injustice as a given. Advocating a living wage takes jobs/monetary-dependency as a given, universal healthcare takes taxation as a given, and reformed voting/elections takes forced citizenship as a given. Those givens are actually aspects of slavery being taken as inseparable to human existence; as if it was a part of Nature/Creation, which of course it is not. Slavery is not natural, nor is it a form of Nonviolence. Nor a form of Social-justice and Equal Opportunity. Nor a means for widespread Decentralism. The slavery of social-systems is actually diametrically opposed to each of these values, and that ethical contradiction is why the Green Party and like-minded activists have had limited to no success in world politics, and that’s why that impotence will always be the case.
We are dependent on money because we are denied our birthright (under threat of arrest) to a fair share of land & water that we could use for homestead self-sufficiency & gift-economy communities (which would be true equal opportunity and decentralism). Taxation, despite propaganda on “representation” and “social fairness” is actually a form of theft, an act of tyranny and injustice/unfairness. Seeking to establish a truly good government is actually acting in ignorance of the fact that governance is a form of slavery, and slavery can never be made good (you can’t be a good slave-master!), it’s a total impossibility, as history has shown over and over, and as current reality continues to show. To overlook these acts of violence that are the foundation of social-systems as if they are inconsequential, as I used to, is really just ignorance in action, ignorance that doesn’t really help other people, other species, or the Earth.
Even more on-target activism like that working for food sovereignty (e.g. usfoodsovereigntyalliance.org) and community empowerment (e.g. beblackandgreen.com) still face inevitable limited success since it still accepts the fundamental injustice of denying individual sovereignty (and thereby individual empowerment). Trying to get more organic produce into inner cities is definitely a good thing (e.g. growingpower.org), but by taking land costs/control and taxation as a given they can never establish real community-sufficiency (not enough land access and free time to cultivate it), and are simultaneously supporting a system that is continuously destroying our health and the environment overall (which basically nullifies the work they are doing). They are seeking social-justice while at the same time accepting the root social-injustice. Protesting a war while paying for it through taxes at the same time doesn’t stop the war, and likewise wanting healthier communities with more local control while supporting social-systems that completely undermine that purpose is an exercise in futility.
The “public” bank idea, in theory, is going toward decentralization of power (namely away from the corporate “Federal” Reserve), but isn’t addressing the true foundation of centralized power: land control and taxation. So therefore its positive effect can only be minimal to none; most people would still be living their lives just as before, money-slaves working for corporations, government and banks, just so they can afford food and a roof over their head. Reforms like “public” banks also operate on the theory that the State = the public/community, i.e. that representation of the people/public is an actual reality, and so if money was controlled by government instead of corporate banks, then we could undo “our” debt and “our” funding of unethical ventures. Thinking that it’s just the corporate bankers that are the problem, and if we could just get the State in control of banking (whether national, state-level, or city officials) everything would be great, is just an expression of indoctrination; reality clearly shows true representation by government does not, can not, and never has existed. The same misconception is shown by activists that demand we “Tax the Rich” (e.g the “Robin Hood Tax”), assuming that once more money is in the “public” treasury it’s going to be distributed to the needy in a fair and effective way, which again is clearly not the case. You’ve probably heard statistics like “The amount of money needed to eradicate world hunger (or convert completely to clean energy) is just a fraction of the money we spend on militarism” haven’t you? The hundreds of billions of tax dollars wasted going into building the latest fighter jet indeed could instead do a lot of good, but statistics like these are unfortunately usually coupled with the “common sense” that we simply need to redirect where our money goes, as if we were ever in control of what government does with our money. This perspective is fundamentally flawed in using the term “we” when actually referring to government; this is false identification with the outer pain-body, and just like the inner pain-body (as described by author Ekhart Tolle), there is no reforming it, it is essentially destructive and the only way to deal with it effectively is to dis-identify with it and reject its lies, irrationality and immorality. This perspective also forgets the fact that government officials are guaranteed payment no matter whether they perform their duty well or not, and they notoriously use taxes for war-making and supporting destructive corporations in the form of subsidies, tax breaks, etc.. Because of this the public bank strategy, along with complaining about misused tax dollars and demanding more transparency and higher taxes for the rich, as if any of that can really be effective, is extremely erroneous; these ideas are actually based on delusion, the delusions that government is “us,” and at its core a good and necessary thing; the opposites are the truth. Perhaps it makes sense then that the real solution might actually be to completely end the abusive relationship with these so-called representatives and care-takers? In other words, maybe anarchism isn’t such a crazy idea after all?
Micro-credit loans for traditional craft small-businesses as a solution for those in the “Third World” is also fundamentally flawed. The lives and culture of “undeveloped” people are corrupted by monetary-dependency and debt when these loans are made commonplace, and their quality of life is tied to consumer-product sales, not the natural abundance offered by the Earth. Most people accept that indigenous peoples who have been living in a certain area freely for centuries shouldn’t have to suddenly start paying other humans money to live there, so why is this monetary-slavery “development” seen as a good thing? And related to this: why is it thought of as okay for everyone else “born into” a social-system to have to pay just to live on the Earth? We are all indigenous to the Earth; where you are born on the planet shouldn’t determine if you have to pay or how much you have to pay those deemed “officials” in that region. Another major problem with this micro-credit model is that it’s usually coupled with an invasive “education” program. Education is touted as key for a better world, and while that’s true to a large degree, it’s not true of the sort of education they’re pushing, which is more an indoctrination program into corporatist/industrial civilization than it is a teaching of natural skills and wisdom. The latter is what traditional cultures have been passing down to their children for countless generations on their own, the former is pushing assimilation to the money-slave paradigm (a debt culture made complete by the loans). Putting African (or Nepalese, etc.) children in uniforms, teaching them English and how to use computers is called progress, but it’s actually destroying traditional cultures and replacing them with a technocracy mono-culture of corporatist/statist control.
Community Land Rights is definitely going in the right direction, and sounds right on-target with mission statements like this one from the The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund: “Our mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature.” The words are more radical than the actions however; they aren’t advocating true self-government, which would be individual autonomy. By ignoring the individual and framing the issue at the community level, it neglects the problems of defining a community, like what its borders are and which people exactly comprise the community and who do not (and how that defining and bordering is accomplished without aggression toward individuals). The main flaw is not recognizing individual sovereignty and instead going with a form of collectivism, which is the same framework that formed nation-states, the same framework that got us into this deplorable situation in the first place. The battle shouldn’t be between a small collective (a dubiously defined community) and a large one (a nation-state), the battle should be framed in the more fundamental issue of individuals vs. forced collectivism; otherwise one is taking part in the very evil that they are fighting against, which is an irrational, immoral and ineffective course of action. Naturally though individuals in most cases will want to (and for practical purposes should) voluntarily work and resist together, but the key word there is voluntarily, which signifies that each individual is respected and treated as a sovereign woman or man. Plus attempting a community-based legal strategy is obviously doomed to failure on a large-scale since living truly free will always be illegal, otherwise there would be no legal system, and the lawmakers aren’t likely to approve doing away with their jobs and “authority!”
Sustainability strategies that rely on advanced technology, like the Zeitgeist Movement, & the Venus Project, which “proposes a system in which automation and technology would be intelligently integrated into a overall holistic socioeconomic design” are severely flawed for a few reasons: a) they ignore or distort the environmental impact of the resource-extraction, production, distribution and waste of all that ultra advanced technology, along with the fact that cities are inherently unsustainable since they go beyond the carrying-capacity of the land, requiring the mass importation of resources and export of wastes b) they ignore or distort the problem of the masses being dependent on the few specialist wannabe philosopher kings who have the resources to manufacture technology like robots (specialists who also implement their design & programs), and the problem that these specialists will expect mandatory obedience and compensation by the masses c) they ignore or distort the negative human-health effects from radiation and toxin exposure from that technology and d) they promote a collectivist society (on floating cities at sea no less!) where individual sovereignty (which includes land & water as a birthright) is still not recognized. (Also the more things are controlled by automated robotic technology, obviously the less people have control over their daily lives.) Another critical problem of current technological offerings is that they don’t solve the major crisis we face known as Peak Oil, i.e. our modern society is completely dependent on petroleum oil to continue as is (and of course there is major industrial growth world-wide pushing energy demands even farther), and the oil is quickly running out. If everyone was living in self/community-sufficient veganic homestead communities (perhaps with home distillers producing ethanol/gas for modified vehicles), the suffering and chaos likely to come when cities no longer have food coming in (via petroleum-fueled trucks) and people living in the suburbs are no longer able to drive to work, could be avoided. (This model of sovereign veganic homesteads solve problem after problem, while technology and social-systems just create more and more problems!)
The Venus Project/Zeitgeist Movement advocates a moneyless resource-based society ruled by “natural law,” and that part sounds pretty good, but if those resources and people’s lives are actually managed by specialists and their robotic unsustainable technology, and the natural laws of freedom and non-aggression are ignored, not so much! They claim that the programs running all the robots and resource distribution will be “open-source,” run by “the people,” following purely principled and logical rules… Hmm, funny how that sounds exactly like what the founding of the USA and countless other States was supposed to be based on! This is just the same collectivist package with new deceptive/deluded intellectual wrapping; ignoring the fallacy of “representation” which actually violates the sovereignty of the individual, ignoring how social-systems are fundamentally forms of slavery (even when supposedly based on rational/ethical principles) and that slavery has never and can never produce social-justice/harmony/sustainability. Collectivist schemes like these in particular are a form of autocratic governance known as Technocracy; another version of this is being pushed through installation of “smart-meters” which are part of the “smart-grid,” wherein all of your home energy use is monitored, and can be controlled (e.g. heating & cooling operation), via unseen officials (and/or hackers) that connect to your home via the irradiating wireless communication installed with the new digital-meters. Signing up for totalitarianism is not so smart; reject this technology being installed on your house without your permission.
Back to other strategies for a sustainable society, most small farms face an uphill battle competing with huge subsidized farms; it has become increasingly difficult in recent decades for small-scale farmers to stay in operation within the current systemic framework, as highlighted in a recent Oregonian newspaper article, wherein a small-scale farmer said: “It’s very hard work, little sleep, but we can make it work.” Hardly sounds like Paradise, and also there is the not-so-minor problem with this model that it is not accessible to most people on the planet. Even for those that are willing to face the unnecessarily long hours of a corrupted natural lifestyle, most can’t afford the land costs and taxation that are demanded within this political-economic system to even try and make some profit as a small farm. Another problem with this model is exemplified by San Francisco’s Little City Farm (littlecitygardens.com), where “urban farmers… turned an empty ¾ acre plot of land into a thriving urban farm that sells produce to local restaurants throughout the city. [BUT…] Despite their success, they were constantly worried about what would happen if the owner decided to sell the land.” Five-year leases and unreliable restaurant arrangements do not foster a real long-term relationship with the land, which is needed for economic and ecological security, along with strong communities and spiritual connection with Nature; it leaves the growers in a constant state of worry about how long they will be able to do what they are doing. The same problem obviously holds true for work-exchanges on organic farms, gardens, nurseries and homesteads (e.g. wwoof.net). Although it is a good thing for people to have opportunities to do more natural work and disconnect more from cities and the monetary-system (I’ve done it several times myself), there is no long-term relationship with the land possible, since it is someone else’s land, and there are also the problems of being subservient to and dependent on that land-owner (who are often mentally disturbed to some degree by their unnatural position of power), along with other problems that come with collectivist living, problems that can arise even more at an intentional community, since there is usually more time for the bad karmic root to mature there.
Intentional communities and ecovillages may be more accessible to some poor people (yet with no guarantee of acceptance, resonance, or availability), but one does not have complete individual freedom, they are subject to the collective; the lack of personal space and privacy, and choice of who to live near or with and how, is a common source of disharmony in intentional communities.
And even when land-based intentional communities were made up of members who were mostly on the same page, united by a mutual moral framework, their projects have still been repeatedly undermined and destroyed by the economics they are told they are required to accommodate, namely land costs and taxation. In 1971 in Summertown, Tennessee “the twentieth century’s largest single cooperative utopian community” began, simply called “The Farm,” and did well maintaining their more free & natural way of life for about a decade, until the root injustice caught up with them in the form of a debt of over a million dollars. The debt coincided with the American farm crisis of the late 1980’s, which was basically a result of dependence on the larger political/economic system. Despite their hard work and excellent crops they had to start charging a membership fee to live there, but since there were little to no sources of monetary income for all the residents, hundreds had to leave, about 700 in 1983 alone, and The Farm became more a commercial operation than a demonstration of humanity’s highest potential. So again the root injustice completely undermined a more sustainable and ethical way of life for good-intentioned people, the monetary-slavery that comes with forced citizenship corrupting their righteous endeavor. Rainbow Gatherings are free of this corruption by being money-free, but they only last weeks because they don’t own the National Forest land they are using, and will be forcibly removed by the government if they don’t leave. (They are also regularly harassed by government officials and swaths of drunks, both manifestations of social-systems). The shortcomings of these two strategies for a just and sustainable society make the real way forward clear: If we combine the money and hierarchy-free aspect of Rainbow Gatherings, with the best of the lifestyle of places like The Farm (land-based living and veganic food production), and remove the despicable corrupting factor of social-systems, we come to something that keeps the good qualities of both but removes the bad: gift-economy communities of sovereign veganic homesteads. Sadly so many have not acknowledged the clear feedback coming from reality, decade after decade. We must completely remove the root injustice if we are ever going to have a utopian society flourish; trying to accommodate a social-system of slavery is clearly a lost cause! Instead of settling for temporary autonomous zones like Rainbow Gatherings, and small businesses-based homestead/ecovillage/intentional-community projects, why not go all the way to the ideal, no longer accepting defeat?
Failed utopias, one after the other, have the unnatural enterprise of pushing their own collectivism while also accepting the collectivism of social-systems as their main source of downfall. The various ways that causes disharmony is natural though, it is like the karmic disturbances that arise at the corporate workplace or university setting, institutions which would for the most part not exist in the first place if it were not for social-systems (these institutions are part and parcel to the profit-seeking economic system, a system we wouldn’t need if we all had free access to land and water). These circumstances and structures of regular disturbance have karmically arisen from an unprincipled foundation, namely the lack of social equality with regards to land & water, and people being forced into a “social-contract” which they never signed. And so that faulty foundation will always keep producing disturbances in our lives (we can consider it a Law of Nature); until it is removed and replaced with something principled, namely equality and voluntarism, we will never achieve world peace.
Pretty much the same problems arise for the urban homesteading model, as demonstrated by the Dervaes family in Pasadena, California (urbanhomestead.org); countless people would also attempt to grow enough food for their families, and sell enough on the side to pay taxes and mortgage/rent, but they can’t even get the house or land to begin with because of lack of money. The same goes for utopian off-the-grid zero-waste recycled building-material Earthship homes & communities, which, as awesome as the homes are, remain unaffordable for most people to have under current socioeconomic restraints. To promote “solutions” that only the rich can afford is a skewed privileged mindset, neglecting the reality of billions of other people. Even if you can manage to pay for the start-up costs (mainly the cost of land), there is still no real security, since you never really own the land, having to pay the State taxes for the rest of your life (i.e. you’re really just renting the space from the State). If you’re rich enough to pay off the State mafia without having to earn money elsewhere, as a citizen you would still have the disturbance of having your taxes go toward things you disagree with (e.g. from the major like killing hundreds of thousands of innocent children, women and men in the Middle East, imprisoning hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug-offenders while enforcing hemp/cannabis prohibition and building nuclear power plants here, to the more minor like having to have your home meet erroneous State code and inspection requirements, etc.). And you would still have to breathe the air polluted by government-supported industries, filter the toxified water, be exposed to the radiation, live in fear of the possibility of war in your region, etc., all of which would keep increasing over time as States continued to be funded by people like yourself. We can’t expect to live in the kingdom of heaven while paying off the devil; the security and well-being sold by the latter is ultimately a Big Lie.
Urban homesteading also has the major minus of being in a city setting; mirroring Ralph Borsodi’s comments in Flight from the City, again Theodore Roszak in his excellent book Where The Wasteland Ends reminds us:
“[W]e should undertake to repeal urban-industrialism as the world’s dominant style of life. We should do this, not in a spirit of grim sacrifice, but in the conviction that the reality we want most to reside in lies beyond the artificial environment. And so we should move freely and in delight toward the true postindustrialism: a world awakened from its sick infatuation with power, growth, efficiency, [and] progress as if from a nightmare. … What do cities mean to most people now living in them? Crime, dirt, congestion, expense, bustle, danger, noise, aggravation, high blood pressure, unwanted violations of privacy in the midst of terrifying isolation, trouble, trouble, trouble. Why then do people live there? Because it is where the work or the welfare are…” … “The city is their cage, not their home.” “We must find ways out of the city for those who want to leave. Well-developed rural and village life, autonomous small towns must become a live option, a necessary kind of variety.”
The answer isn’t just helping people escape surveillance-grid cities (with their myriad of disturbances) by just making land more affordable through some legislation (which will inevitably be problematic and inadequate); the answer is not needing to pay for the land in the first place, being autonomous. This is made clear also by a study of Land Reform movements; from Brazil and Africa to China, when you look into these movements you find time and time again that it is the government involvement that is a hindrance to progress in land equality, and that “land reform” becomes just another corrupted public policy that is used for the benefit of the powers that be. A recent headline from an article on land reform in Kenya sums it up: “Political meddling hindering land reforms.” Just land distribution must necessarily be independent of government involvement, and be at the homesteading scale (a couple acres per household). When everyone has sovereign acres of their own and are living rightly on them, all the common disturbances of modern industrial/domesticated society fall away, and we find Nature nurtures us with a peace and harmony we previously thought was impossible (out of our ignorance and acceptance of artificial social-systems), finding the ecological niche for our species on this planet.
More community or guerrilla garden plots can’t be enough, since that wouldn’t be adequate for a family to approach self-sufficiency. (With community gardens and guerrilla gardening, a common problem, besides the amount of land being insufficient, is that when that piece of Earth is restored into a beautiful garden the property value goes up for the owner, and they then sell the land for development at a good profit, thanks to the gardeners who were not compensated in any way, and have all their satisfying work bulldozed before their eyes.) The answer is having a homestead plot of sovereign land as a free birthright, just because you are human on the planet Earth. Why am I convinced that this is definitely the answer? Because it’s completely sound ethically, and everything else that has been attempted to bring a healthy, sustainable and just social paradigm has been continually sabotaged by the aforementioned unjust systemic restraints. These attempts include the land trust model, as done by the School of Living, wherein land is purchased and given some safeguards against corporate/industrial development. It’s a very good model that has helped conserve some land for sustainable use, but the problems, like land costs, arise once again; can everyone afford to buy into a land trust? No, even when working full-time. Is there enough land legally available for everyone to utilize land trusts? No, most of the land is unjustly owned/controlled by States, corporations and the rich who have well beyond their fair share. And even for those that can take part (usually after decades of slaving away to earn & save enough money), their life is often still corrupted further by the need to earn additional money to pay for property taxes and other government requirements.
“Abolition of taxation” is listed alongside “community rights and control” under movements the School of Living supports, and that is incredibly on-point. But those need to be put to the front of the list (plus modifying “community rights” to “individual rights”) if we are really going to accomplish the positive changes we want to see on a large-scale. The main thing holding back abolition of taxation is that many people believe the tax-funded social-system foundation of society is necessary. Before we examine this “necessity” further, let’s just summarize the situation humanity is in right now: Humans now face a massive man-made ecological crisis, along with a massive health crisis, as the planet becomes increasingly toxic and irradiated. This crisis is mainly the result of billions of people being forced to:
a) pay taxes that funnel wealth to the few, who then commit and support the worst acts of destruction known to man, including: war, building nuclear power plants, making and using depleted-uranium weapons, various massive mining operations (e.g. mountain-top removals), hydro-fracking for “natural” gas, extracting, processing and piping tar-sands oil, creating one massive oil/chemical spill after another, supporting massive air pollution (causing ill health, acid rain and destroying the protective ozone layer) including geo-engineering/chemtrails, engaging in massive deforestation (wiping out biodiversity and indigenous cultures), decimating ocean-life and coral reefs (along with killing off most marine life, including the plankton & blue-green algae that produce the majority of oxygen on Earth), pushing health/Nature-damaging GMO foods, approving massive toxic pesticide spraying on our food (along with toxic chemical additives put inside it) and fluoridating our water, making and using militaristic nanotechnology, the HAARP project, etc..
b) live an unnatural lifestyle that is destructive to our health, the Earth and other species, supporting destructive/unethical corporations, purchasing their toxic consumer goods (with their subsequent negative health effects and huge waste, preceded by major environmental destruction during massive natural resource extraction, and then extremely polluting production & transport). [By being forced to work for money rather than self/community-sufficiency via a full-time homestead lifestyle, this destructive corporate dependency is created by social-systems.]
So, the main two sources of the crisis, namely governments and corporations destructively working together, are directly connected to a system that is supposedly necessary. Now if they really are necessary, then we might as well throw in the towel shouldn’t we? If the source of a problem is a given, then what can really be done? Not much, as I have been showing with previous examples of within-the-system “solutions.” Once you can clearly see the root origins of the world-wide crisis, then you can take the next rational step which is questioning the so-called necessity of those man-made origins. This is a more radical approach, granted, but it’s also completely logical. And when you start to analyze these origins, their necessity and goodness quickly become refutable. The most direct way to this realization is to understand the following: Forcing others to pay for things that they don’t want to pay for (like war and ecocide), and shouldn’t have to pay for (namely a fair share of land & water), is a form of slavery. It’s not “representation,” it’s not “democracy,” it’s not a “social-contract,” it’s slavery; and slavery is not a sound foundation for society. Most people born into (and indoctrinated by) social-systems will immediately shy away from the term slavery, thinking or saying something like “No, slavery is just when you are in chains.” That would be an incorrect thought. There are different forms of slavery, but the fundamental characteristic of slavery remains the same, as the definition of the word makes clear: “Compulsory service, often such as is required by a legal penalty,” “A state of subjugation or captivity often involving burdensome and degrading labor.” There are forms of slavery that you may already acknowledge, like sex-slavery/trafficking, child-slavery, and work-debt bondage/slavery. These are all terrible of course and should be vehemently opposed; their root cause however is often missed, taken as a necessary given of society: Taxes are compulsory, with the threat of arrest and imprisonment for noncompliance. Having to pay other humans just for a place to live on this Earth is compulsory, with the threat of arrest and imprisonment for noncompliance. These are both clear examples of slavery that in large part create the conditions for the other forms of slavery, though we have been indoctrinated to believe in the illusions of a “social-contract” and “representative democracy” that supposedly make this whole arrangement of monetary/tax-slavery just and voluntary, which it most certainly is not (a reality Indigenous peoples tend to see much more clearly).
Most people, even when living a wealthy lifestyle compared to most of the rest of the world, will admit that the work they do to earn money is burdensome and degrading to varying degree, some having been mistreated for decades by deranged corporate executives that only care about profits, regularly exploiting those lower in the artificial hierarchy without remorse. “Slavery emphasizes the idea of complete ownership and control by a master.” Even the lower and middle classes of wealthy nations can be said to be in large part owned and controlled by their bosses and the officials of the nation-state they happen to be within the borders of, dependent on them for the basics of survival: food, clothing & shelter. Having to earn money just to live on this planet, we can’t just do natural fulfilling work to attain those basics at a natural pace (a few hours every day doing homesteading work like gardening & orcharding), leaving more free time for the Arts and other pleasures, along with being of service to others. Instead we have to seek various other forms of artificial degrading work, selling ourselves to employers with resumes and interviews.
Likewise we are slaves to the State by being subject to its rules and taxation with no freedom to opt-out of the arrangement if we don’t agree with the rules, like the rules that we have to pay property and income tax. The number of States (with their “official” flags) has been in flux for thousands of years, the current number is around 200; ever wonder why you can’t form your own too? Only other special people can draw imaginary lines on a map, call it a sovereign territory and make a flag for it, but non-special-you can’t do that, even if your borders are just around your house and garden? What makes their sovereign land supposedly legit and yours not? Nothing more than the the threat of force, which is no basis for legitimacy at all. Starting to see through their deception now? Keep in mind: Did you ever sign this so-called social-contract you are bound to? No, because you are automatically, at birth, considered a subject of the State, which makes you a compulsory subject, and that is just another way of saying you’re someone’s property, i.e. their slave. Every new baby born within the borders of a nation-state is basically considered livestock to the statist control-freak human farmers who we know simply as “officials.” We are indoctrinated to embrace our citizenship as if it is some glorious thing to be happy about, but it is really branding by human farmers, it is enslavement that continually corrupts our lives.
Why focus on the fact that social-systems are actually farms of enslaved humans in this essay on sustainable living? Well, besides that obviously being a topic worthy of discussion on its own, it’s because, as is worth repeating, this slavery is the root origin of the current ecological and health crisis. I am not just “pushing an anarchist agenda” because I think anarchism is a cool philosophy; I’ve come to understand that the fact of the matter is that without anarchy, nothing is going to significantly change for the better; the world will just become increasingly toxic and dystopian because of our participation with toxic social-systems. Could it be that origins & foundations actually matter? Could it be that a society based on constant violence and threats of violence (e.g. pay your taxes and go to jury duty or we will harm you) is actually not the best way to go? Most people just skim right past this foundation in discussion, they take it as a given, that it has to be this way, and so they then get lost in the apparent complexity of politics and trying to managing society, not seeing that because social-systems are wrong from the start (i.e. they are based on violence and slavery), they can never be perfected into something that’s good overall.
“The first kings were conquerors. They stole the land by shot and shell, period. Then, they settled down to rob the survivors at a certain rate per year, called taxation. Next, they divided up the land among their relatives or officers in the army, who all became lords-of-the-land, landlords, and were empowered to rob the citizens at a certain other rate per year, called rent. …
Anarchists say that the first crime was the crime of the conquerors/governors, who seized a whole land, cut it up among themselves, and proceeded to rob all of us forever by taxation, rent, corporative profit, money interest, and various sub-classes of the same basic fraud. Anarchists say that the Earth belongs to its inhabitants, not to this small “owning” and “governing” class of less than 1 percent of the population. Anarchists say that the way to stop crime is to stop the primordial crime, the State, and administer the land through voluntary associations (syndicates) of all the people.
Anarchists say that if people could work for themselves — if they received the full product of their labor through a syndicate of fellow-workers — almost all motivation for crime would disappear. If you didn’t have to pay taxes and rent, starting tomorrow, your purchasing power would be more than doubled. If other forms of exploitation and robbery, through the financial-interest system, were also abolished, your purchasing power would more than quadruple. How much envy, how much worry about money, how much irrational fear, ulcers, nightmares, headaches and other motivations to cheat a little or steal a little would survive after this simple economic justice was achieved?”
– from the article Anarchism and Crime by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea
On a spiritual level, the reality consistently appears to be this: We cannot build a harmonious society on a foundation of slavery and violence, no matter how hard people try, because the karmic effects of that unethical foundation cannot be escaped. Even if a politician or other government official has good intentions, the amount of good they can do will be largely undermined by the system they are operating as a part of, because the system is fundamentally evil, since slavery is an evil. Also when we non-officials accept, associate with and participate in a system of slavery and violence then we are thereby supporters of slavery and violence; and if someone is a supporter of slavery and violence, their life will be karmically corrupted by that support. Proof of this is all around for us to see, with various disturbances arising from this root injustice in our own lives, and the lives of billions of other people. This karmic reality is why government continues with blunder after blunder, destructive act after destructive act; if it’s not approving drone-strikes, GMOs, nuclear power and clear-cutting old-growth forests, it will be something else destructive. New branches from the same bad root will keep growing even if activists win a battle or two and prune a couple branches. If you find this analogy to be too simplistic, I challenge you to clearly examine political history and current political reality in broad view and not see how this is exactly what is going on; the big picture is very clear, but oftentimes people miss the forest for the trees and say it’s just the current politicians or policies that are the problem, missing that all of the destruction/frustration/disturbance is actually feedback from an ethical dimension of our reality, an ethical dimension that doesn’t allow for harmony through slavery and violence.
“Society is sick when goals no longer seem responsive to what makes men happier and healthier. Such a society, subservient to runaway production, has become the enemy of life. … More serious in the long run are the effects of unrestrained industry and population explosion upon the ecology. Although few will dispute on principle the merits of environmental purification, most industrialists on their own behalf are unwilling so far to consider it of greater importance than satisfactory production figures. Yet prospects of a fuel shortage throw industry into a tailspin and cause governmental concern and rapid action never afforded the natural environment, all to keep the capitalistic show on the road. It may well be asked, are ever-expanding industry and business that important? Is it really such a disaster that fewer planes may crowd the sky, fewer cars and trucks clog the highways? Does commercial expansion really have such a direct relationship to the quality of the life one lives? The anarchist would answer no. He has always valued the natural environment, and the desire for oneness with nature has been part of his character. The old call for decentralization seems more urgent now than ever, and what once seemed a dream suitable only to an eccentric like Thoreau now is fast becoming a precondition for survival on this planet. … Unquestionably anarchism has its appeals, some never greater than they are now, as a last-ditch stand against the super-organization of modern technological society, as the enemy of injustice, and as the supporter of the individual dignity and freedom of man. But does the average man [or woman], burdened with self-doubts, fearful of the unanswered questions about life’s purpose, want the total freedom that anarchism avows? Many would reject it in favor of the security that comes with regimentation [and slavery].”
– Anarchism: Political Innocence or Social Violence?, by James D. Forman
I can already hear the conditioned responses: “Anarchy as solution? No, anarchy means violence and chaos, we need social-systems to stay safe.” Now if you find yourself having a thought similar to this, you need to realize something basic first of all: Anarchy means “No ruler,” it means a society without social-systems of control, without forced government, it is not (despite the pervasive propaganda saying it is) synonymous with violence and chaos. Anarchy is against violence, the violence of the State that forces us to participate in the destruction of the Earth, individuals and communities. Anarchy, in its pure form, is an unwavering belief that slavery and acts of authoritarian aggression are always wrong; not really an extreme notion! But amazingly, in Orwellian fashion, this stance of non-violence has been totally distorted (by those it benefits to do so) into its complete opposite. Now of course there are some people who call themselves anarchist that commit and/or promote acts of violence (some actually agent-provocateurs paid by the State), but you must use your intelligence to be able to discern between the basic premise of the philosophy and a totally divergent act that is under that label. For example, surely you know of those that call themselves Christian that commit actions hardly in line with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, don’t you? By irrationally equating anarchy with violence you turn away from something that is actually based on a more comprehensive non-violence, and is also the key to repairing our society. Because there are unethical forms of what is called anarchism, like those that advocate overthrowing the State violently, that does not mean there is not a rational and ethically consistent form of anarchism, like claiming your fair share of homesteading land & water as a birthright. To give an example of a sort of anarchist strategy that is irrational, immoral and based on lies (what I call the “toxic-trio,” that is always used to defend aggression of various sorts), here is a quote from Aric Mcbay, one of the authors of the book Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet: “Planting a garden—as wonderful and important as that may be—is not a decisive operation. It may be a shaping or sustaining operation under the right circumstances, but nothing about gardening will directly stop this culture from killing the planet, nor dismantle the hierarchical and exploitative systems that are causing the ecocide. Remember, the world used to be filled with indigenous societies which were sustainable and enduring. Their sustainability did not prevent civilization from decimating them again and again.” (p. 391-2) Actually if everyone planted a garden on their own sovereign land that would stop the ecocide, and it would prevent further genocide, because there would be no State-dependent industries or State-dependent militaries to commit those acts of mass-destruction in the first place, they would both go out of business for lack of customers and taxpayers. What has allowed the decimation of sustainable indigenous societies is basically States, therefore the answer is not complicated, we need to eliminate States (and any other form of authoritarian rulership), and the only way we as individuals can do something toward that productively is by claiming sovereign land as a free birthright and plant gardens. If we think there is some violent or collectivist strategy necessary because “not everyone else is going to do that” we miss the wisdom of “let us not become the evil we deplore” and Gandhi’s statement that we need to “be the change we wish to see in the world;” those aren’t just nice ideas, they are actually very intelligent and incorporate the crucial truth of our Reality that the only thing we really have control over changing is ourselves, so any and all strategies for peace, justice and sustainability that ignore that fact are going to be ripe with irrationality, lies and immorality, as the Deep Green Resistance strategies are (which by the way, include assassination and destroying the major infrastructure on which billions of people are currently dependent on for survival). While promoting this violence they also say “individual actions are rarely decisive,” so, very interestingly, this “resistance” strategy is based on collectivism and violence, the very same things that States are based on! If someone were to pick up that book and think that’s all anarchism was about, they would probably never look into the philosophy further, believing it just equates to irrational and destructive actions; unfortunately that would be an example of the psychological phenomenon of false equivalency (a common behavioral manifestation of the toxic-trio), believing all anarchism = violence. Another very unfortunate example of false equivalency is when people say large-scale industrial agriculture is a major problem (which it is), but then irrationally use that fact as a supposed reason why veganism is not viable for humanity, believing all agriculture = destruction, as if there is not something called homestead-scale veganic horticulture/permaculture, which has none of the negative effects of the large-scale chemical/GMO agriculture.
Confusing what’s good and bad (i.e. false morality, another manifestation of the toxic-trio) perpetuates the bad; to think State-slavery is good for us and real freedom is bad is a backwards ethic, a false morality that has devastating consequences. False morality is also of course perpetrated by States themselves on a constant basis in countless ways, from banning lemonade stands while approving nuclear power, GMOs and various other toxic products, to restricting nonviolent people from crossing their made-up borders while letting known war criminals pass right through, to maintaining a “justice” system that lets people get away with murder if they have enough money, to burdening small-business with tons of bureaucratic restrictions, fees, etc. while letting big destructive corporations have huge tax and regulation loopholes (and even giving them subsidies on top of that), etc. And of course there is the biggest example of false morality, war, the killing of millions of people with impunity while talking of “family values” and locking people up in prison for decades for relatively insignificant acts. The crucial thing to understand here is that this false morality can not be reformed away, it is all manifestations of the slavery foundation of States; you can’t produce an ethically sound form of slavery, that’s why we just keep seeing one hypocritical example of false morality after another.
“The modern nation-state is an absolutely necessary condition for the wars and exterminations of the twentieth and the resent century that have expended human beings as if they were inanimate. … It may well be, when all is said and done, that the nation-state is responsible for the extermination of our species or the extinction of our planet. Certainly it is hard to imagine any other sort of entity developing atomic weaponry, for instance. It would be hard to hold the entity responsible for the end of all things to be practical… For the anarchist, such results are not mere epiphenomena of state power, mere unfortunate misuses of otherwise benevolent agencies, but rather a predictable outcome of the state’s essence in massive fatal force. …
Understand: on my view, the fact that we owe to governments the amazing technologies of death which confront us is not a coincidence. It is government expressing its essence in the process of history, unfurling its flag over a period of millennia.”
– Crispin Sartwell, Against the State: An Introduction to Anarchist Political Theory, p. 8-9, & 28
Ever think much about why you have to be molested and irradiated with body scanners at airports to make sure you are unarmed but they can have all the guns they want and nuclear missiles on constant stand-by? Obviously such a dynamic is based on the idea that they are of greater moral and intellectual fiber than yourself isn’t it? That you are inferior, and they are superior; in other words that you are not at all their equal (never-mind what the Declaration of Independence says), you are a lesser form of human life that needs to be managed by them (never-mind that history shows the worst acts ever committed have been by governments). You may not currently think citizenship is slavery, but technically it is. And the statists that don’t want you to realize that actively disseminate propaganda about their goodness and necessity, filling movies, TV shows and the “news” with any violence or destruction they can find and replay (to keep you in a state of fear and child-like dependency), and telling you that anarchy would equate to even more violence. It’s highly unfortunate that people continue to accept the propaganda that we need States, and that all anarchists are violent and want violence; that’s actually the truth about statists/officials, whose very existence depends on constant violence and the threat of violence, and profits from further violence and destruction, like war and ecocide. (This is an example of the other common toxic-trio behavioral manifestation known as projection, i.e. telling other people they are doing what you in fact are doing.)
“At the basis of anarchist pacifism is the idea that as long as sovereign Nation-States exist, the possibility of resolving the dilemma of egoism and altruism, force and harmony, war and peace, remains nil. The very existence of separate States implies the use of force to resolve every major issue. Just as individuals must strive to go beyond the passions of the ego, Tolstoy and Gandhi implore men… to move beyond the confines of the State and its by-products: force and aggression.”
– Irving L. Horowitz, The Anarchists, p. 54
“The sovereignty of every individual is not only indispensable to security, but constitutes the natural liberty of mankind, and must be restored back to each, before society can be harmonious.”
– Josiah Warren, True Civilization
“[U]nless our goal is the complete elimination of force from the body politic, we are not anarchists of conviction. Whatever the consequences may be, personal or social, our obligation is primarily to maintain that the use of force is corrupting to the human mind and produces infinite damage to the community. This is the principle, enunciated by Lao-tzu, Chuang-tzu, Jesus Christ, Tolstoy, Kropotkin, and Gandhi, on which we can never compromise.”
– Herbert E. Read, El Anarquismo en la Sociedad Capalitista
If you think “the time is not right” for real freedom, for individual autonomy & sovereign land being a birthright of all, then when will it be right? When will you know the time has come? Dismissing needed radical changes by saying “that’s not going to happen this century” is just a self-fulfilling prophecy; the changes will happen once people stop immediately dismissing them as impossible! If everyone keeps waiting for everyone else to begin the real change then everyone will just keep on waiting, at their own expense and the expense of future generations; we must snap out of our fearful pessimism and actually do what we know is right. Yes it can be intimidating to oppose a system of violence & slavery, but unless we do, we will be abandoning the children of the world to a dystopian wasteland, abandoning them out of fear; and anyway, couldn’t your life use something more deeply meaningful and important, perhaps even a little dangerous? Supporting the right revolution can actually be very enlivening (while we still have life to live, remember any day may be our last!), and can help open us up to a supportive magical/spiritual dimension of Reality. And with the major crises we now face, it’s a more appropriate time than ever to do what would actually be effective, rather than keep trying more reformist tactics that never (and can never) lead to significant positive global change. “The time is always right to do what’s right,” as Martin Luther King Jr. said. We need to recognize the need for outside-the-system solutions, and take courage and inspiration from movements that have already moved forward in that direction. The following are examples of such movements that I’m aware of, I’m sure there are more inspiring actions going on out there focusing on land, water and sovereignty. [All city and State names used are for geographical reference only, all could be preceded with “so-called…”].
- The 2006 “Umoja Village” occupation of vacant land in Miami (see takebacktheland.org and read the story in the excellent book Take Back The Land by Max Rameau (akpress.org/takebackthelandak.html)
- The 2008-09 “Kew Bridge Ecovillage” occupation in England; a participant hit the nail on the head when he said “We need to make people understand that the true issue in this world is not the fact that we don’t want to live ecologically, it’s the fact that we don’t have the freedom to do that.” (quoted from the documentary “Grasp the Nettle” (graspthenettlefilm.com) This is following in the footsteps of the English 17th century “Diggers,” led by Gerard Winstanley, who claimed land as birthright (see the historical movie “Winstanley: The Revolution Starts Here” (1975)).
- The 2013 “Gezi Gardens” occupation in San Francisco; even the news headline about it is revolutionary: “Occupy Moves Into Hayes Valley Farm, Declares Sovereign State, Plants Kale.” The first line of the article reads: “A group of Occupiers has moved into the tract of land formerly known as Hayes Valley Farm and renamed it Gezi Gardens, in solidarity with the protests going on in Turkey. Hayes Valley Farm moved out of the space on June 1, in accordance with an interim-use agreement with the city of San Francisco, because half of the block-wide tract has been sold to developers to make way for a 185-unit mixed-use development. The new group moved into the 2.2-acre parcel shortly thereafter in a bid to prevent that impending development.” [Over and over it’s the State colluding with business to prevent self/community-sufficiency.]
- The 2014 “Albany Bulb Autonomous Zone” occupation at a landfill area outside of San Francisco. The declaration also crucially includes mention of homesteads, thereby pointing to the real solution, Autonomous/Sovereign Homesteads: “We Declare the Bulb an Autonomous Zone, a space where Art and Music continue to flourish… where long-term Residents can continue to maintain and improve their Homesteads.” (sharethebulb.org/declaration-of-the-bulb-autonomous-zone)
- The ongoing “Occupy Your Homes” & “Eviction-Free Zones” movement, which can and should transition from success being considered simply a renegotiation of a bank loan, to claiming one’s birthright of a fair share of land & water. Currently they are bogged down with these bank negotiations and “broken promises” from the State… missing the crucial point that they are participating with institutions that are fundamentally wrong and therefore can’t be reformed into goodness. (occupyourhomes.org)
- The ongoing War Tax Resistance movement, which can and should be expanded to a refusal to pay ALL taxes, since all are taken without voluntary contractual agreement, and fund social-systems which are the root source of every major crisis and injustice global society faces. (nwtrcc.org, nowartax.org, wartaxboycott.org)
- The ongoing State secession/independence movements in places like Scotland, Quebec and in the U.S.A. (e.g. the States of “Cascadia”, “Jefferson,” “North Colorado,” “Western Maryland,” etc.). While not all purely anarchist in philosophy, all are at least going in the right direction, toward the ideal of individual/land sovereignty. (scotreferendum.com, freecascadia.org, cascadianow.org, jeffersonstate.com, jeffersondeclaration.net, middleburyinstitute.org)
- The ongoing indigenous sovereignty movement by the Mapuche people in Chile (The Mapuche Territorial Alliance)
- The ongoing indigenous sovereignty movement by the Unist’oten clan in Wet’suwet’en territory (western Canada) that is resisting the construction of various pipelines of toxic materials used by the very destructive hydro-fracking/”natural” gas and tar-sands industries. (unistotencamp.com)
- The ongoing Rainbow Gathering/Family movement, that is based on an anarchistic gift-economy Nature-oriented structure, which can/should evolve to permanent occupations, defending our birthright to cost/tax-free sovereign land & water for sustainable living. (welcomehome.org/rainbow)
- The ongoing “Anastasia Movement” in Russia region and worldwide, inspired by the Ringing Cedar Series of books that promote a back-to-the-land, self/community-sufficient way of life. Anastasia gives the crucial message that every person has the birthright to a small parcel of land (a “Kin’s Domain”) to grow their own food, build their own house and raise their family on, without monetary cost or taxation. (ringingcedarsofrussia.org/theearth)
These actions are unfortunately not given the attention and respect they deserve; they point us in the right direction but get lost in the stream of news on activism, and so people miss when something with actual revolutionary potential arises. We need to make more aware and better choices with how we use our time trying to make a more desirable future.
“I believe that a desirable future depends on our deliberately choosing a life of action over a life of consumption, on our engendering a lifestyle that will enable us to be spontaneous, independent, yet related to each other, rather than maintaining a lifestyle which only allows us to make and unmake, produce and consume–a style of life which is merely a way station on the road to the depletion and pollution of the environment.”
– Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society
We can have “restorative ecology,” we can each repair the environment that surrounds us (as described in the book Earth Repair by Leila Darwish), just as we can repair society as a whole, if we recognize that nation-states are actually human-slave farms that are the root problem we need to completely reject. As the author of that book stated:
“We must challenge the voracious colonial processes [i.e. the spreading of social-systems] that created and continue to create such damage in the first place. Because without that, your healing work for this planet will only be superficial and short-lived at best.”
– Earth Repair, p. 5
We need to focus on and carry out the key elements of a real way forward to a just and sustainable society, a strategy that has the right ethical foundation and therefore has real power for positive change. The problems we face can seem overwhelmingly complex, but their origin is simple (social-systems), and so the solution to overcoming them is simply its opposite (anarchism). Anarchism however, by itself, is not a complete lifestyle and social-justice solution. People dependent on social-services and consumer goods need to be able to live in communities where food, clothing and shelter are produced and shared freely, and that will only become commonplace when a fair share of free land & water is acknowledged as a birthright of every woman and man. Anarcho-capitalism (a.k.a. “market anarchism”) without land equality is not social-justice; the masses would be left to be exploited by rich land owners and unjust usury/capitalist economics, so they would still be ruled by others; and since the “archo” means ruler, and the “an” preceding it means no, the term anarcho-capitalism is an oxymoron. Capitalist markets are based on artificial scarcity, inequality and competition; it corrupts human nature to be profit-seeking above all else, it doesn’t just create “ingenuity, innovation, self-betterment, and social-service” as some of its advocates proclaim (I don’t need monetary slavery to motivate me to reach my full potential and do something for others!). The belief in the “invisible hand” of the capitalist market that provides for the good of all when everyone is left to pursue their own interests, is confusing anarchism and capitalism; the former is anti-hierarchical and pro-equality (which is the right foundation for such a natural force to manifest), while the latter is based on hierarchy and inequality, so no natural win-win process actually has a chance of becoming dominant. Many free-market proponents talk about how if a business isn’t treating their employees good, or are producing an inferior product, they would go out of business because people would just quit, not buy or boycott their product; this is clearly not often the case with people that have scarce amounts of money (which they need to survive) who will buy things from companies they know are bad, out of necessity. This boycott corrective “solution” also ignores the problem of monopolies; if one or a few bad companies have control of all of a resource, like say water, people will be forced to buy from them whether they want to or not. The free-market advocates reply that monopolies “are extremely difficult to create in a free market” and “highly unlikely.” Well that is certainly debatable (to put it nicely), and regardless there is no recognition that people shouldn’t have to pay anyone anything for a fair share of land & water in the first place. To ignore the structural violence inherent in a capitalistic (i.e. hording resources at the expense of others) society of inequality, and to ignore the injustice of having to earn money through whatever available means (if any) just to have your fair share of land & water (which is a birthright) rather than being a natural/free woman or man of the Earth, is to be thinking inside an economic bubble that is flimsy and hollow. Additionally, removing government from the equation doesn’t remove the psychological problem of unnatural power’s corrupting influence, it doesn’t remove the environmental problems of an economy that relies on excessive consumption & disposal, and it doesn’t in fact prevent monopoly, oligopoly, social-inequality or exploitation… market-anarchists have missed the root injustice and so their philosophy becomes only half-right, and half-right is basically worthless at this point, and could possibly make things even worse. The proposed “free market” is actually a war-system like State social-systems; it’s proponents support a disturbing competitive money-slave paradigm while ignorantly disregarding the alternative of living self/community-sufficiently as “primitive.”
The bottom line is we can’t live more harmoniously, self-sufficiently & sustainably while denied our autonomy and our birthright; the land control, cost and taxation that comes with it make it an impossibility.
Many scientists and environmentalists are in agreement that nothing short of basically shutting down industrial civilization will likely be enough to stop catastrophic global warming, (increasing efficiency and renewable energy use, while good, doesn’t appear to be enough). So how can we leave behind this slavery and fossil fuel based society of environmental destruction, without making matters even worse? Establish free communities of off-the-grid zero-waste sovereign veganic homesteads, that’s how! What’s a more fair to all life and more sustainable way of living on this planet (and therefore more able to reverse the toxic/irradiated/death trajectory humanity is on) than that? Nothing I’m aware of, and social-systems wickedly stand constantly in the way of that right livelihood being accessible to everyone. In order for that harmless and fulfilling lifestyle (a “return to Eden” if you like) to be a real possibility for most people on Earth we need to a) reject forced citizenship, b) recognize all women and men as sovereign individuals, and c) have a fair share of land & water as a free birthright. We need to cut the supply line to the main sources of injustice and destruction in the world (States & corporations), and their supply line basically consists of three things: 1) Obedience, 2) Taxes, and 3) Profits. Therefore the only real way forward translates specifically to the following actions:
- Women & Men of the Earth declaring themselves to be sovereign individuals.
- Boycotting all taxation and rejecting all governmental control.
- Claiming a fair share of cost-free land & water as a birthright. For those that already live in a home and have some land around it: Transition the Eviction-free Zones/Occupy Our Homes movement into one of forming Autonomous Zones, i.e. sovereign individuals on their sovereign land/homesteads (claiming their birthright to a fair share of free land & water), forming voluntary gift-economy communities. If already existing & occupied houses in a neighborhood became autonomous zones (ideally with enough land/space around them for growing gardens and for privacy), no longer paying land costs and taxation (rejecting the root injustice of having to pay to just live on this planet) then we could build a truly just and sustainable society, one free home at time. For those who do not already have a house and homesteading land: Occupy unjustly controlled, misused and uncultivated non-wilderness land in cooperation with the indigenous people of your area for the purpose of sustainable self/community-sufficiency. This would ideally take the form of off-the-grid veganic homesteads; off-the-grid so that people are not dependent on the dwindling fossil-fueled power-grid, subject to the problems of Peak Oil and technical malfunction or sabotage leading to large-scale blackouts; veganic also to not be dependent on fossil-fuel dependent importations (namely animal-feed and harmful artificial fertilizers/GMO’s, etc.) and also to not support unnecessary slavery of and violence toward sentient beings, i.e. to have a consistent morality, since animal products are not necessary for healthy bodies or healthy soil; homesteads to not be taking more than your fair share of land & water (so as to not be stealing from others), and to avoid the very common problems that arise in living situations in which individuals don’t have their own space, privacy and independence, as well avoiding the excessive/corrupting additional hours of work (and the hierarchy/authoritarianism that usually goes with it) that are needed for the larger (and less sustainable) farming scale.
Thinking this direct-action/civil-disobedience anarchist strategy is “too radical,” neglects the reality that non-violent civil-disobedience is necessary to clearly reveal the evil of States, and thereby destroy the belief in their goodness which upholds them. By courageously disobeying tyranny we further global awakening to the crucial truth of statist slavery; we debunk the false beliefs in governance that are their main stronghold (yes, even more so than their military bases!). Additionally, thinking it’s just a matter of making the politicians listen to us and also somehow control corporate industry to make things right is a majorly flawed perspective for two big reasons:
1) It ignores the fact that when indigenous peoples and other individuals try to dialogue with State officials about their right to be left alone, their right to not participate or support something destructive, their perspective is continually dismissed by these “representatives.” The crucial truth that must be faced is that States will never agree to real freedom and sustainability, because their existence and power (which they are addicted to) depends on destructive slavery. So the only way to productively deal with that is noncompliance, and claiming what is rightfully yours, namely individual sovereignty and a fair share of land & water.
2) It doesn’t recognize that destructive corporate industries have only grown to the enormous size they are today because of social-systems that made people dependent on their products in the first place. Governments continually work hand-in-hand with these industries, giving them critical support; without the foundation of land control, taxation and subsidies, most if not all of the destructive industries would go out of business, e.g. the highly subsidized and immensely destructive nuclear power industry (Chernobyl! Fukushima!). No corporate reformist/regulation tactic is more effective than putting the corporation completely out of business for lack of funding and customers, and the Earth and all species on it need that level of change now, not “greenwashed” reforms. Additionally, thinking that without government and its (very limited) regulations corporate abuses of the environment will just increase forgets that a) the world is already becoming increasingly toxic/irradiated every year with regulations, and b) it’s the government, through land control and taxation, that makes us dependent on those destructive energy, automobile and consumer good industries in the first place. If people can grow their own food, build their own homes with natural materials, and trade within their own local communities for other natural and artisan goods, the polluting industries will have plummeting profits and power as more and more people go back to the land, living a more natural, sustainable and self/community-sufficient lifestyle.
Also government social services and corporate health-“care” (which are often of terrible quality) will become completely unnecessary as we become more self & community-sufficient; freed from monetary slavery and statist/industrial “civilization,” we can provide better education for our children, better care for the elderly, and better health & well-being through home-grown food and a natural non-toxic environment & lifestyle.
I find there are two other reasons most people give on why they disregard the Good Life (i.e. sovereign veganic homesteading) when they hear about it: Believing a) “There isn’t enough land for everyone,” or “There soon won’t be enough land due to overpopulation” and b) “We need to pay into social-systems in order to keep us safe.”
Concerning the former belief, as long as immense land ownership exists like the Queen of England technically owning 1/6th of the entire planet’s surface, and the rich owning millions of acres while most people own none, to stand against land redistribution is unethical and irrational. Secondly much of the land is used for raising livestock, which is another unethical (and unnecessary) use of land, land that could instead be used for billions of self/community-sufficient veganic homesteads. For example about half of the entire harvested acreage in America is used to feed enslaved animals/livestock; world-wide if arable land was used for the production of veganic foods for humans to eat directly, it’s estimated the planet could easily support a human population of twenty billion and more. Right now it’s estimated there is at least 2 acres of arable land available per person, and since most people would want to have a home with at least one other person, that doubles the land availability. But again the main thing to keep in mind is that we are nowhere near a just level of distribution, there is massive land inequality in global society, and this is the main cause of poverty and hunger in the world. There is absolutely no good reason why we shouldn’t move toward greater land equality, greater self-sufficiency, and greater freedom. The drastic human population increase in recent decades is actually mainly due to more people living in cities (most moving under economic duress, caused by governments), wherein they can live far beyond the carrying capacity of the land they live on. This reality is shown in the excellent documentary & book Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh, wherein we see another example of indigenous people living in traditional ways, sharing the land and water equally with each other (the documentary said each family had about 3 acres of land of their own), and their population never exceeded the carrying capacity of the land. It was reported that in the year 2008 human civilization went from a mostly rural to a mostly urban lifestyle for the first time, correlating with the huge population increase, a trajectory we definitely need to reverse. Overpopulation of the Earth would be a problem in the future if we continue on the urbanization path because urbanization fuels overpopulation, and that’s just one more reason why we need a world-wide back-to-the-land movement now. Some “environmentalists” will mistakenly tell you that if everyone lived in cities that would actually be more sustainable, and they’re flat-out wrong. Cities have higher levels of waste & pollution than traditional rural living, and higher population growth rates, not to mention other disturbances like higher levels of crime and tyrannical police-state actions (most cities now being synonymous with the term “control-grids”).
In order to disconnect from destructive, tyrannical and artificial social-systems we necessarily must connect with Nature instead (ideally through veganic homesteading); that’s why the control-freaks want everyone in cities, because people are disconnected from the Earth in those disturbing concrete jungles, and so become dependent on governments and corporations for survival. That’s also why the profit/control-crazed don’t care if they corrupt the entire global food supply with harmful GMO’s, because we would then be even more dependent on them, having to buy their patented corporate seed and food, no longer able to grow healthy organic foods provided by Nature for free. It’s no coincidence that some of the most beautiful places on Earth, like the Marshall Islands, New Mexico and Vieques, have all been used for massive nuclear/depleted-uranium weapons testing; evil seeks to destroy what is most good in the world. If we let these disturbed people turn the Earth into a complete wasteland, then our only means to real freedom, Nature, will become corrupted to the point of inaccessibility. (Paralleling this is the Transhumanist agenda, which basically advocates people becoming cyborgs, destroying their natural bodies & minds, and thereby disconnecting them from their Inner Nature, but that’s another story.)
As for the belief of greater safety through coercive social-systems, it has major flaws (again comprised of irrationality, lies and immorality), including:
- It ignores facts like a) several times more innocent people are killed by police than by terrorists, b) continuing to kill thousands of innocent children, women & men in other countries (e.g. by drone attacks) doesn’t make us safer, nor does state-sponsored terrorism (which the events of 9/11/2001 clearly were) or government-supported GMOs corrupting the food supply, nuclear power & depleted uranium weaponry radiation filling the planet, or water fluoridation, etc., c) there are over a million people suffering in prison for non-violent drug offenses in this country (plus all those wrongly convicted and those subject to various unjust laws/punishments for other benign actions), d) we are never safe from constant abuses of authority by government officials, e.g. having our privacy constantly invaded in public places covered with surveillance cameras, being subject to searches when in an automobile or at home, our phone/email/letter correspondence listened to, read and scanned, being subject to molestation and/or cancer-causing radiation by government agents at airports, immigration officials tearing families and loved ones apart with deportation, being subject to mandatory evacuations and mandatory vaccinations, etc. All of these actions treat people like property/livestock rather than the sovereign individuals that they are, individuals who, regardless of these facts, may say that they would rather be really free while potentially less safe, rather than supposedly safer while definitely less free.
- It ignores the fact that most crime is poverty-related (both physical, emotional and spiritual poverty), and that this poverty is produced in the most part by social-systems, which constantly corrupt our lives with their unnatural and coercive machinations, making people into money-slaves who are deterred from living truly sustainably and instead rewarded for in-authenticity and environmentally destructive lifestyles.
- Forced participation in a social-system is a preemptive attack against humans, and preemptive violence is an ethically and rationally flawed premise on which to base human-relations; you are told by officials that you must pay up “for your own safety,” and this is absolutely no different from how the mafia works. Would you find it legitimate for some random person on the street to engage in the same preemptive attack against you, demanding money from you because they say it’s a preventative measure necessary for the good of yourself and society? Of course not, and the only reason you may think when government officials do it that then it’s legitimate is probably because of indoctrination on “democracy.” We don’t need mandatory taxation in order to help each other, people do that naturally and would do it even more if they didn’t have the burden of monetary-slavery caused by taxation and land/water costs. If most of your taxes go toward militarism, and the rest for upholding a social-system of denigration and exploitation, wouldn’t it be better if you yourself directed your resources to those in need?
- Perhaps most importantly, it ignores that the immense power and wealth social-systems put in the hands of the few, does far more damage than people could ever do without the immense power and wealth given to the few by social-systems (never-ending wars/State-sponsored terrorism, current environmental and human health devastation, etc.). These positions of power are oftentimes sought and gained by those that are already disturbed people (“control-freaks,” “ego-maniacs,” etc.), people who in a natural community would be only a minor nuisance, but when given this unnatural power are able to cause much worse disturbance to a community, and possibly the whole world. The “checks and balances within our democratic government” and the “power of your vote” to prevent the disturbed few from effecting the many are for the most part deceptive illusions (especially with undisclosed “black-budget” programs, and easily manipulated electronic voting, etc.); they have done nothing to stop atrocities like the Iraq invasion with its massacres and depleted uranium weaponry, even though the majority of “Americans” were against it, just as they were unable to stop the horrors committed in the Vietnam War, etc., etc.,.
Regardless of whether you see the merit of the points made in this essay, or face up to the necessarily very limited success of city/corporate lifestyle within-the-system strategies for a just & sustainable society, there is something that is completely outside of any reasonable debate: if you feel the loss of freedom & peace is a fair trade for the supposed safety gained via artificial social-systems, then that’s fine, take part in one. But who are you to tell everyone else (including of course indigenous peoples) that they also must take part, even if they do not think it is a beneficial trade-off? How is it legitimate that some humans can tell other humans that they have to obey and pay them just to live on Earth, just for a place to sleep on the planet they were born on? Because some people vote every four years for some pre-selected presidential candidates?
The Bill of Rights supposedly protects the minority from the tyranny of the majority, but the smallest minority is the individual, and there is no constitutional protection for the individual who doesn’t want to be a citizen in the first place. (On top of that is the fact that the 13th Amendment is said to protect us against “involuntary servitude,” but that’s exactly what forced citizenship is!) Natural rights are inalienable rights, meaning they are permanent and pre-political, they exist before any government official “gives” them to us. And what are our natural rights exactly? There is widespread agreement that they are most fundamentally the right to Life & Liberty, i.e. the right to a Free Life; the most fundamental right of humans is the right to not be enslaved. And since governments are actually institutions of slavery, they can never give us that right; all other rights they say that they give us are made meaningless by violating our most precious right, the foundational right that all others should come from. Can’t you see that these limited rights we are “given,” the forced extortion/taxation and land control, the nation-state structure as a whole, is just human farming, a form of slavery, that is gift-wrapped in the guise of “democracy” and “We the people?”
Why is it that only nations, kings and queens can be sovereign and not have to pay for their land and water? Why not you or I? This is a fundamental injustice that can no longer be brushed aside.
The “kingdom of heaven” (i.e. a heavenly kin’s-domain, a paradisaical family homestead free of domestication) remains out of reach for humanity not because it can’t be on Earth, but because people believe propaganda that uphold the social-systems that prevents it from manifesting. Just as we must all always remain on guard for an internal negative, controlling, deceptive and misguiding influence (“Mara” or the “Pain-Body” in Buddhist and spiritual terminology), we must always reject those that seek to control, deceive and misguide us externally (“Statists” or “Corporatists” in Anarchist terminology). Remaining vigilant against aggression, deception and slavery we can have real liberty, we can be free of the inner & outer tyranny that disconnects us from inner & outer Nature, free of the disconnection that constantly undermines our happiness and well-being.
All of the strategies for a happier, healthier and more sustainable world that accept and identify with an unethical corrupting influence have been very limited in success, and that is because, as I hope I’ve made more clear, they necessarily must be limited in success; we absolutely cannot bring a more free, natural and sustainable society via a form of slavery. It’s no coincidence that every within-the-system strategy is ultimately unsuccessful; it’s a karmic cause & effect dynamic that people ignore at the peril of themselves and future generations.