Wednesday, January 5, 2011
The Myth of Self Reliance
Tom Hemenway's post, The Myth of Self Reliance, explores the reasons we should never strive to "become fully self-sufficient." Interesting essay. It is long and well worth reading. So, settle in and learn from him after you hear what I have to say...lol...me first.
No matter how often I have said that I can make every article of clothing I wear (I can), including panties and bras, the truth is that someone manufactured my machines and my fabric. Even the lowly or exalted if you wish, sewing needle, was made by someone else. I rely on unseen masses. Even those who strive to produce all their own food realize there are some things that must come from elsewhere. Or, is just vegetable and fruit production the goal and the way they measure their their own self-sufficiency?
Even before the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, people in an agrarian economy depended upon the skills and labors of others. Home-crafted and homegrown goods were the means of obtaining needed items that an individual did not make or grow. The Industrial Revolution diminished the skill sets of many people, especially a generation who went into manufacturing and working for the jingle in the pocket instead of bartering goods and services.
We stand, as Hemenway states, "on mountains of shoulders."
In my case, I own many of the means of production--sewing machines, canners, gardening tools, drill/hammers/more, and land. Owning the means of production is more important than making money to buy items. However, your means of producing may be the abililty to buy all you need instead of actually producing anything tangible, just jingle. Those who own the means of production control more of the jingle and have deeper pockets.
So, a person can rewire a lamp? Did the person purchase the wiring or was it purchased from someone who knows how to make wiring? I surely don't! Who made the lamp? I did not manufacture my canner, jars, fabric, yarn, or the crochet hooks. Aha, I CAN carve a crochet hook if I set my mind to it and don't mind cutting or gouging myself! But, how many trials and errors would I suffer. But, I don't have a spinning wheel or sheep and know nothing about either. How can I crochet or sew without yarn or fabric? As much as I love milk, I will never have a cow or goat!
Hemenway's idea, not a new one, of building community for support and sharing and protection is something people should consider. We all know families who seem to live in "compounds" and can be supportive in many ways, making it possible for members of the family to feel secure about everything and support one another.
I don't have such a "community," per se. But, I think in a time of dire distress I could make it happen...maybe with much difficulty. I have never pretended to myself that I am self-sufficinet. I know I am dependent on others.
How about you? Do you ever feel you are self-sufficient? Self-reliant? Interdependent?