How remote my own life is from taking “responsibility for my own material needs”, and how unskilled I am for that life—to the point where even if I wanted to, or needed to, I’m not sure how I would acquire the skills I needed for it.
Despite its popularity among cutting-edge thinkers and designers, a low-tech lifestyle is hardly avant garde. The majority of the human population lives and has always lived with less advanced technology than most modern Westerners do.
But we can—we really can imagine and live with fewer “conveniences”—and even like it. At the risk of being an outlier today, I’ll continue to take the long way, the inconvenient way, for you, Julia—and for your generation.
So ironically, perhaps the only chance for a truly liberal politics of friends and not enemies now lies in reconstructing a vaishya localism. But perhaps I’m being too pessimistic…?
All I’ll need of my current wage will be a tithe. We’ll keep the tithe and refuse the rest. We’ll keep just a living, breathing Earth and refuse the strata of those many millions of sequestered and fossilised years. “Keep the tithe and refuse the rest!” could prove a populist slogan, or the refrain to a popular song.
This is what that voice whispered to me, as once it whispered to Rilke: you must change your life. I came here because I can’t justify my complicity any more. I feel a personal duty to live as simply and with as little impact on the rest of nature as I possibly can.
The easy path is to downsize expectations and simplify your lifestyle. This path requires giving up certain ways of looking at the world in order to embrace other, more survival-oriented ways.
In late 2015 the CSIRO released its Australian National Outlook (ANO) Report (‘the Report’) which outlined 20 future scenarios for Australia, exploring various global and national sustainability challenges…our new paper argues that even the Report’s most ambitious “green growth” scenario is incompatible with long-term sustainability and global justice.
Samuel Alexander has written an excellent introduction to Thoreau’s works. Just Enough Is Plenty: Thoreau’s Alternative Economics not only summarises Thoreau’s ideas, it is also a pithy statement of Alexander’s work itself…
A vast and growing body of scientific literature is impressing upon us that human economic activity is degrading planetary ecosystems in ways that are unsustainable. Taken as a whole, we are overconsuming Earth’s resources, destabilising the climate, and decimating biodiversity…
Lately I’ve been turning to Thoreau–the patron saint of radical simplicity, he of shedding false conveniences and burdensome accumulation in the favor of a life lived amongst the trees.
But whether the protagonist is ancient or postmodern, it is a testament to the depth of Diogenes’ insight into the human situation that his ideas and ways of living can remain so relevant despite the gulf of time that separates us.