Monday, July 06, 2009

I second that motion.

Another voice pleading for people to learn the arts and crafts and skills necessary to make communities self-sufficient. But it won't be easy, class.

The Well Run Dry
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Swinging Your Own Hammer

In my post, Localism And Resilient Neighborhoods, I discussed the importance of building and supporting local economies as a part of building resilient neighborhoods. Of course, building local economies means the revival of a great number and variety of local businesses that were destroyed by the rise of globalism and the concentration of massive amounts of capital in the hands of a small number of national and global elites. The revival of local businesses that actually make or repair the material goods needed for everyday life is a key element of neighborhoods and communities that can survive large-scale economic shocks caused by the failure of the global economy – a failure that is occurring right now due to the collapse of the resource base needed to sustain that global economy...

...Yet the masters of this official economy and of the big businesses that comprise this economy are actively working to prevent the emergence of alternatives. In this they are willing to use any tools at their disposal, including the lobbying of politicians in order to make it hard for people to pursue alternatives. The sudden emergence of many local economies based primarily on large numbers of small local businesses would constitute a threat to the “official” global economy and its dominant players...

...Consider government, for instance. There are several “food safety” bills now making their way through the United States Congress, bills that, if signed into law, would drive small farms and food producers out of business by creating such an expensive regulatory burden that only the biggest agribusinesses could survive. It's not surprising that large food corporations like General Mills, Kraft Foods and W.M. Kellogg have endorsed this legislation. There was also the “Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act” passed earlier this year ostensibly to protect children from lead and toxic chemicals. What the law actually accomplished was to saddle small American producers of children's toys with a crushing burden of required tests on products that obviously did not contain lead in the first place. These cases illustrate the strategy of big business, when faced with a crisis caused by a lack of safety in products produced by big business. That strategy is to promote legislation that does not forbid the big business practices that lead to dangerous products, but that rather saddle all businesses with a regulatory burden so heavy that it can only be borne by big businesses. Thus they drive smaller businesses out of business...

...So what's a person to do if they want to start a local business? What should be the focus of their business? This question is no doubt uppermost in the minds of many people who see that the official globalist system is breaking and who are looking for some sort of escape. Yet such people may feel trapped, people whose education has “...prepared [them] solely for working in a large organization,” and who can't imagine earning a living otherwise, as Matthew B. Crawford says in his book, Shop Class As Soulcraft.

Crawford's book is a deliciously subversive critique of modern globalism, and of white-collar culture and all its support institutions, including schools that teach useless factoids while destroying common sense. To those looking for a localist escape from the breaking globalist system, Crawford suggests finding work that essentially requires human craft of the kind that can only be gained through experience, and that can only be handed down through apprenticeship. This sort of work can't be globalized, outsourced, automated or exploited over an Internet connection. He suggests “finding work in the cracks,” work that is not being done by the official global economy because its scale or scope does not fit the large scale suited to the organs of the global economy...

And honestly, I began excerpting this post from the top and didn't realize she had given one of my posts as a reference until I got to the very end. (I generally don't have to read all the way to the end of a good article or a good post before I decide to excerpt it.) The book she mentions above and in her "sources" section of this post can be found here:

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work (Hardcover) by Matthew B. Crawford

I have written in my regular blog posts and as part of the "Decline of the West" series (sidebar, right) that the disdain by the current Ravs and Rosh Yeshivas for manual labour and for the arts, crafts, and skills, even farming, that our forebears took for granted as necessary to make a living and to support a community - disdain for honest work has no good end at all but poverty and dependence upon charity and welfare, then ultimately subservience to government diktats that are not in our best interests, since those with the gold make the rules.

It will be a painful transition to relocalization and will not be without skirmishes against the Robber Barons. But we cannot wait until they crash and burn - we have to begin transitioning now in order to avoid doing without later. As a community we can do this. As individuals we will be sitting ducks. We have to get involved in fighting the types of legislation the fat cats of transnational corporations are crafting to enrich themselves at our expense and keep us as fettered cash cows, first and foremost. And secondly, we have to support relocalizaiton in our own communities with a hard, serious look at what we need and how we should be getting it - not by relying on Robber Barons, but by taking advantage of resources, including human capital, in our own backyards.

We, of all people, ought to know better than to trust either government or industry to take care of us. Doing so was stupid in the past, and even more stupid now. We can only rely on what we make and do with our own two hands, class. Nothing else is reliable. Nothing at all.

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