What do we expect?

There’s been a lot of angst over violence, whether it’s rapists getting off on very light sentences, the civil war in Syria, the Dakota pipeline, and racially charged riots in my own city of Milwaukee. Should this surprise us? I don’t think so.

What do we honestly expect? Our society is founded on violence.

Our much-vaunted “American way of life” depends on the projection of military power far and wide to ensure cheap resources can be pulled out of developing countries, made into cheap goods, and shoved at American citizens consumers who must be psychologically manipulated to buy what they don’t need.

We do incredible violence to ecologies here and abroad. If the whole world lived our way, few if any thinkers agree that the Earth would be able of carrying that load. Even the most basic of ‘modern’ civilization, water-based sewage, does so much violence and costs so much money that developing countries are seeing the wisdom of not even trying to attempt building this infrastructure, instead doing composting toilets of various designs.

We do violence to workers. An incredibly large portion of the economy is predicated on exploiting cheaper labor markets or using automation that provides a livelihood only to the top-level capitalist and a relatively small cadre of assistants. At home, while not specifically violent, an illustration of our messed up priorities is the fact that people who maintain decorative landscapes find it much easier to make a decent wage than the folks who grow our food.

Government is violent. I’m not just thinking about police brutality or overreaching regulatory power. Taxation, the very foundation of government, is violence. To paraphrase Joel Salatin, if you don’t believe taxation is violence, try not paying your taxes and see what happens.

We need to start thinking of ways for free association to bloom. For those free associations to be invested in their ecological nests and think not just of food three days or three years from now, but three hundred years. To stop the violence, we need to shake the very foundations of our society.

Lest I come off as pessimistic, I have seen a very different mindset in those focused on either self-sufficiency or communal sufficiency. People in the regenerative farming and homesteading movements are incredible people, a great hope for the future. But the last gasp of the industrial complex that runs our government has and will continue to fight back against us. They want to keep us dependent on them. We need to focus on helping our fellow neighbors and taking concrete steps to improving our sufficiency. Sufficiency is liberty, and not an American ‘freedom’ founded on violence real and threatened around the world.

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2 Comments on “What do we expect?”

  1. Chief, I’m sure I speak for a lot of people when I say I’m glad to see you back and finding things you DO want to reflect on. We can count our own beans if we want to–it’s this kind of post that makes an impact on people.

    Really thought-provoking piece. It strikes me that something I’ve been working on lately is removing the metaphorical violence from my parenting. The threats, the sighs, the impatient voice, the eat-your-spinach.* Their schooling is “violent” enough, with kindergarteners shoved into learning to read. (My five-year-old has a weekly “homework packet” with seven pages–yes, it covers the weekend, too.) My financial position as a newly single mom does not permit me to spare them that, but I can control what they experience at our house.

    *I serve fresh fruits and veggies but no longer mandate their consumption, not even to get dessert, as influenced by Ellyn Sattler. I also permit unlimited portions of most things on the table. (Not dessert and not unusually expensive foods, but homemade biscuits, for instance? Sure, kid, have at ’em.)

    I seem to recall you mentioning non-water-based options before. I’ll be interested to see if those wind up on more homeowner’s radar screens in the next couple decades.

    • David says:

      I’m still a bit of a disciplinarian when it comes to eating balanced meals. But it’s been interesting to see Gia, my pickiest eater, really grow out of that in the last year or so. Isaac, our youngest, is still pretty picky about vegetables, but I keep offering them to him in the hope he’ll grow out just like his sister.

      I don’t know what it will take to change the mindset in America around humanure. Our relationship with animal manures is dysfunctional enough with all of the factory farming and CAFOs that would need to be disbanded. As buzz-wordy as local and sustainable food is, it’s still only about 2-3% of the market from what I’ve read.

      I would like to experiment with humanure, greywater, and similar things but have forced myself to put a pin in it. It doesn’t make sense on our urban homestead. The book to read if you’re at all interested in learning is “The Humanure Handbook”. The author has a free .pdf version on his website. It’s provocative and really opened my eyes to a hugely unsustainable facet of our civilization.


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