June 28, 2010

H D Thoreau as one of the original survivalists

Just a passing thought, but one that hadn't occurred to me before: while half-paying attention to this pretentious, boring, stultifying thing called the "G-20," where a group of political half-wits gather to decide the fate of the world, it occurred to me that Thoreau would, in modern contemplation, be called a "survivalist." I don't know why that never occurred to me before, but sometimes I get distracted. The thought came to me last night while reading a series of essays in Dmitry Orlov's print-on-demand book (I hold copy number 149 of a run of 500) called "Hold Your Applause." Dmitry and his wife live on a 32-foot sailboat in Boston Harbor, own no car, bicycle everywhere, and are apparently quite content. Probably more so, and understandably, than an unemployed carpenter who used to live in a suburban tract home in Riverside, now foreclosed, whose unemployment has run out and has no prospects for future work.

So, in one of those "fractal" moments, I thought that this will probably be the shape of future American social evolution. No one other than those at the G-20 meetings and their thousands of hangers-on really wants to hear what they have to say about their "stimulus vs. austerity" arguments, their manipulation of electronic money, and the rest of their standard crap. Economies organized at the global level are really stupid and unworkable, and may it all go to hell. Meanwhile, as Orlov has demonstrated, the one great advantage of certain technological breakthroughs, such as photovoltaics and small-scale wind turbines, is that one can be a survivalist without giving up much in the way of modern convenience; indeed, the ability to convert solar energy at the very local level (micro application) means that you can derive everything that modern society actually can offer while unplugging from most of its useless, insane and environmentally destructive superfluities. Dmitri, for example, outfitted his sailboat with a few solar panels and a wind turbine. With the main expenses of life, a house and a car, out of the way, he can maintain his vital heat (and his wife's) without worrying about the G-20's call on whether to expand the Fed's balance sheet, e.g. Since the "captured" national government cannot find its way out of legacy industries, cannot lead the way to an alternative energy future because of its utter corruption and cluelessness, it will come about from the grassroots. Which is fine really, making expendable, as it does, the whole apparatus of Congress and the rest. Perhaps the changes will come about before macro-organized governments finish off the rest of the oceans.

Survivalism is obviously a growth industry, another demonstration that Henry David was always way, way ahead of his time. Many American manifestations of Thoreau's Walden cabin, of course, will feature .50 cal machine gun placements at 100 yards, but that's my country for you. Just set yourself up as far from such free-fire zones as possible.

1 comment:

  1. Machipongo John12:32 PM

    It would be interesting to see Mr. Orlov's actual balance sheet. For example, how much does it cost to moor your boat in Boston Harbor? Where does his crap go? Where does he get fresh water? How about food and garbage collection?