Thought I should document this. Another Facebook stream.
It started with the following post, from a pretty reliably thoughtful friend:
I just voted. I've never walked out of an election facility feeling so unhappy. Regardless of who wins, on January 21, 2013, I will still be doing my art and be committed to my causes. The country WON'T go to Hell in a hand basket, and life will go on.
The relevant comment stream follows. (Note that this is not the complete comment stream; a few other comments stood outside the following exchange, and I left them out.)
[D]: Despite your hopeful vote, the country is in a runaway hand-basket headed straight to Hell.
[Me]: Although it will sound flip for me to say it, I'm actually quite serious: why do it if it only makes you unhappy? Maybe that inner voice of yours is telling you something you should listen to.
Why not consider full-scale heresy? You can offend everyone equally, and at least stop contributing to legitimizing the problem. (That latter is really what most helps me sleep at night.)
[K]: The two I like have no chance. I dislike the two of whom one will win. I vote because it is my duty as a citizen.
I was very upset when I signed something stating among many things that I have never been convicted of a felony-- why do they lose their chance to vote even after they serve their time?
[D]: Kevin: Like your post. It IS way past time to whine..get busy! Dig the most sustainable, comfortable hole you can and crawl in.
[Me]: [D], just to be clear: I've no intention of holing up. I see the answer as engaging with people, not retracting. That can be done quite effectively without supporting the state, and I do it everywhere I can.
[D]: Kevin: Check back with me on that when the currency collapses and the supermarket shelves are empty, if you've prepared for that.
[Me]: [D]: respectfully, I think your rejoinder makes my case for me. While it seems prudent enough to maintain an emergency stockpile of certain things, a simple reliance on stockpiled hermitage seems a short-term plan at best. When (fiat) currency does crash and common supplies do dry up (which seems likely, although none of us knows when), stored supplies will only get you so far, and in a really disastrous scenario, those will have to be defended against looters, who (believe it!) will quickly figure out who has what. Not a good time to be isolated and alone.
Stockpiling is easy, but in and of itself it's as much an absolution fantasy as the political system most people are stockpiling against in the first place. And it's so...maudlin. I'd rather not dwell on building a world that I'd consider a hell to live in; instead, I like to focus on building the world I actually want.
So, I'm spending my efforts now cultivating personal, symbiotic relationships with my neighbors, so that we know how to support each other in simple trade for basic necessities: skills, supplies, resources. I know who to go to for (sustainable) food, for basic building resources and skills, for networking and for communication. These people in turn are learning what I can provide them as well. (It's society as most of us think it should be, direct, rather than society as proxied out to abstract "others".) I consider expanding this network, at every possible turn, to be a much more sustainable strategy against long-term economic or social collapse, than trying to go it all alone.
Is it likely that such "voluntaryists" may have to defend against looters, either of the freelance or badged variety? Sure, I've got no illusions about that--including the illusion that I'd be able to significantly better my chances by going it alone and trying to vanish. If I can help build a voluntary society instead, I'll have help if the need comes to defend it--and even better, I'll--we'll--have the available card of offering a sustainable alternative to those who would otherwise resort to simple force. It seems pretty clear that not everyone would take the deal, but hell, if TS really does hit TF, nobody's going to be able to escape the necessity of repelling some boarders. (In that regard, I stand ready to do what I must.)
The other thing I like about this strategy is this: it works now, too. Truly voluntary society may be unwelcome within political systems (ALL political systems), which invariably attempt to control or destroy it, but that doesn't mean it doesn't or can't work, either above or below the table. I'm learning more and more how to back away, peacefully, and shift my reliance onto people and skills that not only may survive a catastrophic scenario, but may even thrive in its aftermath. And if the scenario is less than catastrophic, or if I'm completely wrong and we can vibe along indefinitely as we are--well, I'm still happy to be living this way, as directly and free of politics as I can manage. It works--I've never been more connected with my neighbors as I am now, and it's always improving.
If the point of all this "life" stuff is to live free, after all, I want to make the most of it, starting now. Being ready for the worst doesn't have to mean paranoia, privation and isolation. :-)
[Me]: For anyone who is interested in the "preparation" topic, there's a pretty good sequence going on right now over at Claire's place. (For anyone who doesn't know Claire: please remedy that. She is one of the more important voices of our time.)
The most recent installment as of this writing is here.
[Me]: Aand, I found my old "Welcome back Claire" article on Examiner, for those who might need it.
I found [K]s initial posting and later comment about not being a 'felon' (which is of course increasingly absurd as a measure of decency, with the average among us committing three felonies a day without even being aware of it) to be most interesting. In those observations there are available seeds for further awareness, and the phrasing and tone indicate that the observations may have already passed that point at which they can be willed back into ignorance.
A simple matter of time, then. Here's hoping that happens, enough.