Evan and Gordon Talk: “Super-Independence”

GORDON: Well Comrades, welcome to the Culture War Reporter’s off-grid, self-sustaining commune. Pour yourself some Kool-Aid and make yourself comfortable as Evan and I debate the merits of the movement.

EVAN: While we ended our last segment stating that we were going to discuss the state of the church, starting off tonight we realized a few things.

a) We can’t for the life of us find this phantom comment by Joseph suggesting such a topic [though I swear I read it].

b) We already talked about one of his topics [naps and such] and therefore should give someone else a chance.

c) Hannah has put forth a good handful of them, one of her most recent being the following:

What do you guys think about the new(?) trend back towards super-independence, by which I mean, growing your own food, creating your own textiles, etc (and taking pictures of it to put on your fancy blog….). Is this back to the earth movement a reflection of culture change or just another hippie permutation?

GORDON: I have, technically, touched on the subject a few times. There’s certainly strong Do-It-Yourself element that goes along with the resurgent “Manly” culture  and live-off-the-land primitivism has been around for ages (it’s just getting better publicity).

Now as both of us have grown up in the Third-World, our views on the subject might be slanted a bit. For us, people raising chickens or living as farmers isn’t as strange as it may be for people in the West.

EVAN: As a little context, as usual, I have lived in both the Philippines and Thailand, and visited Malaysia and China-

GORDON: Syria, most extensively, though I’ve visited Egypt, Thailand, and plenty of other countries.

EVAN: So yeah, like Gordon said, eating out of a garden in one’s backyard is not a strange thing. We had a huge mango tree in our front yard in the Philippines, and a rambutan tree in the back. Eating food not bought at a local supermarket was no strange thing.

But at the present we [and most of you, as the site statistics indicate] live in North America, where this is very much not the case.

GORDON: Let’s get right down to it- is this some remnant of bygone hippy days, or is this a new trend we’re seeing?

EVAN: I like to think that it’s a new trend, mostly because what’s going on currently is a backlash against present-day issues. We realize now more than ever how unsustainable first world living is, and as a result we’re trying to live differently.

GORDON: I’d question just how prevalent the movement actually is, but as I doubt either of us has actual (or accurate) stats on the issue, why don’t we talk a bit about how we feel about this.

Is this a good solution? Is it supposed to be a solution? Gimme some thoughts here.

EVAN: Well, if you’re referring to it as a reaction to unsustainability [as I mentioned], it’s a solution as long as it grows as a movement [like you said, its size as a movement is debatable]. Living this way certainly can’t hurt, but more people have to do it to make a difference.

So to answer whether or not it’s supposed to be a solution, I think yes. But provided that it’s adopted by others on a larger scale. And yes, I think it’s a good solution. People changing their lifestyles will in turn change how companies do business. The thing is that a vast majority will have to in order for this to happen.

GORDON: I certainly don’t disagree- but the implementation is kinda throwing me here. I’ve heard the criticism (heck, made the criticism) that sustainable living is a hobby that the wealthy and privileged alone can enjoy. I don’t see the average poor and working class American (i.e., most all Americans) spending thousands of dollars buying organic food- I definitely don’t see ’em growing it themselves.

Or at least, not without a major overhaul of urban zoning laws.

EVAN: Well, I don’t think the act of eating organic food is really what Hannah was getting at here, more the fact that people are creating more, buying less. I do take your point about being able to garden to begin with into consideration; it’s a very valid point.

Ultimately it’s not just a food thing, it’s doing stuff like buying clothes at thrift stores [which I don’t think anyone can deny is at an all-time high] and looking for used items on Craigslist or what have you.

You knew this GIF was coming…

GORDON: Well, it’s great that we can do all those things, don’t get me wrong, but ultimately it seems we’re just treating symptoms here. We save on clothes and gas, sure, but that money is still getting taken out of our hands and being used for destructive ends- either by our governments or or corporate  slave-masters. Again, what we’re doing is good- but it seems so small in the grand scale of things.

EVAN: Wait, what money is still being taken out of our hands? You’re going to have to be a little more specific.

GORDON: Well, just for simplicity’s sake, if I save 100 bucks, where does that money go? It gets split up lots of places- often to businesses that aren’t good, or if any of it DOES make it to a sustainable/organic/fair trade business, it’s too little to be ultimately effective. Even on a mass scale, we are, at best, reducing the severity of the problem by a single notch.

Not saying we shouldn’t- just saying that it’s not the answer.

EVAN: Granted, it may not be the answer, but I don’t think you’re giving it much credit at all.

GORDON: Then I’m coming across wrong-

I DO like this stuff, I really and truly do. It’s good when a few people do it and great when lots of people do. But it comes down to these two key points:

(1) Too many people think that thrift shopping or buying organic or having an herb garden is the solution (or all THEY have to do) to save the world

(2) Even if it was, we have a paltry number of people actually taking this seriously at all

EVAN: So to bring this back to our suggested topic, this trend is either being seen as more effective that it really is, or not being viewed as a lifestyle that ultimately benefits everyone. We both like the idea of of a life that incorporates home gardens [however small], purchasing used items, and dumpster diving, but to turn things back over to you, what more can we do?

GORDON: Actively combating the people causing the problems would seem to be a logical step (Nestle, Coca-Cola, Obama’s Administration, Monsanto, etc.)

EVAN: Have you done a Shame Day post for either Monsanto or Nestle?

GORDON: Not yet.

EVAN: To shine a little light on what Gordon’s done in the past, he actively campaigned at our college to place a full boycott on the Coca-Cola corporation.

Since meeting him I’ve personally stopped purchasing/using both Coca-Cola and Nestle products, though I do lapse unknowingly [stupid Minute Maid]. My reasons for boycotting both have had to do with finding out about the highly unethical business practices carried out by both companies.

GORDON: Ooh- Nike too. **** Nike.

EVAN: Someone posted on one of my articles this past week about how there’s certainly a sort of shared bias on this blog, and he was not wrong.

I think to clarify, however, there are things that Gordon and I disagree about [heck, read a lot of our past E&GTs]. What I do want to communicate, though, is that where we line up is acknowledging and respecting human rights, placing people first and looking down upon those who would disenfranchise them, either through the products sold do them or through misrepresenting them in the media.

GORDON: I must’ve missed that comment. But yeah, the fact that we agree a lot doesn’t make us wrong. But back to the point. What would YOU like to see as an addition to all this?

EVAN: I’d like people to realize that spending time and money is not in and of itself a bad thing. Yes, a garden is time consuming, but it’s incredibly beneficial. Shelling out a few more dollars for what is ultimately a better product created by a company that treats its workers well is so much better for the whole world than paying less for unethically produced items that won’t last.

People need to realize that living well involves a little sacrifice.

GORDON: Ain’t that the truth.

And speaking of sacrifice, we’ve put in our time for this evening. As always, be sure to leave comment for next week’s discussion (PLEASE be specific).

EVAN: Thanks for tuning in, and of course feel free to add to our discussion if you feel so led. Any words you have to share are always usually appreciated.

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