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Individualist self-sufficiency  RSS feed

 
Lee Einer
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I have run into any number of people who were fixated on "self-sufficiency" based on an individualistic, almost isolationist model. As in "The whole world is going to hell, I'm going to get a place off the grid with a greenhouse and solar panels and I'll survive on my own"

I have not met anybody who is actually capable of meeting all of their own needs without interacting with others. In fact, even if it could be done, a proposition of which I am profoundly skeptical, I don't believe it would be mentally or emotionally healthy to actually do so. Even if physical needs were met in such a fashion, we are tribal animals, we evolved that way, and I don't understand how human psychosocial needs can be met through the individualist self-sufficiency model.

I believe communities can be self-sufficient. Individuals? I haven't seen real examples of that, and even if it could be achieved, would it be desirable? There is nothing I know of to suggest that humans behave differently than the rest of nature. When we design gardens and food forests, we think in terms of guilds of plants with complimentary gifts and needs; we do not think in terms of some incredible self-reliant superplant that meets all of its own needs in an insular fashion and neither draws on nor contributes to the plants around it.

What do you think? Is individual self-sufficiency a valid goal, or a chimera?

 
Robert Ray
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I think that I could provide the food required to survive.
There are other non-agrarian needs that would have to be satisfied that I could not provide.
 
Tyler Ludens
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LasVegasLee wrote:


What do you think? Is individual self-sufficiency a valid goal, or a chimera?




It may be a valid goal for someone who doesn't plan to live beyond a limited span - in other words, they don't plan on getting ill, injured, or getting old. If they are fine with that, then they should feel fine about going for their goal, in my opinion.  I think people should pursue whatever dream moves them the most, if they want to.  I had a dream of self-sufficiency when I was young.  I got older and not as healthy.  My goals changed. 

 
ellen kardl
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That what bothers me about (what I perceive anyway) the "survivalist" movement. You can't just have a lot of cool, shiny gear out in the woods and make it for any length of time. Going back thousands of years, people have banded together because there is strength, ability and efficiency in numbers.

But maybe the way I'm perceiving them is wrong 

I know fer damn sure that I need - and want - community.
 
Chuck Freeman
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I believe it could be possible for the someone with the right mind set, except for on thing, Big brother. You need cash to buy land if you have an income you pay state and federal income taxes. If you own land you pay property taxes. If you build on your land you have to get permits. If you drill a well you need another permit. If you put in a septic system more permits. If you hunt and fish you need a license. Unless you can figure out a way to take society back a couple of hundred years it ain't going to happen. The days of the hunter gather are gone. So are the days of going out and staking a piece of land and building a home.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I'm not so sure.  I think if one really wanted to one could wander off into a national forest and live for a good long while without anyone knowing about it.  I used to backpack and camp in the Angeles Forest north of Los Angeles and never saw another human besides the rangers at the station.  There are vast areas of North America with few inhabitants where one could live as a mountain man and Big Brother could care less.

Rule #1: Don't flounce. 

 
Tyler Ludens
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I should add - you can't live an individualist lifestyle with a child.  If you try to live "outside the box" with a child, you will probably be sited for Child Endangerment, etc.  So don't try it.

 
Chuck Freeman
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
I'm not so sure.  I think if one really wanted to one could wander off into a national forest and live for a good long while without anyone knowing about it.  I used to backpack and camp in the Angeles Forest north of Los Angeles and never saw another human besides the rangers at the station.  There are vast areas of North America with few inhabitants where one could live as a mountain man and Big Brother could care less.






Only if they keep on the move, then it would still be a big if. I live in the Alaskan bush, I can say from experience it is nearly impossible to build anything, legal or not, without some one finding out. I suspect any national forest would be the same. Between the rangers, game wardens, and backpackers their are more eyes out there than you think. Contrary to popular belief the wilderness is a small town.




 
Tyler Ludens
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Yes, you'd probably have to be nomadic. 

 
Lee Einer
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
I'm not so sure.  I think if one really wanted to one could wander off into a national forest and live for a good long while without anyone knowing about it.  I used to backpack and camp in the Angeles Forest north of Los Angeles and never saw another human besides the rangers at the station.  There are vast areas of North America with few inhabitants where one could live as a mountain man and Big Brother could care less.

Rule #1: Don't flounce.   




AFAIK, even the mountain men were not generally living lives of pure individualist self-sufficiency. They were mostly trappers who trafficked in furs; they interacted with the world of commerce, and purchased commodities such as flour, beans, bullets and gunpowder.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Yes, historically that is true. 

 
Brice Moss
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This is why I like the term self reliance better than self sufficiency to be self reliant means I am ready and willing to be alone, but leaves the option of being with others.
 
Lee Einer
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msellenk wrote:
That what bothers me about (what I perceive anyway) the "survivalist" movement. You can't just have a lot of cool, shiny gear out in the woods and make it for any length of time. Going back thousands of years, people have banded together because there is strength, ability and efficiency in numbers.

But maybe the way I'm perceiving them is wrong 

I know fer damn sure that I need - and want - community.


The idea that a survivalist in the sticks with his off-grid bastion fortified with solar cells, batteries and wind turbines, maybe with freeze-dried food laid up, is "self-sufficient" is almost funny. Because the survivalist didn't make any of that stuff, and is reliant on the oil culture to provide it for him. On close inspection, this brand of individualist self-sufficiency is perhaps the least self-sufficient.

Most people get, at least on a subconscious level, that we can't keep going on as we have been. But going on as we have been is actually all we know, and the idea that the rules will change on a fundamental level is terrifying.

I wonder to what degree this image of self-sufficiency isn't just another defense mechanism by which some of us live in denial of the hard realities to come. How different is "I'll just build myself a little off-grid fortress with a bunch of cool alternative energy gizmos and live happily ever after" from "free energy will make oil obsolete" or "I hear the Earth is making more oil and we have enough to last forever?"

 
Ken Peavey
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Self-sufficiency is possible but comes at a price: you have to go down to a minimal lifestyle.

Nothing lasts forever.  To be self-sufficient, you have to be able to replace things as they wear out or are consumed.  Shoes, clothing, fuel, food, tools, lumber, soap, and whatever else you rely on to be self-sufficient.  I can do some things-put together a fine meal with food I grew/raised/stored.  There are plenty of other things I can't do, housekeeping being at the top of the list.  Even with the many things I can do, I don't have time to do it all.  To be self-sufficient, I'd have to give up more than I would like.  Living in a cold, dark hut is possible, but there is more out there.

We humans are social creatures, and with good reason.  We are considerably more capable working together.  Community gives us strength and focus, keeps us emotionally balanced, and brings out or potential.  Where one person is weak, another is capable. 

A fertile ecosystem is diverse and complex.  The bacteria do their thing, the fungi does it's job, the worms and birds do theirs.  A community, even a small one, is made strong because of the contribution of each individual.  Where I can grow food, someone else can cut the wood for the stove, someone else makes soap from the fat of the pig I'm putting in the oven.  We all put in a good days work, stay fed, warm and clean.

The world has evolved into an industrialized global mess.  My soap is made in New Jersey, my fuel comes from the power plant in the next county, and I have no idea where the pork came from other than the store.  There is no question that the system is in trouble.  It was nonsense to base an exponentially increasing consumer economy on limited resources.  Sooner or later, something is gonna give.  The effect will be people going without and making do with less.

By design or by necessity, relocalization will become more important.  Developing those relationships between friends and neighbors is the 'culture' part of permaculture, and the foundation of humanity since we first came down from the trees

I think self-sufficiency would be better described as being less reliant on others. 
 
John Polk
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Rather than saying "...less reliant on others." I would say "...less reliant on strangers."

If/when the SHTF, if we are not part of a strong community, it could be a really tough go.
One community working together can use a barter system (goods or labor/services) so that everybody's basic needs are provided for.  Surplus could be traded to a neighboring community for commodities they held in surplus.  If we do not have community, we are taking a step backwards to pre Cave Man days.
 
Lee Einer
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John Polk wrote:
Rather than saying "...less reliant on others." I would say "...less reliant on strangers."

If/when the SHTF, if we are not part of a strong community, it could be a really tough go.
One community working together can use a barter system (goods or labor/services) so that everybody's basic needs are provided for.  Surplus could be traded to a neighboring community for commodities they held in surplus.  If we do not have community, we are taking a step backwards to pre Cave Man days.



Yep. We know that ecosystems with limited resources favor mutualistic survival strategies. So we should expect that as the SHTF, mutualistic strategies will be key to our survival.
 
nancy sutton
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It seems they have been in past catastrophies, albeit those on a smaller, shorter scale than many of us now anticipate.  Check out "A Paradises Built in Hell" by Rebecca Solnit for info on how people actually did react to calamities.  I find it reassuring
 
                              
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lasvegaslee I got a little chuckle out of your original post because it kinda described me lol

not so much because I want to be an isolationist just that no one else has moved into the area yet. community is the best and safest way to go but self sufficiency as an individual
is totally possible when you consider food,water and shelter our most basic needs.

I believe the first rule of self sufficiency is to not rely on any tech you can not build or repair I cannot build solar panels or inverters so i should not be relying on them for my most basic needs but i still enjoy them as a modern luxury.

Am i not self sufficient simply because I choose to own some items that are a result
of modern manufacturing and a larger community?


or what about other simpler needed tools like shovels, axes etc probably purchased
through the larger community but if i can replace handles and reforge is that not  being
self suficient or do i need to go  mine and smelt the iron first?

does being individualy self sufficient mean that i can never trade for something i want
or just that i am capeable to provide for my most basic needs?
 
Lee Einer
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chowan wrote:
lasvegaslee I got a little chuckle out of your original post because it kinda described me lol

not so much because I want to be an isolationist just that no one else has moved into the area yet. community is the best and safest way to go but self sufficiency as an individual
is totally possible when you consider food,water and shelter our most basic needs.

I believe the first rule of self sufficiency is to not rely on any tech you can not build or repair I cannot build solar panels or inverters so i should not be relying on them for my most basic needs but i still enjoy them as a modern luxury.

Am i not self sufficient simply because I choose to own some items that are a result
of modern manufacturing and a larger community?


or what about other simpler needed tools like shovels, axes etc probably purchased
through the larger community but if i can replace handles and reforge is that not  being
self sufficient or do i need to go  mine and smelt the iron first?

does being individually self sufficient mean that i can never trade for something i want
or just that i am capable to provide for my most basic needs?


I think the litmus test for individual self-sufficiency is this - If the rest of the population vanished, tomorrow, would all of your human needs continue to be met? That sounds extreme, but if self-sufficiency is the boast, there's no such thing as "a little bit pregnant," you are either 100 percent sufficient unto yourself or you are not.

I haven't met with anyone who meets that test. Most I have met who made the claim tend to own their own home, grow some of their own food, maybe most of it, but still rely on interaction with the greater community to meet some of their needs. I respect that, but I say lets not mislabel it.
 
                              
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LasVegasLee wrote:
I think the litmus test for individual self-sufficiency is this - If the rest of the population vanished, tomorrow, would all of your human needs continue to be met? That sounds extreme, but if self-sufficiency is the boast, there's no such thing as "a little bit pregnant," you are either 100 percent sufficient unto yourself or you are not.

I haven't met with anyone who meets that test. Most I have met who made the claim tend to own their own home, grow some of their own food, maybe most of it, but still rely on interaction with the greater community to meet some of their needs. I respect that, but I say lets not mislabel it.


if you remove everyone else from the world the ability to reproduce is lost so sooner or later
that becomes a human need so i dont think your litmus test is a fair one.


but if by human needs you are refering to the basics for survival shelter,water and food
then their are many people who could fullfill that requirement and call themselves
self sufficient even if they are currently choosing not to or enjoying being the member
of a community.

I am somewhat of an expert outdoorsman so i can honestly say if everybody and every manufactured thing disapeared tomorrow i could still provide for my food water and shelter.
so then could i say that i was self sufficient even though i may happen to be living in an appartment in a city at the time I dont think so.

I guess i consider self sufficient individual,family or community the ability to stay alive
in your current circumstance if all modern production and shipping ceases or slows
temporarily or permanently

such as may be the case during energy descent,war,naturall disaster or political problems

there are many like this in my opinion
 
Tyler Ludens
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Why would a "self-sufficient individual" need to reproduce?  Not to perpetuate the human species, because humans as a species are not and never have been self-sufficient.  They have always lived in groups.

 
                              
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
Why would a "self-sufficient individual" need to reproduce?  Not to perpetuate the human species, because humans as a species are not and never have been self-sufficient.  They have always lived in groups.



no humans as a species are not individually  self sufficient but at times in our lives we individually can be even if it is not the normal human behavior.

problem is we cannot put a time frame on it

for example a man lives alone in the wilderness for a year or 2 im going to call him
individually self sufficient because if he wasnt he would be dead.

that same man may have already raised a family or he may be going to start one
but the fact is he provided for his needs during that period of his life

he was self sufficient


 
Tyler Ludens
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I agree - an individual can be self-sufficient for a period of time, long or short depending on his luck and skills.  If he is lucky and skillful enough not to get injured or ill, he may live self-sufficiently for decades, theoretically.  Though one is not likely to know of any examples.

 
                              
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
I agree - an individual can be self-sufficient for a period of time, long or short depending on his luck and skills.  If he is lucky and skillful enough not to get injured or ill, he may live self-sufficiently for decades, theoretically.  Though one is not likely to know of any examples.




this is one very famous example both as family and individually he was individually self sufficient for 3 years and as a family for 40

biography of Ishi

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishi


im sure there are other examples but to me the important thing is that
you could survive in the circumstance you find yourself
 
Tyler Ludens
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And then his tribe went extinct. 

Which one might expect to be the ultimate end of all individually self-sufficient types, as it is not an adaptive strategy for Homo sapiens.

 
                              
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
And then his tribe went extinct. 

Which one might expect to be the ultimate end of all individually self-sufficient types, as it is not an adaptive strategy for Homo sapiens.




no it is not the right strategy for our species and im not even trying to make the argument thats its right for me or any individual the point i am trying to make is that
if his primary human needs were met he survived he was self sufficient for a period
in his life.

here is another example of long term individual self sufficiency
japanese stragglers after WW2


http://jerickweb.50webs.com/hankmcintyre/japan_survival.html
 
Chuck Freeman
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
And then his tribe went extinct.  

Which one might expect to be the ultimate end of all individually self-sufficient types, as it is not an adaptive strategy for Homo sapiens.




His tribe went extinct because he and his tribe was displaced by "modern man" we took his hunting territory. Which is the same thing that will happen to most of us if things hit the fan. The one who don't have will take from those who have, they will in turn lose what they have taken to others who don't have. If society is turned upside down as so many believe no community or individual will be able to hold a piece of ground. Your prep's, your gardens, and your homes will no longer be a sanctuary they will be your prison and your end. It will be the individual and small nomadic groups who will have the best chance of survival.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I agree small nomadic groups may have the best chance of survival. 
 
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