So I’m in Denmark. It feels like I’ve got here really quickly and I guess I have. Despite the fact I think I need a new saddle I’ve mostly enjoyed ploughing through the miles. Everyday it does feel a struggle at times but after four o’clock in the afternoon I just can’t seem to stop and so I continue on into the light evenings stretching the daily mileage total.
As the pedals turn my mind has been whirring away too and I’ve been thinking about the UK election last week. The Conservative party getting back in to power is not ideal but it equally can currently be managed in terms of impact on my life. This then got me thinking in more theoretical terms and I reckon that there are broadly three types of ways people relate to government.
The first is that people actively want to be controlled and have the boundaries of their lives dictated by order or decree. It doesn’t require too much thinking and offers a certain security that must appeal to some people. The second is the idea that some want government by representation, voting and to a degree consensus. Some people require the feeling that they are involved in the decisions affecting their lives. Finally there are clearly some who feel government is uneccessary and that we can organise and live our lives without an outside system of control or governance.
Now looking at the UK system we probably have something that encompasses a bit of the first and a bit of the second. With the emphasis on one or the other depending on who you talk to. It’s worth mentioning that the government aren’t evil. I’m sure they genuinely think they are doing the right thing for the greater good of society. The issue is that the lives they have led mean their view of society is skewed to an elite world many of us will never see and this colours their ideology and actions. Personally I’m probably one of the people who would opt for option three with perhaps a smattering of option two if it a) was consensus driven and b) was small scale and locally/community focussed.
The other thing that crossed my mind when considering how we relate and wish to be governed was that the impact of that government on our lives varies. If you as an individual or your community is removed from seats of power and clusters of population the impact of government is often delayed and sometimes lessened. A simplistic example but in the days of physical tax collection if the government levied a £1 tax on all people those who were geographically remote would find that the collection didn’t come around for a while as the tax collector physically had to reach them. Today this is still true to some extent and actually recent austerity policies cutting outlying regional services mean it becomes even more so as remote communities have to be more self sufficient and less reliant on government.
I know I’m being simplistic here but I genuinely believe that if you don’t like the government learn to live without it and shut if out of your life as much as possible. This doesn’t also necessarily require geographical remoteness or isolation. To a degree I’ve been working on the premise of ‘hiding in plain sight’. These ideas aren’t new and I can’t take credit for them but I am applying them in my own way as you would expect.
The first thing I realised was that involvement with the government goes hand in hand with involvement in the capitalist economy and some aspects of wider society. At a base level if you enter the housing market with it’s currently inflated prices you are then also forced to enter the labour market. This then ties you to government through taxes e.g. income and council and you are at the whim of their decisions.
If you can establish a way to meet your housing need (essentially shelter) outside of the standard housing market or with as little involvement as possible you take a step to freeing yourself from government. Now clearly even if you have shelter you also need food. I’ve written elsewhere about the liberating effects of growing your own. Dig for victory over the tories! However in my current mode of meeting my shelter needs by transience and cycle touring it’s not appropriate to grow my own food. So the limited financial funds I have are used to buy food. This isn’t ideal as it’s willing participation in a market and my current methods of funding this aren’t sustainable long term.
The long term solution therefore is one of finding a stable shelter outside ‘the market’ in one place and work towards self sufficiency or using the following strategies whilst mobile. Stategy one is short term employment either as labour exchange e.g. ‘woofing’ or a limited participation in the labour market. If the latter this needs to be as I said limited and stay beneath the tax threshold. Strategy two would be to learn the art of foraging and try to meet some of my food needs from nature. Not an easy task and it does have clear dangers resulting in an ‘into the wild’ style scenario. The third strategy would be parasitic activity.
Now parasitic activity needs some explaining. It’s not a new concept but there are ways and means to live off the waste of modern society. Yes I’m talking dumpster diving. However there are other methods that can yeild food through the kindness of strangers. Personally I think that this is really only an adjunct to other strategies if the opportunity presents itself. It needs to be done positively as well i.e. it’s not cool to empty someone else’s fridge but if someone leaves half their meal in a cafe then intercept it before it goes in the bin!
Those who have read some crimethinc will notice I haven’t mentioned shoplifting here. This is deliberate, I am not against stealing from corporations but personally I prioritise my liberty over the reward in this instance. I just think the risk is too high if you are repeatedly stealing food from supermarkets and you’ll get caught eventually.
So I could get pissed off about the Conservatives being back in power or I could look at my life and say actually it doesn’t really affect me because I refuse to fully participate in their system. Now clearly the actions of the government need to be monitored and if you are a vulnerable member of society you will come off worst. Equally we need to be vigilant because if enough people realised the futility of pushing for change and withdrew from the system I’m sure that the goalposts would be moved to combat it. Equally on a personal level if enough people actually listened to me and so these words actually impacted the system my liberty would evaporate pretty quickly even if I was innocent of any legal breach. So the balls in your court, are you going to let the government dictate and control your life or are you going to work out how to limit their impact on you and your community? Lets maybe learn a lesson from the Zapatistas here, if the government insist on cutting the support services in our society, learn to live without government intervention and create your own community based support services. If we don’t need the government they are powerless over us.
Disclaimer: I have no formal training in politics or philosophy these are just my thoughts. If you think there is something I should read so I’m better informed then let me know.