THE GUIDE TO SELF SUFFICIENCY
I took out a few books from the Library today on self sufficiency and I felt that I needed to copy it word for word. Feel free to make this one a sticky.
We can do things for ourselves or we can pay others to do them for us. These are the two “systems” that support us; we might call them the “self-reliance system” and the “organization system”. The former tends to breed self-reliant men and women; the latter tends to produce organization men and women. All existing societies support themselves by a mixture of the two systems; but the proportions vary.
In the modern world, during the last hundred years or so, there has been an enormous and historically unique shift: away from self-reliance and towards organization. As a result people are becoming less self-relian and more dependent than has ever been seen in history. They may claim to be more highly educated than any generation before them; but the fact remains that they cannot really do anything for themselves. They depend utterly on vastly complex organizations, on fantastic machinery, on larger and larger money incomes. What if there is a breakdown, a strike, or unemployment? Does the government provide all that is needed? In some cases, yes; in other cases, no. Many people fall through the meshes of the safety net; and what then? They suffer; they become dispirited, even dispondent. Why can’t they help themselves? Generally, the answer is only too obvious: they would not know how to; they have never done it before and would not even know where to begin.
John Seymour can tell us how to help ourselves, and in this book he does tell us. He is one of the great pioneers of self-sufficiency. Pioneers are not for imitation but for learning from. Should we all do what John Seymour has done and is doing? Ofcourse not. Total self reliance is as unbalanced and ultimately stultifying as total organization. The pioneers show us what can be done, and it is for every one of us to decide what should be done, that is to say, what we should do to restore some kind of balance to our existence.
Should I try to grow all the food my family and I require? If I tried to do so, I probably could do little else. And what about all the other things we need? Should I try to become a Jack of all trades? At most of these trades I would be pretty incompetent and horribly inefficient. But to grow or make some things by myself, for myself: what fun, what exhilaration, what liberation from any feelings of utter dependence on organizations! What is perhaps even more: what an education of the real person! To be in touch with actual processes of creation. The inborn creativity of people is no mean or accidental thing; neglect or disregard it, and it becomes an inner source of poison. It can destroy you and all your human relationships; on a mass scale, it can – nay, it inevitably will – destroy society.
Contrariwise, nothing can stop the flowering of a society that manages to give free rein to the creativity of it’s people – all it’s people. This cannot be ordered and organized from the top. We cannot look to government, but only to ourselves, to bring about such a state of affairs. Nor should anyone of us go on “waiting for Godot” because Godot never comes. It is interesting to think of all the “Gotots” modern humanity is waiting for: this or that fantastic technical breakthrough; colossal new discoveries of oil and gasfields; automation so that nobody – or hardly anybody – will have to lift a finger any more; government policies to solve all problems once and for all ; multicultural companies to make massive investments in the latest and best technology; or simply ” the next upturn of the economy”.
John Seymour has never been found “waiting for Godot”. It is the essence of self reliance that you start now and don’t wait for something to turn up.
The technology behind John Seymour’s self-sufficiency is still quite rudimentary and can of course be improved. The greater the number of practitioners the faster will be the rate of improvement, that is, the creation of technologies designed to lead people to self reliance, work-enjoyment, creativity, and therefore: the good life. This book is a major step along the road, and I wholeheartedly commend it to you,
DR. E.F. SCHUMACHER, CBE