Work’s not been kind recently and now that the whole fiasco has finally unfolded I promise that I’ll write up exactly what monkey business has been going on. It’s not going to be a happy story I’m afraid. I confess that the World Cup, Kirkburton Free Festival, friends, non-internet activism and politics and life in general has been a factor in the lack of updates too though :
Back to the matters at hand, here’s something cheerful and optimistic for everyone. DIY! Obviously DIY stands for Do It Yourself, but I’m not talking about stopping at putting up shelves or painting the fence (who ever hires anyone to do that kind of stuff anyway?). The DIY I’m talking about is doing the best we can to become self sufficient.
That means growing crops, generating your own electricity, brewing your own booze, making your own clothes and even engineering tasks. Doesn’t sound too much fun, but hear me out, you’ll be surprised.
Why not just go down to Tesco and buy yourself a new top, a few cans of beer and a frozen pizza? It’s easier. More convenient. Isn’t it? Well, not really. To buy that stuff you want, unless you’ve got very simple tastes, you’re going to need a fulltime job. Now, that means spending 40 hours a week doing boring, monotonous tasks to make somebody else rich. Even if you enjoy your job, you’re working to make your employer richer and they can always just sack you on a whim. So, instead, how about working with your friends for say 10-20 hours a week to get the same stuff, but actually having the sense of achievement of creating it yourself?
There is something to be said for achievements. Somewhere in our attics we’ve still got our swimming certificates and photos of our sports days and our art projects, woodworking disasters and creative writings. Do you remember how you felt when you did all that as a kid? I do. It was great! I’d put the work in and I’d got something I wanted and it was down to my hard work. Anyone not familiar with socialism is probably doing a bit of a doubletake hearing me saying all this as I think they assume we’re lazy buggers who want something for nothing. We want an easier life, sure, but we’re not dumb enough to think we won’t have to work for ourselves in the place of an employer.
Well, why not go back to that idea? Wouldn’t it be fun to go and design and build your own solar panels from recycled stuff that’d otherwise go to a landfill with your friends? And to make matters even better, it saves you money off your electric bill, reduces the carbon you’re responsible for and creates a pretty cool talking point when you’ve got friends over. It’s there, you’ve made it and you’re enjoying it and you didn’t have to sit in work and get barked at by your manager to benefit from it!
I’m not going to try hide that your first attempts at anything are not going to be able to rival the quality of a professional, industrially made product. It takes practice, which is all the more reason to get started now. If you don’t like a particular type of project but your friend does, then why not just make the stuff you like and they make the stuff they like and you just operating a gift economy right here and now?
There is a revolutionary side to it too, although I’d stress as only part of the bigger strategy. The rich rely on us not only to work for them and provide them with the products for them to sell, but also to buy those products back from them afterwards. By holding onto our money we’re taking away the power of the rich which they abuse to lobby political parties and distort democracy for their own gains.
It’s also very important to remember that the world we hope for in the future, there will not be managers barking at us, giving us commands about what we must do and how we must do it. It will be up to us and our communities to organise ourselves to produce the goods and services for us to enjoy. After reading Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell, one of my criticisms of the anarchist movement back in the 30’s was this lack of foresight which had led to all sorts of problems as people either waited for orders from the Popular Front government, or had to learn how to DIY in a very short time which led to inefficiency.
So here’s a list of little suggestions of what you can do today with no experience, special tools, or whatnot, with the exception of the last two. Some are less mainstream than others, but keep an open mind. Don’t do this stuff alone (unless you want to of course!), but have some friends over and enjoy it and practice it. Develop the skills that we will need as a future society, not just out of duty to the cause, but for fun and for you to benefit from having these products without having to spend another minute working for your boss than you absolutely need to.
I’ve already covered homebrewing cider in the past. I may do some more detailed accounts of other projects.
Growing crops (You do NOT need your own garden for this!)
Homegrown tobacco and rolling
Keeping chickens or other livestock
Refining biodiesel (Any diesel car will run off this with no modifications to your engine or anything)
Knitting, sewing and weaving
Generating your own electricity
Squatting (if done responsibly!)
Art, music, film, writing
Electronics projects (radios, alarms, doorbells, etc,)
Science and engineering development (Yes, really!)
Learning a trade like plumbing, electrics, gas fitting, etc.
Pretty much anything that you’re handing over cash for now you and your friends can get together and make yourselves and it’s easier and more fun than working for an employer only to buy it. If anyone wants any tips or links to guides on the above subjects give me a shout and I’d be very happy to help you hunt down some more specific guides.
Start freeing yourselves, start having fun and start having some variety in your lives! 🙂