Why Homesteading is a bad idea
And what other options are available.
Recently there has been a sharp rise in the number of people interested in self-sufficiency. A lot of reasons are driving this interest. Fear of economic collapse of nation-states, like Venezuela, Zimbabwe. Perceived degeneration of society and a desire to be more independent of it and more self-sufficient. Climate change and the threats it poses, droughts, mass migration, etc.
So the idea is to get a piece of land, and provide for as much of your needs yourself. Food, water, electricity, shelter, security. This could also be called homesteading. But ask anyone who has tried it, how successful they have been? I am sure most will tell you not very successful. A lot have tried it, but after a while, they see it does not work very well.
They realise they are not plumbers, electricians, builders, farmers, security guards, cleaners, accountants, etc. They realise they cannot be good at everything, and that they are not interested in everything.
Secondly, they realise how in-efficient and how expensive it is to provide infrastructure yourself of everything you need.
They realise we as humans need each other. It is much more effective for each person to specialise in one thing, to become very good at that one thing, then exchange these skills, goods and services with each other.
So individual self-sufficiency is a fallacy, and anyone who has tried it to a degree, or completely can attest to this.
So if individual self-sufficiency and Nation-state is not the answer, what is? Community self-sufficiency could be the answer.
This is how it used to work in olden days in small towns. There were no good transport systems. They were far away from everything, so they had to provide for most of their needs themselves. One person was baker, the other a farmer, the other an electrician, carpenter, plumber, hairdresser, etc.
This is why in countries that ware developed, pre-industrial age like England and Germany, has a lot of small towns distributed all over the country.
So one can have a resilient, self-sufficient community that is more independent on the national systems. It would be near impossible to be completely independent and self-sufficient. One will still be part of the nation-state and global economy, but one can be independent and self-sufficient to a larger degree.
Nationstates and democracy
What also happened with nation-states, is that when the states were drawn up, several different communities and cultures were enclosed in one state, this happened especially in Africa when it was colonised. Borders were drawn up, with very little consideration for different tribes, cultures, languages. This is a big reason for all the conflict in Africa, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Syria.
They say good fences makes good neighbours, this is very true. People are different, they value different things, they are at different levels of development, they speak different languages. Each culture is unique.
This modern trend of Globalisation, and multiculturalism, I think is a mistake. Yes, we should all work together and we should all get along. But we should not lose our own language, culture and customs. This happens especially if a group is a minority in a country. Where the governing party will have been elected by the majority through Democracy. This I think is a fundamentally flawed system. Each group and each culture is of equal value and worth. Just because one group has greater numbers, does not mean that they should rule, that just they are important. That that group gets to suppress that other group’s culture, language, symbols, and opportunity to economic success.
Having more independent small towns, the town/community can be based on a specific culture and language. And that is the main culture, a language that is used and treasured in that community. Where a specific language, culture and custom can be protected and build.
So to summarise, individual self-sufficiency and nation-states are not the best solutions, but community self-sufficiency and independence can also be part of the answer. It can also be a way to make groups of people more resilient. And a way to protect individual minority cultures.
Recommended further reading.
- Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities Paperback – 2003
- Most Likely To Secede: What the Vermont Independence Movement Can Teach Us about Reclaiming Community and Creating a Human Scale Vision for the 21st Century
- Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities