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Old 06-16-2012, 09:24 PM
 
Location: A Nation Possessed
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Alrighty then... I expect some strong opinions from anyone who is familiar with Michael Bunker. Oh well. So be it. I just finished reading his book Surviving Off Off-Grid. Just wondering if any of you have read it, and if so, how you feel about his philosophy on self-sufficiency? I'm sure the religious component of his philosophy will be a big stick in the eye for many of you. But let's put that aside and talk about the non-religious part of his philosophy. And that really is what the book is: it's not a how-to book at all. There are tons of those out there. It's a philosophy-of-self-sufficiency book.

Personally, the religious component didn't bother me at all because I do believe in freedom of religion. I am religious in my own kind of way, but I'm not as driven by it and centered on it as he obviously is. So that part of it is fine, and not really an issue for me so much. But I must say, crazy as it sounds, I've never read anyone's writings on the philosophy or motivation of self-sufficiency that so closely dovetails with my own. For the most part, I feel exactly the same as he does about where we have been in the past, where we are now, and where we are going... and which is preferable. Corporate Industrialism vs Corporate Consumerism vs Agrarianism vs Mercantile Agrarianism. Most all of his opinions are my own as well. As for his lifestyle, most of what he is doing and has done is very close to what I aspire to. He's just way ahead of me at this point.

I'm very certain that most folks (and even most "preppers"/self-sufficiency types) will find his philosophy concerning the direction of self-sufficiency radical, to say the least. I did not, however, because I'm very much into his "traditional" ideal--in fact, I'm sure I would take it even farther. Interestingly, I didn't read that much that I hadn't already formulated on my own. But I very much enjoyed his book because at least I know I'm not completely alone in my core beliefs.

The only real criticism (and it's not really a criticism of what he DID cover) is that his entire existence is dependent upon a fairly "gentle" future. As long as it's "gentle" and as long as we remain a free country, I think he will be successful in his lifestyle. I'm actually quite jealous because I'd be doing the same thing. I'm quite shocked that I've found someone out there (other than Amish or Mennonites) who come close to my ideal. However, in a bad social situation, I'd think his traditional self-sufficiency lifestyle would be very at-risk. Of course, I haven't read everything he's written, so perhaps he (and his family/community) is more militant than he appears in this book--it didn't cover this aspect at all.

So anyway... I loved seeing much of my philosophy shared and codified. Now let's hear how nutty y'all think he is.


(again, can we avoid the religious aspect here??? His religion is his business. Let's talk lifestyle and viability.)
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Old 06-17-2012, 05:20 AM
 
Location: Murphy, NC
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I dont really get it, what do people argue about being off the grid? Its harder work or too independent? Im not an academic but corporate industrialism sounds better than corporate consumerism to me, more natural and sound. In asia the most traditional political ideologies support small communities that are self sustaining and self governed with little to no funding from government, otherwise u have farmer suicides and a billion educated lingual poor people fighting for the lamest jobs to make a living like we are seeing happen in america.
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Old 06-17-2012, 10:21 AM
 
Location: A Nation Possessed
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Originally Posted by dhanu86 View Post
I dont really get it, what do people argue about being off the grid? Its harder work or too independent? Im not an academic but corporate industrialism sounds better than corporate consumerism to me, more natural and sound. In asia the most traditional political ideologies support small communities that are self sustaining and self governed with little to no funding from government, otherwise u have farmer suicides and a billion educated lingual poor people fighting for the lamest jobs to make a living like we are seeing happen in america.
Well, you'd have to read his stuff to see just how far out of the norm his philosophy is. It's not just "off grid," it's what he calls "off off-grid." And it's not just a catch phrase. It definitely has a meaning. It's also out of our norm as "preppers." There really is no "making a living" with his arguments, because his basic ideal is very near subsistence farming. There is no specialization of a cash crop. It's diversification. Basically he proposes disconnection nearly completely from our modern version of the economy. Of course, there are other preparedness types out there going in the same direction, but he basically advocates a pre-industrial-revolution existence with a very, very limited smattering of modern technology (what he calls intermediate means) used along the way to complete disconnection. He gives some very strong arguments (in my opinion) for doing so, as well.

Of course, I can't encapsulate his book in a couple posts here. I was nodding my head in agreement through most of the book. As I said, much of the motivation is religious (and let's not go there), but the philosophical points stand on their own as far as I'm concerned. However, I have the suspicion that even we fringe element "preppers" will find him very extreme. I've been waiting for the first post that calls his group a "cult." I'd challenge anyone tempted to say that to erase the religion and look at the overall points to his philosophy, the lifestyle, and the day to day preparations.

Of course, one can argue that by offering e-books on Amazon and running a blog on the net, he's being somewhat hypocritical. That's a fair point. He is a writer and has just released a post-apocalyptic novel as well. No... that's not forgoing technology completely, now is it? But can anyone ever complete disconnect from our "Borg Collective"? Hypocritical or not, from what I've seen, he's coming damned close. I'm very interested because what he's doing is very close to my direction. I'm interested in what others have to say here on CD forums because I've had countless "heated debates" here over my own very similar aspirations.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Since this guy is fairly obscure to the mainstream world and even mainstream "preppers" (I think his religious convictions overshadow what can stand as viable on it's own, sans religion), let me pose a question that is very much in the same vein (this is hypothetical, we're not discussing its likelihood):

If you had, say 60 acres of land, and were able to have just enough surplus from your labors on the land to pay the taxes, but otherwise you had all your basic needs provided for by your land, yet it was labor intensive and largely the lifestyle of the 1870s, would you do it? Keep in mind, you'd not need anything from the store. You wouldn't need money. You wouldn't need to "make a living" in the system. Yet what you would need to do is far more labor intensive. All your basic needs are taken care of (by you), BUT you have no electricity, no refrigeration, no AC, no auto. No dependency on anything besides your own labor. Water comes from your well. Food comes from your barnyard, canning, drying, fermenting, and your root cellar. Heat comes from the wood you chop from your wood lot (NO chainsaw, only a bucksaw, ax, and wedge). The hardest labors come from your team of horses. You have no need to ever really leave your land for anything except some emergency. Of course, you'll never fly to Paris. You'll never hang in the mall. You'll never bull**** around the water cooler. You'll never polish your Lexus. You'll never catch the latest movie. You'll never do what we're doing right now--surf the internet. You are free from our system, but by the same token you are excluded from it.

Still willing?


And that is an encapsulation of where this guy is headed.
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Old 06-17-2012, 07:09 PM
 
Location: Nebraska
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The one thing this guy neglects to understand is that - every day, he gets older.

Older means less and less able. Not completely, of course, and not right away. But every winter means more arthritic joints, every summer means more careful attention to things like dehydration, etc.

Danged few children, if offered any alternative to the labor-intensive lifestyle he proposes, will hang out and help. Which means that, if there is any alternative at all to the 16-hour, day-in-day-out labor he is so adamant about, any kids and even some wives will quickly unazz his pastoral farm. He would have to rely on religion, or at least a patriarchal demagoguery, to enforce allegiance to his regime... which would make it a lot less 'pastoral'.

The whole reason that John Deere came into being is that people who worked the land with horse and plow worked themselves into early graves, on bare subsistence farming. The whole reason washing machines were invented is that women spent literally hours scrubbing with washboards or battling clothes in washtubs, hanging them out in all weathers, on top of cooking and canning on a wood cookstove in the heat of summer. The whole reason iceboxes were invented were because people couldn't keep the milk from spoiling, not even by tying a rope to the milk bucket and hanging it down in the well. And the whole reason kids left the farms (and are still leaving) was because they could actually make a living and survive doing something (anything) else - without working in the dirt or spitting out hayseeds on those long 16-hour days.

Life without everything Bunker wants to do without will be a much shorter, much harder, much more painful and demanding, and much less productive life, and the only way he'd be able to attract and keep anyone to that sort of life would be 1) if that was their only recourse other than abject starvation or 2) if they had the same ideology as he. And all it will take will be one two-year drought or one blazing structure fire, and he - like many others in the 1600's, 1700's, 1800's, and early 1900's - will be starving, broke, broken, exhausted, and doing without. Glorifying it in a pastoral, back-to-the-land perspective may be wonderful and comforting and self-justifying - but the reality all too frequently bites.

Like you, I note that he writes a daily (more or less) blog, and heavily advertises his books and blogs about not only his practices but his beliefs on Amazon and everywhere else. Which makes me wonder... my grandfather and grandmother had a hardscrabble farm near Terre Haute, IN before and during the Depression - and they used a horse and plow, Grandma used a washboard and canned in the heat of the summer, they did without and had almost nothing (except 10 kids, 3 of whom died in childbirth, 2 who died in the coal mines) even before the Depression. She told me stories of those 'bad old days' - Grandpa died before I was born, while still in his 50's, and she lived to be 62. Grandpa traveled all over the country looking for work during the Depression, and Grandma had to sell the farm while he was gone because the crops failed and she couldn't run it by herself. My grandparents didn't have time to sit and write letters, much less books - those 16 hour days took their toll. So I wonder just how much of Bunker's farm is belief, faith, and hyperbole, and how much of it is actual output... or will continue to be.

Words and beliefs are great - but the actuality of the daily subsistence work is not as pastoral as many inspired writers and bloggers would like their readers to believe. So you betcherazz that as long as there's fuel, I'm using a chainsaw and a logsplitter, or loading the cattle into the trailer to take to the auction, or using the electricity to light up the barns at night for calving or to run the pressure canner on top of the electric stove, or use the water to flush the toilet rather than build. dig, and lime an outhouse. Just because I CAN do without, or even HAVE done without, doesn't mean I choose to. It means I'm able to - if forced. But then, of course, I live and work in the real world, not in some panting religious fervor or self-delusional fog.
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Old 06-17-2012, 09:30 PM
 
Location: Cody, WY
10,420 posts, read 14,625,679 times
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Originally Posted by SCGranny View Post
Words and beliefs are great - but the actuality of the daily subsistence work is not as pastoral as many inspired writers and bloggers would like their readers to believe. So you betcherazz that as long as there's fuel, I'm using a chainsaw and a logsplitter, or loading the cattle into the trailer to take to the auction, or using the electricity to light up the barns at night for calving or to run the pressure canner on top of the electric stove, or use the water to flush the toilet rather than build. dig, and lime an outhouse. Just because I CAN do without, or even HAVE done without, doesn't mean I choose to. It means I'm able to - if forced. But then, of course, I live and work in the real world, not in some panting religious fervor or self-delusional fog.
I see no romance in misery. Most of the world's population share my views. Progress has meant more productivity. I can wash and dry clothes with only a few minutes of time actually spent. I can turn on lights by flipping a switch. I can take a bath whenever I wish. I have medical care that a king couldn't have had a century ago.

I don't understand the desire for a short and brutal life. SCGranny put it very well; I concur.
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Old 06-18-2012, 12:19 AM
 
Location: A Nation Possessed
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And thus we, again, display a nearly diametrically opposed philosophy of self-sufficiency and "prepping." I'm not going to say you're wrong... because you're not. I do understand where you two are coming from. All valid points you've made. But remember, we all think differently, have different ideals, and as a result, our shared interest in self-sufficiency will take us in different directions. One man's gold nugget is another's worthless trinket. So I don't really see myself as being wrong, either. There is no right and wrong here, only choices. And those choices, just like all choices, have consequences.

As I've said many times, I think it's a matter of psychology. We all think differently. I'm, by nature, somewhat of a primitivist. I've only used a chainsaw that I can remember once or twice (on a job I had). Don't even own one... but I've certainly used a 4 foot lance-tooth crosscut saw, an ax, a wedge, a broadaxe, and a hatchet plenty (even within the last week. Starting early on the firewood ). I prefer the sweat over the noise. The last timber frame shed I raised was 100% hand cut (other than the sawmill-cut 6x6 timbers)--even the drilling and mortising was done with a T-auger (even tried a spoon auger to see what the really early framers used) and framing slick. Chisels, hammer, crosscut and rip saw, t-square, and slick. No power tools at all. Yeah, it took a whole lot of work, sweat, and quite a bit of time. The local CNC-equipped timber frame company could have had it cut and put up in hours. But those weeks of work meant something to me. And it meant something to me when it was done. More than it ever would have had I used a CNC machine. Or worse yet, throwing together some 2x4s with a nail gun--that does absolutely nothing for me even though it's so much easier. I tend to enjoy the process more than the outcome. I enjoy the journey more than reaching the destination. I prefer to paint a scene in watercolor rather than photographing it. I'm a hiker in a world of ATV riders. A person that will spend a week making his own longbow by hand with simple tools rather than visiting the sporting goods store and buying the latest and greatest compound bow or using a shop full of power tools. A shovel man rather than a backhoe man. That's just the way I am. That's what I mean about the psychology of it. And that's why this guy's book really appealed to me.

One thing I will certainly agree with you about is that the idea appeals to VERY few people. I happen to be one of them... and I am alone in my interest among every single person I know, other than perhaps a passing interest of friends in spending a day on a historical farm or something. This is one reason I've mentioned before on this forum that I'd like to find an internet group or forum that is specifically into that particular self-sufficiency philosophy. Find others who would love to give up electricity as much as I would. Crazy and out there, I know, not to mention making life difficult. But nobody ever said being a black sheep was easy.

My concern is not that I cannot do these things. I can. I do many of them. My concern is that I cannot do ALL of them. It's too much for one lone person--when even baking a loaf of bread takes a lot of time and effort, something I could have in five minutes if I'd bought it from the store. But that's not the point. So, I'll continue to work toward the ideal and do what I can. Of course, if I ever find a woman nutty enough to have the same aspirations (and she's a hard worker), then maybe we CAN do it all--for as long as our backs hold out at least! For now, I'll plug along learning new old things. My latest pursuit for the summer is buying a quarter acre of wheat from a local farmer willing to sell it still standing in the field just so I can cut it with a scythe, thrash it and winnow it by hand. Yes, I've been told I'm nuts several times. If I knock myself out with the flail, well I guess that's what I was asking for, eh? BUT, I want to know what it was like and how to do it. I want to be able to do it. There is the psychology thing again. I don't know anyone who would even know of these methods or give a damn if they did know of them. After all, we have these big machines called combines, do we not? They make life easier. Of course, most folks don't know what they are either. And don't care.

So... we all keep plugging along down our own self-sufficiency path and discount the other paths. I'm as guilty as anyone else. It's human nature. As grandpappy used to tell me when speaking of car manufacturers, "They're all the best."
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:28 AM
 
Location: Backwoods of Maine
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Hmmmm...know what I think? I think you can pick and choose how much "progress" you want to incorporate into your life, and how much you can do without. And you needn't apologize to anybody, as it's your choice, and you have to live with it.

That said, I stumbled onto Helen and Scott Nearing some years back. I remember keeping a copy of their "Good Life" book on the nightstand, and I'd read a chapter or so at night before falling asleep. I think the Nearings (long since passed on) planted the seed in my head that got me to where I am now. With all due respect to Granny, Scott lived to be 100 and Helen passed at 91 in an auto accident; she might have made 100, too. They were always in excellent health, way into old age. They had no chainsaws, built their own house of stone, hired a local team of horses to plow up their garden (just once, when starting out), and always owned a beat-up old pickup, like I do. They lived without electricity for decades; when rural wiring came to their valley, Scott allowed just one light bulb, in the kitchen. Never had running water or a flush toilet.

But you know, they did live the "good life". I remember in one of their books, when Helen was reminiscing about Scott's letters to her, she mentioned one she got from him just before Christmas when he was in his 70's. He said something to the effect that, "if it wasn't for the farm, I'd have to get an old man's job, or eke out a living on a small pension, or go live with relatives who didn't really want me there" and that got me to thinking. Yes, old age and the Reaper await us all, but why not LIVE while you are alive? I'd rather live to 65 (which I almost am now) and know I'd had a "good life", than to live to 87 courtesy of drugs and medicine and all of our modern "conveniences".

Say what you want about the Nearings' socialism (I ignore it, just as you do Bunker's religion), but for me, their lives were not about socialism, which I detest. Their lives were one shining example of doing it "their way". They didn't care a bit what anyone else thought. They did for themselves because the universities took away Scott's income for political reasons, and he wasn't going to beg them to let him back in. He learned to live without "the white man's paper dollars" and was richer for it. There's always a way around any obstacle. I can't think of a better way to live than to deprive the banks and gov't of the "blood money" and interest on their paper dollars. I get rid of mine as soon as I get them.
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:36 AM
 
Location: Murphy, NC
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I think chances are low of a 100% sharp global collapse and/or EMP bomb storm/ shoreline shift/ black plague/ volcano etc would push the world back 100 years for more than a few years. We don't know and could never know unless it passes and we're still standing. I'd do certain tasks the prehistoric way if it saved me money, while money still holds weight. For me money is what it comes down to, money to keep prepping, take care of my dental stuff, help fly my sister here, set up my water alternatives, to keep extra incase of medical emergency, aquire an extra firewarm, take a little vacation to keep my g/f from blowing a fuse, etc... MONEY is what it comes down to for me, if that means digging a pond for a year vs gwapin 5k for a machine I'd go at it the old fashion way, plus it builds my muscles and brings joy at the end of the day.

If all this horrible suspected pieces of sht do hit the fan and in a relatively short period of time I think we will be doing some prehistoric living. It will help to set up a business now that could become viable overnight, doesn't need to be registered or loaned from a bank. I guess I don't agree with Mr Bunker but I share the fantasy and expect the worse, 5 years from now with the rate of tyranny rising his philosophy may become a lot more popular.
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Old 06-18-2012, 02:24 PM
 
Location: Connecticut is my adopted home.
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I guess my one thought is that I don't think one is ever unhooked completely from trade and/or the necessity of it. Things not easily manufactured wear out such as textiles, tools and the like. Unless they have ore, forges and the know how, a broken axe is going to have to be replaced somehow. Likewise fabric. Are they growing cotton, flax or wool. Is anyone there with the expertise to process it into useable textiles? What about soap or toilet paper? Are they making it or doing without? Do they have a sawmill and woods to replace rotting boards? Is someone making brooms? What about replacing glass (window and cooking) that gets broken and those canning lids? I haven't read him but if I understand your example correctly, this is a weakness in the logic.

Granny's and other's point about the lifestyle holding limited appeal is right on. I believe that this especially applies to women in particular and young people (always wanting to get the hell outta Dodge no matter how good their circumstances) will very likely not wish to continue in the life if they have any choice or ambition. Aging as Granny pointed out is another issue. Still vigorous at 75, my mother can't work nearly as long or hard as she used to, though her spirit is willing. Us kids pitch in where she could once do it all by herself.

Being part of a community of course will help spread the workload by ability and strength but having spent time hauling water, doing my business in outhouses, washing clothes and bathing in a #2 tub, chopping wood, milking goats and hardscrabble gardening/farming in my early 20s in such a community, I was glad to be an outsider, not bought into the life. I enjoyed the work and the challenge of it but I enjoy being clean and in a clean environment much more. During one heavy rainstorm I took my bar of soap, shampoo and stripped to take my first shower in months, prying eyes be damned. I still recall the relief I felt being truly clean if for a moment in time. Still I had to sleep in a bed whose sheets were not washed nearly as often as they should be and dressed in clothes that were grayed and dingy by the hand wash routine even though I took particular care of my washing.

Certainly you should feel free to pursue the lifestyle of your choosing as long as it doesn't hurt or infringe on anyone else but I guess folks are saying look hard before you leap and challenge your assumptions before you get to a place where undoing something will cost you greatly to do so.

Personally, I enjoy time to spend on hobby gardening such as flowers and roses, not 24/7 gardening simply spent on growing enough food to make ends meet in addition to the other work needed to live such a life. I enjoy intellectual stimulation, books, music, theater, art, good flavorful well prepared food, well made clothing, beautiful things well crafted and the like and how much time does hardscrabble subsistence living give to even one of these things? This doesn't even begin to cover medical and dental care and other things we take so for granted in modern society. They didn't have many of these things in that community. Speaking of medical care, one of the women got bit by a copperhead snake when I was there and had to be rushed to town and hospitalized, setting them back a number of years. The alternative was to let her die which is no alternative when help is nearby.

Certainly I'm all for scaling back from the out of control consumerist society awash in cheap and often useless crapola from China (and other places) that will find it's way into a landfill in less than a year's time. Sustainability and voluntary simplicity, reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle are all things I do believe in and practice. I like to grow a lot of my fresh vegetables and fruit and we try to eat in season, buy local, buy American made and the like. Cut down on energy and other consumption etc. I am prepared for worse but I'd prefer a very soft landing.

If I had to, I could live the life that you describe and we are semi-prepared to do a large part of it if necessary but only as a way to avoid starving and to remain independent from the dole queues. IMO it will take a great deal of money to set up properly with loads of laid in supplies to live the life you describe without engaging in at least a moderate amount of ongoing trade. JMO. To each his own.

Last edited by AK-Cathy; 06-18-2012 at 02:48 PM..
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Old 06-18-2012, 04:30 PM
 
2,878 posts, read 4,638,033 times
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Originally Posted by Happy in Wyoming View Post
I see no romance in misery. Most of the world's population share my views. Progress has meant more productivity. I can wash and dry clothes with only a few minutes of time actually spent. I can turn on lights by flipping a switch. I can take a bath whenever I wish. I have medical care that a king couldn't have had a century ago.

I don't understand the desire for a short and brutal life. SCGranny put it very well; I concur.
You're neglecting to reflect on at least two things: 1. The cost of this progress (social, environmental, we murdered and destroyed a bunch of Native people wherever we went to conquer.....) and 2. Prove that progress has improved the lives of people in terms of personal freedom or even everyday life (owing the bank vs the feudal lord).

OD
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