May 17, 2008

Sooo.... they're like hippies? Right?

Only more annoying?


reader_iam said...

Live and let live, I say. It's a great (big) country, with plenty of room.

john said...

28 and 30 years old. They're just beginning their acquisative years!

I wonder how they will get to Vermont. Not through Las Vegas I hope.

XWL said...

The goal of this movement is to detach from material possessions, lose them, if you well.

So, what better term to call these folks than, "losers"?

Unknown said...

There is no electricity, Mr. Harris said, just propane power and a wood stove.

"We want to be in clean country with like-minded people with access to clean food," Mrs. Harris said.

From personal experience, they're in for a surprise. Ain't 'clean'. Propane is also expensive.

"The question is, Do I have Internet access in the woods?" he said.


Anonymous said...

“Any state that can be induced by drugs, the mind and body are already capable of,” she said.

"You poor fool. Wait till you see the goddamned bats." -- Hunter S. Thompson

I'm Full of Soup said...

Did you swap the post titles by accident? I think this should be the one titled Douche?

J said...

"just propane power and a wood stove"

Is burning propane and wood better for the environment than living in an apartment in an urban area using electricity generated by a large corporation under enormous pressure to reduce it's environmental impact?

Synova said...

I find the idea very appealing, actually. I don't think that it's necessary to do any particular thing, or live in a van or shack in the woods and most of the people doing this aren't *poor* anyway. Sometimes it takes money to do comfortably without *stuff*.

But really... we live at the limit of our personal resources so often. I know that I do. And it's stressful because no matter how much money you make or how well you live, you're still coming up short and living pay-check to pay-check and that sucks.

Getting a mind-set to downsize... to live in a smaller house than you can afford and drive a less expensive car and whatever else... to live in a middle-state and make less money instead of a coastal state and make more...

Sure, a person could be like a hippie about it. Anytime someone is going to live a counter-cultural life-style (even if it looks just the same from the outside) it helps to have a philosophical underpining or goal to keep focused on when you look at the most expensive house the realtor pre-qualified you for and a smaller but adequate house that really isn't as nice.

I *try* to get this into my kids heads... don't live at the limit of your resources... live below that *on purpose*. That way you can have savings and not fear the collection phone calls.

john said...


Don't you think that this couple's key to survival in the Vermont outback is to 1) write a book, 2) start a B&B, 3) start an internet business selling New England kitsch, 4) sell organic zucchinii out of the bed of their pickup every good-weather weekend?

I am so supportive of you teaching your kids to live below their (your) means. It's so hard with my kids, especially when I am not the best example.

Alan said...

This reminds me of the philosophy of Tyler Durden from the movie Fight Club. Tyler said the same thing, "everything you own owns you." So this couple has a plan, much like Tyler Durden's. "He had a plan, and it started to make sense, in a Tyler sort of way: No fear, no distractions, the ability to let that which does not matter truly slide." Heh.

Of course, Tyler Durden was the alter ego of a guy who was seriously depressed.

I wish them well. Hopefully, they'll find what they're looking for.

ricpic said...

Rampant narcissism. You wanna live large? Fine. You wanna live simple? Fine. Only don't hock me a chinuk (bang a kettle) about it.

PatCA said...

I wonder how much dough they have saved after making it big in the Internets...

They sounds like people who don't fit in; I guess that defined hippies, too.

Ivanhead said...

So, in ten years they will be on welfare with a child that has no education to speak of and probably no vaccinations, and they will not accept responsibility for their selfishness and failure. We will be blamed and we, taxpaying stable citizens, will be paying for their health care and retirement. What a great idea. It called being a bum, or hobo.

Kirby Olson said...

The article said it started in Seattle in the 80s.

I lived in Seattle through the 80s.

My novel, Temping, is an illustration of this ideology and how to overcome it. It also provides a pretty good picture of why these people exist.

One of the things you found in Seattle at the time were people who had basically not really felt that they were understood by their families, and so decided to not have families.

The funny thing is we pretty much eventually all had families irregardless. But I think my novel Temping is the only really deep picture of this movement which basically amounts ot a lot of running while remaining in the same place.

George M. Spencer said...

Call it "The Raisins of Discomfort."

They remind me of Okies, except that no one is forcing them off of their suburban homesteads. They are dong it to themselves, apparently. Good novel there.

"We want to be in clean country with like-minded people with access to clean food," Mrs. Harris said.

She would have been at home with the Joads at Number Four Sanitary Unit at the Farmworkers' Wheat Patch Government Camp.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

This was done better in England in the 1970's and with much less delusion and sanctimony by the the beautiful Felicity Kendal in Good Neighbors!

(The BBC has more).

Meade said...

On my way to work this morning, NPR, had a story about how the Peace Corp is having trouble finding volunteer workers who want to, in fact, work. It seems that the Corp is long on volunteers who wish to extend their Spring vacations and short on volunteers willing to actually sacrifice their time, talent, and labor to help developing host nations.

Now that would be annoying - to be stuck in poverty only to have a bunch of American college grads come hang out, party, loaf, and then go back to their developed modern world all on their U.S. government's dime. Talk about narcissistic entitlement!

reader_iam said...

Meade: I can't speak to the Peace Corps situation or what college students are doing in that situation.

But the scenario does resonate--and not just with regard to young people, but even more so older ones. My circumstances are such that on a regular basis, I'm involved in trying to get people to participate in one project or another. These are in line, mind with you, oft expressed values and opinions about what needs to be done. Yet, in the event, it's is incredibly difficult to get people to DO something, to commit, to actually sacrifice time and etc. They'll say: We should help with housing, but try to get them to work on building or rehabbing a house, or participating in a 2x4 fundraiser. They'll say: We should help feed people, but try and get them to help staff a community soup kitchen, or Salvation Army Dinner, or regularly dump money in the food pantry basket. They'll say: We should reach out to the disadvantaged youth right in our neighborhood (but, no! we don't want to host an event here! or start up a tutoring program!). I could go on and on and on. Of course, there are people who DO participate regularly, but 1) it seems always to be that small core, over and over, and 2) the profile of those people is not only just as likely to be the opposite of what the stereotype would suggest, but also are often NOT the people who spend so much time talking about "something must be done!"

It's just a really curious thing about human nature, and--from my perspective, though perhaps it's just my perception--it seems FAR more prevalent (and thus a much bigger challenge) than 25 or even 15 years ago. What's up with that?

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

I'm trying to identify exactly what sort of a psychological quirk would create such an aversion to someone else for simply recognizing and doing away with what they don't need.

And then I was reminded of addicts and the way that they feel compelled to express condescension to former peers who've "cleaned up" their acts. Misery really does love company.

It's quite remarkable that we live in a society so pathological that it encourages and extols the supposed virtue of being strong enough to not need another person or persons in one's life, while doing away with a material "need" makes one a freak. It's an interesting way to prioritize, to say the least.

Anonymous said...

I am a right-wing, pro-growth, multi-degreed acquisitive guy. And I know exactly what they mean, because a part of it rings true.

I'm at the point in life where I, too, want to simplify. My house is too big (kids gone), it contains too much furniture, too much stuff, that I simply no longer need or want.

I have begun donating the things I do not need, keeping the precious things, and simplifying. It brings an odd sense of peace, of not belonging to my stuff, of not working just to provide more room for more stuff.

I'll be in a smaller house in a few years.

My father was quite successful, built his dream home on a lake, and a few years later lost it because of divorce and reversal of business fortunes. He went from a 5,000 square foot house to a 1,500 square foot condominium.

He said getting rid of that house and all of the stuff it contained was the best thing he ever did. It let him focus on the simplicity of living carefully, and freed him of the responsibility for a big house filled with stuff.

I don't think I'll ever be an 'off the grid' lifestyle guy, but my footprint will be smaller.

My paternal grandparents migrated to the U.S. from Germany before WWI. They were poor, very poor, and some years my grandfather made less than $500.

They made EVERYTHING. Raised their own chickens and pigs. Brewed their own beer and wine, distilled their own liquor. Grew and preserved their own fruits and vegetables.

My grandmother never once in her life bought anything from a grocery store. They were admired for their industriousness, their hard work, their ability to feed and clothe a large family.

Nowadays we make fun of people who want to do the same thing. It's an odd thing to ridicule people who want to minimize and simplify, when so many of us are descended from good people who did the very same thing.

vbspurs said...

Eh. The Pilgrims were annoying too.

America is filled with people doing their own thing, given their own wacky ideas.

I once had a serious boyfriend in Vermont. His dad owned an apple farm and when I was invited over, we passed the caravans of ex/nouveau hippies on the roadside, washing out their laundry in their longjohns, my heart sank.

We're still friends though. And I'm glad they're's a state like Vermont to welcome these folks.


vbspurs said...

Nowadays we make fun of people who want to do the same thing. It's an odd thing to ridicule people who want to minimize and simplify, when so many of us are descended from good people who did the very same thing.

Granted that's the fabric which made America, but if you were to go back in time and ask your German grandparents, would they have said:

"Michael, nothing would please us more if you lived a life exactly as we do now. Barely scraping by, doing a hard day's labour."

I don't know what your grandparents' answer could have been, but I have a sneaking suspicion few of our ancestors would have wanted that.

The point of my question is that our prosperity is not an implied criticism on how they lived their lives, which is how your words sounded.

BTW, I just took second on a balk.


Richard said...

What's wrong with this picture: After deciding that owning worldly belongings leads to a shallow and unhappy existence, they decide to give their stuff to ... "charity." Great. Let's give our stuff to poor people so that we can start living a satisfying life. I love liberals. They are so odd and amusing.

Meade said...

But go take a look at their blog. For some reason no one wants their charitable donations enough to come by and pick them up. Things like their wedding bands and their kids toys. I wonder why. Meanwhile they are wondering if montana urban legend or Michael H. might have "their" Magic Bus. You know, parked out back waiting for you to donate to them so they have something to magically take them to clean Vermont, something they can live cleanly in with their two young unvaccinated clean children.

vbspurs said...

But go take a look at their blog.

Oy. It's called Cagefree Existence.

You know, it occurs to me after having lived in several "Third World" countries, that these things only exist in First World countries. And how I would dearly love to transport the Harrises to South America, so they could know what real cagefree living is.

BTW, Aimee Harris is apparently descended from Franklin Roosevelt, if I read rightly. She does look a bit like Eleanor.


vbspurs said...

/Cagefree Family.

Meade said...

Yes. She apparently comes from a long line of Eleanors.


Unfortunately, being that we're donating everything LOL we don't actually have $100,000 to buy a bus ;-p"

Maybe I should donate to their children a NYT's link to :

1. Your Money: Five Basics for Building a Solid Financial Future

vbspurs said...

"1. Your Money: Five Basics for Building a Solid Financial Future"


If these people were not more amenable to leftists or tired-of-the-rat-racers, there might be more criticism of their choice.

In a sense, they remind me of the Duggar Family, remember them?, who are going their 18th child. The vitriol aimed at THEIR lifestyle choice cannot be imagined. It's near evil.

You know, the Duggars are not on welfare, but they do sustain their lifestyle by donations.

Maybe I'll go to the Duggar's blog, and hook up these two families, these two American originals, and see if they can help each other out.

Eleanor might've liked that.


Meade said...

Here let me try that...


I'm so nervous, I just sit and smile (Too much, the Magic Bus)

Shiloh said...

I'm sorry. I have to delurk here to comment. I actually live here in Austin, TX and I have to say, there is plenty of clean food here. The farmer's markets run basically all year and there is the Wheatsville Co-op. Personally I find the food at the HEB Central Market and the Costco and the flagship Whole Foods clean enough for my purposes, but YMMV. I have no idea why they would think their possession-free existance will be more pleasant in VT. I feel for their offspring.

Joan said...

I routinely lecture my kids on "the tyranny of stuff." We purge the house at least twice a year, usually around Thanksgiving time, and at the beginning of summer vacation. Clothes, books, toys, anything else that we're not using get packed up; books and other media get traded in for credit at Bookman's, which is totally awesome; clothes and other stuff get donated to Savers, which is the Big Brothers Big Sisters charity reseller. My daughter especially still has too many toys, but many fewer than she would have if we didn't make her go through them on a regular basis.

I understand wanting less stuff. My husband and I are looking forward to the day when we can downsize; for now, having a big house is a good thing, because for a large part of the year, it's too hot for the kids to play outside. I think long and hard before I purchase something for myself or for the house: will I use it? Can I use it up? (even better) Does it have meaning?

This last question is important, which I think the Harrises have lost sight of:
Then she noticed a box of Christmas decorations, and at least for the moment grew wistful.

“I won’t lie,” she said. “I’ll cry when that goes.”

What's wrong with keeping a box of Christmas decorations? Are they ditching all their old family photos, too? Some things belong to the family, and that's a good thing. I love that I have ornaments for my tree that hung on my family's tree when I was a little girl. Wanting to get rid of things like this is something I don't understand.

Methadras said...

Talk about throwing out the baby with the bath water. I guess no one ever told them that some ideas are just better left unthought of.

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm not anti-these-people or anything. If they want to give away all their stuff, they're obviously free to do that. But their site does make it seem as though they are a little confused...

Thanks to the love of strangers, and their urgings, I have been working on a line of clothing that I hope to begin selling soon.

So you're dumping everything to go into retail sales?

The donate button is there in direct response to friends and family who would like to help us along the way because they believe in what we are doing and feel that they would like to help monetarily.

So you need money, but you're not selling your own stuff to get it, therefore the "simplicity" plan involves other people "simply" giving you their money?

And what's that money for...

Some things require money. We are trying to put together a full apothecary of herbs, herbal tinctures, flower essences, books, supplies to give to people in need that we meet along the way. This is a stock which will not only take a great deal of money to put together, but will have to be replenished as we give it out.

Heh. The needy are always in search of those traveling apothecaries. A hobo never knows when he might need his next flower essence and have to go without.

I'm not yet ready for people to doubt my life purpose, so I can't quite get it all laid out in the open.

Usually if you're not ready to doubt something, you haven't quite thought it through.

That's just a small sampling of quotable material.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

"Wanting to get rid of things like this is something I don't understand."

It's a BoBo, the personal-is-political version of returning to Zero so beloved of punitive leftists in general and the Khmer Rouge in particular.

PatCA said...

Yes, readeriam, as in the eternal cry "Free Tibet" divorced from any action whatsoever on anyone's part to actually free Tiber.

Freeman Hunt said...

Maybe they originally planned to have a garage sale, but once they started pricing and sorting, they were like, "This sucks--!@#$ it! Let's just dump everything and blow this joint for Vermont!"

Anonymous said...

Look, people, there's a difference between doing some cleaning to get rid of a bunch of shit around the house and doing what these people are doing. Saying you can sort of understand the one because you do the other is like saying you can understand those guys who surf epic 50-foot waves because you are known to body surf every couple of years.

Let's all chant: A golden mean to guide your footsteps...

Freeman Hunt said...

I was kidding in my last comment, but there was actually a bit of truth in it. Heh.

Anonymous said...

Are they going to touch Indians?

reader_iam said...

OK,I started out all "well, whatever; different strokes for different strokes," and I'm still mostly there, BUT:

1) All these requests for donated help, of time or whatever! (Jeez, these people are turning out to be awfully high maintenance given their professed turn toward simplicity.)


2) a very restricted diet of meat, veggies, fruit, seeds and nuts. [emphasis added]

WTF? I must be missing something here, or a collection of things.

Synova said...

No Fritos?

Synova said...

I have friends who are doing the "live off the land thing". I gave them a couple of roosters once (no one else wanted them). And it seems to work for them. Sure, I think it's silly to make pasta from scratch and raise rabbits for food, but why not? I think that some of these folks leaving their cushy possession centered lives are silly... after all... I grew up on a farm. I've picked rocks and plucked chickens. I think that a whole lot of people have very unrealistic expectations.

But none-the-less... it's a decent way to live. And when it's a choice instead of a necessity, it's probably a whole lot more fun than if you're stuck there and can't get out.

reader_iam said...

Give me just the last four ingredients, and I assure you I could come up with something, for a meal or even a cross-country trip. (Ahem.) Are there also some food allergies going on, or what? It's can't be the veg thing, or at least for all of them.

I'm really not so much about being snarky here: flabbergasted is closer to it.

Shiloh said...

The issue really isn't whether these people are like hippies, but rather more annoying-- people like this are quite common in Austin-- the question is, why did the NYT find them newsworthy? Because they are just typical run-of-the-mill Austin wingnuts, like the woman in Slacker with Madonna's pap-smear. Yes, that was a fictional character, but based on a very real slice of our population here (I say with all affection).

reader_iam said...

Really, I'm having a tough time getting over this one: a combination of "meat, veggies, fruit, seeds and nuts" is "veryrestrictive"? With all due compassion, I'm thinking maybe some, well, rethinking might be in order.

reader_iam said...

Wow (the sound and the shape of my still jaw-dropped mouth).

Anonymous said...

"There is more simplicity in the man who eats caviar on impulse than in the man who eats grape-nuts on principle." -- G.K. Chesterton

amba said...

She strikes me as a sad example of a vitiated aristocratic line, its noblesse oblige turned suicidal, its last trickle of blue blood sinking into the sands.

Here's a healthier version of the same impulse. Y'all will like this guy a lot better.

Freeman Hunt said...

Really, I'm having a tough time getting over this one: a combination of "meat, veggies, fruit, seeds and nuts" is "veryrestrictive"?

Dude, it's like so totally restrictive. LSD is, like, so not even on that list. And like whoa, pot brownies aren't either. Getting by on just, like, food. Far out.

reader_iam said...

Hey, guess what? On the blog, back on April 29th, it says that they're going to stop in Wisconsin for a years. I know the NYT doesn't mention that. Maybe the plans have changed, or maybe the blog will temporarily become another Wisconsin blog.

reader_iam said...

A "year" (not years); for a trial run.

vbspurs said...

Guys, do you remember a British sitcom called, "The Good Life". It was called The Good Neighbours in America, IIRC.

It is one of the most iconic sitcoms of the '70s, just when self-sufficiency was becoming something to aspire to.

This movement was led by suburbanites like Felicity Kendal and Richard Briers in the series.

Synopsis from IMDB:

"Tom and Barbara Good's dream is to live completely self-sufficiently. This means, among other things, raising their own vegetables and animals for food. Trouble is, they live in the suburbs. Their very conservative neighbors, the Leadbetters, look on, horrified, at this bold experiment."

Years later, Prince Charles noted in an interview that The Good Life was a factor in his return-to-nature experiments which make him today, an environmentalist and alternative medicine maverick in Britain.

I once called him an Edwardian hippie in my blog, and really, I think that fits him well.

But do you see the point of these two examples?

It's almost never the inner-city dwellers who live in crime cesspots who are exponents of these movements or wish to fling off the materialism of their culture.

It's the post-yuppie, the entrepreneur who made millions, the BoBo as Jeff mentioned, the aristocrat like Aimee and Prince Charles.

I agree with everyone who said I'm happy for these people. Live and let live, by all means.

But their title blog says:

"Watch us change everything about ourselves as we discover our true values and apply them to our lives; finding out what we are really made of: Love and Happiness."

Streamlining your lives is one thing. As a pack rat (I'm an avid collector), I don't understand that myself.

But love and happiness will not magically appear when you sell your sofa. That's got to be there all along.

I hope their kids won't resent their parent's decision one day. At the very least, establish a trust fund for them, so they can decide for themselves.



vbspurs said...

Freeman Hunt wrote:

Maybe they originally planned to have a garage sale, but once they started pricing and sorting, they were like, "This sucks--!@#$ it! Let's just dump everything and blow this joint for Vermont!"

Two words: Salvation Army & FleaBay.

Also, getting your community and friends involved to help you should be their first goal. It sounds like they're doing this all alone.

I shudder to think what would've happened to these young couple, if the NYT hadn't given them a hand. I have no doubt they've gotten loads of email to help them out now.

Thanks for the links Amba, Paul, and others. This is a great thread.


Mr. Forward said...

If they are planning on spending time in Wisconsin they better keep the snow shovel, long underwear, and the cheesehead hats. And beer. Don't forget the beer.

reader_iam said...

Victoria: I do remember that sitcom! My family (of origin, not my current one) used to watch it.

I do want to say that I'm not "horrified." I'm just a little amazed by the lack of certain knowledge, or research, or something, that's all. They really are taking a rather great leap, based on some things cited, and I'm not referring to the "back-to-simplicity" decision, per se. I do wish them good fortune and success because, well, why not?

vbspurs said...

Felicity Kendal was the closest thing to Mary Tyler Moore, for us, Reader. You know, America's Sweetheart/Girl Next Door. :)

They were perhaps the best ensemble cast of any sitcom, IMHO, with the exception of "I Love Lucy".

They really are taking a rather great leap, based on some things cited, and I'm not referring to the "back-to-simplicity" decision, per se.

One thing they do have in their favour: They're real young. And they have the bravery of youth on their side.

During my gap year, I backpacked all over the continent, from France to Romania. I went hungry, I slept rough in parks, I was robbed twice. Me, the young Grand Dame who loves luxury. I couldn't in a million years imagine doing that today. Or wanting to.

God bless 'em, I say.


Synova said...

Good Neighbors was the best. Particularly the wife... not her idea at all but she's determined to be a good sport about it.

Anonymous said...

Have you people not seen Green Acres? That's the respectable way to do this thing.

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Become a Buddhist monk, get a begging bowl and go live in southern Florida, or maybe California. No wimpy half-measures, and better weather. These limp-brainers are going to quickly learn about the bracing Vermont winter. Hippies with a twist. How...unoriginal.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

I just went and checked out the link. They actually do seem happy - free from distractions. I can see why that would be bothersome to so many people in this land of spiritual ADHD of ours, but do try to keep the jealousy to yourselves.

It's inevitable that technology will keep integrating as many of our things, possessions, devices together as we want, and I see these movements as a part of that. If I can integrate my TV, movie subscriptions, music into a small phone, why not? A friend of mine integrated all her utility and other various bills into automated payments on her credit card. And your Costcos and Sam's Clubs! Why is integration somehow positive when it leads to the anomalous situation of making things bigger and less specialized? (Umm.. because the consumer is an inefficient dolt?) Taking up space - regardless of what kind of crap you fill it with - with which to impress your peers, is a particularly boring sort of pissing match. When all that crap could have been part of creating a new experience, then it made sense. But none of you can compete with the House that Bill Gates built. If you could, then I'd care. And so might anyone else. Until then, don't kid yourselves into thinking that nature hasn't already provided something nearly as enjoyable for those resourceful enough to get something worth experiencing out of it. Increased efficiency and all.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

As someone mentioned our grandparents spent basically every waking minute eeding, clothing and housing themselves; we can do the same things in around 60 hours a week, if you include the time spent not just earning a living, but physically cooking meals and taking care of the homestead, and some probably less.

Which allows to fill the extra hours with TV, video games and blogs.

I live in the country and have for years, I know what its like to raise your own food. A vegtable garden is hobby, not a paying proposition, if you value your time at all.

An raising your own meat sounds good, until your sit down to a plate full of a cow you actually named. My uncle, a professional farmer- he has never worked anywhere but his own land- raises beef cattle, amoung other things, and cannot eat his own beef; my aunt has forbidden any animal that has been in the barnyard in her kitchen.

It sounds like a great idea when you read about it, but the academic appeal disappears when your elbow deep in cow shit.

Paddy O said...

They say this started in Seattle in the 80s?

That's kind of like saying music started in Seattle in the 80s.

Folks have been doing this kind of stuff for millenia.

Including this guy, and maybe more like what they're doing, this guy.

And much longer before either of them in all kinds of places.

Course, they probably don't include the celibacy part. So materialist and indulgent of them.

Kirby Olson said...

They're just saying that THIS wave started in Seattle.

But Fight Club's writer was living in Portland, Oregon, that has pretty much the same ethos.

You could trace it back to Diogenes, who chose to live in a tub.

Beachcomber said...

Well.... You may want to be just a bit less hasty in poking fun at these people. I was quite actively involved in Voluntary Simplicity for a few years, and found that VS'ers are an extremely diverse group of people. Sure, there are a few hippies, but there are a few stockbrokers and business execs too, and just about everyone and everything in between. Very few wanted to take VS to the extremes this couple has chosen, but we all wanted to simplify our lives in some way. This couple's experiment may or may not work out for them - it sure wouldn't work for me - but either way, it isn't going to harm them or society as a whole. So more power to them for having the courage to follow an unconventional dream.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Well Redneck, if you'd read my post, I think the "edjumakation" you could get out if it is the fact that now is not then. Farms can operate more efficiently because of technology. Not everyone who scales back or who moves to a place more in touch with less materialistic values need become a farmer, and not every farmer need raise cattle - or even livestock. There are many vegans among these types of people. You're yammering on about an extraordinarily narrow point. While your own experience is instructive - it's good to understand the pros and cons of each lifestyle - it only illustrates that technology and agrarianism need not be an either/or thing. Plus, where's the virtue in removing oneself from the stresses of slaughtering cattle? People might as well have a sense of respect for the consequences of their choices when it comes to something so basic as what they decide to eat.

Plus, the economics are entirely different. I'm not sure every individual wants to create a business out of the enterprise. These are small communities that are raising enough produce for their own families or the few others in the extended network of their community. I doubt they're interested in the back-breaking labor that it might take if you were solely motivated by producing enough to be considered profitable.

Victor Davis Hanson believes that a good deal of the criticisms one could level at civic life in America results from the loss of an agrarian lifestyle - which was the cornerstone of the existence of life in the Greek and Roman empires. Soldiers fought harder for their land because they knew it - they tilled it, they loved and defended it, and were therefore more interested and engaged in how their elected officials governed it. I think he's got a good point. And I hear he's got some nice vineyards as well. Ain't no shame in that.

His vineyards are in an incredibly diverse state that has the market nailed on not only agriculture but technology and entrepreneurialism arguably better than any other state in the union. Which one is that? The one with the eighth-largest economy in the world.

I don't see the hippies and venture capitalists bashing each other over there. Maybe it's that tolerant atmosphere that allows for such an easy-going and no less dynamic mix. Out of what orifice do so many of the goofballs here pull their false dichotomies?

reader_iam said...

Don't understand why that "Damn you,seven machos! link went to a duplicate (and where did that come from?) of the intended post that didn't contain the embedded videos, which were the point to begin with. Wasn't sure just to ignore that, or what, but I certainly didn't want people to waste their time on the bad one. Not that it might not be a waste of time anyway, but you know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

"It costs the nation millions to keep Gandhi living in poverty." -- Sarojini Naidu

Kirby Olson said...

They're not using drugs, they're following all the laws, they're living light, and the man is employed, and the parents are both literate and they are legally married, which gives the children certain protections. All that is quite unlike the hippies. Also, they are intending to settle down in a cabin in Vermont. Sounds like the American Dream, to me.

It isn't like the back to the land movement of the 70s. This is back to the land, but employment via the web. I don't see why some people are calling them losers or comparing them to mindless Luddites. They're not hippies or losers or Luddites.

Victor Davis Hanson is an interesting comparison since he's so far to the right that you couldn't call him a hippy or a Luddite, and yet he too is interested in a form of back to the land idea but based it on Sparta rather than on the voluntary mental illness of the hippies.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

Well Redneck, if you'd read my post, I think the "edjumakation" you could get out if it is the fact that now is not then. Farms can operate more efficiently because of technology.

Yep, they sure can. But article specifically mentions 'Organic' farming, which procludes teh use of modern pesticides, fertilizers and hybrid seed, doesn't it?

My point was that most of these folks who move "back to the land' as adults have no idea about the amount of work required to feed your family without a weekly trip to Krogers.

Anybody who decides to take up farming by starting on donations has lost contact with reality. Most farmers have an annual budget of at least half a million, to earn a living of 20k, including their substinance from the land. If you only farm 100 acres or less you also need a full time job to make the finances work. do these people know that? Have they done any investigation into it, or have they read about about a movement and fell in line?

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Not many people would go so far as to place Sparta as a society that was comparatively better off so far as mental health was concerned; I'd assumed Hanson's ideal was more generalizable to that of any agrarian society from Western antiquity - although Sparta's as good an example as any so far as military success is concerned.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

I haven't looked into it myself, Red. But methinks a web-based business from home precludes the "need" to squeeze $20,000/year from a half a million dollars budgeted to 100 acres. I dunno. Maybe that's just me.

But whatever the case is, I'm pretty sure we're talking about people who do some much smaller scale work of their own, or who help out on nearby properties, to bring a tiny bit of vegetables to a co-op come harvest time. I'd bet there's a whole different sense of scale, with smaller crops of more numerous diversity and an emphasis on "trade" locally.

I'm open to more "edjamikation", but I'm skeptical of things that come across as knee-jerk reactions. My propaganda detector is going off upon hearing you shoot down any moves away from "modern pesticides, fertilizers" as if doing so automatically banishes one to a state of agricultural irrelevance or gulag-style labor. As long as you're going to talk numbers and stuff, the rate of growth in the market for organic foods has been faster than in any other, and you should know that. But if you didn't, then... well..

Anonymous said...

Hey Montana -- I like organic produce the same as you. It's tasty. However, the cost of getting it to me is quite high and, though I am not concerned about it, takes up quite a bit of energy. Furthermore, if farming moved on a large scale toward away from modern pesticides, fertilizers and the like, yes, it surely would automatically banish us all to a state of agricultural irrelevance or gulag-style labor.

What liberal art do you have a degree in?

blake said...

"This sucks--!@#$ it! Let's just dump everything and blow this joint for Vermont!"

I have that feeling every time I open my garage. Though I'd probably not pick Vermont.

As for the diet listed being not very restricted, they specifically seem to have excluded dairy and grains. If you don't think that's restricted, go to a restaurant some time and try to order something that doesn't use either.

vbspurs said...

Kirby Olson wrote:

You could trace it back to Diogenes, who chose to live in a tub.

Ascetism predates even Diogenes, I fancy, Kirby, though you have a point that he made it into what us moderns might call "a movement".

Do you know one of the things that bothers me about ascetics?

Without a religious component, it reminds me of the Nietzschean "Will to Power" and of being "outside the world".

Lenin and Hitler had these very ascetic qualities.

Neither drank. Hitler didn't smoke. Both owned very few suits, and possessions. Hitler was a vegetarian. Both idealised the farmer rather than the city-dweller, and stressed the power of ideas over the materialism of life (tied in Hitler's turgid mind, as it was, to Jews).

People respected them because of THAT, in fact, it was a great part of their appeal as political leaders.

Gone the greasy materialism of monarchies and the bourgeoisie. Enter the New Man of the 20th century!

Ick. Ascetism leaves me cold.


vbspurs said...


blake said...

Yes, in some cases, you have to wonder if the issue is that the person cannot enjoy beauty, luxury or comfort.

And in others, you have to wonder if their goal isn't to impose that upon you.

vbspurs said...

Yes, in some cases, you have to wonder if the issue is that the person cannot enjoy beauty, luxury or comfort.

I'm surprised people in favour of the Harrises choice haven't brought up nuns and monks in a snarky manner.

And in others, you have to wonder if their goal isn't to impose that upon you.

That's the bit which worries me. America was built on personal decisions. But first they came for alcohol, then they came for cigarettes, then they came for McDonald' echo Niemöller (badly).


An Edjamikated Redneck said...

Montana, I call tell you for a fact that around here (where the soil is consider decent to good for farming) 100 acres isn't enough for subsistence farming, and that is with modern methods, not organic ones.

Granted, that includes pasture and hay fields for cattle and horses, so possibly a straight vegan family could live on what they grow on 100 acres, but I doubt that would include any cash income producing crops, without which taxes, propane and utility bills don't get paid. Vermont may be different, but around here you can't pay your tax bill with jumbo pink banana squash.

Hell, I could be wrong, I've never farmed in Vermont. But I do know that the lifestyle I read about in that article is completly unworkable in my neck of the world, which is a hell of a lot more temperate than Vermont.

I also know farming is damned hard work, and I doubt any city slicker will be able to make a go of for a living. They may be able to play it, but not live from their farming.

Synova said...

The people I know, writers mostly, have moved to Maine or Alaska.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

You know, vbspurs, the funny thing about asceticism is that it can often be a healthy corrective to gluttony - much like the dieting or otherwise more subtle culinary choices you'll make after noticing that your ass had got a bit too fat on a few too many weekends. There's nothing wrong with that, and it's not a decidedly political, rather than personal, statement to do so. It only becomes political when the discussion hinges on natural, or common resources - a widely held economic category that only anti-environmentalist extremists want to deny the existence of. So no, the issue isn't not wanting to enjoy beauty any moreso than I can take your posts here as a repudiation against utility or simply living within one's means as comfortably, responsibly and ethically as one defines it. It's about a gluttonous addiction to artificial sources of beauty that finds itself so insecure with the much more abundant and original, natural forms of beauty and luxury that it will idiotically yield to Godwin's Law in order to force the discussion into a stand-off of mutual paranoia.

And Nacho Nuts, of course I could go on about which of the natural sciences I concentrated in, which scientific discipline I received post-graduate training in, which scientific publications I've authored, which top-20 universities (as ranked by US News) I've attended - despite the breadth requirements of my otherwise liberal education. But doing so would indicate that I take you any more seriously than I do your arguments. I mean, if you really want to play the comparative bona fides game, go ahead and lay it on the line, go for it. You could even bother to create a Blogger profile to link to these outstanding intellectual achievements of yours I'm supposed to assume qualifies you for a discussion on what people can live with or without or what could be quickly invented with the right incentives. But I don't think you want to do that. I mean, I know the insult in the form of a personal question is a clever trick for someone of your intellectual standing, but I'll forego the courtesy of taking it seriously - seeing as how you didn't see the idiocy of making an ad hominem attack out of a simple, credible observation on the market for organic foods.

Red, I agree that hard work might be a trade-off when it comes to the situations discussed - at least until alternatives are perfected and scaled. Indeed, I think that's what's starting to scare off the anti-conservationists, what with the desperate appeals to Hitler (the great anti-Industry Hitler) and all. On the other hand, it's hard to invoke Hitler as a justification for creating a dead zone in the Gulf of Mississippi or for insisting that organic alternatives either aren't or can't be made viable. But perhaps I'm not as ignorant as Macho Nachos to be so pessimistic. My training teaches me that necessity is the mother of invention. If we needed hair spray propellants so badly that alternatives to CFCs had to be invented, then - one persistently gaping hole in the ozone layer and rising skin cancer rates notwithstanding - so be it. I have a feeling that we can do the same when it comes to crop yields. The problem is the people who love to whine about how impossible it would be to live without the last innovation, no matter how problematic, until someone comes along with the next best invention and proves that they can. It's they who confuse scientific progress with economic progress, and cry like a bunch of babies when actual scientists merely point out the discrepancies.

vbspurs said...

Godwin's Law

No one is comparing these youngsters to Hitler. Merely mentioning Hitler in historical context to refer to modern ideas of separatism and materialism shouldn't be disqualificatory in arguments. It's a linear connexion stretching back to Nietzsche's ideas, cited above.

But I'll take note of that, and mention Lenin in future. To quote Babe Pig in the City, that'll do, that'll do.


Anonymous said...

Montana -- Frankly, it looks like I hit a sore spot.

But, anyway, tell us how we are going to feed 300 million people without fertilizers and insecticides. Feel free to boast about your accomplishments some more but see if you can't work in some kind of an answer.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Don't be dumb, Vic. Lenin was also an industrialist. There are more themes at work than the one or two you pretend to reduce this discussion to in order to conflate disingenuous willful ignorance with a more innocent kind. Not to mention an economy that evolved past industrialization and into an Information age, and made some important progress on environmental issues along the way. Lenin doesn't know that's happened because he's long since dead. What's your excuse?

Hey, Nachos. It's okay to be smug and say, "See, I won because my insults achieved some kind of personal result." If you want to get personal, you do so at your own peril. Don't be a pussy and respond to the challenge rather than simply mocking my willingness to do so instead. Or better yet, unmask the anonymity. I'll tell you this, in any other forum, you'd be doing so at your own peril, and not just in an intellectual sense. So you want to knock off the obnoxiously persistent barbs, and we can debate details into the dead of night and until your eyes roll back into your head. Until then, I'll give back exactly the same amount of respect that your playground tactics warrant, ignoring you and responding only to those who are acting seriously and in good faith.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Allow me to restate that a little more elegantly, Victoria. I think it's a mistake to draw a straight line connecting Lenin to Information Age subsistence-level communities. I see you focusing overtly on ideology at both ends. The problem is that there is no straight line that is direct. There were a bunch of developments between the two - many of which involved practical, non-ideological responses in getting to where we are now. Lenin lived during the era of industrialization. At that time there were voices, of course, expressing caution (even Melville's Moby Dick is said to do this), but it was long after Lenin's death that the degree and scale of actual environmental devastation that accompanied and followed industrialization became too evident to ignore. The Clean Air and Water acts were not ideological responses. These were practical, bipartisan (if I'm not mistaken) bills. There's nothing ideological to responses of horror to the river of a major American city catching fire and a good period of reflection into the science and ethics of where we'd gone wrong in allowing ourselves to get to that point. We've made a lot of progress, but still have more to make. And the economy has too. So when you couple an increased awareness of how to tackle problems constructively in the information economy - be they environmental or whatever - with the ability to make a living in ways that increasingly allow for the scaling back, "greening", or increased efficiency of the industrial sector (and oftentimes these are mutually-reinforced developments), you get to a point where people who are also drawn to the aesthetics of a certain lifestyle are increasingly capable of doing it in a way that fits practicably within the physical direction in which the society's moved.

Many might have ideological motivations for doing what they're doing. But I just don't see the reason for focusing on that - let alone the silly, reductionist, guilt-by-association observation that Lenin might have had an ideological brush with similar impulses. Especially when, at a practical level, there's no reason to assume that ostentatious displays of homage to the kind of wealth and aesthetics of an economic era that is now gone should still be some kind of norm that we should encourage others to aspire to. I don't see how "bigger is better" applies - let alone remains anywhere near as relevant - to an era of microchips, nanotechnology and neurological biochemistry.

Anonymous said...

Anyway, how are we going to feed the country without fertilizers and pesticides?

vbspurs said...

Information Age subsistence-level communities.

Care to tell that to the kibbutzim?

I'll read your 2 paragraphs a little later, but thanks for the argumentation. Hope you saw my larger point, as I did yours.


Ritmo Re-Animated said...

I'm having trouble understanding what you're trying to get at with the "tell that to the Kibbutzim" remark. I'm not sure that the kibbutzim were meant for mere subsistence farming, at least not for long - Israel did and does largely grow its own food and agriculture, which the kibbutzim did not shy away from providing at large and even for export; they even contributed to manufacturing industries. The kibbutzim have largely transitioned to the moshavim, which allow for more private ownership. In any event, the disanalogies are that while group ownership was emphasized in the kibbutzim, I'm not sure that's what's going on the NYT article. Neither were they meant for unintensive, subsistence-level agriculture, at least not in their heyday, to my knowledge. And they are no longer as prominent a fixture (nor am I sure that they were ever a predominant fixture) of Israeli agriculture. So how they apply to the information age is anyone's guess. I suppose you can explain what you were trying to get at after those two paragraphs.

In the meantime, the VDH/Spartan tangent might have an interesting application to this quote:

"While kibbutzim comprise only 5 percent of the Israeli population, surprisingly large numbers of kibbutzniks become teachers, lawyers, doctors, and political leaders. About 75 percent of Israeli Air Force pilots grew up on kibbutzim."

Anonymous said...

Victoria, you said in an earlier post: "America is filled with people doing their own thing, given their own wacky ideas."

Is that not exactly what you are doing?

Live and let live. They have choosen the life they wish to lead, as you have.

If it doesn't work out, they will change to something that does. As would you.

Freeman Hunt said...

>>>"This sucks--!@#$ it! Let's just dump everything and blow this joint for Vermont!"<<<

I have that feeling every time I open my garage.

Ha! Same here. Talk about a vortex...

Anyway, how are we going to feed the country without fertilizers and pesticides?

We won't need to eat if we use enough herbal tinctures and flower essences. I guess.

Freeman Hunt said...

I would also like to point out that most of us who are laughing are not laughing at these people because they want to do something different and don't want to own anything. We are laughing because they are being silly.

If you decide you need a "Magic Bus" to realize your life's dream, so you decide to sell everything to buy it, but then you decide that selling everything is too hard, so you give everything away, and then you have no money for your "Magic Bus," that is silly. That is bad decision making. That makes people laugh.

blake said...

I think there's a fair mixture of laughing with as well as laughing at.

But, yeah, the dopey thing about getting donating all your stuff and then realizing you need money--that's an "at".