Why DIY Is Great, And Not Enough
One of the fruitful ongoing conversations that seems to crop up often, when I plot and scheme with other spiritual activists, is the relationship between building alternatives to the current system, and confronting the system and its institutions head-on.
It’s a really rich topic not only for discussion and theorizing, but also for practice. In this vein, I found this summary of No Local, by Greg Sharzer, pretty thought-provoking, and am interested in reading the book! Sharzer writes:
If you want to create healthy food for yourself or trade crafts, that’s great. Making something yourself, whether it’s a painting, a bicycle or a carrot, is a way to feel you’ve left a mark in a world where everything’s bought and sold. If growing your own vegetables makes you feel better and helps you meet your neighbors, then you should do it. Moreover, participating in a local DIY project can provide the strength and tools for community activism. Inspiration and political imagination are highly personal and subjective things, and no one can predict what inspires a critical understanding of society and how to change it.
But if the goal is stop ecological degradation and runaway growth, then the stakes are higher, and localists need to ask whether small projects will create long–term change. In practice, building those alternatives takes a lot of time and energy; projects can become self–justifying, not the means to build broad movements for social change. That’s why this book argues that hidden beneath localism’s DIY attitude is a deep pessimism: it assumes we can’t make large–scale, collective social change. Those with the correct ideas can carve a niche outside the system, but for most people, the machinery of capitalism will continue to be oiled with the blood of its workers.
Read the whole book summary here, and tell us what you think, BPFers!