By Charles Hugh Smith
As things unravel, the one surefire strategy is to chart a course for greater self-reliance. Improving self-reliance has no downside, only upside, and everyone can increase their self-reliance incrementally in small ways.
Self-reliance isn’t the same as self-sufficiency. Even Thoreau on Walden Pond used manufactured tools and supplies sourced from afar. The basic idea of self-reliance is to reduce our dependency on long, fragile supply chains and the hamster-wheel landfill Economy of planned obsolescence and waste is growth consumption, and increase what we can do for ourselves and those we care about.
Self-reliance isn’t going it alone, it’s assembling trusted personal networks as a producer as well as a consumer, as a means of reducing the number of links in your personal supply chain and increasing local sources of life’s essentials.
Self-reliance increases as we acquire skills and capital in all its forms. Self-reliance isn’t the same as money; what’s truly valuable can’t be bought: trust, reciprocity, integrity. Those are the foundations of self-reliance.
Self-reliance in the 21st century is uniquely challenging because we’ve become overly dependent on globalization and financialization–not just on traditional supply chains and finance, but a near-total dependence on hyper-globalized supply chains and hyper-financialized credit-asset bubbles that are inherently unstable and unsustainable.
There’s no downside to becoming more self-reliant and enormous upside. If the Landfill Economy continues chewing through the planet’s dwindling resources, it doesn’t diminish the value of being able to do more for ourselves and those we care about.
But if long, fragile supply chains break and hyper-financialization blows a gasket and sinks, the self-reliant will have a much easier time than those with minimal self-reliance. We’re only powerless if we cede all power over our lives to others. Self-reliance is all about taking control of our own lives rather than relying on unsustainable global supply chains and centralized authorities to provide us with essentials.
I address all this in my new book Self-Reliance in the 21st Century (96 pages). I’m offering it to my readers at a 20% discount for the Kindle edition ($7.95) and 15% discount for the print edition ($17).
You can read the first chapter for free (PDF). In later chapters, I cover the mindset of self-reliance and the nuts and bolts of self-reliance.
I wrote this book not as someone on the peak looking down but as someone on the trail looking up. Self-reliance is a work in progress, not a destination. I’m constantly improving my self-reliance, too, and have a long way to go. I wrote this book to offer a few pointers on charting your own course to greater self-reliance.
For more in-depth observations about the state of the world’s economy, visit Charles’ blog: