Can self-reliance ruin the economy?

Many of our ancestors lived a self-reliant life. Many people still live this way out of necessity. We often call these people “poor” probably because yes, they do have less money than our norm. However, these people often have a wide range of skills to compensate. They make house shingles out of old tin cans, grow their own food, make clothing out of scrap materials, and houses out of timbers they felled. Many of us are eager to learn (some say remember) the ancient skills of self-reliance.

I often think that everyone needs these skills. Just in case. Or to help get people back to understanding and appreciating nature and the value of hard work and craftsmanship. But what would happen if everyone did everything for themselves or within a small, local sphere of interactions? (e.g. a village where each person had a specialty, and then bartered/traded for what they need or want.)

It’s pretty obvious that if enough of us do for ourselves, and just barter/trade locally, that the global system of government and trade would collapse. The rich couldn’t get richer because the 99% wouldn’t be doing the work for them. The government would have to be volunteer. (probably a good change!) There wouldn’t be need for a stock market. Walmart would cease to exist. What isn’t as obvious is that though it is completely possible for us to live without money, we (even the self-reliant types) are dependent upon money. Not only are we dependent, but we want to be dependent.

Why? Probably because most of us are comfortable. And we like our stuff. Besides at this point in the game we can’t make everything we need (see want) to live. Smartphones, Automobiles, jet planes, microwaves. I think it’s safe to say that everyone won’t be going back to using the bow-drill to light the Horno to make dinner, any time soon.

So why practice self-reliant skills? Tell us. Is it to save money? For fun? To help the impending collapse of our capitalistic society?

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