The response by many governments to the coronavirus outbreak has impoverished millions, created massive unemployment, destroyed businesses, disrupted supply chains and eroded our freedoms. We are left on our own to cope with the aftermath, meaning that we have to take personal responsibility for our lives. Consequently, there has been a turn towards self-reliance and a realisation that we need each other more than ever.
The lockdowns have fuelled old habits of self-reliance, prompting us to relearn skills and revive almost-forgotten technologies that will help us cope with the future. Self-reliance means relying on ourselves and our communities to provide our means of life; at the same time becoming less reliant on the numerous ‘grids’ that keep us beholden to the unsustainable and unravelling ‘matrix’.
Self-reliance does not mean that we have to provide everything we need to sustain ourselves. We are not Robinson Crusoes. No one, particularly anyone living in the urban context, can provide everything they need to keep themselves alive. Living in an apartment block, for example, means that it is impossible to grow your own food.
As has always been the case, where an essential component of life is missing, we can specialise in producing what we are good at in order to exchange it for what we need. In the mainstream dependency-system, to procure what we need we first have to obtain money. This focuses our attention on ways of maximising the quantity of the medium of exchange coming our way, rather than on producing and providing what other members of our community need in order to sustain their lives. There is thus a disjoint between what is provided and what is needed. Advertising fills this gap, persuading us to want what is produced irrespective of whether it is actually needed. The world is groaning under the weight of stuff we don’t need and the consequences of all this junk littering our planet are there for all to see.
The Community Exchange System is a valuable tool for the self-reliance revolution. It enables us to exchange what we have and can provide for what we need. It does this by providing a range of community-controlled tools to facilitate exchange, without having to use the ‘instruments’ of the parasitical class that drain our energies and wealth.
Opting-out of the crumbling money-defined “economy” means finding alternative ways of combining our skills and talents to satisfy our collective needs and wants. We do not need another “economy” that aggregates all our efforts into an entity competing against itself in order to expand the surplus that can be siphoned off by the non-producing classes.
Self-sufficiency means we provide enough for our needs but exchange our surpluses for what we can’t produce. We thus need our neighbours and a means to facilitate this exchange. The Community Exchange System provides that means.