A self-reliant nation is built upon a citizenry living in resource-producing and relatively self-reliant communities. Self-reliant, tenable communities are composed of self-reliant households. And relatively self-reliant households are the basic building block of any culture that is viable over the long term without requiring war (stealing of resources) to sustain itself. No democratic civilization can last long if it is built upon a citizenry that consume more than they produce; that’s debt and debt is inherently unsustainable and ultimately undemocratic. If our goal is a peaceful, just society, self-reliance at the home and community levels must be a central focus of our lives.

Ben Falk
The Resilient Farm and Homestead.

9 comments on “Self-Reliance

  1. shoreacres says:

    No disagreement here. That’s one of the values I was raised with. One caveat, of course, is that mutuality and interdependence are necessary adjuncts. Self-reliance too often is understood to imply isolation, and that’s just wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joanna says:

      I’m glad it is not just me that picked up on that point. I get nervous when people talk about self-reliance as it often presupposes that everyone has enough resources, physically and mentally to be self-reliant in isolation to everyone else.

      My other concern is that, although I do see in this context it does talk about self-reliant communities, not all communities have the capacity to be self-reliant either. Take the very resourceful Latvian people, who are often quite capable of growing their food, building basic constructions etc. but due to 50 years of Soviet domination, they often also lack the capacity to run their communities, as they are so used to governments dictating what they do. There is a great need to slowly develop communities to build that self-reliance, to build trust etc. but it does take time and will not be an overnight occurrence. I am sure there are many communities in the US with similar issues of trust and self-esteem where building that capacity will be necessary. Telling them to pull themselves together and get out and work will not help – by the way I’m not saying that anyone has said that, it is just the impression I get from political rhetoric.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Self-reliance is sometimes confused with self-sufficiency. But here the author is referencing specifically households, communities and nations (composed of “resource-producing and relatively self-reliant communities”), not individuals. I don’t understand that to imply isolation, I don’t believe it was his intent and it wasn’t mine.


  2. Jeff says:

    War = stealing of resources? Hmmmmm …. this country has stolen a whole lot of resources then. It continues to do so, with a nearly $1 billion “defense” budget. Debt? Democracy? What democracy? Munch, munch, munch. Burp. What’s on TV, honey? Vote? Nah. I’d rather text or talk on my iPhone. How dare Falk question our constitutional right to consume as much as we can. Capitalism is the greatest economic system ever invented!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bill, Shoreacres does have a point. Self-reliance to the level of isolation is not a good thing but I believe that Falk was talking about self reliant communities and more local living. Industrial America has gone global and I’m not thinking it will ever return to the local level. Even the food has gone global. Seasonal eating is a thing of the past and I doubt if the consumers would want to return to it. Every thing is driven in big business by the consumer. Advertising plays a big part in convincing the consumer that they need some thing to make their life better and happier. I would expect that America is the biggest consumer of …. well …. everything in the world.

    I serious doubt if I will ever totally break away from the grocery store or be able find every thing I consume on a local level but I have certainly cut way back from what I used to consume. My life is a blend of modernization and simplicity. Living in a throw away society can be a very aggravating thing for me. In my humble opinion, manufacturing a product with the intention of never being able to repair it when problems arise is just wrong.

    What’s a last century boy to do? Love life, live simply, and educate others to do the same. Have a great self-reliant day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Glad you recognized that Dave. I’ve read this over and over and I can’t see how it could be understood to be promoting isolation. I suspect if those sentences had been read to a typical person even a generation ago their response would be something like, “Well, of course.” But as dependence and unsustainability become the cultural norm, the notion of self-reliance (without which households, communities and nations must inevitably perish or become beggars, borrowers or thieves) becomes radical.

      If I had written these words I would have extended them to all of humanity and then all of the biosphere. If we consume more than we produce, we are on a path toward dependence, debt, injustice, violence and tyranny. I fully agree with him that a just, peaceful, resilient society depends upon relatively self-reliant households and communities. No civilization can survive in the long-term if its existence depends upon appropriating the resources of others.

      I’ll resist the temptation to launch into a rant. 🙂 I like your advice–love life, live simply, educate others. That’s about all we can do.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. EllaDee says:

    As a society it seems we no longer receive much enouragement to to be self reliant. I remember the days… when I was told to think for-amuse-sort it out-do it myself. If I couldn’t I looked to other people around me to help. Now we don’t know most of the people who influence our lives, nor do many know themselves.


    • Bill says:

      We outsource nearly everything now. As we consume more than we produce, our dependency generates profits for those who can meet our ever-increasing need (usually at the expense of “developing” nations).

      I like this quote from one of Wendell Berry’s early essays: A person dependent on somebody else for everything from potatoes to opinions may declare that he is a free man, and his government may issue a certificate granting him his freedom, but he will not be free. He is that variety of specialist known as a consumer, which means that he is the abject dependent of producers. How can he be free if he can do nothing for himself? What is the First Amendment to him whose mouth is stuck to the tit of the “affluent society?” Men are free precisely to the extent that they are equal to their own needs. The most able are the most free.

      Liked by 2 people

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