If you’ve been following right-wing trends, you know, that there is a sector, or a niche on the right-wing, that advocates for different styles of asceticism, simple life or even, in some extreme cases for civilizational downgrading, downshifting.
These are not new ideas, as they have been around for quite some time, and it is more about their different popularity in different times. In times of more or less urbanized, complex civilization , they appear to be more frequent, they appear to be more clearly expressed.
And it is rather difficult to define these ideas on political compass. As during different times, they appeared among ppl with different political affiliations.
There were Christians, there were ancient philosophers, there were romans, there were socialists, and now there are some right-wing personalities or even movements advocating for simple life or even for downshifting.
So, it is impossible to dismiss this ideas as a let say just a hippy nonsense or something like that, it is more complex, it has roots in human psychology, it is a reappearing phenomena.
As this channel is dedicated to right-wing sphere, right-wing lifestyle and choices, I will limit this analyses to just right-wing part of this phenomena.
I am not going to name personalities or actual organizations or authors, because I want to keep it independent from discussion on particular people, and make it more theoretical. So, that it deals with phenomena itself, which might be expressed in different ways, or with different degrees of radicalism.
First of all, what we have now.
let us list a couple of existing approaches or the main styles of the idea of simplistic life.
1) the first one is anti-consumerism, caused by the most glaring problems we have with modern society. So, it is more like reaction, expressing resentment. This is not necessarily connected with desire to downshift, because excessive consumerism is frowned upon even by some pro-capitalist thinkers, who believed, that it is caused by and causes further infantilization of the population. Because it signals high-time preference, so basically, the desire to spend everything now, instead of saving for the future gains.
2) then there is a traditional type of simple life, which is pushing for some sort of asceticism, growing your own food, manufacturing your own furniture, unplugging from social networks, living in rural area etc.
This is some mild form of downshifting, as usually it is not as extreme, but it has those clearly expressed downshifting undertones.
3) And then there is actual downshifting, rejecting technology and civilization. Advocating for a life in a huts, forests, caves, or whatever is considered a proper way by some particular person.
Now, this being established, let us move to the actual phenomena.
In right-wing sphere, it usually consists of four parts.
1) The first one is the actual stress or resentment of the civilizational advancement. And, by this I don`t mean that it is good or bad. Advancement may lead to greater level of civilization, or to demise of this civilization. But there is certainly that specific resentment of the change, of something unfamiliar.
2) The second one, neighboring the first one, is a fear, or even panic over modern problems. So, not only things do change – they actually present real danger. And yesterday`s peaceful city, may turn into gang controlled hellhole. And this type of new problems, cause panic reaction, which sometimes leads to choosing to advocate for idealistic times, when some modern problems were not present.
3) and the third one, is the peculiar one. It is some sort of perpetual pursuit of youth. Those times, when you had long life before you, when you had so much time left.
Memories of times, when you felt good, of times, when you knew how to behave, what to do, whom to befriend.
Ever met some of those elderly ppl, who dress and behave like eternal students? Who seem to prefer to stick to this specific age? Sometimes it looks really weird, .. it is like they failed to figure out what to do with their lives in this new environment, how to age gracefully, how to embrace their new age, and changes associated with it.
Our civilization seems to be a victim of this syndrome. But it expresses itself differently.
Therefore, when a man has a political ideas, especially those on a right-wing, he pretty much chooses to behave like this type of ppl.
So, instead of working with what he has now, instead of shaping modernity, he just adopts the youth of civilization as a role model. Because he feels safe then, he feels like he knows what to do with those horse carts, fishing, hunting, crafting , he knows how to deal with problems associated with this lifestyle – and he is afraid of the fact, that he does not understand, what to do with modern trends, with modern problems.
When coupled with panic reaction and stress because of overall change, it is easy to see, why a man might decide to cling to those ideas of downshifting.
4) And the last one, is probably one of the strangest things, that might happen to developed civilization.
It is reverse cargo cult.
So, if the original cargo cult was a case, when aborigines living on some pacific ocean islands, saw those grand vessels or aircraft bringing some goodies to white people, and then, while not being able to understand technology they saw, or to grasp the whole chain of logistics involved, they just started to simulate what they saw, and they simulated just the shape, the form of white ppl activities. Imitating what white soldiers did, in hopes of gaining wealth and goods.
Now, today we have reverse cargo cult. So, ppl see the crisis of western civilization, and they see those qualities of the more primitive ppl, and they realize, that they lack something.
Like, for example, they might think, they lack resolution, or toughness, or strength, or honor culture. And when coupled with seemingly impotent America`s or European countries immigration policy , when coupled with aggressiveness of immigrants, aggressiveness that does not receive adequate response from civilization – so when you take all of this into consideration, you might understand why some people started to advocate for “old good times when they hunted in forests” and when they fought against all the other tribes.
This is cargo cult.
This is the assumption, that somehow, you can get qualities you need, by simulating lifestyle of the more primitive cultures.
So, this causes those hopes, that if we go back to caves, then suddenly we can get strength and willpower to deal with some dire problems we are facing.
Now, to evaluate these ideas, we have to make a clear distinction between two ways or two approaches.
You might have some sort of personal psychological therapy , and if it helps you personally – you may call it successful .
Or you might present your ideas as a way to fix a social problem, or as a sustainable lifestyle for many people. But then you have to prove it on a lot more serious level. Coz there is a big difference, between role-playing as a traditional farmer or hunter during your vacation, and actually presenting something viable, long-lasting and enduring for masses of people.
And then you have to go deeper, you have to explain how the society will work, how the safety and country defence will be kept at adequate level, how the economy will react to your proposed withdrawal to forests.
because it is very easy to role-play when everyone else is doing his job – providing you with back-up plan, or securing borders, or producing some spare parts for your tractor or whatever.
But obviously, if everyone gonna downshift – we will face unprecedented consequences and challenges that you never thought of.
Which will bring such a troubles, that the very idea of downshifting for the sake of reacquiring something, will be pointless.
While you`ll be hunting with your bows, and living just like some abstract ancestors, some neighbors gonna come and take your land away from you. Or just put you in reservation. I mean, even a drug cartel or an organized gang will suddenly become a huge threat, if they don`t follow your example, and instead take advantage of your retreat and downshifting.
So, mass downshifting is not a solution. Anyone unironically advocating for it is delusional or lost common sense while role-playing fro too long.
On the other hand , anti-consumerism, or sort of semi-traditional lifestyle, that includes some asceticism, or limiting usage of modernday time-killers – now this is far more realistic, and it is easier to predict effects of these choices, and they are also more sustainable.
But the thing we have to keep in mind here, is that consumerism is a sign of cultural vacuum. It is not like a new computer itself, or new shoes, suddenly turn you into nihilist or degenerate.
It is more like, when you are already close to the nihilism, degeneracy, moral relativism – then you start to fill your life with products and entertainment at the increasing rate, because otherwise your life feels empty.
It is worth mentioning here, that USSR also had that crazy materialistic thirst.
This is why post-soviet Russia in nineties , which were obviously filled only with ppl raised by USSR standards – it went crazy on consumerism after USSR collapse. Sometimes, post-soviet people, indulged in such consumerism, and strived for such luxury, that were never seen by western people.
Because essentially, USSR already had just suppressed and sort of distorted consumerism. But instead of marketing and advertising, it had shortages and typical low quality, which essentially acted as a motivation to stand in those long lines, motivation to bribe, to butter up someone, so he can sell you something extra.
Did you know, that some of the most important positions in USSR social life, were those, connected to warehouses, redistribution bases, shops and ofc positions which gave access to shops dedicated to the the so called party nomenklatura (since they had special line of higher quality supplies)
So, if you were just an talented engineer – you were nothing.
If you were director of the warehouse – you were the most envied, respected and loved person in the city.
Because everything was about material stuff. Starting from meat and vegetables and ending with shoes and spare parts.
Now, what I wanted to tell with this example – that just not having something, does not turn people into highly spiritual, culturally rich and enlightened society.
Shortages in an environment of cultural vacuum will create more envy and anger, nothing else.
This, in my opinion, is what sometimes slips away from people discussing consumerism.
Because they put the cart before the horse figuratively speaking, and they are starting to curse their ability to choose between different brands or manufacturers, or they start to hate the very desire to make money, which brings them to non-realistic and unsustainable ideas.
Then they start to push for ways to limit their or public access to modern goods or technology, like if everything they lost is somehow going to return, just because they don`t have choice on what to wear or what to use.
Now, I can`t imagine in what world, a man gets his faith back, just because he started to wear home made clothes.
I personally have been through different situations, some very close to literal hunger, being nearly homeless, and just using help of friends, to get a corner. And I see nothing extra spiritual coming from the lack of proper clothes, technology or food.
Asceticism may only then bring you closer to fuller life, in terms of spirituality and cultural level, when it is very conscious decision, that just reestablishes new set of priorities. New ranking of activities, basically.
In order for this new set of priorities, to be applicable for the society as a whole, and to bring something constructive, not just that mentioned soviet era anger and envy, you should start from reinforcing a culture , reinforcing the alternatives to consumerism.
Because you see, trying to rip someone out of the consumerism, and then leaving him without other things to do, is not going to help.
It just like with video games – I know so many ppl who were seemingly addicted, and then suddenly they just stopped to play, or just switched to minimum gaming time , just because some strong stimulus has appeared in their lives , just because they suddenly got gratification from some real-life activities, got the prestige or self-fulfillment outside of their favorite multiplayer rpg game.
So, what was the idea behind all of this – is to point out that in most cases where topics like traditional lifestyle, downshifting, asceticism, anti-consumerism are touched, it is very important to prioritize things correctly.
blindly imitating something will not help you to construct something longlasting and attractive.
Just because ppl were tougher in the same period of time, when they had less choices in their clothing brands, does not mean, that you should start from attacking the very idea of mass producing clothes.
Now it may seem like I am exaggerating, but if you were somewhere around some traditionalist circles, then you know how far some ppl can take it, and then they usually speak about it with a confidence of prophets. The only problem is, that it is unsustainable. Even if you like it, even you can manage to gather some traditionalist community – it is just a project, it is unnatural in the ways it develops today, and it won`t be suitable for masses.
Trying to defeat excessive attraction to materialistic stuff, should start from creating or rather recreating environment, to which ppl would retreat then, abandoning unhealthy consumerism.
But attacking something without providing alternative – is bound to fail. It will remain at role-play level at best.
This is why I highly value and appreciate activity of those ppl, working with youth, and actually showing them, that there is whole bunch of fun and worthy activities, that there are ways of self-fulfillment, ways of establishing yourself among your real-life community.
Ppl like these are doing the most important job – they are creating a value in real-life, and then they are attracting ppl to this value.
If they then decide to lash out against consumerism, they will be doing it in an already created environment. So, let say, laughing at iphone hysteria becomes more meaningful, because there is already that set of proper priorities.
So it is not like some strange guy on the internet calling for you to live in a cave, instead of enjoying fruits of civilization, but it rather your informal community leader offering you to get a value from real life, in the way of cooperating, learning something, protecting each other, caring for each other , becoming a force to reckon with etc.
And speaking about force, or strength – producing this strength in real life – Is what creates a set of proper priorities for the people involved.
At first You create strength, and then a man can decide what to do with it, and where to take it. Whether he wants to be strong in a city, or he wants to retreat closer to the nature. Whatever/
But the most important thing, is that he already has that strength.
This is the only realistic way at the moment to promote strength or toughness.
Because if you bind it to ability of a men to live in forests like some sort of ancient hunter – then you are choosing the least effective way to promote strength ever.
I am personally a huge fan of hardening through martial arts, but there are number of other ways, which we might discuss in a separate video.
Oh, and Another massive way to improve overall health of society, would be abolishing majority of the welfare schemes, but this is quite unlikely without massive crisis and sort or reset of the system.
So, the main idea – set your priorities right, through the creation of real-life values, that are alternative to mindless consumerism.
Excessive consumerism is a sign of cultural vacuum, and it will appear in different societies, in different forms. Fighting against consumerism should not be turned into fighting against actual ability to afford something or to provide something. It is a fight against twisted priorities, created when a man starts to fill his empty life only with material stuff.
Give a person ability to fulfill himself in a different way, and he will naturally start to drift away from mindless consumption.
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