Occupy Wall Street. The Tea Party. Both groups formed in opposition to the severe discrepancies seen in this nation (and around the world) in the months and years following the 2008 Economic Collapse. They only thing that separates these two groups is partisan rhetoric. When it comes down to it, they both started scrapping the surface on something much larger than any of us could have expected. Capitalism is flawed. Only when we scrap partisan politics do we realize how unified we are behind this drastic need for change.
What Occupy and the Tea Party taught us is simple: rhetoric is irrelevant if you do not back it up with action. The Tea Party organized and threw people into office. Occupy dug in for the long haul and is still camped out and distributing literature months later. This is what we must learn. We must change ourselves before we change the world. What is missing in Occupy is a push to show how the individual can affect change. What is missing from the Tea Party is teaching the individual how to affect change before they run for office.
We know how we want to affect the world. We must ask the all-important question: What can I do as an individual? We must first step back and accept that we are partially to blame for the world that we live in. Look around you. How much do you own? How much of that could you get rid of and still be fine?
It’s confusing, isn’t it? It’s difficult to think back to what made us think that it was alright to buy, buy, buy. By the time you even thought to ask the right questions, you are buried in stuff. You must teach yourself to break all emotional connections with things. Once you accomplish that, you must teach yourself to buy only when necessary. Once you master that, slowly rid yourself of your possessions. You need not get rid of everything. You may not even need to get rid of much.
What you must do is simple: rid yourself of the cycle of buying that the corporate world has taught us. Many people today fear the 40/40 trap—that is working 40 hours a week for 40 years (or more) and then retiring. It can be a soul-crushing experience as much as it can be a learning experience. In the end, however, it’s difficult to justify wasting your life away for someone else’s goal. Minimalism holds the secret to this trap. You need to throw yourself in this deep, dark hole. If you want less, you will need less. If you need less, 40 hours a week will be excessive.
Why is this the best tool for revolution? There are two reasons. First, if we can change culture and want less, corporate power will dissipate. It is an important factor, but not the most important factor. The importance of minimalism is in the freedom that it provides. The less you want, the more you will find yourself with free money and free time.
Revolution is difficult to pull off. Even with a culture of changing ideals and a plan in place, it can easily fall by the wayside. Trapping people in an endless cycle of work to make ends meet is how Capitalism squashes rebellion. Many ideas have tried to topple Capitalism, but none have stuck. Why? Look at the people who live within Capitalism. They are too busy working so they can buy the new smartphone, tablet, car, house, camera, clothes, furniture, hot tub, vacation home…When do they have time to analyze the world…much less change it?
Look back on your life. Has your thirst for more things ever been quenched? When you got the camera, did you still thirst for the laptop? When you got the house, did you still thirst for a hot tub? Economists in a Capitalist society expect this. Few people will not expand their purchases to keep up with how much they are making. That’s how it works. You are not working more because your expenses are higher. You are buying more. That is why you are working more.
The thirst for material goods in a Capitalist society will never die. When you teach yourself that this thirst is an addiction, you will begin to break the bonds that hold you captive. Remember: “The more you own, the more it owns you.” Start right now. Take a thing you know you have an emotional connection to. Break it. Burn it. Throw it against a brick wall. That is your first step towards a minimalist lifestyle. Your minimalist lifestyle is the first step towards revolution.
20 January 2012