there is, as I’ve mentioned before, a very cool web meme regarding simple lifestyles and self-employment. It’s called, variously, minimalism, freedom, etc. Please visit ridculouslyextradinary.com , farbeyondthestars.com or illuminatedmind.net for popular examples. I read these blogs and enjoy the writers’ opinions.
however, the entire notion is premised around 1. laptop computers and/or 2. smartphones. (and obviously, software + the internet.) Additionally, travel is usually popular with these writers, which requires, in most cases, the airline industry. plus, the credit card industry.
none of which developed in a vacuum. and corporations/ industry aren’t the enemy, they’re the enablers of the freedom opportunities.
additionally, most of the writers earn money by writing about freedom + travel through minimalist lifestyles. So it’s a little solipsistic.
I’m interested in the economic sustainability of the proposition, not the environmental sustainability. We don’t have laptop computers outside of a consumer culture. We wouldn’t have the economy to support the development of consumer laptops without people buying tons of stuff all the time. Additionally, apple, microsoft, google usw. are huge corporations. Whether we’re talking computers or search algorithms running on acres of servers, these things didn’t emerge from a culture of minimalism. Companies like these will not and cannot support the development of amazing technology without lots of money flowing in the economy, available to buy technologies. There’s an economic reason that google didn’t emerge from an agrarian economy.
minimalism is an awesome lifestyle choice on an individual level. It truly does make you feel freer. But, if EVERYONE chooses minimalism, we don’t have laptops or the internet anymore, because no one is creating and maintaining the physical infrastructures required for international trade. thus, minimalism is a nice personal project, but not an economically sustainable model, unless you are willing to give up technology. Just read about China in this weekend’s new york times magazine. How do you turn a billion savers and minimalists into consumers? It’s a multi trillion dollar question, I suppose, and a necessary component of continuing to grow your economy out of the agrarian age, if you are China.
Personally, I’m a big fan of minimalism and buying less. I mostly buy food and travel, and I definitely have a fair amount of technology, but don’t buy the latest gadgets. In my family, we avoid gift giving, apart from consumables. A little more minimalism would do a lot for everyone, but it will also probably mean we have fewer and more expensive laptop computers, smartphones, and shipping charges.
I’m in favor of viewing lifestyle philosophies within their economic construct.