Last week’s post inspired more comments than usual, both here and on facebook. Since my audience gave me so much to think about, I thought I might double-dip on the subject of the mythology of the “back to the landers” I realize that my perspective seems blasphemous, and many of you have never heard such heresy before. No surprise there.
Boomers, no matter what they do, have always been infatuated with themselves, The local merchants, who overcharge them for everything, just tell them what they want to hear. The non-profits around here are loath to criticize them, dependent as they are on dope yuppies’ donations, likewise with the sharecroppers, trimmers, and working stiffs. These people are so polite that they won’t even ask anyone around here what they do for a living.
Even the homeless people around here kiss dope yuppie ass. I can’t believe how many homeless or marginally housed people volunteer lots of hours and devote a tremendous amount of energy to help local organizations that mostly serve dope yuppies. That just seems ass backwards to me. Call me old-fashioned, but I think that the well-to-do should volunteer to help the less fortunate, rather than vice versa.
So, we’ve got dope yuppies, who celebrate themselves shamelessly and relentlessly. Around them, a small army of sycophantic merchants, politicians, administrators, working people and hangers-on compete with each other for the crumbs that fall from the dope yuppies’ table.
Which leaves, basically, me, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about the so-called “back to the landers”
One reader of last week’s post lamented that I hadn’t actually met any “real” back to the landers. I’ve discovered that every dope yuppie in SoHum believes themselves to be a “real” back to the lander, and that they all think of their neighbors as greed-heads, fucked-up drug addicts or both.
Even the best of the back to the landers I know, the ones without the crazy collections of vehicles decaying in the yard, and piles of ridiculous useless stuff everywhere. The ones who have a little bit of imagination, build their own home, and do the whole harmonious, permaculture, native plant landscaping, composting toilet, solar electric, blah blah blah, even those people, don’t know when to stop.
As they get better at carpentry, their funky little cabins become elegant chalets, surrounded by effusive gardens. Peacocks roam the grounds, …along with servants. Sure, it’s lovely, but the scale is all wrong. Boomers do everything, too big.
They grew up driving big-block V8 muscle cars. They gave us gigantic concerts, like Woodstock and Altamont, where the musicians look like ants, and sound like shit, and the audience amuse themselves with nudity and drug abuse. They couldn’t just drink a “cup ‘o Joe” like their parents, they have to have a double-shot, decaf, low-fat, triple-foam machiato with squirt of hazelnut syrup, and, of course, they don’t make that themselves. Hell no! It’s enough trouble just to order it. They expect us to make it for them, so they can consume our lives, as well as our future. Even cheap Mexican marijuana wasn’t good enough for them. They had to turn it into an expensive luxury product, so that poor kids would turn to cocaine and meth for a high they could afford.
A reader suggested that the reason Boomers are so materialistic is that they were raised by depression-era parents, who never let them throw anything away. To make up for it, they gave us a world where everything is disposable, eating utensils, pens, lighters, flashlights, clothes, cameras, phones, furniture, stereos, TVs, computers. Nothing lasts, and nobody knows how to fix anything anymore. Kids today all know that the latest gadget won’t last half as long as a can of Spam, and that nothing in this world matters, except money. That’s the lesson the Boomers teach. It shouldn’t surprise them if the younger generation takes that lesson to heart.
One reader commented, “I don’t recall taking a vow of poverty”. Far from it! Boomers spend like there’s no tomorrow, and thanks to them, there isn’t. Now nobody has to take a vow of poverty. We have poverty thrust upon us. The oceans have been fished-out and thoroughly polluted. The oil’s gone. There’s still plenty of natural gas, but they’re fracking the fuck out of our freshwater aquifers to get it. The only resource left to exploit is the lives of the descendants of the Baby Boomers, and the suck is on!
We look forward to lives of wage slavery lived for the benefit of bloodsucking landlords, and anyone who refuses to to participate in their own oppression can expect to be punished. They can expect to be kicked in the ribs by cops whenever they try to get some sleep, moved along by merchants whenever they sit down, denied access to bathrooms, water, food or shelter, and then made into scapegoats to be reviled and punished further for their poverty, punished until they die in the streets. I hear entirely too many dope yuppies and their suck-ups complaining about “the transient problem”. I see it differently. I think we have a “greedy boomer” problem.
Another reader told of some back to the landers who were so poor that they could only afford the cheapest piece of land, but they managed to make it work for decades while keeping their “ethics intact”. Sure, …but they didn’t mind breaking a silly little law. They didn’t mind profiting from a really ugly policy. They didn’t mind converting forest to farmland. They didn’t mind moving on to land stolen through violence and genocide, and paying off the violent thugs who run this whole “private property” racket, namely, the county government. In the same sense, I could say that I survived the economic downturn with my investment portfolio “intact”.
I’m not saying that the back to the landers are bad people. People do the best that they can for themselves. I’m saying that poor people don’t have the option of buying any land any more.
Things are not the same.
When you leave the world, worse off than you found it, you can’t call yourself a “success”. Yes, things were already going downhill when the Boomers took over, but they didn’t have to press the accelerator so hard, and now that they’ve wrecked the car, no one wants to hear about how well they think they handled that next-to-last turn.
We all inherited a diabolical economic system, a looming environmental crisis, and a culture in collapse. The Baby Boomers were the first generation to realize that, and to know that it was true. They knew the truth about Viet Nam. They read Silent Spring. They saw the Earth from space. They knew. …and collectively, they said, “Let’s do it up!”