In our second book, Choosing Off the Grid, we spent a bit of time on ethical dissent. Ethical dissent is, essentially, choosing to opt out of things that the ‘opter’ sees as bad. It’s a form of personal moral imperative but definitely at the petty, personal, passive and subtle level. And usually cheaper so as to enjoy some additional incentive. But NOT a big deal.
For instance: one might choose to use cash instead of credit cards because the card system has usurious interest rates, burdens the seller and the buyer with a ‘convenience’ charge and constantly feeds data to the scurrilous banks and parasites (governments, marketers, etc.) of the financial world. Cash is cleaner, simpler and doesn’t tattle on your whereabouts. Thus the ‘opter’ deems using cash as better than plastic and a mild form of ethical dissent. We pay cash most of the time. (But Sal and I both still have Visa cards – just in case.)
Recycling is also ethical dissent. Buying second hand is, too. Salvaging. Composting. Sharing. Lending. Giving. All these somewhat less-engaged-in-the-money-based-system activities represent a quiet, gentle resistance to the materialistic, unconscious, polluting and corrupt ‘CONSUMER’ world while, of course, still being part of it.
I mean: consumerism is not bad. OVER consuming might be, tho, if only because of the garbage that generates.
My 2004 Pathfinder is a small example. It is definitely a consumer item. And it does the job. I am happy with it. But it has been around more than just the block. No payments are being made. No interest is being paid. I fix what breaks when I can. It is serving it’s third owner rather well I think. And it is NOT adding to the landfill. Of course, this is NOT pure dissent – closer to pure cheapness – but it is maximizing it’s utility. I am not, in the least, fashionable. I do not play in 0% financing games. That has to be good.
To be pure, I would have to eschew boats, cars and gasoline and only walk or swim. To be pure would be difficult and inconvenient. I’d have to be a martyr. So, ethical dissent is hardly all that noble, rebellious or world-changing. Instead it is just a salve, a compromise, a harm reduction technique. It becomes a bit of a lifestyle, tho. But no halo is ever earned from this level of resistance.
Still, I look for new ways all the time. We unpackage all goods from our Costco/Home Depot, etc. purchases. Hand the plastic-wrap back. Don’t eat processed food. Donate directly to a cause or individual, ignore massive appeals. Write letters to the editor and government and politicians. Silly, token gestures like that. It’s not so much a goody-two-shoes kind of thing as it is simply a ‘bit better’ way of doing. We think. And, it sometimes vents my spleen.
But on a much bigger scale, nations and some investment firms/banks are beginning to grapple with the concept as well. There are plenty of examples of ethical dissent (or ethical investment funds) at the national level but the clearest and latest example might be regarding the proposed 5G network…..maybe…..
Five and (eventually) 6G technology is the foundation for the ‘internet of things’ and likely the precursor for autonomous robots, artificial intelligence and such things as self driving cars and (as I just recently read) smart rectal thermometers (RT) used to send health care information to non-attending professionals (gotta get me a bunch of those for presents).
And some countries are saying no.
Actually, they are not saying no to employing all that ‘BIG BROTHER’ technology at all – they are just saying NO to employing China’s systems (Huawei). Why? Because they do not trust China to not exploit the technology for more than just sales profits. They KNOW what Big Brother tech can do and they want that power for themselves but they don’t want to accidentally give that same power to a foreign government. National ethical dissent? Maybe not so much. Fearful, suspicious dissent, perhaps. Still, it’s dissent.
Note: They KNOW it’s going to be used for bad purposes. They are just looking for a way to do it themselves and in a way that is ‘not as bad’.
It’s the basic dilemma we all share….I know that carbon is bad for the planet but I still make carbon footprints. I try to make my footprints smaller but I still make ’em. I know that urban living is dehumanizing and so I live OTG…but I still use the city quite a lot..and so it goes.
No question – there is such a thing as ethical dissent. But is there a point to it? Is 5G and 6G BIG BRO technology inevitable? Will artificial intelligence eventually take over? Will we kill off every conceivable non-human life form (including insects) and fill the oceans with plastic? Or will we – at some point – kick up our ethical dissent levels into full blown revolution and put an end to the general madness?
Revolution in my lifetime? NO! Not going to happen. Revolution will not happen in the next ten or so years, anyway. But still I protest a bit here and there. My son already protests a bit more than I do (at the not-too-inconvenient-for-him level) but he is definitely resisting more and more in his own way. My grandson? He’ll resist even more, I hope.
Is there time? I don’t know…but why not join us….?