With the end of the world right around the corner (again), I’ve been experiencing a confluence of ideas. Witnessing a cultural paradigm shift. Watching a new consciousness unfold. And I attribute it mostly to the popularity of zombie culture.
Seriously, though: this stream of thought stemmed from reading a new book called “Makers: The New Industrial Revolution” by Wired‘s departing editor-in-chief Chris Anderson. I’m only halfway through, but already I’ve been inspired by the concepts therein. He suggests that manufacturing will go local. That is, with the advent of the DIY “maker” revolution and the growing accessibility of 3D printers, people will begin to modify, customize and essentially manufacture what they need instead of relying on imported or mass-market goods.
At risk of being completely sexist, this idea is like homesteading for men. And I mean this in a complimentary way: where homesteading culture promotes the independent production on a domestic side — things like food and shelter — the maker culture promotes off-grid manufacturing of useful things.
Not a decade ago, if something broke, it could easily be fixed. Shoes could be taken to a cobbler. A vacuum cleaner or blender could be repaired. These days we are so reliant on cheaply made things that when something breaks, we’re conditioned to throw it away and drive to the Wal-Mart to buy a new one. It’s simply a better value than having it repaired (let alone finding a skilled repair person… who has time?).
And how does this relate to zombie culture? Two words: Apocalypse Preparedness. It’s on the minds of the citizens of the Western World and is stimulating this Leftist-Libertarianism. Simply put, when the world goes to shit and it’s every person for themselves, those with a cold-storage full of preserves and an equipped workshop that can repair radios and shotguns will be more likely to survive. Just watch a couple episodes of The Walking Dead. You’ll see what I mean.
As a Canadian, it’s tricky talking about Libertarianism because it’s not really a thing here. I’m still not entirely sure what it is, and wonder why, as a movement in the USA, it needs to be so politicized. It’s generally associated with the Right due to its leanings towards small government. But at its core Libertarianism needs community (and dare I say, Communism?) which results in the feeling you get when you try and force two identical poles of a magnet together. A positive will always repel another positive. Like this.
Upon further reflection I am totally optimistic: I hope the Maker movement continues to gain momentum. It popularizes a very creative way of life, one that is productive and satisfying. It can make the everyman proud of something, however small the contribution or creation.
Hopefully then people will be less inclined to start unnecessary and crappy indie rock bands as a means of attaining that sense of fulfillment. Instead of starting a Bandcamp, create a Arduino mod so you can control the toaster with your iPhone. Then we’ll have something to talk about.
The post also appeared on the Huffington Post