Self-Sufficiency Undermines the Division of Labor?Tuesday, August 30, 2011
As many folks may know, I am a big advocate of self-sufficiency and resourcefulness (jack-of-all-trades). As a response to this post on frugality and self-sufficiency, someone writes me and makes the statement: “Self-sufficiency undermines the division of labor … and it drags us back to the stone age.” The libertarianoid sentiment that we should all be division-of-labor drones in every single thing we do is deranged. The division of labor as it relates to the specialization of complex industrial processes is not necessarily applicable to growing a home garden, painting your own furniture, and homeschooling, etc. There is much utility to be gained from the power of independence and the many marketable and unique skills we can each develop.
Also, countless acts of self-sufficiency on the part of many folks is actually a hobby, or leisure. Mises and Rothbard criticized Romanticism and Primitivism because the tribalists denounced specialization and the division of labor. Jose Ortega y Gasset termed these primitives, “those who have remained in the motionless, frozen twilight, which never progresses towards midday.” Modern, self-sufficient folks who value life skills and independence from the potential fallout of politically controlled systems are not primitives who endorse the prowess of caste and status. A person possessing the spirit of independence in terms of the tasks and lifestyle that he enjoys is not living the life of the noble savage, nor is he living a life that is nasty, brutish, and short. In fact, he is living the life of luxury because his chosen skills are a crucial part of his wealth and spiritual well-being.