The Opening To The Book: Nomadic Roots
Take a journey with me to explore an opening to my book that considers alternative lifestyle that embraces our nomadic past and builds towards a post-scarcity future. I propose a way to recapture our autonomy and agency as individuals, and to vote with our feet more freely. Experience the joy of craftsmanship and re-rooting into like-minded communities.
Explore a New Way of Life with Nomadic Roots in My Science Fiction Story.
By Michael Levin
Tuesday, September 19, 2023
I’m proposing an alternative lifestyle with a science fiction story that starts modestly on today’s tech and builds to a somewhat utopian post-scarcity future.
What I propose here is not for everybody. It opens with the embracing of a nomadic lifestyle reminiscent of our hunter gatherer tribal past, but eliminating the harsh, grisly realities of those times. We are not merely citizens of this particular arbitrary borders or that. Rather, we are citizens of our planet bound together by the gravity well that holds us here, and our mortality that forces us to make the best of it. Hell on Earth or Heaven on Earth? That’s up to us.
Settling, planting roots, having a good foundation… good breeding. These are legacy concepts, promoted by those who managed to control the most valuable at the time resources. Oceanfront property and real estate in general comes to mind, as does tribal governance. It’s the landlords and the lawyers who run today’s show, in tension with each other and handing power back and forth, at the expense of the under-opportune and insufficiently motivated masses.
To fix this, the source of lording over one’s own autonomy and agency as an individual must be taken away, period. Peaceful revolution comes from a gradual shifting of the very rules that underpin the system. The power derived from the ownership and eminent domain over the land you live on must be diminished, along with the lack of choice of which laws of the land apply to you.
The power to vote with your feet must be able to be exercised more readily. To do so must be a joy and not the chore of uprooting and moving. One of the benefits of modern technology should be that of forever better aligning yourself with those you live amongst, and to seek them out and mesh with them in like-minded communities should be a more love-worthy process of re-rooting.
I propose an alliance of twenty-somethings looking to venture out to experience life and retirees looking to downsize and enjoy life. There is an overlap where a luxury recreational vehicle lifestyle could let you take to the road, gathering in pop-up communities around cheap energy resources, with an emphasis on embracing ever-improving, ecologically friendly tech.
The rules of economy and methods of sustaining yourself indeed even what means to be successful, happy or just plain content become open for reinterpretation in ways similar to the transition from nomadic lifestyles to farming to the industrial revolution and information age. I propose a way to recapture command of our own souls and direct our own fates according to our own truer natures.
How often are we born into situations in life where the easy default paths in life are the ones aligned to our natures? How often do we feel that feeling of “rightness” in the paths that fall to us based on the randomness of the situation of our birth? Do you ever feel like you were meant for something more or that something you hunger for is always beyond reach? That is the feeling of misalignment. One of your abilities as a human being is to make decisions to better pursue whatever it is you think is missing in your life.
Harsh realities of prior tribal nomadic lives was not particularly conducive towards chancing one’s dreams such. Someone had to hunt. Someone had to gather. Roles were meted out even more harshly than they are today.
With the advent of farming and agriculture, the basic needs of life were more easily met and the ability to specialize allowed trade, and this allowed individuals to pursue specialization. If you were good at making weapons, this could get you out of the hunt. It was safer and you got the satisfaction of craftsmanship. Watch some videos on flint knapping for a feel of what that early specialization must have felt like. The value of “internal” skills grew right along with the control and “ownership” of land.
This creates something of a perpetual tension, as land ownership must be kept by enforcement, justified by law, and passed down by birthright. This requires the land owners to recruit the aid of those who have craft skills, but who are not land owners themselves. The promise of land can be used to tempt and manipulate and control such skilled workers. And often times it only takes acquiring their “product” in large quantities to equip less skilled and more easily manipulated individuals. In other words, raise an army and equip them with weapons.
Fast-forward to today. It’s basically unchanged. Strong centralized federal government is the ultimate land-owner and enforcer. Individual land ownership is an illusion as failing to pay property taxes will get it taken away. You don’t have mineral rights more than a certain distance under the ground, nor air rights above you. You just pay a lower rate to be a tenant than renters and can play at being a landlord yourself with subtenants. No assets outside your body, nothing material, really “belongs” to you in the sense that it can’t easily be taken away. And mortality itself is going to take it all away one day anyway, shifting the burden of property taxes and such to your descendants. Need I even talk about inflation and inheritance taxes?
To beat the system, you build internal assets that can always convert to whatever is being used as money at whatever exchange rate for those services exist at the time. If you become skilled in the craftsperson sense, you are the money. The value is inside of you and you get the satisfaction of practicing craft. It’s a win-win and nobody can take it away from you.
These societal and economic concepts are practiced every year at Burning Man. A pop-up community of cultural experimentalists who come to Burning Man equipped with whatever they want to trade to get along for the nine days leading up to Labor Day in the Nevada desert. This is not socialism. This is not capitalism. It’s something more fundamental and primitive, tied to who we are as a species. The “animal” that became human beings got along, eking out an existence as we transitioned from nomadic tribes to settled farming to the industrial age. We’ve “worn” these different states of being like clothing, and they have not always been comfortable. None of them to everyone.