Localism: the Old World Order
I spend every day wishing for the Old World Order (c. 1200s A.D.). Something (secular) I recently read used the phrase “technocratic hellscape” to refer to our current economy in the United States. How accurately put: our intertwined economic and social systems, destroying minds, hearts and souls as well as creation’s ecosystems and men’s nations, when examined, prove to be an inverted twisting of God’s design. So lots of wishing every day – but, since I have read up on Distributism and Permaculture in the last few years, I do spend every day working towards the Old World Order, too. There are ways out of the twisted systems for each of us. Of course, I know that we are above all in a spiritual war and prayer, fasting, and sacrificially living out our vocations are the most important things we each should focus on.
But when the time comes to work, there is important work to do.
The Old World Order was really the Old Local Order—there was nothing world-comprehensive about it. Different towns and regions provided for themselves everywhere, not being at all centrally planned and controlled. Today’s growing convents and monasteries—like the religious houses in the Age of Faith, of course – are great examples of what all our households should be aiming for, as best we can, in our own ways.
In addition to their primary work of prayer, religious also do physical work to provide for themselves every possible necessity that they can, on-site. This allows them to be independent of outside systems, free to live their own charisms. It’s not just for religious communities and vanished peasant cultures, though: local areas can still provide for residents’ needs—we’re just not used to such a way of life anymore.
Trying to approach this localized, traditional mode of living in our era will require rethinking and refocusing on our day-to-day affairs with these two terms: Producing and Sourcing. Depending on how much you already think like this, these two watch-words will likely make the biggest difference in your thinking and your choices as you thoroughly incorporate them into all your plans.
First of all, producing. Like the monasteries do, look to yourself and your household and family members as producers of goods, services, and ideas, rather than merely as consumers. Learn to make or grow what you use in your home life as much as possible. Above all, begin to produce your own food: have a garden, get hens if you can, etc. My urban food garden is exclusively in containers, because I have horrendous soil and almost no sunshine anywhere on my tiny lot, but we grow all our own lettuce in the cool seasons, some berries and herbs, and even have potted fruit trees as well. Everyone can grow something! Also, produce your own meals (by cooking at home). Produce your own entertainment, by playing games and reading poems aloud and singing together at the piano. The list of things to try to do from home is endless, and as you think about each family member as a “producer” you will get more insights into contributions each person can make to family life.
When something can’t be produced at home, we must plan ways of sourcing that something. Using the term “sourcing” will encourage you to break free of the “buy it” mentality in which most of us have been trained. Things can be borrowed, bartered for, traded (and just plain done without, of course!), besides being bought. Asking yourself how you can source something will open up your thinking to possibilities outside the mindless economic reaction we’ve been conditioned for, swiping plastic for all our needs and wants.
Here is a “Sourcing Decision Tree” that you can run each of your potential purchases through. Before you buy anything in future, run each prospective purchase through this to help make the wisest, best decision. Let’s call any proposed purchase “Y.”
1A) Can you reasonably do without Y? (Think of all kinds of good reasons for a few minutes why you really could.) If no, go to 1B.
1B) Do you already have Y somewhere? (It may be buried deep, but it’s worth hunting for.) If no, go to 2.
2) You will try and see if you can produce Y. So:
2A) Can you make it with something(s) you already have? If no, go to 2B for ideas to source it.
2B) Can you borrow it? (Think of family, friends, relatives, neighbors, libraries, etc.) (Sourcing) If no, go to 2C.
2C) Can you barter or trade for it? Whom can you swap an object, chore assistance, etc. with to obtain what you want? If there are absolutely no leads to anyone, go to 3.
3) You will try and source Y by purchasing it.
3A) Can you find it used? (Classifieds, internet, thrift store, networks you are in, etc.) If no, go to 3B.
3B) Can you find it new but at a marked-down price at a discount or outlet store? If no, go to 3C.
3C) Can you find it new, full-price at a locally-owned family business? If no, go to 3D
3D) Can you find it new, full-price, yet American-made? If no, go to UGH.
UGH. The last option, which you should avoid at all possible costs, is buying something made in a Communist country, new, from a big box store or mega internet retailer…
One final word about purchases: when buying, always use cash (a check, when cash is impossible). Cash transactions cannot be tracked, merchants don’t have to lose part of the transaction money to pay credit card companies fees, and therefore the fees don’t further enrich the usurious credit card entities. This is particularly important when making purchases with locally-owned businesses, of course!
Obviously there’s much more to say about all of this, as any discussion of daily life and economics branches out into everything and everyone, but just keep in mind that each one of us can do more to restore the old ways, the better ways, the truly ordered ways in our personal affairs and home lives. The principles and to-do’s are there, we just need to get ourselves in gear and do them. It’s exhilarating to get going, though—join me!
Rachel Rolland is a housewife and homeschooling mother happily living in a small Southern town in the eastern U.S.A., trying to bring the good old ideas out of the books and into daily life. She has got a tiny, cheerful garden going on her urban lot, teaches Latin, and thinks that folk music and sacred music can help save civilization.