You are here:Home1/Advices2/Self-sufficiency, freedom and future: in which world are we living?3
Self-sufficiency, freedom and future: in which world are we living?
“The supreme fruit of self-sufficiency is freedom” – Epicurus
The topic of economic self-sufficiency has engaged the reflection of illustrious thinkers since ancient times and words are, most of the time, important lessons to keep in mind, to live life with pride and honor. Very important topics running the risk of being treated banally or, in many cases, completely misunderstood. The advent of the industrial era led in fact, initially the Western countries and then the rest of the world, to believe that the interdependence of states with other nations and empires was a reason for authority and wealth. After the Second World War, however, opinions changed. Self-sufficiency begins to be considered the core of national power and security. Then, in the 1980s, this mantra changed again, accentuating the economic benefits of globalization. Since then the economy of each nation has been dependent on the rest of the world.
But as a result of increasingly emphasized inequalities, the 2008 financial collapse, the closure of entire countries to combat the Covid-19 epidemic and the prospect of realities such as China and the United States, which are increasingly acting nationally, the question self-sufficiency could become a central theme in the coming years. A necessity, rather than an option, which however does not consider the growth-based model, typical of industrial capitalism, as harmful to the environment and ecology. A growth that now represents the main driving force behind the production of superfluous goods: ephemeral riches that have led modern man to pursue material rather than spiritual growth, less tied to improvement and realization, from a psychological, professional and human point of view. As life teaches us, running for the pleasure of feeling alive is more important than reaching the goal; but this concept has been abandoned in favor of a more competitive logic linked to possession rather than experience.
In this sense, self-sufficiency becomes an essential condition for a sustainable approach to consumption and to life in general. Sustainability as a condition of fair and shared development, able to meet the needs and aspirations of every human being, today and in the future. This is because, at present, the demand for natural resources has exceeded the supply and a small part of the world population consumes much more than the remaining one and is too fast, without giving nature time to regenerate what has been consumed. A situation that will soon lead to the collapse of the entire system with possible catastrophic consequences from an environmental and social point of view. This is why, one of the few possible solutions is to abandon the production of superfluous goods and the ideology of mass consumerism. If we really want to save the planet, the economic growth model based on industry and globalization is to be considered outdated. Evolution is also this: the unfolding of human beings from lower forms to more perfect forms, without leaving anyone behind.
Each evolutionary path has a different trajectory but a shared ultimate goal: the increase in autonomy and self-sufficiency, the reduction from the forced need that lead each of us to survive rather than to live. And self-sufficiency is a term linked to autarky, too often considered negatively because of those who, in more or less remote times, took advantage of this term for personal purposes, altering its true meaning, coined in ancient Greece as a synonym of self-sufficiency of the sage with respect to external goods; but also a term that refers to independence and depends on sustainability. Matter, the latter, interesting for years and increasingly popular today; to the point of being manipulated by everyone, turning the problem on their side, overturning responsibilities, in order to save their profits, not the planet, in order to perpetuate the model of industrial capitalism based on growth, not ecology. And there is also a term for this: green washing (giving yourself a patina of environmental credibility). On the other hand, how can companies and countries define themselves sustainable when they continue to exchange the same products in large quantities, polluting and exploiting workers’ rights, when instead they could target them for the internal market? Why should we buy Moroccan oranges or Chinese clothes when our country could directly manage their production? Why not insist on an internal production able to satisfy the internal needs, allocating to import only those products that cannot be obtained locally? Why not to think at a functional world, both for human and planet well-being?
So, how should we find our way through this jungle? It is necessary to start a transition towards an economy of evolutionary de-growth and self-sufficiency, where everyone eats and consumes what really needs. Today it is impossible to provide a lifestyle, like the current one in rich countries, to 7 billion inhabitants; and it will be more complicated when we will be 9 and then 10 billion. If humanity were to continue in the current trends of consumption of natural resources and systems, by 2050 we will need the equivalent of 2.9 planets (as from 2012 WWF Living Planet Report). For this reason, as the WWF website cites, the challenge of the new millennium should be “live well within the ecological limits of a single planet”.