(C) Copyright 2022 The Free Range Network; released under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license (Version 4 International).
Created: Friday 21st January 2022;
Updated: Tuesday 25th January 2022.
Length: ~1,300 words.
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For the last few years the Free Range Network has been rather 'quiet', for a whole number of reasons: From our own need for a break; to watching the rise (and fall?) of Extinction Rebellion; to the machinations of lockdowns – we've been thinking about 'change', and working to develop new resources as a number of different strands in our work have flexed to take-in these changing circumstances.
From the 'security theatre' of The War Against Terror1, for the last two years the world has been subjected to 'hygiene theatre' of the pandemic.
The details don't matter. The result, intended or not, is the same: Fear and insecurity. In that oft-repeated climate of insecurity, media distraction, and the resulting unaccountability of the political lobbies driving these events, states around the world have been eroding people's rights in ways that are in many cases unrelated to battling the pandemic.
With the world finally grinding back into motion following the populist pandemical paranoia, that period is now coming to an end. It's time to 'reboot' – time to try a new approach:
The purpose of this is to do... 'nothing'.
No, seriously!: Not protesting; not petitioning; in fact, we do none of the officially acceptable methods of 'democratic protest' – assuming there are any left after the government's current legal crack-down on dissent.
What we're advocating is that we stop acting-out reactionary measures in response to the state's malfeasance, and start building our own independent infrastructure to survive the imminent collapse of 'economic normality'. For years, with verifiable evidence from research and Parliamentary inquiries, the government has failed to meet its own targets to 'save the planet', let alone those dictated by the science – so why try and play their game according to their rules?
That process has to begin by working together, sharing and giving away the practical skills to those who want to join in, and where necessary resisting the push-back from above when this process conflicts with the dictats of this failing state.
We have to use our natural reasoning faculties to come up with something 'cleverer' than that tired old model for 'democratic action'; which itself is designed to be ineffective, based within the middle class compromise of those innately tied to this failing system.
Stop asking for more of the same, and instead demand change!
We have to push back with methods which work beyond the experience of the repressive UK state. The only way to do that in a truly challenging way is to operate outside its expectations, to as far as possible buffer ourselves from the imminent chaos of ecological collapse – a process which begins when we try and move the essential needs of our lifestyle outside of that failing system.
Rather than do what is expected, we must instead do what is unexpected: We each try our best to secede from their economic machine the best we can, through non-co-operation; by trying to drastically reduce our consumption in order to learn a new, more practical way of living to tackle the coming crisis – which everyone will have to do anyway in a decade or so; and through all of that, we push our lives in the direction of the way we need to live, to give them a purpose and meaning outside the suicidal culture of the present-day.
How best to start doing that? Well, that's what we're working on, but our immediate answer would be: Go free camping!
We're looking for people who want to learn the skills of low impact living, using camping outdoors as a means to learn these basic skills; except this time we're being far more 'political' about it. It's not just about 'how' camping outdoors allows you to live a simpler and lower-impact existence – as in the project we ran fifteen years ago. Now we must focus on 'why' this is necessary, to deal with the multi-faceted nature of ecological collapse5 today.
Needless to say, people spending time in big giggly land occupations, where they do nothing more than sit, chat, cook food over fires, play acoustic music, and simply enjoy a more 'disconnected' time together, is really going to annoy the establishment! Especially as they've been desperately clamping-down on people's ability to access to the land lately.
We've been working on these issues, through in-person workshops, festival stalls, and on-line handouts, for well-over twenty years now. 'They' did not want to listen then; and the even more unreasonable crew in charge now are even more closed-off to the reality of the world we live in.
Therefore, if more gentle methods were not sufficient, then we must become more insistent. But we're not going to throw ourselves into the willing arms of the police and the (in)justice system, like Extinction Rebellion has. Likewise, we're not going to give people the reassuring distraction of simplistic technofixes6, as much of the British environmental movement has sought to do for the last thirty years.
Instead we're going to explore the options whereby we create the world we want to live within rather than 'asking for' it to be made for us. We want to to focus on the practical; and why the world as it is today dislikes such methods7. More critically, why these skills will become necessary for everyone to master over the next two or three decades, as 'Peak Everything'8 portends the arrival of the true, greater, multifaceted 'Ecological Crisis'9.
If you're curious about what we might be doing we'd be happy to hear from you. To get in touch you can email us via frn§fraw°org*uk (replacing '§', '°', and '*' symbols with the appropriate character). In the meantime, to discover more, all you need to is follow the background information listed on the left of this page.