Slow Days at the Flea Market

Posted: July 6th, 2008 by: h-2

I had to take a break from writing for a bit. Things are really moving fast, if you’re really interested, the best sites I know of are on the link bar to your right. For the economy, is doing a really solid job day in and day out. Nice work Ilargi and stoneleigh.

There’s not a lot of point at this time in repeating what others are doing well, although I have to admit, sometimes I come across an article that really makes me think. I mean, all this money floating around, it’s really not real. It never is physical at all. In fact, when I think back on what the best religious and philosophical systems have always said, this whole idea of money actually having meaning is pure delusion, in a very real sense, not as an abstraction, it simply doesn’t even exist today as anything at all substantial beyond some bits moving around computers, as that article correctly notes.

The entire way of moving money around is just a way to distribute power, to grab hold of a thing that some believe to be real, but which could be turned off literally with a few switches. Try it. Just turn off all the key banks’ systems, and suddenly those webs of credit, debt, etc, all vanish. They have no substance, and exist only as relationships, faith more than anything else.

Personally, I prefer more physical states of reality, at least when it comes to our day to day existence. I’m also a big fan of real free markets, you know, the ones where big corporations don’t control every phase of distribution and consumption. Sometimes when I hear these ‘free market’ psychopaths babble on about the ‘free market’, meaning for example the GM, Ford, Toyota, Hyundai, and so on, corporations manipulating trade, consumer minds, politicians, and so on, as an example of a free market. What a joke.

I like, as I said, real free markets. We, as humans, are social animals, and we’ve always done some type of market, even back in Native American days when traders walked from tribe to tribe, moving goods in a real, human way. I’m not talking about European traders, I’m talking about native traders, guys I think of as the ones who had a bit too much sense of adventure to stay at home in the village community.

I didn’t realize how much I liked free markets until I spent over a year in Barcelona, where my favorite places were the food markets that were scattered across the city, one in each main area, more or less.

Each market was filled with small vendors, who probably owned their spaces, or rented them very cheaply. This was before Spain was ruined by the Euro money that poured in as the EU and the Euro spread across Europe. Each stall was run by a real person, who was, it was easy to see after going for a few months, selling to people in their real communities. Forget about virtual ‘community’, one of the stupidest ideas I’ve ever seen. These were real people selling to their neighbors.

Price, while a factor, was only one of many factors determining who to buy from on any given visit. Just as important were quality, just liking the people, maybe a good experience in the past. At least that’s how it was for me.

When I finally decided the foreign thing was just a bit too… well, a bit too foreign for me, and came back to the US, I soon came to realize that I really missed such markets, and I found myself gravitating to the only places I’ve found here that are like them: flea markets, also known as ‘swap meets’, but that latter term isn’t very accurate, since we aren’t really swapping anything.

Barcelona also had a cool flea market, by the way, Els Encants, a delightfully seedy (at least back in the 90’s when I lived there) market, with a cool cross section of the under parts of Barcelona, Gypsies, Moroccans, people from all over Spain. And lots of weird, cool stuff. I remember my girlfriend and I went there to get a new mattress. a nice thick foam one, from a mattress vendor who had a stall there, then we carried it back with us on the metro.

I try to do all my shopping at places like this, and even more now, as the parasitical top fragments of global society seem to feel an increasingly obnoxious sense of entitlement to just basically steal money using one device or another. So any chance I can get to not put my money into systems they profit from, or can profit less from, is a good step as far as I’m concerned.

The same goes for produce, I now buy all that from our local farmer’s market, which is growing all the time as people start to realize that the words ‘localize’ actually have meaning, and aren’t just some theoretical thing it’s nice to say but then you go to wal-mart and buy some crap corporate food because it’s cheaper or whatever. Forget about that, drop your other stupid expenses and buy real food first, after you pay those bills, do what you want.

What’s cool about going to the farmer’s market, besides of course inevitably thinking about the kinds of points Kunstler is so fond of making re the coming long emergency (but buy it from Kunster’s site so he can make some money), anyway, what’s cool is that the food there is grown locally, more or less. So that’s what your local environment can actually create.

If you don’t see much worth buying in your local area, well, you’d better start getting worried, because the days of the so called 5000 mile salad are fast coming to an end, so you might as well start seeing what reality actually looks like. Not everyone is going to want to leave the bubble cocoon of constant burning of fossil fuels to move your lazy ass from point a to point b, that’s a given.

I don’t want to get too far into the specifics, if you think it’s interesting, check out the Energy Bulletin and of course, the Oil Drum, where peak oil talk is what they do. Dont’ be lazy, this is what makes your life work, learn about it. Personally, I prefer the energy bulletin, it has just the news, less chatter, but it’s also kind of fun watching the peak oil denialists show up in the oil drum, then start to surrender to the overbearing pressure of reality.

Unless you have some deep emotional attachment to the status quo, which a lot of us do, the facts are so simple and logical that only a true self-delusional action can actually make you not see this stuff. I mean, finite resource, we use more and more, demand rises, one day it runs out. Not very complicated, and it’s not even running out, it’s just peaking in flow rates, million barrels per day globally produced, that is. That’s all there is and there ain’t no more, that is.

So start getting to know your local community, that’s what’s going to keep you alive, it won’t be those rich spoiled little brats who created our recent wave of financial disasters, sub-prime mortgages spun into pools of theoretical derivatives, or synthetic constructions of derivatives when the real thing wasn’t convenient, and various other ridiculous games guaranteed to fail long term while short term the guys selling them to each other made millions. You want to learn about those guys, follow the automatic earth, they track it well. Sure, you can get into trying to psychoanalyze these rich assholes who feel entitled to every cent they never earned, but why bother?

The Bible was clear enough: Love of Money is the Root of All Evil (1. Timothy 6:10). Not that religion is more than a shield to hide from prying eyes for these guys though, so don’t bother pointing out any hypocracy, they don’t care, power in the here and now are what makes their little hearts beat faster. If you really want to learn the games these guys play, read The Trillion Dollar Meltdown, 2008, by Charles R. Morris (review), but get ready to get depressed, it’s not a pretty picture.

It’s time to realize that we aren’t going to keep living like this, so we might as well start getting used to an improved standard of living. What do you mean, improved? I can hear you ask. I mean improved. Working to pay bills, mortgages, etc, cell phones, etc, while you get further and further removed from anything real in life, food, people, animals, dirt, whatever, is not what I’d call a ‘high standard’ of living, but the people with the luxury to create the definitions and terms that are supposed to define our lives have decided that for some reason the most alienated, drug addled, indebted culture the world may ever have seen is somehow a model for anything positive.

By improved I don’t mean you’ll necessarily live longer either. In fact, it’s very likely you’ll live less time. Like everything else, we’ve probably hit peak human life spans as well as pretty much everything else. No, by improved, I mean, more real. More real communities, more real interaction with the real people who grow your food, less driving, less virtualized life, less junk you buy because you saw it on tv then magically realized you ‘needed’ it.

I don’t know how this is all going to happen, it’s certainly not going to be neat and orderly, and certain factions will most definitely fall for the authoritarian voices who will inevitably rise, blaming our problems on group x or y, but that’s just part of the price we’ll have to pay for getting so degenerate and out of touch with reality for so long.

I’d rather skip as much of the process as I can, and just get right into life as it could be, can be, and already is in some places. How about you? It’s going to crack, what’s the point in being last to learn?

One Response to “Slow Days at the Flea Market”

  1. Tartie says:

    Come, we start the LSC commune now ? 🙂