Having tools does not make you an anarchist. It’s what you do with those tools that is the proof.
I want to warn you before you read another word, this blog entry is not specifically about woodworking. I hesitate to even write it. But I feel the need to explain myself a bit, and I promise to keep it brief. I also promise that I won’t stray into these waters much in the future.
There are many flavors of anarchists out there. My flavor is Individualistic Anarchism, specifically “aesthetic anarchism.” What does that mean to me?
I intensely dislike large institutions: governments, religious institutions and large corporations. But it would be an error to say I am not political, spiritual or capitalistic. It is my belief that institutions are the cause of most problems – not the solution.
I dislike many laws – gun laws, drug laws, sex laws to name a few. But mostly I dislike how laws are used to enslave us – they favor corporations over individuals, and the continual growth of government and its encroachment on our lives.
I don’t vote. I don’t go to church. I don’t employ people – and I never will. I view rent as theft. When I buy things, I always try to buy from individuals – the maker if possible. When I have to buy something manufactured, I buy from companies that aren’t exploiters. I buy Pointer jeans from Tennessee. My jacket was made by Schott in New Jersey. My wool sweater was knit in Ireland.
But most of all, I like to make the things I need. I do all our cooking, and every night (except pizza night) I cook dinner from scratch. We buy our meat from the butchers, the Finke family. The produce? The Finkes grow some of their own; the rest I try to buy from Findlay market or Loschavios. I like to keep everything very personal.
Making furniture for yourself and others is indeed a radical act. It removes that part of your life from the continuous cycle of purchasing, consuming and repurchasing. The Morris Chair I am sitting in will be the last easy chair I’ll ever need to build. And it was my hope when I wrote “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” that once you saw that this was true, it might seep into other areas of your life, like it has into mine. You might even quit your corporate job.
Which brings up money. Isn’t it difficult to walk away from a corporate job and a steady paycheck? Yeah, it’s like trying to force yourself to dive into Lake Michigan in February. But if Lucy and I can do it, I think many families can – if they are willing to eschew debt.
Lucy works only part-time as a writer, and I have just this silly little business – no trust fund here. How do we do it? We don’t have any debt. Zero dollars – zero cents. Once I realized how much I had to work to service our mortgage, student loans and car payments, we shifted every resource to pay off everything. In May 2008 I paid off our last debt – our mortgage. And that’s when anything became possible.
— Christopher Schwarz