The first book is Naomi Klein’s “No is not enough.” The second is Anthony Flaccavento‘s “Building a Healthy Economy from the Bottom Up.” Both books make similar arguments: It is not enough to resist the current system, we also need to build a new one. While Klein’s book (despite the title) is more of an analysis of how we got Donald – an analysis that I’ve found tremendously helpful as Klein is articulating a lot of what I’ve been thinking – Flaccavento presents examples of this bottom-up economy that serves as an alternative to the capitalist and socialist systems most of us are familiar with and that have failed most of us so thoroughly. Clearly, Donald is just a symptom. He is a symptom of a system that is built on exploitation and hierarchy. Understanding this is just the first step. Klein’s book is very helpful in gaining that understanding. Flaccavento’s book is pushing us further by suggesting actions to take.
Maybe Flaccavento’s book is also so helpful to me because it is building on some of the things I’ve noticed – again – during my trip. I start to thrive when living in community and closer to nature. Although the sense of community might’ve been a bit more complicated by being with my parents and being on vacation, clearly being with others is helpful for me. Since I am single, I too often end up isolated and lonely. Plus, there’s something about the basic interactions, the basic cooperation that communal living brings: Sharing meals, doing dishes together, etc. Reading in Flaccavento’s book reinforced that building community isn’t just a personal preference. It’s also a way to resist. Again and again, loneliness is mentioned as one of the driving factors behind the shift to totalitarianism we’re seeing worldwide. Strengthening communities, rebuilding communal ties might thus be a crucial ingredient for building a true democracy (or the system we build as an alternative to the hypercapitalism that is destroying the world).
I also noticed how social media is sucking time out of my life without giving me what I want: Most connections on social media are superficial at best and yet it gives me the delusion of connection. While I was traveling, I had little desire to share on Facebook – because I was sharing in person! Back in my regular life, I keep going to Facebook with an almost desperate desire to connect – because I have so little in person connections.
Although I am still struggling to learn how to do it, I want to build community, create connections. After the election, I’ve already started to do more of that through book circles and knit-togethers. Because I’ve felt the difference this makes in my life (and body!), I want to build on what I have started and expand it, maybe even finding a place where this happens more often, more organically, than in a big city.