Tag Archives: capitalism

Living Without Money: How and Why

Living Without Money: How and Why
Andy Paine
andy.paine77 (at) gmail. com
I got my copy at sticky for $1

A guide and rationale to living as disengtangled from capitalism as possible, being free and not needing to earn or spend money for materials and resources.

Living without Money: That’s impossible, right? (picks up zine from shelf). Is this going to be a Marxist Leninist tract about the evils of capitalism? Is it going to include tips about forraging dandelions for food? Or is it going to be a how-to-scam-shit-without-paying-for-stuff-ever-again (aka Abbie Hoffman) kinda zine?

That was unexpected: The zine begins quoting the bible. I kind of like the fact that the zinemaker must realise this is a highly unfashionable thing to do on page one and just ploughs on.

Luke 12: You know the part where Jesus talks about the ravens not needing to be clothed or fed, and how the wild flowers don’t labour or spin. (I do, I listened in school assembly). This is the starting point of this zine

It’s a basic message; material shit is ultimately ephemeral in the bigger picture of nature (and God’s kingdom). Yes, worrying about things beyond our control can be redundant. But. I think it does pay to worry about your life, what you will eat, about your body, and what you will wear. I do set my heart on what I will eat and drink and I’m not about to surrender my possessions anytime soon. Jesus’ argument, of course, was that the Kingdom of God would provide.

Can I just state the obvious here for a second. And I know I’m not supposed to, but… Wildflowers don’t have to spin or labour because they are fucking PLANTS. They are busting their guts photosynthesising and attracting pollinators. Ravens – (or birds as a rule, depending on which bible interpretation you’re going with)- don’t sow or reap but would probably be open to it if they could appreciate the long term benefits, could build a grain store and could operate miniature agricultural equipment with their beaks.

And let’s not forget God’s world of nature can be brutally opportunistic, territorial, and predatory. But, I digress.

Essentially this zine’s argument is that you can live off the waste of contemporary western society, cop the occasional fine it may attract, pool resources, chip in where you can, and your mates will provide the rest: “This zine for instance was made entirely on a friend’s computer” types the zinemaker. *I don’t doubt it*.

It’s Complicated: That’s the relationship between this zinemaker and commerce. He hasn’t managed to completely live without currency himself, but encourages everyone to seek out alternatives as much as possible. He’s less into bartering than sharing your resources and utilising neglected resources. (Unless it comes to squatting when he discusses getting your own locks and claiming ownership). And then, reading this zine, you just get lines like the following,  “…sometimes strangers will even give you money without you having to do anything” Wait, what about the enslavement stuff?

Aesthetic: The zine is boring but legible, the usual desktop publishing trade-off. Everything has clear headings in times new roman bold, and the only images are insert photos, kind of like the zinemaker posing in action shots like it’s a lifestyle catalogue. Most of the pics are dark and blurry, …so maybe not so much like a lifestyle catalogue. There is a collage reproduced in here, but a mysterious one that has been clearly lifted from an Australian squatting zine from the 1980s. I can tell this because it includes the use of a two dollar note in the graphics. The two dollar note was phased out of circulation in 1988. But hey, I guess the ‘housing for all’ message is timeless.

Sell it to me: If you’re going to try and promote a radical lifestyle choice, you’ve really got to make it sound great. Exciting. Sexy. Risky, perhaps but ‘worth-every-second’ kind of thrilling. This is the zine’s greatest flaw. The ultimate miscalculation is to try to make out that living on the fringes of society is something everyone can do in their daily lives and that it’s no biggie.

Seriously? This lifestyle is exclusively for people who are young, physically strong and healthy, and not vulnerable: This is a lifestyle for risk takers with few possessions and needs or health complications who don’t care for long term planning.

The following quotes don’t quite cut it as conversion arguments:

On busking: “It gives other people a chance to be generous”

On dumpster diving: “I have been living almost entirely off dumpstered foods for nearly five years now and have never once got food poisoning…”

On plate scraping: “People will stare when you do this, it’s a good exercise in discovering how self concious we all are”

On sleeping rough: “Other than two months living at Occupy Brisbane…I don’t really recommend it”

On hitch-hiking: “I think it’s safer than many people assume.”

On walking: “It’s a bit slower” (I added this last line more for laughs if anything).

Amazing facts: You know when you’re reading a pamphlet about something and they include some amazing fact like how it would take 630 Olympic swimming pools to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground, to illustrate their point? Something visual to make you go “woah” and gain a new appreciation of…how big the MCG is. Well there’s only one factoid in the zine, and we’ll never know who crunched the numbers on the global textile industry, (read: the zinemaker) but for what it’s worth, enjoy:
“If the whole world stopped making clothes tomorrow, we would still have enough clothes on the planet to last all 7 billion of us at least a decade, probably much longer.”
Probably Much Longer. Bless. No statistic exists, but goddamnit, take a stab to illustrate your point. (Just for future reference, here’s some fascinating and  legit research on the problem of excess manufacturing of clothing where the supply outstrips the demand).

Ideology vs Consistency:
There’s lots of ideas flying around in the zine – christian ones, environmental ones, anti-capitalism ones, but all are undermined in their own way. Ultimately I don’t really see how this zinemaker’s lifestyle relates to Jesus’ teaching; he claims one of the advantages to busking is that on Fri or Sat night, people’s generoisty is often “chemically enhanced”. There’s something a little too cynical about this throwaway comment of profiteering from drunk people that doesn’t seem to fit with Christian principles OR seem to demonstrate freedom of the ‘power dynamics of wealth’.

The other kink that struck me in the zine was how the zinemaker made sense of land ownership and private property. He despises theft but endorses occupation. It’s also the first time in the zine that personal safety is advocated over sharing a space you actively occupy (ethical dilemma?), and tips on ‘claiming ownership’ are provided, which is an interesting deviation from the strong emphasis of the need for universal sharing. Albeit, even with squatting and changing the locks, “It’s best not to get attached”.

I like the fact this zine exists because: Even though I find a lot of it objectionable and nieve, it does invite you to think about your relationship to money, your dependence on an income stream, where you fit on the socio-economic scale, if you could take on these suggestions in your life and how necessary it is to buy a new t-shirt. It makes you think about what freedoms you have and do not have in your own life, your own relationship to authority, and also? the dangers inherent in quoting from the bible.

The smartest line in this zine: “Real freedom comes from us working out for ourselves the best way to live”.


Tofu is not vegetarian Volume 2

Jeanette de Foe & Friends
I got my copy for $7 from Sticky Institute, 10 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Subway, Melbourne VIC 3000. I’d link you to their site but in the last few months it’s remained down and/or hacked and/or virussy.  Stop by the shop or maybe approach the zinemaker direct about obtaining a copy.

A personal zine-slash-anthology of accounts and essays about the ethics of vegetarianism – and veganism.

Wow: I found this zine to be truly radical. And I was not prepared for it. I’m not vegan or vegetarian, so when i saw the title of this zine start with the word ‘tofu’ I’ll be honest, my mind wandered and my eyes were already on the next zine. I had moved on. Oh no. You don’t walk on from this title. It’s hammering out so many interesting ideas.

I never expected: to read former vegans call out veganism. This zine is not anti vegan, not at all, but it does call the practice out on a lot of its shit. Which is challenging and provoking and really refreshing in any activist scene. Well any SCENE, period.

Whats right, whats wrong? Make up your own mind. The zinemaker doesn’t want to tell you how to think, it wants to tell you how to question. It’s not militant and it’s not looking to pick a fight.

Here is a zine coming from a genuine desire to create greater discourse. The zinemaker makes that clear right at the beginning: “..I wanted this zine, like the previous things I’ve written, not to be the final word on the topic, but to be starting/continuing a respectful dialogue. On some things I have a resolved position, on others I don’t and maybe never will…”
So reasonable! so moderate! and I like the sense of humility.

The zine itself is kind of an anthology but it really feels like a personal zine that happens to open with mini essay contributions or editorials. Because of the chaos of the layout, they all kind of bleed into each other so all the voices get kind of mixed.

My eyes hurt: the zine itself has been printed on a rizzo with cut’n’ paste text printed in blue ink throughout. There’s cute little line drawings of tofus or mushrooms etc with googly eyes. All good. But the text is cut and pasted against multiple jarring background patterns which are too intense at the scale they’ve been reproduced. They are just hugely distracting, changing with every page and constantly breaking your concentration. I had to visually claw from one sentence to the next, fighting daisies, knives, forks, polka dots, feathers, geometric shapes, corn cobs, carrots, tractors, pigs, geese, and baroque wallpaper designs. It was painful. Let me make this clear to the zinemaker.

Things you’ll be left thinking about:
The cultural meaning and emotional role of food in your life, your friends and family.
How a restricted diet can not only be socially isolating, but isolate those who prepare foods or culturally significant meat-centric meals that cannot be shared with you- (Are you staying true to newfound political ideals or rejecting your own culture? can the values be reconciled or are they inherently contradictory? is this an embodiment of racism?).
Are all indigenous cultures with meatcentric diets necessarily cruel, exploitative or disrespectful to animals?
What do vegan and vegetarian lifestyles set out to achieve and how successful is the practice on a practical level?
Is boycotting effective and does it imply a certain judgement of others? (fairly or unfairly).

You’ll also be thinking about also another element: That of health. Is a restricted diet something that can be done safely amongst all individuals or is it irresponsible to promote a vegan lifestyle as a ‘simple’ healthy alternative?
Are supplements adequately addressing your bodily requirements and is ‘adequate’ good enough for your particular body and needs?Even if you are doing everything right, is your health suffering as a result of your political choices?
And should you politely be excused if you can’t commit to a restricted diet? As if you contain a personal flaw or defect. How do you fit, then?

The zine draws from many stories of life in political activist circles, specifically events or conferences which have involved separate food preparation and eating spaces where the question of tolerance and cultural sensitivities has come into play. In some of the zinemakers experiences, these have lead to open conflict and hostilities that have been poorly managed and ended up creating hurtful divides.

Plus: Theres lots of other aspects to vegan and vegetarian culture and its stereotypes that get explored by the zinemaker and contributing writers. Everything from the assumption that vegetarianism is exclusive to white culture, to reverse cultural appropriation, food hygene, food affordability, sustainability, animal rights, capitalism, and common misconceptions. Some of the arguments are problematic and flawed, some wonderfully articulated, defended, and fully convincing. I guess the important thing is the diversity of the opinions as much as the convergenance of perspectives found here. An utterly refreshing read even for those of us who normally pass up tofu titled zines.

What was Volume 1? I haven’t seen the issue to read it (from 2011) but there’s also a thinner zine by the same maker called ‘Veganism, Racism, Culture and Identity’ still in print. So there’s further reading out there and possibly a volume 3 sometime in the future.

See also: A review of zine that responds, ‘Can Tofu Be Vegetarian?’ The debate lives on.


Cheap Toys #13

xtramedium (at) laposte.net
I got my copy at sticky instore, AU $2
prix libéré ‘pay what you can’
available: http://busstoppress.weebly.com

Scholar punk travels internationally on limited resources (financially and philosophically) playing gigs and chronicling adventures. Self described “punk tourism”.

Bragging rights: being bilingual. Cheap Toys is equal parts English and French (the zinemaker is French). There’s a certain mystique that accompanies the novelty because part of me always wonders if the stories are a little different in French – a little more candid for the native readership? A few extra reveals in French that the English readers miss out on? Such are the tantalising mysteries of the bilingual zine.

Punk cred: High, given Cheap Toys is always, always priced decently. Some zines are a few itsy bitsy pages and they’re three dollars, this zine is always full of condensed type (or feels like it), is thick and it’s in two freaking languages. So you get bang for your buck. On his distro site, the zine is ‘pay what you can’.  The subject of pricing is also a favourite ranting topic of the zinemaker. In fact this issue opens on the topic.

This is probably my favourite issue so far because: Usually I find Cheap Toys a frustrating mix of interesting and irritating;

It always interests me because the zinemaker leads such a radically different life to mine and I love that it’s beyond any of my own personal points of reference. He is steadfast in his political passions, intense, and consistently criss crosses global terrain, nimbly moving through punk networks.

But I get irritated because everything is such a whirlwind of passing associations, community spaces, gigs and squats that the writing becomes almost a retrospective schedule than a sharing of personal experiences. And not being worldly, or punk, it all turns into so much transient euro slush to me.

But this issue is my favourite because the zinemaker shares a minute fraction of his love life, his favourite foreign sodas, and ultimately, reveals how he has supported his international lifestyle over the years – a small section at the back modestly titled “How I got ten thousand euros in the first place”. I guess how we fund our lifestyles is half our personal story – and for the zinemaker to share this aspect of his existence makes ‘Cheap Toys’ more holistic, somehow. Or at least provides some kind of broader context I always felt it lacked. It also prompts questions about capitalism and transactions that may or may not be punk ethical issues, but that’s something to muse about in your own time.

Comes with: section on travel games to play to fill in “awkward pauses”.

Countries featured: Australia and the Balkans.

Disclaimer: I shared time with Giz while he was in Australia; a weekend roadtrip to Canberra, the nation’s capital. I wrote an entire long-winded zine about the experience (here). In this zine, spanning the same time frame, Giz records his impressions of Canberra with a few sentences and the weekend barely rates a mention. From this we may come to two conclusions: One, it’s against nature to write an entire zine on Canberra as there is not much to the city; and Two, Giz has an infinitely more interesting and fast-paced life to chronicle.