Editor’s Note: The following is an article by Rayo from VonuLife, March 1973. Herein, he covers some hindrances that may arise when someone begins their path to vonuism, as well as recommendations for those already on the path. It will serve as a supplementary article for an upcoming episode, but I would highly recommend you check out the entire publication.
SURMOUNTING PERSONAL OBSTACLES TO VONU
These guidelines are gleaned from our experience with vonu living so far. I suggest thinking about each of these in turn. See if it applies to your situation and goals. See how many consequences you can develop.
Most of these will seem obvious to your intellect. But are they reflected in your values and actions? As Lee and Skye wrote in LIBERTARIAN CONNECTION, “We were born among sheep, raised by sheep, educated as, by and for sheep – and before we knew better, some of it got thru.” But one’s ‘subconscious’ can be gradually ‘reprogrammed’ to more constructive, less contradictory values. These are not hard and fast rules. Each individual has unique abilities, desires, assets and problems and should think thru or [our] own approach. Most of the examples used are of wilderness vonu, but most of the guide lines are applicable to other forms of vonu as well.
Be as vonu as you can, consistent with physical comfort. Vonu isn’t an all-or-nothing thing. There is NO way to be COMPLETELY invulnerable to coercion. But this doesn’t justify giving up and ‘adjusting’ to servitude any more than inability to live forever justifies neglecting health.
Ask yourself ‘how much’ questions about various approaches. HOW MUCH of the time can I live in a place of my choice? HOW MUCH will I be annoyed by a Gestapo? HOW MUCH chance will I have of surviving a nuclear war? HOW MUCH of what I would like to do will I able to do? HOW MUCH time and resources must I expend to achieve this?
Distinguish present and immediate dangers from possible future risks and deal FIRST with the former. The former include, for examples: nuclear weapons which are ready for launching; existing coercive laws which are often enforced, such as compulsory schooling. The latter include all the spy devices Big Brother might (or might not) have operational by 1984 or 2084.
Select approaches which yield maximum vonu per time and resources expended. It may be wiser to buy a camper, park it in the woods and eat feed-store wheat, than stay in that society another 20 years while trying to learn how to live completely off the land.
Seek vonu, not self-sufficiency per se. A few people cannot live in complete isolation without years, perhaps generations of experience. And they probably wouldn’t be very vonu even if they could.
Distinguish wilderness vonu from outdoor adventures. Many ‘recreation’ and ‘survival’ skills have little relevance, at least in Siskiyou. We have yet to ski, climb rocks (with pitons, etc.), ride a horse, use an axe (we much prefer saws), make fire without matches, splice a rope. Some skills useful in our situation: maintaining equipment, building with natural materials, orienteering, hunting, first aid.
Vonu your home first. ‘Domestic’ activities – sleeping, eating, cleaning, grooming, mending, reading, listening, erotics, thinking, exercising, conversing, child care – take up most of one’s life. And they are relatively easy to vonu – they can be accomplished without elaborate equipment or deep involvement with outsiders, unlike most means of earning money. Earning money requires relatively little time IF one lives frugally.
Give shelter top priority. Food and other supplies need be purchased only once a year. But a place to sleep and store supplies is needed every day. Don’t spend much time learning to keep bees, tan hides or gather mushrooms until you have a home that is ‘out of sight and mind’.
Don’t build what you can buy at relatively low prices. This includes most mass-produced items. Home-building a camper is poor economics for most people. Concentrate time on the many things necessary for vonu which are not (yet) for sale.
If you must work in that society to earn money, commute seasonally or every few years rather than daily. Don’t live in cities and towns when you aren’t working. And don’t subject non-employed members of your family to smog or threat of incineration.
Vonu first during summers, when simple shelter is sufficient. Then strive to extend the season.
Don’t spend time learning a slightly better vocation that’s intertwined with the coerced economy. Look for ways to earn money compatable [compatible] with your approach to vonu.
Have savings before trying wilderness vonu. The amount needed will depend on the individual and way of life. $1000 per person (not counting initial cost of equipment) will suffice for a year of frugal living – maybe two or more. Live frugally while within the coerced economy. Make saving a ‘crash program’. Take savings off the top of income and live on what is left. Don’t touch savings until you are ready to break out.
Put savings in both liquid and secure forms. Consider: First, at least six months of supplies you know you can use, such as dry food staples, stored where you plan to live. Second, currency no larger than $20 bills, $100 to $500 per person. For larger savings investigate silver coins, other precious metals, and Swiss banks. (See article in VONULIFE #6). Keep out of U.S. savings bonds, banks and other institutions.
Don’t speculate in stocks, real-estate, antiques, rare coins, horse races, poker games or anything else unless you are a full-time professional.
Don’t spend much on equipment until you have experience with your way of life. Then you will know better what you need.
Take pride in your ability to live vonu, not in your productiveness as a semi-slave. If your present source of income is controllable by the State, avoid ego-involvement. Base your self-esteem on active interests which you can control.
Judge your success by your enjoyment of life as a whole, not by the money you earn. There isn’t a high correlation between income and happiness. There are ‘impoverished rich’ as well as ‘affluent poor’. Many an ‘upper-middle-classer’ not only spends most of er time at tasks e detests but finds that much of er supposedly-high income (what is left after taxes) goes for ‘prestige expenses’ necessary to ‘get ahead’.
Distinguish comforts from status games – e.g., a shelter that is warm and dry, from a house that would impress non-vonuist relatives.
Be willing to pioneer. ‘Pioneering’ is a romantic word for self-learning – experimentation – making and correcting mistakes. In ten years there may be apprenticeships and relatively-proven procedures for vonu; there isn’t now.
Don’t give up if you’ve made one attempt which aborted. Analyze why you failed, find ways to correct the problems, and try again. Success in vonu, like in many fields of endeavor, requires persistance [persistence].
Don’t expect vonu to be gratis (or freedom to be free). Vonu requires time, energy, and resources. It is quite costly at first, like most new things. It becomes easier as one gains skill.
Don’t expect ‘society’ or government or a ‘reform movement’ to GIVE you freedom. There are humans willing to coerce others. And there will be such creatures so long as there are people easy to coerce – willing to ‘adjust’, ‘go along’, do what they are told. (‘Nature abhors a vacuum.’) You CAN’T control how other people live. You CAN reduce your own vulnerability; THEN, perhaps, you can offer help to others who desire vonu strongly enough to ‘pay the price’.
Don’t expect a PLACE to make you vonu. Human predators can potentially get anywhere you can, and will if something there attracts them. One area may be much better than another for a particular way of life. But vonu depends more on HOW one lives than WHERE one lives.
Be willing to live ‘in hiding’ – out of sight and mind of most people most of the time, either through concealment or deception. There is no way to have open-house parties at home (for example) and still enjoy much vonu. This is one of the costs of vonu, and it is a price many people are not willing to pay.
Expect to be bored occasionally, once the thrill of breaking loose fades. Most people have spent most of their lives taking orders. One must learn to structure one’s own time – choose activities and maintain interest in them over long periods.
Choose goals within your means: skills, capital, and present numbers. Your first goals can serve as stepping stones to further objectives, but should be worthwhile in themselves. It’s better to ACHIEVE vonu in modest increments than to only TALK of utopias. You are more likely to attract additional people or financing after you have something to show.
Vonu yourself first, then link up with other vonuans (if you wish). There may be a few opportunities for inexperienced people – mostly women and very young children – to join already-established vonu groups. But most people must do it themselves.
Don’t look for companions until you are achieving the kind of life you seek. You are more apt to find companions willing to do, not just talk, after YOU are doing.
Distinguish vonuans from ‘great adventurers’ when seeking companions. Be wary of someone who claims to have ‘done it all’ but is back to ‘conventional’ living. Also be wary of someone who doesn’t want to ‘do it alone’ but intends to do it as soon as e finds the right group to do it with. Someone who gets bored with herself will probably soon get bored with a few companions. Perserverence [Perseverance] and ability to direct and motivate oneself are more important than any particular experience or skills, tho the latter are also valuable.
Vonu yourself before having babies. Most children ‘acculturate’ very young and are thereafter hostile to change.
Don’t confuse invulnerability to coercion with ability to coerce. ‘Rule or be ruled’ is a false alternative’; vonu and aggression are incompatible. Vonu does not create any victims, aggression does – and the victims have strong incentive to retaliate or otherwise frustrate the aggressor. Furthermore, a thief rarely finds desirable companions; any potential friend fears e may be the next victims. If, despite this, someone desires a career in crime, the easiest way is to go to work for the IRS or other government agency.
Stay relatively mobile so you can respond to emerging opportunities or link up with others.
Don’t try to change life-styles in the middle of an emergency, be it a general disaster or a personal crisis. Developing a new way of life involves learning – and making mistakes. Do it when mistakes are least dangerous and most easily corrected.
Be wary of extreme, all-or-nothing predictions. Example: Either there will be a State so powerful that no one can possibly be vonu. Or else government won’t be any problem. Historically, both totalitarianism and ‘anarchy’ are rare and ephemeral. Most likely, those people who are easily intimidated and manipulated will continue to be preyed upon; those people willing to expend considerable effort to avoid exploitation, will be largely immune.
Emphasize the long-range and positive: creation of a better way of living, rather than survival of some future catastrophy. Various disasters are possible, but time and circumstances are rarely predictable.