We need it all - I totally agree with this. Every aspect of the struggle to dismantle civilization is positive and valuable. Of course everyone should feel free to put their particular talents and efforts where they choose, and this choice will be different for everyone, since everyone is a unique person in a unique situation. But I think that the question of effectiveness is something that should be at the forefront of any discussion of tactics.
I believe that ideally, everyone withdrawing their participation from the system would make it collapse very quickly and completely - agreeing with what Sacha said about capitalism needing constant growth and productivity to survive. And it would have the added benefits of preparing everyone for life without civ, and building the foundations of a different way of life so that the transition could happen with a minimum of (human) death and suffering.
HOWEVER, I do not think that this idea matches reality. Yes, there will be scattered individuals and groups who will have achieved this before civilization comes down, but I don’t think it is logical to expect that the withdrawal of participation of a scattered few will have any significant impact on the workings of civilization. And I think it is totally unrealistic to expect that the MAJORITY will turn away from civilization before the planet is destroyed to the point that any future survival becomes very difficult. After civilization falls, then yes, the majority could “see the light” and change their thought processes about civ. But before it falls? A pipe dream, and a dangerous one at that (so long as it keeps people expecting and working toward something that will never happen).
Yes, building alternatives to the system will weaken the system - as we all agree, we need it all, and this work is important. But the most effective tactic for stopping civilization’s death march? I disagree. First of all, capitalism has shown itself to be very quick to ruthlessly destroy any who do not submit (one can point to any indigenous culture as an example). Even in the US, those who try to escape the system are stopped from doing so, either by being jailed, forced by laws, etc. And the sheer economic pressure to participate in the wage economy is immense - this culture has done an excellent job of making it extremely difficult to acquire what one needs to survive from the landbase without having to buy land, pay taxes, purchase food, etc. Not that it can’t happen, but it will never be a option for the majority UNTIL civilization is dismantled, at least partly.
So I guess I see it as putting the cart before the horse. The tactic of building alternatives could never work as the primary method of dismantling civilization unless the majority participated, which will not happen until civilization is already partly or completely dismantled. Besides the reason I gave above, an even more fundamental reason why the majority won’t mentally break from civ until after it collapses is because the vast majority of people so completely identify with the system. They not only believe that civilization is the best way to live, but they cannot even conceive of a different way to live.
This culture has done an immensely thorough job of brainwashing people to believe that no alternative even exists - successfully preventing almost everyone from ever learning about other cultures and ways of life. And because those who have identified with the system believe that they NEED civilization for their very survival - and because civilization forms such an integral part of their worldview - that not only will they reject any alternatives, but many will feel personally threatened by any threat to civilization. As Derrick Jensen said, the civilized will smile as they tear you limb from limb. Not because they are bad people, but in fact because they are human. It is human nature to feel threatened by those who challenge one’s worldview so fundamentally.
So I guess I disagree with Daniel Quinn and Thorstein Veblen (and the whole idealistic philosophy) that first ideas change, and then the culture does. (Unless I’m misinterpreting what they believe). I think for the majority, it is the other way around. First the environment - one’s surroundings and way of life - changes, and THEN one’s worldview changes as a result.
Of course there will always be a few whose worldview is not in line with the majority, despite the culture they live in. And many feel a certain level of discontent with the status quo, and reject the culture to varying degrees - but I maintain that it is only a few who are able to break free from the dominant worldview that they are surrounded by. The pressure to conform is just too great, and it is extremely hard to be isolated in consciousness from everyone around you.
I think that what one believes about this question - which changes first, the ideas or the reality - will naturally determine what one feels to be an effective tactic. If someone believes that ideas (people’s minds) must change first, then they would naturally focus on that. And if one believes the opposite, then naturally they would focus on changing the reality first - i.e. physically dismantling civilization.
I’ve always believed the latter, but still I spent years as an activist working to change people’s minds (raising awareness through education and symbolic actions like protests), because I always assumed that that was the only effective avenue toward change.
Now I feel that my logic was flawed, not only because of what I said above, but also because years of reality hitting me in the face has forced me to conclude that unless someone WANTS to change their mind (in other words, unless they already believe something deep down), it is impossible for another person to change their mind, even if all the evidence in the world is staring them in the face. Changing one’s mind can only come from within - external messages can help IF one is ready to hear them.
So I think education is important - it can help someone along in the process of changing their own mind - but if the ideas clash with someone’s entrenched worldview, the ideas will lose, regardless of how true, logical, or right they are. But if the reality upon which that worldview is based is radically, fundamentally changed, then that worldview will eventually change as a result.
Sorry for beating this to death - but it helps me to think it through.