Friday, September 4, 2009

Urban Homesteading, a Marxist take....

We're in the outer reaches of the Urban Homesteading movement--growing herbs, letting our kid eat dirt, making and keeping good friends in the neighborhood, sharing our stuff with them, fixing what we own and owning less, etc. etc. etc. It comes with liking bikes and good food. Today's reading turned up this bit from Louis Althusser:
In short, the final historical totality, which marks the end of alienation, is nothing but the reconquered unity of the labourer and his product. This end is simply the restoration of the origin, the reconquest of the original harmony after a tragic adventure. . . .
Yet it is only in a formal sense that the final unity is the restoration of the original unity. The worker who reappropriates what he himself produces is no longer the primitive worker, and the product he reappropriates is no longer the primitive product. Men do not return to the solitude of the domestic economy, and what they produce does not revert to being what it once was, the simple object of their needs. This natural unity is destroyed the unity that replaces it is human.*
If that doesn't describe what's going on in the Urban Homestead movement, I don't know what does. On what level folks are trying to return to the natural unity (the italics are Althusser's), as opposed to realizing that they are postlapsarian (or merely postmodern) I don't know. I suspect that self-awareness is pretty high amongst the urban chicken-farmers and tomato-growers. Idealism is, too.

*Louis Althusser, The Spectre of Hegel: Early Writings, ed. Francois Matheron and trans. G.M. Gosharian, (London:Verso, 1997) 137, cited in Robert S. Kawashima, Biblical Narrative and the Death of the Rhapsode (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2004) 207.

3 comments:

bats left, looks right said...

sometimes I just want to say, "get over yourself"

Dingbat said...

The (University of Chicago) sociologist Morris Janowitz was once asked, "Doesn't sociology merely study the obvious?" and he responded, "Yes, but it makes the obvious inescapable."

David said...

Good for you. Next time I move out, I want to make more of an effort (though I did make a limited, limited one last time) to meet and make friends with the neighbours. I think it has the potential to create a great deal of (God, our language is crumbling) 'value added' in one's life. Or, to use the psychotherapeutic jargon, QOL (quality of life).