TOTW: Skillbuilding

Though Bellamy spends a portion of his introductory essay to Backwoods criticizing insurrectionary anarchism, there exists at least one point of similarity between the anti-civ project he puts forward and the object of his critique: skillbuilding.

One of the major problems he observes with civilization is the way it deprives people living within it of the skills to live without it, which in turn alienates us from the world in which we live. Contrasted with this is the concept of autarky, or “the knowledge and practice of providing one’s subsistence – again, food, water, shelter, fuel, and medicine – for and by oneself in an unalienated relationship with one’s habitat and in voluntary cooperation with others with whom one freely associates”, which would entail “…a profound reskilling, a regaining of the venerable and valuable skills of foraging, tending, tracking, hunting, fishing, preserving, woodworking, herbalism, and others”.

Compare this with the veritable laundry list of skills to learn and things to do put forward in the insurrectionary manual “How to Start a Fire”:

Get property. Pirate radio. Build stoves. Learn to cook. Learn Languages. Get arms. Open street carts and businesses. Occupy buildings. Set up cafes. Diners. Restaurants. Pizza shops. Book stores. Permaculture. Mend wounds. Lathes. Giant pots. Orchards. Build friendships. Acquire film equipment and make documentaries. Talk to old comrades. Learn martial arts, Read. Travel. Learn from each other. Write newspapers. Weather the hard times. Loot. Hold regional gatherings. Write internal journals. Refine the art of sabotage. Distribute counter-information. Offset presses. Raw materials and the means of production. Three thousand camping bowls. Survival packs. Organic seeds. Share thoughts, feelings, and practice. Learn history and learn from history. Build tables. Make art. Go to the woods. Summer retreats. Dance parties. Get cars. Steal money. Move close to each other. Start uncontrollable riots.

All of this and more is to be acquired and used in the fight against our collapsing civilization and for creating “a life actually worth living”. For them, our lack of skills is framed as disarming us weapons we need fight and create other ways of living. While Bellamy’s proposal for desertion and Anonymous’s proposal for getting organized in a global conflict are at odds in some ways, they both point to a lack of skills as an impediment to anarchist projects and their acquisition as crucial to creating an alternative.

Do you think the concept of acquiring skills is important as anarchist praxis? If so, why? And what kind of skills? If not, why?