PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Friday, July 03, 2015

from Lawrence, SATURDAY (JULY & SEPT) PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Living off the grid + News

Dear friends,

Don't forget that in July and September we meet on Saturday at 6:30pm.
And this SATURDAY we are discussing: living off the grid.

Apart from being good with one's hands a person live off the grid needs
to take certain things into consideration. One of these difference is
living off the grid and enjoying the call of the wild. Ruel, Ceit and I
have written an essay for us which you will find after the news sent to
us by Miguel:

Estimado tertuliano,
Por si fuera de interés te anunciamos la siguiente conferencia:
"El futuro de Internet: Retos y oportunidades"
Vinton Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google.
Miércoles 8 de Julio de 2015 a las 12:00
Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros de Telecomunicación de Madrid
Salón de Actos del Edificio C "López Araujo"
Saludos cordiales,
Tertulia de Matemáticas


Hello Lawrence,
The link to the essay I wrote on Saturday's topic is:
Thanks and see you on Saturday.
All the best,

A few quick thoughts on the subject:

"The grid" normally refers to the supply of electricity, but can also
refer to any network in which a recipient of goods or services is added
to a list or file for reference. Living off that grid means not being
identifiable to any authority. While we might not be surprised by
criminals choosing to hide from the grid and its overseers, why would
more or less normal people choose a lifestyle away from the comforts of
community utilities?

For some, the very thought that some authoritative body knows what they
use in terms of resources and can charge them money for it is
unacceptable. While some services might be farmed out to experts, as
long as energy can be gained by any other means we should not trust a
government or other large body to provide it. This is the fundamental
reason for leaving "the grid", a lack of trust in the greater society
and culture, which includes people you do not personally know, not to
mention government. How much energy we use and what for are private
matters when the users are private people. One household should not need
so much power as to necessitate the intervention of government or a
multinational corporation.

Another factor is the idea of self-reliance. In some parts of the world,
people have a rather romantic idea of doing for themselves and having no
dependence on anyone else, at least for day-to-day survival. The food
you eat you've grown or hunted yourself. The clothes you wear are at
least cut by your own hand. All your machinery has been set up and can
be maintained by your own hand. This is the ideal for people who leave
the surveillance and responsibility of the state authority.

While it sounds like a peaceful, pastoral existence, we must remember
that survival for a person in the wilderness depends on much effort by
the individual, perhaps less if there is a group. Living off the grid
pushes humanity back to a less "civilized" time, when simple survival
was in question, rather than comfort. A certain amount of food is
necessary to have in case of famine; a source of water must to kept
clean and available; shelter must be maintained against the elements. In
modern society, with large numbers of people gathered in groups, this
work is all delegated to many individuals over time. None of us have to
worry about every facet of our physical survival and are at liberty to
be more intellectual or imaginative. Going off the grid may have an
appeal to the ego and to nostalgia (fauxstalgia?), but it can also be
seen as a devolution to a hunter/gatherer or beginning agricultural
state. Is the need for personal privacy so great that we would give up
so many comforts?

---------- Lawrence
Living off the grid

Before our ancestors organised themselves into farms and dwellings
everyone and every tribe lived off the grid. So what was once, even a
few thousand years ago, a normal way of life is still an instinct felt
by some people today. But today people who try to be self-sufficient
they are considered as eccentrics or simply weird.

Being self sufficient from modern industrial utilities maybe more than
just an instinct or a strange personality. Today's instinct to live off
the grid might reflect a political statement; a statement of maybe
wanting to be independent from the state. Most conventional thinking
would quickly associate this with living close to being an outlaw. The
desire to create one's energy, one's foods and so on might lead to a
desire to live beyond the reach of the law.

In some cases living off the grid also means living outside the economic
cycle of the country. Now there are many people living outside the
economic cycle and we usually call them "the poor" or "street people".
But the difference between these people and those that live off the grid
is that those who live off the grid create things that also have a
monetary value. And in a capitalist society this would have the same
effect as the black market. The government does not collecting taxes on
these valuable things and the financial industry is not creating money
against these products. Living off the grid also means living outside
the financial system.

We therefore have more restrictions to keep these people who want to
live off the grid under control. The least of these restrictions is
planning permission to build anything on one's own land. There is always
a valid reason to need planning permission for example to stop people
creating hazards to the rest of the community. Just because a piece of
land is ours it does not mean we can build a DIY nuclear power station.

However, there is also a language aspect to this. When we talk about
people living off the grid we usually come across the concepts of
creating something for "free" and "public property." Public property
does not mean that it belongs to everyone so that we can help ourselves
to a chunk of whatever it is and use it for whatever we fancy. Some
people do think that public property does mean that; and in a roundabout
way many are politicians. Public property usually means that no one can
use that property for personal use. Except some governments take the
view that public property means that it belongs to the government and
hence can be disposed of by the government. This is a betrayal of how
people think of public property. No doubt this is also a great
opportunity for corrupt politicians to abuse the population by depriving
them of the public property.

Creating something for free is more contentious. We might not have to
pay a special shop or utility company but nothing is free; just because
something does not cost money it does not mean that it doesn't cost us
anything. First and foremost to manufacture something we need energy, we
need tools and we need resources. But why should we be allowed to take
resources from the land for free? Living off the grid does not mean
living on a deserted planet; with no social responsibilities.

But there are also other costs, such as the reliability and risks
involved in doing something ourselves or having it done by
professionals. Of course, it is great fun and satisfying to live in the
wild for a while and explore and exploit nature. Those primordial
instincts might be dormant but they are not dead. In the meantime the
question someone living off the grid must seriously ask themselves is:
what happens when things go wrong?

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813 <>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h

from Lawrence, SATURDAY (JULY & SEPT) PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm:
Living off the grid + News


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