The first time I heard the term was in a bathroom in New York City. I had gone down to Bluestockings to look at zines and drink tea. Scrawled on the bathroom wall, black ink on white wall was “Lifestyle anarchists fuck off.” I wondered what a “lifestyle anarchist” was. I wondered if it meant people who tried to live what they believed, and I wondered why that could possibly be bad, could possibly be a reason for a bathroom wall war cry.
The next time I heard talk of “lifestyle” activists/anarchists/whoever was on a discussion forum. Then it popped up in a book I was reading.
Ah-ha, I thought. Lifestyle-anarchists/activists/people weren’t those who tried to live what they believed in because it felt good. They were people who thought that living what they believed in was going to change the world. People living off-grid, using boycott tactics, and preaching these as The Answer. Vegans were the most oft-referenced example.
I wondered if there were people that would call me a lifestyle-ist. Considering that I spend a lot of time writing about my lifestyle choices, the thought processes that led to them, and then often in the same breath mention that I’d do a cartwheel if industrial civilization were to end tomorrow, there are probably people who do think this. I do not, however, live as I do out of a conviction that I am changing the world through my actions, and I wanted to make sure this was clear, dear readers, because I really enjoy being understood.
I live as I do because I really, really like it. I pursue habits that I perceive as being in the right direction for me and perhaps for some others, but the way I live isn’t even close to anything I could fathom calling “right,” whatever “right” is supposed to mean anyway.
I think the most important thing to remember, always, is that there is no Answer. There are many answers. There is no Truth. There are many truths. Each is different depending on the person, depending on the place, depending on and interlinked with a thousand factors rarely duplicated. Diversity is necessary in everything, even in, especially in our beliefs about the world.
Perhaps, however, there are a few universal truths. Things that are true for every human no matter where or when or what. An example: If you do not drink water, you will die. Another: If you don’t breath air you will die. And a third: If you don’t eat you will die. Because I do no see death by starvation, dehydration, or suffocation as positive ends, I conclude that eating, breathing, and drinking are good (from an animal perspective). So I conclude that food, air, and water are good. So I conclude that poisoning and/or destroying food, water, and air are bad.
This is why I do not like industry. This is why I think industrial civilization is crap. There are ways to go further with this method of defining what is universally good, but I need no go further here. It is this very basic point—the inarguable importance of food, water, and air—is the foundation of my entire personal morality. I thought you should know.