Doing it yourself

Peasantpunk, artisanal poverty, hobbyism in the open, handicraft fandoms

March 26, 2018 — August 8, 2023

Figure 1

1 Economics of artisanship

On the decreasingly relevant business model of cool. See astroturf and artificial reefs.

Figure 2: Cat and Girl, Masters of the universe

2 Against legibility

You know what is illegible? Misrule.

3 Jugaad: DIY as frugality

HT Ben Leighton.

At its core, jugaad is a form of “frugal innovation” that uses improvisation, creativity, and collaboration to achieve objectives in an efficient and cost-effective manner. It is a mindset that is characterized by a “make-do” attitude and a willingness to work with whatever is available. Jugaad also emphasizes the importance of iteration and experimentation, which allows for learning, adaptation, and continuous improvement. … Jugaad innovation excels in high-entropy conditions, where traditional methods are not robust enough. This is one of the reasons it’s becoming the go-to approach for developing AGI. The problem of AGI, which is still in its early stages of development, is an ideal candidate for such an approach. The ideology of effective jugaad has several key features that distinguish it from traditional approaches to problem-solving. Effective jugaad prioritizes the pursuit of “good enough” solutions over perfection, allowing for rapid implementation and a focus on outcomes. It also embraces collaboration and collective action, recognizing that the best solutions often emerge from the collective intelligence of a diverse group of individuals.

4 Makers

See making.

5 Gift economy

6 DIY as a cognitive bias

We find stuff more satisfying if we do it with our own hands. Perhaps irrationally, dysfunctionally dissatisfying (Murphy 2020).

7 Barnraising: DIY as community building

For now, squads.

8 Cottagecore: DIY as status signalling

Why is hipster? Nick Whitaker argues, in the context of cooking:

preparing ready-made meals is often met with disdain, especially when home cooking is moralized. This has been particularly prevalent in the “slow food” movement, spearheaded by Michael Pollan and Alice Water. These writers argue that modern food and the system used to create it is ecologically, nutritionally, and morally corrupt. Instead, food should be more thoughtfully prepared from scratch. But, as sociologists Sarah Bowen, Joslyn Brenton, and Sinikka Elliott argue in Pressure Cooker (Bowen, Brenton, and Elliott 2019), this rhetoric has created an undue mystique around home cooking that creates unnecessary pressures on women, particularly those in vulnerable positions. That is even before you consider how dubious the underlying claims are, as Rachel Laudan has explored at length.

And really, aren’t people who cook from scratch the ones being irrational? Economist Ryan Murphy argues (Murphy 2020) that the desire for “DIY” is a manifestation of evolutionary intuitions that make us unduly skeptical of our current technological and institutional environment. This makes us prone to doing costly things ourselves instead of just paying someone else who is better at it to do it for us. Frozen and pre-prepared food seems unnatural, so we take questionable health and moral claims about them for granted. Even claims about home cooking being less expensive are more complex than they might appear, once the opportunity cost of one’s time is fully accounted for—if you don’t enjoy doing it, cooking uses up scarce leisure time that could be spent with family, or watching TV, instead.

Suggestive connection to status signalling in the leisure classes (Currid-Halkett 2017).

9 DIY as self-help

Sohrab Ahmari, America is nothing more than a self-help society

[…] as a practical programme, the e-right mostly cashes out as… self-help. Its leading lights advise bodybuilding (homoerotica is pervasive, even as “gay” is also an insult); the consumption of animal protein (“slonking eggs”); and the cultivation of aristocratic habits (whatever that means for the mostly urbanite professionals who, from my experience, make up their audience). To overcome the schemes of globalists and HR henpeckers, you must train body and mind, scout out new frontiers as your “barbarian” forebears once did, and lift yourself above the masses. Social antagonism is thus not to be collectively resolved, but transcended by the heroic individual perfecting himself, as the classical sculptor chiselled elegant form out of raw matter.

Such self-help programmes – whether conservative or progressive – aren’t going away, because they answer the needs of a group that has long conducted the moral soundtrack to America’s market society: the middle class. As the left historian Charles Sellers wrote, the US middle class “was constituted not by modes and relations of production but by ideology”: a myth of self-improvement repeatedly deployed to “quell rising anger over the class reality of bourgeois exploitation”.

10 Incompetence for the joy of it

Also, doing complicated things naively

11 A well-armed militia: DIY as resilience

The connection to prepping and slack.

12 Handmade gifts: DIY as an aesthetic

13 Incoming

14 References

Bowen, Brenton, and Elliott, eds. 2019. Pressure Cooker: Why Home Cooking Won’t Solve Our Problems and What We Can Do about It.
Currid-Halkett. 2017. Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class.
Martin-Iverson, Rodrigues, and Smaill. 2008. ‘C’mon Commodify Us!’: Commodity Fetishism and Resistant Practice in the Bandung DIY Hardcore Scene’.” Youth, Media and Culture in the Asia Pacific Region.
Murphy. 2020. Markets Against Modernity: Ecological Irrationality, Public and Private. Capitalist Thought : Studies in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.