Tiny Monsters

Behold My Virtue

“Once we realize that it’s not a few bad products or a few egregious companies responsible for the social and ecological abuses in our world but rather the entire system we are working in, we begin to realize that, as workers, we are cogs in a machine of violence, death, exploitation, and destruction. Is the retail clerk who rings up a cut of veal any less responsible for the cruelty of factory farming than the farm worker? What about the ad designer who finds ways to make the product palatable? How about the accountant who does the grocery’s books and allows it to stay in business? You don’t have to own stock in a corporation or own a factory or chemical plant to be held to blame.”

On “voluntary joblessness”, from the manifesto of Freeganism.   



Of course, the cruelty to your fellow man of forcing them to work in order to pay their benefits doesn't occur to them.



Yes, I’m still mulling the supposed morality of it all.

I’m certainly no fan of gratuitous waste, but disavowing work of practically any kind and rummaging through other people’s bins is, I think, taking one’s pretensions a wee bit too far. And I can’t help but wonder how many of these (apparently middle-class) “radicals” are happy to call upon taxpayer-funded benefits to subsidise their “alternative strategy.” Aren’t these ‘freegans’ essentially freeloaders, mooching off a society built and maintained by the labours of others, whose efforts they disdain? And if, as they hope, millions of people were to follow this righteous anti-capitalist example, who, I wonder, would pay the taxes to help people who actually need it?


I think all that can be summed up as an extremely pompous and long-winded justification for why he's an unemployable stoner living off garbage. "I'm not a dirt-encrusted addict, I'm a Hero of the Environment!"


We're all in the belly of the beast, or possibly living in its hair, but I don't see freeganism as a particularly subversive approach--in that, I actually find myself agreeing with David. It's all about demonstrating virtue. In my day, we called that sanctimony, and its bearers, prigs.

But that may be too harsh. I share, at least to some extent, the views of capitalism that these kids profess. My step-daughter is a Vegan. There's a lot of that going around in the younger generation. (I'll keep eating my steak and chicken and pork, and feel vaguely guilty about it, which I guess constitutes a kind of priggishness as well.) From critique comes strategy. I don't think dumpster-diving, however, challenges hegemony. We must remember, too, that the dumpster and its contents, however degraded, are no less products of capitalism than a steak cooked medium-well on a barbecue, served with chips and a crisp green salad and a nice bottle of Chardonnay.


And I hope no one critiques my wine choice, heretical though it be.


Go to KFC it's a wonderful cure for the mental illness known as vegetarianism.


The priggishness and sanctimony are hard to miss and are, I suspect, a big part of the appeal:

“Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity and greed.”

Freegans, you see, are very non-conformist, and very concerned. And, at least by implication, the rest of us are selfish, apathetic, competitive, greedy and wicked. Not to mention bourgeois and conformist. If you browse the hilarious freegan ‘magazine’, you’ll find a badly drawn cartoon featuring the “bourjie man”, which, as the cartoonist has to explain, is like the bogey man, but representing all the terrible bourgeois values that these pretentious “radicals” affect to despise - yet ultimately depend upon others having.

Dr Dawg,

We’ve agreed twice in as many days. I’m scared.

I can’t muster much enthusiasm to care about what people do or don’t eat, but why would you feel guilty about eating steak, chicken or pork?



It's the whole issue of mass meat production, factory farming and so on. There's a lot of animal suffering in the process. There are some ethical challenges involved for those of us whose tastes will simply not accommodate a vegetarian lifestyle.

Matt M

What I want to know is why causing pain and suffering for farm animals on a large scale is generally considered acceptable, yet punching kittens is frowned upon.

It's a blatant double standard. And highly unfair on those who don't like kittens.


Not much meat on a kitten, though.


Don't be impatient, David. You need to wait until they become cats. And go for the quick kill, OK?


Not much meat on a vegan, though.


I guess you are what you eat.


It's terribly elitist to look down on other cultures that eat meat.


Ah, but looking down on the rest of us probably makes the whole endeavour worthwhile. What with our heartless, uncooperative, conformist heathenism.

This made me laugh:

“Wild foragers demonstrate that we can feed ourselves without supermarkets and treat our illnesses without pharmacies by familiarizing ourselves with the edible and medicinal plants growing all around us. Even city parks can yield useful foods and medicines. Others take the foraging lifestyle even farther, removing themselves from urban and suburban concepts and attempting to ‘go feral’ by building communities in the wilderness based on primitive survival skills.”

Yeah. Good luck with that.


David (No peeking for Non-Davids)
For this weeks ephemera http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidneff/


Somehow I doubt the “no peeking” is going to work 100%. Nice goldfish, though. And I do like the idea of “Non-Davids”. Makes me feel… special.


How many non-Dawgs will honour the no-peeking rule, as I, in my virtue, have done?


Maybe you are special...
David Tattsyrup special?

Ryan Roberts

"Yeah. Good luck with that"

Especially if trying to live as a vegan. Foraging in the wild for amino acid and b12 supplements is probably a little unrewarding.


People who go vegan because they don't like meat are fine with me. People who go vegan because it makes them morally superior make me want to kill and eat them. I take the food chain seriously.


If you dig through the Freegan site and its affiliates, you’ll find claims that it’s outrageous for the government to maintain a national army while “allowing” people in other countries to starve. One might, I think, argue that it’s outrageous for self-righteous drop-outs who choose not to work, supposedly on principal, to presume to lecture those who do work on how their taxes should be spent.

“I take the food chain seriously.”

Heh. Best line so far. Please, help yourself to cake.


It feels very religious. At one time people who felt morally separate from their host societies in this kind of way would go to America and found new colonies. That option is no longer there.

nobody important

There's always Antarctica.


I think a freeganist lifestyle wouldn't be feasible there. Vegetarianism isn't a realistic option for the Innuit, the Eskimos or the Sami, so I can't see it working in Antarctica.


If former acquaintances ever witness your gaunt head popping out of a dumpster, it's probably best to portray your activity as having been undertaken for a good cause: "Over the course of several years, I shifted more and more of my consumption away from purchasing and towards recovering waste to the point where I now acquire almost all my food, clothing and many other items from 'trash.'"

Years ago National Lampoon had a pamphlet from "Alcoholics Unanimous" with similarly convincing-sounding testimonials such as -- I paraphrase here -- "My life was in a rut. I'd come home after work to my lonely apartment, and just watch TV until it was time to go to bed. Life was boring and purposeless and mundane, and there seemed no way out, until one day a friend came to town, and we went on a drinking binge; my life instantly changed for the better, and I've never looked back. My boring existence turned into a whirlwind of non-stop fun...I made a million new friends, discovered new places, and I laughed constantly. I'd see people going to work in the morning, and I understood that they'd have to change their ways if they were ever going to find happiness...I've now gone seven years without sobriety and I can't believe the positive changes. With god's help, I'm never going back..."

And in that vein, one should simply cross one's arms on the lip of the dumpster, and continue: "In many ways, freeganism can be seen as a renaissance of hobo culture, infused with ideas from the movements for anarchy, radical environmentalism, animal rights, anti-globalization, anti-sweatshop, voluntary simplicity and primitivist (advocating a return to pre-civilized living) movements. There is freegan music like radical environmental singer Robert Hoyt's album 'Dumpster-Diving Across America..."

That might a good time to rummage for a discarded computer, lift it up, and play an mp3 excerpt from a Robert Hoyt song:

"We prayed for your collapse
and we accepted your table scraps
hoping beyond hope you'd drop the ball

But it's a fixed game
played in your court of shame
consider this your wake-up call

'Cause we aren't playing by your rules anymore
You set up the hoops for us to jump through
then you set up some more

What, do you take us for fools?
We're going to use all our tools
and we aren't playing by your rules anymore..."



Ah, the generic ‘protest’ song. A new level of hell. Urge to kill rising… rising…


Non-Davids can now take a peek

nobody important

georges, lichen.




If anyone feels inspired to try lichen cooked “authentically”, i.e. in a pit, here’s how. Please note cooking may take up to 3 days.


As you can see, the results are... magnificent.


Best served with what appears to be human hair.

nobody important

"Please note cooking may take up to 3 days."

This helps to build up the appettite.

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