Swadeshi Dialogues 2: Neosubsistence

Neosubsistence refers to a lifestyle where we bypass commerce or business as usual and replace it with peoples’ true callings. This constitutes a novel economic experiment – one without precedent – one which requires us to drop all preconceptions of what the economy is all about. Neosubsistence is one of those words coined for lack of any better expression. In the future, someone may come up with a better word.


  1. Evgeni Pandurski

    I admire your work and your passion. I am myself working on a project which is basically about reinventing free trade (but making it work this time). You may see my system design document here in other to feel the taste of it. Anyway there are several thoughts I have about your work that I would like to share with you:

    1) I like your idea about building a CEB press. I did not realized how important it is before I saw your work. Great!

    2) I like your LiveTrac, although this seems to be quite hard to get something like that really working.

    3) People usually have one or two big ideas in their lives. Do not overestimate your ability to continue producing great stuff. Instead try to be involved in creating the process which will allow other people to produce great stuff. I am not sure where your main focus is placed.

    4) I expect the forthcoming transformation in the economy to undergo several phases:

    a. A knockdown. This will probably happen right after the global system of financial credit had collapsed entirely (probably 5-15 year from now).

    b. A big technological mind-shift. In this phase enterprises, economists, and people will become conscious of the fact that most technological decisions from the past are very ineffective once the third world is not willing to pay for the ineffectiveness. (This will be more or less an instant realization I think.)

    c. Huge economic and demographic restructuring. Deurbanization. Whole industries disappears. No more consumer society. Nevertheless some businesses will find sweet spots for their new (or not so new) technological offerings (like your CEB press). I assume this will be the time when the whole industry will be in rush to do what you do now.

    d. Stabilization. People generally have found a way to make their living. There is two now worlds: the low tech countryside (most of towns and cities will fall in this category) and few high-tech centers which are suppling the countryside with technology.

    e. Decentralization. The state of affairs established in phase (d) is clearly not favorable to the countryside, so it will gradually re-gain the ability to produce its own technologies. This process will run for a quite long time I suspect.

    From the phases I listed it seems that your pioneering work seems to be exactly at the right time. Although you should behave accordingly to the fact that within 5-15 years your work will become mainstream. Which brigs me to the next point…

    Your work and live-stile should be such that you are not burning out. Which is basically equivalent to saying: Not involving too much ideology. I sense a huge amount of ideology in your “Swadeshi Dialogues”! You are constantly making big statements, which are supposed to be undeniable true. In any case these statements are at least not a common knowledge, more often they are a clear deception. Your whole talking suggest that now-days technology can relatively easily bring all of us to the decentralized-nirvana. The fact is that you probably believe in that, and you are working to make this possible/thinkable, but nothing more! My suggestion is for you to work on changing your public image from what it is currently: “A bunch of left-activist, prone to burning out”, to the pioneers of the “phase (c)” — the emerging new economy.

    Well, the last paragraph was intentionally to harsh. I apologize. My point is that you are just a pioneers of the economy that comes — you are not supposed, and you are not able to do much more than that. You will not build the whole technological tool-set that the new economy will need. And again: You will not have more than one or two great ideas in your live. You are just a pioneer 🙂


  2. László Monda

    The notion of neosubsistence is very appealing to me but I think there are some issues that are hard to address.

    For example, how do you wanna build high-tech stuff without ICs? They are so miniature in scale that it’s impossible to fabricate (and design) them at home.

    1. Marcin

      Is there any reason why semiconductor manufacturing cannot be opensourced in the future?

  3. jim moore

    Just a little off topic, but I thought that you might be interested in this link
    its for a design for a passive solar green house, your earth brick machine would be prefect for building the thermal wall.

    1. Marcin

      Spectacular thermal performance on the greenhouse for mid-February frosts. We’re looking for doing something similar. Where can we find plans for these greenhouses?

  4. Tom_L the blanket in the Chinese-style solar greenhouses is probably more appropriate technology, but the bubble insulation is kinda neat.

  5. neodynos

    An old post, I know, but: Marcin, many thanks for coining the Neosubsistence word. So far the best I could find for this new style of economy.

    Did you come up with any even better word for it in the meantime?

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