But I do not think I could ever be a real freegan because they write such embarrassingly stupid things. They see themselves as anti-capitalist and do not seem to realize that their lifestyle depends on the abundance that capitalism creates. Freeganism could not work well in a socialist country--there is not enough wealth to allow it. Their vision of the market is one of production and accumulation (which is also the view of a lot of non-freegans). They would probably even agree with the statement, "Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production," or the statement that "consumption and leisure, not accumulation and hard work, are what Life is really all about."
It is almost a certainty, though, that they would not recognize the sources of those quotations. The first is from Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations and is a foundation of economics. The point of production or having a job is not to produce, but to be able to consume. Work is a means to an end. The second is from the amusing book by Steven Landsburg, The Armchair Economist. In it he describes his computer game of life, a computer game to teach people about economics. He says the most important point to teach is that consumption is the goal of economic activity. Landsburg is a libertarian who thinks environmentalists are religious wackos.
Exchange is positive sum--both sides of the exchange must benefit for the exchange to take place. It is the positive-sum nature of a market society that allows it to generate wealth. In contrast, theft is at best zero-sum. What one person obtains, the other loses. Theft is one example of what economists call rent seeking. Rent seeking can also be legal--trial lawyers are the ultimate rent seekers, taking without giving anything back. How about freeganism, which also takes without giving back? If freeganism is honest (they seem to be ambivalent about shoplifting), it is positive-sum. The freegan gains but no one loses. People who understand conventional economics should have no problems with the freegan lifestyle. What people who understand conventional economics should have problems with is the attempts of some to present it as the embodiment of a profound philosophy of life. It is OK to be cheap and want to consume without paying, but do not pretend that makes you better than other people.
When I was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison during the heyday of student radicalism, a popular slogan of protesters was that we should produce for people's needs, not for profit. Many really believed that that they were uttering something profound instead of something incoherent. I think my distaste in reading the freegan justification of what they are doing is closely related to my distaste for the campus radicals back in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Am I being too harsh? At the bottom of the page which explains the freegan philosophy is this:
"If you lack a printer or are reading this at a library with no printers, etc, and want paper copies, send a dollar to them...."Is that a test? If someone actually sent a dollar, would it prove the person does not deserve to be a freegan? Or is this just another example of the confused freegan thinking?