We Can Do All That

M&T: How is slöjd relevant to 21st-century society?

JS: I think that people are probably just the same now as they used to be 200 years ago. We still want to try new things, to learn, to be more skilled, to express ourselves, and to show off. With slöjd, we can do all that by being producers and consumers at the same time. There was a philosopher in the 1800s, Friedrich Engels, who was one of the first to talk about that concept. He warned that the Industrial Revolution was going to cause social problems because the producers would be separate from the consumers and they would be alienated from one another. Instead of connection and unity, there would be anxiety and isolation. You work to earn money, and then buy something you need – but you don’t know what you’re getting because you don’t know how it is made or how long it’s going to last. Your money gives you the option to save time, but when you buy something and it breaks down, you can’t fix it. When you’re passive and dependent on manufactured items, you feel uneasy about your ability to sustain your standard of living. I’m obviously putting it in stark black and white, but the craftsman who makes a table knows that if a wedge is a little loose, he can take it out and, with his knife, fix it.

–Jögge Sundqvist, excerpt from “The Good Life: Discussing Slöjd with Jögge Sundqvist” in Issue Six


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