I've noticed over the years that it becomes harder and harder to avoid deep personal integration within the consumer society.
You may be wondering why this is worthy of noting?
Well, after reading "Death of the Liberal Class" it occurs to me that it is difficult to be a dissident when you are beholden to those with economic power. Ostracism and criticism are coercive forces that a good many people have the power to ignore.
This, along with a more naive viewpoint, may be a good explanation for why the young are often getting involved in various causes. They have little at risk. They can speak out if they wish.
As you get older you have more avenues of attack for those that do not like your opinion. If you have a family the death threats that are uttered against you become far more sinister but at least these can be countered via legal means. With a family to feed and a mortgage to pay financial threats either directly via employers, or indirectly via employers who are beholden to those whose economic interests you oppose, are nearly irresistible.
The risks become too great. You can't function in society if your family cannot be fed and given shelter. You must have the means to provide and given the structure of society this requires having a bank account and access to money.
What would happen if we offered people the ability to partially extract themselves from the economic forces that exist today? Would dissidents then have the power to voice opposition to society factors without having to fear negative impacts on their family? Would these voices allow an expansion of the conversation by allowing people in the center to visible appear as centrists?
As a thought exercise lets attempt to extract people from economic pressures to some degree. We need to find a way for people to provide for themselves and their families. They must be able to provide food and shelter as well as access to education and other facets of society. The questions is how do we provide value to society while at the same time disentangling from it?
We'd need land to achieve this. Perhaps enough land to grow food for consumption and possibly for sale. We'd need shelter with all the modern conveniences including television and internet access. We'd need to be close enough to public facilities such as schools and law enforcement. We'd need participants to provide labor for the creation of goods and services for a non-personal integration with the economic realities of society.
With wind, solar and wood or grain stoves it should be possible to be relatively self-sufficient with respect to heating and electricity needs. If beyond municipal boundaries standalone water and septic systems are nothing new. Arable land, with a little capital, can easily be managed in relatively large swaths for the production of food for consumption or sale. Similarly, low level aquaculture may be suitable as well. A little participant labor can easily be used to maintain or build necessary structures.
At risk of scaring both left and right leaning readers I'd suggest that a non-profit corporate structure based on a sustainable self-sufficient operation would be appropriate. This would allow new participants to arrive and replace leaving participants. It would allow excess profits to be distributed in an equitable manner so that participants would have the ability to be economically active beyond direct creation of food and shelter.
Additionally, providing a shared infrastructure would allowed pooled effort and resources. Having multiple families living and working in such a non-consumerist and non-beholden environment would probably make it relatively easy to be self-sufficient, with modern technology and tools, leaving participants enough time to pursue external economic or non-economic interests depending on their desires.
Also, I do realize that sometimes it is possible to find telecommuting work that allows one to earn an income in a non-traditional manner. However, it is certainly not easy to start a family and pursue a career based on this type of situation. There may be little or no job certainty, fluctuating income levels, and a lack of redundancy in case of a temporary incapacity to work. In fact, if it was easy to retreat from society in this way a lot more people would be doing so.
Again, the purpose of all this is to give law abiding dissidents a place to exist where they do not need to worry about undue economic pressures being brought to bear on them for speaking out. Of course, this does presume that the non-profit corporate structure is set up to resist this type of activity. Perhaps an independent foundation would be set up to oversee and arbitrate disputes when the inevitable muckraking infiltrators arrive.