History on FIRE

The start of a new mini series

Do you find history interesting?

I do. I love how alien it can feel, while still giving us clues about how we got to where we are.

Most of all I love that history can inspire a bit of creativity about the future. It can be a utopian and hopeful study in that way.

Who doesn’t love hearing about pirate democracy or how London was once turned into a giant fortress by heroic civilians?

So, I thought it would be fun to write a mini series that gives a bit of historical context to the ideas that are integral to the FIRE movement.

I think these include, in no particular order:

  • Questioning the centrality of work in our lives
  • The demand for more free time
  • Emphasising craft and muscle over motor
  • Valuing self-education and learning
  • The importance of community
  • Anti-consumerism

Now for an admission. 

I have a sneaky second agenda here.

I really believe that wealth is created socially, by current and past generations.

So the way I see FIRE is collective; I think we should appreciate the work done by political movements and social reformers to help us get our chance for independence.

It could be a nice change to talk about FIRE in reference to those who’ve fought for the values (successfully or otherwise) that make financial independence possible for lots of people.

Those who should be thought of as heroes of the FIRE movement range from the feminists who demanded a place for women in our economy, to the labourers who banded together to form the first building societies.

Throughout this mini series I’ll try to use a people’s history approach. As E.P. Thompson, the prophet of this style of history, said at the beginning of his amazing The Making of the English Working Class:

I am seeking to rescue the poor stockinger, the Luddite cropper, the `obsolete’ hand-loom weaver, the `utopian’ artisan – and even the deluded follower of Joanna Southcott – from the enormous condescension of posterity.

page 13 of the Penguin edition

I reckon this suits FIRE nicely. After all, what is more FIREy than ordinary people looking around them before saying FU, I want to try something different.

One last thing. I’m afraid my own historical imagination is very centred on the British/English story. This sucks!

I would love to hear from anyone who has a less limited view. After all, history is a very global thing. It has never been contained by arbitrary national borders. 

Apart from that, if you know of a historical story that you think could be worth a mention please comment below or contact me – I love hearing from readers.

Plus, if you fancy it I’m not averse to adding other people’s writing to this blog.

Finally, if this sounds like a cool mini series to you then don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get email updates (at the bottom of any page) and follow me on Twitter (new!)

So you know what you’re letting yourself in for, the first post will be about either:

  • how domestic servants said FU and took control of their time 100 years ago, or 
  • how a group of English eccentrics used bicycles to spread the message of better leisure time and socialism throughout the country.

(Not decided yet, opinions?)


7 thoughts on “History on FIRE

    1. I have to look this up now! I was in Glasgow recently for the first time and very excited to find a couple of monuments on the Clyde to the people who fought in Spain, including a statue of La Pasionaria.


  1. I”ll vote for the servants. Although I like the sound of the eccentrics but they were probably from the middle classes so didn’t have much to lose.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s