Living off-the-grid morality. Resources, thoughts, comments

So I am writing my senior thesis on “whether intentionally leaving civil society is immoral.” So think of the movies Into the Wild and Alone In The Wilderness. My thesis is saying that it is moral to live outside society, build your home in the woods, and never be known by the government. The only conditions are one cannot “steal” from government by taking advantage of the privileges which only taxpayers deserve and that you can never be completely isolated. Complete isolation (when not centered completely around increasing your relationship with God) can cause psychological issues and could make one insane.

I’m just looking for Church sources to prove my point. I have a couple encyclicals that have quoted but I need some substantial resources.

note that my question says “civil” society and not society in general. society is necessary for humanity. but im saying that if one has good reason to leave “civil” society and has the primitive skills to go “back to basics,” then it is morally okay as long as he goes with other friends, family, and/or doesn’t completely abandon his relations with others.

I’m understanding what you’re saying. But I’m not sure about Church documents that would be of any help. There are a couple of websites that might be of interest for you. and That’s all I have at the moment.

I think of “Into the Wild” as a cautionary tale that living off the grid, as most extreme things, is better in theory than in practice

Are you familiar with the tiny house movement? Not truly off the grid or isolationist, but not living typically either.

Heh, even Thorough went back on the grid…

Perhaps some writings our experiences of hermits help.

Afaik, even monasteries have to “render unto Caesar,” and I believe monastic rules would have liked to set monasteries to be self sufficient, but that trade was necessary for both goods and currency.

I would say something is immoral when it hurts yourself or someone else.

Being a hermit does neither. In fact there are saints that were called to be hermits. They had a close relationship with God and wanted to spend their life in prayer.

As far as resources go, you could read about the lives of those saints (the names are escaping me at this time).


Sadly, you aren’t supposed to squat on government land. If you own the land, you have to pay taxes. Unless you live in a commune.

All examples I had of total self sufficiency by individuals and nations seem to revolve around the idea that total isolationism can’t work.

You can live on a deserted island for years but it’s still someone else’s island.

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