Wednesday, January 25, 2017

How Great the Fall Can Be

While I type these words, an old Supertramp CD is playing in the next room. Those of my readers who belong to the same slice of an American generation I do will likely remember the words Roger Hodgson is singing just now, the opening line from “Fool’s Overture”:

“History recalls how great the fall can be...”

It’s an apposite quote for a troubled time.

Over the last year or so, in and among the other issues I’ve tried to discuss in this blog, the US presidential campaign has gotten a certain amount of air time. Some of the conversations that resulted generated a good deal more heat than light, but then that’s been true across the board since Donald Trump overturned the established certainties of American political life and launched himself and the nation on an improbable trajectory toward our current situation. Though the diatribes I fielded from various sides were more than occasionally tiresome, I don’t regret making the election a theme for discussion here, as it offered a close-up view of issues I’ve been covering for years now.

A while back on this blog, for example, I spent more than a year sketching out the process by which civilizations fall and dark ages begin, with an eye toward the next five centuries of North American history—a conversation that turned into my book Dark Age America. Among the historical constants I discussed in the posts and the book was the way that governing elites and their affluent supporters stop adapting their policies to changing political and economic conditions, and demand instead that political and economic conditions should conform to their preferred policies. That’s all over today’s headlines, as the governing elites of the industrial world cower before the furious backlash sparked by their rigid commitment to the failed neoliberal nostrums of global trade and open borders.

Another theme I discussed in the same posts and book was the way that science and culture in a civilization in decline become so closely identified with the interests of the governing elite that the backlash against the failed policies of the elite inevitably becomes a backlash against science and culture as well. We’ve got plenty of that in the headlines as well. According to recent news stories, for example, the Trump administration plans to scrap the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and get rid of all the federal offices that study anthropogenic climate change.

Their termination with extreme prejudice isn’t simply a matter of pruning the federal bureaucracy, though that’s a factor. All these organizations display various forms of the identification of science and culture with elite values just discussed, and their dismantling will be greeted by cheers from a great many people outside the circles of the affluent, who have had more than their fill of patronizing lectures from their self-proclaimed betters in recent years. Will many worthwhile programs be lost, along with a great deal that’s less than worthwhile?  Of course. That’s a normal feature of the twilight years of a civilization.

A couple of years before the sequence of posts on dark age America, for that matter, I did another series on the end of US global hegemony and the rough road down from empire. That sequence also turned into a book, Decline and Fall. In the posts and the book, I pointed out that one of the constants of the history of democratic societies—actual democracies, warts and all, as distinct from the imaginary “real democracy” that exists solely in rhetoric—is a regular cycle of concentration and diffusion of power. The ancient Greek historian Polybius, who worked it out in detail, called it anacyclosis.

A lot can be said about anacyclosis, but the detail that’s relevant just now is the crisis phase, when power has become so gridlocked among competing power centers that it becomes impossible for the system to break out of even the most hopelessly counterproductive policies. That ends, according to Polybius, when a charismatic demagogue gets into power, overturns the existing political order, and sets in motion a general free-for-all in which old alliances shatter and improbable new ones take shape. Does that sound familiar? In a week when union leaders emerged beaming from a meeting with the new president, while Democrats are still stoutly defending the integrity of the CIA, it should.

For that matter, one of the central themes of the sequence of posts and the book was the necessity of stepping back from global commitments that the United States can no longer afford to maintain. That’s happening, too, though it’s being covered up just now by a great deal of Trumped-up bluster about a massive naval expansion. (If we do get a 350-ship navy in the next decade, I’d be willing to bet that a lot of those ships will turn out to be inexpensive corvettes, like the ones the Russians have been using so efficiently as cruise missile platforms on the Caspian Sea.)  European politicians are squawking at top volume about the importance of NATO, which means in practice the continuation of a scheme that allows most European countries to push most of the costs of their own defense onto the United States, but the new administration doesn’t seem to be buying it.

Mind you, I’m far from enthusiastic about the remilitarization of Europe. Outside the brief interval of enforced peace following the Second World War, Europe has been a boiling cauldron of warfare since its modern cultures began to emerge out of the chaos of the post-Roman dark ages. Most of the world’s most devastating wars have been European in origin, and of course it escapes no one’s attention in the rest of the world that it was from Europe that hordes of invaders and colonizers swept over the entire planet from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, as often as not leaving total devastation in their wake. In histories written a thousand years from now, Europeans will have the same sort of reputation that Huns and Mongols have today—and it’s only in the fond fantasies of those who think history has a direction that those days are definitely over.

It can’t be helped, though, for the fact of the matter is that the United States can no longer afford to foot the bill for the defense of other countries. Behind a facade of hallucinatory paper wealth, our nation is effectively bankrupt. The only thing that enables us to pay our debts now is the status of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency—this allows the Treasury to issue debt at a breakneck pace and never have to worry about the cost—and that status is trickling away as one country after another signs bilateral deals to facilitate trading in other currencies. Sooner or later, probably in the next two decades, the United States will be forced to default on its national debt, the way Russia did in 1998.  Before that happens, a great many currently overvalued corporations that support themselves by way of frantic borrowing will have done the same thing by way of the bankruptcy courts, and of course the vast majority of America’s immense consumer debt will have to be discharged the same way.

That means, among other things, that the extravagant lifestyles available to affluent Americans in recent decades will be going away forever in the not too distant future. That’s another point I made in Decline and Fall and the series of posts that became raw material for it. During the era of US global hegemony, the five per cent of our species who lived in the United States disposed of a third of the world’s raw materials and manufactured products and a quarter of its total energy production. That disproportionate share came to us via unbalanced patterns of exchange hardwired into the global economy, and enforced at gunpoint by the military garrisons we keep in more than a hundred countries worldwide. The ballooning US government, corporate, and consumer debt load of recent years was an attempt to keep those imbalances in place even as their basis in geopolitics trickled away. Now the dance is ending and the piper has to be paid.

There’s a certain bleak amusement to be had from the fact that one of the central themes of this blog not that many years back—“Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush”—has already passed its pull date. The rush, in case you haven’t noticed, is already under way. The fraction of US adults of working age who are permanently outside the work force is at an all-time high; so is the fraction of young adults who are living with their parents because they can’t afford to start households of their own. There’s good reason to think that the new administration’s trade and immigration policies may succeed in driving both those figures down, at least for a while, but of course there’ll a price to be paid for that—and those industries and social classes that have profited most from the policies of the last thirty years, and threw their political and financial weight behind the Clinton campaign, will be first in line to pay it. Vae victis!*

More generally, the broader landscape of ideas this blog has tried to explore since its early days remains what it is. The Earth’s economically accessible reserves of fossil carbon dwindle day by day; with each year that passes, on average, the amount of coal, oil, and natural gas burnt exceeds the amount that’s discovered by a wider margin; the current temporary glut in the oil markets is waning so fast that analysts are predicting the next price spike as soon as 2018. Talk of transitioning away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, on the one hand, or nuclear power on the other, remains talk—I encourage anyone who doubts this to look up the amount of fossil fuels burnt each year over the last two decades and see if they can find a noticeable decrease in global fossil fuel consumption to match the much-ballyhooed buildout of solar and wind power.

The industrial world remains shackled to fossil fuels for most of its energy and all of its transportation fuel, for the simple reason that no other energy source in this end of the known universe provides the abundant, concentrated, and fungible energy supply that’s needed to keep our current lifestyles going. There was always an alternative—deliberately downshifting out of the embarrassing extravagance that counts for normal lifestyles in the industrial world these days, accepting more restricted ways of living in order to leave a better world for our descendants—but not enough people were willing to accept that alternative to make a difference while there was still a chance.

Meanwhile the other jaw of the vise that’s tightening around the future is becoming increasingly visible just now. In the Arctic, freak weather systems has sucked warm air up from lower latitudes and brought the normal process of winter ice formation to a standstill. In the Antarctic, the Larsen C ice shelf, until a few years ago considered immovable by most glaciologists, is in the process of loosing an ice sheet the size of Delaware into the Antarctic Ocean. I look out my window and see warm rain falling; here in the north central Appalachians, in January, it’s been most of a month since the thermometer last dipped below freezing. The new administration has committed itself to do nothing about anthropogenic climate change, but then, despite plenty of talk, the Obama administration didn’t do anything about it either.

There’s good reason for that, too. The only way to stop anthropogenic climate change in its tracks is to stop putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and doing that would require the world to ground its airlines, turn its highways over to bicycles and oxcarts, and shut down every other technology that won’t be economically viable if it has to depend on the diffuse intermittent energy available from renewable sources. Does the political will to embrace such changes exist? Since I know of precisely three climate change scientists, out of thousands, who take their own data seriously enough to cut their carbon footprint by giving up air travel, it’s safe to say that the answer is “no.”

So, basically, we’re in for it.

The thing that fascinates me is that this is something I’ve been saying for the whole time this blog has been appearing. The window of opportunity for making a smooth transition to a renewable future slammed shut in the early 1980s, when majorities across the industrial world turned their backs on the previous decade’s promising initiatives toward sustainability, and bought into the triumphalist rhetoric of the Reagan-Thatcher counterrevolution instead. Since then, year after weary year, most of the green movement—with noble exceptions—has been long on talk and short on action.  Excuses for doing nothing and justifications for clinging to lifestyles the planet cannot support have proliferated like rabbits on Viagra, and most of the people who talked about sustainability at all took it for granted that the time to change course was still somewhere conveniently off in the future. That guaranteed that the chance to change course would slide steadily further back into the past.

There was another detail of the post-Seventies sustainability scene that deserves discussion, though, because it’s been displayed with an almost pornographic degree of nakedness in the weeks just past. From the early days of the peak oil movement in the late 1990s on, a remarkably large number of the people who talked eagerly about the looming crisis of our age seemed to think that its consequences would leave them and the people and things they cared about more or less intact. That wasn’t universal by any means; there were always some people who grappled with the hard realities that the end of the fossil fuel age was going to impose on their own lives; but all things considered, there weren’t that many, in comparison to all those who chattered amiably about how comfortable they’d be in their rural doomsteads, lifeboat communities, Transition Towns, et al.

Now, as discussed earlier in this post, we’ve gotten a very modest helping of decline and fall, and people who were enthusiastically discussing the end of the industrial age not that long ago are freaking out six ways from Sunday. If a relatively tame event like the election of an unpopular president can send people into this kind of tailspin, what are they going to do the day their paychecks suddenly turn out to be worth only half as much in terms of goods and services as before—a kind of event that’s already become tolerably common elsewhere, and could quite easily happen in this country as the dollar loses its reserve currency status?

What kinds of meltdowns are we going to get when internet service or modern health care get priced out of reach, or become unavailable at any price?  How are they going to cope if the accelerating crisis of legitimacy in this country causes the federal government to implode, the way the government of the Soviet Union did, and suddenly they’re living under cobbled-together regional governments that don’t have the money to pay for basic services? What sort of reaction are we going to see if the US blunders into a sustained domestic insurgency—suicide bombs going off in public places, firefights between insurgent forces and government troops, death squads from both sides rounding up potential opponents and leaving them in unmarked mass graves—or, heaven help us, all-out civil war?

This is what the decline and fall of a civilization looks like. It’s not about sitting in a cozy earth-sheltered home under a roof loaded with solar panels, living some close approximation of a modern industrial lifestyle, while the rest of the world slides meekly down the chute toward history’s compost bin, leaving you and yours untouched. It’s about political chaos—meaning that you won’t get the leaders you want, and you may not be able to count on the rule of law or even the most basic civil liberties. It’s about economic implosion—meaning that your salary will probably go away, your savings almost certainly won’t keep its value, and if you have gold bars hidden in your home, you’d better hope to Hannah that nobody ever finds out, or it’ll be a race between the local government and the local bandits to see which one gets to tie your family up and torture them to death, starting with the children, until somebody breaks and tells them where your stash is located.

It’s about environmental chaos—meaning that you and the people you care about may have many hungry days ahead as crazy weather messes with the harvests, and it’s by no means certain you won’t die early from some tropical microbe that’s been jarred loose from its native habitat to find a new and tasty home in you. It’s about rapid demographic contraction—meaning that you get to have the experience a lot of people in the Rust Belt have already, of walking past one abandoned house after another and remembering the people who used to live there, until they didn’t any more.

More than anything else, it’s about loss. Things that you value—things you think of as important, meaningful, even necessary—are going to go away forever in the years immediately ahead of us, and there will be nothing you can do about it.  It really is as simple as that. People who live in an age of decline and fall can’t afford to cultivate a sense of entitlement. Unfortunately, for reasons discussed at some length in one of last month’s posts, the notion that the universe is somehow obliged to give people what they think they deserve is very deeply engrained in American popular culture these days. That’s a very unwise notion to believe right now, and as we slide further down the slope, it could very readily become fatal—and no, by the way, I don’t mean that last adjective in a metaphorical sense.

History recalls how great the fall can be, Roger Hodgson sang. In our case, it’s shaping up to be one for the record books—and those of my readers who have worked themselves up to the screaming point about the comparatively mild events we’ve seen so far may want to save some of their breath for the times ahead when it’s going to get much, much worse.
*In colloquial English: “It sucks to lose.”


Marcu said...
The first meeting of the Green Wizard's Association of Melbourne, for the new year, will be held this Saturday. All interested parties are invited to attend. For those people who are unsure about the nature of our meetings, imagine a long descent support group with some intentional living discussion mixed in.

If you are interested in joining us, meet us on Saturday the 28th of January 2017 at 13:00. The venue is, Vapiano, 347 Flinders Lane, Melbourne Victoria, Australia. Apologies to everybody who is tired of Italian food! One of the items of discussion this month will be alternative venue choices.

Send queries and comments to limitstogrowth1972[at]

Just look for the green wizard's hat.

P.S. I have created a webpage where I will post the details of the next meeting and any further details for those who don't frequent the comments here. The webpage can be found at

1/25/17, 1:50 PM

Daniel Najib said...
How fortuitous, this post and the one on the other blog brought up some aspect of Anacyclosis; I sense a pattern!

What you said at the end really stuck out: "Things that you value—things you think of as important, meaningful, even necessary—are going to go away forever in the years immediately ahead of us, and there will be nothing you can do about it."

Quite true. I've taken up an intensive study of Stoicism for about a year now, and it has helped me to come to grips about what is in my control, and what is outside my control. I try not to worry excessively about such externalities. I'm a member of a Stoic group here in NYC that's seen rising membership over the last year, and Stoicism is making a philosophical come back. Hopefully this philosophy can help people through the dark age. For anyone interested in the philosophy, I recommend Epictetus's Handbook as a good starting place.

1/25/17, 2:01 PM

DaShui said...
I know this is off post, but I thought you gotta see this:

And you told us Druidism is a "religion of peace"!

1/25/17, 2:10 PM

Marcu said...
A very sobering post. It is jarring seeing the possible landscape of the future laid out so starkly. If "Collapse now and avoid the rush" has reached its expiry date is there any advice you could spare, is there anything that can still be done?

1/25/17, 2:13 PM

Violet Cabra said...
Thank you for this article and your blogs in general, John Michael Greer. They've helped me immeasurably to adjust to the unpalatable future we have staring us in the face.

on January first this year I was exposed to fragrances that caused burning in my mouth and tongue and swelling in my throat. Since then I've been markedly unwell with much lowered vitality, weird pains, loss of appetite, and fatigue, worsened, of course, by chemical exposure. Most of the spaces I've been accustomed to passing time are now inaccessible to me. The majority of my peers have little basis for understanding what is happening to me, and given that I'm limited in where I can go, it's hard to educate them.

For several months I was planning on returning to my parent's house. My mom, bless her heart, is removing all the fragrances she can. In a profound way I've lost control in my life, largely based on the feckless development of toxic chemicals and their proliferation in almost every aspect of our lives.

I don't know if I'll stay at the same level of sickness, get better or worse. My life is up in the air, and I'm awed by the enlarged degree of my vulnerability. During this trying time I've mediated quite a bit on your writing, and have found great comfort in your words. For me, collapse may have just come, and yes, I'm fully aware it may turn out to be fatal. I'm also aware that collectively, and most likely personally, things will worsen in due time, and I'm significantly less likely now to be able to survive these developments.

Such is life, which is wild, and precious and ultimately bound up in strange destinies and directions which defy our puny human understandings. For what it's worth I'm enormously excited to garden with my family and see just how much food I can grow and preserve, to plant many anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) in the lawn for the bees, and nettles and burdock all around, start seeds indoors, and share plants far and sundry with friends and neighbors.

1/25/17, 2:39 PM

mh505 said...
European politicians are squawking at top volume about the importance of NATO, which means in practice the continuation of a scheme that allows most European countries to push most of the costs of their own defense onto the United States, but the new administration doesn’t seem to be buying it.

Defense against whom? Presumably Russia.
Well, it may come as a surprise to you, but Russia can and will be a much partner for us Europeans than the US ever was.

1/25/17, 2:51 PM

Emmanuel Goldstein said...
I have to admit, I _was_ holding my breath at times during The Donald's inauguration. It seemed to me that there was a significant chance that he would not live thru the experience. Had he not, we would almost certainly be on the rapid road to civil war about now.
As far as collapsing now, it is true that my profession (pharmacy) is in the process of going away. The problem is that it's not gone yet. As it goes gradually downhill, I find that I have to keep one foot in pharmacy, paying out funds for the mandatory continuing ed, license fees, etc, that maintain the license. It still pays the bills, but when I let it go, there is no good regulatory route to get it back again if that's necessary. So my down time is spent downsizing the dwelling, getting really good at passive solar engineering and looking into local herbs and the brewing of antibiotics that could be the basis of an herbal/antibiotic practice in 5 to 10 years.
My son is in a similar position. He works in computers now, but is using that career to find his way into a trade. Our happiest future is being unable to travel out of the rural community where we live, and hopefully having a part in the local community economy. War, pestilence or other natural disaster takes it downhill from there.

1/25/17, 2:55 PM

Justin said...

I think that this is a good video which is relevant to this week's blog post.

Specifically, the minute or so after this timestamp, although unless you're super busy you should just watch the whole thing.

Many affluent liberals I know, including those who complain about Republicans not taking climate change seriously while planning their next overseas trip, are perfectly happy to engage in objectively unpleasant activities - camping, endurance cycling, etc in service to the identity they are acting out. Many people who serve in the military, provided that they do not see too much carnage, miss the military after they get out.

The number one issue of our time is just what the frack we're collectively doing here now that we're no longer Progressing, and we need a consistent vision, shared by 95%+ of society about what that is if we are going to have a functional, humane society.

Addendum: JMG, the Evola book I actually read was Revolt Against the Modern World. If I mixed it up that badly, I should probably read it again.

1/25/17, 3:02 PM

Unknown said...
Hello JMG,

I appreciate the points you are making in this post. It is important to remember that the daily grind is part of a larger and overall predictable society grind. That said you have always stressed the jerking periods of decline followed by plateau. This post seemed much more catastrophic then catabolic if you will.

Are you suggesting we are entering a period of sharp decline with an unknown plateau somewhere down the slope and down the road or are you suggesting this is "the big one" as it were.

1/25/17, 3:07 PM

MindfulEcologist said...
The voice of sanity!

The changed lifestyle is still its own reward: LESS is more. It is sad that more people did not get that part of it.

Speaking of, I put most of one of the harder to find essays by E.F. Schumacher, The Roots of Violence, on my site. Your readers might find it adds food for thought.

Thank you for the offline words as well. It's writing advice I took to heart.

1/25/17, 3:08 PM

wilco bokken said...
A very thoughtprovoking post, as i live in the Netherlands im glad you mentioned europe. I have been thinking about our predicament as mentioned in your blog and what it will mean for the future of my country and my hometown. It does not look good. Still i do what i can, im building a permaculture garden and started collecting books on appropriate technology, wich is tricky because in the Netherlands many of the books you mention in green wizaedry were rarely translated or published. Anyway keep up the good writing, greetings Wilco

1/25/17, 3:09 PM

James M. Jensen II said...
Yikes. That's a frigidly cold splash of water in the face.

As a fairly long time (sort of; I took a couple of years off at one point out of emotional necessity) follower of the blog, I have to hang my head in some shame at how little I've personally done to get ready.

By way of explanation rather than excuse, I can say that I've spent a great deal of that time trying to deal with personal issues I inherited from my late teenage years (and an until-a-few-years-ago undiagnosed case of Asperger's syndrome) and never really dealt with properly. Your writings have been immensely helpful to me on that front, by the way. I really can't thank you enough.

I think the most central crux of the issue, however, is that I have never identified anything substantial that I could do to address my biggest worry about the coming future: my utter dependence on industrial medicine (in the form of insulin) to stay alive. No amount of prepping on my part will save me if my medications become unavailable for whatever reason (I have no wife or kids to worry about, and my parents just as fracked as me if this happens, so I can't muster up much of the sense of responsibility that might otherwise have motivated me). The only thing I can hope for is that the reason for their unavailability is a crisis of sufficient locality that I can go for refugee status in some more hospitable nation. Thankfully, I have an aunt who's a Russian citizen; much as I dislike many of the things Putin has stood for, he has certainly helped put Russia on a stronger footing than the US right now.

Despite that, I really could have and wish I had done more. Ah well, if wishes were horses and all that.

Sorry this is such a self-indulgent comment.

1/25/17, 3:13 PM

Marinhomelander said...
"the Trump administration plans to scrap the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting"

Neocon Propaganda Radio gone? Those fools depended on government funding and made the big mistake of trashing Sanders and backing Hillary Clinton, plus they never met a war that they didn't like.

They roundly criticized, and criticize, every aspect of Trump's life and political career and then they expect to remain viable, a discretionary line item on his budget plan?

Let me kick the first pile of dirt into their face as they thrash about at the bottom of the hole they dug for themselves with their clamoring mouths. Phony leftists destroying any chance of real reform with their reporting and preening. They won't be missed.

It is simply astounding how much political change has happened in the last couple of months, how the narratives have changed. I see a camaraderie among guys in public places, big smiles, high fives, that I've never seen before.
Maybe that's because I live in the belly of the Hildebeast in California.

1/25/17, 3:13 PM

Jay Moses said...
i enjoy the way you have of tweaking the self satisfied, whether it's democrats who have forgotten that their party's origins are with the working class or survivalists eagerly awaiting collapse who are convinced that their supplies of food, water and band aids are going to save them from an apocalypse. i can't say i've ever been a fan of supertramp (a little before my time), but we can hear the same message in gordon lightfoot's rendition of hamilton camp's pride of man. or, if music is not one's bent, one can read poe's the mask of the red death or even watch bill and ted's excellent adventure (you may be a king or a little street sweeper, but in the end you'll dance with the reaper). my personal favorite is from w.h. auden: As the poets have mournfully sung, Death takes the innocent young, The rolling- in-money, The screamingly-funny, And those who are very well hung.

my guess is that, as our current social/economic arrangements unwind, what you can do will prove to be more useful than what you have. stored supplies eventually run out or are stolen. no matter what comes next there will always be a need for people who can raise food, bake bread, brew a decent glass of beer, educate the young, tend the sick etc. what is not likely to be in high demand are lawyers, bankers, insurance executives and other rent seeking parasites. it could be worse.

1/25/17, 3:21 PM

Fred the First said...
Thank you for what you wrote this week. It was real contribution to me and I feel a huge sense of relief and resolve. Yes this is what decline looks like. And standing in that place with that in my head, I can be much more of a comfort and resource to others. Oh and I need to get on that order for new pullets. And the seed order too.

1/25/17, 3:23 PM

Scotlyn said...
It strikes me that the best thing to cultivate in place of a sense of entitlement is a sense of responsibility. And to reflect deeply upon which of all the things is most worthy of our responsible stewardship & care.

There is worth doing, and if not by me, then by who?

Old fashioned concepts such as courage, fortitude, honour and humility also recommend themselves.

1/25/17, 3:28 PM

Cherokee Organics said...

Respect for writing this and also getting all of the hot air vented last week. Seriously, a lot of those heated comments just warmed the atmosphere more than it already was. What a waste of energy.

I've recounted the story of having been made redundant as a young bloke in the recession in the early 1990's and the shock at finding oneself redundant. Well, after that I never threw my weight behind the system again and looked for niches to escape it. But in recent times - as you would be only all too aware - I have since discovered that the word redundant also has an ecological meaning which actually applied to me at that time of physical redundancy. I'm not the sharpest tool around but I didn't need to be told a second time. Alas for others, as I suspect they will not heed that particular lesson as it visits them.

Of course inflation will appear. In fact, I reckon we are now in a period of stagflation (hello 1970's oil crisis) and the increase in under employment is being used to mask the real story whilst nobody speaks about the insane median Melbourne house price of $880,000.

I take all of what you wrote seriously because it accords with what I see going on in the world since that time when I was rather rudely woken up to the unpleasant realities.

Instead of people talking about approaching the future gracefully, what their dirty little secret is, is that they would prefer it if other people are made redundant (in the physical and ecological sense) so as to open room for their own. They never realise that the "do unto others" applies to that little wish and you never know when your lucky numbers will come up.

People tell me from time to time how hard I work. I'm not sure I work hard enough. Today, I'm continuing bringing in the winters firewood - a huge job to be sure - and listening to the Triple J Hottest 100 countdown (a highlight of my year as I am a self confessed music nerd).

I liked Supertramp too. My favourite was the logical song as it spoke directly to me:

"When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.
And all the birds in the trees, well they'd be singing so happily,
Joyfully, playfully watching me.
But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible,
Logical, responsible, practical.
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
Clinical, intellectual, cynical."



1/25/17, 3:28 PM

David, by the lake said...

Thank you for this. Periodic reminders of the reality we face help with focus on what is important. The part about dealing with loss hit home for me -- we head into winter, that is our lot, and we will be having to deal with it. Much of the "world" seems trivial in that light.

As a side note, your points re the problems with science and trust are spreading. Ugo Bardi's post this week had a familiar ring to it.

1/25/17, 3:38 PM

Neo Tuxedo said...
This is what the decline and fall of a civilization looks like.

In an issue of his Gnostic espionage thriller comic The Invisibles*, the Scottish comics-writer and pop magician Grant Morrison has a dying Aum Shinrikyo assassin receive the same insight. He had been sent to steal a time machine that would let him see the Harumagedon foretold to Aum's prophet by a 1980s anime,

"and return with the perfect knowledge of how to bring it about… but I have learned something new… Harumagedon isn’t coming… it is here already… this is how the collapse appears to those condemned to live in it… Harumagedon is happening now."

(* My good friend Phil Sandifer, the amateur psychochronographer and Blakean Magus who recently founded the Ithaca Psychogeographic Liberation Front, will be discussing The Invisibles sometime in Book Five of The Last War in Albion, his essay on the careers of, and rivalry between, Grant Morrison and Alan Moore considered as one front in an interdimensional magickal war. As he's currently halfway through Book Two, an analysis of Moore's seminal superhero saga Watchmen, this may take a while.)

I have never identified anything substantial that I could do to address my biggest worry about the coming future: my utter dependence on industrial medicine (in the form of insulin) to stay alive.

I can relate. I'll be able to survive if I no longer have access to 30mg of citalopram daily, but I have reason to believe it'll be a life with a constant low-level electrical storm in my head, with the concomitant effects on my temper and my ability to cope with allistics' happy horse-manure.

1/25/17, 4:04 PM

rapier said...
Being 65 I will relate, not that anyone should care, that by say 1977 I realized the that sort of hippie dream of a sustainable path to the future wasn't going to happen. In the end probably 80% of hippies were more hedonists than anything else and besides 90% of all other Americans believed that 'growth' forever was our destiny and right. Some 10 years later I started to think deflation, in the broadest sense, was close. Well here, 30 years on, I think so too but am allowing another 30 years give or take for it to really kick in. It could be this year or 30. By which time I likely won't be here. This is something I do not morn. The last thing I would take pleasure in is being right, that cataclysm and let me be frank death on a massive scale, is finally here.

How it all plays out is interesting but I am starting to feel a little guilty about spending so much time watching the show.

1/25/17, 4:04 PM

Peter Wilson said...
I read this post in an apposite location, filled with failing complex systems and increasingly unhappy and stressed people - Los Angeles International Airport - whilst one of those complex systems had failed, for me, leaving me stranded. It's a microcosm of America, the sense of decay, overblown government, and homage to past glories that still has me feeling sick. I usually enjoy my trips to North America (and no doubt I will once I get out of an urban environment) but this time, the tension in the air is palpable, and I'll be pleased to get back onto my side of the Pacific pond again when it's over.

1/25/17, 4:06 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Daniel, I heartily agree with your recommendation of Epictetus -- his writings got me in one piece through some profoundly wretched times, and remain my go-to when I need a cold wet towel across the face to slap me out of self-pity.

DaShui, yeah, one fanatic with five followers, out of some tens of thousands of Druids in Germany. (Several Druid orders have a very large presence there.) Every faith has its crazies, Druidry included.

Marcu, at this point it's a matter of surfing the wave, and trying to get as far ahead of the rush as you can.

Violet, good heavens -- I hope you manage a full recovery. That's got to be challenging. Still, you're right; that's the way life is.

Mh505, I'm delighted to hear that. I trust you'll be writing to your government to urge them to support having NATO entirely paid for by the European nations it protects, so that the 70% of its funding currently paid by the US can stay here and go to paving our roads or something.

Emmanuel, of course that's the issue, isn't it? Collapse isn't an instant event -- it unfolds over historical time, which means that people who are born well after it begins will die of old age long before it's over with. So you, like everyone else, has to live in three worlds -- the remaining scraps of the old world, the nascent fragments of the new world, and the chaotic realm of transitions between them.

Justin, and collective visions can't be imposed from without. They emerge organically in a society, starting from the fringes and working their way toward the affluent center. As for Revolt Against the Modern World, no, you read it correctly -- you're just remembering the first half more than the second, and it's the second that fed into his practical activities before the war.

Unknown, the "big one" began in 1914 and will probably end sometime after 2150. This is one of many downward lurches that play a role in that overall pattern.

MindfulEcologist, thanks for posting that bit of Schumacher! Anything by him is worth reading, and rereading.

James, understood. The thing is, shame isn't particularly useful. The important thing is to get up each morning and say, "Okay, given the situation I find myself in here and now, what can I do that will help?"

Marinhomelander, I admit I've long thought of NPR as the blue equivalent of Faux News. Hadn't heard your version of the acronym, though.

Jay, thank you. Could you possibly put that last bit of your comment -- the part about what you can do, rather than what you have, being the thing that matters -- on the business end of a branding iron, and apply it to the overly tender posteriors of those who don't get it? I've been trying to communicate that for a good long time now, with limited success.

1/25/17, 4:13 PM

Troy Jones said...
Sobering stuff. I applaud your courage in trying to rhetorically slap people into facing reality.

I have been thinking lately (and this does pertain somewhat to this week's topic) that it seems to me that some people read Spengler (and other writers who talk about historical cycles) and think to themselves that we can break the cycle somehow and have a permanently enduring civilization. For example, you have talked in the past on this blog about how caesarism is coming, and many of the comments essentially ask, what can we do to stop it?

The answer is, you don't stop it. Can't. Just as ice turns to liquid when temperature and pressure conditions are right, democracy turns to caesarism when the conditions are right. Just how it goes. Spengler was more of a descriptivist than a prescriptivist. Or to put it another way: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it; those who do learn from history are doomed to stand around helplessly watching everyone else repeat it". (That joke is not original with me, by the way, but I am not sure whom to credit it to).

And now it seems caesarism is here, or very nearly so. No, I am not comparing Trump to Hitler or Mussolini. But even as recently as just a few days ago, the media was speculating what Trump's base would do when he inevitably betrays them and continues with business as usual, e.g. not building that wall, not having a moratorium on immigration from Muslim countries, etc., etc...

But much to their surprise, Trump has already signed executive orders starting the wall-building process and immigration restriction. Never mind that allocating money to build the wall would fall under the traditional purview of Congress. He is moving ahead with his plans while Congress and the media rage impotently from the sidelines. There is no doubt much to object to with Trump, but business as usual does not seem to be on the menu.

And here in deep-red country I can attest that his base is eating it up, at least so far, approvingly sharing videos and memes on social media of D.C. riot police pepper-spraying the "snowflakes". It's not a world I ever truly expected to live in. Yet here we are.

1/25/17, 4:14 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Fred, thank you. Hearing that reaction makes me feel a little less as though I'm standing to one side of a mass of stampeding lemmings saying, "Um, you really don't need to jump off that cliff into the sea, you know."

Scotlyn, sounds like very good advice to me.

Cherokee, you may be right about the contribution to global warming! I adored "The Logical Song," too -- I probably would have cited it if it had anything to do with the theme of the post.

David, thank you. I'm not surprised that Bardi's talking about that -- we have our disagreements, but he's very sharp and less than usually prone to self-deception.

1/25/17, 4:16 PM

Jeff S. said...
Well said. I have a couple of predictions:

1) This will be the last ADR post to touch on politics for a while. Other topics are vying for our host's attention.

2) A book on the US presidential election by JMG is in the works. This book will appear sometime in the second half of this calendar year.

My second prediction is more risky than the first; if it turns out not to pass, well, one out of two ain't bad.

1/25/17, 4:21 PM

beetleswamp said...
Last week I saw the volume of comments and didn't even bother to read them because it was obvious they would be just more freak out nonsense. People are telling me what's going on Facebook, losing relationships and such, and it sounds like a mad house. Occasionally I still get questions about if I still believe in near term economic collapse. It's so absurd that I don't know how to respond. Inside my head I'm thinking "Like duh, Earth to McFly, are you even paying attention?"

1/25/17, 4:22 PM

Dave Z said...
So, I'm curious.

Your common theme has been that catastrophic doomsayers overlook the 'unless something is done' clause. You assert that something is ALWAYS done to avert catastrophe. That the descent will be long.

Y2K was a f'rinstance. Many of us remediators felt and feel that too little had been done until too late. Our bases were uncovered. We pulled the trigger and - barring a rough trillion in global expense - CLICK.

That round of Russian Roulette left us alive for another. You wrote that remediation efforts had been both inevitable and sufficient. Well, we left it past the last minute; like many professional remediators, I prepared for the not improbable worst; 'sufficient' was only declared retrospectively.

So now you sound like we few Y2K glitch activists on the eve of the eve of disaster. You write, "So, basically, we're in for it." followed by spot-on assessment of our closing windows of opportunity.

Click, click, cl...?

To my mind, you sound just like we who tried to warn that the rounds chambered in our little game of R.Roulette are lethally potent. That the odds of trouble are dour. That preparations for trouble must anticipate far more than inconvenience.

What you describe, here, sounds like the outright, catastrophic collapse you've pooh-poohed. While I agree, I wonder...

What's different this time?

1/25/17, 4:26 PM

Justin said...
JMG, yeah, I'll admit to getting pretty glassy-eyed after the halfway point in that book. But the first half was fascinating. Of course, today I noticed that you talked about Evola on the other blog. You could regard Evola as polar north, it might be a good idea to move in that direction, but to actually go there would be disastrous.

I'll stick to my earlier point, that the question of "who the frack are we and what the frack are we doing here" is the really interesting thing, not rig counts or EROEI or climate change.

1/25/17, 4:29 PM

Cottage Crone said...
Once again, thank you so much for a thoughtful, considered and literate summation of our current and future times. I find myself looking at my children (in their mid-to-late 50's) and my grandchildren (1 teen, the rest in their mid-to-late 20's) and judging their mental, emotional and physical capacity to live in this decline and fall. So many people can only express horror and indignation that "all this!" is happening, without a thought for what must be faced later and the means of doing so. I complete 80 years this year, if I live that long, and have very few people in my life who want to even hear about what is obviously happening, let alone discuss it or attempt to plan for it. Railing against is all they seem to know. I, too, contributed my huge share to this decline and fall and take full responsibility for my ignorant part. I get a pass on the worst, but this is the world I helped create for my kids and grandkids. They, more than I, will feel the truth of the Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times."

1/25/17, 4:30 PM

Raymond Duckling said...
Who would have thought we were just witnessing the fall of "Collapse Now, Avoid the Rush"!!! It should have been obvious, but so is the benefit of hindsight.

I guess "Now, Collapse in a Rush!" will have to do. It's at least better than "Avoid the Now into Collapse" or "Rush the Collapse and Avoid".

But we can trust the pull date for "There's no Brighter Future Ahead" seems comfortably far away.

1/25/17, 4:33 PM

Bruno B. L. said...
JMG, and @unknown, about the big one...from what I understood of your writings, JMG, I thought the first round of collapse of the whole Western civilization came in 1914 and ended in 1945, and that we are just about entering the second round, after a roughly seventy years long plateau. And that we should expect one more round of collapse still, from which there will be no recovery, before the process of collapse is complete. So I reckon things may get as bad in the next few decades as they did between the 10's and the 40's. Have I got that right?

1/25/17, 4:42 PM

Justin said...
Also, a thought about the phrase (not the book) "Revolt Against The Modern World" - it seems to me, that if there were some magical new energy source which enabled unlimited technological progress, it seems like eventually human life would be entirely dictated by an Internet of Things based control grid and of course, lots of pharmacological technology to help us cope. Right now AI is becoming a real thing - it's an absolutely terrifying technology, probably only matched by nuclear weapons or engineered viruses. Perhaps this is rationalization, but no amount of human comfort is worth the horrors that AI could unleash on the world in an attempt to create a world without sin. So on a certain level, I am pro-collapse as a revolt against the modern world because I am afraid of the technocratic managerial class & the opportunity that modern technology offers them.

"...But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties,..."

Thankfully, we don't actually have to do anything to smash perverted science.

Regarding NPR, I hope that 2019 brings a Canadian PM who will defund CBC!

1/25/17, 4:43 PM

Mark Hines said...
Thanks for the post. It was very well said. It seems that the collapse hasn't seemed so noticeable until The Donald was elected and starting wielding his dictatorial pen. Some of his bizarre statements about the inaugural crowd size, alienating the CIA and worrying world leaders and now signing executive orders that seem to authorize the wall and the rounding up and deportation of illegals all seems to blatantly shout, "Collapse in progress" as the wheels of government seem to be quickly coming noticeably apart. It is scary. I would have preferred to have seen it a little at a time so I could deal with it. Is it just me, or do the quick rush of seeming delusional actions seem to be quickly upsetting the apple cart?
Keep up the good work. You continue to inform those who will listen.

1/25/17, 4:43 PM

Dayton said...
As Justin suggested, you should absolutely look up Dr Jordan Peterson. His YouTube channel is amazing. The guy is building the ground work for the next secular ethics using an evolutionary psychologist approach to mythologies/religion that is heavily informed by Jung and the Existentialists. You guys should do a podcast or a series of open letters! I'd love to hear your opinions on gender dynamics, the current wave of feminism, and Pepe/Kek/chaos magic. You guys could probably talk for hours about totalitarianism, collapse and the search for personal meaning.

1/25/17, 4:43 PM

Clay Dennis said...
I was once a loyal listener to NPR ( back in the 90's). But it seems that during the Bush administration, when the corporation for public broadcasting was having its budget cut they did two things that changed them. First they jumped on the corporate sponsorship bandwagon , and somewhere in a dark back room they agreed to toe the neoliberal party line to keep the funding that they still got from the federal government. I have a bit of an inside insight in to this as the CEO of NPR in the mid 2000s lived on the same floor as me in my freshman college dorm way back in the 80's. She was ousted from NPR because of some political correctness scandal or other, but the inside story from friends who keep in touch with her is that she was ousted because she would not follow the Neocon playbook. She was a Russian Scholar before her stint in public radio, and had spent more than a decade in the old Soviet Union and Russia before her rise to fame in broadcasting, and she refused to jump on the Russia demonization campaign that now characterizes NPR. Whenever I listen to this station it seems like its main job is to sooth the nerves of the salary class. It is no wonder Trump is cutting its budget as these moves strongly aligned them with his enemies.

1/25/17, 4:46 PM

My donkey said...
What I've found has helped me in getting by with less is to make a game of it.

Lowering utility bills, buying fewer goods, traveling less, growing more of your own food... these activities are measurable, and recording their numbers allows you to evaluate your performance each month/year. When I do better than previously, I feel great! And maybe it's just me, but whenever I do worse, it makes me all the more determined to do better. I enjoy the challenge of competing, even if it's just with myself.

This "philosophy" was introduced to me in aerobic fitness sessions, but it's applicable to many other areas of life.

1/25/17, 4:53 PM

John & Louise said...
It was difficult to read your writing with week. I concur with your evaluation and I find it a very dark place.... but so goes life.

It has been my experience that there are very few people with whom one can discuss these points and not be viewed as "mentally ill" or delusional.. Hence I keep my thoughts to myself...

I am finally getting around to reading the entire "Age of Limits" book (hardcover..), put out by the Club of Rome... (all those years ago). Of course I have followed Gail's and Mearns work (and others part of that group)for many years, at the Oil Drum and on..

JMG, I enjoy your writings... even though the truth is sometimes sorrowful, thank you.

1/25/17, 4:58 PM

wisdomchaser said...
I too suffer from multiple chemical sensitvity. After 35 plus years I have good data and bad days. I still work very hard to keep my personal evironment as chemically clean as possible. It helps a lot. I wish you well on your journey to improved health.

1/25/17, 5:04 PM

Nastarana said...
I also shall not mourn the demise of National Pentagon Radio. My personal BS detector is to check out what an opinionator, politician or party might have to say about food and farm policy; NPR is all GMO and industrial farming all the way and PBS not much better. I do find it cause for alarm that the new Ag Sec nominee was announced at the last minute, with almost no public notice, and confirmation hearings not yet scheduled. Not that the Clinton occupied Democratic Party was any better on farm issues.

Winter sowing season is right now, check it out. Wonderfully productive way to start your seeds, use not toss milk jugs, and avoid the expense of indoor propagation set ups.

1/25/17, 5:22 PM

Bryant said...
JMG - do you think that we will actually run into issues with peak oil, or our infrastructure will suffer the other slings and insults of complexity before "peak oil" becomes an issue?

1/25/17, 5:24 PM

Shane W said...
Geez, JMG, I hate when you read my mind and steal my ideas. ROFL ;-)

1/25/17, 5:24 PM

Karen said...
Well Mr. Archdruid, this post is a real buzz kill.

1/25/17, 5:25 PM

Jbarber said...
Thank you for the post. Your words just made vague unease coalesce into feelings of standing at a starting line, ready to take off into something new.
I've been rather much of an economic failure for most of my adult life, and always wondered why I had to endure food insecurity, lack of comforts like internet and cable, or the need to constantly move when the rent went up. I railed at being poor; now I know that I'm much more prepared for the coming crisis than anyone who's been comfortable all their life. I don't like the idea of staying poor, but at least I know how to handle it.

1/25/17, 5:31 PM

Carlos M. said...
As it turns out, our ruling class masters know this as much as anybody. The recent New Yorker article, "Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich", is quite telling:

Choice quote:

'Most said they’ll fire up their planes and take their families to Western ranches or homes in other countries.” One of the guests was skeptical, Dugger said. “He leaned forward and asked, ‘Are you taking your pilot’s family, too? And what about the maintenance guys? If revolutionaries are kicking in doors, how many of the people in your life will you have to take with you?’ The questioning continued. In the end, most agreed they couldn’t run.”'

Here in the Philippines, it's still fairly common for people to grow food in their own backyard. Rural folks, having not much money, actually pay their doctors in live animals. We get a lot of American TV here, including "doomsday prep" shows. Those are always a source of amusement for me, since their subjects are often preparing for stuff like "collapse of the national electricity grid" or "failure of the banking system". The most doomsday-prepped folks I know are the small time, rural, local farmers and fishermen, who have no bank accounts and aren't even connected to the grid (though some of them have small scale solar generators).

It strikes me from that article that Silicon Valley gazillionaires aren't very creative. They're expecting to ride out the collapse in an air-purified bunker and have a helicopter on standby? They're gonna last a few months at best.

That said, the "affluent supporters" will be the worst off of them all. The hysteria reveals the scale of the cognitive dissonance; the reaction is as if the impossible was unfolding in front of their very eyes.

1/25/17, 5:31 PM

John the Peregrine said...
>In histories written a thousand years from now, Europeans will have the same sort of reputation that Huns and Mongols have today

You might want to read a history of the Mongols written after 1970 or so (not a popular history, but one written by a professional historian). There's been a reassessment of the Mongols in the last few decades. Despite obviously not being very nice people if you got on their bad side, they also had some rather progressive ideas, like meritocracy, multiculturalism, gender equality and religious freedom. Not the cartoon villains that they're often presented as.

1/25/17, 5:44 PM

Tower 440 said...
Greetings to the assembled Wizardren!
The Spring joint meeting of the Green Wizards’ Benevolent and Protective Association, Tower Number 440, and Ruinmen’s Guild, Local 440 will be held at 12:30 PM on Saturday, March 18, 2017. Our location is Ruko’s Family Restaurant, 9385 Mentor Avenue, Mentor, Ohio 44060, (440) 974-1914. Shining the Green Light! Public Welcome! Tables for Failed Scholars. Look for the table topper with the Green Wizard Hat. Contact us at [email protected].
Our speaker will be Green Wizard Gene Ainsworth, the first member of Tower 440 to travel with a GWB&PA issued “passport.” (Email us for the template.) Gene will report on his People to People trip to Cuba, particularly his research and interviews with the Cuban People to learn about how they have coped with the difficulties, of the electrical grid, lack of utilities and refrigeration.
Many thanks to John for the posting space on his blog.

1/25/17, 5:53 PM

Izzy said...
This is a sobering post, for sure. The message I take from it, though, is perhaps not the one others do. If there's nothing I can do about it...well, politically, I'll fight (in part, I suspect, because I like a good fight) and I'll try and preserve knowledge for what's to come. But personally, my reaction to this possibility is "Gaudeamus Igitur," as they used to say, or "YOLO" in the words of my generation.*Nail cute guys, punch jerks and Nazis, drink whiskey, smoke pot, turn my 401k into quarters and hit the arcade, and generally party, as a wise man said, like it's 1999.

I mean, if everything's hopeless, why not have a good time while I can? Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we shall die--or at least life shall suck a lot more.

*Even if I'm not literally sure it's true. Still, my next incarnation's just as likely to be a lobster, which has far fewer means of recreation.

1/25/17, 5:58 PM

Mark Luterra said...
I've been pondering the likelihood of the following scenario in the near future:

1. Trump issues executive orders that entire states find offensive, e.g. attacking the "sanctuary city" status of California population centers and striking down state emissions regulations, among others.

2. States respond by simply refusing to comply. California seems most likely here, maybe accompanied by Oregon and Washington.

3. The federal government responds by withholding all federal funds.

4. These states, seeing that their federal tax dollars no longer serve them, ask their citizens to redirect money owed to the IRS to state coffers instead, to make up for the lost federal programs.

5. It's not far from this point to a formal declaration of secession, and California in particular might be able to weather it economically.

6. Here's where it gets interesting, since this could spark a civil war. However, I see this as not the most likely outcome, given that I don't see the kind of engaged passion or national identity that has historically led citizens to take up arms against one another. Trump's supporters want him to improve their lives, not lead them into battle with fellow Americans. So...outright civil war seems unlikely, though I can imagine loyal factions withing seceding states/regions launching an insurgency with covert support from Washington.

I'm interested to hear your thoughts on such a sequence. It is seemingly increasingly likely to me, though it could be prevented or delayed if either:

--would-be rebel states decide to cave to federal demands in order to preserve the status quo - definitely a possibility, or

--Trump is reigned in by his own party, with whom he currently has a tenuous alliance. Rank-and-file Republicans are eager to utilize Trump's ascendancy to push through their policy agenda, but at the same time they don't want to see national order disrupted, and they may break with him, forcing an impeachment or other scandal if his behavior becomes too dictatorial.

1/25/17, 6:20 PM

Rita said...
@Violet If you possibly can I recommend you try a reputable homeopathic practitioner. Check the national society websites because some people read a few books and then try to combine it into a general naturopathic practice. Homeopathy has controlled my asthma and minor allergies for 35 years. I was sent into sneezing fits by horses as a teen but can now happily help my granddaughter groom her pony. My original reason for seeking treatment was severe chronic depression. It took a few years to get out from under, working through different remedies, but eventually I realized that it had been weeks since I last broke down in tears, an almost daily occurrence when I started. My ex has arthritis, so I know how annoying know-it-all advice (copper bracelets, eat vegetarian, yoga, get rid of your fillings, etc.) can be, but I hope you accept my best wishes

I am alternately amused and annoyed by the "OMG Trump is doing what he said he would do" tone of many social media posts. And the whole "punch a Nazi" thing has me despairing of common sense. Yes, Nazis are despicable, but you can't build a civil society by punching people for what they say. Unless what they say is a direct and immediate threat.

And the people who can't seem to realize that someone whose 5th generation son can't find a job doesn't really give a rat's patootie whether a DREAM kid gets sent back to Mexico. My son just moved back from Arizona, where he had Mexican-American friends who told him that they were Trump supporters because they don't want new immigrants undercutting their jobs. Of course I also find it ironic that a ban on refugees from Muslim majority nations will probably hurt Christians who are fleeing the neighbors that we turned their enemies.

1/25/17, 6:22 PM

patriciaormsby said...
The February 2017 meeting of the Kanto Green Wizards will be held together with the like-minded Asakawa Kompira picnic on Sunday, February 5, starting from 11:30 this time (because of a concert later that afternoon). For details on its location, see this page:

Our Harley dealer's dear wife, Yoko, has uploaded part of the TV Tokyo feature on the Asakawa Kompira priestesses (of whom I happen to be one) on You-tube:
TV show about Kompira, December 4, 2016 (broadcast December 28, 2016)

and another video shot the same day, which gives a better view of our lively group. You can get an idea of it in the first minute:
Kompira picnic, December 4, 2016

Come one, come all! If it snows, I'll go do a spectacularly beautiful misogi at my local waterfall instead, but I'll bet Kompira will be spectacularly beautiful as well. But in that case, bring a flower or piece of fruit to give to Kannon-sama at the bottom of the stairs. She's the shrine's spiritual guardian. Give her a warm prayer.

1/25/17, 6:22 PM

Repent said...
After the election, I went back and watched all of the Presidential inauguration speeches all the way back one by one to Harry Truman. I even liked Nixon's speech to my surprise. In Kennedy's inauguration speech he said he doesn't believe that the fall of society is inevitable, which shows that even at the height of social and economic prosperity, prior to the limits of growth being published, people believed it would end badly (Through nuclear war)

A nuclear outcome, or reactor meltdowns, would be an added and ugly twist onto peak oil and catastrophic climate change. No one has a crystal ball, I sure would have liked to buy Mircosoft stock in the 80's, so I could be retired on a beach drinking tequila's at sunset by now. The bad also can't be known in advance. It's sad that PBS is going, I like Nova documentaries, but it's also nice to have food and electricity. I'm betting that living on the prairies where the electricity is all hydroelectric and where people can grow crops will have some positives. It's living with my body shooting out kidney stones and morphine not being available that I fear. (It's bad enough with morphine)

I want to live long enough to help my kids through the crisis years; after that its time to move on.

1/25/17, 6:30 PM

patriciaormsby said...
@Violet, my most heartfelt sympathies to you! People who have never experienced an environmental sensitivity have no idea what it's like. The sneering condemnation I get I richly deserve because of the sneering condemnation I dished out before. (It's great when karma occurs in the current life.)

Chemical sensitivities often occur concurrently with EMF sensitivity. You might try reducing your exposure to cordless phones, cell phones, wi-fi and other microwave sources, especially at night when your body needs to heal. It might help reduce your body's reaction to chemicals to manageable levels. In my own case, lifelong allergies cleared up when I took that step.

1/25/17, 6:35 PM

pygmycory said...
Your comment that being in a falling civilization is about loss makes a lot of sense to me.

I found out about peak oil at the same time it became obvious that I had long-term health issues that were going to interfere permanently with my ability to work. I completely freaked out and thought I was probably going to be dead within 5 or 10 years, not least because I couldn't learn hand skills with hands as messed up as they were back then. Things in the wider world happened far slower than I thought, and I've ended up in a much better situation now than I was in back in 2009.

My point is, many of the people losing their heads right now will snap out of it and start doing useful things given sufficient time.

1/25/17, 6:37 PM

cynndara said...
I'd just like to say thank-you, JMG, for your well-supported warnings through the years. Because I believed what you had to say four years ago, I repositioned while there was still a little -- a very little -- time, and was able to purchase a rural house on four acres during the mortgage meltdown. Unlike the remote mountain cabin I had previously intended to retire to, this place is close enough to civilization to retain power and some semblance of civil order until full-scale war breaks loose, while still being somewhat out of the main traffic patterns and population densities. So I will remain connected, if loosely, to whatever civilization endures. Meanwhile, I busy myself with collecting breeding stock of useful plants and trees and restoring the badly-damaged red clay soil. As long as the power, the internet, and the gas supplies last, I'll have access to the old world, but if I'm still alive when the old world finally fails, I'll have good neighbors and chestnut trees.

Again, thank-you. You're one of very few people whose arguments have ever actually influenced my decisions (I'm mostly too pig-headed and intellectually arrogant to take advice).

1/25/17, 6:38 PM

Mister Roboto said...
You summed up rather succinctly exactly why I've been pretty indifferent as to whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump won the election despite all the "Twilight Zone" grade freaking out going on all around me. I remain impressed at the level of mass willful ignorance that persists about the true nature of our predicament, and I can't help but wonder what sort of event it will take to puncture it. I comfort myself by believing that we're all merely playing the karmic roles in the immense drama that we were meant to play, and whatever will be will be.

1/25/17, 6:39 PM

DoubtingThomas said...
@JMG: Interesting. Thank You.

"...plans to scrap the National Endowment for the Arts, ...Humanities, and ...Public Broadcasting, and get rid ... study anthropogenic climate change." .. "their dismantling will be greeted by cheers from a great many people outside the circles of the affluent"
- Don't forget the cheers from the circles of the elites & affluent keen to be more affluent resulting from less regulation/oversight/ignoring climate change. I choose not buy in to the anti-climate change fatalism.
- Also not to forget the many Artists out of work and impact of only commercial stations
- Strikes me as a possible false economy
- If there is "cheering from the non-affluent circles" then smells a bit Pyrrhic or Masochistic. Masochism can be fun in some contexts but as way of life ... that's takes commitment.
- Smells possibly also like an attempt to ensure the "masses" are under-informed and kept down rather than anything for them to cheer about.
- Coming from a Country with a public broadcaster paid for via TV license fees & largely valued by its citizens losing it would be a shame.

"who have had their fill of patronizing lectures from their self-proclaimed betters"
- Really or Hyperbole?
- Why would the lectured choose to feel inferior to a lecturer's alleged attempts to patronize or inflate-themselves? Sure, a lecturer might be guilty of ego stroking by patronising/self-inflation but if the recipient's sense of self esteem is doing fine then it's "water of a duck's back" no?
- Someone with an sense of inferiority can be mistaken in their interpretation of someone else's manner/motivations. Been there/done that ;)

I believe you mentioned Spengler's Decline of the West before. As I recall one of the criticisms of Spengler was that he held an overly deterministic view of history, ignoring the unpredictable role that human initiative plays at all times. That makes sense to me. I would translate that to be ignoring the role & power of intuition & inventiveness.

The comparisons with Polybius' charismatic demagogue and Trump are good. The world is a big place. Plenty of scope for those that choose to believe in the value of the power of initiative, intuition & inventiveness.

Major change is coming. Things must change. How dramatically and how fast is as yet undecided. I find it useful to remember that when faced with probability projections based on Historical Simulations - never forget the role of the Outliers.

Worked for 20 years in Risk Management, even asked to write overrides that allowing Risk Indicators to be ignored. I found it amusing when things fell apart. Those who paid attention to the Risk indicators and used their initiative usually did rather well as opposed to those who wanted the indicators to lie to them but selection bias can catch us all and initiatives can be missed.

IIRC in previous posts you appeared to dismiss the role of initiative/intuition/expansions of consciousness be it at individual or larger scales. I tried to find the quote but can't. It was a sentiment like "not seen it happen yet so not holding your breath". I was a bit surprised given your other interests but then I'm ignorant of the detail of your personal goto belief systems. I see evidence increasingly.

I don't conflate initiative/intuition/inventiveness with 'Progress' though - necessity often being the mother of invention.

I'll focus on a possibly less populated world at some point, supporting attempts to get off planet (for resources) and work to preserve our technology & knowledge base. Already possible to store knowledge on crystal wafers. Technically possible to store world's information ~300ExaB on 144k quartz wafers. Multiple copies. Distributed. Decentralised. Disconnected. Also, local fabs capable of creating themselves & other devices OTW. I'll keep a type of Internet too :P - "from my cold, dead hands" :P ;)

1/25/17, 6:43 PM

Jay Cummings said...
A solid reminder. I feel, though, that action beats inaction ethically speaking. (Not that I'm implying your message encourages one or the other - i simply recognize I have the same reaction to this obviously true message as many of your commentors: so what do i do about it, if anything?). Even though the tides and currents rip at us from every angry direction, we should still swim the best we can toward where we want to be.

1/25/17, 7:05 PM

gwizard43 said...
JMG, my thanks. One of your bleaker posts, but an accurate appraisal IMO, and timely. These are bleak times, in so many ways, and the trajectory has been clear to so many of us for quite some time.

When I first began to realize what was coming, over a decade ago, I decided that the most important work I could do was to learn how to go about relating to the world around me, however it presented itself, in a more effective way. Personally, I chose Buddhist meditation as a way to alter the way I related to my surroundings. Instead of childishly insisting those surroundings conform to my demands, I sought to conform my own expectations to whatever was happening around me. This kind of opening to the world-as-it-is seems to me to be the very first skill so many would do well to learn.

If one needs to feel like one is in control, if one feels like the world around them must be a certain way for them to be happy, indeed if one makes happiness is one's goal in life, this is a terrific way of ensuring one will experience more than one's share of suffering.

I think there are many approaches that would be suitable aside from meditation, of course - I can attest that I'm much more able to 'roll with the punches' and not so reactive, not so demanding of my environment, not so needy. And not quite so pessimistic or scared, despite our grim collective outlook.

I also acted, of course: divested myself of the normal (aka absurdly extravagant) lifestyle that my culture had tricked me into pursuing at one time, took 'simplify' as my mantra, dug deeply (literally!) into permaculture and organic gardening, natural building, yoga, volunteering, teaching fitness on the side, and developing local-community-oriented skills - all an ongoing process, with still a very long way to go. But what a wonderful ride it's been! Especially in terms of the people I've met and come to know.

The point I'm trying to make, is that for me, and perhaps for others, jumping right into 'doing' wasn't really possible, or at least effective, until I'd slowed down and spent some serious time 'being.' I do think what often gets missed in our 'rush' to collapse is the dire need to tend one's inner life - spiritual, emotional, relational and psychological - as carefully and attentively as one's garden - as though one's very life may depend on it. For as you point out, in the end, it well may.

1/25/17, 7:19 PM

Justin said...
Dayton, I have to agree. JMG and Jordan Peterson are two of the most interesting people on the Internet, and considering the billion or so people who are connected, that's quite something. Peterson may not get it yet due to a different specialization, but I have no doubt that he has the moral courage to face reality. Unless the Marxists manage to destroy him, I have no doubt that he will be one of the most important Canadians of the next decade.

Dammerung and others, watch some Peterson. He might give you a better understanding of exactly what it is you are (rightfully) attempting to protect.

1/25/17, 7:22 PM

Paulo said...
Thank you once again, JMG. Well said. I will send this on, (with credit, of course) to a few of my closet friends and family members. Alas, my American sister is grappling with these changes and there is absolutely no way she could deal with your article. It would send her over the edge.

My wife and I scaled back many years ago and live on less. However, I am quick to admit our life is pretty damn flush compared to most of the world. We have worked hard at building community in our somewhat remote valley. We continue to develop our gardens, livestock, and woodlot. I am very thankful for my chainsaw gas, too. :-)

Lately, I have become a big big fan of the Serenity Prayer. I often think of it many times each day. It might help some of your readers who are not familiar with it. (Please fill in your own blank for God).

Here is the first part that is most familiar to readers:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

1/25/17, 7:23 PM

Logan said...
I doubt it's accurate to predict that the Western Europeans will be remembered by and large like the Huns or Mongols. If anything history suggests that the sins of empires are apt to be forgotten, and their blessings remembered. One can appreciate why the dark age writers living in times of incessant blood feud and warbanditry looked back on the Toynbeean Universal State with its Emperor as the golden age.

Analogous to Rome, the Western Euro civilization will have left lots of unprecedentedly big infrastructure around the world, the ruins of which will tend to impress people. Not until the Dragon Time of the next Cycle will new generations of liberals emphasize the brutality and unjust conquests of all empires, including ours (but more especially *theirs*, just as present liberals talk about the sins of the Western Euro imperials much more than those of past imperials.)

The "new Huns" of the next Unicorn Time, on the other hand -- are yet to come!

1/25/17, 7:25 PM

peakfuture said...
When I tell folks I have trouble flying due to the carbon footprint, they look at me like I've got three heads.

Even if you haven't "collapsed early and avoided the rush," you can still make changes. There's a great saying, "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." Not saying it's going to be easy, but if you are at least cognizant of this, you are at least a step ahead.

Jay - Spot on. Saving resources for a rainy day is good, but is limited in duration. Becoming part of a community, helping other people get work/gigs/fixing things/being useful is far better, yes. People ask me what to invest in, and that's what I keep telling them - invest in yourself, and your community. Seems so simple, but there's a big difference between simple and easy.

JMG, you've got to be having *some* sort of effect. My curious nature always wants to know who are the folks you are affecting, how they found the message that you and others are promulgating, and if they are spreading it too. Is there any universal sign of this worldview (like a hobo sign)? Alas, it'd probably be co-opted and be a bumper sticker in no time...

1/25/17, 7:26 PM

Izzy said...
@Jay Cummings: I always like Pratchett's Thief of Time for that.

"WE WILL DO WHAT WE CAN." (Caps, because the speaker is Death, who ALWAYS TALKS LIKE THAT.")
"And if that doesn't work?"

1/25/17, 7:42 PM

gwizard43 said...
Based on this statement, which is one I agree with most vociferously:

"More than anything else, it’s about loss. Things that you value—things you think of as important, meaningful, even necessary—are going to go away forever in the years immediately ahead of us, and there will be nothing you can do about it."

As a culture, we're terrible at grieving. We're frequently given exactly the wrong advice, taught to distract ourselves from grief, taught to avoid engaging with it. My suggestion is to everyone: learn how to grieve. We all experience losses, small and large. Become proficient as inhabiting the grief that arises, processing it, letting it change you, rather than running from it, refusing it. IMO, this will be as important a skill as any handicraft you choose to undertake.

1/25/17, 7:45 PM

Whitecloak said...
Weirdly enough, reading your blog is part of what pushed me hard right- immigration and strong walls are my only issues, now. Collapse is inevitable so why the hell would I want to import more competitors for ever more scarce resources from societies and cultures foreign to my own? Why add Balkans-tier cultural strife to what is already slated to be a harrowing future?

1/25/17, 7:55 PM

Agent Provocateur said...

Your basic point is certainly correct, so perhaps what follows is irrelevant in comparison. Nonetheless, I believe that just as there is a useful distinction between what is technically possible and economically possible, there is a useful distinction between what is economically possible for a society and what is politically possible.

Contrary to what you have suggested, I don't think a conscious controlled and politically directed return to a lower tech and less resource intensive society has ever been politically possible. People did not want it and still don't. This makes it politically impossible. Restraint is like death, it will come certainly ... but we all hope it will be later and we certainly don't want others forcing it on us. This discounting of the future is a typical human trait. Nonetheless, it is possible for a minority to rise above it. Many people did give simpler living an honest try back in the 70s. I think you were one of them. Few people stayed the course though. The reasons are simple enough; first among them is that significantly lower energy use implies a difficult life in poverty. We like our comforts.

I'm not suggesting nothing can be done politically on a small scale. As an example, our rural Township is in the process of relaxing its bylaw forbidding people from keeping livestock on properties less than 5 acres. This political change is real in local terms (it directly affects my supply of goat's milk traded for eggs) but still trivial on a larger scale.

But the basic course of action will still remain what it has been for the last 40 years or more i.e. burn all the fossil fuels we can and toast the planet. We are not following this course for lack of understanding of the problem (politicians did read the Club of Rome Reports, the are aware of the ecological movement etc.) or because solutions were not presented in a positive enough way (it hard to put a pretty face on poverty).

Governments may officially deny peak oil and/or climate change but they do this not out of ignorance but because they know we will shoot the messenger if they told the truth. 40+ years of oil wars are proof governments understand the global reality of oil depletion. These wars also demonstrate what they understand what is politically possible for them to do about it. As for climate change, climate weirding is evident enough to anyone. We in representative democracies just don't have political systems capable of the sort of long range planning or accountability required to address these sorts of fundamental problems and we didn't 40 years ago. Politicians survive by giving people what they want in the short term, not by giving them what they need in the long term.

1/25/17, 7:55 PM

Mark said...
Bracing post! Yes, the Trumpotus rumpus is something to see.

I guess people will rationalize whatever major problems manifest in the next 2-3 years as Trump problems, so there are quite a few more "let's elect someone to get us back to normal" elections in our future. The ability of many in our society to pretend everything's normal, even when it's not, is going to be YUGE. So we're looking at an ever decreasing pool of people not personally touched by actual problems, and an ever increasing pool of people doing the best they can to manage. The best I think we can hope for is that this process plays out slowly, and that normalcy bias keeps us hoping for better days while we do our best to adjust to circumstances. Kind of like adjusting to old age. There may well be an unfortunate encounter with a marauding war band in my future, but I'm going to continue hoping that I go out peacefully, working in the garden. We'll see!

1/25/17, 7:56 PM

Logan said...
The singer of the band Supertramp is a man? ("THAT'S A MAN, BABY") -- haha I would not have guessed.

@ John the Peregine -- LOL ...

@ Justin -- nice Serenity allusion. I don't think you need worry about "AI"*. The actual danger is what's already happened, that we all become effectively cyborgs. I used to think the way the Borg behaved on Star Trek was implausible. Now, watching how people behave with effective telepathy, I don't think that anymore.

*as Frank Herbert put it: ​Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them. The other men with machines are of course Jeff Bezos et al.

1/25/17, 7:57 PM

onething said...
"I would have preferred to have seen it a little at a time so I could deal with it. Is it just me, or do the quick rush of seeming delusional actions seem to be quickly upsetting the apple cart?"

I think it is the strategy he has chosen. Hit hard and fast to derail the opposition.

1/25/17, 8:08 PM

pygmycory said...
Of the funding cuts to the agencies you mentioned, the cuts to the EPA concern me most. They were doing good and vital work. We really need to know just where we are in terms of damaging the biosphere, and I'm not sure that other countries are going to take up all of the slack.

1/25/17, 8:23 PM

tokyo damage said...
I love how you can dish on economics better than even the Lefty pros, and do it without all the baffling jargon. Plus, stylistically speaking, this might be the first blogpost to start out with Supertramp and end with the equivalent of Old School Death Metal.

1/25/17, 8:24 PM

econojames said...
This is a wonderful smack back to reality: everything happening is STILL HAPPENING behind the facade of politics and us vs. them, red vs. blue, etc. You note the upset at Trump's apparent desire to dismantle environmental protection, and then rightly note that the Obama administration did little more than hand-waving to protect the environment. Bingo! They're all on the same team, and it's not yours.

There are a lot of good comments already this week, and I can't wait to read more of them. I think a lot of people here are trying to adapt to how things WILL be, but feel lonely because people around them are oblivious and uncomprehending. It's healthy to have this not-so-little community to remind ourselves that we aren't alone. Thank you, JMG. I've told you before, but you really are a bright spot in my life.

I, like a previous commenter, have been financially unsuccessful for most of my life, mostly due to my choice of "career" - bicycle mechanic. Lately, I find that seasonal employment as same really cuts into the time I need to do things that MATTER, like gardening, preserving food, fixing my house, and riding my bike (instead of working on someone else's). I've experimented with self-employment as a bike mechanic, and while I get little business, I can make $25-30 an hour working at a calm and leisurely pace in my own very-well-equipped shop, vs. $13 an hour (this with almost 30 years' experience) in a bike shop with constant pressure to work faster. Poverty is nothing to glamorize, but in my case lack of money takes away the temptation to spend it on frivolous things; working in my own shop allows me to devote my attention to my work, and not to (my boss') profit, and to enjoy the quiet, almost holy sense of calm that comes with this. We can learn things from adversity; with any luck, we can share what we learn.

1/25/17, 8:36 PM

Ray Wharton said...
When winter set in I felt a little stir crazy, eager to do something useful, work, be active, prepare, but I am finally starting to soak into the relaxation that is winter. I am far from tasks needing done, and its not worth walking. Wonderful, because eight to ten months of the year I am going all out farming and net working. It takes a couple months to read up on heavy books and practice short hand, when there is nothing for a man to do, but sit around and think.

After eight years I am still not a great farmer, but I know about more ways to screw things up than most farmers who think they are good know. That's the problem with land owners and successful farmers, they learn what works and they do it. I never had land nor have I ever had enough faith in my ability to make a profit, so I have played at farming a lot. For those years a rich world and a silver tongue meant that many failures never cost my flesh. So today, I feel prepared to be an assistant farmer, friend and ally at no fewer than five farms with in walking distance. I show up, get fed, get products that won't sell, by blemish or by law; sometimes cash too. Though I might work long days, alot of it is in conversation, and experimenting with doing things cheaply. Turns out a lot of times the cheap way doesn't work, but I rarely have much money, nor do other farmers, and I have focused on keeping things alive with out tools or equipment. Lot to learn though, and I am grateful to real farmers with a farmers disposition, rather than a flutter fly like myself.

I have very few material resources, and my skill set isn't really that impressive, I am neither super industrious nor a firm foundation. And yet I feel ready, as ready as my heart needs to be, for these times. Those will better material resources than me I pity, so much to loose. And though I admire the craftsman, I wonder how weighed down he is by the craft. And though not a firm foundation, farms are thick with that kind, and needful of philosophers who pull weeds, and who find useful little things to do unbidden as they wander around the farm. I am glad I established a basic level of trust with so many before the suspicion of dark days settled in.

A weird creature I have become, not what my pride imagined I would become to bare collapse, but what collapse has shaped.

Strangely I am actually deeply comforted by the Trump election, knowing full well this can all go pear shaped. He acts like a leader of a collapsing society, and that is easy to process in a way that listening to Obama (who I really find very charming in affect) say that things are getting better, and I don't even know if he believes him self, or where the tangle is.

After all of that, the real thing worth saying is that finding a sense of meaning is the most important thing. When pointlessness settles in, forget about it. Reading Zarathustra again is very important to me, and finding those stories that make me fall in love with Life and Earth and Wisdom all over again.

1/25/17, 8:47 PM

astroplethorama said...
gwizard43 et al — I heartily recommend listening to a recent interview of Stephen Jenkinson, who has done a lot of work with terminally ill patients and their families, and who seems to get our collective predicament.

1/25/17, 8:48 PM

M said...
I am relating to those who are inextricably hooked into the medical system, having recently undergone surgery for a retinal detachment. This now puts me at high risk for other eye issues, including early cataracts and detachment in the other eye. One of the hardest things for me to come to grips with was my complete lack of control--I really had no choice, and there is nothing I can do about my genetics. Despite having health insurance, it has also put me into serious debt, something that I had been able to avoid until now.

It was spiritually wrenching, and I spent the last few months struggling with it, trying to find some "meaning" to it all. I even had to stay away from TADR, my favorite blog. I guess, with all the insight I've developed about where we are headed as a civilization from reading this blog and a few others, I needed a bit more insight into myself.

So life is unfair. And yup, the only thing to do is get up each day and do what you believe are the things important for you to do that day, for yourself, for family, for friends, for the planet. One thing I've noticed is more people are more willing to listen to some of the things discussed here. Not my (ex) wife, though.

I appreciate your scholarship and your writing. Thank you.

1/25/17, 9:01 PM

Dennis Mitchell said...
On a shorter time frame, yesterday morning I tried to imagine a democratic version of trump. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, kinda really scared me. I could see Trump being in office as the economy crashes and giving the Demoncrats a chance to double down on their brand of insanity. Just how hard would it be to find a loud, obnoxious, papmered Democrat who's divorced from reallity? If we play our cards right we should have a nation of beautiful roads and bridges just as we can nmo longer afford to use them.

1/25/17, 9:05 PM

Donald Hargraves said...
Thanks for this article.

Between the "presidential" election and some struggles I've had financially during the past year, I've found myself having experienced various levels of decline - both mine and of the people I've known. Between people going out of their way to not see what's happening in front of them, seeing the end of Obamacare in the distance (I benefit, but it's worse than what was before and the only thing worse is what the Republicans will come up with.) and a realization of what my present situation is at the moment (on an island of sorts, separated from whatever support system I would happily sign up for, and with financial help minimized beyond belief), I've come up with and/or confirmed a couple of thoughts:

1) The direction of history is autocracy, tyranny and dissolution. Anything else is but a bubble.
2) a: Things will get worse before they get better. b: They may never get better. c: If things do get better you may not like the improvement.

I have also begun making my peace with death. If things can only go downhill, there's no real place for a lonely fifty-something male with no progeny and no real wish or interest in creating progeny. Better to leave the earth to those with children to care for – they'll have a hard enough time dealing with what's ahead without a dead stem like me to eat up resources.

1/25/17, 9:08 PM

Wendy Crim said...
Thank you for your weekly blog, JMG. I really always enjoy it and look forward to it. Off topic, but I've been taking some social dance classes since the new year began. Latin Ballroom and 1920s social dances. It strikes me that dance is very gender specific and how a lot of my younger friends couldn't handle the idea of "leading" or "following". Which is a shame. I so look forward to my two days of dance classes every week. Every one around me wants to talk about Trump and their perceived "nightmare" of him as president and all I care about is foxtrot and bachata. I have completely disconnected from all that D.C. noise and spend time in my own life. I'm happier and my claves look great! Enjoy your week everyone. Can't wait to see what's on the blog next.

1/25/17, 9:23 PM

mary said...
I really liked "Collapse in Process" Thanks someone, that is a keeper.
But dealing with loss is also a keeper. I can share produce and eggs and ride my three wheeled adult tricycle up the road but I am stopped in my tracks when I consider the death and loss in the houses that I will ride past. (assuming that I survive and they don't of course!)
May I suggest Death Cafe. World wide evidently, on FB and the internet. It offers a chance to sit with others (and tea and a cookie) to share ideas and experiences about death. Many of us have no experience with death, up close and personal. The Cafes allow us to learn from others about preparing for our own death and give us a glimpse about how to help others as they come to the end of their lives.

1/25/17, 9:25 PM

drhooves said...
Very nice - a "kick-in-the-teeth" post to help balance out the warm and huggy rhetoric of responses we see most weeks. The savage future is nigh, and mankind will once again demonstrate that in spite of all of our civilized accomplishments, we as a species still have one foot firmly planted in the jungle.

I dare say it will be much sooner than within the next couple of decades the dollar collapses. The Fed is already purchasing 2/3 of new treasuries, and that's a game that doesn't last long. You can count on the rest of the world stomping on Uncle Sam as he falters, and considering the games that Wall Street and .GOV played to crank the wealth pump into high gear, it's not like the U.S. won't be getting what it justly deserves...

1/25/17, 9:28 PM

Candace said...
I've been seeing the response to the election through the framework of the myth of progress, so this quote keeps going through my mind "Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury. And the sense of injury depends on the feeling that a legitimate claim has been denied."

I have gained the reputation of being "Debbie downer" the character in. Saturday Night Live skits that made social situations awkward awkward and depressing by talking about sad social topics. So I try not to talk too much about decline anymore. I also seem to end up being a Trump apologist when people start talking about how awful he is, which is not a role I like so, I've gone to being more no -committal or just agreeing to avoid arguing.

At present the main thing I think I can do is to continue to develop skills and reduce my use of resources (I.e. I also compete with myself to see if I can use a smaller number of therms for heating etc).

I've also been listening to Taleb's "Anti-Fragile", he also embraces some of the stoics philosophy. He talks about imagining that all of the things he is afraid of losing are already lost, as a way to try and free himself from the fear of losing things (also fits in with Buddist teachings on letting go of attachments). So the main thing I think I can do to prepare for the future is to work on my mental attitude and work on accepting loss. It's not like it won't be a useful skill in prosperous times too.

Violet- I am so sorry to hear of your illness. I have greatly appreciated the post you have made about herbs . I hope when you are gardening this spring, that doing something that gives you joy will help with your healing. Perhaps some will even have suggestions. Please know that yet another friend from the internet wishes you healing and even hopefully a full recovery

1/25/17, 9:34 PM

NomadicBeer said...
This week's post constitutes a sobering change of pace. I was starting to get drawn back to the world of illusions with all the talk about politics and money but this is a wake up call. Thank you!

I am also surprised at the directness of the tone. Sometimes in the past I thought you were afraid of losing readers because of the toned down descriptions of the future. I am glad I was wrong!

Is the "collapse now and avoid the rush" really not possible anymore? I am only halfway there...

1/25/17, 9:41 PM

Robin Datta said...
Don't know whether to beleove this, but declining Petroleum Net Energy might bite soon:

Louis Arnoux
Oil Net Energy
Cassandra's Legacy
SRSRocco & Louis Arnoux
Thermodynamic Oil Collapse: Why The Global Economy Will Disintegrate Rapidly
SRSroccoReport Interview with Louis Arnoux (October 20, 2016)
Civilization goes over the net energy cliff in 2022 — just 6 years away

1/25/17, 9:44 PM

The Big Rant said...
On Sunday, I paid one last visit to the piano store a day before it closed to say goodbye to the guys who hosted my student's recitals for the last 20 years and from whom I bought my first piano, a Yamaha upright. The once-venerable store had been open since the late sixties, its decor remarkably unchanged since then. By the year 2000, it was completely in a death spiral, locked in grave competition with the piano dealer in the next town for the last of the affluent, McMansion-owning, salary class, piano buyers.

I'm glad I went, of course, because it would have been rude not to pay a last visit, but it had me in tears afterward when I was alone in my car. It had that uncanny feeling of saying goodbye to a genteel era that will never return.

Also, Violet, I hope you feel better soon. A long time ago you posted about living with your parents and gardening and it really touched me. I'm in the same situation, though I am in my forties so I cannot say I'm a "young adult" by any stretch of the imagination. I'm trying to make the best of not being able to afford a home. Unfortunately, I have a weird complex about owning my own house I need to mentally work out.

As dark as this latest post is, it made me feel a hell of a lot better about stuff I cannot control. As a professional workaholic, I keep forgetting that my lack of progress in "getting ahead" financially is not due to any lack of hard work and competence on my part. This post reminded me I need to stop blaming myself for not being able to afford a house no matter how successful my business gets and not gaining any traction even though I'm as thrifty as they come, buying used, cooking healthy meals for four on $40 a week or less, and cutting my dad's and my husband's hair. As for myself, my hair is down to my behind and it's going to stay that way until I die because hair "fashions" especially women's hair fashions, are yet another unnecessary expense everyone takes for granted. I am happy and grateful for my giant hair and I'm glad I don't have to worry about cutting it. This sort of thinking has become my strategy for mental survival and happiness.

I truly do not envy those who are not mentally ready for collapse. Especially those who have no genuine appreciation for how good they have it right now, just having clean water, adequate food, no roadside bombs, and an internet that still works.

1/25/17, 9:52 PM

jessi thompson said...

you said:

"Last week I saw the volume of comments and didn't even bother to read them because it was obvious they would be just more freak out nonsense. People are telling me what's going on Facebook, losing relationships and such, and it sounds like a mad house. Occasionally I still get questions about if I still believe in near term economic collapse. It's so absurd that I don't know how to respond. Inside my head I'm thinking "Like duh, Earth to McFly, are you even paying attention?" "

I'm a Neopagan (a Pagan following a new Pagan religion instead of an old one), and it's not a faith-based religion, it's based on real metaphysical experiences that you learn, cultivate, and build over time. People who have never experienced this aspect of religion, metaphysics, ritual, or magic have no idea how concrete and tangible the experiences are. We get asked "Do you believe in magic?" or "Do you believe in that stuff?" all the time. I heard a great answer, and it would probably benefit some of the Christians I know as well who have felt the hand of God in their lives, and it's just as relevant to your situation. The answer is "Do you believe in rocks?"

1/25/17, 10:06 PM

Sheila Grace said...
I walked down the hill this morning to feed the chickens and heard myself say out loud; I am powerless over my addiction to oil, and my life has become unmanageable, I believe there’s a power greater than myself that can restore me to sanity – looked up and around at all of my trees, heard the first birds of the morning, and continued on to the chicken pen laughing to myself as I finished the conclusion of the second step; this implies, of course, that we’ve all been insane.

Wow, Supertramp, that takes me back a long way. I can still remember when my first boyfriend’s brother pulled the vinyl out of its sleeve waving it in the air with a smile on his face and said ‘wait until you hear this’ and promptly played it. Now, so many decades later I live with an audiofile and we’ve played this exact song - tube amps and all.

Backlash it is, and round and round we go. Later this morning on the phone with my mother; she used the word surreal. Collapse now and avoid the rush was June 2012 the same month as my bankruptcy so that blog is pretty much memorized by now, and any sense of entitlement was pretty well beaten out of me. Stunned as I was, I embarked on a full time four year learning curve. I never did return to my career or my old life. The cognitive dissonance has faded as of late, I’ve worked through all 12 steps in relation to loss and recovery, but with each new story, I must admit the potential future outcomes dog me until once again, I find my center.

I learned the word fungible from you. I have been let out of prison, the place where so many still sit – there are no victims only volunteers – and they all suffer from the yeah butt disease and want to tell me ‘this is all happening because…” but never the word oil is mentioned, or doing with less, those words simply cannot be uttered. And yet in my heart I know “There was always an alternative—deliberately downshifting out of the embarrassing extravagance that counts for normal lifestyles in the industrial world these days, accepting more restricted ways of living in order to leave a better world for our descendants—but not enough people were willing to accept that alternative to make a difference while there was still a chance.”

The two tough realizations this past week were; when Adam Smith began to put forth his ideas, the second law of thermodynamics was not yet discovered, and while listening to Dmitry on a podcast he used geological terminology I was not familiar with (in relation to coastal nuclear power plants) and learned about how retreating glaciers are transforming land masses (rates of uplift due to glacial isostatic adjustment around the world) which the upside I suppose is that D.C. is sinking.

Even in the quietest moments, there are no words for how this affects me so I go outside to observe. I noticed today the wild rabbits (that have found a home here) prune the goose berry bushes in a way that is positive for both rabbits and gooseberries. I plan to take a few cuttings and start a gooseberry planting over in what we have now come to call rabbit village. I’ve learned there is no such thing as deserve, only negotiate, so way out here in the middle of nowhere with a hand full of ethics, few expectations, and keeping our heads low, if the negotiations don’t work out there’s always meditation, and my stellar hospitality featuring death camas quiche. I do my best to quell the hysteria many of my friends and family from the NE are presently experiencing and since they’re in the yeah butt crowd I sum it up by saying “well, circumstances have actions in this upside down world, hang in there”.

1/25/17, 10:11 PM

NomadicBeer said...
I just reread this post and I have to ask: who are the climatologists you know that stopped flying to reduce their own emissions?

Seeing online all the scientists that try to outdo each other in flying all over the world to give speeches about the huge problem of climate change, it's hard for me to believe that some of them actually walk their talk.

1/25/17, 10:31 PM

Grebulocities said...
It is quite remarkable to watch America's liberal class suffer a giant crisis of faith in real time. There's definitely a large number of the Kubler-Ross stages of grief, except the last one so far.

One of the biggest things that got undermined for mainstream US liberals is their own form of American exceptionalism, that its presidents are for the most part worthy of respect (W. Bush, Nixon, and a couple of others perhaps excluded), and that we have an economy and ingrained liberal values that will keep us all safe, despite occasional setbacks, and that the US is a force for good around the world that is inevitably becoming more peaceful, liberal and democratic, even if some of the interventions don't go as planned and end up producing atrocities of their own. They're suffering a very abrupt collapse in their own faith in the country and the religion of progress that was really believable to anyone who never went to rural areas and deindustrialized working-class cities. I became disillusioned gradually several years ago and slowly lost my faith in progress (with your help), but theirs has hit abruptly, and disillusioned people act in irrational ways until they finally come to grips with reality, for those who ever do.

And the US truly was exceptional in many ways. In the North and Midwest, the system of education that started in the 1840s produced by far the highest literacy rates the world had ever seen up to that point. Our economy eclipsed Britain's in absolute terms in the 1970s and per-capita not long thereafter. Depending on what you were looking at, the US was the "best" country in the world to live in from at least the post-Civil War era, going on for over a century. That started changing with deindustrialization, rising healthcare costs, and declining education. Now we're just #1 in military spending and other imperial excesses, and we're at or near the bottom of the developed world in all the things that actually make people satisfied. It's no longer anything like the best country in the world to live in.

Still, affluent liberals in their middle-management jobs, jobs with tech startups, and ivory towers could easily think like things on the ground weren't getting worse for most people in any meaningful way. Progress was still real to them. And now the first openly declinist candidate in history shows up and ekes out a win, showing that discussing the decline was actually popular and speaking to people's negative concerns while being as politically incorrect as possible was a possible path to the presidency. The belief in the progress of humans onward and upward in freedom and equality (and outer space!) suddenly can't be maintained. Not only that, they have to confront their deep unpopularity in the population at large.

1/25/17, 10:34 PM

Kevin Warner said...
I suppose that you could say that Donald Trump is sort of a modern-day Rorschach test in that you can see in him what you want, either the American Hitler or America's last best hope. Whatever. I have to say that I think that he is not really that important when set against what JMG talks about in this week's essay. Trump is not a cause but an effect of the times that we are living in. Perhaps a catalytic effect but just another bit player so now may be a good time to mostly ignore him and get back to the big questions. After all, big questions gets you big answers.

Down the track historians are going to have to sit down and work out what it was in the DNA of Western civilisation that led it to destroy itself and have such a cataclysmic effect on the planet. Maybe it was because after centuries of exploring and exploiting new frontiers, the trouble started when all the frontiers ran out and it had to turn in on itself. Maybe it was because in the past century or so Western people had forgotten or no longer cared about the value of human life. Maybe the answers will be found in the historical parchments of the Greater Appalachian Theocratic Republic's Library in a few centuries time - in the chapter after the one called 'Prophets without Honour' where JMG will likely be listed. Ask me in a couple centuries time.

Point is, as our host has pointed out, that we are way, way past the point of no return. I am hoping though that maybe now is not so much a time of slow collapse but a time of a fighting retreat. I could live with that thought. Now is the time to analyse this civilisation's collapse and understand how we got where we are. The trick is to pull the signal out of all the overwhelming noise in the air at the moment whether it being leftists allying themselves with muslims, an alt-right that most people had not even heard about till last year, false news that only now people are noticing, liberals endorsing the CIA or mental meltdowns of people because they did not get what they wanted. That last one, by the way, is most instructive and probably rates as signal rather than noise. When will there be a better time to work out how we got here? Otherwise, just wake me up when there is an outbreak of common sense and someone like Tulsi Gabbard is sworn in as President.

Our host finished off his essay with the colloquial English phrase "It sucks to lose". Perhaps a different, and more poignant phrase about the passing of what we hold dear might be more appropriate when a movie character refers to how "All those moments will be lost in tears in rain."

1/25/17, 10:38 PM

Kfish said...
I would also like to thank JMG for his advice and perspective over the years. Because of reading this column, I have:

Learned to brew
Joined a community group and learned to lead
Spent more time with my family
Discarded faith in technology
Read and practiced some Stoicism
Developed a wider perspective

1/25/17, 10:51 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Neo, interesting. I recall reading somebody talking about the burst of enlightenment that jolted them out of New Left revolutionary circles in the 1970s; "I realized that there was no way I could bring down the system that would be faster than the speed at which the system is already going to bring itself down."

Rapier, at 65, why not watch the spectacle?

Peter, I've been to the LA airport, and I can imagine the spectacle!

Troy, exactly. Trump is a quintessentially American Caesar, watching himself on a big screen TV in the Oval Office. I've also talked to his supporters out here in flyover country, many of whom are feeling a little bit dazed just now; they were braced for the possibility that Trump would betray them the way Obama did, and ditch his campaign promises in favor of four more years of business as usual -- and they're amazed and delighted that he's actually building the wall, axing the trade treaties, doing what he promised. If he keeps it up the Democrats are going to have a very hard row to hoe come 2020.

Jeff, #1 is correct, though I'll have some political commentary from time to time as we proceed. #2 -- well, I'd considered it, but the people who are willing to consider what I have to say already get it, and those who need to hear it aren't willing to listen.

Beetleswamp, fortunately last week wasn't just people freaking out, though there was some of that. We also managed to have a very lively and, on the whole, courteous conversation in which a great many diverse voices got heard.

Dave Z, nothing's different this time. I'm not talking about fast collapse now, any more than I was in the past. Trump's election is not going to bring about the end of the world; neither is the breakup of the Larsen C ice sheet, or any of the other things I mentioned. The immediate consequences of any sudden shock will be more or less damped out by a variety of means. It's the long ragged descent into the deindustrial dark ages -- the thing I've been talking about all along, you know -- that's taken another rather visible step forward and down.

Justin, so noted! "Interesting," though, is a value judgment and thus subjective; me, I also find rig counts and EROEI interesting...

Crone, you're welcome and thank you.

Raymond, funny! What I'd suggest, though, is "Collapse Faster and Get Ahead of the Rush." You're certainly right, though, that my counterspell still works.

1/25/17, 11:07 PM

Bob said...
As a hermit, coming to terms with my own mortality was helpful. I was able to do it at a young age, and it is something I don't regret. Discovering how I want to live my life was the next step. It's a work in progress, nearing completion...

My plans for my demise may not work out as envisioned, but it is the intention that counts. I intend to live for as long as I feel it is worthwhile to live. And then I will seek a peaceful exit.

Is the decline of civilization different from the decline in one's health? I don't believe so. Of course, that perspective is easier to hold when one is a hermit. Watching your friends, your loved ones, and your children die is hard. Realizing late in life that you will not avoid calamity may be even harder.

1/25/17, 11:19 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Bruno, ding! We have a winner. Exactly.

Justin, I won't argue at all. A case could be made that the decline and fall of our civilization is occurring just in time to save us from something considerably worse.

Mark, I think it's deliberate on Trump's part. As I noted a year ago, the insistence on the part of his opponents that he's stupid says far more about their choice of hate speech than it does about him. He's anything but stupid; he's clearly realized that he has to seize the initiative and keep it, forcing everyone else to react to him rather than giving them a time to pursue their own agendas, in order to keep from being dragged to a halt by the bureaucratic inertia of Washington DC.

Dayton, do you know if he's written anything? I know it's a personal thing, but I find watching little pictures on glass screens irritating and dull, even if the information content is worthwhile. (I've sometimes joked that the main reason I could never have gone alt-right is that anime does nothing for me.)

Clay, thanks for the info. That seems utterly plausible to me.

My Donkey, good to hear. I hope other people will give that a try.

John & Louise, you're welcome and thank you.

Nastarana, no argument. We were always going to a choice between awful and just as awful in some things.

Bryant, we're already in the middle of running into issues with peak oil. The huge swings in petroleum prices from 2004 to the present are driven by that; so are the increasingly intractable and (to economists) inexplicable problems with the economy -- mainstream economists don't know how to take into account the way that declining net energy acts as a stealth tax on all economic activity. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that a change has to be sudden for it to be important!

Shane, maybe it's the Orbital Mind Control Lasers of the Illuminati beaming the same thoughts into our minds... ;-)

Karen, that can't be helped. Reality is a real buzz kill sometimes.

Jbarber, being poor in a society that insists on blaming the poor for their plight is a very hard row to hoe. You're right, though, that you now have skills that the comfortable will have to learn in a hurry, or perish.

1/25/17, 11:23 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Carlos, that's square on target; thank you. One thing that hasn't even begun to sink in yet is that as things get difficult, a lot of people in the world's nonindustrial nations are going to be in much better shape than people in the industrial world, because the former know how to get by without the industrial economy and the latter don't.

John, I didn't say the Mongols were cartoon villains. I said they had a reputation, and that the reputation of Europeans would be along the same lines.

Izzy, have you ever been a lobster? Dancing the lobster quadrille might be more fun than you think. ;-)

Mark, I suppose that's possible, but I'm not sure it's that useful drafting "well, that might happen" scenarios. A broad brush paints the future more effectively.

Repent, exactly. We simply don't know what's going to happen next -- not in detail, and the big picture isn't necessarily precise enough to give guidance.

Pygmycory, I hope you're right. It's been very depressing to watch apparently sensible people running around squawking like chickens. "When in danger and in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout" seems to be the order of the day.

Cynndara, thank you. That's very good to hear.

Mister R., that's a useful approach! Still, I don't know that I expect anything to snap people out of their ignorance. Enlightenment happens one person at a time, and it takes a lot of work!

DoubtingThomas, Spengler is deterministic the same way that it's deterministic to say "you are going to die someday and, if you live long enough, you'll get old first." The comparison's exact: he was talking about the life cycle of human societies, and demonstrates with plenty of evidence that (a) there is such a thing and (b) it has stages as predictable as childhood, puberty, maturity, and old age in the life cycle of the human individual. The life can be lived well or ill, and there's an element of freedom in the choices that bring one or the other about...but you can't choose not to age and die, you know. As for enlightenment, individually it's always an option. Collectively? Show me an example, or join the long, long line of people down through the ages who have waited in vain for some deus ex machina to bail them out from the consequences of their own actions.

Jay, no argument there. It helps, though, if you know how much you can carry with you when you swim, and don't try to haul something that will drag you down.

1/25/17, 11:38 PM

jessi thompson said...
Archdruid Greer, and Community:

This post is excellent, timely, and harrowing. You are right, much will be lost, and there's no way to wrap your head around what's coming. We can postulate and intellectualize collapse, but when people start dying in high numbers, there's no way to prepare for that in advance.

I did want to point out some of us have been experiencing loss for a very long time already. I have heard a few voices in the environmental movement, perplexed by a new environmentalism, where wind farms and solar farms are always good things, no matter where they are placed. I figured it out. The new environmentalism is the urban environmentalism. As all the wilderness has been eaten up by "progress", fewer people ever even saw wilderness in their entire lives. I can tell you, walking on the paved path of a little park in the suburbs is not wilderness, no matter how many pruned, disease-controlled, and fire-managed trees there are. Standing in a pasture in a deeply rural area is not wilderness, but it's a little closer. Those of us who have seen truly wild places and fell in love have been watching the systematic torture and destruction of the wild for a very long time. No matter what happens, I will find joy in the blades of grass breaking through the old sidewalks and the trees growing through the walls of what used to be buildings. I can't guarantee I will live long enough to watch decay and renewal outpace bulldozers and destruction, but I really want to.

If you deeply fear what is coming, go outside and walk. Look at the plants and animals. They even live in cities, but they are small and hard to find. Look at the birds. Look at the life. Maybe you will recognize it for what it is when you see it growing back, the resilience, the determination to survive, the triumphs and tragedies that happen every day, the spider and the butterfly. I saw footage of penguins surfing huge waves to be smashed up onto cliffs twenty feet high. They kept smashing into the jagged rocks and falling back into the rough sea to try again, smashing up into the cliffs again and again until they finally reached the top, to the only place in the world where they lay their eggs. I saw that and said,"There's an animal determined to live! The entire species evolved to do THAT!"

As a culture, we collectively have no idea what we've lost, what the cost was of all this progress. The last people who remember grew up at the very edges of the rural areas, looking outward onto vast reaches of wild and dangerous land and water. These last people are all heartbroken. They watch more and more beauty ripped apart as mountaintops are removed to mine coal and forests are clearcut for every imaginable wood and paper product, and even the ocean is choked to clogging with plastic. With decline, all of this recedes. The best thing we can possibly do for our ecosystem is leave it alone. Slowly, life will come back and new species will fill niches left by the old, but even before then, the wilds will encroach on everything we leave behind. Look for that, look for the easing of our collective land-use footprints as abandoned shopping malls collapse and their parking lots grow grass again. There will be many moments of astonishment and opportunities for joy, even amidst the loss. Look for it, for as our hubris is washed away by forces of nature, wild and rugged beauty will return. Don't give up hope yet, for the next epoch's tigers and woolly mammoths have not yet been born. If you are looking for the signs of collapse around you, keep an eye out for the corresponding signs of renewal and regeneration. If you learn to see it, it will feed your soul in a way industrial civilization never could.

Jessi Thompson

1/25/17, 11:38 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Gwizard, Oswald Spengler noted that in the latter days of every human society, there's a return to spirituality -- the Second Religiosity, he called it. One of the things that drives that return is a recognition that if you live in a troubled age, you need to cultivate ways to deal with that, and spirituality has plenty to offer in that department.

Paulo, that's certainly one way to approach things!

Logan, that's why I specified a thousand years in the future. Admittedly, 1500 years might have been a better interval.

Peakfuture, I do seem to be reaching some people, a scattering here and there, but there's no identifying sign -- predictably; I'm an eccentric, I attract those who are just as odd as I am, and in the best Discordian fashion, we don't stick together, we stick apart.

Gwizard, true enough. Of course it's necessary to let the grieving happen rather than forcing a simulacrum of it -- a lot of the culture of perpetual whining we have here in the US is a function of the endless repetition of simulated grief, which is acted out but not actually felt. Come to think of it, that applies to a huge range of faux-emotions and faux-passions.

Whitecloak, single-issue politics are among the core forces that have landed us in the mess we're in. I hope you'll educate yourself about a broader range of issues -- you'll find that support for the enforcement of immigration laws (which I also favor, btw) is compatible with quite a wide range of views.

Agent, we've been through this before. I don't know for a fact that the sustainability movement of the 1970s could have succeeded, but I also don't know for a fact that it had to fail. It seems to me that insisting on the latter, when nobody knows the truth of the matter, is a sop for sore consciences. To my mind, it's much more useful, not to mention accurate, to say, "No one knows whether it could have worked or not," and accept whatever responsibility each of us might have had for its failure.

Mark, actually, I think it'll work out best if the process is irregular in space and time -- some people getting clobbered fast, others having the time to learn from the experience. Fortunately that seems to be what we're most likely to get.

Pygmycory, I won't argue. As I noted in the post, some things of real value are going to be lost.

Tokyodamage, funny! Thank you.

1/25/17, 11:53 PM

andrewmarkmusic said...
Thanks for not loading this one up with all kinds of salt and sugar, JMG! Reality needs to be digested in its purest form.....

1/26/17, 12:00 AM

John Michael Greer said...
Econojames, you're welcome and thank you. You've made a very important point, by the way; as we proceed further down the slope, being someone else's employee will be less and less of a good idea, because your employer is going to try to prop up his or her sinking lifestyle at your expense. Providing goods and services directly to people who value them is a much better option. More about this as we proceed!

Ray, nicely put. That's just it -- collapsing is a process, not a destination, and none of us will ever know everything we need to know as we surf the wave of decline and fall.

Astroplethorama, thanks for the link.

M, you're welcome and thank you. I can empathize; my wife's health has deteriorated enough that a lot of the things we'd hoped to do when we moved to the Rust Belt are no longer an option, and we're having to consider relocating in order to get easier access to some of the resources we'll need as age sets in. Life is change, and you do what you have to do.

Dennis, excellent! I hear Mark Zuckerberg is being touted as a potential presidential candidate, so your Democrat Trump may not be hard to find.

Donald, I agree with your second point, but only one-third of your first. Dissolution is inevitable, but autocracy and tyranny, not so much -- though a lot of people are going to have to relearn the hard art of taking responsibility for the consequences of their own choices if those are to be avoided. More on this in a future post.

Wendy, delighted to hear it! Over and above the other benefits, it's good to take time away from doom from time to time...

Mary, thanks for this. I agree wholeheartedly that coming to terms with death is crucial; I've had more than my share of such experiences, but of course not everyone else has.

Drhooves, you may well be right about the dollar, but it's still possible for another rabbit or two to be pulled out of a hat. A lot of people expected the dollar to collapse completely in the wake of the 2008 crash.

Candace, good. It sounds as though you're moving in a productive direction.

NomadicBeer, you can't avoid the rush; you might still be able to get ahead of it, if you get a move on.

Robin, to my mind, it's already biting. I expect it to bite much harder in the years immediately ahead -- but be very, very wary of predictions that start from that fact and jump straight to sudden collapse!

1/26/17, 12:25 AM

John Michael Greer said...
Big Rant, exactly -- there's a real relief in knowing that it's not you, it's not anything you can change, the situation simply is what it is and we all have to deal with it, or not, as we choose. Valuing the many good things we still have is another very useful strategy.

Sheila, a finely crafted meditation. Of course we've all been insane; a lot of what's going to happen in the years immediately ahead is simply a matter of waking back up to the real world: the world of squirrels and gooseberries, where people can't fly to the moon except in their dreams.

NomadicBeer, I'd have to look them up. One of them published an essay a while back urging his colleagues to do the same thing, without noticeable effect, and I heard a little later about two others who'd done the same thing. The rest? As far as they're concerned, cutting back on carbon emissions is for other people.

Grebulocities, thank you. That makes sense.

Kevin, a fighting retreat? I like that. I could see people rallying around it, if it were done the right way. Hmm...

Kfish, thank you. Hearing that really does make me feel as though I've done some good with these rants.

Bob, I'm not a hermit, but I won't argue at all about coming to terms with death. Years ago, when I was an unpublished would-be author with dreams, I paid the bills by working in nursing homes as an orderly, and that involved such tasks as taking vital signs on patients as said signs went to zero and cleaning up the bodies for the folks from the mortuary. It helped me get to know the bony guy with the scythe, and come to terms with the fact that he'd be paying me a visit in due time.

Jessi, thank you. That's something that needs to be said, and heard, many times over.

Andrewmarkmusic, you're welcome and thank you. My realities are free range and come with no artificial ingredients! ;-)

1/26/17, 12:36 AM

Wizard of Tas said...
Hey fellow aspie (we're far from being a rarity here). I've often wondered about the insulin issue, given a few friends and family members need it. It seems to me that given that insulin production has happened for longer than I originally thought, it would seem viable that a modern person with time, access to info and tools, should be able to work out how to do it if folks could do it a century (however long) ago. It would be one more thing to do on a list that's already long for anyone, and more promising, as we all question what skills we could learn for trade, insulin production might have a few customers.

1/26/17, 12:42 AM

Mean Mr Mustard said...

Regarding the US 'paying for' Western European defence, well, that looks to be an Alternative Fact. UK spending alone closely matches Russia's. Our own traditional enemy - France - ;-) spends about the same too.

The Yuge Heffalump in the overmortgaged McMansion is that US defense spending is equal to the next ten nations or thereabouts. $600 Bn...!!

Though it appears Mr Trump is onto the F-35 racket, while McCain and his colleagues are now finally, after rejecting the Imminent Fury and Combat Dragon II evaluations, belatedly noting the potential benefits we've already discussed of low cost light counterinsurgency platforms. If needs be, those could be deployed in-country, of course.

Interesting to see here that the House of Saud sees fit to spend 13% of their GDP on defence. Doesn't look like it's resulted in much in the way of effective military capability, though.


Colonel Mustard (Retd) Order of the Burning Spear (3rd Class)

1/26/17, 1:43 AM

Darren Urquhart said...
Off topic... For readers in Sydney Australia, Sutherland Library is currently loaning two JMG books - Twilight and After Progress. You can borrow them from the Sutherland Shire libraries or through an inter-library loan from anywhere in NSW I believe.

Most libraries accept requests for books to be added to their collection. I encourage all regular readers to get some JMG thinking into their local libraries. The more exposure these ideas get, the better.

1/26/17, 1:56 AM

MichaelK said...
Sadly, I agree with most of what you've written. I just wish it wasn't so because the great big party has been very, very, good to me throughout my lifetime. There's a lot of things I'm gonna miss. The idea that my children will live a world very different and far harsher than the one I enjoyed, a world of chaos, feels me with a feeling of dread.

Coincidentally, I was listening to the BBS this morning and they had one of the leading analysts for British Petroleum, BP, on the programme talking about how BP, at least for public consumption, sees the future. He talked about the great abundance of oil we're witnessing at the moment and this is keeping prices down. According to him the global oil and gas industry has provable access and extraction to a vast amount of oil and gas up to at least 2050, four to five times as much oil and gas as we actually need. That was really good, he mentioned in an aside, because China and India are gonna need an awful lot of energy as they adopt western lifestyle, not least in relation to tranport where hundreds of millions of electric cars are soon going to be rollin', rollin', rollin' on hundreds of thousands of miles of roads leading us in comfort towards a bright and better future, without a bump in sight.

Well, I'm glad that's been cleared up by BP's analyst. We can all relax, sit back and enjoy the ride. All that made me feel, so relieved, so happy and positive, until I read you're latest post that is, and I came back down to earth with a nasty bump and woke up with a frown.

1/26/17, 2:04 AM

thriftwizard said...
You should hear the squawks of fury and entitlement I'm hearing here in the UK. In the supermarkets of our rather-expensive little medieval market town, customers are finding empty shelves where their (unseasonable) salad leaves and soft fruit "should" be, thanks to the cold and furious weather currently battering southern Europe, where most of these things are grown. What they're not realising is that not only are these harvests failing, but the farmers are unable to plant the crops for future months too, as many agricultural areas are flooded (with the soil washing straight down into the Mediterranean, as there are no longer any trees to hold it in place) so one's dinner-party menus are going to be constrained for some time...

We're a long way from actual hunger, and there are plenty of unfashionable home-grown vegetables like cabbage and beets available, but prices are edging upwards rather faster than the official inflation figures suggest, and people seem very unwilling to join the dots and realise that this situation, which can only be exacerbated by Brexit, may not be a temporary blip in their comfortable lifestyles. So I'm planning what to plant in our little polytunnel, bought to house our bantams during the avian flu scare, and assuming that the birds will be able to return to free-range in Spring when the danger is past. And I'm eyeing up all available window-sill space; there may come a day when any available goods no longer get delivered to "rural" areas outside the main cities, as the roads disintegrate further and all the people with money return to places where there are still centralised services like properly-staffed schools, hospitals and rubbish (trash) collections, and it may be closer than we’d like to think...

1/26/17, 2:18 AM

Les said...
we’ve been on the farm five years now, after another 5 years or so mucking around with urban farming, permaculture and the like in the big smoke (talk about how to become a pariah in your own neighbourhood).
We’ve managed to get off grid (though less successfully than Chris in Cherokee, I think).
Coming into year six, we even seem to have found out how to make a living of sorts, in the small scale raising of old breed pigs (a minor miracle, given the negative incomes we see all around us).
The pigs are fed on whey from the local cheesemaker, veggie offcuts from the local greengrocer, stale bread from the local baker, whatever goodies they can extract from the paddocks they are in and a few commercial pellets.
While we look on this as a major nutrient import system for our farm, every one of these inputs burns fossils to make it happen (even the paddock, as we have to pump water to keep the little buggers out there in their paddock enclosures).
Likewise, the 50 acres of trees up the back uses fossils every time we go looking for fuel. Even if I get the wood gas generators up and happening (looking increasingly unlikely), I still have to cut timber to power the them.
While your demagogues are unlikely to affect us directly, it really is depressing to see what is now more than ten years of effort come to essentially nothing. It’s like we’ve just been kidding ourselves - the loss of easy access to liquid fuels is still going to hurt like hell, and that sure seems a corollary of what you’ve written this week...

1/26/17, 2:24 AM

Del Nogal said...
Dear JMG,
First an apology for being too long but I just wanted to share the little insight I have from living in Côte d'Ivoire, in the hope it will shed some lights on how it may look like.
I believe the country is currently in the 2nd phase of what Turchin calls the Father-and-Son sub-cycle of the descending phase of a secular cycle, ie.: fathers and sons still remember how awful the previous round of violence was and do anything to prevent the return of it. That would last around one generation before it starts again.

For the context:
Côte d'Ivoire went through a bloody civil war (nicely called post-electoral crisis) lasting from 2002 to 2011. A Rebel army fought the Security Forces, and both fought the population.
French army settled the matter.
Current president is thus the one supported by the Rebel army. In an effort at peace building and violent soldiers recycling, Rebels and ex-Security Forces have been merged into a galaxy of security forces with catchy acronyms.

6th Jan, ex-Rebel forces start a mutiny, take over a few cities, shoot in the air, roadblocks, require 12Mio XOF per ex-Rebel (around 10y local salary)
7th Jan, Government answers: "Preposterous!"
...shots in the air, roadblocks, empty streets, shops closed ...
13th Jan, Government pays 12Mio per ex-Rebel
14th Jan, ex-Security Forces (military, gendarmes(militarized police)) and firemen start a mutiny: it's unfair, they also require 12Mio per head: shots in the air, roadblocks, harbors, shops closed and banks too.
Banks being closed, ex-Rebels cannot cash in their new earned money. Thus they attack ex-Security Forces mutineers and kill some.
25th Jan ex-Rebel make a public apology for the inconvenience, but you know, "we really deserve that money"
Meanwhile the national football team lost in the continental championship(AFCON), all civil servants have been striking since 1st Jan (hospitals, administration, schools...)
Private schools are attacked by student unions to convince them to participate in the strike and to rob some wallets and phones too.
4 crocodiles died in Yamoussoukro, CI is represented in Seoul's chocolate fair, Bingerville celebrates their best students, ruined small investors peacefully demonstrate in town.

News look like this in such a context, plus all the rumors spreading like wild fire.

1/26/17, 2:35 AM

Del Nogal said...
Then daily life when you're wealthy:
Water, electricity lost twice a month for a few hours(daytime)(4 months ago, it was once a month)
But I just had fiber optics internet deployed to my home 1000Mb/s o_O : progress and regress walk hand in hand.
I am white, so it is obvious I'm filthy rich and no clan backs me up, so I'm fair game. Having been ransomed by police once, I now avoid anything that wears a uniform and a Kalashnikov. I also avoid groups of people I don't know, and join groups I know ASAP.
I never disclose my home location or give personal details.
All houses are protected by walls higher than 3m crowned by barbwire or electric fences and guarded 24/7. Wealthy neighborhoods are walled around the walled houses and guarded too. This is the wall century, looks pretty medieval though mail and helmet would look nicer than those yellow uniforms ;-)
I've also learned to locate the source of gunshots by watching the birds. All those walls make it difficult to locate the source of a bang.
Nonetheless, life is rather peaceful, and as long as you are prudent, informed, discreet, and avoid the places where you don't belong, it's fine.

Daily life when you're normal:
You earn between 100$ and 200$ a month. Life is expensive as tomatoes, rice and onions are priced like in Europe. Cigarettes are cheap though.
You can afford a one or two rooms house for your family of 6-10 (parents, wife, children). Luckily, your wife makes some money by selling water plastic bags and skin bleach in the market and your cousins from the village can still provide some vegetables.
You have running water quite often, prepaid electricity for light and radio, and a butane bottle for cooking( thank god, you can afford it, coal is so awful).
You and your kids (some will die) get sick quite often: malaria, worms, typhus, gastro-intestinal problems, infections. Hospital is expensive (don't bother, they're striking now)
Violence is rather low, though the tailor in your street has been killed last week by microbes(machete wielding kids in search of a living and a meaning). Two of those microbes have been caught and lynched this morning by the way, pity you weren't there.
Your kids go to the public school (currently striking) and your elder daughter(15yo) now pregnant must marry, but the guy is nowhere to be found. You had to borrow 300000 XOF(3mo salary) from your employer to pay for the school supplies and uniforms.
Day in day out, life is good, much better than 10 years ago when you had to flee your ancestral country side village, burnt to the ground.
You have a job, a house, a wife, food on the table once a day and can occasionally enjoy a beer (koutoukou is cheaper and stronger, but you don't dare since those 12 guys died poisoned by methanol).

If you're poor or disabled, may god have mercy.


1/26/17, 2:35 AM

Cortes said...
Another fine essay. Thank you.

When I still had a TV (about 15 years ago) one of the minor BBC channels showed a documentary about a family from the Transylvania area of Romania and highlighted the bizarre inversion of values which is common these days. The oldest child and only son was employed as a toilet cleaner at Heathrow Airport (London) and looked down on his parents and sisters who still worked on the family farm- about 40 hectares, a few cows and pigs, a small woodland, and arable fields. The farmers had no money but were truly rich, while the son had money but was poorer than mere words can express.

1/26/17, 3:09 AM

Phil Knight said...
Personally I think that Europeans will take to war again like ducks to water. I've been meaning to write a book for quite a long time about how Western populations suffer from what I call War Deficiency Syndrome. This is why popular culture is so keen on depictions of violence - with load, aggressive music; violent, gory films etc. These are a kind of placebo that gives people just enough of a vicarious thrill to keep their war urges in check.

1/26/17, 3:14 AM

Fred the First said...
@Sheila Grace - my eyes fell on your comment first this morning and reading it brought a tear to my eye. Thank you for sharing your journey. I would love to read more if you are writing more about it.

1/26/17, 3:40 AM

Twilight said...
Yes, I played “Fool’s Overture” to death on vinyl!

It's certainly true that we could have made much better choices, and there is still some room to correct a small number of those errors. However, there seems to be a feeling now that we can bring back what was lost by wishing and hoping. Of course that can't work, as there were actual reasons it stopped working before that go beyond the mere corruption and con men. There is no recognition at all of the impacts of declining net energy, and so it won't end well.

Therefore, the Trump administration represents the last gasp of hope for the segment of the population that supported him, and when that hope is gone it will be replaced by something uglier. Other segments of the population have no idea that something is wrong, and are too focused inward to be able to see. So I really feel that we are just passing a threshold, but I have learned that just because you can see the train coming doesn't mean you can get out of the way.

1/26/17, 3:58 AM

TerminalOne said...
Thanks to chronic lyme disease, when modern healthcare goes away, so will what remains of my health. Unfortunately, it's fairly rare for lyme to outright kill someone it's infected. More often they're beset with MS or fibromyalgia symptoms and a lot of pain. I doubt I'll be able to contribute enough to justify my upkeep. Since the bug won't have the decency kill me itself it looks like that will have to be my final DIY project. Lots of people are already dying from opiate overdoses, so hopefully I will stumble across some of the good stuff to stash away before it's needed.

I learned about peak oil 12 years ago and mentally gaming out the effects that would have on civilization going forward made having children seem like kind of a mean thing to do since their entire lives would be spent in a world falling apart. I know plenty of people lived through such things in the past - that's why we're here. Happiness is not guaranteed. Those people could have been miserable and so given the choice I decided to spare my hypothetical offspring. Given the situation I mentioned in the first paragraph, I know I made the right choice.

1/26/17, 4:24 AM

Fred the First said...
I'm reposting my question from yesterday and at the end of last week's post. Your response to another comment addressed this somewhat, but curious for your view.

Wow oh wow Trump is moving so fast on so many things my head is spinning. We haven't had a president like this my whole life and I remember back To Ford.

Scott Adams refers to this as a technique called pacing and leading. What do you think of it?

1/26/17, 4:31 AM

Matt said...
"Things that you value—things you think of as important, meaningful, even necessary—are going to go away forever in the years immediately ahead of us, and there will be nothing you can do about it."

This relates to what I was trying to convey in my last response (I think) to the previous post. We have talked elsewhere about how getting on board with the whole limits worldview is like a bereavement. We have to come to terms not just with the end of progress, but the end of many things you value.

Forewarned is forearmed (or whatever) but I think when it's right in front of our eyes - losing the things we value - it's still going to hurt, even if we have previously 'mourned now to avoid the rush'.

But what of our fellow citizens who don't have this context in the slightest? Many of them are getting their first real taste of it, right here, right now, and it's taking shapes they have no frame of reference to handle. Front and centre, I think, is the demise of the reality-based community, as Rumsfied (was it he?) might have described it.

Most of us know that politicians lie, but still expect that there may be some come-uppance, perhaps a loss of reputation, when the lie is discovered and widely acknowledged. What's new is the explicit disdain for truth that is being openly touted by the highest in the land. How do 'progressives' respond? One approach would be to surf the same wave, fight fire with fire. But for many progressives (I'm talking grassroots, here, not Clinton or Obama or the DNC) that 'cure' is as bad as the disease - it creates too much cognitive dissonance.

So, perhaps for the first time, they get a real sense that it's all going to Heck in a handcart, and feel an anguish that's all too understandable.


1/26/17, 4:33 AM

Izzy said...
@JMG: Not that I know of, but then, I don't think I would. :) I do like them--bonded a little in a well-I'm-not-being-eaten-but-still fashion with the tank when I was working my horrific deli job, and have a plush one around here--though that's never stopped me from also finding them delicious. Enjoying a future lobsteriffic existence is a heartening possibility, though, and good Alice reference.

1/26/17, 4:45 AM

mh505 said...
Dear JMG -
that's not my point at all. NATO, in its present form, has been obsolete for more than 20 years. One wonders at times if it wouldn't be wiser to project its force towards the Atlantic rather than the East (with an obviously much lower budget).
Of course, the core of Europe - Germany - is still an occupied country with up to 60000 US soldiers plus 20000 from the UK on its ground. And this may also be a major reason why our government has been - and still is - such a lapdog of the empire.

1/26/17, 4:50 AM

Izzy said...
@Wendy Crim: My experience of gender-neutral dance here in the People's Republic of Camberville is that we just divided the roles into "leaders" and "followers" and anyone could take either*. If people are objecting even to that designation, I may be more toward the political center than I'd previously thought, because wow, that's dumb of them.

* To be fair, in ballroom, some of this was less enlightenment and more the fact that our group generally lacked men.

1/26/17, 4:50 AM

Compound F said...
invaluable commentary. right on the chin. just what i was thinking, only put into words.

Jiminy Christmas.

I have no one to talk to about these things. Which sucks. So, I just listen to those who know the numbers. It's beyond painful.

you're a very kind person.

1/26/17, 4:51 AM

Jo said...
Thanks as always for keeping on saying it like it is. My lifelong addiction to history, biography and the historical novel has been a wonderful antidote to our present society. It doesn't take more than a few steps outside our bubbles of privilege, either in time or space, to realise that our lifestyles are not normal, and neither are our expectations.

Having said that, I live in as much privilege and comfort as the next suburbanite, and in response to this clearly unfair, unethical and downright foolish state of affairs, have decided to quietly take up a challenge that Sharon Astyk threw out a number of years ago - to try and live on ten percent of the energy/resources that the average resident of a wealthy nation uses. I am hoping to live a life that not only uses less resources but also upskills me and others to live better on much, much less.

I have only just begun this adventure, and am still quite pathetic at it. I would love the advice of any of the plethora of thoughtful commenters here who have transitioned to the simple life..

1/26/17, 5:00 AM

Phil Harris said...
So the USA has its 70 year old demagogue? He uses the ring of power to shoulder aside the other powers, just as he shouldered aside the other candidates for nominee. Their energy helped keep him in fuel. Maybe these other self-centred rings of power –like the power of dragons, old and cunning – could find a continuing role in his service, and bide their time? The man is 70? (The tropes of speculative narrative fiction have their value, but time likely outruns them.)

Or maybe, America has got itself awhile a re-awakened Enver Hoxha? I remember standing on a significant international transit road deserted except for a horse and cart beside a modern Border Post – an attempt at a new symbol erected by some external fund. The BP was stripped of all windows, doors, electrics, removable claddings and etc – think 'ruinmen'. Local people conducted normal enough friendly business on a lovely morning in May. My companions pointed up the hillside to the chain of concrete strong points disappearing into the mountains. “Hoxha”, they said, “Hoxha”, pointing and tilting their heads, tapping their temples theatrically so that I could fully grasp the import of this quiet scene.

I like your image, “American Caesar watching himself on a big screen in the Oval Office”. He is younger than I am but I guess that other symbol, the egg timer, runs just the same. TV and TV dinners do not a health system make!

Thanks you Stoics! I should catch up on Epictetus, I think, here at the other side of the tectonic plate where the first spring flowers are emerging earlier each year. This morning we have a little light frost with sunshine. I am not satisfied with what I have done since my own wretched times decades ago or with my response to successive eye-openings. I was a very young man with it all ahead of me when I helped carry a succession of bodies of elderly persons to the mortuary one bad winter. Later at 49 I had the boon of surviving a heart attack. I call it a boon now, though at the time the event put a very young family at risk. I echo Chris Cherokee Organics, - thanks Chris - I too do not work hard enough – not nearly hard enough. Good on you folks!

Phil H

1/26/17, 5:04 AM

Sub said...
Another great(if somewhat depressing) post JMG. You have some of the most enjoyable prose I have ever found to read, although I'm not sure if I could put my finger on just why.

On the subject of "what you can do", I'm curious whether you think any of the vestiges of industrial society will remain in force enough to provide a living, or whether it makes sense to try and get away from those sorts of employment ASAP?

I say this as someone who recently started working in the pharmaceutical sciences department at a state university as a researcher, but who also spent the last seven or eight years working as a repairman on various types of machinery. I can't decide if either of these are things that will be useful to know as things collapse(obviously government funded research will be among the first things to go in US govt. bankruptcy), or if something like my metalworking hobby is more likely to be useful to my community, and is worth spending increasing amounts of time improving on.

It is so stressful to live in times of such uncertainty, but I imagine that adaptability will be among the most useful traits to have, much as it has always been.

Best wishes,

1/26/17, 5:06 AM

Patricia Mathews said...
@Donald Hargraves - there's no place for a 50-something male with no offspring ... dead stem? Are you physically fit enough to volunteer at places that need help? Do you have assets enough to sell half of them and give the money to the poor a la many of the saints in the calendar?

Do you know how to fix anything, make anything, or grow anything? Give someone employment?

1/26/17, 5:21 AM

Lawfish1964 said...
Excellent post, as usual.

This one got me thinking about my prepping and collapsing in place. One skill I have learned since starting the collapse is how to brew beer and whiskey from straight grain. My production far exceeds my consumption, so I'm slowly stocking up on distilled spirits of many kinds, which I see as currency in the coming collapse. It also serves as an excellent barter item (yesterday, the guy who I buy my meat chickens from called and said he'd shot a 7-point buck and asked if I'd like it; of course; all I have to do is pay for the processing fee around $60, and I will brew him a 5-gallon batch of beer). Sort of my personal savings account. I am fortunate to have a large basement, despite living in Florida, and it makes an excellent fermentation/distillation laboratory. I could store literally thousands of jars of liquor and plan to do just that.

Meanwhile, my wife, who is also participating in the collapse process, but not as whole-heartedly (she refuses to use the clothesline and still dries our clothes with an electric dryer), is reminding me that her 50th birthday is coming up and urging me to save money so we can take a trip to the keys. I will comply and admittedly we will likely come back with a lot of good fish for the larder, but it seems so frivolous. We're likely to spend $1000, which could be better used for debt retirement (we're about 11 years away from complete absence of debt).

I am hoping against hope for a slow collapse so I can finish paying off my debts before my job gets tossed into the dust bin. Five more years and I'm done paying for my children's education, so I've got to make at least five more.

1/26/17, 5:28 AM

Wendy Crim said...
Excellent suggestion. I totally agree.

1/26/17, 6:06 AM

Kara Stiff said...
I know it's going to go hard for us personally, even with all our preparation, our house that will still be comfortable and functional when the a.c. quits forever, our food production system, our like-minded neighbors. Still, there is a little emotional relief in watching things get visibly worse now. For instance access to birth control really is going away even earlier than access to other necessities, like I thought it might, so I'm relieved I rearranged my life to not need it. It's scary, though, having young children at this point in history. There's only so much I can do, mentally and physically, to reduce their many kinds of vulnerability. And they mean so much.

1/26/17, 6:11 AM

Jeffrey Kotyk said...
"both sides rounding up potential opponents"

One thing I've noticed, and this isn't limited to the USA, is that the Left across the West (UK especially) is starting to condone violence against their political enemies. Peaceful Trump supporters are beaten up, and liberals on the internet often refuse to condemn such attacks. Gandhi and non-violent protest are quickly being forgotten as their language shifts towards an increasingly aggressive tone. Trump and Brexit brought to the surface what a lot of people really think, and it is contempt and hatred of anyone who isn't on "the right side of history".

1/26/17, 6:11 AM

earthworm said...
Just a minor point; in this weeks post you said:

...European politicians are squawking at top volume about the importance of NATO, which means in practice the continuation of a scheme that allows most European countries to push most of the costs of their own defense onto the United States, but the new administration doesn’t seem to be buying it.

...It can’t be helped, though, for the fact of the matter is that the United States can no longer afford to foot the bill for the defense of other countries. Behind a facade of hallucinatory paper wealth, our nation is effectively bankrupt.

...That disproportionate share came to us via unbalanced patterns of exchange hardwired into the global economy, and enforced at gunpoint by the military garrisons we keep in more than a hundred countries worldwide.

and from last weeks comments:

"Unknown Mox, hmm. I well recall the level of partisan nastiness during and after the 1980, 1992, 2000, and 2008 elections, and this seems more extreme to me. As for NATO, the US currently pays 70% of NATO's operating expenses, and also maintains massive military formations and armaments on its own nickel that are only relevant to the defense of Europe. Europe is going to have to pick up those costs, because we can't afford it any more."

"NomadicBeer, the relation between social class in the US and US imperial hegemony is complex enough that it probably needs a post of its own. As for Europe paying for its own defense, er, you might want to look at the share of NATO's budget that the US pays, and the amount of our military that's specifically geared to the defense of Europe."

"Latefall, that's kind of my take on Le Pen, too, but we'll see. With regard to defense expenditures, when European nations start covering more than half of NATO's expenses, I'll gladly amend my views! The crucial point here is that we can't afford to keep paying for Europe's safety -- the US is falling apart economically. Europeans are going to have to step up to the plate, because we're broke."

"Colin, excellent! Then I trust you'll contact your government and propose that it pursue a policy of having all the expenses of NATO being paid by European nations, instead of having 70% paid by the US, as is the case today."

Although you mention that things are 'enforced at gunpoint', in the last couple of posts the 'enforcement' idea is outweighed by the number of references to the US defending other countries and 'paying for Europe's safety; is it your opinion that the US cares about the safety of other countries or do you think it is merely a cost they have been paying to keep the wealth-pump flowing in their direction?

I don't know, but it seems to me that describing the USA as the defender of Europe and other countries where it has garrisons is not accurate and it may be more about keeping everyone else in line for their own benefit.

I've seen people say that the USA feeds the world, and the idea seems almost like an unquestioned truth. Does the idea of the USA paying to defend everyone else fall into a similar category of truth that is not actually truth? Perhaps it just gives the empire's unaffordable military spending and garrisons an Orwellian language twist?
"Trust us, we're here to keep you safe, but you're going to need to pay for us to do that."
Be interesting to see how it works out.

1/26/17, 6:22 AM

Patricia Mathews said...
@Kevin Warner - " historians are going to have to sit down and work out what it was in the DNA of Western civilisation that led it to destroy itself and have such a cataclysmic effect on the planet. "

I think they'll know what it was, because the ancient Greeks had a word for it. "Hubris."

1/26/17, 6:50 AM

Philip Boerma said...
Hi John,
Ahh, Supertramp one of the great bands that never got the recognition they deserved. Although us teenagers in 70s Saskatoon were into them from the get go. “Now they’re planning the crime of the century...”, no kidding.

I’ve been reading your books, the ADR and comments for years now and have never felt moved to add my 2 cents. Apparently the time has come. The reason I was drawn to the blog and have remained a faithful reader for all these years is that your broad analysis of where we are as a society and where we are going is more often than not spot on. Using history, the limits to growth, erudition and common sense as your guide you’re able to illuminate our current predicaments with a rare clarity. An absence of ideological fervor is what has made it palatable for me over the long term, I always get bored with anyone who has an ideological axe to grind.

This week’s post exemplifies why your blog remains relevant. It’s the long view and doesn’t get caught up in the heat of the moment. I have not detected any change in your tone as some commenters mentioned last week. Your use of current events and the election to illuminate the direction the USA is heading apparently struck to close to home for some readers. All of a sudden the messenger became the target and not the message.

I can imagine quite a few comments didn’t make it through last week. As soon as the name Trump is mentioned people’s eyes seem to glass over and they run for the barricades whether for or against. You were the one who opened my eyes to what Trump represents, the keyword here is “represents”. I made quite a bit of money on that insight by placing a bet on Trump shortly thereafter. In any case Trump seems to be the end of a certain type of business as usual, although that still remains to be seen and many caveats apply. Looking at Trump’s inauguration declaration from the outside I can only think that if Bernie Sanders or his equivalent had uttered those words the “left” would have been in delirium.

As one of your commenters said recently “the left left long ago” in the USA. The left (for lack of a better word) has indeed left long ago whether it be in the USA, the Netherlands (where I lived most of my adult life) or the UK (where I am now). Their betrayal of the ordinary man in the aftermath of the Reagan/Thatcher counter revolution is now complete and they are paying the price for their betrayal. John Pilger’s recent column ( and interview ( are good analyses of where the responsibility for Trump’s arrival lies. It sure ain’t Trump’s fault, that much is clear.

It’s early days yet in our Great Unravelling and the relevance of the ADR blog is that it’s a reminder to be aware that it’s all nothing personal. Our times will unfold as they will.

1/26/17, 6:50 AM

Vedant said...
I have a question. U.S. is the currently the largest consumer of oil in the world. When US will fall from post of world leadership its own oil consumption will be reduced drastically because as you pointed out there will be no longer the benifit of being world reserve currency to maintain consumption in a bankrupt economy. Further , considering the way economies of the world are integrated with each other all the other developed economies will and china will fall. This will result in a large decline in fossil fuel consumption. If I am right about this , will this decline give temporary relief to industrial society? If I am wrong than what am I missing? At what time interval in future chaos is expected to start?

On the other note, what are your thoughts about accidentally discovered new method of making ethanol from carbon dioxide:

1/26/17, 6:53 AM

Allie said...
Hi JMG. A very sobering post. But at the macro level, the historical trends, etc, it is what we've been expecting.

I have been working hard to "collapse now and avoid the rush" for about 8 years now and I still feel like I'm surfing the wave of collapse. I feel that it is always nipping at my heels no matter how hard and fast I run towards a lower standard of living. Llearning and mastering "real skills": gardening, livestock husbandry, farming skills, basic carpentry, felling trees for firewood, saving seeds...the list goes on and on.

I constantly talk with people who remark that things that are happening in Venezuela, Syria or pretty much any corner of the third world will never happen in America. And if these events somehow do happen here then these people will just magically flip a switch of knowledge and grow food and live the "prepper" life after the crisis hits. I find it sad. These will probably be the first people to disappear in the demographic contraction ahead.

1/26/17, 7:04 AM

Whitecloak said...
Oh, I know sir! There are plenty of issues I care about quite a bit beyond isolation- I just find that to be the compelling Ur issue of our day. The future isn't bright and so we need strong walls- Europe's insane openness is going to damn it to mass bloodshed within my lifetime the way things are looking.

I would not wish the same fate upon mine own grandchildren 50 years hence.

I was actually quite left before the left made its recent turn towards mass open borders globalism and decided to adopt a harder 'your tribe is our enemy' stance towards me and mine. 2016 was illuminating, sadly.

1/26/17, 7:16 AM

indus56 said...
Much of the foregoing is perceptive and plausible. Two questions:
1. Do you still (assuming I'm correct in thinking that you once did) hold to the thesis of a long descent, on the scale of decades to centuries. I've always appreciated your cautions regarding a progress/apocalypse binary. That said, in your selection of historical counter-examples there will not yet have been a collapse / decomplexification of networked (many specifically "globalized") systems on a planetary scale.

2. Can you think of historical examples (or future scenarios) of some combination of managed descent / resilient coping that might be preferable, as a shared affirmative project, to reactively resisting the collapse of the existing order, on one hand, or withdrawing into a emotional or material doomstead bunker, on another?

1/26/17, 7:40 AM

GHung said...
Yet another little Supertramp gem -

"Now they're planning the crime of the century
Well what will it be?
Read all about their schemes and adventuring
It's well worth a fee
So roll up and see
And they rape the universe
How they've gone from bad to worse
Who are these men of lust, greed, and glory?
Rip off the masks and let see.
But that's not right - oh no, what's the story?
There's you and there's me
Thank you for that"

I saw them perform this in a bullfight arena in Madrid; early 80's, and the crowd grew silent.

They were actually still listening then.

1/26/17, 7:48 AM

Clay Dennis said...
My nomination for the first clueless elite to be impaled on the bayonet of decline is facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Much in the vain of the recent news of Silcon Valley leaders purchasing doomsteads in New Zealand, Mark purchased 6000 acres in Hawaii. He has not identified this purchase on the remote side of the Island of Kauai as a doom-stead but it has all the earmarks. He ran in to trouble with the locals when he discovered that his enclave was dotted with small parcels owned by native hawaiians. He directed his lawyers to aquire these lands through sneaky legal actions. But once word got out he has recieved much negative pushback in the Islands.
My wife is from Hawaii, not native but third generation of japanese and korean immigrents brought in to work the pineapple fields in the late 1800's. As she will attest, native Hawaiians and most "local kine" people detest haoles from the mainland and Zuckerbergs antics reinforce their view. He even had the audacity to justify his actions by saying that he was just doing it to protect the land and the wildlife and create a nice place for his family. As you might guess this did not make the locals any more sympathetic to him. I would guess that at this moment, somewhere in the Makaha Valley the natives are sharpening a Pololu with Zuckerbergs name on it. When decline reaches the point where the jets stop coming, and the money from the mainland stops flowing , Marks time at his "estate" will be cut short.

1/26/17, 8:34 AM

Rita Narayanan said...
am watching a self righteous & well provided for **famous cosmopolitan anchor on CNN going ga ga over the Canadian refugee programme. Mr Trudeau spent New Year with the Aga Khan & the Obamas have left hip Palm Spring on a Branson private aircraft for sunny Necker island.The more I see of the world the more I admire the older breed of leaders of Western nations(warts and all).

our own nation has been through several rounds of the beginning the romance of elite idealism & now the age of confused & brutal ambition.Can fully understand what Mr Greer & Mr Kunstler write although many in the Post Carbon group seem to not comprehend the *ground reality of degrowth/collapse :(

Happy New Year!

1/26/17, 8:38 AM

sgage said...

"That's just it -- collapsing is a process, not a destination, and none of us will ever know everything we need to know as we surf the wave of decline and fall. "

No indeed - there's an awful lot of improv involved. Reminds me of one of my favorite aphorisms (attribution unknown):

Experience is something you get right after you needed it.

1/26/17, 8:40 AM

wolfbay said...
Since we still have only two viable political parties, I'm wondering if this isn't a great opportunity for the Democrats as the only alternative. We are probably due for a recession in the near future because even with all the fed rigging ,the business cycle still exists and it could be a bad one. Trump could be the next Herbert Hoover and take the blame even though Presidents don't have the huge control over the economy many Americans think they do.If it happened I just hope the wing of the Democratic Party with the foreign policy of a Tulsi Gabbard takes over and not the usual warmongers.

1/26/17, 8:43 AM

Ploughboy said...
One of the skills that will always be in demand, no matter what, is the ability to produce music...both instrumental and vocal. If there is one abiding take-away from the ascent of Rock to become the world's soundtrack, it is that. I would wager traditional string band music to run a close runner-up. As far as providing advantageous mating opportunities for its practitioners, well, that insight has launched more than one band on its way. I don't expect that to change. If you've ever truly sang for your supper, or had other benefits bestowed on you for doing something you'd probably would have been doing anyway, you know of what I speak.

And the theme of this week's post makes me want to sign off with a line I have repeated quite often over the years, and one from one of my favorites to perform ...J. Browne's "Road and the Sky": "Don't think it won't happen just because it hasn't happened yet."

It would be fair and accurate to footnote this thought, given our historical context, with this: "It has though. Many times"

1/26/17, 8:46 AM

DoubtingThomas said...
@JMG: Oh I accept that cycles are popular and that history is littered with such things. Your example of birth/death cycles is valid although whether such a cycle is A) necessary and B) perpetually 'fixed' is a huge topic. The inevitability of death is a subject I am very open minded about. I've personally witnessed some strange things. Read of more. Longevity itself is fluid via a variety of methods and that's without reaching for the materialistic medical technological intervention realm which is exploring that in its own way.

Would you not consider the different historical secret societies ( and unions ) as collectives? Didn't some of them have enlightened members whose ideas triggered significant paradigm shifts having profound impacts? Then too we have the world' religions, which, at their root, regardless of the veracity of their respective creation myths and principle character's histories, they can be viewed as having been founded by enlightened collectives of individuals that had profound impacts in many areas. Just having an inspired thought can be enough without the full enlightenment package.

Cyclic patterns persist until something happens to cause them not to. That's where the criticism of Spengler lies. Cycles of abuse ( individual, societal, national ) for example end as individuals learn Forgiveness. Collectives of all types form. It's like going round inside a circle thinking the circle is all until someone shouts look up.

Who says I'm waiting for anyone? When I implied I was working towards having an impact pushing towards goals I believe will be beneficial I was being literal. Will I be successful? Only time will tell. The spread of any success will depend on the free will choice of those within the network effects of whatever my sphere of influence may be.

Other interesting impacts may come from 3D Printers capable of printing themselves and printing new types of electronics as well as older tech. Re-decentralising manufacturing even down to the level of a home installation and powered locally. Materials Science is not my field but the resources for such things is an ever moving target. I find it an interesting synchronicity that 3D printing and quartz wafers have recently manifested. Likewise the efficiency gains in Solar tech. A Spanish friend of mine is bummed because he dropped 100k on Solar tech 6 years ago and conversation efficiency soon after doubled. I've seen projected possibilities of 80-90%. Solar paint is an interest notion. I won't debate EROI. I'm not versed enough. Let's also not forget the thousands of secret patents waiting to come in to the light. Maybe there's good stuff to be found there.

Physics is due for a paradigm shift too. That's all I'll say on that though.

1/26/17, 8:51 AM

asr said...
As someone who was upset about the recent election. I found this post a very useful reminder that Trump is but a minor symptom of the great travails to come. Thanks.

1/26/17, 8:53 AM

weedananda said...
Gods, I love the bracing aroma and sharp sting of cold, wet mackerel in the morning! Thanks JMG...well done!

1/26/17, 8:58 AM

Seaweed Shark said...
This was impressive. I think your Jeremiads are better than anything else you write.

So then, does this all means a great time for religion is coming up?

1/26/17, 9:13 AM

Doug Manners said...
JMG, you have said several times that Europe needs to pay for its own defence instead of relying on the USA. Of course, as I am sure you are aware, the US government has not been paying for the defence of Europe out of altruism. The US government is completely indifferent to what actually happens in Europe, as is shown by events in Ukraine. The reason the US has paid for European defence is that it has been in its interest to do so. By paying for European defence it has been buying the loyalty of European governments. The fact that it can no longer afford to do this means that it can no longer afford to protect its interests in that respect.

That is why the cessation of such subsidies has led to European leaders to start bleating. They have been conducting various anti-Russian activities, such as demonising Mr Putin and Russian participation in the Middle East, as instructed by the US. Now the US government is proposing to leave them hanging.

As mh505 implied in his comment, it is clear what will happen when the US government withdraws its financial support. After the collapse of the Soviet Union there were many in Europe who hoped that links with Russia would be strengthened, even to the extent that Russia might join the EU. The US government had other ideas, and such hopes were quashed. Now, with the US lacking the wealth to bribe European governments, the situation will be different. While present European elites may find it difficult to change track over Russia, the new political parties will have no such qualms. Marine Le Pen has already declared that she intends to recognise Crimea as part of Russia. While the EU itself may well collapse, and Russia joining it may not have been realistic anyway, some other form of alliance between Russia and the rest of Europe seems highly likely.

It may well be that Trump is aware of this potential development. Russia plus the rest of Europe will be a more formidable force on the world stage than Russia alone, and losing the automatic support of Europe will weaken the US. Cutting subsidies for European defence and cosying up to Putin may well be two aspects of the same strategy. Far from 'making America great again', Trump may be deliberately cutting America down to the size it can afford, with a foreign policy to match.

1/26/17, 9:24 AM

avalterra said...
I am not a talented or gifted man. But from a very young age my parents remarked on two qualities that I possessed. The first was an almost eerie patience. The second was to take bad news in stride (I, fortunately, passed the latter one on to my son).

So this type of post doesn't rattle me. I started seeing the truth of it in 2002 and have been looking into this abyss since then trying to suss out the details. I recognize that absolute catastrophe could strike me and those I love at any time. But I figure looking at where we are going, rather than a fantasy of where we are going, gives me at least a small chance of avoiding disaster.

You have been immensely valuable to me JMG. Thank you for all that you do, and all that you have written.


1/26/17, 9:36 AM

LL Pete said...
JMG, it's one thing to be very disappointed in the election of an unpopular president; it's quite another to be freaked out by the election of a deranged madman. Yes, our civilization is in decline, and this is what collapse looks like, but the way down can be bumpy and uncomfortable, or it can be a catastrophic crash, with a lot of unpredictability in between. I personally think (or maybe just wishfully hope) that Trump will be removed from office before he can do too much more damage. It's a cliche for sure, but maybe this can serve as a wakeup call.
Thank you very much for your weekly dose of sanity.

1/26/17, 9:46 AM

DoubtingThomas said...
@JMG: It is interesting that mention was made by yourself and others above about the statistics of those climate change scientists who have or have not stopped flying. Possibly a bit of a cheap shot. Walking the walk.. Indeed. I wasn't sure if that was an attempt to delegitimise what they had to say. I do hope not. No doubt an equally cheap shot could be made against those on here who still drive cars, still using things that come from afar, still using the Internet, still eating beef etc.

So, basically, we’re in for it.

Dramatic! No doubt some are. Change can be hard. What that change will be is highly individual and an individual's ability to adapt, innovate highly variable.

1/26/17, 9:54 AM

BFM said...
JMG, could you please explain again your rationale for assuming there won't be some kind of nuclear war on this planet in the coming few decades? I remember a post about that, but I don't remember why you felt so sure about this and I'd like to be reminded just now. It seems to me that the probability of at least "small-scale" usage of nuclear weapons is rather high. I'm not a doomer; I don't think the world will end in a flash; but I wish I were as certain as you that some sort of nuclear war is impossible in the coming years (assuming I have it right that that's what you believe).

1/26/17, 10:10 AM

RPC said...
" I'm not sure it's that useful drafting "well, that might happen" scenarios." Sure it is - you can write a great Tom Clancy style novel!

1/26/17, 10:28 AM

dfr2010 said...
This eccentric started to read a blog by another eccentric, which changed this eccentric's viewpoint a bit. Instead of buying a "rural doomstead," we bought my 2-1/2 acre playground at the dead end of a dirt road. Your phrase, "those who chattered amiably about how comfortable they’d be in their rural doomsteads," got a snort and guffaw from me last evening - my back was screaming about overdoing it. I am starting to hatch the F2 generation of chickens, along with more F1s and F1.5s. Right now the dairy goats are dry, but milking season will return sometime around the end of next month. The feeder barrow looks to be mostly grown, so we're hoping for some cool days to slaughter him for the freezer, then I go hunting for a boar for his sisters. I may finally be getting the hang of gardening here in Florida sand, after nearly four years of trying. I've been rereading the Green Wizardry posts recently, for continued inspiration and to check my progress.

1/26/17, 10:46 AM

dltrammel said...
Your talk of the privileged and their bought islands where they will retreat to and wait out while the rest of us unlucky plebs fight, die and collapse, reminds me of something said in a recent article I read about the rich buying doomsteads. The author made the point that the 1%ers who buy $20 million dollar condos in old ICBM silos, and keep private jets fully fueled and ready, might want to remember they will be sharing that jet with the family of the pilot.

Hard to imagine if the SHTF and the 1% bugs out, that the people who drive them to their retreats will be so willing to just walk away into the Outlands and die, while their former employers sip wine and watch old movies in their protected bunkers.

Not to mention what ideas the guards might have.

I think the suggestions you have made, about learning skills and not hoarding goods, is the best advice I've found. I picture a recently conquered village, where the leader of the warband steps up and says, "We have limited resources, why should I keep any of you alive?" and the astute green wizard raises their hand and says "I can grow food and brew beer."

Some of us might survive...

1/26/17, 10:57 AM

Myriam said...
Not wishing in any way to impose my views on you, I would like to share what I found works for allergies.

I used to have terrible seasonal and cat allergies. These completely went away after many months of eating sauerkraut. Or to be more precise, when my gut bacteria improved in healthy diversity, my overall immune system improved immeasurably.

The link between the two is so definite that every time I run out of the homemade sauerkraut I make (which happens from time to time), three days later my cat triggers my allergies again and I'm miserable. It takes several days of sauerkraut consumption to make the allergies go away again.

1/26/17, 10:57 AM

onething said...
Wendy Crim,

Carry on!
My thought is that dance is the most perfect prayer.

1/26/17, 11:10 AM

Sheila Grace said...
Dear Jessi,

Thank you Jessi for taking us all there, on the walk along side you. Your last sentence - “If you learn to see it, it will feed your soul in a way industrial civilization never could.” -is now my reality and could not be more truthful. For reasons unknown I was already heartbroken at ten years old, acquiescing later on into the distractions; economic & societal, always wishing for a way out, and now for whatever reason, the Universe has dropped me on the doorstep of that desire and I’m not leaving. Reading your comment brought two songs to my mind, both from the Talking Heads; Once in a Lifetime and Nothing but Flowers; both are caustic takes from the pop culture times about the society that spawned them, the former being our idiotic fetish with materialism, the latter for how beautiful the landscape could be once it has reclaimed the factories, stores and sidewalks.

1/26/17, 11:12 AM

Carolyn said...
Blogger seems to have eaten my first attempt to comment, so here's a repost, hope it doesn't show up twice:

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Oof, that hurt to read, but thank you for it. I saw the second comment on the post mentioned reading the Stoic philosophers and I've gotten into that recently too--starting with The Daily Stoic as it's very accessible, but I just bought Epictetus's Handbook and Marcus Aurelius's Meditations. Even just a few weeks in I'm already finding it very helpful with finding courage and calm when I start to get panicky about what's ahead of us. Thanks, JMG, for introducing it to me in this post a while back.

I'm a software engineer right now, but I don't know that that skill set will be useful for too much longer. I need to learn something more hands-on. My husband is currently a stay-at-home dad to our daughter, but who knows, we may end up relying on some of his Marine Corps training before too long. A friend of mine said that she wants to take midwife training so as to be able to provide abortion care outside of the medical system, and that sounds like a great idea to me, since I'm very passionate about women's freedom and autonomy. I'd have to figure out how to fit the training in around my day job, though, for however much longer I continue to have a day job.

Well, this is gonna suck. Better get on with it.

1/26/17, 11:13 AM

Nathan said...

I thought you might like this article on Elon Musk. As you predicted, he is a shrewd subsidy-hunter, and he has seen that Trump rewards loyalty. This week he has been been cozying up to the administration. It's another satisfying drop in the water torture Trump is going to inflict on Silicon Valley champagne socialists. I'm looking forward to the tech elite losing their minds over the coming months -- especially when they lose their H1b pipeline.

1/26/17, 11:17 AM

John Crawford said...
"More than anything else, it’s about loss. Things that you value—things you think of as important, meaningful, even necessary—are going to go away forever in the years immediately ahead of us, and there will be nothing you can do about it. It really is as simple as that. People who live in an age of decline and fall can’t afford to cultivate a sense of entitlement..."

This though has been danced around for too long. Finally, you have condensed and framed the entire collapse argument in an easily communicated message.

Excellent work.

1/26/17, 11:18 AM

Petrapie said...
I've just finished reading JMG's post and all the comments so far. What a cathartic experience: I feel I have now moved past the entire current circus. Thank you, JMG, and all of you who have shared your thoughts, your insights, your selves.

1/26/17, 11:59 AM

sunseekernv said...
NomadicBeer - the most famous example of a scientist giving up flying is Peter Kalmus

His personal site:

A nice interview with him:

He is one of JMG's fellow authors at New Society publishers:

re: "...all the scientists that try to outdo each other in flying all over the world to give speeches about the huge problem of climate change ..."

Sounds like negative spin to me, so the spinner can play righteous, and deny/avoid their own responsibility.
Most of those "speeches" are conference presentations, part of the way science is done.
Scientists' careers work like an apprenticeship: one sees, does, then teaches.
However, unlike a plumbing apprenticeship, one often has to move institutions between levels: undergrad, grad student, post-doc, associate prof, assistant ... .
And one's mentor pool at one's current institution may be limiting.
So one travels to conferences to see papers given (what's the use of doing research if nobody gets to know about it?); then gives papers one has co-authored, first as a junior author, then as senior author, then mentors people giving papers. At the conferences one meets and establishes relationships with potential collaborators/employers/etc.
One also flies to interviews, to research sites, and to workshops such as the IPCC working sessions.
(and because the IPCC is run by bureaucrats at the UN, they require working sessions be held around the world in the name of fairness, so the scientists - mostly from the US and Europe - have to fly to meetings in Africa and South America at great cost/waste due to politics, and then they get ragged on for it).

Kalmus, (and Judith Curry is one who limits her flying, tho' mostly because she doesn't like it) were already senior scientists when they stopped/limited their flying, so they already had met their collaborators, etc. Relationships already started can be easily maintained via email/phone/Skype. But Kalmus is at Jet Propulsion Labs AND UCLA, with a large community there in his specialty, and uses remote sensing data for his work. Some junior peon from podunk U who does field work with plants or animals is going to need to go to conferences/field sites to be a successful scientist.
Think about online dating - would you marry someone without a face-to-face meeting?
And asking a presenter questions, both in a session during the Q&A period, and then during coffee breaks, dinner can be so valuable in developing relationships and ideas. I find this face-to-face time (and listening to other's questions) quite valuable during PV conferences, so I assume in other fields it must be as well.

Some big name types, like Phil Jones, Richard Alley, etc. are often invited keynote speakers to conferences, to testify before governmental bodies, etc. Hard for them to give that up.

I deem Kalmus commendable, and others could do more, but it's not such an easy black and white issue - unless one wants climate science to come to a halt (and some do!).
Often conference attendees piggyback meetings/vacation time around the conference, buy offsets (which most grant agencies do NOT pay for), limit the number of conferences they attend, or other steps to minimize impact. But one rarely hears about that. (rather shocked at JMG's blanket reply that the rest of climate scientists don't care/haven't done anything).

1/26/17, 12:05 PM

Scotlyn said...
@JMG I want to reiterate the thanks I've expressed before for keeping the comments section so well moderated that it draws together people of truly disparate views and experiences into opportunities for deep conversation with one another, so rare in a world made up of either echo chamber or flame war.

Last week's session was a marathon, yet you stayed game throughout. In the course of it, I found myself continually bowled over with admiration for so many of the commenters here, people who manifest strong, idiosynchratic character, who are thoughtful, courageous, and who leave strong tracks of themselves on the ether.

I realised that whether we'd agree on much seemed less important to me than the fact I'm so happy to know each of them is out there "disensussing".

Also, by the way, the cycling is going well, weather notwithstanding. I have not regretted giving up the car for a single moment.

1/26/17, 12:19 PM

pygmycory said...
Re climate scientists walking their talk, I have a friend who is one. She does still fly, but I know she's chosen not to travel to at least one climate conference she wanted to go to specifically because of the climate impacts. She's also vegan, and doesn't have a car - flying is pretty much her only major climate-problematic action.

Some of them are really trying.

1/26/17, 12:23 PM

Cherokee Organics said...

Yeah, that song was pure poetry and it told of the story of the fall from innocence and subsequent slide into an abstract, and frankly arbitrary world. Well digressions are a bit of a bad habit! :-)!

Speaking of digressions, there was a song yesterday by the band Cub Sport called "C'mon mess me up" which is clearly a song about a dysfunctional relationship. Despite that content, it's a nice song though and got to about number 23 I believe, so it must have resonated with people. Anyway the next few lines are probably a bit more relevant to this week's blog essay than the "logical" song:

"Inside was kind of misty, I knew none of the history
I found comfort, I fell in love with avoiding problems
And that was the problem
‘Cause I want this, you know I want this
So come on, mess me up"

I reckon it is the melt water flowing underneath those glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica which will be the vehicle by which those ice monsters will move rapidly off the land and into the water. The glaciers themselves will take quite a while to melt once they are in the water - but that is the least of the problems I reckon.

You know the tropics are pushing further south this year than I have previously noticed. It has always happened since I can recall from memories of summers as a kid, but it is the frequency and severity which has ramped up. Up north though, many inland communities have been cut off by the heavy rains and flooding and at the moment they are able to airlift in huge quantities of regular food supplies. The only roads in and out of there are dirt roads and they are impassable.

The sort of July's (your January) that I get here (very humid, cloudy and with intermittent rain) sound like the sort of weather that you are having right now.



1/26/17, 1:01 PM

Cherokee Organics said...

Just forgot to add about the Europeans. What an insight! However, they made the mistake of exporting their germs and technology and they only had one chance to pull that trick.



1/26/17, 1:04 PM

Wendy said...
JMG, thank you so much for all the effort and thought that goes into these weekly reality checks. Your work has really helped me to understand the current mayhem in a broader historical context, which has been oddly soothing and grounding, considering the grim outlook for our species. There's much more I could say, but mainly: thank you.

1/26/17, 1:07 PM

Violet Cabra said...
Many thanks to everyone who has wished me well! I feel grateful to be able to participate in this forum; it's one of the few places where I find people older than myself and walking a similar path are accessible. It feels markedly different to be wished well by people with more life experience rather than less.

@ Rita, honestly, I feel overwhelmed by treatment options. homeopathy seems like a good modality for this; my herbal skills are perhaps providing some palliative relief, but little else.

@ Patricia, that makes sense. I feel a marked relief when I'm out of range of EMF, which is also out of range of fragrances. That being said, I'm somewhat addicted to the internet even though, ironically, it is only to visit the archdruid report!

@ candance, thank you; gardening is a huge source of joy for me and I, with minimum pathos I hope, look forward very simply to the opportunity to focus my energies on growing food and herbs. also, I'd love to share my last herbal essay that I wrote on my blog:

@ Big Rant, I sincerely believe there is great honor, dignity and worth in the home economy. It is beautiful and important.

@ Jessi, that is utterly beautiful! I relate very deeply; I've had visions of the forests conquering roads and other paved places, and only feel at ease on a certain level seeing the steady march of irrepressible life through the ruins.

@ everyone, this conversation about preparation or lack thereof is very interesting. Structurally, to prepare is to attempt to exert control. Which is useful and essential up to a point, but alas our predicament is multi-variable, convergent, and chaotic. Even with the best preparations in the world there is a very, very limited amount of control that one person, family, or community can exert on the wild movements of contingency and exigency that are flowing into our lives. A materialistic focus on skills, which define the body as a specialized tool, is incomplete without a trust in one's general adaptability and acceptance of death. This recasts oneself in a more spiritual light. The former tightens the grip on what is known and the second opens the hand to what isn't

1/26/17, 1:24 PM

Eric S. said...
Thank you for bringing everything back home and back into perspective. It can be really hard to talk about things in systems terms, and for some reason people have incredible difficulty grasping that politics, at the end of the day, is just one of the ways the various fluctuations in the biosphere and atmosphere, and in the real economy of goods and services plays out in the realm of human ecology (what one might call the "homosphere," and that Trump is no more a cause of the problems rising up around him than a particularly bad hurricane in Florida is the cause of rising sea levels and melting ice caps. It seems as though many circles of existence are interacting in volatile ways these days, all the way up to fluctuations in the "theosphere" that are better left for the other blog.

All that said, it's definitely one thing to cope with a future of scarcity, and quite another to deal with the violence and political chaos that are part of the scenery right now. My nature and my values both are putting me in a place of standing for civility and communication even as those values become inimical to pretty much all sides of the political divide. I've been very quiet lately in most of my circles of friends when it comes to the big issues facing our world because I don't really know how to speak in a way that doesn't lead to attack. When I tried to speak to both sides after the election in a call for communication and understanding I received a patronizing rant about how I was part of the problem and was enabling evil by refusing to fight it from one friend on the left, and a sputtering set of curses, threats, and insults in all capital letters from an old friend of my father's I have known my whole life for daring to admit that Trump was anything less than a hero. This morning, I tried to share this article, because it really drives home some of the points I've been trying to make: that there are bigger issues than whether we belong to the red tribe, the blue tribe, or some other and that we need to stand together in the difficult and uncertain times to come. I got... a lot of backlash for it, mostly from people insisting that the only way to prevent a difficult future was to stop Trump (as though, once again, he were a cause rather than a symptom).

I think the hardest thing about this year for me has been the confusion and isolation as I've felt core values that I hold dear being turned against each other inside myself, and trampled by others to the point that I sometimes feel as though I don't know right from wrong anymore. And as I look at both recent and distant history, I realize that this position: standing firmly in the middle, trying to listen for both sides, calling for compassion and communication in the midst of the heat and hate all around is the best way to get a target on your back as the center disappears and both sides brand you as the enemy that must be destroyed, the decision to not join an angry mob is probably the best way to reserve a space in one of those unmarked graves you mentioned, since you're choosing to at some point, risk the loss of the safety and protection those angry mobs can offer to their members as well as the suspicion of your friends and neighbors. As I hear cries that by refusing to brand a group of people as the enemy, I am through passivity and cowardice enabling and supporting other evils that I find just as abhorrent, I sometimes wonder if I'm making the right decision. Many people who I have known and loved for a long time on both sides are telling me I'm not, and I've found that I'm forced to be silent far more often than I'd like to be. I hope it doesn't come to the sort of violence that I know is a possibility, but I also know that if it does, the decision not to join in the blood frenzy is not going to be a safe decision to make... and I suppose I'm at peace with that. Though I do rather wish that the challenges of the future were going to be as simple as mere poverty.

1/26/17, 1:25 PM

Mike said...
Your post happily reminded me of Randy Newman's terrific song, The Great Nations of Europe, which I had the pleasure of hearing him sing in person not long ago.
Hide your wives and daughters
Hide the groceries too
Great nations of Europe coming through

1/26/17, 1:38 PM

[email protected] said...
Hi John

Great post and a strong comeback to those who had their "throw their toys out of the kart" moment in last weeks post.

I have mixed with similar sustainability/deep green affluent liberal circles in the past and I have noticed a similar idealization of the future which never seemed grounded to the grim historical lessons of previous declining civilization. Like you, I suspect that the political events of 2016 have brought this fact home to these circles and they are reacting badly to it, as we saw from some of the comments in last weeks post.

I have always considered the populists on the Right are best positioned to benefit from our post-liberal era we have entered into, as they have a instinctive sense of the power of blood and soil nationalism and are ideologically not wedded to neo-liberal nostrums, which have captured most of our Western political establishment.

On a personal note, I have taken up your advice and have started to learn how to brew beer with my friends. It is early days but have started my baby steps towards a post-industrial future. Exciting times ;)

Keep up the writing and I look forward to your future posts on universities and the growing European crisis (the euro zone, the migration/external proletariat and the growing discontent among the internal proletariat's of Europe).

1/26/17, 1:49 PM

Gottfried Wilhelm Melvin Hicks-Leibniz said...
JMG, do you see any role for anarcho-syndicalism in the downward arc of modern, industrial capitalism?

1/26/17, 1:53 PM

Mat F said...
What I came to find the most difficult part to deal with over the years is not so much the realisation that the project of western globalised civilisation has had its' prime, it is rather the horror of dealing with my own compliance and participation in inflicting such indescribable harm on fellow species and yet unborn generations. This profound sadness is now a deep cutting, acute pain - a daily companion, always there in the back of the mind. How can one live with ALL this, it is like living in a mass grave, like living through one of these periods in history where you wonder how could we have ever lost our minds to commit such insane acts against life itself. Some eastern traditions talk about "living is suffering". Who is the agent that suffers, is it me or is it the suffering of the bumblebees through my act of living this affluent life? How is it to not only kill something but to wipe out every single kind of it? And what part of it is suicidal autoaggression? One can discuss things, rationalize and identify causes and effects, but then, at the end that is the rather easy part of what is about to become abundantly clear...When you say being remembered as the Huns, this is still much too charming. I think it is much more disturbing, more like the thirties and its' hypnotic memes reverberating through entire populations....

1/26/17, 2:11 PM

Somewhatstunned said...
Re: Climate scientists who don't fly

The chap you're thinking of is Kevin Anderson. He certainly does not mince his words

1/26/17, 2:15 PM

DoubtingThomas said...
@ErucS: *applause* I can appreciate the difficulty you describe.

I know it's trite but I'd say that not giving in to fear ( of unmarked graves, of other's manipulative comments keen to validate their behaviour by swelling their ranks ) and being true to your clearly compassionate self is the option that cleaves to your highest self. If your worst fears manifested then as you say that's ok - giving up ones life for ones peaceful convictions is in itself a reward.

Remember too that neutrals usually have an important role to play. Often respected ones.

1/26/17, 2:19 PM

Cliff said...
This was an oddly reassuring essay for me, for several reasons. First because I'd felt that your posts on Trump seemed to be saying that he's the guy to pull the U.S. out of its death spiral, and I simply could not reconcile that idea with anything else I was seeing in the news. (This is not to say that I think my perceptions are faultless and objective, or that I think Hillary was the candidate to pull us out of said death spiral.)

More importantly, I'm surrounded in my daily life by people who are entirely oblivious to the possibility of collapse. This ranges from my girlfriend, to the conservatives at my office who are entirely content to buy big trucks and flip their houses, to the liberals at my UU church who are entirely convinced that each generation is an improvement over the last, and who think social media and protest marches will keep Progress rolling merrily on.
They all seem to be aware that matters can deteriorate, but that deterioration will always happen to someone else, not them.

Thanks for laying the situation out so clearly, and hopefully this spurs my flagging attempts to extricate myself from cubicle life so that I can get on with the business that's truly at hand.

1/26/17, 2:20 PM

Daddy Hardup said...
"Collapse early and avoid the rush" must be the best piece of advice I ever received. I cleared my debts and moved to very cheap lodgings as a property guardian of a semi-derelict building - my work colleagues would be open-mouthed with horror if they saw where I live, and felt the cold.

Yesterday I learned that I am about to lose my job of twelve years - six office jobs are being pared back to one. The cold winds of Brexit are blowing through the UK economy - though I know that Brexit, like Trump, is but a symptom, not the underlying pathology. I might just get that remaining job, or I could take one on the shop floor, but I know it's time to take the redundancy package and go. It was good while it lasted, it enabled me to support a wife and young child, then it was a lifeline through a painful divorce and a struggle to prevent my ex-wife from poisoning our daughter's mind against me - though I don't often see my daughter now, when I do it's clear I still have a place in her heart.

But it is a job with no future - in a food warehouse shuttling products which are in many cases unnecessary or even harmful (tobacco, strong drink) up and down the land - we literally truck food forty miles up a motorway to a smaller warehouse so that it can be loaded into a smaller lorry and brought back down the motorway again to deliver to local stores (our lorries are too big for that...)

I'm hoping the redundancy money will cushion the transition to a simpler life with shorter work hours and less commuting and so more time to learn practical skills.

Alan (posting in the past as 'bicosse')

1/26/17, 2:41 PM

M Smith said...
John Michael,

Let me join those who say that you have influenced me greatly and helped me make sense of the reasons we're in the state we're in. I've always wanted to have a small farm and produce most of my own food as well as making a living by selling or bartering with a dozen or so chosen households. Even though the place I live is not one in which I wish to stay a moment longer than necessary, I've begun encouraging my acquaintance who is headed down the wrong path and who is extremely unlikely to find work due to his demographics and that of the small, dying, isolated town we live in - to learn brewing, growing tobacco, and learning to build and operate ham radios. I paraphrased one of your most chilling statements: when the warrior bands come, the possession of "stuff" is a ticket to a slit throat and shallow grave, but if the town knows that J brews good beer, the town's going to keep J alive and in one piece. Those words made a deep impression.

I made a deal with a neighbor that if he pulled up and removed some fencing I didn't want, he could have the materials. No more obstacles for me, plenty of material for him.

The local woman who gives me riding lessons brought a dozen fresh eggs when she and her husband came to collect the stall mats I'd offered them at no charge (it's the least I can do as my generation sucked away all the Social Security funds), and when I asked if I could buy eggs from her on a regular basis, she turned flustered and said she preferred to share. I reminded her that if I didn't buy from her, I'd have to buy from a corporation (whose chickens do not see the sun except on their final day when they're taken out to be killed) and I'd rather buy from her. She seemed a little surprised by the notion, so I hope I planted some ideas in her head.

But I pored over the fascinating posts about the decline and fall of empires, how it happened in the past, and how it's unfolding again along familiar lines. You've also demonstrated how history and politics are joined - a connection I'd made only in the most obvious cases. The sheer quality of the writing, the challenge of reading a writer who DOESN'T phone it in with a clickbait headline, the line "So this happened...." followed by a gaggle of screen shots of other people's quotes which is what passes for mainstream news, and for a long while (sorry to say I see this facet going by the wayside) the lack of personal attacks, abusive language, and flamebaiting in the comments has kept me coming back ever since I heard you on Coast to Coast AM several years ago.

1/26/17, 3:04 PM

Nic said...
Standing at my sink Wednesday morning, I was wondering to myself if JMG was going to blast us all with a reality check about LESS – I felt the need for one in the world around me. My favorite posts have been the ones that have reminded your readers of deep time, and this one does as well, in a different way. Thank you for reminding us all to keep our eyes wide open and to pass on the knowledge worth keeping to others around us, like ripples in deep waters. I will keep on, keeping on.

Violet – I was so disheartened to hear of your recent struggles, as you have been a huge help and inspiration to me. I have visited your Winter’s Trickster website over and over, and have used information from it to treat myself and my family. Thank you for that! I, too, have chemical allergies that relate to pieces of mesh that I had inserted into my abdomen for a hernia repair, and as such cannot be removed. I am now allergic to synthetic materials and petroleum products – no synthetic fabrics, adhesives, elastics, rubber, plastics or foams for me.
All this to say, I have found some relief from symptoms by following a series of NAET treatments and cranial sacral therapy, both paid for on a sliding scale without insurance. I still cannot wear “regular” clothing or shoes, but I can now touch things without immediately reacting to them. I hope that being in a chemically-safe place working with Nature will be very beneficial to you, and that you will find joy in every day.

1/26/17, 3:25 PM

Shane W said...
please don't defund CBC Radio 2! I LOVE Radio 2! And even CBC Radio 1 seems more thoughtful than NPR. And Murdoch Mysteries is a television show I can actually tolerate and enjoy!

1/26/17, 4:13 PM

gwizard43 said...
@ Kevin Warner

Just wanted to say: kudos! Your comment referencing the 'fighting retreat' concept - that was really brilliant, IMO. Thank you. Of course, the Blade Runner reference didn't hurt!

For my part, 'working out how we got here' has always been as much why I read JMG's blog and books as figuring out 'where do we go from here'....

1/26/17, 4:16 PM

Justin said...
Shane W,

I have to agree with you about Murdoch Mysteries! It's a little silly, but refreshing in so many ways... it's also the only TV I watch. Of course I don't care about Radio 2, and I have to agree, from what I've heard about NPR's shenanigans this year, NPR is worse than Radio 1.

1/26/17, 4:39 PM

Samuel A said...
Dear Mr. Greer,

I've only recently discovered your work but I have to say, as cliche as it sounds, it is eye opening. Back in the mid-2000s I was would rant to anyone who would listen that the bear was just sleeping. I said the Russians deserved our respect because if they didn't get it we would be dealing with a much stronger Russia later. After the 2008 war in Georgia I was mocked...I told everyone it was a test run as seemed obvious to me. Now there aren't too many people they disagree with me when I bring up the topic.

I feel the same about collapse. It seems obvious to me but everyone else is like an ostrich with their head in the sand. You bring up very valid points in your post. I plan, finances permitting, to buy some of your books at some point in the near future. What do you think of the work of Professor Peter Turchin and his forecast? What about the prediction made by Professor Johan Galtung that US global power will collapse by fairly soon? (2020 if I remember correctly)

You live not very far from. I'd love to pick your brain sometime.

Kind regards,


1/26/17, 4:43 PM

latheChuck said...
Vedant - I'm not a professional chemist, but what I was able to glean from the paper you linked on conversion of CO2 to ethanol was that it
1. involved pure CO2 dissolved in water
(so, not a way to extract CO2 from the atmosphere, but maybe from combustion gases if they're not contaminated with sulfur or nitrogen oxides),
2. required electricity to drive the synthesis
(so, perhaps a way to convert stationary solar or wind power into a vehicle fuel, but in that way, competitive with rechargeable batteries),
3. required a capital-intensive process for producing the electrochemical catalytic nano-material
(so, no basement tinkering) and
4. was an improvement over other electrochemical synthesis of hydrocarbons from CO2, but not a revolutionary discovery.

As for the overall energy stored (as ethanol) for energy applied, I didn't go that deep.

1/26/17, 4:55 PM

sunseekernv said...
Vedant re: accidentally discovered new method of making ethanol from carbon dioxide

From someone with some electrochemistry experience:

"Accidentally" is only used in some press reports, based on the release from the PR office, whereas the title and body of the journal article say neither "accident" nor "serendipitous".

Hint #1 for reading techno-optimistic articles:
Look for dissonance between implied miracles in the press article/PR release where none exist in the actual science article.
(and thanks for posting the link to the article).

Content expert hint: fuels cells can be run in reverse, and direct methanol/ethanol/... fuel cells have been around since the 1950s, so this isn't "new".

Reading closely, you find that the "serendipitous" part was that their new electro-catalyst "[did] the entire reaction [C02 to ethanol] on its own [instead of just the first part]". So, they were looking for/attempting to do CO2 to fuel.
They seem to be surprised that things worked better than expected - indeed, in the real world, that is surprising.
But it wasn't an "accident".

Hint #2 for generalist, non-scientific readers: look for actual numbers of efficiency.
One finds 63% max efficiency. Now, is that good? They start from electricity, so how does that compare with batteries?
Nickel-Iron batteries are that efficient, and most batteries are more efficient, lithium ion batteries into 90+% efficient.

Hint #3: do some (sub-)systems thinking, what are the "goes intos" and "comes out ofs" and how would this be used?
How does it compare with alternative ways of doing the same things?
((re-)read part 1 of JMG's Green Wizardry).

They take CO2 and electricity and convert to ethanol, a fuel and chemical feedstock.
Where can the CO2 come from?
Natural gas wells (byproduct), Natural gas reformers (hydrogen production), fossil fuel burning power plants, fossil fuel burning vehicles.
Cement production, glass production, biogas combustion, fermentation, volcanos, open geothermal wells, the air.
Do you get peak FF (fossil fuels) is basically now? So the first line of sources is a dead end.
Without cheap FF (or cheap renewables), cement and glass production decline.
Without cheap FF based fertilizer/farming/transport, concentrated animal feed operations (large-scale biogas) goes away.
The EROEI of corn ethanol is essentially 1, so when the cheap FF subsidy goes away, so goes much large scale fermentation.
Volcanos seem too difficult, open geothermal wells intermittent/dirty, the air is expensive to use.
Uhhhh - well, gee, kinda hard to get this to work without cheap renewable electricity (solar/wind).
But if you have cheap renewable electricity, just use batteries for transport.
And if you don't have cheap renewable electricity, "it sucks to lose".

For feedstock, bacteria ferment many things into lactic acid, and/or yeast make ethanol well enough from many sources.
(without a large economy, chemical feedstock demand will be much reduced).

Hint #4: look for lifetime and reliability issues.
They ran a cell for 6 hours. Don't get your hopes up.

My take: interesting electro-catalytic and materials science, but most probably no practical impact.
But they may get to fly to a conference and give a paper on it. ;^)
(so maybe a net negative impact).

1/26/17, 4:57 PM

jessi thompson said...

You said

" I still have to cut timber to power the them.
While your demagogues are unlikely to affect us directly, it really is depressing to see what is now more than ten years of effort come to essentially nothing. It’s like we’ve just been kidding ourselves - the loss of easy access to liquid fuels is still going to hurt like hell, and that sure seems a corollary of what you’ve written this week..."

There is a Buddhist proverb: "Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water." It speaks volumes, and if you like to contemplate things, this phrase packs a big punch. In our case it could just as easily mean "Before industrialization, chop wood, carry water. After industrialization, chop wood, carry water." A fossil-fuel free world is a world with a lot of human labor requirements. Remember, if you are making a living growing food, then in the future you will have food to trade for some of that labor. Ultimately, though, we will all be working a lot harder without the fossil fuels to leverage our efforts. However, don't let this discourage you from the successes you have already had. You are doing so well!! And you realize where the fossil fuel inputs are. Please don't get discouraged, because you have already done so much!! Take a step back and look at how far you've already come, you're well past half way, it's like being past the point of no return, on the dark side of the moon. Though the way forward seems scary and uncertain, look to your past successes and appreciate what you've accomplished, and slowly ways forward will emerge from the future darkness. Your successes have been great, and I have no doubts about your ingenuity!!! Continue taking those tiny steps as you have always done, and one day you will look back and wonder how you did it.

Jessi Thompson

1/26/17, 5:03 PM

latheChuck said...

How to greet your warlord? I imagine something like this:

"You have to admit, don't you, that there were not very many of us to stand against so many of you for so long. Yes? Whenever you approached, you heard the bell? The bell told us to turn on our radios, so you caught no one alone or asleep. Your people have much to learn about radios, and some of us can teach some of them...

And your men, they are weak and sickly from eating food without essential vitamins. Some of us can teach some of them about the things they need to eat to become strong again...

And though you took some of our best leaders, we never seemed to lack for leadership and organization, did we? Let us teach you about Robert, and his Rules of Order..."

1/26/17, 5:08 PM

Robert Mathiesen said...
Mat F: I have dealt with the same debilitating awareness by knowing for a certainty that there is a core of essential "depravity" or "corruption" or "evil" (for want of some better word) at the core of every human being, myself included. None of us can root it out completely; and what we do root out, grows back with time. All any of us can do is struggle against it constantly. That struggle is an important part of what makes us human.

And variants of that struggle are essential parts of what makes an ichneumenon wasp be the horror that it is, or a butterfly be the thing of beauty that it is. There is no possibility of any creature's being *absolutely* pure, of being *wholly* good, or behaving *entirely* ethically, even for a day. Everything that lives harms other lives, and ultimately harms every every life, constantly. Since there is no possible escape from that way of being, one merely does what one can within the limits of one's inherent imperfectability. And that must be suficient. It is sufficient, at least for me.

1/26/17, 5:22 PM

Sheila Grace said...
@ Fred the first

Will & I are restoring a 21 acre property in the intermountain west, and are two introverted scientists working in concert with nature and the Universe. Will works with the PRI in Australia via the internet and I work alongside Samsortya to reforest NE portions of Afghanistan. We figure it’s good karma for the 30 year career he had on the non-commercial side of Boeing and for my part I’d like to use the brains I have between my ears for offering selfless service and a big heaping of NYC sarcasm. We’re definitely learning as we go; ,

This week’s post on the AD hit me hard and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t reduce me to tears before composing myself and moving on again. Guess I’m lucky to be Irish – we’ve had our heads stove in more than a couple of times and gotten back up anyway.

take care

1/26/17, 5:23 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Wizard, if I had the least talent for laboratory chemistry, I'd be on that like a duck on a June bug. Anybody who can manufacture insulin, or extract it from pig pancreases, or what have you, will be guaranteed a decent lifestyle once things wind down to the point that the medical industry starts to fall apart in a big way. I'd encourage any of my readers who have the necessary skills to consider this.

Mustard, I keep on returning to the 70% of NATO's budget that's paid by the US. That, and the billions more that go into US military programs that are solely relevant to the defense of Europe, are what I'm talking about, you know.

Darren, thank you! Good to hear that my books are in at least one library down under.

MichaelK, the oil companies are among the biggest marketers of the cornucopian fantasy, and for good reason. If they were to admit to the widening gap between annual production and annual discoveries, and 'fess up to the future that our dependence on fossil fuels is bringing us, the political backlash would be something to see. Thus the lullabies...

Thriftwizard, I can imagine! Good for you, though, that you're seeing this as an opportunity. The clueless well-to-do are always the smart person's lawful prey.

Les, don't fool yourself into thinking that your work has come to nothing. We all live in a transitional world, with one foot on the fading world of industrial civilization, the other foot on the emerging world of the deindustrial age, and our posteriors over the chasm in between! Yes, you have to use fossil fuels now; that's inevitable given the current state of society. At the same time, you've learned skills that will allow you to adapt, step by step, as the fossil fuels dry up, and you and everyone else have to work around intermittent shortages and price spikes that eventually become permanent. Just keep surfing the wave of change, adapt as best you can, enjoy tasty heirloom-breed pork, and keep going.

Del Nogal, many thanks for this! A lot of us in the industrial world rarely get this sort of reality check about conditions in the nonindustrial countries. I don't know how long it'll be before conditions like this are common in the US, but I doubt it'll be that far away.

Cortes, well put. A lot of people are going to learn the hard way that money is not the same thing as wealth.

Phil, I've read about the outbreak of the First World War, and the way that people across Europe cheered and celebrated because war had broken out at last. That is to say, I think you're absolutely right. One thing, though -- the next time you Europeans decide to fight a major war, could you please keep it at home? Ever since the wars between England and Spain in the 16th century, you've been all too likely to send fleets and armies to duke it out in other corners of the world, you know, and I suspect the rest of the world can do without that at this point!

1/26/17, 5:51 PM

Bob said...
A lot of us in the industrial world rarely get this sort of reality check about conditions in the nonindustrial countries.

If it is of interest, Al Jazeera English posts many documentaries on its website that examine the lives of people living in developing countries. I started watching two months ago and find these programs informative and fascinating.

(If you live in a country that restricts access to their website, many of these documentaries can be found on YouTube.)

1/26/17, 6:15 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Twilight, exactly. The thing is, it's at least possible that Trump's core constituencies will benefit enough from the reapportionment of national wealth that's in process that they'll be happy -- though that just means that the people who've benefited most from neoliberal economics over the last thirty years will pay the price of those improvements. In the longer run, we're all headed for hard times, but very few people think about the longer run these days.

TerminalOne, that's a hard choice. It's one that some people are going to have to make, though.

Fred, there are any number of ways that the flurry of immediate action coming out of the White House can be interpreted, and Scott Adams' way is certainly one of them. Me, I prefer to use metaphors from military and political strategy. A skilled general or politician seizes the initiative and never lets the other side take it back, so they're so busy responding to his moves that they never have time to try anything of their own. Trump seems to get that, and if he keeps it up -- and he may well do so -- I'm not sure his opponents in either party will be able to sustain any kind of coherent resistance to him.

Matt, that makes sense. One of the downsides of the fact that I've spent my entire adult life being aware of the impending decline and fall of our civilization is that there are ways I really don't grasp the state of mind of those people who have convinced themselves that history owes our species a glorious future out there among the stars, or what have you. (You might be interested to know that I've thought through how I would react if something were to happen to prevent the Long Descent and give our civilization the kind of "long tail" that, say, ancient Egypt or traditional China had, some thousands of years of relative stability; I think I'd deal with it pretty well.)

Izzy, better a lobster than a mock turtle!

Mh505, but the point I made, to which you were originally responding, is that the US currently pays billions of dollars a year into that obsolete institution, and that's not going to be happening for much longer. I expect to see the US and Britain retain their historic military ties, but the rest of Europe is on its own. Will that be to its advantage, as you suggest? We'll see.

Compound F, I understand not having people to talk about these things with. Why do you think I founded this blog?

Jo, excellent! It's not something anyone can do in a hurry, but making the effort is a great way to get working on the learning curve. You might find the recommended reading in my book "Green Wizardry" helpful.

Phil, I'd use the phrase "America's Enver Hoxha" regularly, except that so few people would get it. Another way of saying the same thing is to suggest that the grand old word "Caudillo" may deserve renewed use. I've been saying for years that the United States is a third world country, so why are people surprised that we now have third world politics?

Sub, I'd suggest a middle course. Keep your day job as long as it makes sense to do so, while building up your skills and clientele as a part time repairperson. While the job lasts, you've still got the income, and once the job folds out from under you, or wages, purchasing power, working conditions, etc. decline to the point that it's no longer worth the hassle, you'll be set to step into your new career.

1/26/17, 6:28 PM

Nastarana said...
Dear M Smith, I don't know where you live, but you might want to consider that buying eggs from your nice neighbor could get her into a whole lot of hassle from over zealous authorities.

Dear Mr. Greer, about European wars, it is surely our own responsibility not to allow ourselves to be provoked, blackmailed or cajoled into intervening in someone else's wars.

1/26/17, 6:44 PM

Shane W said...
maybe it's some kind of magical mind synchronization spell... ;-)

1/26/17, 6:49 PM

Justin said...
JMG, a thought about collapse. I recently started a new job, surrounded by engineer types that talk unironically about the Kurtzweilian future. I have to think that my internal narrative as collapse-accepting "reactionary" must be suppressed to some extent by the fact that I have to interact in a civil and cooperative manner with people who believe that we will one day upload ourselves into computers and play the 400th World of Warcraft expansion pack forever.

I think back to the early days of YouTube, in 2005 or so, as a teenager in a solidly upper-middle class part of town with my own computer. I watched a lot of conspiracy documentaries... 9/11 truth type stuff especially and although I never fully accepted any one narrative about what exactly happened on the fateful Tuesday, I came to believe that the official story (which if we're strict, was a theory about a conspiracy... a conspiracy theory if you will) contained serious lies.

Even though I became a 'peak oil person' in 2008 or so, I credit that to the early days of Youtube and the fundamental, but painful realization that society might be operating on false premises. Of course, I haven't really done much about peak oil other than staying in shape (a strong back will always be worth something), and half-heartedly pursued an engineering career in order to make enough money to buy property before the game ends, which is going "ok".

So I guess what I am trying to say is that I've gotten comfortable shifting between multiple models of the world. It's kind of strange to seriously discuss the implications of consciousness uploading into machines and the issue of duplicates, etc, and genuinely enjoy the experience, but at the same time not believing those machines are going to be around in 30 years. Of course, like many teenagers from decades before mine feared nuclear war, I feared the technocratic managerial state. So like I said before there are aspects of decline and fall that I can only ever see as positive.

I think this is why I like Evola so much, the idea that everyone would have the same mental model of the world, and the same basic idea of what's going on is profoundly appealing to me considering my experiences.

I'll add a note about insulin: Check out Jason Fung's website - it's about the medical effects of fasting, which can reverse Type II diabetes. For any readers with Type II diabetes, it might be good to experiment this stuff while the medical industry is still largely functioning.

1/26/17, 6:49 PM

Justin said...
JMG, although Peterson is publishing a book which will be available "soon", your best bet is Youtube. Although I don't like sitting still and watching videos either (maybe that's an Aspergers trait...?), for the most part I download the audio part of his videos as mp3s and listen to them on walks or at the gym.

1/26/17, 7:28 PM

Tom Bannister said...
"Darren, thank you! Good to hear that my books are in at least one library down under."

Oh don't worry. We got quite a few of your books in our libraries here in NZ ;-)

1/26/17, 8:00 PM

canon fodder said...
TEOTWAWKI week! Doom! Gloom! We’re all gonna die! I love it. :))

JMG - While I liked your comment that we’re all going down and there ain’t nothin’ we can do about it, I liked your response in the comments section better. We all live limited amount of time. Yes, we’re all going to die. But it’s not so much the limited quantity of time, but rather the quality with which we live it. Beautiful concept.

Really, this post covered a couple things - the end of the American Empire and the end of the industrial age. The two may be concurrent, but they are not necessarily the same. I would posit that the end of the American Empire would arrive sooner or later regardless of fossil fuel production. It’s more a matter of economics and changing political fortunes. The decline in fossil fuel production is icing on the cake.

Similarly, the decline in the American standard of living is also somewhat dissociated with the impending end of the industrial age. The US has been living about 20% above what it can actually afford. Again, you rightly point out that this has been allowed without Zimbabwe-like consequences because of the dollar’s reserve currency status. I don’t think the end results will be as sanguine as the Russian debt default, however. Pension plans, insurance companies and other wealth preservation vehicles are heavily tied to US Treasury debt, bringing in many people who otherwise think they have no skin in the game. Likewise, a large amount of debt in non-US countries is denominated in US dollars. A US default would have significant, if not catastrophic, affect on their economies. If the US defaults, effectively the global economy defaults.

The end game on this is not how you put it - “extravagant lifestyles available to affluent Americans in recent decades will be going away” - but rather the extravagant lifestyles available to _all_ Americans (except the truly destitute) will be going away. No bones about it, we all live like royalty in this country compare to the majority of the global population.

As for the rumored demise of NPR, etc., I’ll believe it when I see it. Congress has the power of the purse, and the President cannot cancel a program they have seen fit to fund. Many other presidents have tried and failed. If it does come to pass, I wouldn’t immediately attribute it to the twilight years of civilization, but rather the inevitable march of time. Does anyone remember RKO? Major player in the radio era who quickly faded as television took over.

Two nits in an otherwise well composed post.

(1) “The fraction of US adults of working age who are permanently outside the work force is at an all-time high.” The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics puts the current labor participation rate at a bit over 62%. This translates into 38% outside the workforce. Compare that to the 58% participation rate in 1954 (42% outside the workforce). If you take it as the _number_ of US adults outside the workforce, then, yes, it is at an all time high.

(2) “The only way to stop anthropogenic climate change in its tracks is to stop putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.” From what I understand, greenhouse gases are a leading indicator. We could zero all fossil fuel combustion and package all the cow flatulence in the world and we would still get increasing temperatures for the next century or so until the carbon cycle caught up. You’ve mentioned this before, so I’m surprised this one slipped by.

Thanks for the excellent work and always thought provoking posts.

1/26/17, 8:53 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Hmm. I let through a post advocating vegetarianism, and posted a relatively mild dissent of my own, and all of a sudden the inbox is full of pro-vegetarian rants, some of them quite remarkably vicious in tone, as well as some more reasonable responses. Fair enough; the subject is closed, and I will plan on enjoying a cheeseburger shortly. If my vegetarian readers want to be able to discuss their diets on this forum, they might want to work on basic courtesy.

Lawfish, it might also be wise to start sharing your production with friends and neighbors, so that lots of people know that you're a good person to befriend.

Kara, I get that -- the dread of the coming changes is at least partly balanced by the end of the uncertainty. Here they are, and now we can buckle down and deal.

Jeffrey, yes, I've noticed that too. It's quite impressively clear just how deeply rooted all those ideals of tolerance and nonviolence actually were...

Earthworm, I certainly didn't mean to suggest that the US was being altruistic in paying most of the costs of NATO. For all practical purposes, altruism does not exist in international politics; it's always about national interests and advantage. The fact remains that the US, for its own purposes, has supported a state of affairs in which it pays the lion's share of NATO expenses, and a great deal more in the way of military preparations solely relevant to the defense of Europe -- and that's going away. How Europe will deal with the resulting changes is ultimately up to Europeans.

Philip, thank you! Yes, I feel rather as though we've climbed aboard the roller coaster and sat there while the cars were hauled all the way up to the top of the thing, and now we're over the crest and starting to zoom down, down, down! It promises to be a wild ride.

Vedant, last I checked, chaos is already here, in various places and various forms. Remember that we're not facing a sudden collapse but a Long Descent. As for turning CO2 into ethanol, sure -- but because of the laws of thermodynamics, you have to pur more energy into that process than you'll get by burning the ethanol. Where's the energy going to come from?

Allie, yep. The sense of invulnerability on the part of some people these days is, in a certain bleak sense, impressive.

Whitecloak, fair enough. I sometimes think that what the current political landscape needs is a party or movement that deliberately embraces points of view officially assigned to a range of different points on the spectrum, just to mess with people's heads.

Indus56, those are valid questions. First, yes, I still consider the Long Descent hypothesis better justified than the fast-collapse theory, in that it has already succeeded in predicting events accurately for some years now, where fast-collapse theories have failed to do so. I'd point out that a difference of scale is not a difference of kind, and the mere fact that the political and economic networks that are crumbling at this point are global rather than, say, continental, doesn't require any particular difference in the process of unraveling. As for your second question, that's a very complex issue, and will probably need to be dealt with in a future post.

1/26/17, 8:57 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Ghung, another great song. Thank you!

Clay, oh, I know. My stepmother is Hawaiian Japanese, and I'd agree that Zuckerberg won't survive long enough to be shot by his bodyguards, the way so many of the elite will be once the rule of law collapses completely and the guys who actually tote the guns decide that they'd rather have all the nice stuff themselves, thank you. A pololu would be elegant and traditional, and much less messy than the spray of full-auto gunfire that'll take care of the others.

Rita, watching the current crop of politicians occasionally makes me wistful for medieval warlords. They might slaughter every inhabitant of your village but at least they wouldn't spout moralizing cant while they're doing it.

Sgage, hah! Nicely phrased.

Wolfbay, only if someone other than the current leadership takes it over. Mind you, that's fairly likely at this point, and if Donald Trump inspires Democrats to take their party back from the neoconservatives who've hijacked it, he'll have done at least one genuinely good thing for this country.

Ploughboy, true enough. Back when I was a good deal younger, I belonged to a Grange in Seattle that had some members who lived through the Great Depression as kids, and they remember musicians traveling from one Grange hall to another in farm country, playing dance music and getting some cash and plenty to eat and drink in payment. It wasn't a bad gig, at a time when a lot of people were suffering.

DoubtingThomas, you might be interested to know that the insistence that there must be some way out of the cycle reliably pops up at certain points in the cycle. Yes, we're in one of those just now. More generally, lots of people these days like to insist that the laws of nature can't possibly apply to them if that means they don't get what they want -- a lot of the recent talk about a paradigm shift in physics being "overdue" (as though those are delivered on schedule) amounts to that. I chalk it up to an overdeveloped sense of entitlement.

Asr and Weedananda, you're most welcome!

Shark, that's what Spengler says -- the Second Religiosity emerges when the previous era of rationalism fails to live up to its promises, and people have to deal with the awkward fact that the world will not turn into Utopia no matter how many intellectuals believe it will do so.

Doug, of course it's not altruism. Still, the extent to which European leaders have been insisting at the top of their lungs that the new administration has to keep supporting NATO suggests that they, at least, may not be particularly sanguine about the end of that arrangement. As for "making America great again," from my perspective, America came closest to greatness when it stayed out of other nations' business and focused, however clumsily and half-heartedly, on solving its own problems -- and I think a prompt withdrawal of US troops from Europe and US funds from NATO would be a fine step in that direction.

1/26/17, 9:21 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Avalterra, you're welcome and thank you. I'd point out that a gift for patience and serenity is a very definite kind of giftedness, and one that used to be highly respected.

LL Pete, you know, I wish people could say "I hate him" without dragging in the faux medical diagnoses.

DoubtingThomas, it's normally a very good test of the sincerity of someone's beliefs to see if they walk their talk. A person who claims to believe in racial equality, for example, but displays obvious bigotry toward people of this or that race is fairly likely to be a hypocrite. In exactly the same way, if climate scientists believe what they're saying about the cataclysmic impact of anthropogenic climate change and the need to cut carbon emissions at once, then why aren't they themselves willing to do so where they can make a difference first, in their own lives? (I say this, by the way, as someone who's entirely convinced that anthropogenic climate change is real and a massive crisis -- but then I don't own a car and use much less than half as much energy as the average American, and am still working on further cuts.)

BFM, the post I wrote on the subject is here, and I still think it's accurate. As I noted there, it's quite possible that some nukes are going to fly as things wind down; it's by no means impossible, for example, that the rising tensions right now between India and Pakistan could end in a flurry of mushroom clouds and the deaths of tens of millions of people on the subcontinent, plus fallout deaths elsewhere. My argument is that the logic of deterrence among the major nuclear powers will be strengthened by decline to such an extent that a global nuclear war is spectacularly unlikely.

RPC, I suppose I could. ;-)

Dfr2010, delighted to hear it. Thank you.

Dltrammel, exactly. I've been saying for years now that the moment the rule of law goes away, the rich people in their doomsteads are going to suffer sudden fatal weapons-related accidents, because their bodyguards have absolutely nothing to gain by continuing to protect their charges, and everything to gain by gunning them down and taking over all the stored wealth themselves. The green wizard who can hand the bodyguards a beer each and say, "I can make as much more of this as you want, as long as I can get the barley and hops," is going to make a lot of new friends.

Carolyn, those last two sentences of yours should be written in letters of flame, you know. It's when people say that, and then do it, that great things happen. Go ye forth and do that thing.

Nathan, thanks for this! Musk is a smart guy, no question. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he offers Trump a bid on high-tech hardware for the wall.

John, thank you.

1/26/17, 9:37 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Petrapie, that's really good to hear. Thank you!

Scotlyn, thank you. The thing is, so long as people behave civilly, I enjoy the conversations here -- especially when I get to talk to people whose ideas are very different from mine. Dissensus and diversity of ideas is just plain more fun than the kind of mental monoculture so common in today's society!

Pygmycory, delighted to hear it. That makes four.

Cherokee, where Greenland's concerned, it's worse than that. The weight of the ice has turned Greenland into a huge shallow bowl which is filling up with water, and ice floats. When there's enough meltwater built up, some very large portion of the Greenland ice cap will very likely surge all at once into the north Atlantic, filling it with thousands of square miles of melting icebergs, shutting down navigation, and doing a number on the Gulf Stream. As for Europe, sure -- I'm hoping that they can restrict their wars to their own continent from here on.

Wendy, you're welcome and thank you as well. I appreciate hearing this.

Eric, the one way around that kind of isolation I know of is to see if a broader movement of the center, based on a principled rejection of extremism, can be put together. My musings about an alt-center have that as a central theme. If it's not just you -- if the mobs from both sides have to contend with an organized opposition willing to push back hard against mob rule in the name of civility and the rule of law -- much can be done. I'm going to keep exploring this, and see where it goes.

Mike, I hadn't heard that before! It's playing on the background now. Seriously funny -- and seriously true.

Lordberia3, I sometimes get the impression that my one contribution to the future is going to be that our barbarian descendants will enjoy plenty of good beer. There are worse legacies!

Gottfried, that depends on whether anarcho-syndicalists get off their hindquarters and make a role for it. History doesn't hand out roles to political movements like some kind of casting director, you know!

Mat F, fair enough. There's an alternative, you know -- you can change your life, to decrease the burden you place on the planet and balance it out with positive changes you yourself make. Have you considered that?

1/26/17, 10:03 PM

Kevin Warner said...
Just a quick heads up on a very long page called "The Dying Days of Liberalism: How Orthodoxy, Professionalism, and Unresponsive Politics Finally Doomed a 19th-century Project" at
I think the site is that of a Canadian Anthropologist but as you read the text, you begin to wonder if JMG has been doing a bit of ghost writing lately as all the things that he talks about you find repeated on this page. Worth the read.

1/26/17, 10:05 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Somewhatstunned, yes, that's one of them. Peter Kalmus and Judith Curry are the other two.

Cliff, understood. I think Trump could make the next downward lurch somewhat less wrenching than it would otherwise be, at least for those in the United States, but that's all -- and he could also mess things up good and proper. We'll see.

Alan, best wishes for the sudden transition! I'm glad you had some time to prepare.

M Smith, I'm glad to have been of help. I'm hoping to get the commentariat back to a proper condition of civility as we proceed, if that's any encouragement.

Nic, I hope I didn't disappoint too badly! ;-)

Sam, before Trump's election I was pretty sure we'd see domestic insurgency if not all-out civil war here by 2025 or so. At this point, the demographic groups that were most likely to have started such a war -- the well-armed rural working class, with their very large proportion of veterans -- are by and large cheering Trump on, and seem to feel once again that they have something to hope for from the American system. Thus we're in very unpredictable territory, and I'm going to wait until I have a better idea of how things shake out under the Trump administration before I try to second-guess this country's future.

Bob, thanks for this.

Shane, or the Ghost of America Yet To Come murmuring weird ideas in both our ears as we sleep... ;-)

Justin, interesting. I find the thought of that kind of consensus profoundly unappealing -- rather like eating Velveeta sandwiches on Wonder Bread for the rest of eternity. The diversity of opinion and worldview in today's society appeals to me, and helps make up for the less welcome features of modernity -- though I know it's on its way out in due time. As for Peterson, I'll probably wait for the book -- in fact, I may see if I can score a review copy in exchange for a blurb. i prefer the company of my own thoughts when I'm walking, exercising, etc.

Tom, delighted to hear it.

Canon fodder, granted, the end of the American empire and the end of industrial civilization are two very different things; it's just that here in the US we get to deal with both at the same time, which is highly inconvenient. Thanks for the details on the labor participation rate -- I was misinformed. As for greenhouse gases, granted, I used a figure of speech that suggested a faster response time than we'll get.

1/26/17, 10:19 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Kevin, I didn't have anything to do with it, I promise -- but it's a good solid analysis, so thank you. (I'm startled to find that at least one of my books sold more in its first week than Hillary Clinton's book Stronger Together, which had the whole publicity machine of the Democratic Party hawking it. Hmm!)

1/26/17, 10:27 PM

Carol said...
Thanks for the link to Dr. Jordan Peterson. Definitely related to this week’s post. Watching this video I was struck by how often he seemed to end up inside dualism traps.
It was especially interesting to have read Epictetus’s Handbook (thanks @Daniel Najib) just before watching Dr. Peterson, whose impassioned New Year’s letter to the World seemed full of the kind of suffering that people such as Epictetus, Gautama Buddha, and Byron Katie have pointed out is caused by attaching to our own story, belief or interpretation of events. Comparing the peaceful, joyful and often compassionate humor of people who practice awareness of their thinking with the intense suffering Dr. Peterson is demonstrating about the current world situation, I myself prefer practices that lead to some measure of peaceful acceptance of reality as it is, with some acknowledgment of the range of our own human behavior and an reflection on our place in this universe.
From Dr. Peterson: Sex is either the impulsive short term gratification of a domineering biological instinct or the union of two conscious spirits taking responsibility for what they are doing.
What happened to the FUN part? Heck, even the Stoics had more humor. I was delighted with this great image below about sheep from Epictetus:
46. . . . So that if ever any talk should happen among the unlearned concerning philosophic theorems, be you, for the most part, silent. For there is great danger in immediately throwing out what you have not digested. And, if anyone tells you that you know nothing, and you are not nettled at it, then you may be sure that you have begun your business. For sheep don't throw up the grass to show the shepherds how much they have eaten; but, inwardly digesting their food, they outwardly produce wool and milk. Thus, therefore, do you likewise not show theorems to the unlearned, but the actions produced by them after they have been digested.
Granted, I this was the first time I have read Epictetus, so I am probably doing exactly what he cautions against, throwing up something I haven’t properly digested. ;)

1/26/17, 10:41 PM

Carol said...
Another quote from Dr. Peterson: Great stories of the past insist that we are all sons and daughters of the divine logos, consciousness itself, bearers of its light, and that we must act in accordance with that great central fact lest all hell break loose.

Again, this seems like dualistic thinking of either some amazing divine utopia, OR all hell breaks loose. Not much room for all the other possible historical twists we have been discussing in this blog.
Thanks to reading this blog, and having created an impossible and magnificent reading list, I have come to be aware of many of the things our host has pointed out. If I recall, he posited that a chambermaid living during the French Terrors would have probably not been aware of the historical relevance or even many of the events of the time. Even during the 14th century, which had such notable events as the Black Death, nobility marching everywhere, trashing the countryside and either asking their peasants to destroy crops to prevent other armies from profiting, or taxing their peasants heavily to pay for endless wars (and even more luxurious silks for their horses and banners, and special commemorative dishes for their Crusades), even then families were raised, crops were harvested, and guilds and universities continued. For an interesting read about chaotic and calamitous times and relevant parallels to issues our host discusses, I recommend A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Century by Barbara Tuchman. I definitely got a feel for how ‘elites’ had no concern about the peasant class, how much turmoil mercenary armies cause, and how different factions constantly maneuver for their own interests.

1/26/17, 10:43 PM

Anselmo said...
In my opinion is more probable and desirable a future scenary of a strictely ruled society, similar to the Japan of the Edo Era (Collapse, Jared Diamond) , that the scenary of gradual and irreversible social disintegration that you proposes. It will be a simple stage of the arc of decadence that you propose, but it could last many years.

If would exist some paralelism between our present situation and the Roman Imperium decadence, the stage that I refer would be the Dioclecian period. This idea fits equaly with the Industrialism of Scarcity that you defined in an earlier post some years before now. And with the shift of the political paradigm that implies the Trump Presidency ,that reminds me to the New Deal of Roosevelt or with the fascist dictatures in Western Europe, in the aspect of to look for the welfare of their respective peoples by mean of public building, social programs, and restiction to the importations.

I hope that your wife will recover soon his health.

1/26/17, 10:44 PM

Ray Wharton said...
Concerning reading Jordan Peterson, for the non youtube inclined.

Here is where he posted a PDF of his 1999 book 'Maps of Meaning' I haven't read it yet... I gather though that it was largely inspired by the fall out from Nietzsche's death of God and that whole mess.

1/26/17, 10:50 PM

Donald Hargraves said...
@Patricia Mathews

Dead stem? Let me translate it thusly: "without progeny, a dead end on the evolutionary ladder." My brother and sister have kids, so there's a future (whatever you think of it) for my family.

Now it's not like I didn't have any real chances, after all I did pay for an abortion (one that the woman would come to regret). However, for much of the past eighteen years I was helping a friend of mine get around. She suffered a stroke, and for much of that time I got her around to visit with friends and do stuff she would have otherwise not done – something which has gained me much good will I would likely never have gotten otherwise.

One year and a few months ago she suffered another stroke (under my watch, may I add) and is now bedridden and unable to speak. She can, however respond intelligently to the degree that she can (she knows when something's funny and when she's being talked or written about). However, with her being alive everything is held up in Limbo, and while your idea of giving away half of everything (although the saints you talk about gave everything and lived on donated crumbs...not a bad idea, and had I been born Catholic I would probably have taken on such a calling) is great, I can't give away what I don't have. And with a need to live in the here and now (I've done some harmless cutting, the harder stuff I see coming up soon enough), I'm stuck at the moment.

As for skills...driving (for which I get complements all the time), which is doomed in ten years either from the collapse of the economy (thanks to OIL being unavailable at any price) or from automation. I'm sure I can pick up some flute playing (flutes and drums tend to survive collapses, as they're easy to make and don't require much effort to keep up); indeed I picked up an Ocarina to practice on. But for now...things are on hold for the most part.

1/26/17, 10:57 PM

Vedant said...
Yes , I do know that chaos is already underway , but till now system is atleast functioning(or limping). I am asking for your estimated time interval when system show starting signs of failure Or whether starting signs of failure are already here and I am missing them?

Thanks buddy. I originally found out about that discovery on a tech blog which said discovery was accidental and very optimistic tone of the blog made me suspicious. Now I am in under no illusion that we are going to find a silver bullet for our energy problem like that hence I asked about that on this blog. Essentially I wanted to know whether it would prove as viable as solar or wind energy because I believe that solar-wind energy will be accepted much faster in low energy consuming developing countries , so I thought that maybe this could be an addition. Though you have already refuted its viability and thanks for that.

latheChuck, thanks for help.

1/26/17, 11:34 PM

Scotlyn said...
@JMG - now here's the itch that I cannot scratch - the circle I cannot square just now.
What do you expect happens next if one commenter tells another commenter that, in effect, he cannot reason with her because he is fully on board with her extermination AND the other commenter DOES NOT COME BACK?

I refer to this exchange last week, since which Deborah Bender (one of the commenters I really, truly appreciate on here) has not commented! (And ps, I'm slow, but eventually this has finally reached the forefront of, precisely because Deborah has not been back). Some things are said with words. Sometimes more profound things are said with silence.

Deborah: "@Dammerung... Fair skin and some recessive traits like blue eyes get passed down even in families that have no interest in preserving them. My ancestors selected mates for intelligence, good character, and Jewishness. If your justification for your politics is preservation of a particular set of visual traits, maybe you can relax about that."

Dammerung: "@Unknown - I don't think we're going to be able to reason together effectively... I have come to believe that blood libel is real. As a matter of fact I know it's real."

1/26/17, 11:37 PM

Stuart Jeffery said...
Thank you for the slap across the chops!

Your comment that "precisely three climate change scientists, out of thousands, who take their own data seriously enough to cut their carbon footprint by giving up air travel" is one that has frustrated me over the 20 years since I discovered peak oil and climate change.

My first act was to stop flying. I now regard it as a climate crime. It is the quickest and easiest life change we can make yet apparently knowledgeable green people continue to try to justify it. Add to these the liberal middle classes who 'need' their 'mini-breaks' - something that I find particularity galling - and you have can see a society that is focused on self gratification rather than self preservation.

In an earlier comment Izzy suggested that it might be time to party. I'd welcome your view on this as it is certainly tempting!

Finally @Violet, my wife has suffered with this for many year and I feel much healthier since we cleansed our lives of chemicals (I can breath at night now). I also see friends and workmates struggling with their own breathing while their are stinking of deodorant and perfume (I have tried telling them!). I hope things improve for you and that people wake up to the problems it causes.

1/26/17, 11:43 PM

Vesta said...
For me, not an unpleasant post. Yes, most everything will become much less comfortable and more violent most of the time, for most all of us. But today we're so comfortable it's literally killing us, and although the fortunate may avoid acute injury, violence is truly everywhere, and from molecular to global scales. People are deeply unhappy with their lives, as most of the things that give life meaning have been abandoned in the rush for wealth.

I welcome a world in which all must again work with their hands and travel on their feet, in which we know how to feed, clothe, care for and and shelter ourselves, without intermediation, and which requires us to be good neighbors living in real communities to survive. Roof, fire, family, a dog, and hard work everyday if we're gonna get by sounds like a very good life to me. Especially if there's an occasional friend and beer. My kids clearly won't live in a better world than we do, but they may have better lives.

So while I know it will hurt, I'm relieved we've finally crested the peak and are clearly accelerating down to the future. Not happy exactly, but pleased to be alive here now to see it finally happening.

1/27/17, 12:02 AM

DoubtingThomas said...
@JMG: It's fortunate then I suppose that I am not lots of people and that I'm just one fallible man and I try not to be dismissive as it gets in the way of my ability to learn. Sure, people may well have senses of entitlement which causes them to come a cropper. Also, maybe "lots of people " do " like to insist that the laws of nature can't possibly apply to them if that means they don't get what they want". I would find that odd & childish behaviour.

I have done and seen things that the "laws of nature" as documented, generally known & understood might struggle to explain or accept but I don't believe I advocated anything anti-laws of nature - however incomplete/changeable our knowledge of such things can be - so I'm not sure where that comment fits in to this dialogue.

Physics being due a paradigm shift, well my read is that it probably is. The History of Science is populated with such things. If other people are commenting similarly then nice, I guess, good to know other people are seeing the possibilities. Just as some people saw clues that other's rejected of the 2008 financial collapse and positioned themselves accordingly.

I don't have the time to follow everything but there are interesting movements in gravity, quantum theory and the materials sciences. Recently, the Parallel Interacting Universes Theory (Phys. Rev. X 4, 041013 ) caught my eye, published a couple of years ago which might be a good candidate for being tested and may open up the possibility of our universe being open in some way although I wouldn't presume to state the implications of that if the theory is validated I'll leave that to my more interested acquaintances.

You asked me for examples of enlightened collectives. I gave them. You haven't responded to those points so I'll presume they were acceptable.

I'm sure there are people who insist there are ways out of cycles within the cycle. Some may have been reacting from fear. Others unable to see a way. Yet others maybe saw a way and took it. I agree with Adorno's criticism about Spengler missing the role of initiative. I'm not saying Spengler isn't useful but I think it would be a mistake for me to ignore his critics particularly given my own experience and understanding of systemic cycles at all sorts of levels and scales. I'm not saying everyone is able to or will break from a specific cycle they are caught up in but cycles are at some point broken and something new happens and that likely involves inspirational initiative. As you know, the worse prison is the one in our head and leads to self fulfilling prophecies.

Projections from Historical Simulations are an unreliable indicator of the future particularly as the time horizon increases. If that actually worked then investment banks would never lose money. It's funny one of your commenters on the previous post were trying to convince me that people don't change. Perspective is everything.

1/27/17, 12:05 AM

Crow Hill said...
What I find even more tragic than what we are doing to ourselves as a human species is what we are doing to the other forms of life and existents.

Wouldn't it have been better for humans to have tried to balance the welfare of both? When I heard from the overseas provinces that the Mexican wall was actually going up I felt sorrow that wildlife would have a further barrier to its movement.

1/27/17, 12:06 AM

DoubtingThomas said...
@JMG: "...normally a very good test of the sincerity of someone's beliefs to see if they walk their talk...." - that's fair comment although I can think of plenty of viable exceptions. I wasn't sure what the motivation was for your mention of it or the others so flagged it up. Thanks for clearing it up. In this day an age the idea of having a face to face conference is a bit outdated in that it could be done 'virtually' but that does lose some communication elements. I don't own a car either - haven't for 20 years - although I do make use of them as necessary. Car ownership in cities in Europe has been hideously expensive for decades and in London travel through parts of the city accrues a daily tax as well as any parking fees.

1/27/17, 12:53 AM

Phil Knight said...
One thing, though -- the next time you Europeans decide to fight a major war, could you please keep it at home? Ever since the wars between England and Spain in the 16th century, you've been all too likely to send fleets and armies to duke it out in other corners of the world, you know, and I suspect the rest of the world can do without that at this point!

Sadly, I think that half the point of European wars is to provide an excuse to visit exotic climes with spicy food and bare chested native women.

Also, it should be remembered that if there's one thing that Europeans enjoy even more than a war, it's a violent pogrom against a religious minority. Liberalism has bequeathed future Europeans a veritable feast in this sphere as well.

1/27/17, 1:53 AM

Larz (near San Jose, California, USA) said...
I am a woman in my mid-60s. Due to no fault of my own, for the last thirty-five years, I have suffered permanent ill health having been poisoned by a prescribed drug. (I don't speak of my trials.) In my studies preparing to become an Episcopalian/Anglican (Christianity, for those not knowing), I am trying to decide which saint to emulate. I am reading Julian of Norwich (1342-1416). Julian died in her 70s, likely relying on the Benedictine tradition.

When it came to loss, Julian saw half of the people of her town of Norwich die from The Plague. She witnessed those around her turn black and die, dozens if not hundreds of times. Nonetheless, she was able to carry on. She had a strong faith, and was an inspiration to those around her for another fifty years.

Due to my illness, I have died and come back to life, privately, hundreds of times. It is not something I would have chosen to spend my time doing. Dying is old hat. While putting on my underpants every morning, I ask in a Zen way: "Are these the underpants I will die in?" As what happened to Julian, I try to imagine one of every two people I ever knew die. Oh, I already have. It's called Old Age, and every one of the relatives I cared for has died, the last one in 2013. Not half, but ALL. I am the eldest standing.

I will die in turn, whether civilization crumbles simultaneously, or not. I am too old to respond to a declining civilization. There is no way to prepare for the Black Death before it happens. The point is to, no matter what life dishes out, when one falls, do one of two things: (1) get up—and smile; or (2) help someone else get up—and help them smile. I don't mean literally getting up. Merely holding a hand can be "a getting up." Sometimes it means "smiling while crying."

JMG, by writing your blog, you help me get me on my feet every week, and smile. Nobody can depress me because I already survived "half of a town dropping dead." I get up, put on my face, and smile. I will do that until Death "wipes the smile off my face."

Reference: Black Death, Great Pestilence, Bubonic Plague.

Rolf, Veronica Mary. Julian's Gospel: Illuminating the Life and Revelations of Julian of Norwich. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2013. Print. ISBN 1626980365.

Walsh, James, and Edmund Colledge. Julian of Norwich: Showings (The Classics of Western Spirituality Series). New York: Paulist Press, 1978. Print. ISBN 080910234X.

1/27/17, 2:01 AM

Ursachi Alexandru said...

In all fairness, your country never truly "stayed out of other nations business" since its very inception. From what I know, people in many parts Latin America look at your country with the same dread that we in Eastern Europe look at Russia, at this goes back way before 1945. It's a matter of "let's keep our influence over countries closest to us," sure, but that's far from "isolationism."

Also, Trump's main external ally, UK prime minister Theresa May, while recognizing that the other member states need to pay their fair share, seems to be less willing to abandon NATO or allow Eastern Europe to fall back into Russia's sphere of influence. It will be interesting to see how the US and UK work this out.

1/27/17, 3:24 AM

mh505 said...
@ Doug Manners
By paying for European defence it has been buying the loyalty of European governments.

Very much so, Doug; and I would add that it cannot be ruled out - in fact, it is highly likely in some cases - that this "loyalty" was bolstered by direct payments to certain politicians.
I know that I am not alone in my belief that it would be better for everyone involved - not least the Americans themselves - if the US military would withdraw entirely from European soil. Let the EU start their own NATO spin-off, if they really believe there is a threat from the East.

1/27/17, 3:37 AM

Cherokee Organics said...

That is quite a frightening prospect with Greenland and I also wonder whether the large land mass that is Greenland (and Antarctica) will shift considerably in all manner of directions once it is relieved of its weighty burden of ice? That will have significant shock waves.

I reckon I may just name our first proper barley beer (once the minor technical details are sorted out in he beer production process and the batches can be reproduced more or less consistently which is the state of our wine production now): Greer's Beard. How do you like that? That name has a nice ring to it, I reckon anyway. And people in the future may ask why is this beer given that name?

It is interesting at how variable - but within an expected range - the outputs of country wines can be. And the sake is superb - we're working on keeping the rice wine slightly sweet which I for one prefer.

Well Europe has to man up and get on with the task at hand of defending itself. What other option does it have at this stage? Their population is so great that they would have a great deal of difficulty feeding themselves - as would we without fossil fuel inputs. So few people are attempting to understand plants which are the only game in town that actually produces a surplus when not much else does.

Hi Les,

Thanks for the nod. Off grid is a tough path and I respect you for giving it a bash!

Hi Phil,

Thanks mate! Awesome words and I appreciate your regular comments too.



1/27/17, 3:44 AM

YCS said...
Here is a (brace for it) analysis on how Trump basically flipped the tables on postmodernism:

Of course when our civilisation tried to create a vacuous narrative that truth and morality don't exist, while simultaneously preaching that everyone is sinful, they would make us all vulnerable to the naked terror of power.


1/27/17, 4:46 AM

Patricia Mathews said...
For me, Alfred Bester had the last word on the atmosphere today - from the ear worm the villain of The Demolished Man was using as a mind shield and infected all his readers with for the rest of our lives - which I haven't been able to shake this year - "Tension, apprehension, and dissension have begin."

1/27/17, 5:02 AM

Tyler August said...
@Cannon Fodder,

Workforce participation rates are all well and good, but look at the society in each case. In the 1950s, a prosperous, middle-class family could not only get by on one income, but could scarcely imagine doing otherwise. Since marriage ages were young, we can expect most adults were thus in two-person, single-income households -- and thus slash our workforce participation rate in half vs modern levels to reflect the stay-at-homes.

Today, the vast majority are in either in dual-income/two-person, or single-person/single-income households-- everybody wants to work-- we would need to (very)* roughly double the workforce participation rate vs 1950s levels to equal 1950s levels of employment relative to the actual labour pool.

*(Yes, I know I'm simplifying; an actual doubling would obviously be impossible since the 1950s rate was over 50% -- because the reactionary ideal and feminist bugbear 1950s are a myth, and some women were in the workforce even then. Still, even if you assume half of women were in the workforce, 2016 does not come off seeming the better time to look for work, or for labour's bargaining power.)

1/27/17, 5:05 AM

Patricia Mathews said...
And again, Kaiser has enough to say that is cogent, that I think following his blog weekly would be worthwhile for everyone now spinning in the wind and crying out "What happened?!?!?"

1/27/17, 5:07 AM

Greg Belvedere said...
Regarding Jordan Peterson:

I enjoy his views on PC culture on college campuses and think he has a lot of important things to say on the subject. In particular, he actually has a similar view on the subject as Noam Chomsky; how it grew out of post-modernism and the marxists who finally figured out that the soviet union was not a great model in the 70s. However, he sounds like he thinks marxist ideas inevitably lead to gulags which seems a bit reactionary. I don't consider myself a marxist, but I think did a good job of diagnosing some of the major problems of capitalism even if it does not offer great solutions for these problems. I strongly agree with JMGs critique of marxists in last week's post. Most of the marxists I know are people you would not want to share an apartment with let alone work on commune with. As David Sedaris said, most of them thought when the revolution came they would be the ones holding the clip boards. But Peterson's of dismissal of marxist thought seems a bit antithetical to the open discourse he is calling for and the economics departments (arguably where such a bias matters more in this context) are certainly not hot beds of marxist thinkers. I still enjoy what he has to say, because I understand where he is coming from. College campuses have gotten out of control.

Anyone who enjoy Peterson should check out dissident feminist Camille Paglia. She has a lot of great criticisms of gender and women's studies programs as well as feminism and PC culture. She will have a new book out in a few months JMG which I hope will turn the conversation about feminism and gender issues in a more positive direction. She also sees history as cyclical and thinks our culture is in a late decadent phase. Here is an interview with her.

1/27/17, 5:26 AM

Jessie said...

Thanks for the cold water in my face! As others have suggested, I have found that I need to continually reassess my direction in life to see whether or not it aligns with where we should be heading in the years ahead. Like another commenter mentioned, I've had to take time away from TAR for months at a time for mental health reasons. Sometimes I wind up healing and becoming too optomistic and end up making plans that don't align with green wizard values. Then I come back and reassess. Unfortunately with a family, there's more people in the decision-making process and you can wind up in gridlock as well. We'll see. Also: I would be interested to see what you have to say about personal finance, as you mentioned savings vanishing or dropping drastically in value. If you have a book recommendation on the topic I'd love to hear it.


1/27/17, 5:26 AM

Eric S. said...
"My musings about an alt-center have that as a central theme." Unfortunately, that movement will probably need a different name. A quick search of the term alt-center shows that that that label has already been appropriated as a pejorative for the center-right neoliberalism plus veneer of identity politics...,,, Not sure what such a civility movement should be called, but with the "alt" prefix becoming such a big meme this year and carrying its own share of baggage, it may need to be something a bit different than that. (If I were going to be "alt" anything at this point, I'd probably be ctrl-alt-delete: the restart America in Safe Mode movement...)

1/27/17, 6:35 AM

n=ro said...
Hello John,

What a well written reminder of the dark horrors this world has hidden from us for the last couple decades.

I hope you're delighted to hear, that I have started to print your weekly essays, to be able to read them offline in a more pleasant atmosphere.
Maybe one day you can add a print button next to the posts, with a link to a nicely layouted (old fashioned, of course) pdf version or so!


1/27/17, 7:05 AM

Morgenfrue said...
I wonder if the idea of a "fighting retreat" would broaden the appeal of collapse now and avoid the rush - and get a move on, apparently! It's been a year and a half since I've been in the US, and it looks like someone's taken the brakes off the roller coaster and loosened all the wheels.
After seeing pictures of the posters "A woman's place is in the resistance" from the woman's march, and now all the fawning over the rogue NASA and rogue National Parks Twitter accounts (which I am seeing via Facebook, which is enough brain damage for me, Twitter is over the edge of stupid) - I can't help but think that framing collapse and voluntary poverty as a way to fight the Evil Empire and stick it to the man would inspire more people. Personally I have a hard time with the green wizard thing. Being from 1978, it's entirely likely that I have seen Star Wars a few too many times, but I would much rather fight the retreat under the banner of a Resilience Underground or some such.
I too have no one to speak of these things with, my husband swings between tech/political fixes and "we're all gonna die; where should we go on vacation this summer?" Makes me nuts. He was outraged by my lack of surprise at Trump's election. I just wish I'd bet on it. Nonetheless we've moved out of the metropolis and to a merchant town founded in the 9th century, bought a house from the 30s with a big backyard and established fruit trees (and a root cellar!), and I've dropped hospital and intensive care nursing for district nursing. I'm honing my skills at caring for diabetic foot ulcers and amputations, among other things - things are gonna get ugly if kids don't start taking care of their elders here in Scandinavian welfare-land. I have a side job doing translations, I knit and I sew for myself and my kids - next up is upping my game in the garden, and I want to learn more about herbal medicine, it seems like a natural next step in terms of my established career. Fight on!

1/27/17, 8:00 AM

latefall said...
@JMG Re military spending & capability:

US perm. bases on foreign soil: 800, approx cost 80 bn + diplomatic cost
Rest of world ": 30

2012 spending (% of GDP):
USA 711 bn (4.7%)

Russia 72 bn (3.9%)

UK 63 bn (2.6%)
France 63 bn (2.3%)
Germany 47bn (1.3%)
Italy 35 bn (1.6%)
Spain 12 bn (0.8%)
Netherl. 10 bn (1.3%)
Poland 9.9 bn (1.9%)
Euro sum: 240 bn (vs 72 bn Russia)

Outspending the Russians by a factor of 3.3(+) and having a significant portion of the population with military training (e.g. 80% in Finland, 220k reserves of 1.3M Estonians + various paramilitary forces) really does NOT suggest the issue is lack of commitment. Coordination is another matter, but here I would stress that neither the UK nor the US has been helpful lately.

Euro cost of sanctions re Ukraine: 100 bn
Likelihood EU would threaten Russia via coup+base in Ukraine: low
Likelihood USA " : ask e.g. Nuland. Or Stratfor (

Re Mattis:
Did isolationist tendencies (e.g. bases) come up AT ANY TIME during Mattis' confirmation hearing? No.
Allies: Key strategic element, deterrent against challengers of "global order".
Global responsibilities: Yes.
F35? Mattis said F35 is important (also because allies put their faith in product).
Also: Navy important to SET rules of global commerce.

Some hardware fanboism:
Despite very high R&D spending USA sourced many heavily used weapon systems from Europe: M249 light machine gun & M240 mg (Belgian), likely replacement M27 (German), 1 mio M68 close combat optics (Swedish), MP5 (German), M320 grenade launch module (German), Stryker (Swiss), Abrams main gun (German), remote weapon station (Norwegian), AT4 and M3 bazooka (Swedish), Beretta M9 (Italian), 120 mm mortar (Finnish/Israeli), M252 81 mm mortar (UK).

This is in spite of European mfg being at a disadvantage due to lower domestic demand. Acceptable markets for sale are restricted (imagine Gotland or Dolphin class submarines for PRC) and sales to US are difficult (e.g. KC-45).

To me this suggests that:
1. Euro war fighting capability per se is sufficient
2. Where performance is needed Euro products can compete
3. Prestige projects (air force, some navy) are politically problematic, more wasteful
4. USA force structure is abnormal, procurement is extraordinarily wasteful
5. USA primary focus is China (USPACOM), Europe's internal military developments are irrelevant, trying to press Europe into action against China is a long shot.
6. NATO has issues not since last year, but last 18 years

Having briefly worked in US defense related R&D (advanced technology demonstrators) I have a hard time conveying the quality of work that is deemed sufficient for additional funding. I do wonder what happens once Trump makes the international brain drain stop or reverse.

The overall prioritization of certain military aspects (terrorism, counter A2/AD, expeditionary vs. weak organic AA, weak artillery) speak a clear language to me.

I'll look forward to Trump cutting military expenses by 50% which means the USA would still outspend its main strategic competitors (China + Russia) by a large margin.

1/27/17, 8:02 AM

Nancy Sutton said...
Sorry, I haven't read all the comments yet....hopefully someone already posted this... the plutocrats are apparently really worried about the pitchforks..
(BTW, I found by hearing the author interviewed on the reviled NPR :)

Also, some might like to follow Justin Rhodes (check his daily YouTube vlog).. who will tour many of the backyard, small farm, organic, etc. food growers in the US (and Canada :) for 10 months. He'll roll it into a documentary (sorry, you missed the reduced Kickstarter price... my bad!) next year. It may be an eye-opener for many (he's has 100K subscribers) who care but are clueless.

1/27/17, 8:40 AM

Violet Cabra said...
Something that I meditate on quite a bit is the reality that darkness is closing in around us. Paths are narrowing, the narrow bridge we walk in life has missing planks and no safety rails. Most people are waiting for a future that will never come and don't appear to have the inner grit to face up to what is happening. The situation is all sorts of bad and will only get worse.

This puts issues meaning and choice into a stark relief. Questions like "why should I bother?" or "what can I do?" become more haunting. Are ethics more important than survival? Are there any safe choices? Is there any way out of this predicament?

The sense of personal responsibility is great with these sorts of questions, the outlook grim. There can be paralyzing indecision with the knowledge that one's very survival will entirely depend on unforeseen causality. This sort of thinking has tendency to short circuit reason.

In the beginning Plato's Republic he asks "is there anyway that one can play an instrument and become less musical?" to which his baffled foil responds "of course making music makes one more musical"

Currently I'm reading Bruce Catton's Centennial History of the Civil War. It is clear that the generals that took the initiative and made their will manifest did much better than those who waited for fate to intervene.

The point is that I want to make is two fold:

1) to become involved with something, to work one's hands in it, anything that one cares about will makes one better than having no engagement at all, in keeping a safe distance. anything worth doing well is worth doing badly, and the first attempt will quite likely be the worst.

2) if one takes the initiative the more likely they are to do well. to cling to the safety of inaction in dangerous times is to cling to utter ruin.

There are no good excuses for inaction in the face of overwhelming forces. The very fact the the forces are overwhelming demands more rigorous action.

1/27/17, 8:57 AM

Whitecloak said...
I've a feeling if the status quo ante-Trump uniparty consensus finds a way to rid themselves of our God Emperor we could have a real problem. Tensions are too high and I don't see them going anywhere but up in the near future.

I honestly think voluntary balkanization might be the only peaceable way forward. Calexit has my full support as a heartland nativist. We obviously disagree completely and totally on how society should be ordered, why should we be forced to live under policies anathema to one another?

We needs dismantle the empire, lest we be dismantled with its collapse.

1/27/17, 9:44 AM

The Big Rant said...
I'm starting a thing in my area (Chicagoland) called the Circle of Gratitude. It will consist of gathering in my office space, which is a music studio with a large waiting room, and having everybody write down what they are most grateful for on a small piece of paper. Then we will put them in a bowl and draw them out, one by one, and the person will be welcome to talk about what they wrote, or they can pass and let someone else speak. The first one will be in March and if it is successful, I'll do it on a regular basis. Others are welcome to steal this idea if they like it.

1/27/17, 9:45 AM

pygmycory said...
With insulin, it might be worth using already-existing yeasts that are bioengineered to make human insulin. The bioengineering has already been done, and human insulin is less likely to produce bad reactions. The main issue I can see is getting hold of the yeast or bacteria (both are used to produce insulin). I bet the bioengineered microbes are patented.

I hope we don't lose them, because this is something useful that probably wouldn't be too hard to keep.

1/27/17, 10:49 AM

latefall said...
Re Civil War scenario

There are a few aggravating factors due to US peculiarities:
1. Timber frame homes (combustible) > 90% of low rises in US/Canada
2. Few houses have basements (relevant for artillery)
3. Ammo likely more important than # of guns (500-50k rounds per kill)
4. Artillery generally beats small arms by a wide margin, USA has 8100 pieces
5. Disease often beats all others, particularly where infrastructure is fragile
6. US vets enjoyed a very low tooth-to-tail ratio**, in a civil war most combatants are part-timers, and doctrine will likely differ drastically.

Generally civil wars last longer and are more destructive than other conflicts. Particularly the "son of the soil" type partially ethnic wars that dammerung was considering last week fall into that category*. 1 mio people capable of "creative ways to inflict harm" (with small arms!?) hardly matter in that specific geopolitical context, in my opinion.


**The combatant vs support ratio is actually relatively high in some European armed forces. The USA has one of the lowest overall.

1/27/17, 11:20 AM

Erica said...
Hello @NomadicBeer, @Pygmycory et al

I am a climate scientist and have not been on a plane since 2008. Unfortunately I think those words alone might identify me uniquely. It has certainly harmed my career. But I have plenty of transferable skills.

I have long noted with disappointment the lack of will among climate scientists, who have the most knowledge about the coming physical changes to this planet, to make more than superficial changes in their own lives. To me this reiterates the clear conclusion that science, and facts, and mere knowledge of our situation, cannot bring the outcomes I hope to see. Climate scientists are human like everyone else, and information is only one of a wide range of factors in personal decisions. Thanks to JMG, and many others, for pursuing other avenues.

1/27/17, 11:42 AM

M Smith said...
Donald Hargraves,

I think I understand your point of view, as I'm a childless woman in her 60's who feels useless some days. But what I can still do, and do better than most, is provide care for babies and children so that their stronger, younger parents have the time and resources to do what needs to be done, like defend elders from the barbarian hordes. My resources are time, literacy, and (for now) a nest egg.

I realize that men are regarded with suspicion if they want to watch children, so that might not be an option for you. But how about being the right-hand man for the woman of the house? While she frees up the parents by watching their progeny, you can free her up by helping run the household. She will not want to take six toddlers to the grocery store.

It sounds frivolous now, but I always sarcastically thought to myself that if I created an agency to rent "husbands" to single women for chores like going to the mechanic or negotiating with contractors, I could make a fortune. So look around and see whether there's a niche for you that isn't necessarily being "large and in charge" but playing an essential role.


That idea occurred to me, but if I don't tell and she doesn't tell, the authorities will not know. I would not be smart to re-sell those eggs, and I wouldn't jeopardize anyone's health and my freedom for $2 anyway. There are much more lucrative and enjoyable risks to take. ;-)

1/27/17, 12:04 PM

onething said...
"Thanks for the details on the labor participation rate -- I was misinformed."

But can the labor participation rate of 1954 be fairly compared to 2016? In 1954 the majority of married women stayed home by choice.

1/27/17, 1:05 PM

Tidlösa said...

I haven´t read the entire article (it´s very long), but it has some relevance for this week´s posting. The short story: the super-rich are turning "survivalist"!

1/27/17, 1:26 PM

Jerome Purtzer said...
JMG-Great Post, Thank You! The Supertramp album like Pink Floyd's Darkside of the Moon were the soundtrack for my youth. I don't know if you ever heard of a Hippie community in Southern Oregon called Selma. Several thousand following a different path completely misunderstood by the red necks and the established who surrounded them. At the current moment I live on a giant commercial strawberry farm in N. LA area. And on this farm there are 29 oil wells pumping away. I have no illusion that I could hold out for long eating Strawberries and Avocados when the starving hordes from LA start scavenging for food. Very few seem even slightly aware of the awesome momentum of industrial civilization taking us on a Lemming holiday.

1/27/17, 1:28 PM

Effra said...
It is a measure of the journey I have been on over the last three years or so that what you have written in this post seems to reflect many of my thoughts over the past week whilst when I first discovered your writings I would have thought parts of it too pessimistic even though I know that my grounded reasons for that reaction would have been non-existent and I was never able, even when I was young, idealistic and very naive, to believe in progress.

I find now that in being able to acknowledge the horror of what collectively lies ahead there comes a certain calm about present tense day-to-day anxieties even as controlling my fears about the geo-political situation I find more difficult. It is odd watching the liberal meltdown- and it does seem the rage of a faith crisis - whilst myself feeling relief that Hillary has not had the chance to kill us all with no fly zones over Syria and troubled as to what really has been going on with the Deep State - or whatever the power structure can be called - in first allowing Trump to win then seemingly trying to destroy him before the inauguration. Amidst the relative isolation these preoccupations breed it is a solace and a pleasure to come here and read you each week and hear about other people's journeys I recognise as similar in shape to my own.

1/27/17, 2:16 PM

Patricia Mathews said...
@ Donald - bless you, you did good. I guess I misinterpreted "dead stem." And if "on hold" means "no real plan, just doing whatever comes to hand," I have been amazed in my own life what that can lead to. Hang in there.


1/27/17, 3:37 PM

Barrabas said...
Australias peak oil future has come into focus recently with repeated jet fuel shortages at melbourne international airport.

Bass strait has dropped from 750000 barrels a day down to 350000 , while the country is using 1 million barrels per day.
With all its massive investment in plants, refining and transport , the chevron owned gas plants in w.a can only produce 100 000 barrels per day .
Even americas vast gas fracking apparatus only produces 1 million barrels per day equiv .

South australia with its heavy renewables grid is suffering repeated intermittency blackouts , giving ammunition to the neo con pro coal lobby , who are quite right in suggesting that coal is the way forward for australia if we are to avoid economic catastrophe .

Meanwhile 50,0000 people protested against the nations "Australia Day " celebrations , burning flags and being themselves attacked by riot police m ostensibly because they are empathising with the day being an insult to indigenous minorities. Everyone seems shocked by these mostly young people refusing to identify with the concept of nation state after being brought up in the porn, drug and consumer soaked soup of neoliberal postmodernity. Being mostly losers within that system , it occurred to me that the indigenous issues are a figleaf ???

Finally , john pilger new film " the coming war on china " is almost out

Australia is embarking on its biggest military buildup since the Vietnam war to -- help the u.s and japan take on china as well as defend itself should the u.s and japan get a flogging in the south china sea .

Yes folks , it has well and truly begun . I have noticed a shift in my compadres who were formerly amused by my peak oul ramblings , they are now less inclined to even talk about it at all, and i can see many of them are becoming anxious and concerned , although in denial .

1/27/17, 3:50 PM

Barrabas said...
And for those that missed it , the latest very sobering peak oil report from the very mainstream HSBC bank

1/27/17, 3:53 PM

Cherokee Organics said...

Just a quick note: I overheard an older couple with their young child this morning discussing American politics. The conversation went exactly like this: (Father) "Nobody voted for Trump" and (Son) "Trump voters are idiots".

Now I'm just saying that there are a lot of "Nobody's" out there, which may not have occurred to the dad, and the son was too young (being under about the age of ten) to have formed coherent and independent worldviews.

Those sorts of conversations make me very uncomfortable as I am all to sure of where they can lead. I once spoke with a sociopath who remarked that a particular group of people were not real people and did not lead real lives. It was a very scary thing to hear and I made sure that that person was not involved in my life in anyway.



1/27/17, 4:00 PM

Bob said...
I must object to comparisons between lemmings and humans. Lemmings do not commit suicide!

1/27/17, 4:10 PM

Barrabas said...
The other interesting thing happening in australian politics is the eruption of reactionary marxism within the greens party who have 10 per cent of the national vote

And the stunning electoral rise of the queensland based anti immigration , climate denying One Nation party, whose leader pauline hanson did jail time twenty years ago but has returned to claim ten percent of the national vote .

When comparing australia to the u.s , remember the south there is the north and west here , and the bi coastal regions equate to sydney and melbourne ( south east ) !!!

1/27/17, 4:29 PM

Sylvia Rissell said...
Not related to this week's topic, I am looking forward to learning how a druid describes love and marriage.

In general, I am concerned about people who think food comes from the grocery store, clothes come from the mall, and entertainment comes from TV. I am much much less advanced than most of you!

My current feeble attempts to combat this are jokes while waiting for the work microwave: "In the old days, we would have had to chop the wood, split it, light the stove, and THEN wait for lunch to warm up."

1/27/17, 4:40 PM

latheChuck said...
Scotlyn - I understand your "itch", but in an environment like this, where the silent one is not literally standing mutely by your side, silence is just silence. It could be a technical glitch that leaves the conversation hanging, or some external event that keeps anyone away from their keyboard. I, for one, challenged Dammerung to do something more substantial with his hands than write (such as kneading bread), and he has no answer to me. Do I count that as a victory? Not at all. It's merely silence. Conversations, relationships, sometimes lives... just end, despite our hunger for resolution.

1/27/17, 5:18 PM

Shane W said...
Whitecloak beat me to the punch. For those of you left of center who live in ostensibly blue states, the most productive cause you can immerse yourself if and lend all your efforts is secession. Take a look at the red/blue map. Look very carefully at the blue islands in a sea of red. Look at what parts of the country are predominately blue: the West Coast and New England. Both have active secession movements--all the West Coast states, and Second Vermont Republic is seeing a renaissance. Take another close look at the map and politics and realize how futile it is to change minds in red America, and you're not really even trying at this point, either. Now, I know there are anomalies, like NM and Colo--that can't be helped. Yes, I know that all the talking heads pooh pooh the idea, but they also pooh poohed Trump as well. This is the one place where you can have as big an impact as the Trump presidency on the nation. Think how dramatic it would be if the secession prop passes in Calif, not to mention other states. Yes, I know it may not be recognized as legitimate this go around, but this is how ideas go from fringe to mainstream to inevitable. Secession is a way you can be on the right side of history, instead of fighting it. Also, as Whitecloak mentioned, this is something we can totally support you on. Most of us strongly believe in federalism and local control. For those of us in what was the Confederacy, we still have painful memories of being forced back into the Union during Reconstruction and being turned into an internal colony by the Feds. That's all the reminder we need to put us in a good mood about secession. Forget all the financial concerns, "giving" vs. "taking" states, population & sustainability--we won't really know until we divide just how the economic cookie crumbles, and any federal program, law, or constitutional provision can be recreated and any treaty can acknowledge trade, etc. Now is time for the liberal blues to give up on red America and withdraw and secede into their strongholds, and for the "big sort" to kick into overdrive. Dispense with the pussyhats and the aerobic exercise and work for something productive for a change: secession.
@Raymond Duckling,
I assume that there is still an active opposition to NAFTA in Mexico? Surely all the damage NAFTA did and the exodus is provoked hasn't been forgotten? How is the opposition to NAFTA in Mexico reacting to the changes in trade policy north of the border. Surely there must be some in Mexico who see an end to free trade as an opportunity to rebuild domestic industries and sectors...

1/27/17, 5:42 PM

canon fodder said...
@Tyler August

Agreed. The US in the 1950s was a much different economic prospect. Your point about one vs two wage earners is reinforced by the data. It shows a participation rate lower than today until about 1976, where it started climbing steadily until a peak around 2006. 1976 was about the time inflation (stagflation?) and foreign competition (Japanese cars, anyone?) took a real bite out of the blue-collar earning capability. Then again, if I asked my mother if she “worked” back in the 1960s she’d either roll her eyes and laugh, or smack me upside the head, depending on how annoying I was being that day.

A couple more interesting points to consider when looking at the data.

First, the current decline in the participation rate is matched by a concurrent increase in social welfare rates (SSDI, SNAP, etc.). In essence, a chunk of the population has found out that they can make as much from government transfer payments as they could from working the available part-time jobs. The various companies specializing in helping people apply for benefits also started popping up at this time. To me, this still means that families need two incomes to make ends meet, but some people have elected to navigate the bureaucracy to get transfer payments rather than slogging at some min-wage part-time job.

Second, the data sets I could find only went back to 1950, which I consider to be near the peak of the US manufacturing industry. I’d love to see data from the 1930s, an economic era arguably not too different than today. Go back even further to the era where a majority of Americans lived on family-owned farms, and I bet the true participation rate would be much higher than today. Everyone on the farm worked, not necessarily for a wage, but to survive. I doubt the government bean counters would say more than just the head of the household “worked,” but they all put in the hours.

1/27/17, 5:53 PM

Jen said...
On a positive note: I have begun, upon hearing my Democrat friends bewail Trump's ascension, to suggest that they actually, personally do something about some of the issues about which they are so concerned, such as reproductive rights and religious freedom or the environment, and have found them surprisingly receptive. His election seems to have galvanized them, and many have shot back that they've already begun volunteering at some community group or have organized a group of their own or taken a leadership position in a local organization.

Whereas before, suggestions that member- and citizen-funded organizations might be less beholden to the powers that be and less easily destabilized were usually sneered at as regressive, immoral (!), or unworkable, they now seem to be taking deep thought about more distributed funding possibilities and the merits of simply proceeding with positive change regardless of the current administration's stance. They seem to have been shaken out of the feeling that the changes they want to see are part of a moral progression to which they are entitled, and are grudgingly recognizing that those changes might be something they need to shell out time and/or money to accomplish.

This is not to say that there's not still a lot of overwrought moaning and wasting of energy on the more pointless forms of political action such as the recent protests and marches, but my liberal friends at least do seem to be buckling down. I have been singing the praises of social capital as a partial substitute for and attractant of human and financial capital at every opportunity. Hopefully soon they will begin seeing some positive local results!

1/27/17, 6:06 PM

Kfish said...
Dear Morgenfrue,

Self-sufficiency as a way of refusing to support a corrupt society has a very long history. From Thoreau to monastic traditions of varying religions, to Communists to the 70s back-to-the-landers, lots of people have decided to support themselves directly as a political or ethical statement.

My personal motto for self-sufficiency: "Every home-grown tomato is a tiny little 'F-You' to the world."

1/27/17, 6:24 PM

David, by the lake said...

I happened upon a small bit of news this morning with my usual few minutes of NPR before work, confirming, if nothing else, a decline in coherent thought. The news story was discussing the protests outside the Republican strategy retreat and one of the protesters interviewed was going on about how the electoral college "rewarded people for living in the middle of nowhere" and how the system was "votist". I kid you not. Votist. I can only shake my head and wonder what has become of this world.

1/27/17, 6:49 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Anselmo, thank you. Which scenario happens will depend, I think, largely on where you are; I could easily see Europe settling into a relatively stable condition for some centuries, provided that it manages to cope with the end of the fossil fuel economy and can stave off the kind of mass immigration that, historically speaking, sweeps nations off the map. Here in North America, that might eventually happen in the northeast US and southeastern Canada, but elsewhere, the descent into barbarism is far more likely, for reasons I've discussed at length already.

Ray, many thanks.

Vedant, what I expect to happen is a slow unraveling, in which signs of failure won't be visible unless you stop and think back to conditions ten or twenty years back. Here in the US, for example, a growing number of rural counties no longer have the funds to keep their roads paved, but you have to go looking to find that out. That's the way the signs of failure will be -- hidden from obvious view, papered over by official statistics, easily dismissed as random fluctuations. So, yes, there are some signs of failure showing up now, and there will be more with each passing year, over the century or two that it'll take for industrial civilization to finish its decline and fall.

Scotlyn, it was when that got said that I asked the alt-right contingent to drop the overt Nazism, Holocaust revisionism, and so on, and I proceeded to enforce that by deleting several attempted posts. I leave my readers a great deal of latitude for discussion, and yes, some of them leave from time to time.

Stuart, you're most welcome. I agree, for what it's worth -- I could see flying if there was some valid reason for doing so, but "I need a mini-break in Mazatlan" does not cut it. And of course when climate scientists are insisting that everybody needs to cut their carbon footprint, the fact that they aren't willing to do so themselves raises valid questions about whether they themselves believe what they're saying.

Vesta, that's certainly a valid way to look at it. Are you taking steps in your own life to move in that direction right now, while there's time to get past the learning curve?

DoubtingThomas, ah, but from the perspective of history, you're just one member of a crowd -- one of the many voices insisting that there has to be some way out of the cycle of history, as people invariably do at this point in the cycle. I know it's awkward to come to terms with the fact that every one of us gets our ideas from our own cultural and historical setting, and that those ideas are therefore predictable to a great extent, but there it is.

As for paradigm shifts in physics, it interests me to notice how many people don't seem to realize that most paradigm shifts in physics end up proving that there's something else we can't do. The immense paradigm shift that gave rise to thermodynamics explained why you can't get more energy out of a process than you put into it; the paradigm shift that gave us relativity theory explained why you can't accelerate a material object to the speed of light, much less past it, and so on. Most of the laws of science amount to "you can't do that" -- and yet talk about paradigm shifts in physics these days almost always fixates on the notion of getting more energy, more resources, more goodies than the current version of physics permits. Myself, I suspect that the next big paradigm shift in physics will tell us why fusion power isn't a viable option and why we're not going to the stars, but we'll see...

1/27/17, 6:58 PM

John Michael Greer said...
DoubtingThomas (continued), oh, and by the way, don't assume that I agree with you just because I don't take the time to take issue with every detail in a long comment. I'm fielding upwards of 500 comments a week just now, and that means long comments tend to get short shrift.

Crow Hill, I won't argue.

DoubtingThomas, when I was in London in 2014, I had a very easy time getting around by train, underground, bus, and foot -- like most cities founded before the automobile age, it's well designed for pedestrians and public-transit passengers. I have no idea why anyone would bother using a car there.

Phil, oh, I know. Still, a being can dream.

Larz, I'm glad this blog helps you! I'd say, also, that choosing to take a saint as a role model may be one of the most useful things anybody can do just now.

Ursachi, the same is true of every nation large enough to have a significant impact on its neighbors. There have still been periods of relative disengagement and others of hardcore imperial expansion, and the former make a good role model just now.

Cherokee, I'd be honored! Thank you.

YCS, hmm! Many thanks for the link; that looks like an article to savor.

Patricia, now there's a blast from the past!

Greg, thanks for the heads up about the new Paglia book. I wonder if I can get a review copy in exchange for a blurb. ;-)

Jess, I don't know of anything in print that really talks about what to do as the economy of money gives way to an economy of (far more limited) concrete wealth. I'll see if I can find something, though.

Eric, so noted. I rather like alt-delete as a label!

Nero, glad to hear it. I'd have to have someone else do the print formatting, though, as I'm up against the limits of what I can do myself at this point.

1/27/17, 7:11 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Morgenfrue, hmm! That sort of reframing might be worth trying.

Latefall, thanks for the numbers. With regard to the Senate hearings, remember that that's pure political theater at this point; the Senate has not quite been reduced to the rubberstamping function of its Roman equivalent, but it's getting there. The thing to watch is what happens over the next six months or so.

Nancy, it's about time they started worrying about the pitchforks. With any luck, those worries will start taking more useful forms -- say, a nervous backing away from the culture of executive kleptocracy that's become so entrenched in the upper end of the US economy.

Violet, very good. I'd also add that getting off the sofa and doing something constructive is the most effective way I know of to deal with feelings of helplessness and despair.

Whitecloak, I'd be delighted if California were to secede. So would most of the people who've spent any time living in nearby states, for that matter. May I make a suggestion? The simplest legal way to make secession happen is a constitutional convention, which can be called by state legislatures, and can then draft a constitutional amendment giving states the legal right to secede and setting up a procedure for secession. Once that's ratified by the states, it's the law of the land -- neither Congress nor the president have anything to say about it. Get the word out: the escape hatch is right there in the Constitution.

Big Rant, fair enough. What do you hope to bring about by doing this? That's not a rhetorical question; I'm genuinely curious.

Pygmycory, interesting. I wonder what it would take to pry those loose.

Latefall, interesting. I see a diffuse domestic insurgency of the Iraq variety as more likely than an all-out civil war, for what it's worth -- and both of them have become a good deal less likely because of the outcome of the election.

Onething, a valid point. I'll want to look into that.

Tidlösa, maybe they'll get even more of a clue, and stop the self-defeating behaviors that are putting them at risk.

Jerome, that's another album I used to listen to by the hour. Pity neither group ever did a song titled "March of the Lemmings."

Effra, thank you. Agreed, it's a lot easier to deal with the confusions of the present when the shape of the future can be glimpsed...

1/27/17, 7:35 PM

Karl Ivanov said...
Well Mr. Greer, my interaction with your worldview has been a long strange road. Believe it or not, I first became well acquainted with your musings while living in the basement of a Goldman Sachs executive whose wife was on the board of a ballet company I danced with. I was familiar with concepts of peak oil and other environmental issues by then, already believing that Obama had made a huge mistake in not pursuing Van Jones' "Green New Deal" but instead going ahead with what turned out to be a very flawed health care program. Your framing of the myth of progress was not a part of any previous argument I had encountered, and, having been brought up in that faith, it shook me to confront its failings.
On a rational level, I followed your arguments. On a non-rational level, I really didn't want them to be true, especially since the career path I chose for myself depended on the relative stability of the status quo. When Hillary lost the election, my irrational brain was finally forced to relinquish its faith in progress. I had no great support for Hillary- like most of my generation I was a huge fan of Bernie Sanders, and was appalled and greatly disillusioned by the way the media treated him during the course of the campaign.
That said, it did feel inevitable that the first black president should be followed by the first female president, and things should just keep steadily muddling forward- some improvements to the health law, eventually universal healthcare, continuing progress on social issues- my subconscious liberal psyche, fueled by the religion of progress, held onto that belief.
That is over with now. I admit my vote for Hillary was largely selfish (And horribly gut wrenching- I left the booth praying I had not just voted for WWIII). That said, I did personally benefit from Obamacare, and from the economic status quo. That's going away now, and I will almost certainly have to choose a new life path. Could be a hell of a lot worse, though. I am from the privileged classes, and have a lot to fall back on.
Thank you for giving me a paradigm with which to make greater sense of the issues of the day. All though it is not perfect, it hangs together much better than most of our societies’ narratives. The despair you see in people about Hillary is, in my opinion, in large part because their narrative of progress cannot accept that a Trump could happen in their lifetime. That someone portrayed as so "backwards" could win the presidency has caused a crisis of faith in many.

1/27/17, 7:52 PM

Kevin Warner said...
"Barrabas said...
And the stunning electoral rise of the queensland based anti immigration , climate denying One Nation party, whose leader pauline hanson did jail time twenty years ago but has returned to claim ten percent of the national vote."

A bit of context here may be interesting. Pauline Hanson ( is sort of like our Donald Trump and is also notable for her hair (Fun fact: she actually scored an invite to Trump's inaugeration). She came out of nowhere in the mid-nineties to eventually score about a million votes at one stage but, through our electoral system, did not get to translate it into many seats.

Her main claim to fame is being anti-immigrant, anti-multiculturalism, etc. which struck a chord as governments at the time were tone-deaf to people's concerns. People threw votes her way as they were not being allowed to express their concerns without being shouted down as racist, etc (sound familiar?). What surprised me at the time was that protesters felt themselves entitled to physically attack people going to attend her meetings and our press was totally OK with this (also sound familiar?) nor did the cops really intervene much. I am against her ideas but you have to listen to the other side, right?

Note that this was all about 20 years ago. Yeah they did throw her in the slammer in 2003 with a harsh sentence but a review quickly tossed the convictions a few months later. Here is where it gets interesting. It came out that Tony Abbott (future Prime Minister) and protege of the sitting Prime Minister of the John Howard, bankrolled the court cases against her. So it was a deliberate take-down. Why am I bothering with this quick run-down of a minor political figure? Because of what I believe the effect of her was.

In spite of having nearly 1-in-3 people here in Australia born overseas, we have a harsh, if not vile, illegal emigrant regime that counters international law and all this goes back to after Hanson came on the scene. I firmly believe the government at the time adopted much of her policies (after filing off the serial numbers) to bring back voters to themselves and these policies have become entrenched with us ever since. And now I can't shake this feeling that your conservatives in the US saw all this play out and said yeah, we could do the same. It could work here.

1/27/17, 8:32 PM

Jen said...
@Violet Cabra in response to everyone

"Structurally, to prepare is to attempt to exert control. Which is useful and essential up to a point, but alas our predicament is multi-variable, convergent, and chaotic. Even with the best preparations in the world there is a very, very limited amount of control that one person, family, or community can exert on the wild movements of contingency and exigency that are flowing into our lives."

Just wanted to note, I think this is why, in traditional networks of reciprocity, willingness to help is usually conditional upon being an upstanding member and practicing/having practiced (if one is now incapable) "personal responsibility" (a loaded phrase, I know) and having invested in the community.

Self-sufficiency/"rugged individualism" is a prerequisite for mutual aid, not in opposition to it. That way you have a network of useful individuals with pertinent skills, at least somewhat diversified, and of proven reliability, who are available to assist when circumstances strike beyond one's ability to foresee or prepare for--something that can happen to any community member--but the materially and morally parasitic tend to be sanctioned or excluded. This makes the community as a whole more efficient and adaptable than it would be as a collective of isolated individuals, without draining its initiative and encouraging dependence or rewarding gaming of the system.

So I think there is certainly value in a spiritual approach to chaos and contingency in troubled times, but there are valuable pragmatic responses as well that go beyond prepping into the realms of social organization and moral norms.

1/27/17, 9:01 PM

Les said...
JMG, Jessi & Chris,
Thank you. Sometimes I need a good smack upside of the head in order to see what we’ve done, rather than just the ever increasing list of “not done yet”.
We even set up a web site as a sort of scrapbook to keep us motivated – but haven’t managed to update it for about a year :-).
Oh well, chop wood, carry water…

1/27/17, 10:01 PM

temporaryreality (Wendy) said...
1/2I find myself at a loss as to how to respond to the continued wishing for California to secede. "Gee, thanks guys, love you too"?

I admit, I've found it easier for most of my life to identify as Californian (because of the visceral evocation of what it means to be from a land of oak savannah and salt-scrub coast, to understand seasons by proximity to rainfall rather than canned-images of mayflowers/maples/snow, because of coyotes yipyipping on a late summer's night, and the satisfaction of seeing waves of wind-tossed grasses on rolling hills as they ripen from winter's vibrant green toward spring's unspeakably beautiful green-to-gold ombre) than I have as "American."

Red white and blue are supposed to make me feel the same? Not even close.

And yet, I grew cross with Shane two weeks ago for the repetitive and dismissive insistence that you'd all be better off without us, that somehow the people here, myself included, are anathema to the American project you all are in charge of.

But maybe my attitude reveals the vestiges of an old way of thinking - that we're part of something (the once-United States), that (oh the irony) dissensus is okay and yeah we do things differently, but it's ok to be known as the kooky aunt. I didn't think, though, that it worked in this direction - with people outside a state deciding it best if that state seceded. If I said, "I think Alabama oughta secede, just 'cuz I dislike their attitude and way of doing things. They're not fit to be in my association," I'd probably hear accusations of classism/cultural-elitism or be accused of snobbery.

1/27/17, 10:13 PM

temporaryreality (Wendy) said...
I guess it's all well and good to pooh-pooh California, though. Evilly evil as we are. Silly me, a long time coming around to my American-ness, I was looking forward to digging into my region's contribution to "An alt-center [that] could very easily unite around traditional American ideals -- with an acknowledgment that those ideals haven't always been lived up to, but a celebration of the many times and ways they have been -- and such a unifying force, given its historical depth, could have great power." Instead it seems you'd rather show us the door.

I'm not saying secession isn't a possible thing, isn't maybe even a decent thing. I just... well, feel put out, I guess. Rapidly-declining, collapsing-first-world problems and all that.

But let me put a few things into perspective and air my grievances:

The attitude is that California is something monolithic to be trotted out as an example of how not to do things, a useless waste of space, a pimple on the American backside. An irrelevance. Yet it's diverse. Its distance, north to south, is just slightly less (at ~770 miles) than the distance between Copenhagen, Denmark and Zagreb, Croatia (a route, which, by the way, could pass through approximately five European nations). It encompasses 10 degrees of latitude, hosts innumerable ecosystems (and varieties of flora/fauna that accompany them) and, due to terrain changes was home to the continent's most diverse mix of human linguistic groups prior to north America's colonization - undoubtedly that kind of variety would be fostered again in a non-standardized environment post your-dreamed-of-secession.

Keep in mind that California is made up of a majority of immigrants - not from Mexico, but from other parts of the US - many of whom left their places of origin not merely for the weather but because they felt stifled and pigeonholed or in need of a different canvas onto which to project their personal desires (for good and bad). And so now, having exported such a vast number of people, I will (only ironically, to make my point) suggest that you start your California secession campaign by recalling everyone back to where they started if they weren't born here. You can have them back, since some of those who are doing the Californicating are your region's castoffs. Note that they're giving others of us a bad name such that we have to accept it every time you spout off about what a blustered-fluckaroo this place is instead of calling you out on your gross overgeneralization and smug superiority.

Meanwhile, if you'd be so kind as to not hasten our tumble into failed-state/warband-incubator terrain, I would urge you to take a good, long, hard look at every bite of food you eat. A pox on BAU economic theories that promote the positive effects of California produce being shipped out of state to prop up our "GDP," and instead, how about you and the rest of (your) nation boycott us so that we can keep our lettuce, strawberries, almonds, oranges (good luck with Florida oranges and huanglongbing disease... ~80% infected?), milk, grapes (raisins, wine!), walnuts, tomatoes (canned ones too - they're probably from my county), beef and the hay that feeds your beef and milk cows.

Please do California a favor and let us feed our own people. We would have less of a water problem too, if we didn't have to provide two thirds of the the rest of (your) nation's fruits, nuts and some portion of your vegetables. And maybe, actually, asking you take your people back isn't such a bad idea...

1/27/17, 10:13 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Barrabas, thanks for the situation report from Down Under. Do you happen to know if the people who were protesting Australia Day do anything else to help your indigenous peoples? Knowing that would make an interesting comparison with the people who protest Columbus Day and the various patriotic holidays up here.

Cherokee, fascinating. It interests me that so many people elsewhere are so fixated on our politics. I promise you the vast majority of Americans have no idea who the prime minister of Australia is, much less what end of the political spectrum that dignitary inhabits!

Bob, funny. Neither do human nations -- like lemmings, they take off running in a direction that they think might lead to better things, and go splashing into the sea convinced that it's just another river they can swim across.

Barrabas, I've been saying for years now that the pseudoconservative habit of using "Communist!" and "Socialist!" as labels for any program that might actually help people is probably going to convince a lot of voters to give Marx a second chance. I wonder if this is another manifestation of that effect.

Sylvia, so noted, but you've noticed that it's a problem to believe that food sprouts on grocery store shelves, so you're already a big step ahead.

Jen, that's very promising to hear. Thank you.

David, "votist"? I assume that means a prejudice in favor of people who bother to vote. I'm fine with such a prejudice, as it happens!

Karl, thanks for this. Since I stopped believing in progress about the time I stopped believing in Santa Claus, I freely admit that I don't really understand what goes on in the minds of faithful believers, and this sort of window on the progressivist imagination helps.

Les, you're most welcome.

Wendy, I quite understand you're upset by the pro-secession comments, but please try to see how things look from the perspective of the other 49 states. I've lived in two places (Seattle and Ashland, OR) that got large numbers of immigrants from California, and in both places the Californians by and large made themselves hated by insisting that their way of doing things was the only right way and everyone who wasn't from California was by definition an ignorant boor. The Seattle Neopagan scene, similarly, used to get missionaries from San Francisco on a regular basis, who assumed as a matter of course that everybody in Seattle was doing things wrong and needed to be shown the right, i.e., Bay Area way. I could go on; there are countless other examples. California has its own culture; it's one in which the glorification of the ego has a very large part; and it's also one that clashes with the cultures of the other regions of this country. Thus it's not surprising that a great many people from elsewhere would respond to the idea of a California independence movement with enthusiastic cries of "Don't let the door hit you on the way out." We'd be perfectly willing to buy your vegetables, by the way, in exchange for the many things you can't grow or manufacture; that doesn't require you to share a nation with us, or vice versa.

1/27/17, 11:32 PM

DoubtingThomas said...
@JMG: I appreciate that you bother to respond at all Mr Greer - with/without agreement/congeniality. You do well in my book.

Yes I am but 1. Da Vinci, Copernicus, Newton, Einstein too were individuals and their theoretical contributions/inventions resulted in significant lasting impacts on their civilisations and others to this day.

Characterising most paradigm shifts in physics as 'something we cant do' strikes me as bit harsh. I see what you mean but the clarifications/changes in understanding had upsides too. Perhaps the reason people don't usually focus on "can't do that" characterisations is because they are looking at what the new paradigm shift in understanding allowed them to do next. We do choose our characterisations I guess.

As I recall the laws of thermodynamics carry an assumption of an isolated system. It would be interesting if parallel universes interacted and we ended up having to incorporate parallel universes into our concept of our universe. Heaven knows what the fallout would be if that came to pass.

"that every one of us gets our ideas from our own cultural and historical setting"
- Generally sure. Necessity (so setting) generally drives invention (ideas) but not always. Some people break free of their tribal/social conditioning and develop their own patterns frequently putting them at odds/risk with their tribes/peers. They also innovate just for fun and occasionally happy endings occur. Call them Free Thinkers or Fun-seeking Futurists.

"from the perspective of history, you're just one member of a crowd"
-- I am not history yet though :) and it only takes 1 person to trigger a change in some of a crowd.
-- You are 1 and yet you have been involved I believe in different attempts to spread messages that interested you. I don't know how successful your earlier efforts were but you have an audience now who pay attention and judging by the comments you attract a diverse crowd who are taking action in their own ways forming their own collectives.

"Myself, I suspect that the next big paradigm shift in physics will tell us why fusion power isn't a viable option and why we're not going to the stars, but we'll see..."
-- yup I remember reading that in an earlier post. I'd settle for resource focused in-system stuff for now. I'm still waiting for the fallout from China's new/working EM Drive tested in Orbit in December.

I don't disagree with most of the underlying premises of the developing situation you highlight and I find a lot of your contemporary analysis fascinating & clear. It doesn't scare or elate me. Death, mass deaths etc doesn't frighten me. My interests are only partially about the now - I'm more medium/long term systemic outlook planning outlook project is as close as I can come to discuss my practical interests.

As someone above else said, stories (can) have power so some of them I choose to keep at arms length. I can only point at innovation/inspiration/intuition as a chance to change outcomes whenever anyone tries to say we are stuck in cycles. Hunter gatherer cycles ended as we learned & innovated although some still exist I guess. Anyway, only time will settle the difference of opinion on whether this cycle will be any different :) - I'll have fun pushing my agenda forwards as I hope you will yours :)

I agree regarding London public transport. It's quite good. Same with most major EU cities as I recall. Roads are too crowded though in most of them. I'd love to see them ban all private vehicles from them during the day and only allow delivery vehicle early morning. Too much ego tied to vehicles :(

Understood about assuming. It is why I asked. You had specifically asked for examples so I thought perhaps it was something you wanted to focus on. No worries, appreciate you are busy. I think we have exhausted the topic :) Thank you

1/27/17, 11:43 PM

Cherokee Organics said...

I'm glad that you liked the name of the future beer and I for one would be pretty chuffed with that. I scored an offer for a free hops plant at the Green Wizards meet up today and I will certainly take that offer up. Of course, I realise you appreciate a darker ale though and so will work towards that goal before using that particular naming. I'll get there, it will just take time.

You know, I have no idea why that couple were sitting at a table at the local cafe / general store / post office, on a cool and beautiful summers morning saying things like that. It sounds like hate speech to me and makes no sense whatsoever. I was doing my best to read a book in a public space, which is a decidedly quirky thing to do these days...

At the Green Wizards meetup today someone had a very thoughtful comment about learning skills from places like here. I responded that people will do that when it is a good option for them to do so. And then that started me thinking about what sort of price is applicable and reasonable for an apprentice or journeyman in that situation? And I have no idea whatsoever and was wondering if you had any thoughts on the matter?

Sorry, I realise that you are busy - and sometimes I also reach the upper limits of what I can achieve and so please no hurry on replying! :-)!



1/28/17, 1:49 AM

Fred the First said...
Wanted to throw in a couple of comments about Philadelphia. I grew up in the Philly suburbs and live further out in a rural county now, and I was shocked that Trump made his first visit outside of DC to the Democratic Party stronghold of Philly. And not just a short visit, but a Republican retreat. That guy really doesn't back down from anything, does he?

The Philly police did a phenomenal job of handling the protestors again. As far as I could tell, they remained in their regular uniforms (again) and kept things calm and civil. That is the third major event they've handled (Dem Covention and Pope visit) and I'm impressed by their professionalism and calmness. This gives me hope for the short term.

Trump made a comment about the murder rate in Philly and he was echoing the opinion of everyone who knows Philly. It is atrocious and it is horrible. I remember as a teenager in the 1980's when it jumped to over 300 homicides a year and the nightly news covered it. They reported each night as it got closer to 300 and went over. It was like a rampage of death. The awful part is its never really gone down much from there. Its one of those things no Democratic administration in Philly has ever been able to fix. The poverty rate in Philly has also remained around 30% for the past three decades despite a complete revitalization and rebuilding of the entire core of the city, and repopulation of young professionals in center city.

The other thing people who grew up around Philly will always talk about is how crooked the voting is. Trump has called this out too, though certainly not just talking about Philly. It is a well-accepted truth that the dead voted early and often in Philadelphia precincts and the city could be counted on to reliably deliver Democratic party votes in a state-wide or national election. The Democratic Party has ruled the city since the 1950's. The crooked voting was one of those things talked about but never in polite company and never in public. You wouldn't want to anger the powers that controlled everything in the city! If Trump could prove that this type of voting fraud has been occurring in even one city, that would be amazing. And it would shut up his critics. Who is going to criticize someone who wants fair elections?

1/28/17, 2:44 AM

Ursachi Alexandru said...

Well, Manifest Destiny was imperial expansion. So was taking the northern third of Mexican territory. Or the occupation of Cuba, the Philippines and Puerto Rico after the Spanish-American war. And the list goes on. Times of "relative disengagement" seem to be the exception for you country, rather than the rule.

As a matter of fact, it seems that for countries like the USA or Russia, the only time when they become "relatively disengaged" from external expansion is when they are going through internal turmoil - in your country's case it was the American Civil War, in their case it was the Russian Revolution + Civil War and more recently the collapse of the USSR.

And I'd be very cautious to proclaim a new era of "American disengagement" considering your new president's hawkish remarks on Israel and Iran, just for starters. But we'll see.

1/28/17, 3:21 AM

Scotlyn said...
An emerging theme of this comment thread is the manner in which the care needed by the young, the old, the ill, especially the chronically ill, and the disabled will transition from industrial scale "care" institutions which are overloaded and imploding to some new (dissensus) way of creating family and community networks.

It strikes me we still have too many learned ways to be alone (even when we are "nuclear" married couples) and too few learned ways to be together with extended networks, of others.

As transitional forms of "family" emerge, I reckon the most enduring and practical will be those that most successfully attach and integrate the greatest number of industrial "waifs and strays" into closeknit networks centered (metaphorically at least) around a common hearth, a stewpot, a story.

Being useful and being interesting to specific "one anothers", even when not fully able of body or mind, are the building blocks of enduring networks. Also of personal satisfaction. And within such networks, knowing people who need us, depend uniquely upon us, is as motivating as any other purpose that can keep us putting one foot in front of the other into the future.

People want to care for one another more than we currently do, but the institutions who want us to trust their failing model, rather successfully robbed us of sound visions of alternative models, and of confidence in our capability.

Every act of directly caring (Donal, much respect) for one another, and of making family of disparate individual social " atoms" is an act of making a future.

I appreciate so many comments that have touched on this theme, Violet, Donal, Patricia, Morgenfrue, Jen, among others.

1/28/17, 3:51 AM

Barrabas said...
Nope , youve nailed it JMG , and this remote area Indigenous leader is on the same page as you , the whole thing seemed very fishy

Another of our dirty little secrets in Australia is that our National farmers party is essentially agrarian national socialist , owing to the sheer size and hostility of the place . Until the great coastal migration they held 25 of 78 lower house seats , though these days they are reduced to a rump of 10 owing to depopulation and latifundification of agriculture ... ( is that a word ??)
Their leader is a comcal hillbilly named Barnaby Joyce who self dscribes as a socialist agrarian conservative , and he is famous for deporting Johhny Depps pet dog , Boo

There are many in Australia who think that if we married Barnaby Joyce to the Greens party we would have the ideal political system !!

1/28/17, 3:53 AM

Fred the First said...
In PA state news the state needs to cuts another $600M out of the budget and the state employee and teacher retirement funds are only 50% funded. They expect taxpayers to make up the difference. This is going to get ugly.

PA is home to the largest mutual fund company in the world at this point, The Vanguard Group with $4.5 trillion under management. Their fund management style is index investing and anyone who has any retirement money probably has heard of this. Their theory has been that over the long-term an investor would do as well as the market and not pay high management fees to a portfolio manager or investment advisor if they invested in all the companies listed on an index, such as the S&P 500.

Does the PA state government follow this advice and use the resources of one of their largest employers? Nope. They hired investment professionals to manage the state and teacher pensions paying the PSERS (teacher pension) financial managers $450million a year. I didn't look up the what they paid the state pension managers because I am sick to my stomach.

Rate of return from these financial geniuses over 10 years? 10%
S&P 500 increase past 10 years (this includes the crash) 61%

So if the state has just invested the pension money in an index fund and paid a 1% management fee for it, vs the 6% they paid god knows who, then pensions would be more than funded and taxpayers in PA wouldn't be having to see another tax increase.

Our property taxes have doubled in the last ten years to cover the costs of teacher pensions. Full pensions after 25 years of working, btw.

So in a time of huge stock market returns, our state screwed everything up. It doesn't give me much hope for a future where there are no stock market returns.

1/28/17, 3:59 AM

Scotlyn said...
@LatheChuck thanks. I found the response you made in that thread impressive. You offered life to a nihilist. Who knows what could come of that?

As for me I simply bear witness that it is possible to launch a direct attack upon someone's essential being in the most civil of tones.

And while I do not know what use it might be for me, as a bystander, to stand beside the person so attacked and bear witness to it, I somehow find I cannot do otherwise. I want it on record that politely expressing acquiescence with someone's extinction is (as the commenter himself rightly recognised),an end to any possibility of "reasoning together".

@JMG So noted. Thanks.

1/28/17, 4:05 AM

Rita Narayanan said...
JMG said ** Rita, watching the current crop of politicians occasionally makes me wistful for medieval warlords. They might slaughter every inhabitant of your village but at least they wouldn't spout moralizing cant while they're doing it. **

just jealousy on my part for all the opportunities brought to Westerners by industrialization & colonialism :) half the cackling intellectual crowd don't exist without easy access to the pillages of these in relative terms the leaders get the **bad name of not being good but have built these systems.

the warlord comment is interesting ...have been doing reading over a few years on the Dalai Lama & Tibet. First the institution was established by the Mongols then found that warlords & braggarts(who raided caravens)could learn a lot from the politics & shenanigans of large monastries. So much for non violence & non materialism.


1/28/17, 4:09 AM

Justin said...
Regarding California, sure, it could probably go it alone - it's a net federal taxpayer, has a decent amount of fossil fuel reserves, until climate change bites too hard it will be able to grow and likely export food, probably increasingly to Asia by boat.

Greg Belvedere, Peterson's point is that it's not Marxism in particular that leads to gulags, it's atheistic materialism. Capitalism is certainly no exception, it's just more resilient than Marxism. Trust me, if you do anything to seriously threaten capitalism, you'll find yourself in a gulag. And of course, pure capitalism places no value on human life unless those humans happen to be useful. You can scream and shout all you want about Marxism, and capitalism doesn't care, because you've still got to buy food and shelter and that means you're going to find a way to be useful to capitalism. I agree that Marx's criticism of capitalism is mostly valid, but I find his ideas about the organization of society to be, um, ridiculous. And I've written before about my ideas about how because Pareto inequalities appear to be a natural consequence (rooted in mathematics) of any competitive field, I do not think there is a way to make life fair, only less unfair.

Second of all, I found it interesting that you said Peterson is "a bit reactionary" for criticizing Marxism. Think about that for a second. If you don't know, within Marxist discourse, "reactionary" means "thought-criminal", and of course within Marxist versions of history, the Nazis were of course reactionary (this is true, it's entirely possible there could have been a communist coup in 1920 or so in Germany, and there was also a small civil war fought that doesn't get talked about much for some reason), so "reactionary" can also mean "Nazi". The choice of the word "reactionary" is an interesting linguistic choice because it logically makes the Marxist/Marxism the primary actor.

I think the fundamental Marxist idea is not a theory about how labor and material goods should be distributed, but the idea that humans are perfectly rational and can therefore impose our reason on the world to improve the world.

I don't think it's entirely a surprise that Marxism was thought up during the industrial revolution. Of course, another point is that the labor unions, welfare systems, health and safety regulations, child labor laws, workman's compensation, limited working hours etc did not really exist in Marx's time. So naturally, a lot of people were unhappy with capitalism. And in some ways those conditions are coming back to bite in the developed world, so I'm not surprised that people are picking up on Marxism. Marxists don't like these reforms, because they see them as preserving capitalism and preventing the revolution (and the eternal worker's paradise which will of course follow). And yes I like Camille Paglia.

1/28/17, 4:38 AM

111DFC said...
Very interesting post

For an external observer, US, with 30.000 deaths/year by firearms (more than 1 Vietnam every 2 years) is in a situation of subtle war; if you include the amount of people dying by overdose or in anti-depresant treatment or addict to pain-killers etc..., I think you could conclude that US in the middle of a low-motion collapse from some decades ago. A few hundred millions firearms spreading around the population do not help to the stability of the country

I think there are two factors that aggravates this situation:

a) The "cult" to the violence so ingrained in the mythology of the US (I would say there ia a "fascination" with the violence & arms). The majority of the hollywood films' plots turn around the way the violence of the "good guys" solve all the problems, normally killing the "bad guys" (indians, nazis, russians, iraqis, etc...or other invented villains). In fact it was thanks to the violence (wars) the US became the current hegemon and take a good portion of the global wealth, on the cheap. It surprise me how in this and other blogs people know and discuss a lot of weapons, f.e. soviet ZSU, or chinese jets ? or some others own and foreign weapons, that are outside the conversation of knowledge of people from other countries, sound quite "strange" in fact for us
This make an more unstable country

b) I think in the US to be poor have psychological aggravating factors compare to others countries and cultures. This notion of "winners" and "losers" that build the aspiration of the people, destroy the mental health of a lot of people. If you compare the evolution of the life expectancy of the poor middle aged whites with other ethnics goups (hispanics or blacks) in the US, the life expectation of the white people is decreasing and the others ethnic groups is increasing, and the reasons, I think, are related to the "expectations" (who "should" you be, and the distance to who "really" you think you are, measured in abstract-market oriented terms, which is the real problem...). The "poors" in the US are rich compared to other countries´ poors, but what destroy people are not "objetives" situation (if that even exist) but the social built "own" feeling

You are making a good job lowering the expectations of the people, this is the way to try to better live with the combined crises we are suffering (and in any situation)

1/28/17, 5:13 AM

Justin said...

I think that dualism is rooted very deeply in our psychology. Of course, that's not to say that dualism traps don't exist in terms of decisions about how we interact with the material world or organize the distribution of goods and labor. I'd also argue that a lot of the time when JMG talks about a third path, a Daoist response would be to say "no, you're just in balance between order and chaos, there is no third path" - of course it's a semantic difference because the material results of a balance of order and chaos is in fact third option. Regarding sex, er, I think our culture could do with a bit more order there. There's never been a functional culture that didn't have some rules. The current state of things is completely dependent on the pharmaceutical industry, effective antibiotics and of course condoms.

And regarding the "all hell breaks loose" - it has broken loose, repeatedly, multiple times in the 20th century. Relative wealth and isolation did keep things relatively sane in North America but you know, we still manufactured a bunch of killing machines which we sent to the Communists in Russia and nuked Japan twice. Then we built enough nuclear weapons to kill every species that doesn't live underwater or weighs more than 25 kg as an adult. We operate public schools where 1/6 of the kids have to be on drugs to function.

It's also worth pointing out that the murder rate in most Indigenous societies was astronomical - there were cultures in places like Papua New Guinea where people believed that men could live forever, because it was an extreme rarity for men to survive long enough to start to wither with age. Rousseau's ideas about the noble savage are wrong, without the sort of culture that comes with agriculture, we are unbelievably cruel featherless bipeds, especially when we are in conditions where nature doesn't kill us very often to regulate our population. And yes, women in those cultures did cruel things too. I think that for some reason Western people link indigenous societies mentally with the Garden of Eden - it isn't so. There's plenty of human behavior patterns that map very well onto chimpanzee behavior - we're not so different from them in the final analysis. We're monkeys who are smart enough to build nuclear weapons and vicious enough to torture each other for fun - there is a reason why, for instance, Mary and (baby) Jesus is such an important and powerful symbol - it reminds us of one of the few places in our psyche where empathy is absolutely hardwired into us (male and female). Empathy creates more empathy and vice versa.

We ALL are vicious, tribal monsters with a storytelling function on top. I think we're wired to separate ourselves when 'group size' becomes too large - but of course, the planet is full, we can't just split up and wander off in a different direction. And so we invent ideologies about why we're right and fight each other using our words for a time, but the two camps become separate and essentially start to develop completely separate ontological frameworks, at which point they can no longer talk, and then they fight. So yeah, I see why Peterson is horrified.

1/28/17, 6:03 AM

Peter said...
It's not going to be a "long descent". It's going to be sudden, hard, fast, and often violent.

1/28/17, 7:32 AM

peacegarden said...
Great post, as usual!

I like what Ray Wharton had to say about sinking into the relaxation of winter… something that has been with us for much of our specie’s time here. It is time to rest and restore, plan and reflect, and let the seeds of our hopes and dreams germinate.

Meditation, sitting with nature and delving deep into a good book, tending the fire, cooking soups and stews (with lots of leftovers!), and watching the birds flitting from shrub to tree are part of my routine this time of year. I am taking an herbal liver care tincture; this is helping me “detox” from all the political wrangling and nonsense that has been so prevalent this year.

Soon, it will be time to start seeds, prune the fruit trees, and all the other springtime chores, but for now, I am resting in the winter calm. Care to join me?


1/28/17, 8:29 AM

Chris Larkin said...
Based on thiftwizard’s comment, I did some basic research into insulin production, it takes roughly 500 pounds of pig pancreases to make an ounce of insulin. That makes sense since hormones aren’t made in large amounts in animals, though it means extraction from pigs won’t work on a small scale. As pygmycory points out, insulin is made by genetically modified bacteria and baker’s yeast in what seems to be useful amounts . The yeast can be grow in a flask so growing the special yeast shouldn’t be hard, making ~1mg / Liter hour or 28.8 insulin units per liter an hour. I’m not sure how much post-processing is needed for proinsulin made by yeast as opposed to bacteria or how difficulty it’ll be to process it. The biggest difficulty would be acquiring the yeast and learning the skills of insulin yeast refining before you truly need it. has some information.

Justin, I also move in transhumanist / rationalist / scientism circles keeping a place in that group just as I do with this one. It makes me neither fish nor fowl, but it suits my eccentricities and prevents ideological rigidity. If you need discussion points that your coworkers might accept or at least acknowledge, I might be able to help craft some. At the very least, tell you where they’re coming from.

Taking some of your earlier comments as well, I’m reminded of the ascended economy, one of the many darker bits of futurology out there. Basically it’s a future where human control and decision making is handled over to AIs that out-compete the humans along with any trait humans value for improved efficiency. In its most extreme form, it leads to a world of marvels of beings who individually think more than all of humanity ever did single mindedly pursuing ever larger numbers. There’s a few shades of it in much of the criticism of modern financial markets and Big Data.

It wouldn’t surprise me that even in a declining world, we get a stronger taste of it. Algorithmic decision makers replacing human decision makers is already a stated goal in many technophilic circles. Even not among explicit supporters, there’s a common feeling that Science as embodied Reason must save us from ourselves which will only become stronger as things deteriorate. I don’t know how long such creations will be able to keep themselves going before starving, but they could have quite the impact before joining Diocletian’s edicts in history’s dustbin.

All of this does remind me that I would very much like to see JMG’s reaction to Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom. Both come from such radically different places that I’m not sure what would stand out. It’s a powerful work on those who share Bostrom’s basic worldview showing up in many a rationalist’s canons, and has prompted people like Elon Musk and others to donate millions against existential AI risk.

1/28/17, 8:41 AM

onething said...
Hmm. I agree it is time for a paradigm shift in physics, but that is just because they are wrong about a couple of things and have been piling on the epicycles for a while now.

1/28/17, 8:46 AM

Donald Hargraves said...
@Patricia Mathews, M Smith:

Thanks for your understandings and suggestions. I will definitely consider some of this. (And also, if things don't get TOO off the rails, I could see being a support for the family. Like I said, my brother and sister DID have children...)

1/28/17, 8:58 AM

Violet Cabra said...
@ Jen, I couldn't agree more. Yesterday I traded a whole mess of tinctures for a goodly amount of venison and mutton. My friend and trading partner and are both "rugged individualist" types who have overlapping, though divergent skills that allow for excellent trades, not to mention great conversations. Another friend has gifted me so much food throughout our relationship and I've gifted them a small apothecary and help whenever they needed it. These relationships are some of the most rewarding I participate in.

This culture which I see as organically emerging does much to give me some guarded optimism. There are two issues that I see, which you touch on as well, are 1) lack of skills, 2) a culture or parasitism.

Many of my friends have good trade skills but many don't, and simply don't have the inner resources to sustain a gift economy. Most are open to learning.

the pervasive parasitism is a deeper problem. I believe that this is the spiritual backwash of our glut of energy slaves, perhaps a true "first world problem." people believe that they are entitled to free energy and that includes the labors of other people. Many of my friends, appearantly, don't think much of gaming me, and I often feel taken advantage of. There is, not yet at least, a cultural mechanism that has evolved for dealing with parasitic behavior, or at least not one known to me in the context of the communities I participate in. probably also an issue is that I've been living in a college town and I have unresolved issues with boundraries.

1/28/17, 9:01 AM

Donald Hargraves said...
Another pile-on for the anti-California crowd:

A friend of a friend talked about how a group of Californians moved to Boulder, CO and tried to take over the city. When the locals and the Buddhist communities united to tell the Californians "We run things our way," the Californians left, depressing house values for nearly twenty years(!).

Interesting note: There had been some tensions in Boulder, but the presence of the Californians seemed to unite the two groups to the point that things are peaceful to this day. The housing bubble has returned, but the city is otherwise fit and healthy in the way that, it seems, only Colorado is able to pull off.

1/28/17, 9:05 AM

Bob said...
Wendy, as far as this Canadian maritimer is concerned, California rocks :)

1/28/17, 9:08 AM

onething said...
"The despair you see in people about Hillary is, in my opinion, in large part because their narrative of progress cannot accept that a Trump could happen in their lifetime. That someone portrayed as so "backwards" could win the presidency has caused a crisis of faith in many."

The thing that irritates me about this, though, is that these people are blindly accepting a given narrative about Trump, and I don't think that narrative is particularly factual. It seems obvious to me, if one is not completely naïve, that there was a behind-the-scenes decision to provoke and massage any possible statements or life events of Trump into the most negative light. A little analysis about other people in public life reveals that he is not actually unusual, and he is certainly not particularly conservative in his views. I once decided I needed to look into some of the accusations and in googling came up with an article with a title something like "18 most offensive things Trump has said." Almost all of them were ho-hum or taken out of context. I did find one or two offensive.

It particularly irritates me that people I think ought to know better are carrying water for the super elite, much as they have accused the "dumb" working class of voting against their interests because the Republicans played the Christian card and family values card.

Finally, I have recently come to the understanding in the greater scheme of things, that is, the soul's development toward wisdom, that the interplay in this particular lesson is between nefarious types such as the lying, manipulative elite and the gullibility and downright silliness of mind in the groups that get taken advantage of. To be angry only at the elites for their evil is akin to wishing germs would go away rather than also making sure you've got a good immune system.

1/28/17, 9:09 AM

brokeboater said...
Dont' let the California thing get under your skin Wendy. Politics is not a thinking game, it's a team sport. California is a Democratic powerhouse so Conservatives have to loath anything to do with California. Texas, OTOH, is a Republican powerhouse hence they can do no wrong. We live in a black and white world with no shades of gray.

1/28/17, 9:34 AM

temporaryreality (Wendy) said...

I feel tremendously sad.

There's too much personal complexity (unrooted childhood, married an immigrant, can't afford to live here, despised elsewhere both for being Californian and unpopular/brown/immigrant) for me to sort this out logically or to not be upset.

Ah well, another one to chalk up to the universe having no requirement to please me.

Just... you know... think kindly of some of us. We don't all suck.

1/28/17, 9:45 AM

peacegarden said...
@Violet Cabra

Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers, especially when I sit with the plants. I am hoping you will regain your vibrant health and will be thinking of you as I sow seeds and plant this year’s garden.


1/28/17, 10:21 AM

Sven Williams said...
I've been meaning to ask this question for a while, but couldn't condense it down into something concise to be something other than applicable to only me. This is a request for advice from both you and your readership.

Years ago, I made the foolish decision of entering a grad program, got up to my proverbial eyeballs in debt, and upon graduation after years of below-minimum-wage toil, I landed a job in the Persian Gulf region making enough money to pay back my debts in full and accumulate substantial savings. 1.8 years to go, as of this writing. The only reason I'm out here is because I'm paying down federal student loans for a foolish hero's quest.

I could go back to the US this summer, but I worry that having that debt will be a liability on more than just paper: I keep having visions of the DoE sending Vinnie the Knee-Capper to extract his pound of flesh from my hide at some point in the future. Out here in Qatar, I have a plush VIP seat of the shit-storm that's unfolding in the Middle East, and am feeling increasingly uneasy about things (both out here and on the home front).

So, finally, my question: if you were in my shoes, would you chance a default on federal debts for an onrushing future where it likely won't matter? If you (collective "you", honored Archdruid and readership) were me, would you cease payments on student debts, stack as much cash as possible, and use it while it's still worth a tinker's damn? I could be debt-free, or I could buy a small plot of land. I can't have both with my income.

(Huh. Writing it all out, the decision seems blatantly obvious...)

1/28/17, 11:24 AM

Matt said...
Here's a scientist very engages with energy and climate - but not a climate scientist - who seemed to walk the walk. Without The Hot Air is a must read.

1/28/17, 11:37 AM

Whitecloak said...
Wendy- it is simple. We don't hate you, I don't. I quite like the Californians I have known, I just don't think we want to share the same government with the same laws and norms. A decentralized federalism would work, but we have dismissed that in our modern age and if we must rule the whole of the country under uniform law? I would rather balkanize and let smaller chunks of the dis-United States experiment with their own laws that reflect their own cultures and values.

For instance- many Californians are quite keen on certain sexual mores that people from my neck of the woods find an imposition of foreign, hostile values. You would find the imposition of our values onto you and yours to be quite unwelcome as well, I wager. Or immigration- you and yours might be for open borders but us rust belters want an inward, protectionist focus.

Would it not be better for us to go our separate ways in this regard? We can each have what we want in our own places without imposing hostile values upon one another.

1/28/17, 12:12 PM

Unknown said...
Similar experiend, found I had esophageal thrush. Surprised all doctors. Once eliminated sensitivities returned to near normal. It was not visible and caused no other apparent symptoms. Might be worth checking into if you haven't already.

1/28/17, 12:37 PM

Bryant said...
@Anselmo, I don't actually think that it'll be a peaceful and structured retraction, but akin to any other system that accumulates too much entropy, basically a collapse. We humans tend to think of ourselves as rational, but we really are prey to a host of cognitive illusions - the important part is that we basically can use our own intellect against ourselves to further delude ourselves.

I feel our current situation is basically akin to a fractal structure that has accumulated far too many thin, unsupported branches of opinions. As they continue to build and grow, it can only end in overall collapse, which then rebuilds later on.

This kind of overswing - much like financial bubbles - is very common in a lot of natural systems. I doubt we will be any different.

1/28/17, 12:37 PM

canon fodder said...
re: California Secession

While it may assuage the conscience of coastal Californians and redneck alike, a successful California secession is unlikely to look like anything anyone is currently considering.

I say this because of the history behind the creation of West Virginia. Originally the territory of West Virginia was part of the state of Virginia. It was carved out in 1861 after Virginia seceded, but the northwestern counties wanted to remain in the Union. A state convention was held, status as a state applied for, and President Lincoln proclaimed the new state in 1863. Interestingly enough, Virginia and West Virginia fought over apportionment of the pre-split Virginia debt until a US Supreme Court ruling in 1915. They had a border dispute along a couple counties that ran until at least 1991.

All that said, if California succeeds in secession, I see a balkanized area, not a monolithic nation-state. West Virginia provides the precedence.

Northern California has tried to split off ever since the state was created, either to the state of Shasta or Jefferson. Other movements have proposed anywhere from three to six states from the California territory. The 2016 presidential election map reveals deep divides between the coastal cities and the more rural north and mountains.

I could definitely see the northern area, the Sierra mountains and everything east wanting to stay in the Union, leaving the secessionist state of California much reduced. The whole “we grow all of your vegetables” meme only works if the state remains intact.

Having lived and worked in LA for many years, I can say that I love the climate and beaches. But the politics of the place is just plain nuts. We moved.

1/28/17, 1:22 PM

M Smith said...

The Deplorable Nobodies are opening for the Sloths of Entropy at the Sydney Opera House this week, for the Closed Head Injuries at Carnegie Hall next week, and for They're Wetting Your Bed at Boston Garden in March.

Sponsored by Cherokee Organics - try their latest offering, Greer's Beard!

1/28/17, 2:36 PM

Justin said...
Sven, a thought:

If Donald Trump, in the runup to the 2020 election, promised some serious student loan forgiveness at the expense of lenders, he could at once secure re-election and eviscerate the post-secondary sector, which to a large extent function as activist training centers and waste the time of 18-22 year olds who could be doing or learning something useful.

1/28/17, 3:06 PM

PatriciaT said...
@Sven Williams, I don't think there is any 'safe' place - I mean it's all relative. Maybe here in the States it's safer - for now. Certainly many places are more dangerous - some by several orders of magnitude. Many places are much safer - for instance, I recall a recent conversation with an American living & working in a Germany city - he says children frequently travel alone by bus there - not something you see in most places in the U.S. I also recall reading a story some years ago about a woman and her young son killed in a car crash by a drunk driver (in a small, rural community); her husband was released early from serving in Iraq to come home and bury his family. There are no guarantees. I'm also thinking if you buy that plot of land and still have student debt you will probably have a lien put on it and whatever wages you earn will be garnished. But who knows what is looming on the horizon either in the States or in Qatar where you are. What do you know or need to know that will help you to decide, rather than simply worrying 'what if'? What does your 'gut' tell you? Is there a third (fourth, fifth...) option? Maybe, somehow, fate will intervene and the decision will be made for you. I wish you the best of luck whatever you decide; my prayers are with you.

1/28/17, 4:41 PM

Brent Mills said...
A question I haven't seen asked here, or anywhere for that matter, is 'Why are you me and the readers of this blog fascinated by this subject of societal collapse?'. It may be plainly obvious to you or me that knowing where human society is headed is a pretty important subject, but it is clear we are in absolutely tiny minority. I've met precisely one person who was prepared to give my concerns a bit of thought and discussion, everyone else just looks uncomfortable and changes the topic. Then there are others (like my brother), who logically can't fault my argument and concede I'm very likely right, but would prefer to do an ostrich act and bury their head in the sand (he readily admits this).

For me the answer is quite simple, ever since I was a child (now 42) I have felt there is something deeply wrong with the world. One of my favourite things was to collect stickers for my animal sticker books and I would spend hours paging through and reading the descriptions of the weird and wonderful creatures inhabiting our amazing world. Then came the realisation of how disconnected we are with nature and deep trauma upon discovering the destruction people were/are doing to the plant and animal kingdom.

This generated a kind of hatred toward humankind in general and in some regards a desire to see revenge visited upon it. I've struggled with depression my whole life and I think in some regards this hatred for humankind extends to myself as well, after all how many trees or animals that were living in harmony have I indirectly killed just by being part of the system? I've also felt deeply dissatisfied with what it means to go about day to day existence in this modern world - to express it in the way i feel it would be 'It fucking sucks!'. I've had some deeply joyous moments communing with nature, normally on my surfboard but sadly those days are getting much fewer and further between owing to responsibilities that creep into ones life.

Whenever someone would ask me if I get reincarnated and it has to be a human, who would it be, the answer is always clear as day to me - an Amazonian Indian living as they always have for millennia that has never encountered civilisation. I can't begin to imagine the contentment that goes with community living like that, hunting for your food, living on the edge. Yes I know there would be hardships that I wouldn't be able to handle right now but that's because I've become accustomed to this luxurious yet utterly meaningless society. In your latest book, your term of society hitting 'peak meaningless' really struck a chord for me.

So for me, the answer to the question posed in the beginning is simple: 'I would like to the world wiped clean of this scourge not necessarily of humanity, but of civilisation. I am well aware this means I will likely not survive, but if it means that humanity gets shoved back down into living within an eco-system in a sustainable manner then I accept it.'

Sorry for what has ended up a bit of an essay, but it feels good to write down how I actually feel, which I've never done before.

1/28/17, 5:24 PM

Bruno B. L. said...
JMG, something I gathered from reading Spengler, is that he says, very very explicitly, that Western Civilization has nothing to worry about concerning running out of natural resources, as long as it has enough young men committed to the task of developing and maintaining ways of controlling the natural world - Spengler even go as far as saying that Western Civilization will only be at peril when these young men start to shift their interests towards detachment from the Faustian way (focusing their energies instead on religion, becoming monks, meditation, you name it). Maybe Spengler was a creature of his time just like any other man, but still, if he is right, we're not still in for it...maybe western civ has a few two or three more centuries to go before collapsing?

1/28/17, 5:49 PM

Jay Moses said...
has it occurred to any of the calexit fans that the end of california's status as a state is also the end of its participation in the colorado river compact? the agreement delivers 58% of the available water to southern california. good luck renegotiating that agreement as a foreign country.

sorry, folks, but california secession would be suicide.

1/28/17, 6:31 PM

pygmycory said...
The human insulin from bacteria or yeast project might be a good one for someone skilled with biology in a country like India, which I believe has much less stringent laws on patents on medecines. For those of us in either the USA or Canada, we'd likely have to wait quite a while...

unless someone is up for revamping the patent laws that give companies monopolies on medicines that they use to jack up the prices to crazy heights. That's gotten ludicrous in the USA over the part few years. Any chance Trump could be persuaded that patents are too long? Cheaper generics could do wonders for keeping Medicare and the like solvent. We could do with more in the way of genuinely cheaper generics in Canada too. We only look good relative to the USA. Compared to Europe or Britain our drug costs are a lot higher than they ought to be.

1/28/17, 7:21 PM

pygmycory said...
Violet, this week I suggested to one US friend who was very unhappy about Trump that she pick the policy she hated most, and concentrate on getting that stopped, since she might be able to stop that while removing Trump wasn't likely, and also that doing something concrete was the best way I knew to deal with fear and despair. I got a heart emoji back as a response, so at least she wasn't angry.

1/28/17, 7:26 PM

BoysMom said...
Wendy, my family moved from LA to Idaho when I was five. I'm married to an immigrant and my kids are half-black-ish half-white-ish. (I'm documentably 1/64th gypsy and my maternal uncle said once that DNA typing indicated some Jewish ancestry, while my father-in-law says his great-aunts were white, so there's a good deal of whoever-was-interested in there.)
This sort of casual bigotry, "I can't live anywhere other than urban because I have brown skin" really grates. My neighbors care about whether or not you pull your weight in the community, not what color your skin happens to be. Even the blondest of us (looking in the mirror) are probably not pure any-darn-thing-at-all, and bunches of us have Spanish surnames and everybody brags about their Native ancestors if they can make half a valid claim. Could be LDS influenced--the idea that some Israeli tribes became Native Americans--could be some other reason that's cool. Idahoans also like to adopt and don't really care about whether the kid looks like the parents or not--it's a pro-life state--so there are lots of families with kids of all different races.

Come to Idaho. All our infamous racists came from California.

That said, Water Rights. Calexit means we can ditch the agreements with California. We're looking at the possibility of more desertification, we're already a desert, it could get a lot worse. 11" of precipitation is not a lot. We'd love to keep more. Lost Wages can go with SoCal, and we'll all be delighted. Water's just about worth it's weight in gold already. Don't know if your veggies will make it, but we'd be delighted for any excuse to keep the water.

1/28/17, 7:30 PM

pygmycory said...
I'd be tempted to vote for BC secession if it meant Alberta and Mr. Trudeau would keep their expletive-deleted pipelines to themselves. I can't help but notice that in the recent town hall meetings over much of the country, Trudeau didn't make it out to BC.

1/28/17, 7:48 PM

Dennis D said...
From a Canadian perspective, it looked like both Bernie and Trump realized that the system was set up to only allow the two existing parties, and proceeded with hostile takeover attempts. Bernie failed due to the Democrat party not being democratic. Trump did win his takeover, and is very much at war with much of the former party.
On another note, my little hobby farm with solar house is doing well, but I need to replace my solar battery bank, as one of the batteries has developed a leak in the casing. It is otherwise a reasonable doomstead, with the mortgage about 75% paid off. I think though that the legal depredations of various levels of government are the biggest risk (tax burdens), so am building an escape vehicle (Dave Zeiger Triloboat) in case the need arises to become mobile. My biggest hope is that the pace of collapse remains slow enough that my escape boat is merely an eccentric RV, not a life boat.

1/28/17, 7:49 PM

The Big Rant said...
Thanks for asking why I am hosting a Circle of Gratitude. What I hope comes out of it: to help others to start clawing their way out of the despair of not appreciating what/who they have before it is too late. Cherish all that you see and you hear, for this moment will soon disappear.

1/28/17, 8:05 PM

Ruben said...

You might consider staying long enough to pay off the debt and save for your farm. Just don't go outside. Or at least, don't go hang out at any discotheques known to be the hangout of the expat community.

1/29/17, 12:09 AM

Hubertus Hauger said...

Most importantly for me with this post is considering the effect, the collapse is having on us commoners, as times goes by. JMG says: “… what are they going to do the day their pay checks suddenly turn out to be worth…” less. A progressing state we observe in Venezuela in the full, where we may end all in the not too long future.

How do I see and feel the creeping deterioration myself.

Truly mostly through the news from others it gets more vivid.
o When in Greece retirees were cut off from their health insurance benefit, couldn’t afford in the pharmacies medicine to suppress their actual disease, or get no place on the operation table.
o Now in Britain no beds in hospital. Therefore no surgery.
o With me myself I grasp it in tiny little bits here and there. Like twenty years of no substantial salary rise, while cost creeping up here and there, adding up bit by bit. Schedules for doctors getting prolonged year by year. Consumer products being advertised with more desperate promises of happiness and well-being, while the contents get suspicious to me more and more. Yet these are all rather small incidents. I see that I am split between my expectancy of catastrophe in Hollywood-style and the creeping deterioration I often only observe individually, without even being able to share them with others.

JMG says: “… meaning that your salary will probably go away, your savings almost certainly won’t keep its value…” I see it happens with me.

JMG says: “…up to the screaming point about the comparatively mild events we’ve seen so far may want to save some of their breath for the times ahead when it’s going to get much, much worse.”
Still we stick in an imaginary world of wealth or supposed riches within our reach. Until we are so totally engulfed in disaster. Like people in Detroit. Our emotions are aroused naturally only from outside disaster. Being entertained by explosions and fires, seeing shit blowing up und bodies flying around is in TV news. Hollywood knows how to use that quite to its advantage.

In reality we are engulfed by the collapse completely already. Only we do not observe what happens commonly already. Life is so mediocre, that it doesn’t catch the attention of our heated fantasy. Our daily life is too ordinary and the plain facts. presented to us by statistics. are too boring, for us to recognise the general pattern. Few of us are such pathetic guys, who are jazzed up by going trough the very essence of fact collection; Charts, number columns, etc..
We people cannot concentrate on these facts. Boring! We forget them easily. And if it is really brought on TV, we try with utter panic to change the channel to some “real stuff”, like a disaster-movie. Well, there we are. Reality needs to be sustained – by entertainment. Otherwise reality is unbearable boring.

In addition mainstream entertainment is drawing our attention away from the disturbing reality, either to mere illusions, or to the blaming habit. So many distracters are on work today. Cognitive dissonance is a mighty power trying to spare us the horror of the reality that we have reached the limits of growth, from where we just gradually engulfed in the down-sliding collapse and the a compulsory simplification of life.

We are headed to the non-fossil future. Most of us try to ignore the collapse yet, even it is already having an overwhelming effect on us commoners.

1/29/17, 1:07 AM

Fred the First said...
The PA Democrat Governor is heading to the Philadelphia airport with the our one Democrat Senator and the Philadelphia Mayor, also Democrat , "in support of those detained", whatever the heck that means. Standing around getting on camera and making statements?

Meanwhile our state is in its third year of budget crisis and the governor has to decide this week on a prison to close, education funding issues, and more state workers to keep or lay off. But by all means, don't worry about those who elected you to govern in their interests. Go and stick up for non-US citizens. Probably a bunch of H1B visa workers anyway who were out on a business trip for their corporation. Media is playing it like those detained are all refugees.

Its making me sick to see so blatantly how the left immediately runs together to support other countries and other people and not their fellow American citizens. When Trump says America first, he is showing he means it. I don't see anything wrong with a border and border controls and a lot of people who I know who don't fly anywhere feel the same way.

1/29/17, 4:43 AM

Fred the First said...
@Justin and everyone
Trump isn't going to forgive student loans. He is going to let those 20 somethings, who are the majority of the protestors on the streets, suffer. Trump will do something for his faithful base with manufacturing jobs or construction before he would ever save ungrateful college graduates.

I'm very interested to see what Trump does with education. The federal government historically provides about 1% of the funding for public schools and uses it like the carrot and stick. They pushed through Title 9 and disability education this way in the 70's and 80's. No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top were used to push the use of standardized tests in the 2000's. Common Core came from the states, not the Feds.

The states collect and control all the education spending. The powers that be - honestly I think corporations who supply schools with textbooks and tests - managed to get Common Core passed through most of the state legislatures. Charter schools, even corporate ones, have never taken off like Common Core did and are still fighting to exist school district by district.

You'll notice the conversation around public schools is "how do we help disadvantaged students succeed?" or some variation of that. Its all the media talks about - inequality between poor and rich schools, low-income students, racial disparity. The focus is all on how we take those below average and make them average. How do we normalize kids? How do we make them equal each other? How do we make sure every school is the same?

Same-ifying schools and students has never worked for the history of public schools. People don't want to be the same, to be average, to be made into someone else. Especially when there are no jobs or opportunities for people who are the same as other people. This is why homeschooling is now 3% of school age kids and growing. This is why parents wait in line for days to sign their child up for a charter school with openings. This is why rich kids go to private schools which talk about their distinctiveness from other schools and how when you graduate you are a leader.

Schools are the great employment project this country has and we can't eliminate them without destroying local economies. Its teachers and staff make good salaries and benefits compared to most in their communities, and there are the school lunch food suppliers, desk makers, paper, etc. We need to keep those jobs so they can't just eliminate public schools and let people do it on their own because it would done cheaper with less supplies. Homeschoolers don't eat chicken nuggets and use Common Core textbooks.

Trumps education pick is a fan of charter schools and unleashing all that tax money to corporations running charter schools would be one thing he could influence. The stock market would love that. Trump keeps pointing at African American communities and how they have suffered under Democrats. To help them though he has to untangle the money and structure the state's provide. The education bureaucracy is as skilled at failing at its core mission as the military bureaucracy. Interesting times ahead.

1/29/17, 5:18 AM

Shane W said...
maybe your response was directed more to JMG, but I didn't single California in particular out for secession. Seems that all the West Coast states have secession initiatives, and there's been a resurgence in interest in the Second Vermont Republic. So my comments were directed at the blue strongholds of the Northeast and West Coast in general, not just California. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of the fighting, and no-one is even making an effort to bridge the divide, and secession/dissolution is the only way to stop the fighting. Soon as blue America comes to us with secession, then we can stop fighting and sit down at the negotiating table and work out all the hoary details (including trade and water rights) As Whitecloak has mention, many of us in red America are decentralists and sympathetic to secession, considering our history. Besides, if you don't secede from us, we will secede from you--JMG has already mentioned that the election of Hillary Clinton and continuation of BAU would have triggered an insurgency in red America. You're more peaceful and less gun loving, so it makes sense for you to go to the ballot box w/secession. As for me, I unequivocally do not support secession unless the border and trade is as open and the relationship as close as the current one with Canada. If I recall correctly, once the USSR was dissolved, the economies of the individual Republics were still very integrated, and are still very integrated to this day. It will be a long while, if ever, before the balkanized US new countries gain any semblance of economic independence, as it should be. Anything less would be a catastrophe for all sides.
As I mentioned, a successful secession initiative, in any of the states, not just California, would have the talking heads apoplectic and foaming at the mouth, which I much enjoy. I laughed until I cried this past election season at the talking heads reaction to Donald Trump. I don't see why the so-called right should have all the fun--it's about time that the so-called left does their part in upsetting the conventional wisdom. What better message than through a successful secession prop?
I'm not sure why people hear "secession" as "I hate you". I'm just tired of fighting, and after this most recent election, no one is trying to bridge the divide, and honestly, I just don't see how blue America will be able to force its way on red America since its ability to control the levers of the federal government has been sharply curtailed and shows no hope of being regained. I think the only possible justification for blue America in staying in is protecting the blue minority in red states from some horrible fate via the federal courts, but even that doesn't seem likely, at this point (protecting the blue minority, not the horrible fate).
As for diversity, we're a lot more diverse out here than you think. African-Americans have been coming home to the South from the North and West is numbers rivaling the Great Migration when they left. The South is arguably now the epicenter of black culture in America. Before the last wave of migration crested and Mexicans started going home, the South was home to the fastest growing migrant communities.

1/29/17, 5:52 AM

Shane W said...
As for internal migration, California has been a net exporter of population and one of the largest sources of outmigration for many years. There are TONS of "reverse Oakies" in my state, and if I had a dime for every California plate I see on the road, and ex-Californian I meet, I'd be a rich man. I left there, myself in 2012. Couldn't afford to stay.
Speaking of California, I kinda get Dammerung now. As detestable as the Neo Nazi thing is personally to me, if he does live in Southern California, he does have a bleak future ahead with a lot of fighting for scarce resources. California, and Southern California in particular, is mostly likely to see the kind of Mad Max/Hunger Games kind of Hobbesian future due to population pressures on scarce resources. I mean, I may detest the way he forms his identity, but the fact remains that there's going to be a lot of tribalism and fighting for a long time regardless of how people break themselves up into warring factions.

1/29/17, 5:53 AM

indus56 said...
Thanks for the responses. I know it's a struggle to respond to so many earnest questioners, but you make two points. First that the slow-collapse approach better accounts for the historical record. Second that differences of scale are not differences in kind.

Regarding the first point, insofar as we are dealing with discontinuous / disruptive changes, the past may be a less reliable guide to the future than it would otherwise have been. I would at least want to see it argued that what is or appears to be novel (unlike past events) is nonetheless likely to revert to the historical pattern. Further, even stipulating to your methodology of using history as a guide to the future, I think if we looked to population collapses in nature, we would see a history of bottlenecks, mass die-backs and extinctions. On this view, we seem to be claiming that human history is a departure from this broader ecological history. Which is a claim we could plausibly defend, though not so plausibly from the principle that history is our predictor. Instead we end up arguing for our exceptionalism, which is a position you frequently and sardonically argue against.

As to the second point, arguably there are differences of scale that themselves become differences in kind, notably in complex, networked systems. You yourself have acknowledged (if implicitly) such a distinction in reference to suites of technology. That it takes a network of interlocking technologies to sustain a technological order. Networked supply chains would be another example. Local failures (crops, droughts, power outages, etc.) can be offset by wider trading networks. On a global scale, the help no longer arrives from elsewhere; moreover, certain local failures can disrupt entire global networks. A disruption of rare-earth extraction in China or Africa paralyzes global production of certain electronic components, etc. Furthermore, scale might not just be geographical extent but ecological "depth"--that is, when societies collapsed in the past, some survivors could move, some could live off viable soils, some could fish or hunt. Options relatively less available to the vast mass of humans after a rolling collapse of finance/credit, supply chains, energy production, industrial production...

For us, much of this depth, serving as a floor beneath our decline, is eaten away. In any event, it seems we may see such questions illuminated within the lifespans of those alive today.

1/29/17, 7:49 AM

Violet Cabra said...
@ Scotlyn, I'm touched by your comment, and think that it is true that how a culture cares for its more vulnerable members is profoundly important. A friend and I were talking recently about how we feel the household economy, if revived, could prove to be a haven for disabled folks. There are so many different ways of creating value, and if someone can pull their weight with household chores, that could provide value, dignity, meaning and participation to all involved. My friend also perceptively said that "also, sometimes people die." which is to say in the agrarian retro economy we imagined there would be less amenities and more mortality in all likelihood.

This dovetails nicely with the conversation that Jen and I are having about community and skills. As a New Englander I find the idea of small family farms emotional appealing, and know from personal experience that farms create a lot of opportunities for value to be added. Also there are auxiliary skills like cooking, cleaning, food preservation, herbalism, massage, hunting and bee keeping &c that allow for a variety of energy exchanges.

Your term "industrial waifs and strays" is endearing. As a squatter punk I feel that I've met many of these folks and believe that the waifs and strays that have found themselves on farms are living in the most context with others in community and fellowship. Also, there is a certain touching quality in returning to one's parent's house and being in energy exchange between their privlidged placement in society and our skills. I know several others who have done so and it speaks to me symbolically of the emergence of a new, photosynthetic based economy in its early ascendance. This is my two cents in the dissensus process you've outlined as an emergent conversation. I hope to see how this evolves in the future.

1/29/17, 8:17 AM

MawKernewek said...
@Cherokee - without the overburden of ice sheets, the core of Greenland would experience post-glacial rebound as the rock itself flows as a liquid. Conversely outlying areas would sink, as the rock at depth is flowing back into the previously overburdened area.

I am not sure how long this would take. I have a copy of ETOPO1 bedrock topography downloaded which tells me that at present sea levels, the centre of Greenland is below sea level, but that it would not be connected to the ocean at sea level.

With a few tens of metres of sea level rise, the connection is made - it looks like to me from the northwest first. Of course, the central basin may be occupied by a lake that has a level above global sea level. The connection could be broken again in the longer term (probably thousands of years) as perhaps without fossil-fuel derived forcing of CO2 emissions, there is a partial recovery of ice sheets in Antarctica and sea level drops back a certain amount, or post-glacial rebound raises the elevation of central Greenland.

The best available comparison is what happened when the Fennoscandian ice sheet melted out at the end of the last glacial epoch. The core of Scandinavia has undergone significant uplift for that reason, I believe there are ancient beaches in Sweden that are now 200m above sea level.

Prof. Kurt Lambeck has written papers on post-glacial rebound in British Isles and Scandinavia list of publications. I used this to make these maps of the coast of Cornwall to show the background to legends such as Lyonesse and Cantre'r Gwaelod.

1/29/17, 8:22 AM

Jen said...
Violet Cabra,

I agree with you that lack of skills and parasitism are major obtacles to functioning networks of reciprocity.

In my experience, the former is amenable to remedy. There are always unskilled tasks to be performed (although, in working with people of different backgrounds than my own, I have become humblingly aware of the degree to which "unskilled" is a matter of perception--ask me about the man who could only dig crooked post holes, or the job opportunities I have lost due to inability to drive in city traffic). And many people are willing to learn new skills--in the last year, I have been pleased to teach canning, meat processing, and sausage-making to a group of friends, neighbors, and relatives, who contributed their hunting and gardening efforts to provide the raw materials. Also, I am increasingly trying to recognize and bring non-subsistence-focused skills into our networks and my own skill set, for "finer living" without much money or energy--things like clothing alterations, haircutting, mechanics, home remodeling, tax and legal expertise, etc. I am also reading your blog posts on herbalism now (thank you for sharing!) to begin to add to my hard-won experience in the way of diet and physical therapy for rehabilitation and prevention of disfunction and disease.

Parasitism is another story. I do tend to think your location is working against you there. I am in a rural area where my family has lived since the 1800s, so everyone pretty well knows everyone else and their character and reputation--it is hard to get away with much for long, and social exclusion is a real threat--a person can't easily just avoid the people he's played and go find another group who knows nothing about him as he could in the city. Moreover, these sorts of networks are common and long-established, and the community norms are in place to enforce honorable participation, whereas in a college town people are more transient and probably younger than average (I think many people take a while to grow out of our sense of entitlement). But I do think with decent boundaries and preferably sustained participation of a core group who get along well and can cooperatively enforce some norms, it will be workable for you! I am interested to hear how it goes.

Best wishes for your recovery.

1/29/17, 8:29 AM

Shane W said...
I support secession/dissolution as a matter of principle, and I'm not really too concerned just who does the seceding, so long as it results in smaller, more culturally cohesive, more responsive nations and governments. Besides, at this point, the "United States" is an oxymoron, we're probably well into the Holy Roman Empire stage of things. "Yes, California" has a website where anyone can donate, or at least anyone living in the US, and considering that it costs a fortune to pass a prop in California, they'll need all the support they can get. (I haven't yet checked to see if the other West Coast states have sites where one can donate. Even though the costs are less, it will still be a minor fortune to pass those initiatives, as well.)
Empire destruction begins at home. I'm thinking of the example of Ireland and the Irish Free State in relation to the British Empire. Next door Ireland, which had been under the British thumb for centuries, was the first to break free of the British Empire, long before India or the British colonies in Africa. New England or West Coast secession could have the same effect here, in that it could show the weakness of the empire and redirect our energies inward, rather than outward. It would be a nice complement to Trump's inward focused foreign policy.

1/29/17, 9:09 AM

Shane W said...
Geez, JMG there sure are a lot of swear words flying under the radar lately. I thought one of the reasons for keeping it G rated was to not run afoul of internet filters so all ages would have access, or something like that...

1/29/17, 9:11 AM

Jbarber said...
I'm not sure if anyone has already brought these articles to your attention, JMG, but when I read them, I felt that I was better able to understand them due to your writings.

I don't totally agree with some of the things said at the very ends of both articles, but overall they made me wonder if the authors are starting to "get it".

1/29/17, 9:16 AM

lordyburd said...
@Brent Mills
Sir, for me, the answer to your initial question is; I have never felt at home in my own skin or the world around me. Sure, I took the basic assumptions and beliefs of the modern world for granted, but they never seemed to form an essential part of my identity. Thus, to find out that there is nothing self evidently true about Progress or Humanity’s Destiny was not jarring for me. It was far more disturbing to learn that whether or not I feel connected on a visceral level to the universe, I have not been granted a free pass from consequences of mine (and others’) actions, or non-actions.
Nevertheless, people interested in societal collapse are not that tiny a minority. Believers of the Abrahamic faiths, for instance, have diverse traditions of ‘End of Days’ theologies which deal with complete annihilation of this or that irredeemable aspect of humanity and/or the universe. Your own answer to your question, if reframed in suitable theological jargon, would ring true for many a Christian, Jew or Muslim.

1/29/17, 9:22 AM

Vesta said...
JMG, you ask what I do to make do with LESS in my own life-

Probably like many others, I've only come to understand decline after first becoming a fairly typical urban husband and father. So I do what I can, but only so far as it doesn't jeopardize my marriage and family.

If I could start again I might choose a different path. I admire and sometimes envy folks who've done so (hat tip to e.g. Cherokee Chris and other commenters here), but that's not how it worked out for me. In practical terms, my efforts come to this:

I voluntarily quit the academy, while a post-doc in the late 90's, as I was one of those flying environmental scientists. The hypocrisy was obvious and unbearable, even before I really understood it.

I started a small business in a trade I believe will survive decline and serve my family and customers well, and that better aligns with my values: physical labor, conserving resources measurably, for people who pay me and thank me face-to-face. I do OK, but my take home is probably less than half what it would have been, and no benefits. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to do this at all, since without my wife's income it wouldn't have been possible.

I mostly don't fly, except for in-family marriages that I can't otherwise travel to, e.g. in Hawaii. I discourage the rest of my family from flying, with success mostly with the kids, as my partner flies several times a year for work. I still drive as part of my work, but mostly forgo driving otherwise: weekend trips to the mountains are no longer a regular part of my life. We bike and walk where we can, and choose to live where that is mostly practical. This translates into one 25 gallon tank of gasoline in the truck every 2- 3 weeks.

Our house is built mostly from salvaged material, almost entirely with my hands (and yes power tools). It is very efficient, very nice, moderate size, and has taken almost 20 years of late evenings and long weekends. Next year we'll begin the masonry heater, and when that's done we'll be able to heat it without petroleum or electricity.

Although we live in the city, I have made provisions so we can provide ourselves with decent ground water indefinitely, and I've made a large underground bunker/root cellar for refrigerator-free semi-perishable food storage.

But producing enough food on our own, no way. Our little garden is growing, and we have chickens and sometimes rabbits, but we will never, ever, cover even a fraction of our nutritional needs. That's alarming to me, and I don't see a practical way to change that in the time I've got left. My extended community does include a couple of small-holding farmers, but if things become violent or if motorized transport becomes difficult, they would be too far away to be any help.

I am raising my children (still young) with the skills, attitude and expectation that they will have to have to care for themselves.

As for fire, dog, beer, got that all covered since high school!

1/29/17, 9:37 AM

Tam Hob said...
For what it's worth, I've researched the insulin production thing as my sister is a type 1 diabetic. Yes, small scale insulin production from animal pancreas is doable, under very hostile conditions, as proved by Eva and Victor Saxl who produced enough to keep Eva and a few hundred diabetic Chinese alive during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai using a basement lab in the Jewish ghetto. The latest 'recipe' I've been able to find is from 1965 which should make much better quality insulin than what the Saxl's could make from much less pancreas (it looked like 10kg of pancreas would be enough for a couple hundred people).

Key is to minimise the need for insulin and reduce risk of mistakes in amount taken by minimising carbohydrate consumption and relying on energy from fat instead (rather than standard current medical practice which teaches people to eat what they want and then 'cover' it with insulin, which leads to insulin resistance and wild swings in blood sugars for many people). Insulin doesn't keep for long but each diabetic only needs a few drops daily so ideally you'd be located in a larger city or town with access to a slaughterhouse and you'd make a new batch twice a week or so, supplying lots of others to pay for the inputs.

The current real time blood tests would be very difficult to imitate but old style urine testing is possible, which tells you how well you are matching your insulin needs over the longer term. Rotating which animal species pancreas are used will reduce risk of allergic reactions. Obviously, nowhere near a perfect solution but many people survived decades using these types of insulin and urine testing so it seems like a worthwhile technology to pursue.

New diabetics should also look into the research into low carb diets, exercise and vitamin D as ways to induce remission (ie substantially extend the honeymoon period)

1/29/17, 9:38 AM

DoubtingThomas said...
@Brent Mills

'Why are you me and the readers of this blog fascinated by this subject of societal collapse?"
- I'm not fascinated by it to be honest but then I'm only a recent observer of its content. I got 'several layers' of 'the point' after consuming a random selection of 6months of the ~10years worth of posts in the last couple of weeks and will likely just focus on JMG's other blog shortly. Perhaps longer term observers become fascinated by its allure?
- I'm minded of an on point cartoon that had 2 panels. In the first panel was a drawing of a man watching TV and on the TV the impassioned presenter was asking the question "What can we do to lessen the grip of fear from terrorism/others/etc". In the next panel the Man watching the TV answered the question by turning off the TV.
- There is much on here that many people would no doubt find scary/repelling. Scary things excite some people. The answer to your question is possibly directly rooted in an individuals Fears (for some) but it lacks any nuance sufficient to target an individual.
- There is also some hopeful stuff to be sure but not having read everything I can't do a formal breakdown.
- Remember everyone has their critics though with the usual quality range from unfair to fair. I made sure to take a sampling while diving in.

" I can't begin to imagine the contentment that goes with community living like that, hunting for your food, living on the edge."
- Those communities have their own ego driven stresses provoking internecine conflicts. The scales may differ. Peace & Conflict in all their connotations are, I believe, useful/required for an individual's / tribes / societies expansions of consciousness / well-being.

1/29/17, 9:41 AM

The other Tom said...
@Brent Mills. I share your discomfort with the modern world, both socially and economically. I would like to point out that it is not necessary to be reincarnated to know the peace of living in an ecosystem. You are still young enough at 42 to become familiar with your local plants and animals. Unless you live deep within a metropolis there is probably a wild area nearby where you can practice stealth camping, making camouflaged shelters, foraging, and maybe some discreet hunting with a 22. All it takes is time and attention, and almost no money. I have never felt any attraction to farming but the movement and searching and intimately knowing a landscape that hunting and gathering requires is very satisfying to me. In addition to many excellent books and your own experience you will meet some others who are passionate about this life. But you have to get out there to meet them because they are unlikely to talk about living in the woods in a coffeeshop. Most of my friends are people I've met in the woods over the years. They are different because they say what they really think and tend to do whatever they want to do. Maybe we'll never be as native as an Amazonian but we can take this life as far as we choose. I think a good starting point is to become very familiar with a wild area near you, to know everything that lives there during the four seasons, and then practice camping there, with a small footprint, invisible to all but the most observant humans.
Somebody recently asked me whether I missed talking to people during long sojourns in the woods. I said no, I don't miss what passes for conversation in the modern world, with several video monitors and 20 other distractions going on, and the tendency people have to always have to rush off somewhere just as a real conversation gets started.

1/29/17, 9:47 AM

Shane W said...
Honestly, much as I'm glad I left California, I enjoyed time spent there, and I left for totally rational reasons. Even though I'm not from there, I still feel a kinship w/other "reverse Oakies" I meet here. I saw a Sport Chalet license plate frame on a California plate a while back, and I immediately hummed the Sport Chalet jingle in my head.

1/29/17, 9:51 AM

lordyburd said...
@Violet Cabra
I hope this is not too far down the comment thread to catch your eye. I am saddened and touched by your plight, as I am often touched by your commentary. I wish you recover well, through prayer and perseverance and the presence of loved-ones. I only know you through your comments and my imagination, but that is not a problem, since ‘imagination’ is not synonymous with ‘inauthentic’.
Upon your (surely) pre-ordained recovery, would you consider writing romance stories? I suspect you’d be quite good at it :)

1/29/17, 9:53 AM

DoubtingThomas said...
@Sven Williams: Often the way ;) Writing/Explaining things to others can be a brilliant tool to help us focus :)

-- As you asked - I can only give you my opinion. There is a sense of accomplishment gained with its ensuing positive benefits to self esteem if we work at something and achieve a goal. Being debt free is a useful state as it gives you one less thing to worry about. Does buying a plot of land mean defaulting on the loan or merely delaying its full repayment ? Always listen to your gut/heart though - if your getting the idea that your physical situation is becoming dire then your course is clear. I'd be less worried about future maybes regarding the situation in the USA.

1/29/17, 9:55 AM

DoubtingThomas said...
@Brent Mills: "This generated a kind of hatred toward humankind in general and in some regards a desire to see revenge visited upon it."
-- I've noticed that response, Hatred & Revenge, quite in the language used by a few other commenters over the 10 year timeline so I doubt you are alone in that.
-- If you are interested you may consider doing a net search for the causes/impacts of Hatred and Revenge. It might make for uncomfortable reading though. A couple of sources to get you started: -

1/29/17, 10:14 AM

Nancy Sutton said...
The 'DNA in Western civilization' ? I would assume it is greed for power/wealth, which went on steroids with 'capitalism'. According to 'The Empire of Cotton', the initial 'Western/European' 'wealth accumulation' was created by industrial slavery of various kinds. The trigger of 'capitalism' was the formation of the Bank of England (approx 1700), to fund the King's wars...and 'buy' government. Has anything changed, except for forms? Eisenhower warned of the def/con industries' subversion of 'democracy'.

It is the oldest story .... follow the money if you want to know what is really happening. Where does NATO military-, foreign 'investment-', etc spending. end up? In US/global corporate pockets. To put the spotlight on the 'intermediaries' is to miss the end point ... on purpose, perhaps, at least by our 'purchased' MSM.

1/29/17, 10:14 AM

Nancy Sutton said...
Oh, and btw, I've been 'collapsing' since reading the my first Whole Earth Catalogue ;) The question "how would I do this without electricity?" always at the back of my mind. I was doing the first round of DIY in the 70's ... just wish I had more company in my current locale :)

1/29/17, 10:19 AM

Shane W said...
"As goes California, so goes the (former) nation" Regarding "giving" and "taking" states, I'd refer back to JMG's The Wealth of Nations and the posts that inspired it. My guess is that a lot of the wealthy blue "giving" states wealth is actually notional wealth of the tertiary kind, exemplified by the financial hubs of the Northeast and the tech hubs of the West Coast. My guess is that a lot of the primary and secondary wealth lies in the "taking" red hinterlands of flyover country. We won't really know until we dissolve the union and each new nation has to balance the books and provide for the commonwealth on their own. I must say that KY (and states like it) are popular destinations for preppers due to low population density, lack of nukes, access to water, etc. Before the Civil War, the South was the nation's wealthiest region, which leads me to believe that the South has a lot of primary and secondary wealth, once it gets out from under the blue tertiary wealth regions' thumb.
As for imported food, you should know that we have a thriving and growing locavore/farming scene here in KY, and lots of people around here are committed to eating locally. Many other states in this area do, too. People are already demonstrating that we won't starve if we have to eat locally.
I just contributed to Yes, California...

1/29/17, 10:32 AM

Shane W said...
The idea that secession will inevitably lead to a Civil War because it did the last go around is based on a logical fallacy. The US and each of the 50 states are representative democracies with the power of electoral choice. The last Civil War was neither inevitable nor necessary, as was recognized at the time. Responding to secession with war this time around will be a choice, as well. If both sides commit to a peaceful resolution around the negotiating table, then war will be avoided. The only inevitability of war will be if either side becomes intractable with their demands and diplomacy does not resolve them. As long as both sides commit to diplomacy and negotiation, war is not inevitable.

1/29/17, 10:46 AM

Ray Wharton said...
@brokeboater - In Western Colorado we hold just as low an estimation of Texan's as of (Urban) Califronians; the folks from the Sierra Nevada of course being fellow hill billies. But worse than either of those states is America's 'Central Coast' down the Front Range of Colorado.

@ All.

Buy Lean Logic. I just got my copy, it is huge, and at least as information dense as any other writer on our predicament. For the practical and philosophic it is a treasure.

In a poker match between the West and Classical civilization we could raise it against Pliny the Elder's 'Natural History' with out batting an eye. Though the text is focused by the issue of our predicament it is filled with timeless observations about humanity and nature; a worth long term contribution to human wisdom. If you are short on the funds just go to a plasma bank, or the red light district, or what ever it takes. It is the gold standard encyclopedia of a Green Wizard.

After getting that, which is the correct book for you (as a Green Wizard) to purchase next,
I can also now speak favorably of the Into the Ruins magazines which are rip roaring good fiction holding even with the considerable After Oil series, the stories are a stretching routine for the imagination. In the same line, the Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind Manga was recently re-released as a two volume hard back, and that story is, to my mind, the gold standard of a Non-Western perspective on industrial civilizations meaning to the deep future.

Also recommended is Hot Earth Dreams. It doesn't quite match the magnitude of importance of the first two recommendations, but it is a wonderful guide to imagining how the climate might change and the varying degrees of certainty about different factors roll.

Yeah, I just had a good book order for my Seedbook bank. I also received Overshoot, but ain't far enough into it to give it its due.

1/29/17, 11:00 AM

Ray Wharton said...
Speaking of water and California, since I live in Western Colorado I am by no means sure I would want Calexit, as much as I love to lovingly tease Californians. In fact I adore Californians, and precisely to the degree that they remain Californians. And I bear no more ill will to Californians that might move to Colorado, than to any of the forty-eight other foreign States. To continue, this ill will is nothing more than a good will for the Culture that came to form here in the last Century... and I do temper in knowledge that it was born in blood.

In fact my closest allies in my communities are refugees from California, Texas, Maryland, and Connecticut, but they all have the good sense to imitate the culture that they have moved to, and to carry their own cultural quirks modestly. In rural areas it must be so, because the landscape has been shaped by the Pioneer culture such that it now shapes what culture might grow there. In urban areas things are more difficult, as with much money and expensive property value the place can be, and is, rebuilt to the standards of the Sea People (to use an Egyptism). Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and the I-70 region has fallen to these urban cultures. Even in the boonies of the South West corner Durango is mutating into such an impossible creature.

Should California withdraw the water treaties entitling them to Western Water would not come to an end. It would merely become a point of contention between different political powers, and I would be worried that violence would quickly boil to the surface. It is likely that such a dispute would destroy the irrigation infrastructure of Western Colorado. And together with Climate change accelerate its depopulation.

Colorado became a 'cool' state recently, and now has filled in with rapidly expanding cities which are built around the values of the Coastal Infrastructure. Our climate and means of sustenance in this area are especially brittle, and I think that moving to this area is foolish. Even staying here, as I intend to, is very dangerous and should only be attempted by those willing to incorporate into both the current hill billy culture, and open to the needed transformations to come. If I am very lucky I will be part of a culture that can adapt to living more harmoniously on this brittle land, but if that fails, if we are not up to the challenge of adaptation, this area will be all but unlivable.

I am grateful for the good people who have brought vigor here, but resentful of the ideologies that have come with.

Wendy, if you want to come here you are welcome, despite all said above, but know that if the politics of California were to follow that would make things a lot rougher. And skin color ain't no thing around here. But, as you can see it is complicated, and all over regional culture is sore from having disrupting elements forced on it from the outside.

1/29/17, 11:22 AM

latheChuck said...
Brent Mills-

Why are we here? In my case, it happened that I read Asimov's "Foundation" trilogy as a teen-ager, right about the time that I read "Limits To Growth", and my parents were subscribing to "Mother Earth News" and [the late] "Organic Gardening and Farming" (don't get me started on what a boutique waste of colorful ink THAT's devolved into). "Foundation" provided a sci-fi vision of local sustainment in the midst of global (well, actually, galactic) collapse; LTG showed that collapse was plausible within my lifetime, and MEN and OGF provided monthly suggestions for improving local resilience. This is just the latest phase of a lifetime of life in the shadow of collapse.

So, what did I actually DO? Got a degree in electrical engineering, figuring that if there IS a crisis, being able to improvise small-scale electrical and communication systems would be rewarded; and if there is NOT a crisis, it's a way to earn an income that allows for generous sharing. So far, so good.

1/29/17, 11:33 AM

Morfran Anónimo said...
@ JMG, Robert Mathieson, Onething, Eric and others:

As regards "Alt-Centre" or whatever it could be called I too would welcome this as a label I might finally be able to use with some sincerity.

Like others I am politically adrift of late, but I also think I have simply not ever had the language available (nor the philosophy, more of which I'd love to hear) to articulate my leanings. This is also just lack of confidence on my part to grow a political consciousness, but still.

A "principled rejection of extremism" and a hard commitment to civility work for me because they push back against the notion that being of the centre, for an ordinary person not a politician, means being without clear political conviction. Not so - as Robert Mathieson says one can feel genuinely like a "radical moderate" - I know what he means, but then the available language fails us as the centre isn't just about moderation.

For me Alt-Centre might mean giving conviction and a positive voice to the sort of political feeling that is normally obliged to stand silent, patient and apart while those far to either side shout at each other over one's head. It would also I hope provide the means to argue against the selective outrage of either side without them so easily being able to label you as one of those "over there" on the opposite, because one's commitment to a different place on the spectrum would be explicit.

I'm thinking personally of my growing distaste and impatience with the rump UK left; it's shallowness and self-regard. Its increasingly painful because that includes most of my family. I have an aunt and uncle of whom I'm otherwise fond but who do not seem to be gaining any political perspective with age (they're in their mid 50s and far more comfortable than my young family will ever be I think); they regularly post their passionate activism on social media. Some of it I have no issue with, but then there's their recent post about dutifully attending an anti-Trump "alternative inauguration". Yes, that's here in the UK - of which Trump has of course not been made president. If I had the gall I would tell them plainly that I find that arrogant, embarrassing and utterly pointless.


1/29/17, 12:05 PM

latheChuck said...
Scotlyn - Thanks for that succinct gist of my comment to Dammerung. I hope that he saw in it the same thing that you did.

1/29/17, 12:12 PM

latheChuck said...
In local news reflecting a wider trend, the Washington Post (Jan. 29) has "Pension costs plague Fairfax budget".

Fairfax County, a suburb of Washington DC, is the second wealthiest county in the country. (

"Since 2010, pension expenses ... have nearly doubled ... when the stubbornly lukewarm local economy has kept revenue down. Nationwide, government pension-fund costs have risen as well, the result of a growing population of retirees who are living longer, as well as weak investment returns on Wall Street after the 2008 Great Recession."

As Supervisor Penelope Gross said "Millions of dollars in interest income isn't there anymore, which has made our lives more difficult, ... it's not bad news. It's just the reality."

John Niemiec, president of the county's local union for firefighters and paramedics, said "There is no way our union is going to sit idle and let them start taking away our benefits... Enough is enough."

In my opinion, union members "sitting idle" is not an image that their president should conjure.

1/29/17, 12:37 PM

Shane W said...
Honestly, the only thing that could put me in stitches, I mean, to the point that I'm laughing so hard tears are coming out my eyes like during the election, is watching the talking heads go apoplectic over secession. The only other thing that could possibly come even close is the talking heads having a meltdown when Trump holds the debt ceiling hostage for a haircut/renegotiation of the national debt. Sigh, I really need a CSA share in an organic popcorn farm, don't I?

1/29/17, 12:47 PM

temporaryreality (Wendy) said...
Thanks everyone, for the pats on the back while I pull myself together. It's not like I have any illusions about what a mess CA is and I could see it breaking into smaller units as well (the disdain north and south have for each other being one part of that). I fear though, that given our historically mobile population, the surging of growth/decline that's made its way around the state, and changing demographics, that there will be hotly contested notions of union vs secession, not to mention regionalistic partisanship - without clear (ie. neat, and unlikely to involve bloodshed or chaos), easily defined sections. (and, side note, the decimation by addiction and suicide isn't just a "flyover problem" unless you want to call the top 1/3 or CA "flyover county" too.)

I noted a few months ago, when I looked at the calexit website, that they were relying on "there'll be a tech fix in the form of desalination to deal with our water problems." ugh. please.

Interesting to hear y'all's comments about political notions and people's general attitudes. Just to clarify, it's not like I meant Californians are nicer than anyone else - but I'd simply put my observations of increasing selfishness and uncharitable behavior down to me being introverted - I just thought I was being sensitive or anti-social and that this was the new norm for all of America. Duh, maybe I'm not enamored of CA culture either!

I've mentioned previously my sense of floundering and ungroundedness since this recent election and its aftermath... you folks in the middle of the country might be surprised to find that some Californians agree with protectionist/isolationist turnings, but I sure as heck am not going to talk about that out loud. Yeah Hillary took CA and yeah a lot of people are raising a stink about Trump... but if a very average person like myself is left flying in the wind, it might be safe to say thatothers are questioning assumptions.

BoysMom, thanks for your comment and for pointing out the multi-directionality of "I'm afraid to leave my comfort zone." I'm not sure how to help my husband allay his fears but I'm sure he never really thought about what those fears say about his assumptions about people outside "blue" zones. Will work on that.

1/29/17, 1:56 PM

temporaryreality (Wendy) said...
Also, fwiw, I could get behind other secessionist movements too. I mostly objected to "YOU should secede and leave us alone" vs "we want to secede."

Reading "The Coming Fury" (sooo slowly because, not complaining, but the ADR comment section is a huge time-sink!!) I keep finding myself thinking that those states had a right to secede and should've been let go.

1/29/17, 2:05 PM

DoubtingThomas said...
@scotlyn: appreciated your commentary earlier. I had to lookup Blood Libel last week when it was mentioned. People tend to reach for convenient historic stories to justify their poor behaviour or needs to demonise others usually while painting themselves as victims. The cult of victimhood is endemic.

Interestingly though, in the age old enmity of blood libel ( christians against jews ) accusation, a portion of the target grouping ( in the form of Israel ) are themselves guilty of using the same dynamic in their dealings with the Palestinians ( who in their turn are perpetuating the cycle of victimhood and abuse in reciprocal dealings ).

Such cycles tend to only break when individuals turn to forgiveness ( where there is true belief in the harm story ). Of course many, just use the harmful story/belief to mask more personal issues.

1/29/17, 2:06 PM

LewisLucanBooks said...
Dear Mr. Greer, et all. From the comments I read, it sounds like brewers and distillers are going to be a bit thick on the ground during the decline. Just an observation.

As far as "first contact" with the warlord culture, I think it could go something like this: You've noticed that the heavily fortified and well armed doom stead down the road has apparently fallen. Given the cloud of smoke, gunfire and small explosions. You send your young men, who may be impressed into service and young women into the woods. You wait, on your knees with your forehead to the ground, at your gate. A few well wrapped small packages are in front of you.

Up rides the warrior band. You are probably NOT dealing with the warlord, but with one of his lieutenants. There are many lieutenants, all vying for favor in their liege's eyes.

(Lieutenant) "What's this?"

(You) "Simple farmers, Sir. We have small offerings for you and your Liege."

"Like what? What would YOU have that we could possibly be interested in? On your feet man, and look me in the eye!"

"This Sir, is turmeric. Adds zest to meat and helps with some joint pain. This is honey candied ginger. Sweetens the breath to please your lady, cures all kinds of nausea and delights children. This is tea. You've probably heard of it. Invigorating drink. Helps a person stay alert. And, a bit of tobacco."

"Our Lord has banned the evil weed! (Leans over saddle) "But I haven't had a good smoke in three years."

You notice a couple of the riders are wounded. So, you say ...

"I notice a couple of your men have bad wounds. Granny up there on the porch has pretty good luck with healing bad wounds. Don't know how, she just does. Would you allow her to take a look at them?"

And, so it goes. Of course, they might just kill you all and call it good. But since you're going to die anyway, it's worth a shot. Lew

1/29/17, 3:28 PM

LewisLucanBooks said...
@ Mr. Greeer - Ever thought of putting together a book of a collection of rubbish comments that you bin? I think some of it might be humorous, some deeply sad. Some might be pretty obvious, some might need a bit of explanation as to why they are so wrong. Just a thought. Something to do in your spare time :-). Lew

1/29/17, 3:31 PM

Bryant said...
@Shane W

Amen, I've been in the South my entire life and I get furious every time that the blue tries to claim me that because I am a Person of Color that I have to take their life. Its ridiculous, along with the idea that I am uneducated or poor as I look at my degrees and my socioeconomic status.

Well, I sure ain't clutching to my guns and bibles, but I do have solid ideas on what's beautiful and what's right. All I want is to be left alone in communities that agree with the norms that I believe in; and so, secession sounds wonderful. But if they can't leave me alone, then I'll just have to fight. I'm not backing down.

1/29/17, 4:24 PM

Justin said...
Fred the First, fair enough - and also, agreed about African Americans.

This book is interesting:

1/29/17, 4:29 PM

PRiZM said...
Yesterday I was reading Jack London's "To Build A Fire and was struck by the number of parallels between that story and this week's post, the overall trajectory of this blog, and by any number of crises that humans go through. It's helped me even more to have some eye-opening moments from the human perspective. But it really impressed upon me the need for community. While I know you mentioned that we're reaching the end of time when we can do things to prepare for the Long Descent, what about reaching out to community? With a Second Religiosity, would that mean more groups will be seeking members? More communities coming together? More lodges and brotherhoods?

1/29/17, 4:37 PM

Chris Larkin said...
@Tam Hob- It is good to know that it is viable to extract insulin from pig pancreases on a small scale. I'll be curious to look at the recipe. What book is it from or is there a link I can use?

1/29/17, 5:13 PM

Rita said...
Sven Williams - a default on your student loans will follow you until the wheels come off the financial sector entirely. Or gross amounts of pressure get Congress to cancel the debts--do not hold your breath for this. However, depending on your income there are ways to lower your payments or even get the loan forgiven after a certain number of years. On one program, working ten years for certain types of non-profits (basically 501(3)c) will get loans cancelled. Beware of tax consequences however. There are a number of formulae based on your income, family size, etc. to determine a maximum payment that may be lower than what you are paying. This can be a disadvantage if you are getting good wages now as it stretched the loan out and you pay more interest. If you are paying through Edfinancial check their web site. Also, NOLO Press (the how to do your own divorce, bankruptcy, etc.people), have a book about managing student loan debt. I recommend it. In any financial emergency be sure to stay on top of the situation by requesting a forbearance. The people who end up in trouble are those who bury their heads in the sand and ignore the bills.

1/29/17, 5:47 PM

Rita said...
I wonder whether the CalExit people have considered that the state is not really united socially. For years N. Californians have been hostile to the demands of S. CA for more water. Some of us will cheerfully donate everything south of the Tehachapis to Mexico. But while the coastal cities, and Sacramento as capital, are fairly prosperous, the Central Valley has been depressed for some time. Cities such as Stockton and Modesto are staggering along and most rural counties, and the congressional districts gerrymandered to include large chunks of them, are red. A lot of the mountain areas are also poor or dependent on tourism. And much of the tourism is dependent on weather: no snow, no skiing, no money. Not a problem this year, but we know that it will be long term. There are miles and miles of "country" in the foothills that are really thinly spread suburbs. Houses on 5,10 or 15 acres, too small for profitable agriculture, even if the water is there. The residents commute to nearest or sometimes farther city for work. There is little actual agriculture because of soil, weather, etc. and much of this will be abandoned when it is no longer practical to get propane for heating and cooking and fuel to commute is too expensive. Not to mention that fighting the increasing forest fires is getting to be very expensive. There has already been talk of just containing fires rather than all out efforts to save isolated home.

1/29/17, 6:39 PM

onething said...

I wouldn't take all this too seriously. So far as I know, Californians are not the subjects of an unusual amount of dislike. More than, say, Wisconsin of course, being it is so much more famous and populated. Who even knows anyone from Wisconsin?

I wouldn't want to live south of about San Luis Obispo though.

1/29/17, 8:12 PM

Shane W said...
One thing I'm thinking about the tone-deafness of all the immigration protests at the airports--the class issue. If you can afford international airfare, you're members of an elite that most people can't even imagine. Most average people living paycheck-to-paycheck cannot imagine being able to afford international airfare. This plays right into Trump's base.

1/29/17, 8:15 PM

Birdie said...
Lathechuck-I have all the original Mother Earth News from the 1st edition through the 70s and the Organic Gardenings circa 1960-75. Still valuable I think. Also the Cloudburst editions and other alternative "how tos" of the era. I'm glad I've hung on to them.

JMG thankyou for providing your balanced historical perspective- it is the only blog that I follow now,and thoughtfully read the polite, civil discourse in the comments. Thankyou to all of you and especially a thanks to you JMG for providing this very sane place to read and reflect on events as they unfold in an increasingly challenging time.

1/29/17, 8:25 PM

sunseekernv said...
Justin - re California fossil fuel

Numbers please! says California produces about 16 million bbls/month -> 500 thousand bbls/day.
(and notice that during the high oil prices of recent years, their decline merely flattened out).

They use 40 million gals/day of gasoline -> about 1 million bbls/day. (42 US gals/bbl of oil).
12 million gals/day of jet fuel -> 300 thousand bbls/day
10 million gals/day of diesel -> 240 thousand bbls/day

So how are they going to run on their own, given 1.5 million bbls/day demand, and .5 million bbls/day supply?
demand : supply of 3:1

That is even worse than the US as a whole (19 to 20 million bbls/day demand, 8.5 million bbls/day supply).
demand : supply of 2.3 : 1

Did you see that the Monterrey Shale was a fantasy?

1/29/17, 10:12 PM

John Michael Greer said...
DoubtingThomas, I hope you don't mind waiting a few days for a full discussion. I've fielded a lot of pushback in response to my challenge to the conventional wisdom -- which is what you're defending, you know -- but I think you're the first to base the pushback on the idea of the individual as historical free agent. That's interesting enough that it deserves a post of its own in response. One thing, though -- no, the laws of thermodynamics don't specify an isolated system. Systems that have energy flowing through them from an outside source to an outside sink -- dissipative systems, in the relevant jargon -- are very much part of the theory. More on this as we proceed.

Cherokee, the traditional wages for an apprentice were room and board, but I'm not sure whether that would work in your situation -- or whether anyone would take you up on such an offer!

Fred, I'd certainly celebrate if voting fraud were to be proved, but no, that won't shut up Trump's critics. One of the things we've seen over the last two decades or so is that the tribal hostilities that divide the US are so deeply entrenched that mere facts can't sway them.

Ursachi, Trump's a transitional figure at best, and I don't expect him to preside over more than the first steps toward disengagement. Still, I prefer that to Hillary Clinton's all-out neoconservatism.

Scotlyn, this touches on a family memory. One of my great-great-grandmothers had Down syndrome. These days she'd probably be institutionalized, but they didn't do that in rural Washington Territory when she was born. Instead, she grew up alongside all the other children, and took part in the ordinary life of what was then a frontier community. She never learned to read or write her own name, but she was an incredibly good cook and adored children, and my great-great-grandfather Greer, who married her, considered himself the luckiest man alive to have so sweet and capable a wife. My late grandfather knew her, and she taught him how to cook -- and in his firefighting days he was widely considered the best firehouse chef in Grays Harbor County. So making room for waifs and strays is much more productive than our current cultural prejudices make it look...

Barrabas, I've seen exactly the same thing with white activists here regarding our native peoples, so it wasn't hard to extrapolate!

Fred, have you noticed that across the board, those people who are supposed to understand money in this society really, truly don't have a clue?

Rita, oh, there's definitely something to be said for warlords!

111DFC, those are valid points. The US is unusually vulnerable to the downside of its own history, for the reasons you've mentioned among others.

1/29/17, 10:43 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Peter, were you going to offer any evidence for this claim of yours, or do you think that the fact that you have an opinion somehow obliges the rest of us to agree with you?

Peacegarden, a liver detox as a curative response to political wrangling is a new one for me, but hey, if it works... ;-)

Onething, remember that epicycles got piled on Ptolemaic astronomy for almost two thousand years before they finally went away!

Donald, okay, you've solved a minor mystery for me. I'd wondered why the Great Naropa Poetry Wars et al. seemed to have cooled off so suddenly; an invasion from California that had to be driven off by both sides in alliance would certainly have done it.

Wendy, it's not about who does or doesn't suck. It's simply a matter of major cultural differences. (For example, I can't think of another part of the US where the immediate reaction to a situation like this would be a reference to your own emotional state, e.g., "I feel tremendously sad.") Given those cultural differences, and the political, economic, and social differences that result, it would work better for everyone if California went its own way, did its own thing, and no longer tried to impose its model on other parts of this very culturally diverse country.

Sven, pay off your debts. You can't be sure of anything until that's out of the way, because anything you own is fair game to debt collectors -- and you can't be sure that (a) there'll be any sort of amnesty and (b) that your student debt will be included in it. Until and unless that happens, make getting out debt your top priority, and you'll be better off.

Matt, glad to see there's more than three of them. I'd be happier if there were more than three thousand of them, but apparently that's past hoping.

Canon Fodder, that's why I had California descend into civil war and failed-state status in my Retrotopia stories. Living 14 miles north of the CA border, and traveling extensively in the formerly Golden State, gave me a fair sense of the bitter rivalries within its borders.

Brent, that's a valid question, and not one a lot of people ask or answer! For me, it's actually fairly simple. I find history fascinating; I find the fact that I'm part of history, situated at a recognizable point along the normal cycle of rise and fall, even more fascinating; and since I know that what follows my time is the fall of civilization and the coming of a new dark age, with all the problems and possibilities that opens up, it's a bit like looking out the window on a day in late autumn and wondering what the winter is going to be like. I find some aspects of modern industrial society loathsome, and other aspects pleasant; I'd doubtless have the same reaction to any age I happened to be born in; but the unfolding of the story is the thing that holds my interest.

1/29/17, 10:58 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Bruno, that's one of the things Spengler got dead wrong. He didn't understand ecology -- to be fair, very few people did in his time -- and that lack of understanding blinded him to insights that would have filled in some of the gaps in his thinking.

Jay, Mexico's part of the Compact last I checked, and since the Compact is between governments, the fact that one of those governments changes status from a state to a nation-state wouldn't necessarily abrogate it.

Dennis, that seems about right. It'll be interesting to see if the Berniecrats manage their hostile takeover on the second try; I certainly hope they do.

Big Rant, fair enough. Thank you.

Hubertus, ding! We have a winner. Exactly; collapse is already happening all around us, but it's happening at history's pace, rather than Hollywood's.

Indus56, I addressed that sort of argument in an earlier post. It's easy to come up with hypothetical reasons why it might just possibly be different this time, and of course quite a few of my readers have done that. Over and over again, though, during the years this blog has been appearing, predictions made on the basis of such arguments have failed, and predictions made on the assumption that it's no different this time have turned out to be correct. Year after weary year, I've fielded claims that the collapse of industrial society will be sudden, irrevocable, and imminent; year after year, the predicted crash never comes -- and year after year, the Long Descent unfolds on schedule. Did you know that Donald Trump was predicted in the pages of Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West? Stay tuned; we'll be talking about that this week.

Shane, I've been floundering to keep up with comments, while getting some writing projects out of the way and dealing with other things. I gather some things slipped through that shouldn't. Hmm; clearly I need to find a more boring subject to talk about for a while. ;-)

Jbarber, hmm! Thank you; I hadn't seen those. It does indeed look as though repeated blows with a clue-by-four are beginning to have an impact.

Vesta, fair enough; thank you. I ask that because very often people who raise the points you did aren't following that up with changes to their own lives; it's good to see that you're not one of their number.

Morfran, I'm definitely seeing a need for a label that can be used by those who reject extremism and are willing to uphold and defend traditional democratic values. Alt-center will do for now -- but we'll see. Down the road a bit, it's going to get at least one post.

1/29/17, 11:20 PM

John Michael Greer said...
LatheChuck, nicely put. They may be sitting a good deal more idly than they want, if things proceed along their current trajectory...

Shane, go long on popcorn. I can't think of an investment more likely to pay off. ;-)

Wendy, delighted to hear that you're reading The Coming Fury! I'd like to see that made required reading for US voters.

Lewis, in premodern times, most households brewed their own beer as a matter of course, and stillrooms (for distillation) were common in houses of any size. I'm just helping things revert to the mean. As for warlord management, that's certainly a workable strategy.

As for a collection of rubbish comments, unfortunately they're protected by copyright law -- I couldn't publish them without the consent of their authors, and since I'd be poking fun at them, I doubt that would be forthcoming.

Prizm, the difficulty with community just now in the US is that the vast majority of Americans think that community ought to function for their benefit -- they don't get that community means you have to give up things for its benefit. Until more people grasp the hard fact that community is about shared sacrifice and shared suffering, attempts to establish community are going to keep on running onto the rocks of the culture of narcissistic entitlement that pervades today's America.

1/29/17, 11:29 PM

Graeme Bushell said...
Nice reference! One very poignant scene...

1/29/17, 11:37 PM

Graeme Bushell said...
Three yesses from me! Nicely put!

1/29/17, 11:50 PM

Graeme Bushell said...
Peakfuture, JMG and all, I like the idea of a subtle identifier! A green Wizards hat is probably too ostentatious for most, and connotations in Chinese culture not too nice...

What about wearing a pair of green rings? I'd have one on each thumb...


1/29/17, 11:59 PM

Cherokee Organics said...

Many thanks for the reply and wisdom. I'm going to have to contemplate on your reply because you are no doubts correct, and also I will consult with others to get a different perspective. My original opinions on the matter were described as feudal and I appreciated that feedback because it is hard to see yourself as other people do - and I would be a benevolent dictator - but also consultive - if given the opportunity. I really appreciate being able to conduct a dialogue with you on such matters. I didn't mention that my copy of Retrotopia turned up in the mail at the Post Office on Saturday morning. Yay! Your links to the publishers website for ordering on this blog site is a great idea.

The news from your country today made me spit my chamomile tea out all over the keyboard, no less, with a massive belly laugh. So you now have a President who follows through on campaign promises. Well done, well done. A politician made a joke down here once about core and non core promises made during a campaign. Basically a non core promise during a campaign is by any other definition: a lie. What surprises me about the news from your country is that there is a level of outrage that you have a politician who does what he says he will do. That in and of itself is very telling about your culture and the sort of news that your country is fed. My wife and I were joking to each other this evening that your country may well get that wall. Honestly, your country needs the pressure relieved from the building tensions and your President looks like he understands how to get dissident groups wasting their time.

And incidentally, I would really like to understand why so many professional activist groups had joined together to protest the current ban on people from certain countries at airports in the US, do they not realise how easily they were dismissed as irrelevant because they were diluting their core message by taking that action? The whole protest mechanism thing seems weird to me. Perosnally I would group together and advise the airlines that we - as a group - will no longer fly using your service unless that carrier lobbied the politicians, and then actually do it.



1/30/17, 1:34 AM

Morgenfrue said...
@Scotlyn Thanks for your kind words. I think about it a lot, as the public system here is very extensive. Everyone in Denmark has a right to home nursing, and the public sector also provides home help (personal hygiene, food prep and basic cleaning) free of charge. (One must be evaluated and be found in need of the services either temporarily or permanently.) What happens when the wheels go off the system... Those without a network nearby, or who refuse to move closer to their network may very well starve and freeze to death in filthy surroundings. There have been rumors that the poorer municipalities might need to cut back on the cleaning services they provide - in that case the person in question would need to rely on their family or hire a cleaner, if their pension can bear it.

@Violet I too wish you a thorough recovery. I've just printed your herbal guides from your blog, so thank you for that.

Re: Calexit
As someone raised in the Sierra Nevada foothills (I have lived abroad the past 15 years, I guess that makes me a calexpat), the idea of California seceding in its present form makes me scoff. Even after 15 years my visceral reaction to the idea of Southern California is "clueless, useless water thieves". When I went to university in the Bay Area it was like moving to a foreign country (I say this as someone who has in fact moved to a foreign country - twice!). Forget desalination plants and negotiations over the Colorado River. Y'all need to negotiate with NorCal. There are enough hillbillies and hippies up north to put SoCal over a barrel AND restore the Hetch Hetchy in one go.

Sven in the Middle East: I vote to pay off your student loan debts, and save up enough for a down payment on land. Better to default on a bank if you have to. The government will never let you go.

1/30/17, 1:51 AM

patriciaormsby said...
@Lewis Lucan Books, I was thinking along similar lines today. I suppose an overabundance of brewers would have to depend on degree of awareness of collapse in the community where you happen to reside. We've got a German fellow not far from us brewing beer and wine. I practice fermenting as one of the healthiest, most effective preservation techniques, but usually run my icky apple ciders through to vinegar, which is much more useful. It may be that our farm will help supply him raw materials in the future.

We're due to put in a couple rows of popcorn this year, otherwise we might run short. But it occurred to me that among the investments I've made during the past ten years, the only one I can think of that's grown in value are all the little fruit and nut trees that are sitting around in pots all over the place while I wait for my husband to find some land he feels okay about buying. To judge from the prices for similar trees at gardening centers, they've grown about ten times in value in five years. About twice a year you run over and give them a bit of sh*t (try doing that with your stock broker) and they show signs of joy. Show up a few days later and they're trying to impress you with their Popeye impersonation. Gosh they're fun.

Like any other investment, if you don't know what you're doing, you lose it. But with a little effort you can develop your skills and create nice gifts in the short term, an orchard in the medium term, and maybe an occupation with some demand in the long term.

@Violet, please keep us informed on how it goes for you. Lots of sympathetic people here. I take it you're new to hypersensitivity, but not new to alternative health care. We want to know what works for you. My own hypersensitivity impelled me to collapse early. I have no regrets. Like you, I limit my Internet time and usually only engage with people here at TADR. I log on once every two or three days, and don't manage to converse at that rate, but the comments section here is really valuable, and a big credit to JMG. I have to spend a lot of time on the computer because of my job, but all equipment is wired. If I am ill, I have to limit my time strictly, but I am mostly doing okay.

@Everyone, I keep hearing that you find most people don't want to think about collapse. I don't know about smartphone addicts--they seem to be in a world unto themselves--but my impression from my social contacts is they say they don't want to talk about it, but subconsciously they are fixated on it. You show up and the conversation springs to life again, with them ferociously questioning whatever hint you've thrown their way about "reality." They're feeling it in their bones. Look at how the comments here have swollen.

1/30/17, 2:41 AM

PRiZM said...
Thanks JMG.. that analysis helps me. One of my colleagues here in China is ex-military and ex-intel. He's given me his analysis, that the majority of American's won't help each other. Still, while we have to wait till people suffer enough before they are willing to help others, some have to develop ways for this to be done. There are plenty of organizations already existing which are community and help that can help teach how to community works. But for those of us outside of the US, they may have to find other ways to learn.

Happy Chinese New Year! May the rooster call upon you early in the year with insight and prosperity just as he announces the rising sun.

1/30/17, 3:55 AM

Brent Mills said...
@JMG, thanks for your and others response to my comment. Indeed the narrative other than the one peddled of 'Everything is awesome' is truly fascinating.

I feel I should add that on an emotional level I have this 'hatred' towards humankind, but on a logical level (when taking the view of an alien observing our planet) I don't blame humanity at all. My understanding of the natural world is that every organism's primary goal is to consume as much energy as it can in order to procreate. Fortunately they all have a a pushback that never allows them to go too far - except us.

Could I blame a herd of elephants confined in a fenced off areas that go ahead and knock down all the mopane trees to get to the tasty top leaves rather than settle for dried grass even though it means no more mopane in the area? Of course not and in the same way I can't blame our species for gorging on the tastiest things the world has on offer.

After all, in the words of Tim Minchin 'We're just f*&^%ing monkeys in shoes!'

1/30/17, 4:28 AM

Tam Hob said...
@Chris Larkin,
I don't want to go in depth in an off-topic blog comment but I strongly recommend digging through the scientific journals since a lot of detail about alternative production methods is provided, as well as ancillary information about measuring purity, maxing insulin in your animal pancreases, testing urine and blood, dietary support of remaining pancreatic function etc. The Saxls reportedly used the original Banting and Best alcohol extraction method as detailed in a book called 'Beckman's Internal Medicine'. Personally, my first step is to replicate the purer and more concentrated Somogyi, Doisy and Shaffer method (minus the animal testing) as well as being able to produce all of the chemical and other inputs (like sterile filter medium):

A variation on Somogyi et al to give a powder but which probably requires more than a basement lab: Discussion of the Hagedorn method of adding protamine from salmon or trout and/or zinc to make long lasting insulin:

1/30/17, 6:46 AM

Jay Moses said...
not to nitpick too much, jmg, but mexico's rights to colorado river water are governed by the 1944 u.s.-mexico water utilization treaty as amended in 2012. mexico is not a member of the compact, only the seven "states" in the colorado basin. quite aside from the water issue, calexiteers should ponder the effects of closing all u.s. military bases, the end of all agriculture subsidies, the termination of all federal employment etc. the idea is another product of the left's current bout of wishful thinking.

1/30/17, 7:28 AM

Anthony Romano said...
Reading this weeks essay gave me an image of JMG, in full ceremonial regalia, dashing buckets of cold water over a screeching crowd.

As a long time reader, I've been on board with your premise of catabolic collapse, but I think it has been harder to internalize how this might actually affect my life in the near term. Sure, I may get shot to death in a second civil war, but I pictured that being 25 years out, and thus an abstraction.

I think for many readers, myself included, its harder to accept that this sort of thing might start happening this year. I subconsciously assumed that things getting real bad for me and mine was still a few decades out.

I could use that extra time to dig out from under student loans, but the universe isn't obliged to give it to me.

Regarding your comment about airport protests. I think you may be bending things a bit to fit your class narrative. A lot of the protests are centered around stopping refugees fleeing a civil war from entering the country. These people are likely spending every last cent they have to escape a warzone, or (more likely) their flights are being paid for by an international relief organization.

Are you really implying that people fleeing ISIS, Predator Drone, barrel bombs, etc. are sitting atop a mountain of economic privilege?

1/30/17, 7:35 AM

Violet Cabra said...
@ pygmycory, if just a small fraction of the anti-Trump energy could be appropriately applied so much good could be potentially done. Thank you for redirecting some of that energy into something that may be effective.

@ peacegarden, I am deeply honored. Thank you.

@ Jen, there is one other main obstacle that your comment reminds me of, the issue of commitment, loyalty and having each other's backs. this is an impediment that is so ubiquitious in my communities that I sometimes am unable to see it. There is, it appears, a distrust of commitment and an avoidance of it, always keeping one another at arm's length, not getting too deep, not making plans together &c this then puts the foundation of community on ever shifting sand. part of my hope in moving back with my family and spending more time with my many towny friends is to participate more in committed community.

So glad you're reading about the herbs! Thank you for the well wishes too

@ lordyburd, thanks! - I've never written romance before, but reflecting on my lilting writing style I think you may have a point

1/30/17, 8:31 AM

Bryant said...
@JMG, would like your thoughts on this.

Seems to be a simple example of the tragedy of the commons, writ large.

1/30/17, 8:52 AM

inohuri said...

See pages 2809 and 2817 in "Chemical Sensitivity"
Volume 4 by William Rea of Environmental Health Center. The hernia mesh and associated toxic sutures can be removed. In some cases this could involve taking some reinforcing tissue from somewhere else.

Hernias were repaired before the toxic and faulty repair products were introduced. Read the reviews on hernia repair and there seems only a choice between a weak cross stitch or a mesh that will probably fail (become inflexible) and springs that get loose and migrate while piercing other parts.

My choice is to avoid the madness and strengthen the muscles adjacent to the torn muscles that allows the break in peritoneum. Don't do sit ups because they increase lower abdomen pressure. Don't hold your breath or grunt when lifting because that also increases internal pressure which will enlarge the ugly skin bubble that forms as intercellular fluid gets pushed out.

There is more to this but that is enough for here.

1/30/17, 9:10 AM

inohuri said...
Comparing two eras of the labor participation rate seems incomplete as a bare number.

In the 1950's a single income could support a family. Moms could stay home, keep house, and raise kids. There was no pressing reason for most wives to work. When standards changed to more unnecessaries and effective income dropped then more women went to work.

So now the moms are more likely to prefer to work while paying others for child care and still doing all the unpaid labor they did before.

1/30/17, 10:36 AM

temporaryreality (Wendy) said...
Fair enough - my initial reaction was certainly self-referential. Not having a wide sphere of influence, being a homemaker and introvert (and thereby having about four friends), I do tend to filter events through my experience and yes, I guess I was whining about my feelings. And yes, I'm grown up enough to know that they pretty much don't matter in the scheme of things and have nothing to do with the big picture. I still think they're useful perceptive tools.

The dismissal of my reaction to "I wish Californians would secede already" (sad inducing) as opposed to a more constructive, "I support some people's desire to secede" (dialogue inducing) with "I can't think of another part of the US where the immediate reaction to a situation like this would be a reference to your own emotional state, e.g., "I feel tremendously sad" is certainly yours to make. I don't need to be made to feel better about anything. I chose to reveal an emotional state on a public forum where I knew it would likely be criticized. Interesting that THIS reveals an intractable cultural difference. A response focusing on strategy or history or political theory might have been better regarded here, I just wasn't the one to do that.

Feelings ARE just feelings, they come and go -I probably I should've just kept them to myself, but I thought it relevant as a point of "data" that one average, middle-aged California housewife, raised to trust the Democratic party's trajectory and who identified as kind of socially liberal, found the possibility of losing her "American-ness" to be an actual loss that stirs grief in her BECAUSE she values her place in "this very culturally diverse country."

1/30/17, 11:25 AM

[email protected] said...
Hi John

Thanks. Looking forward to drinking my first home brewed ale!

I have posted a new article on my blog on the future of Europe which incorporates Toynbee's civilisation cycles, limits to growth and the rise of populist politics.

I would be interested in your feedback.

1/30/17, 12:02 PM

Janet D said...
I don't have time to read the nearly 400 comments, so I apologize if this subject has already been decline and fall of civilization and loss in general, is the recent appearance of a bacteria - with the NDM-1 gene -in the U.S. that is resistant to ALL antibiotics. (If you don't already know, bacteria communicate with each other, passing along resistance information, which is why this news made headlines). Another bacteria/gene combo - mcr-1 gene - is now spreading in China. It's another superbug, resistant to the last remaining antibiotic against it. Add that to climate change and dwi dling fossil fuel reserves....

Mother Nature has loaded the bases and is preparing a gigantic b#*#h slap for humanity.

1/30/17, 1:16 PM

nuku said...
@Kevin Warner,
"All those moments will be lost in tears in rain."
Ah yes, “Blade Runner”. Thanks for the quote...

1/30/17, 1:17 PM

Nancy Shirley said...
The comment by Kfish about self-sufficiency made me remember this excellent 2011 article called "The Real Revolution".

"Believe it or not, growing your own food or visiting your local farmers market is more revolutionary and constructive than burning down your own city and killing security forces."

1/30/17, 1:19 PM

DoubtingThomas said...
@JMG: No problem, I wasn't expecting anything further.

I'm not sure why you would say that the laws on thermodynamics don't refer to isolated systems. Reaching for a few random pages on thermodynamics shows the laws frequently expressed in terms of isolated/closed systems.

Of course, "What is thermodynamics?" ( classical, modern, ... ) and "What is the 2nd law of thermodynamics?" is a topic rich for lasting argument to the many interested parties. [ I'm not one of them ] [ n.b. I'm not saying there are not forms that attempt to cover non-isolated systems. ]

1st Law: "is a version of the Law of Conservation of Energy, adapted for thermodynamic systems. .. CoE states that the total energy of an isolated system remains constant." "The law is of great importance and generality ... Most careful textbook statements of the law express it for closed systems" (r1)

or "The increase in internal energy of a closed system is equal to total of the energy added to the system. In particular, if the energy entering the system is supplied as heat and energy leaves the system as work, the heat is accounted as positive and the work is accounted as negative.

2nd Law: Many ways of being expressed, here is one [ "Processes in which the entropy of an isolated system would decrease do not occur, or, in every process taking place in an isolated system, the entropy of the system either increases or remains constant" from the textbook 'An Introduction to Thermodynamics, the Kinetic Theory of Gases, and Statistical Mechanics (2nd edition)', by Francis Weston Sears, Addison-Wesley, 1950, 1953, page 111 (Chapter 7, "the Second Law of Thermodynamics"). The phrase isolated system means that neither energy nor matter may enter or leave the system; it is an embodiment of the word "unaided" as used by Maxwell & Clausius. If the system is not isolated, then energy can get in, and so can "aid". Hence, isolation is required to uphold the restriction "unaided". ]

or ".. applies only to isolated systems in thermodynamic equilibrium" taken from a discussion with using it in open systems." (r2)

or "total entropy of an isolated system always increases over time, or remains constant in ideal cases where the system is in a steady state or undergoing a reversible process." -- wikipedia

or a mathematical expression of the second law one ( of many ) allegedly widely accepted is:

Entropy increase principle for isolated (or adiabatic) macroscopic systems:
(dS) ≥0
where dS = entropy change of a system, subscript “iso” means is applicable to isolated/adiabatic systems.

So, [ "with all the stress on ... isolated, how does one use the 2nd law in systems that don't measure up? .. Fake it. .. the "fake" is to take your non-equilibrium system, and carve it up ... into smaller subdomains." "real trick if your system is not isolated, have to keep track of all the entropy and energy that goes in or out, along with the strictly internal sources & sinks, for both entropy and energy." "If the outer boundary is impassable, and the system isolated, then you know that the aggregate change in entropy must be 0. If not, just replace 0 with the net entropy change across the system outer boundary, and you know that system as a whole can't go beyond those limits." "In this way, you can apply the essential spirit of the 2nd law, even in the case of a system that is neither in equilibrium, nor isolated." ] (r2)

The analysis I read regarding that new theory referenced in a prior comment about interacting parallel universes suggested that IF further testing of it was positive then it might mean having to redefine our concept of the Universe. I'll leave it to the theoretical physicists to argue the toss about the validity and implications of that. Still, I found it interesting.

(r1) wikipedia

1/30/17, 1:33 PM

pamouna said...
@ Terminal One:
Steven Harrod Buhner wrote 3 books on Lyme-desease and has a dedicated homepage:

Hopefully helpful to you!

1/30/17, 1:37 PM

pygmycory said...
There was a mass shooting at a mosque in Quebec city on sunday night. 6 people dead, 5 injured. The suspect the police has found is reported on CBC to be an admirer of LePen.

I know mass shootings like this may be all too common globally, but it's still a shock and a grief to see it in my own country. Canada's not exactly known for terrorism. Yet, it can happen here... and it just did.

1/30/17, 2:14 PM

Kfish said...
Community's a funny thing. Since joining and now leading my local craft guild, I've learned several things about community the hard way over the last ten years:

1. It's possible to share a community with people that you respect but don't like.
2. It's possible to share community with people who have wildly differing political / philosophical views to you.
3. It's possible to share community with people you don't respect but can tolerate.
4. Lots of people overestimate their contribution to the common good, and underestimate the burden that their presence places on it.
5. Some people will complain about change because they fear that what they love will be lost; some people complain about change because they want everything to stay the same forever. Learn to tell the difference: reassure the first group and tune out the second.
6. There will always be complaints.
7. Praising people publicly for their contributions is the easiest and most effective way of encouraging future contributions.
8. You will screw up. Admit it publicly, apologise for it and move on.

1/30/17, 2:16 PM

LewisLucanBooks said...
@ patriciaormsby - I always look forward to your comments ... being an old Japanophile from way back. Never been, but most of my life have read widely and watched many films about Japanese life. Last night I watched "Sea of Trees" about the Aokigahara Forest. Last month it was "Sweet Bean." Cut my teeth on books by Lafcadio Hearn and movies by Kobayashi. Travel memoirs! Novels such as "Japanese Inn." I've always thought the print, "The Great Wave" perfectly pictures our current, global situation. Yes, I realize I romanticize.

I'm in a rental, but the only thing I've spent a bit of money on is having the very neglected fruit trees (mostly apple) pruned up and cared for. They have returned my investment, many times over. I find the "worm juice" from my worm box an outstanding tonic for any kind of plant. The tonic and a little conversation. :-). Lew

1/30/17, 2:38 PM

Shane W said...
there's nothing "sacred" about the Federal government, and there's no reason that any program, building, etc. could not be maintained under a new government, and even a transition period negotiated in the details/transfer of power. It's really just a logical fallacy. "Secede, and all the federal government and programs in your state go 'poof'" Why? How? There's really no logic to it. Not saying that it won't involve a lot of negotiation.
IDK, but I don't think Calif. is alone amongst populated blue states in having a large internal blue/red divide. In Ill., there's Chicagoland vs. downstate, in NY there's upstate vs NYC.
I'm sorry to hear of your chemical issues, and I hope that you find relief soon. What a toxic world we live in.

1/30/17, 2:50 PM

Maxine Rogers said...
Hi Everyone,
I am seeing the value of money being inflated away very quickly now. I was expecting it but it still came as a bit of a surprise.

My family Collapsed Early to Avoid the Rush about 4 years ago. We gave up our car and that has been such a blessing. We only shop every 6 weeks and I have cut back on the number of sumptuous roast beast meals I prepare each week.

I find that making pottage, a medieval soup of meat, vegetables, grains and legumes in broth, costs almost nothing and is both filling and good. So my advice to all of our Arch Druid community is to learn to make pottage, buy good quality long underwear and cultivate the 3 unusual senses that Druids try to cultivate: a sense of humor, a sense of proportion and common sense.

Beyond that, I hope you all consider raising rabbits!

Yours under the red cedars
Max Rogers

1/30/17, 3:01 PM

DoubtingThomas said...
@JMG: To be honest I don't know what "conventional wisdom" is but then I don't know what "common sense" is either. I find that such things vary enormously depending on the situation specific to an individual. I understand what you mean when you refer to the idea of a conventional wisdom but I am uncertain of its validity and don't subscribe to it's existence per se.

"Conventional wisdom" is defined as "the body of ideas or explanations generally accepted as true by the public and/or by experts in a field" but problem is the public encompasses billions of people each of whom have their own belief systems, perception filters and needs through which they choose to interpret knowledge and have their own resulting wisdom. Experts in a field tend to form cliques or camps that try to negate each other and attract believers but is one group more deserving of the conventional wisdom label ? I don't think so. The scientific method is itself built-upon the notion of falsifiability and peer review. There is no absolute 'truth' in it just changeable probabilities, it is a mistake made is to assume otherwise.

I have encountered many people who say things like "people never change" and that statement might possibly be put under a conventional wisdom umbrella. It is also verifiably false in individual cases and yet it is frequently trotted out in discussions and the disproving cases conveniently ignored.

I try to work from first principals relying on my direct experiences over and above: dogma, standard accepted norms, conventional wisdoms, others accepted wisdoms / opinions etc. According to medical wisdom I should be dead or suffering enormously given my behaviour and life choices but I'm not. People who know my circumstances for the last 5 years expect me to be depressed, sad, lonely, full of hatred or anger etc. I'm not. Quite the reverse actually.

What I have noticed quite a lot of is a pattern in my peers who get told they should be X because of Y [ and then they live up to X ] and others that seem to seek to avoid 'trying something new' and will look to their local "skepticsRus depository of reasons to think Z is wrong because the possibility makes them feel uncomfortable" rather than do their own research and if applicable experimentation.

You obviously do your own research and experimentation ;) and you form your own personal belief system as a result. So do others. Me too ;)

You may believe that civilisation history cycles are everlasting and IIRC you used birth/death as another example but wouldn't death eventually happen to those cycles themselves ?
I have my own experiences to guide me on the question without reference to others wisdom on it.

While I find it interesting to have discussions on such topics like this I'm not interested in attracting people to my beliefs. For me, beliefs only need to work for the believer and where they don't then they look to change them.

History is fascinating to study & learn from but it is arguably, with significant verifiability, a poor & unreliable indicator of the future. Yes, sometimes trends can be predicated but always ? no. And as time-windows widen the drop-off is significant. Examples of invalidated predictions abound. You or Spengler etc may well have highlighted patterns but I think it is a stretch to take those observations as perpetual absolutes. To me that 'wrongness' was clear before I researched others criticisms of Spengler.

You could be absolutely right, about the cycle completing in the way you expect it to for some percentage of those affected but to assume it for all? or in perpetuity?

That is a step to far for me because it is disproven by my personal experience. In that instance I prioritise my experience.

1/30/17, 3:14 PM

Bryant said...
@ inohuri, real income has been decreasing for some time and family expenses in particular have skyrocketed. Along with the debt explosion, the amount of actual income just to maintain the expected standard of living has been essentially a losing proposition.

One can only imagine how much harder this is upon resources and the environment, as well.

1/30/17, 3:29 PM

Shane W said...
I was thinking more along the lines of people with green cards and people w/H1B visas, etc. that I've seen so many stories in the press. If they can afford to fly back and forth to their country of origin, their part of an elite that most people don't belong to. I wasn't thinking of refugees.

1/30/17, 3:32 PM

inohuri said...
@Shane W
" If you can afford international airfare, you're members of an elite that most people can't even imagine."

Not true.

One neighbor, a Kosavar refugee in Seattle, does our apartments' maintenance and happens to care about the job. He had been gone for 16 years and had sent his kids home for long visits several times. His report after a recent visit: life in Kosovo sucks now. He isn't going back to live.

Another neighbor has visited Ethiopia and done the Haj and other visits to Saudi.

These are not the rich elite. Perhaps by world standards they are doing as well as am on welfare but by USA standards we are poor.

Many people who travel save for a long time and find the lowest fares.

1/30/17, 4:14 PM

Scotlyn said...
@JMG, Robert Mathiesen and others contemplating an alt-center (or alt-centre on this side of the water). I've often called myself a "middlist" and think of it as a dynamic position - as in executing the essential function of "holding" the centre which Yeats saw as critically failing.

The function of civil discourse - and politics - such as is practiced and advocated here - is not so much so that we can convince one another (although that happens very occasionally) but so that we can keep negotiating the terms under which we may all continue to peacefully co-exist. As opposed to backing one another into corners which leave no way out other than violence & mutually assured destruction.

To "hold" the centre may be the most difficult task of all, as the extremists of all sides try to enclose or lay mines in the common/public square we believe is worth defending for the use of all comers.

1/30/17, 4:14 PM

Bill Pulliam said...
Wow, just like that there is only passing mention of the Great Cheetoh, and the blog has returned to what was its major theme in the early years... it seems like I might stick a toe back in. Unless I've been banned; having not continued reading the comments from previous posts I wouldn't know.

I only have one note on the main text -- I think the Great Cheetoh is a RESULT of the general increase of heat over light in public discourse, not so much a cause of this. This trend is long-term and pervasive, and has many causes (not the least of which is the internet itself, of course).

The comment thread is huge and interwoven, so I won't try to include names of individual commentors. Just thoughts about some of the ongoing threads...

The whole succession thing... in a time of declining resources and increasing scarcity, IS this the best approach, even for the resource rich regions? It takes interstate squabbles over resources, migration, etc., and makes them international. It does allow more control over what crosses the border, in theory... but maybe it just turns what was once legal commerce into smuggling and black market commerce?

The Federal Government will lose power over time, inevitably. It sits atop a heap of energy and structure. That means it is unsustainable. Its ability to tell States what to do will shrink and shrink. Which means States will be negotiating more within and amongst themselves anyway. But some Federal services, like common defense, might actually be better handled by the remaining Feds rather than by States individually...? The notion of succession to create a more homogeneous cultural and political climate within a State... that's a non-starter. The rifts within the States will just loom larger. Which will happen regardless of seccession, as Federal power wanes.

About the idea that a State can feed itself... not without massive fossil fuel subsidies. I think a good rule of thumb is that long term sustainable you can expect about a tenth the yield of food calories in a purely sunlight based system. Local agriculture is a boutique thing, still. It focuses on specialties and/or high end markets. Reason for this: it takes more labor, therefore is more expensive. And local agriculture does not even begin to replace the huge production of grains and legumes from fossil-fuel agriculture; rarely does it even try to be fossil-fuel-free. Only a few very small communities attempt to really do without the fossil fuels, and they are supporting families, not cities.

It is a long way down, and will take a very long time to get there. And most of the steps down will not be planned in advance. They will be forced upon us and we will improvise them one by one as they come.

Finally as for collapsing now... yay all in favor of investing the resources you have now in ways to be more resilient to the coming (ongoing) unpredictable winds of change. This is one of the major principles structuring our life here. But... ya know...

The collapse is happening, and there is no sign that any large-scale coordinated efforts to slow or ameliorate it will ever happen. Macroeconomics dictate energy and resource use on the macro scale, not policy. Right now the jets are flying, the gasoline is flowing, money is still useful. So... as you pre-collapse, think about doing some other stuff now, while you still can...

Go to DisneyLand. Take an international vacation. Splurge on a bit of entertainment and other useless wasteful luxuries. And forget entirely about neo-puritanical notions of this being planet-destroying sin. The masses won't stop doing these things until they can no longer afford them. Why shouldn't you indulge a little bit too? Live today, for tomorrow you die. Regardless of how you lived today!

1/30/17, 4:29 PM

inohuri said...

Gasp. You dared to use the word hypersensitivity!

When I have tried to use this forbidden word around the "MCS" groups I get shouted down. This word belongs to the Allergists and because my minor cat allergies are the least of my problems I am not allowed to use it.

Personally I have not seen a useful term (of many) for my illness. Toxic Encephalopathy only seems to describe the neurology.

Holographic Reactivity is what I would like to call it. That still would only describe a symptom and not the underlying detoxication failure.

1/30/17, 4:48 PM

Iuval Clejan said...
Jen and Violet, I think there is major obstacle to communal planning in the US and it goes beyond rugged individualism to the protestant reformation and the replacement of God with either the Market or the Government. I elaborated on this here: Of course if democracy is not assumed and we allow for top-down hierarchies, then other cultures such as the ones in Asia should be able to plan on a local warlord scale.

But if planning is not going to happen in local groups in the US, there is still the possibility of just trading surplus, or planning among two families at a time. I find that so far that is working here in rural Missouri, though we are far from having a locally based livelihood. Most people eventually give up on making money from the local economy (unless they have been here for generations) and join the global economy. I haven't given up yet, hoping I can grow enough sunflowers to make oil with my home-made presses and be able to sell it locally, though most people use butter and lard as oils.

1/30/17, 4:50 PM

Armata said...
JMG Said

Did you know that Donald Trump was predicted in the pages of Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West? Stay tuned; we'll be talking about that this week.

Looking forward to this weeks post. I have been reading Spengler and Arnold Toynbee a lot lately. We are fast approaching the era of Caesarism in the West, even if Trump doesn't come up to the same level as Gaius Marius, much less his more famous nephew, Gaius Julius Caesar.

1/30/17, 5:36 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Graeme, now you've got me curious. What does a green wizard's hat connote in Chinese culture?

Cherokee, the ongoing political circus here really is quite the spectacle. On the one hand, yeah, we've got a president who's doing what he said he would do, and that's a sufficiently unusual spectacle that everyone's in shock; on the other hand, I'm quite convinced that he's pursuing the strategy of being deliberately outrageous that won him the election, because it plays well to his base, and because it keeps the other side flailing around in reactive mode rather than pursuing their own agenda. One way or another, popcorn is definitely called for.

Prizm, and a hearty gong hay fat choy to you and yours as well! Of course it's worth preserving such vestiges of community as we've got; that's one of the reasons I stay active in the Freemasons, for example. It's just not something you can rely on yet.

Brent, true enough. The thing is, there's a pushback; it's just taking its time, as so often happens when a species expands into a previously unreached ecosystem or finds a new and successful subsistence mode. We're just now beginning to feel the building pressure...

Jay, thanks for the correction on the water compact. Are you remembering, though, that if California secedes and its citizens are no longer paying Federal taxes, that the California government can then take up the slack, raise taxes to a comparable level, and have its own military bases, agriculture subsidies, etc.? Since California citizens currently pay out in federal taxes more than the state takes in from federal spending, there's quite a bit of room for maneuver there.

Anthony, that's an appealing image. In some Japanese spiritual traditions, pouring buckets of ice cold water over your head is a means of developing inner power, so maybe if I keep it up, some of my readers will attain enlightenment!

Bryant, many thanks for this! It's more welcome than you may realize, as it offers solid, quantitative real world confirmation of the theory of catabolic collapse (PDF downloadable here) that underlies my entire project.

Inohuri, I ain't arguing.

Wendy, did you think I was criticizing you? Nope -- again, I was simply pointing out a cultural difference between Californians and people in other parts of the country. (You'll notice I didn't use words such as "whining", as you did.) Again, from within your state's culture, your reaction makes sense; from an outside perspective, well, we don't need to get into that. Of course that's just it; there are aspects of California culture that rub a lot of other Americans very much the wrong way. That doesn't mean they're wrong, or bad, or what have you; it simply means that things would probably work better if there was a national border between us. (Just as some European countries reliably irritate each other -- another argument against the EU.)

1/30/17, 6:10 PM

pygmycory said...
@Bill Pulliam, I'm glad you came back. This week's comments has been much calmer and significantly more civil than last week's.

1/30/17, 6:14 PM

Shane W said...
there's a few Californians I care about that I'm trying to cajole into leaving the Golden State. :)

1/30/17, 6:25 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Lordberia3, that seems reasonable enough. There are of course alternative scenarios, but none of them are particularly welcome -- and I wonder what wild cards an actual eruption of the Campo Flegrei caldera would throw into the mix!

Janet, that's an important thing to watch. I'm planning an upcoming post on the end of modern medicine, which will include that among other things.

Pygmycory, I was sorry to hear of that. Unfortunately that sort of thing is likely to be the shape of the future.

Kfish, very good advice. I've found it valid as an archdruid and a Mason, for whatever that's worth!

Maxine, pottage? Excellent! I trust that good old-fashioned pease porridge also has a place in your diet.

DoubtingThomas, trust me, I'll define my terms in the upcoming post. The short form is that the conventional wisdom of our society concerning its own future is the claim that our civilization cannot, must not, and will not follow the same trajectory as every other civilization in the known history of the planet. It's got to have a unique destiny -- and the thing that fascinates me is that many people don't seem to care whether it's uniquely wonderful or uniquely horrible, so long as it's unique. As for the predictive value of history and historical cycles, you might want to look into that before jumping to conclusions; I've been making predictions here based on history and cyclic theory, Spengler's in particular, and scoring far more hits than misses, while those who insist "it's different this time" reliably flop. More on this in a few days!

Scotlyn, exactly. This is very much along the lines of what I have in mind.

Bill, nah, if you want to get banned you're going to have to repeatedly break the list rules or go out of your way to annoy me in some other manner. Walking out for a while because you're irritated at a direction I've taken the blog doesn't cut it.

Armata, the thing is, Julius Caesar looks much more impressive now than he did in his time. Roman gossip called him "every man's wife and every woman's husband," among other scurrilous things, and he spent a lot of time deep in debt; he also had a high squeaky voice, though I don't think he had short fingers. It's in retrospect, and largely because his famous nephew used his deification as a political tool, that he became the towering figure of later legend and literature. I wish I could know how Trump's image will be folded, spindled, and repurposed by future generations!

1/30/17, 6:31 PM

Rebecca Zegstroo said...
And what a ray of sunshine you are! This morning I was feeling so happy to live in an age of so much info - particularly books, but also movies, TV, music, radio. It's heaven. Too bad it's all doomed. Fragile. Energy intensive. Of no use when life gets down to brass tacks.

Almost 400 comments before I can even have time to read the article. Your commentariat is verbose & worth reading. I'm hanging onto a full-time job by my fingernails, so not nearly enough time to read them all.

Thank you so much for the enlightenment, JMG. Reality is the best medicine.

1/30/17, 7:24 PM

Justin said...
Pygmycory, tragic indeed.

The shooter, however 'liked' a rather eclectic mix of things (this is where the media is getting their ideas about what he believed in), ranging from Le Pen, to Donald Trump, to various radical feminist organizations, to Zionist and other pro-Israel organizations. The reality is that even though 11 muslims, who belonged to a moderate sect were shot and 6 killed, that's not the worst thing that happened in Canada this year.

There have been roughly 300 deaths (extrapolating 2016 numbers) from alcohol in Canada, probably sold by government stores. Gigatons of carbon have gone into the atmosphere. People have committed suicide because of their economic situation, probably far more than 6.

It sucks, but let's not forget that we're told 'this happens' when it's muslims with vehicles or guns or bombs, and we're told that our rights need to be restricted in perpetuity when it's finally a white guy.

Lets not forget that whatever absurd bloviations the CBC and Ottawa produce in response to this incident will likely radicalize more white people.

1/30/17, 7:45 PM

DoubtingThomas said...
@JMG: I'll await your post then but on the topic of the predictive value of history I'm not jumping to conclusions. I mentioned previously that I have 20yrs experience from the financial realm, more specifically in Risk Management, where they use a variety of statistical methodologies ( HistSim, MonteCarlo ) to perform risk analysis & management. Such methodologies involve looking back over time at day to day changes of specific risk factors or to specific prior events in order to asses likely trends. The goals tend to be about answering questions like how risky would this new trade be; what type of countering hedging trade should I make or how would I be impacted if XYZ happens next week, next month, next year etc. Even with the ocean of financial history available now they still get it massively wrong. The level of detail available to them is arguably more accurate / complete than accounts of events long ago. The efficacy of both technical and fundamental analysis in any case is disputed by the efficient-market hypothesis. Even the weather prediction models that have ~100 years of data to work from get it wrong and struggle with forecasting too far ahead.

As I don't follow what other people are saying about it I will take your word on that for now. I'm not aware of claims of our civilisation "having to have" a unique trajectory. I'm certainly not claiming things will be different this time so it doesn't apply to me. I'm saying that whatever our civilisation's trajectory may end up being .. "no prediction based on historical analysis is going to nail that trajectory for every member of that civilisation.."

There is always the chance of something unexpected / unpredictable. That does not mean chance will present it self to all or anyone ;) Denying that simple fact would be is tantamount to selection bias.

Maybe Graham Hancock's Theory of a recurring danger from a swarm of meteors due to arrive in the next 20 years will pan out with some chance of an full/partial ELE. His piecing together of geological evidence, mythical stories, alleged historical fact is reasonably well constructed and evidence has appeared to validate some aspects of his overarching theory since it was first touted 20 years ago regardless of mainstreams ad hominem attacks and attempts to shutdown hard science research. He, like you, has built a following. Are his ideas wrong or right? No idea. Only time will tell. He's trying to convince governments to at least allocate funds to watching space better.

Also, I don't see how you can claim that those who insist it is going to be different this time "have reliably flopped" .. civilisation hasn't ended as yet (has it?) [ and there is arguably more than one civilisation on the planet right now .. those amazonian tribes spring to mind, getting on and doing their own thing. Then of course we have parts of the 3rd world which are less reliant on the things that may cause the USA to go under ]. I appreciate you have your own ideas about how things are going to pan out .. you have said endings take decades/centuries so we won't know the accuracy/veracity of those ideas for some time yet.

I'm aware you score your ideas highly with some measure of validation. I've read prior posts stating similar. I look forward to reviewing them again 50+ years from now and seeing how well they did but I will not a priori take them as definitive fact. Given my beliefs, that is asking for trouble for me personally ;)

1/30/17, 7:58 PM

Patricia Mathews said...
" I wish I could know how Trump's image will be folded, spindled, and repurposed by future generations! "

I'm sorry. That comment caused a sudden image to flash into my mind concerning said image being printed on paper normally found on rolls in the necessarium.When I stop laughing ...if I can stop....

BTW - A friend who had a nasty blood pressure crisis over a month ago said he saw Trump on TV turning beet red and thought "If he doesn't get that taken care of, he won't be among us long." Said friend is looking for a small city in the Willamette Valley to settle in - "low altitude, more water vapor, and [with their natural resources] you could survive the Apocalypse there." (No. He's not a doomster.)

1/30/17, 8:13 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Rebecca, oh, I know, I just spread joy wherever I go. ;-)

DoubtingThomas, the reason I tend to roll my eyes when people say "But there's a chance that it could be different" is that nearly always what follows is an attempt to drag the discussion back those notions of the future our culture prefers -- that is to say, perpetual progress or overnight apocalypse. The whole point of this blog is to talk about what happens if we have a normal future instead -- "normal" here in the same sense as "normal curve," that is, the statistically likely future, the future that will happen barring a really big rabbit gets pulled out of a hat somewhere.

The cyclic theory of history includes a lot more than the concept that civilizations have life cycles, which is why I can say that cyclic theories have been far more successful than the linear theories our culture prefers. The major theorists -- Spengler above all -- describe specific stages through which civilizations pass in the course of their lives. Spengler himself, writing just short of a century ago, made successful predictions covering many of the changes that have happened since his time. By contrast, historical analysts who base their predictions on linear extrapolation consistently get things completely wrong -- do you remember when we were going to have cities on the Moon, a cure for cancer, and electricity too cheap to meter by 2000? I certainly do.

As for economic predictions, when an economist makes a prediction, he's wrong, but that's less a matter of the complexity of the situation than it is of lethal flaws in the fundamental presuppositions of economics as a (pseudo)science. In the runup to the 2008 housing crash, for example, tens of thousands of people correctly identified what was going on as a classic speculative bubble, and discussed it at length; economists, on the other hand, were by and large blindsided. (I recall an essay by Nassim Taleb, one of the few exceptions, in which he described his attempt to point out the obvious to a room full of economists, and all of them looked at him as though he was crazy.) I did a post a while back specifically on that latter theme, which you can find here.

Patricia, heh. By all means get that in production -- the market for it would be, well, Yuuuuuge.

Shane (offlist), that was a bit much, don't you think?

1/30/17, 10:54 PM

PRiZM said...
Kfish, thanks for your comment about community. It's precisely your point about how having community gets people working together and accomplishing things despite how different they may feel or lean politically. Our current lack of ability to communicate is directly related to how little people care about community, and instead continue on in their narcissism, as JMG mentioned earlier. I think this is further evident in our lack of continuity with our historical community. People constantly thinking and saying "it's different this time" and "we (I) am so unique." They've failed to have any dialog with the past.

My wife pointed out something I found relevant to this idea. As we were listening to some classical music my wife noticed the song was from one of the older Disney films, either Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty (it doesn't matter which but we're going to find out which one later). She then made the comment how interesting it was that even in the 1960s culturally people were appreciating classical music, which had been around for 100, 200, and some even 300 years. Fast forward to today, and a song that has been around for six months is too old. The same can be said of most films, books, fashion, and a good many arts.

In our determination to be unique, modern society has attempted to cut ourselves off from all the splendor which was previously created and is solely interested in only what is new. That has ultimately got us to this point, alone, and running away from our past, in effect forgetting to feel with our legs and feet, not grounded. Everyone who has tried walking when they cannot feel their feet knows how this ends. Face first in the ground. (I really enjoyed that Jack London story "To Build A Fire"). This isn't uniquely America's problem, but it is more predominate in the USA. Maybe we will be one of the first countries to fail and then the societies which spring forth from our decomposing body can begin sprouting. Those who are rooted in community now may reap some benefits later by being leaders. But hopefully one doesn't forget that in order to lead, one must set the example.

1/31/17, 12:02 AM

DoubtingThomas said...
@JMG: The fact remains that there is always a chance which so far you appeared to want to deny/dismiss/denigrate rather than incorporate them but then that is the same mistake Spengler makes - an obvious one I think. I've made no statements about futures being preferred. So not sure why you roll your eyes.

You might be interested to know that Financial Risk Calculations rely heavily on normal distributions and standard deviations (rather than linear extrapolations) from them to indicate the statistical likelihood of events occurring to different risk factors that have been calculated using historical inputs. They still get it wrong. I have written and maintained risk engines for years in my career and did statistics at university so I'm reasonably familiar with the concepts. What tends to be forgotten is the existence of outliers and the tendency to massage them out of existence or simply override their implications. I'm sure I said all this in prior comments though.

I never rated economics eitehr, always considered it a bit of a pseudo-science too. Economic theory has little to do with the calculation of financial risk though - Risk calculation is more a technical analysis / management tool. Financial risk calculations - in the Monte Carlo methodology especially relative to Historic Simulation - is all about chance. You may be interested to know the monte Carlo methodology is considered to be technically better than HistSim.

I'm aware of what Spengler describes and I repeat I am aware he has critics other than myself. As I recall they went further in their criticisms than my focus on Spengler's ignoring the impact of innovation, inspiration and intuition.

Anyway Mr Greer, I've taken up enough of your time on this topic - we are clearly not going to agree and we have already looped quite possibly boring the audience. I have evidence sufficient for myself that automatically invalidates any attempt to dismiss the ability of innovation, inspiration and intuition to affect any ( and I would dare to say every ) cycle imaginable. I've written about it as directly as I can but if its not coming across then I don't really have anything else I can add to it. On that note I will withdraw :) To your credit you haven't censored the discussion - you could have.

1/31/17, 1:04 AM

Justin said...

I like Graham Hancock even though I am skeptical of many of his claims. The archaeological evidence, with the similar architecture and symbols everywhere is interesting.

Of course, I've often thought about just how ironic it would be, if as resource depletion and climate change are really starting to bite, that we get wiped out by something totally beyond our control, like a swarm of asteroids. Of course, that leads me back to ideas about Graham Hancock and consciousness...

1/31/17, 3:40 AM

Matt said...
@Shane W: "I was thinking more along the lines of people with green cards and people w/H1B visas, etc. that I've seen so many stories in the press. If they can afford to fly back and forth to their country of origin, their part of an elite that most people don't belong to. I wasn't thinking of refugees."

I can't help thinking you are using "elite" as a thought stopper here, a way of Othering the people affected by the ban so that you don't have to be troubled by their situation. Flying is an environmental disaster area but, the way things work today, it's certainly not an elite activity, unless you are drawing your boundaries awfully wide.

1/31/17, 5:01 AM

Bill Pulliam said...
Doubting Thomas, re: Graham Hancock... as a statistician, let me ask you a question: What are the odds that someone can predict the recurrences of an event that occurs periodically but irregularly to an accuracy of 20 years if the mean recurrence interval of that event is 20,000 years (1 part in 1000) or 26 million years (less than 1 part in a million)? Because Hancock's primary hypothesis posits about a 20,000 year periodicity, and the science he claims supports it actually is about a 26 million year periodicity. I don't think the odds of an ELE in the next 20 years are much different than they were in the last 20 years, or the last 2000 years, likely the last million years. Indeed the astronomers have concluced that we are already in a high bombardment time, and have been for a million years or so. Certainly no significant change in this risk factor in the coming decades.

1/31/17, 7:01 AM

Nastarana said...
This article by one John Robb, author of Brave New War,
entitled "Trump's Rollback of the Neoliberal State" is the best concise explanation of recent political and economic trends I have yet read. It reinforces and illuminates but does not replace the insights and thoughts of our host at the Archdruid Report.

If you read through earlier posts on the same blog you will come to the statement that "what is building" is something Robb calls "reactive authoritarianism." In other words, for Trump supporters, the message is We get to be in charge again.

I consider the designation or epithet 'authoritarian' rather suspect. I do not believe that every bossy person is a proto Nazi, merely an annoyance, and usually someone who gets in the way of the doing of productive work.

So, I would suggest that the challenge for Green Wizards and all who are collapsing now and living with less, and, I would add, sharing not selling where and when that is possible, is not how to resist the new order--that can be left to the multicultural left and maybe they will get some sense knocked into their airheads, while maybe resurgent conservatism will be finally forced to accept that they do not get to direct and determine how everyone else must live--but how to maintain peaceful and productive lives within it. I will add, parenthetically, that the main complaint many of us have had against conservativism, understood in a large sense, is not its policies, many of which are quite sensible, but its' relentless demanding of cultural conformity from all, in defiance of the tastes, talents, inclinations, personal and family histories, and even financial resources of others.

1/31/17, 7:54 AM

Sven Williams said...
Considering my medium-term plans, I can pay my debts off by late 2018 while accumulating a few thousand in savings. Everything I make after that is pure profit. I think by now (after some reflection) my dilemma is more along the lines of "how much should I save, and how much should I throw into this black hole of debt?"

I console myself by imagining how much accrued interest I'm robbing from the Department of Education by paying over three times my minimum required payment each month. So far, that's several thousand of my hard-earned that the DoE will never get their hands on.

1/31/17, 8:52 AM

Sven Williams said...
I was on IBR before moving out here, but being abroad makes it far more difficult to keep up with the paperwork and income verification requirements. However, I'm taking the opposite approach: I'm paying more than triple the required payment in an attempt to kill this beast as quickly as possible. Compound interest is a double-edged sword; it accumulates over time, but large early payments make for disproportionately large impacts down the road.

1/31/17, 8:54 AM

Sven Williams said...
Excellent point: even if Trump declares debt amnesty, it's not guaranteed that federal debts will be included in that pile. The Department of Education has some mighty strong tentacles extending into all three branches, and not even The Don can slither free from their grasp.

1/31/17, 8:55 AM

Sven Williams said...
That's pretty much the decision I've come to these past few days. Continue as planned, while saving up a certain fraction of my income for the future. As it stands, I live on less than half my salary; the other half goes to debt and savings. I can economize further, and console myself with visions of getting back to the track I was on before I decided to go to graduate school.

1/31/17, 8:56 AM

Maxine Rogers said...
Dear Bill Pulliam,
I am so glad you came back! I always read your posts.
Max Rogers

1/31/17, 9:12 AM

redoak said...
Concerning the topic of secession, it seems a very crude tool to employ against the complaints raised above. There is so much state sovereignty to repossess by constitutional means before resorting to secession. Given the power of foresight, I'm sure the veterans of our last experiment in this direction would have gladly reconsidered their choices. Are we to ignore their warning? For the downsides of confederacy versus a republic, you can do no better than to brush up on The Federalist. For an appeal to your heart, no better than Lincoln:

"I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

1/31/17, 9:48 AM

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...
Couldn't get to comment until now. Thanks for bringing up climate change again. I look forward to reading more about the cyclical view of history + future projections, as in variation not duplication because the cycle is perhaps more like a helix or gyroscopic figure than repetitive circles (which makes me think of W.B. Yeats, of course). It also makes me think of Native American views of time and occurrence and the necessity for ceremonialism to keep cycles on track and the earth (universe) functioning as it should.

Every civilization gets its own unique form of collapse. Aren't we special. :) "Me-focused" marketing writ large.

Just before a hard freeze this fall, we harvested a bunch of green cherry tomatoes and put them on the kitchen table by a window. They've been ripening at a perfect rate, and we won't finish the last of them until next week.

1/31/17, 10:31 AM

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...
Bill Pulliam,

Glad to see you back, with your intelligent, thought-provoking comments.

1/31/17, 10:33 AM

Fred the First said...
Acknowledging collapse looks like this - My husband and I walked our small property and surveyed the house making a list of needed or wanted projects. We quickly realized given a certain future of supply disruption, a new roof is top priority. Its 30 years old and we could probably wait a few more years, but we can't count on having more money then or even the roofing materials being available. And what if the cost is double due to inflation or lack of materials or shipping costs or tariffs?

My grandparents were born in 1920 and grew up during the Depression. When we complained as kids, they would always say "Stop your belly-aching. At least you have a roof over your head and something to eat." I guess that expression will be coming back soon.

1/31/17, 10:54 AM

Fred the First said...
And another sign of the unevenness of collapse - Amazon is offering me grocery delivery for $14.99 a month. Any order over $40 is free (charge of $10 if under $40) and the prices are the same as what I would pay at the store. I looked and they are offering a huge variety of items. And I get why they are doing it. Going to the store, one mixes with everyone at every income level and people don't want to do that. I hear people complain about SNAP card holders, seniors who still write checks, and the shrieking children. People will totally pay to avoid their neighbors.

1/31/17, 11:03 AM

Fred the First said...
There is a step between the police we have now and the roving gang leaders looking for security money - privately hired security forces. They had them in south Africa when I lived there in the 90's. Private security companies hired black Africans to patrol and defend white neighborhoods. They were heavily armed and free to use their weapons. When the private security companies start beginning on the east coast, that will be a sign to me that we have taken a step down the progress ladder. I know these companies already operate in California neighborhoods, but they seem to be hired first in lefty liberal areas. Go figure.

1/31/17, 11:08 AM

Fred the First said...
One last comment - I've separated them in case anything doesn't meet criteria, then the whole thing wouldn't be held back.

Thank you for the term "chattering classes". It really is the best term for what is the left these days. I can't open up any social media without witnessing a total melt-down over what Trump is doing. As has been the case for the whole election and inauguration, it is some really bright people doing the tantrum. Its common to see 30-40 forwards and posts a day from people and I have had to unfollow and hide their posts. They can''t be doing anything else other than this social media stuff.

There is such a huge effort going on to call everything Trump does "wrong". And the man has hardly done anything. He barely got started. And its not like their lives have been affected at all. They feel outrage for what could be happening in future if this goes on. They really think that if that keep projecting this outrage, it will have an effect.

Life isn't a linear progression. Deal with your reality as it exists right now. Stop talking and get to work.

1/31/17, 11:18 AM

Susan Krumdieck said...
I have read a couple of your books, but can't get through most of your blogs - they are pretty long even if interesting.

I am sure you are correct about the willful blindness of society and the religious reliance on the belief in technology and progress to "save us".

I thought you might like to know about a small but hopefully growing change of perspective amongst us technologists. Transition Engineering is a paradigm shift and it's not "sustainability engineering". It is very hard, but we work with exactly what is really happening, exactly what can really be done, and exactly what the constraints on the whole system are. Transition Engineering is the interdisciplinary job of changing existing systems to eliminate fossil fuel use. We do this work for companies, organizations and communities.

It is fun to point out to the small number of people who listen what deep shit we are in. But if we are extremely lucky, the field of Transition Engineering will emerge and take off in much the same way Safety Engineering did 100 years ago. Everything has to change - true, but somebody needs to actually start doing it.

Kind Regards,

Dr. Susan Krumdieck
Professor in Mechanical Engineering
University of Canterbury
Christchurch, New Zealand

1/31/17, 11:20 AM

pygmycory said...

last time the government restricted freedoms it was because of that shooter who killed a soldier and then went after the government members on parliament hill. I'd actually say that the government is slightly less likely to restrict freedoms after a white guy killing moslems than the other way round.

Your point on questionable information holds water. It is early days to know for exact certain what was going through Bissonette's head, assuming that they are correct that he did it.

If you want to talk about large numbers of somewhat preventable deaths, the fentanyl epidemic killed more people last year in BC alone than you cite for alcohol across the entire country.

People react more strongly to people being murdered than to people killing themselves via legal or illegal substances. And honestly, people being murdered at a prayer meeting bothers me more than most killings because I can all too easily imagine it being my friends, or me, at my church.

1/31/17, 11:53 AM

pygmycory said...
It looks like Trump plans to do something about the drug pricing situation in the USA, although I'm not sure exactly what just yet.

@Patricia, Trump toilet paper would likely find a market in Canada, too. Trump should consider patenting and selling it ;)Not that he needs more money, and his ego might find it offensive.

Good grief there's a lot happening in the US politically right now. Government by executive order.

1/31/17, 12:27 PM

The other Tom said...
Regarding succession, I believe that the lack of strong regional identify, or of connection to place, is an impediment to succession movements. Most people in the U.S. now, everywhere I've been are for more connected to their jobs and economic opportunities than to a town or state. There are exceptions of course, but the bulk of the population is willing to move out of state for a job or retire in Florida. A suburb in Massachusetts is just as good as a suburb in Oregon. My friends in eastern Connecticut are a little different in that we are all from here and nobody wants to leave. I know there are areas of such people in each state but we are the minority. Perhaps, as Bill and others pointed out this will change as the economy scales down and we are forced to be more local. Right now, though, the ones with a strong local or regional identify are usually those with families going back many generations and/or a strong attachment to local geography and culture.

1/31/17, 12:35 PM

James M. Jensen II said...
Let me add myself to the chorus glad to see Bill Pulliam return! Bill, I've probably disagreed with you more than I've agreed but you've always been a fantastic addition to the comments here.

1/31/17, 2:11 PM

Justin said...
Pygmycory, yeah, my comment about alcohol etc is a bit remiss. But for instance, if you had to show government ID to buy alcohol no matter what, there could easily also be a way to blacklist yourself from buying alcohol if you have a problem - very easy to implement while we still have the Internet.

I forgot all about that shooter, and yeah, I remember that foul mixture of patriotism and creeping authoritarianism. I might not like Mr. Dressup, but I'm still glad he beat Harper. And you're right, a religious building is an especially awful place to shoot up.

On the other hand, even though Canada is in the very early stages of the process compared to Europe, Islamization appears to be a one-way street in most cases. This absurd bill m103 is an example of the kind of politics that will become more and more common as more ridings become Islamic ridings. So I can understand the rage if not the actions. Islam, at least the forms of it which spread rapidly, is really something like the Borg. I do hope that once the more successful (highest growth rate) strains achieve decadence they become a bit more respectful of the individual.

FYI if bill M103 passes, this post will have been a hate crime for which I could be sent to prison. Recently, a man - a total jackass - in Britain was sent for prison for smearing a mosque's doors with bacon. He was denied separation from Muslim inmates and was brutally murdered in prison. It will happen in Canada - which will probably lead to more terrorism by white people.

1/31/17, 2:20 PM

Karen said...
Yay, Bill Pulliam is back. I have to confess, when I'm in a hurry, I buzz through looking for his comments first, I find his reinforcement of or contradiction to your post always informative. Welcome back Bill.

1/31/17, 3:05 PM

Raymond Duckling said...
@Violet, Sorry about what you are going through. Have my best wishes and may you fight off your illness with grace and skill. You are well loved around here.

@Bill, Glad to see you back so soon, and to see your comments are as spot on as always.

@Everyone, I did what I said I would, though the hand over of responsibilities will take a few more weeks. Will let you know when I break the "ramen profitable" mark.

1/31/17, 3:22 PM

Shane W said...
IDK, I was actually quite amused by my comments. ;-)

1/31/17, 3:30 PM

temporaryreality (Wendy) said...
JMG, not sure if Graeme didn't see your question about green wizards' hats in China (or if I didn't see his answer), but a green hat of any sort, worn by a man, signifies he's been cuckolded.

1/31/17, 4:34 PM

Shane W said...
Well, it seems Trump is maintaining the prohibition against LGBT discrimination in the federal government by maintaining Obama's 2 year old executive order. Wonder how long before this gets twisted by the media into "Trump begins antigay pogrom"

1/31/17, 4:54 PM

Janet D said...
One more for your files, in case you haven't seen it yet:

Malaria Drugs Fail for First Time on Patients in UK

And thanks for the reminder that the decline of civilization means that things I don't like and don't agree with are going to happen. I needed that this week.

1/31/17, 5:48 PM

latheChuck said...
Way back in October 19, 2016, when this blog posted "The Future Hiding in Plain Sight", our host proposed that a "crisis of legitimacy in the United States" was one of the factors unfortunately overlooked in the military strategy document for 2035: JOE-35. How many of us imagined that just a few months later, we'd see people marching and chanting "not my President"? (Not me, for one.)

In other, marginally relevant news, I've decided to proof-test old garden seeds during the winter, rather than scatter them on the soil in the spring and hope for the best. The space on top of my water heater tank maintains a soil temperature of 72F, which is much better for germination than the space under the grow-lights (62F) that they'll be moving to when they need light. (For those new to gardening, there are charts showing the success and timing of seed germination as a function of soil temperature, readily available if you ask Google.)

1/31/17, 7:04 PM

sandy said...
@DoubtingThomas. Greetings from the Big Mango (BKK). A few years ago John Michael said 'All civilizations are unique on their way up, but as they start collapsing, they become more alike and thus more predictable.' Still sounds good to me, heh.

Pearce M. Schaudies.
Minister of Future

1/31/17, 7:22 PM

Hubertus Hauger said...
JMG says: That the blog´s overall aim is “…an attempt to drag the discussion …(to) … the future our culture prefers -- …, perpetual progress or overnight apocalypse… what happens if we have a normal future instead -- "normal" here in the same sense as "normal curve," that is, the statistically likely future, the future that will happen barring a really big rabbit gets pulled out of a hat somewhere.”

Let’s get normal, I like that!

These two contradicting extremes, progress for ever and ever versus sudden total annihilation does sound like compulsory religious imagination. While the way of the world is naturally the circle of life. Birth and death repeatedly on and on. That’s natural.
Our believe of ever lasting wealth and embetterment is not. It’s a mere mirage of paradise or heaven on earth. That damnation fantasy is not either. Thinking of it I see it to be a social illusion. Its more the omnipotence dream of an drug addict held for real but is not. Or a schizophrenic is holding his lunatic delusions for real, while they are not. It is a classic, that the hallucinations is not recognized as such.

While the normal thing is, that we have reached the limits of growth. Unavoidably collapse and simplification of life means, we are going back to normal. Dropping out of the Fata Morgana and slowly realising, that we are in a desert, not in a lush garden, aka headed to a non-fossil future, ready or not.

Death is normal. But not the end.

The struggle to accept that way of the world is normal too. The stages of grief; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance are our convulsing reaction on the was to realise our hence social illusion and dropping out of it. Guess, we are slowly getting back to normal. Leaving this lunatic delusions will help us return to live our life at the fullest, instead of destroying our lives being drug addict.

So our perspective is going back to normal. Going back to real life! Good that is!

1/31/17, 8:44 PM

Maxine Rogers said...
I have to ask, why is this post so immediate and so dark? Not that I think you are wrong, but I would like to know what are you basing your forecast on in particular?
Yours under the red cedars,
Max Rogers

1/31/17, 9:52 PM

Maxine Rogers said...
Sven Williams,
Have you considered emigrating to avoid your student loans? I know a wonderful veterinarian from the USA why emigrated to Canada to escape her impossible student loan debt. I would consider that if I were you.
Max Rogers

1/31/17, 9:59 PM

Matt said...
Apologies if I have missed any pertinent replies but it's getting late in the week, and I wanted to make a quick point about insulin: has anyone described what would be required to keep current insulin production going, without resorting to pig pancreas?

My point is that our decline is unlikely to dump us into an immediate dark age. Aside from temporary supply chain disruption, there is no particular reason to suppose that it won't be possible to continue making money manufacturing such an obviously useful product for the foreseeable future, until quite far down the slope of decline.


2/1/17, 5:58 AM

Ed-M said...

Crikey and Gor Blimey! 425 Comments already. Shoulda posted sooner but didn't get to. Responding to emails and Facecrack are consuming my time even though I have few online friends but one very self-centered sister.

On the coming collapse (Dave Z is right: why is it different this time?), I find my self almost totally unprepared! Right now I'm depending on government support for food and rent and handouts from my three siblings indefinitely b/c my share of my mum's estate was setaside for my retirement, if Congress doesn't move the minimum retirement age for my age bracket [I'm 56] repeatedly). Need I say more on this particular point? No. But if you *want* more....

So going to dealing with the ongoing collapse, I'm going to have to go back into the ratrace, which the rats have won, in order to be able to: first, pay off un-charge-off-able debts and second, collapse now with the rush with some semblance of dignity left -- my best option would be to buy an inexpensive house in a nearby small town here at New Orleans, like Bogalusa. The thing is, I don't see reentering the ratrace as something that is going to happen, no matter how much I pursue it. Barbara Ehrenreich wrote more about this kind of futile hunt for reemployment in her book, Bait and Switch.

Now slightly OT, on the Union of Concerned Scientists having advanced the doomsday clock by 30 seconds: betcha dollars to doughnuts (mmmmmhhh... doughnuts!) that they never would have done that had Hillary won the Election. But they should have anyway, because of the No-Fly-Zone she would have declared in a foolish idealistic fit of compassion over that one particular boy in that one particular ambulance, whose photograph was sent all over the Mainstream Media, probably by CNN where I saw it. What about the other boys -- and girls -- who were collateral-damaged or even butchered by our "allies," the terrorists?

Now on your plans on leaving Cumberland, where are you planning to go? May I suggest Cuba or Belize? Cuba already went through a collapse with flying colours and you'll be able to get along if you know Spanish. Belize is not that far up on the industrian civilisation ladder, has recently been decolonised from the Brits and hasn't attracted much attention from Uncle Sam.

2/1/17, 9:40 AM

Ed-M said...
Now for responses to comments (one of two):

@ Troy Jones 1/25/17 4:14 PM,

On the Trumpians virally spreading videos of the DC [pat]riot police going after the "snowflakes:" I posted a comment as PfctvsPontivsPilatvs on one such video embedded in another "signs of the end" vid. The people behaving badly were not the snowflakes -- they showed up the next day in the Women's March -- but rather unreconstructed anarchists and communists. Some were wearing all-black including their hoodies!

@ Dave Z 1/25/17 4:26 PM,

Yes, and Y2K could have gone the other way: "Our bases were uncovered. We pulled the trigger and - BANG!

"That round of Russian Roulete left us alive - but just barely - just like on that episode of Family Guy!" And I would be reading this in a samizdat (self-published and distributed) periodical sent by the Archdruid himself from Ashland, Oregon.

@ Clay Dennis 1/25/17 4:46 PM,

Of course! The mid-2000s was when the War on Iraq was turning out to be obvious to all as the complete disaster that it was. Since the Neocons couldn't get at Iraqi oil anymore due to the enormous clusterfrack they created, they decided to go after Russia: for her oil of course, so I state at the risk of being labelled Captain Obvious!

@ Carlos M. 1/25/17 5:31 PM,

On the NYer article, it was in the runup to the dark ages after the Roman Empire collapsed, that monasteries were virtually and basically the unintentional doomsday prep for the Christian church. Now what does that say about us, collectively, when the only ones doing "serious" and/or "sufficient" prep for the dark future before us are the exceedingly rich rich people, who are following the advice that Doomer Pornographers handed out from about 2004 through 2011?

@ John the Peregrine 1/12/17 5:44 PM:

Which is another reason why, to the civilised peoples who were against these things and with whom the Mongolians (to put it lightly) came into contact, they were Evilly Evil Evildoers of Evil.

2/1/17, 9:43 AM

Tyler August said...

Have you seen the proposed Cash Flow Tax the Republicans are considering? Cash flowing through a corporation is taxed. Not profits. Two things about this plan that will warm the cockles of your archdruidical heart are:
- no depreciation of equipment
- no tax on wages
Who knew Paul Ryan was a fan?
I never thought I could like a Republican tax plan, but here it is. Apparently it violates WTO rules -- even better!

Here's a discussion.

Posting now in case I can't find the link later, and in case it's too off-topic from your next essay. Hopefully you still read such 11th-hour comments. No need to post.

2/1/17, 9:45 AM

Ed-M said...
And now two of two:

@ Rita 1/25/2017 6:22 PM,

Izzy @ 1/25/17 5:58 PM would be right to punch a Nazi, or a jerk, based on what he said to him, because that person would probably say something to him that posed a direct and immediate threat. You can figure out his apparent religion/ethnicity and apparent sexual orientation; Izzy is a nickname for Isaac IIRC.

@ Repent 1/25/2017 6:30 PM,

Since you live out on the prairies, you probably wouldn't have access to real cranberry juice or fresh cranberries either. Considering that you're already shooting kidney stones like a machine gun shooting bullets, you probably don't have access to either now --just Ocean Spray and the like which are mostly grape juice or sugar/high-fructose-corn-syrup water, and I found to be useless. Useless!

@ Doubting Thomas 1/25/2017 6:43 PM,

You lucky bastard! Here in the USA the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a quasi-private government organ and it partially supports NPR and PBS both of which ever-so-slyly catapault the propaganda for corporate interests, the MIC, the neoliberals/neoconservatives, and on occasion 1960s-70s Liberalism if only to show how good (and worthy of worship) our government is. A lot of people for this reason won't miss it, but a smaller lot would!

And those storage devices? Make sure your friends in high-tech come up with a computer that will still function after five hundred to a thousand years of dark ages and and they (or you!) figure out a set of instructions that people then will be able to follow in order to figure out how to operate it. Otherwise they will know nothing of our civilisation except huge excavation and landfill constructions (cuts and embankments), surviving remnants of traffic interchanges, and stone buildings that they might confuse with the remaining Greek and Roman temples, etc.

@ Logan 1/25/2017 7:25 PM

"If anything history suggests that the sins of empires are apt to be forgotten."
That's a perfect explanation of why the mechanics of Roman-crucifixion are still not fully recovered: i.e. there was a stout support upon which the crucified person rested --i.e., sat or "rode"--, without which the person would have to be sustained with ropes.

For more, please pursue my relevant blog articles here and here.

@ Chris of Cherokee Organics 1/26/17, 1:01 PM,

Hi Chris!

haven't responded to your comments for a very long while so here goes...

Your mention of The Logical Song inspired me to get a CD copy of Supertramp's Breakfast in America album. At the town library, of course, and not at the USAian Barnes and Noble bookstore and certainly NOT at! back in the 1970s I used to listen to this song on the radio along with others by Supertramp but paid it no mind. Mind you, I almost purchased the Breakfast in America album at a Woolworth's based on the cover art! I just played the song again two nights ago for the first time in four decades and it left me in tears! Turns out, the song was a prophecy of the story of my life... until I lost my job in '09 and was booted out into the street from April '15 to January '16, but that's a whole 'nother ball of wax altogether.

@all: DONE!

2/1/17, 9:49 AM

Patricia Mathews said...
And speaking of monasticism - the cartoon Bizarro was quite without intention much to the point and actually somewhat historically accurate for the early Middle Ages:

Birds of Prayer.

2/1/17, 2:52 PM

pygmycory said...
@Justin, I just went and took a look at the proposed text of bill M103, and I think you're exaggerating. It's mostly a motion to study ways of reducing religous and racial phobia and discrimination, and while it uses islam as the main example, it's not specific to islam alone. It is also a private members bill which may well not go anywhere. It also doesn't change any laws even if it were to pass - though the government could decide to change something after the studies were done.

You can find the text here:

2/1/17, 2:54 PM

Caelan MacIntyre said...
Hi John,

I just quoted a little of you over at Peak Oil Barrel, along with a link to Euan's and Gail's homes respectively.

Yes, I've posted the front cover image of Supertramp's 'Crisis, What Crisis?' on The Oil Drum and/or Peak Oil Barrel before...

Never mind reality.
We'll worry about it when our short-term niceties, like drinks, chaise longues, and parasols, and assorted fossil-fueled entitlements, etc., start disappearing, and/or their disappearances throw us across some critical thresholds into increasing discomfort.

Looks like we're all destined to become super tramps.

Hi Ghung. It's cute how everyone's spread out over the peak oil forum comment sections these daze and kind of fun to catch them sometimes.

~ Caelan MacIntyre, AKA Tribe Of Pangaea- First Member

2/1/17, 6:59 PM

Dan Johnson said...
JMG, it occurred to me today that maybe instead of everyone striving to go neo-medieval ("collapse now") incrementally, as a best case plan, or whatnot, we should instead try to collapse cold turkey, but in designated zones. The "zones" could be space or time: special neighborhoods in a town, rooms in one's house, days of the week, or even an hour of the day in which we turn off the main breaker, light a candle, and exist without fossil fuel. Some precendents are the designated Wilderness zones in which even Park personnel can't use power tools, and traditional Sabbath day? Like an immersion language class, this would give people a 100% taste, an alternative space that is parallel to BAU. People may even like it better and want to go full time?

2/3/17, 6:41 PM

Wendy said...

Fascinating series, can't wait for the next post.

Because I am steeped in Zen practice, I am seeing Zen all over this, perhaps accurately, or perhaps just because I'm projecting a familiar framework onto the ideas you presented here.

But this:

"Our thoughts about the things are abstract patterns we create out of memories of representations, and thus at two removes from reality."

....gets at the essential aim of Zen practice, which consists of relentless observation of the thoughts we constantly layer onto direct bodily experience and are (according to Zen Buddhism) the source of the perceived-but-illusory dualism which is, in turn, the source of all suffering.

I'm picturing Schopenhauer in the Lotus position....ha.

2/28/17, 1:09 PM