This is an excerpt from the latest title to be published by Club Orlov Press: 150-Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future by Rob O'Grady, available as both paperback and Kindle e-book via Amazon.com. This is a key passage that does nothing less than define a new modus vivendi that allows us to get past selfish motivations and the blind pursuit of ever more ephemeral profits, and to empower ourselves to build something much more solid that amplifies the energy of personal relationships. And now, without further ado, Rob O'Grady:
On the most basic level, human fallibility is regulated in two ways. The first is through fear, which motivates us to avoid negative outcomes. The second is through aspiration, which motivates us to achieve positive outcomes. A person may refrain from stealing to avoid prison; another out of respect for others’ property and a belief in the value of harmonious living. One day we may work because we need the money; the next because we want to contribute to something useful and worthwhile. Aspects of both our baser and our better nature are always at work, and both the carrot and the stick are needed in any system for organizing people.
I discuss collapse, weird old America, why Facebook is like a cross between animal husbandry and data processing, the book 150-Strong which has just been published, my upcoming book Shrinking the Technosphere and all the reasons why Near-Term Human Extinction is something of a faulty intellectual product.
I am very happy to announce that another Club Orlov Press title, on which Rob and I worked for most of a year, is finally available. Its cover doesn't lie: this book does provide a pathway to a different future—and, in my estimation, a better one.
It is the happy end of a longish story.
In early 2013 I was invited to speak at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota. It is a school that teaches a wide variety of native and folk arts, from building canoes to baking bread. One of the things that this school does rather well is teach people how to become part of the community that has grown up around the school. This had been happening spontaneously for some time, and it was thought that a conscious effort in this direction would produce even better results. And so, I was invited to address this topic in a seminar.
This was a new topic for me, and so I spent a few weeks at the library researching small communities that have stood the test of time. I looked at a great many of them: religious communities, such as the Anabaptists—the Amish, Mennonites and Hutterites, as well as the Mormons in Utah and the Dukhobors in British Columbia; secular ones, such as the Kibbutzim in Israel; ethnically defined ones such as the Roma (also called Gypsies) and the Pashtun tribesmen of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
If you have been paying attention, you may have noticed that the global financial markets are currently in meltdown mode. Apparently, the world has hit diminishing returns on making stuff. There is simply too much of everything, be it oil wells, container ships, skyscrapers, cars or houses. Because of this, the world has also hit diminishing returns on borrowing money to build and sell more stuff, because the stuff we build doesn't sell. And because it doesn't sell, the price of stuff that's already been made keeps going down, lowering its value as loan collateral and making the problem worse.
When building a boat, no matter what technique is used, most of the time goes into making the parts. Much of the quality of the resulting hull has to do with the quality of the pieces—the precision with which they are fitted together. Much time is squandered grinding and trimming them to achieve a tight fit. All of this work requires some level of expertise, plus a well-equipped workshop.
This won't work for QUIDNON, which is to be assembled barn-raising style on some sheltered bit of coastline in a few summer weekends by people who have never built a boat before, and, if all goes well, never will build a boat again, boatbuilding being entirely incidental to the far more interesting activities of living aboard a boat and sailing it around.
Therefore, QUIDNON will arrive at the construction site in the form of a set of shipping pallets loaded with all of the parts pre-made. The kit of parts from which the hull is assembled will consist of a large set of plywood panels, milled out using an excessively precise numerically controlled machine. Each piece will be numbered, and each assembly step documented in a printed assembly manual.
It's January, and the Greenland ice sheet is melting. There was recently a winter hurricane in the North Atlantic, and another in the Pacific. On New Year's day there was a thaw at the North Pole. Greenand is melting; when it melts, the ocean level will go up 20 feet (6m). This will be enough to flood all the coastal cities—permanently. So far, predictions as to how fast this melting will occur have proven to be worthless, with the actual melting rate outpacing them by a huge margin. And although many people still believe that the effect will be gradual—less than an inch a year—another view on the matter is that at some point there will be an avalanche-like collapse of the Greenalnd ice sheet, which will generate a meltwater pulse, sending ocean levels up many feet in a single step.
And there are all those who, whenever I publish something that mentions climate change, crawl out of the woodwork and gnash their exoskeletal mandibles at me, to the effect that climate=weather, and it's all a conspiracy theory. They are idiots and deserve a boathook in the eye. Sailing on... [UPdate: if you think that calling idiots idiots and saying that they deserve a boathook in the eye would dissuade them from posting comments for me to delete, you'd be wrong. That's not how idiots' minds (don't) work. Mention catastrophic climate change, and idiots come running.]
For the sake of this discussion, I will assume a meltwater pulse of 10 feet (3m). What will it mean for those of us who live on the water and sail along the coastline? And, more specifically, what will be the impacts for the sailboat design I have been working on for about a year now—QUIDNON, the houseboat that sails?
[This is a rerun from March of last year, whose time has finally come. With the new year, a sea change seems to have occurred in the financial markets: instead of “melting up,” the way they used to, they have started “melting down.” My original prediction is that this will lead to more armed conflict. Let's see if I was right.]
Scanning the headlines in the western mainstream press, and then peering behind the one-way mirror to compare that to the actual goings-on, one can't but get the impression that America's propagandists, and all those who follow in their wake, are struggling with all their might to concoct rationales for military action of one sort or another, be it supplying weapons to the largely defunct Ukrainian military, or staging parades of US military hardware and troops in the almost completely Russian town of Narva, in Estonia, a few hundred meters away from the Russian border, or putting US “advisers” in harm's way in parts of Iraq mostly controlled by Islamic militants.