Monday, June 25, 2012

Hold Your Applause! (But not for much longer)

I am hard at work on my next book, The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivors’ Toolkit, due out in print and digital from New Society Publishers next June. As you can probably imagine, financial collapse is turning out to be a bit of a doozy; I am saving it for the end. And so I decided to take a break from relentless weekly blogging, and instead to republish Hold Your Applause! in Kindle format. It's been out of print for a while now, but people keep asking me for copies, so here it is. In the introduction, it says:
...this book is not so much for you to read as it is for you to slap other people upside their fool heads with. In the coming years, you will no doubt run across countless people who will say to you things like “Nobody could have seen this coming!” or “Who could have ever imagined it would be like this?” or “Why wasn't anyone able to predict this?” That will be your cue to whip out this book, and… give it to them.

This, of course, points out a major downside of ebook readers: the little electronic devices are too fragile to be of use in hand-to-hand combat. And so you will need to hold your temper as well—just until The Five Stages comes out: I plan to make it weighty enough to thrash all cornucopian techno-triumphalist polyannishness (not to mention just plain old cluelessness) out of even the wooliest of heads.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Willful Blindness

As we read the morning headlines, we are offered one surprise after another. The 2008 economic crisis seemed to come out of nowhere. The rampant fraud at Enron and MCI caught us off guard. BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was like a freak accident.

The truth is that there are very few surprise in life. Most of what’s happening, whether it’s corporate misbehavior or government coverups or relationship gone awry, are visible but we cast a blind eye to the truth. This phenomena of not seeing what’s right before our eyes is called willful blindness. We chose to ignore what we can see because we don’t want what we see to be true.

Thomas White interviews Margaret Heffernan, author of Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril, and myself.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Disaster Communalism

Oleg Kulik
[This is a guest post by Keith Farnish: an edited, unpublished extract from his online book Underminers: A Practical Guide for Radical Change. It would take too long to explain precisely what Undermining is and who the Underminers are, so please recommend reading the Introduction. The whole book is free to access and redistribute.]

The following essay was triggered by dialogue between Dmitry Orlov and Keith Farnish, both of whom have a deep interest in the power of community to combat and rise above all sorts of situations. The essay attempts to show that not only is community a powerful binding force, it is also a powerful combative force against the culture that threatens to obliterate the majority of life on Earth.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Absolutely Positive

With ClubOrlov just over four years old, I am publishing a "best of" book of essays. These are 30 of the most popular articles chosen from the ones that have been published on ClubOrlov.

A lot has changed during this time; four years ago this book would have been largely about the future, but now it is largely about the present. In preparing the manuscript for publication, I haven't found anything that I would want to change or retract.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Our Brave Experiment

Pete Revonkorpi
[This is the last in the series of three posts based on the talks I gave at the first annual Age of Limits conference in Artemas, Pennsylvania.]

Exactly six years ago—a year or so before my first book was to be published—my wife and I sold our condo in a Boston suburb, liquidated most of our belongings, moved the rest either into storage or aboard Hogfish—our 32-foot sailboat—and sailed off into the North Atlantic.

This was rather brave of us, since, up to that point, our seafaring experience was limited to a weekend sail from Boston to Salem and back, which is the nautical equivalent of dangling your feet in a swimming pool. I did have some prior sailing experience: I had sailed dinghies around Boston's Charles River Basin (a smallish expanse of flat water between the Massachusetts Avenue bridge and the Longfellow Bridge). Once that became too boring, I joined Courageous Sailing Center and went on to sail somewhat larger boats, including the sporty J-22, around Boston Harbor.

The typical summer afternoon excursion involved tacking out and around the nearest harbor island on the afternoon sea breeze, anchoring somewhere for a picnic, and sloshing back on the tide and the dying breeze just as the sun was starting to set. While this doesn't sound particularly courageous, just getting out into the harbor did take courage: Courageous Sailing Center is located in a deep, winded-in pocket between two piers, and the only way to get out of it and out into the harbor it is by short-tacking through an obstacle course of moored boats.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Fragility and Collapse: Slowly at first, then all at once

Josh Keyes
[In italiano]

[En français]

This article is based on the notes from one of the talks I gave at the Age of Limits conference.

I have been predicting collapse for over five years now. My prediction is that the USA will collapse financially, economically and politically within the foreseeable future... and this hasn’t happened yet. And so, inevitably, I am asked the same question over and over again: “When?” And, inevitably, I answer that I don’t make predictions as to timing. This leaves my questioners dissatisfied, and so I thought that I should try to explain why it is that I don’t make predictions as to timing. I will also try to explain how one might go about creating such predictions, understanding full well that the result is highly subjective.