Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Age of Limits 2013

I am on the train back from the second annual Age of Limits conference at the Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary in Artemas, Pennsylvania. It was the coldest Memorial Day weekend in the Alleghenies in anyone's memory, but in spite of the (almost) freezing cold, (which explains the “layered” look of many of the attendees) it went well. This week I will process one of the talks I gave (on lessons we can learn from intentional communities that abide over many generations) into a blog post. In the meantime, here are a few of the photos I took (the ones that turned out the best).

Albert Bates speaking on Ted Kaczynski (a.k.a. the Unabomer)

 
Guy McPhearson about to set out the case for the near-term extinction (NTE) of the human species
The audience letting Guy's message wash over them
Informal discussion at the fire circle
At breakfast
Closing ceremony
The presenters (minus Greer who was busy talking to someone)



Everyone (click to enlarge)

39 comments:

Ruben Chandler said...

I knew Albert Bates when he was skinny. We lived on the same commune together in the 70s. LOL

Publius said...

thanks for the photos. I must have been amazing to have such a diverse group of collapse-thinkers in one place.

Did you find out, Dmitri, to what extent McPhearson is being metaphorical or not, about NTE?
I read a blog post from another attendee (who was not a presenter), and Greer seemed to think that the NTE concept might gain in popularity because it basically makes people feel that there is no real need to change their lifestyles. After all, if your species is going extinct anyway...

Ryan said...

Very cool. I wasn't sure if McPherson was taking part.

How did you feel about his assessment of NTE? If you don't mind me asking.

k-dog said...

It turns out Albert Bates is a fellow Blogger. Just as Demitri has 'ClubOrlov' Albert Bates has 'The Great Change'.

I put a link to him on my Home Page. Go to the left column on my site and you will see what to do. It's fast and easy.

kollapsnik said...

McPhearson is not kidding about NTE. He just presents the data from the papers that have come out over the past two years, which incorporate the effects of the various positive feedbacks that have been triggered, and which will lead not to 2ºC in a century, but much more and much sooner. I do not rule out the possibility of survival, but it would be more along the lines of what I outlined in The New Age of Sail some years ago. I've been moving in that direction ever since, perhaps too slowly. I better hurry up, though.

Harry J. Lerwill said...

Your talk on intentional communities that have survived the test of time was one of the highlights for me, as far as useful information on mitigation strategies.

I hope you make it a series of posts, rather than just one, I do not think you could do it justice on one page.

Was great meeting you.

John D. Wheeler said...

I have a question about the last picture. Was that really "everyone"? That seems so much smaller than last year. Of course, I was one of the missing... but my parents 60th anniversary doesn't come around that often ;-)

kollapsnik said...

The people in the picture were perhaps 2/3 of the attendees, because some people had already left by then, and others were off packing their tents. Attendance was less than last year because a lot of people looked at the forecast of near-freezing temperatures and decided not to come.

gail zawacki said...

more pictures/impressions here:

http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/2013/05/our-revels-are-now-ended.html

It was wonderful to meet you Dmitri. I really think the issue of gender inequality and patriarchy you inadvertently brought to the fore in your talk deserve a much deeper discussion as they relate to both collapse and intentional communities, so thank you for that and the vodka too!

kollapsnik said...

Gail is a troublemaker. Her post is full of inaccuracies and petty digs. I guess she got what she wanted out of the conference, which is to have something to criticize endlessly, and have plenty of dying trees to look at and photograph.

GHung said...

"Gail is a troublemaker."

Maybe it was the vodka....

AbundantDescent said...

Having read Gail's comments on your presentation, I'd have to agree with her assessment. I don't know a single academically-trained, feminist who wouldn't. I can understand why you felt hijacked, Dmitri, and would not pretend to know whether or not she is "a troublemaker". Nonetheless, her points and those she claims were raised by other women are fair. Doubtless the anarcha-feminists of the Spanish Civil war and Emma Goldman would agree as well. She's also correct that you could easily have argued that you know of no matriarchal or gender-egalitarian experiments, while acknowledging that was unfortunate, and ended the discussion there. I would ask you to reconsider that position, rather than defending sexism, heterosexism or other human rights violations. With gratitude for all that you do to make us aware of the problems we are up against, Lorraine in Ontario

Orren Whiddon said...

Hi Dmitry

Regarding attendance at The Age of Limits, we had 169 on site (all persons) in 2012 and 147 this year. Because of the freezing weather we had 18 gate attendees this year and 44 last year. Doom is of course weather related! Intro Guy McPherson, stage left.

About 50% of these numbers returned questionnaires, which were overwhelmingly positive. Most mentioned was the value of face to face conversation between attendees, rather than the formal presentations or internet conversations, with many valuable suggestions for how to provide more time in the schedule for these conversations next year. Carolyn Bakers risk taking around processing emotional reactions to collapse was much mentioned, with by my count 30% of the people on site participating in her Saturday evening working, a very high percentage for work of this type at a secular gathering. Many, many comments on the diversity of viewpoints among our presenters, with many suggestions for other voices to include in the future. Your presentation on the attributes of long term community was the second most cited after Guy's. High praise for food and staff, with many thank you's for our quick reaction to the freezing weather.

Three questionnaires were negative in the sense that Gail's (Wits End) review was negative, although none of these three engaged in ad hominem snark. It has been my experience in over 30 years of progressive organizing that some people can only participate by instead organizing "The Circular Firing Squad" that seems afflict progressive groups. All part of the puzzle.

Best wishes for seeing you next year.

Orren Whiddon
Age of Limits

kollapsnik said...

Lorraine -

I was speaking on stable intentional communities that succeed, over many generations. There are no matriarchies among them. I did point out that the Kibutz movement embraced gender equality (along with socialism/communism and the entire package of "human rights"). But I find rights-based rhetoric of very limited applicability to the subjects I study, and would rather not waste time on it. If anyone wishes to discuss rights, let's start with the right of animals not to be driven into extinction by humans. I would prioritize these above everything else.

Harry J. Lerwill said...

I have to agree with Kollapsnik, the introduction of feminism was a distraction and in my opinion, wasted valuable discussion time; I was there to learn about what they did that worked, not argue if their social mores were right or wrong.

Orren's comment on crypto-ovulation (mentioned in Gail's blog) was addressed to the process of evolution, which manipulated men and women equally, not conscious actions.

As far as I could see, and I was sitting next to him at the time, the only bitterness was in the eye of the beholder.

Her interpretation of many events and conversations are very different from my own.

kollapsnik said...

I haven't thought about the subject of the future American/Western feminism before this flared up, but now that I have, here is how it looks to me. Look at the original Meadows et al. Limits to Growth baseline scenario. Look at the deaths AND BIRTHS curves zooming up into the stratosphere starting in around 2050. Those groups that wish to survive will be giving birth early and often, hoping that a few survive. Once cesareans are no longer available, we should expect a lot of those deaths will be in childbirth. Giving birth to and raising a continuous pipeline of children from puberty to menopause (or death, whichever comes first) is very much a biologically-determined, gender-segregated role. It seems likely, therefore, that gender equality will go the way of building safety codes, laws against child labor and the regulated workweek. It will be a thorough regression to baseline, which will be hard to take for progress-minded people who want to make a stand for their hard-won social victories, in turn making them a poor choice as crew to take along on this journey. I have no ideological bone to pick here; I am just reading a computer-generated chart that's over 30 years old but is turning out to be correct in spades. Also, observe that groups hell-bent on survival (such as the ones I mentioned during my talk) have already jettisoned (or have never taken on board) much of the baggage of progressive society. I know that this won't make a lot of people feel warm and fuzzy all over, but then what did you expect? A trip to Disneyland? So that's where I'll finally leave it.

Orren Whiddon said...

Dmitry and Harry

I have two strong, confident, collapse aware young daughters who are my legacy and my skin-in-the-game regarding a discussion of gender. They are the "tip of the spear" in a long line of very feminine, flouncy dressed, soft and loving Southern Ladies who would happily cut out a mans errant heart and serve it to him with a smile. The women in my world are strong, fearsome and cherish their femininity.

I have been blessed to be able to raise my daughters at a time within the western industrial empire when they are presented with more choice and personal agency around their own gender roles, than perhaps at any other time in human history. I recognize that it has not always been so in human experience, and that as we careen into the population bottleneck that will be my young daughters life experience, their agency and ability to choose will likely be severely circumscribed. Certainly their own daughters free agency will be, for the simple and brutal reasons of population demographics in an Age of Limits that Dmitry points out.

For me, hunkered down in the trenches of intentionally growing collapse aware community, a central question is how to go about sheltering the guttering flame of our humanist ethics against the storm that is upon us. I am very familiar with the history of lose-lose choices and social triage that societies undergo as they pass through collapse. We shelter enough people in distress here at Four Quarters that we are already forced to grapple with the zero-sum ethics of allocating diminishing resources to ever growing needs.

If the fall of the western industrial experiment has any legacy worth preserving for the future, the free choice of women, to be the free women of their choice, must rank among the most precious.

best always

Orren Whiddon
The Age of Limits

vera said...

The more I see these comments on how women's concerns are a distraction (and not just here, by any means, of the various collapsitarian venues), the more it looks to me like it is quite the opposite. I am getting fed up, gents.

kollapsnik said...

vera -

Women's concerns are quite central, and those who neglect them go extinct in a hurry. But so do those who attempt politicize them.

Ceworthe said...

Norse and Celtic women had more rights than most women, historically. The Haudenosaunee (iroquios,) are a matriarchal based governed society that still exists (barely) However, I think that is Gail thinks that feminism or other modern social constructs are widespread in the world, or that they will automatically remain because she thinks they "should" she will be in for a big surprise. I, as a woman suggest that she spend more time on being prepared and finding a useful niche for herself as Western civilization collapses. Going to a conference and not even apparently bothering to see what the forecast was going to be there doesn't bode well for her personal future.

vera said...

Kollapsnik, would you explain? Is that a putdown? I mean, your "attempt to politicize"? I am confused what it is you are trying to say.

And while I also find rights-rhetoric generally in the 'not the right words' category, to suggest, as you did, that rights of animals ought to take preference over discussing the rights of women rubs me the wrong way.

Harry J. Lerwill said...

When there's a pack of wolves hounding a flock of sheep, a gentleman does not engage his lady in debate over appropriate attire for church on Sunday, he takes his shotgun and protects the flock; so she can knit a flowery skirt or a pair of combat trousers, he does not care which.

We care that she has the choice --and that means we make sure there is wool available to be spun.

Everything else is a distraction.

Lance Michael Foster said...

Dmitry, it's funny you brought up Cesareans, because I posted about them myself earlier this week, and the realities of natural selection and tough choices:

The Quandry of Gods

Lance Michael Foster said...

BTW, I just picked up a book to read called, "Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans WIll Survive a Mass Extinction" by Annelee Newitz. I really like the title, as I think it sums it up very well. I haven't really started reading it yet, but in the TOC I note some parts I think are spot on, like the lessons from nature and past extinction events (both from life in general and from human population bottlenecks), parts 1-3. There are other parts (parts 4-5) that seem to be "hopeful" bits that I think have little to no chance (some techno-triumphalism it looks like) but I know publishers are loathe to publish things without some hope involved for our culture which is hooked on hopium.

Dr. Doom said...

vera is being homocentric in her view that rights matters among the sex of a particular species to which she belongs takes precedence over the matter of the extinction of other species by acts attributed to humans and human activities.

that attitude is part of the bigger problem and cause of the human predicament which looks to end with the extinction of the offending species, and sooner than most are comfortable at contemplating. a bit ironic, to boot. just my two cents of fiat currency.

Rhisiart Gwilym said...

Siwmae Dmitry! I've just sent for a copy of 'The Five Stages...' Since I don't participate in the electronic money-transfer technology, this will be ordered apparently by a friend in England who does, and who pays for these mail-orders for me from time to time; name of L. A., and her receiving address will be in the village of Long Itchington in Warwickshire, England, where her family's boat is lying currently, on the Grand Union canal.

Your comments here on the tangential relevance of feminism and other progressive human rights seems to me to have of a degree of mercilessly clear-seeing realism that most USukers simply can't match currently. But then, they don't have the advantage of being a Russian who was in Russia frequently at the time of the dissolution of the USSR, and who thus has indelible personal, close-up experience of the hard realities of human psychology behind the polite facades so beloved of the Pampered Twenty Percent of the world's human population; especially the Sheltered Intelligentsia subgroup of that percentile.

i often say, rather wanly, that I've been a feminist since some time before feminism really got going. But my natural sympathy with the idea doesn't exempt me from facing reality as it is, goddamned huge warts and all.

So, it's clear that the upcoming Even More Interesting Times are going to wipe away in the melee an awful lot of the hard-won and only recently acquired decent rights of civilised humankind.

It seems too, from following these Yale lectures:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzdqyXtPbbE

et sequitur...

that the small, partial, geographically-patchy victories for rights, justice, and particularly for feminism, are won directly against the grain and current of deeply-entrenched human evolutionary instinct.

So good luck to the Sisters of Germaine, always. But this is a bad time coming up for your truths, alas; not much doubt of that. And if you have a straight choice between defending feminism and surviving, which will you choose? Which will the bulk of women living through this time choose? The answer's self-evident, isn't it? Women will choose ducking and weaving and enduring, as they've always done, just to survive and to help their children survive.

Sometimes I really dislike humankind, particularly men. And for those who may not be sure, Rhisiart is a man's name. It's a Cymraeg version of the Germanic name Richard/Ricard, which comes from an old Germanic phrase meaning 'hard ruler'. (Sorry!)

Rhisiart Gwilym said...

PS: Having checked Gail's post, I second your estimate that Gail is a troublemaker. As to inaccurate: I wasn't there so I can't judge. She's sure as hell wrong about homoeopathy, as this much-assisted user -- and many others -- will attest. The Archdruid has it right: not being able to explain it in the currently-orthodox science paradigm doesn't mean it isn't real; just that current science hasn't an explanation (though Tom Campbell's Big TOE has: See 'https://www.my-big-toe.com/').

AbundantDescent said...

Thanks for your comment on feminism, Dmitri. I have given this some thought. Our history of humans living in smaller groups, dealing with fewer resources, and dealing intimately with one another is a very long one: 1.5 million to 150, 00 years, depending on when "human" is said to start. That of humans congregating in cities and living with wealthy elites is much shorter and more geographically limited. Civilizations propaganda is all about how savage we were and how advnced we've become. It's almost all ideology. In the first set of circumstances, which I expect will return, women were every bit as powerful as men, and enjoyed equal access to healthcare, status and other perks, for the most part and despite gender role differentiation. Under civilization, women progressively slid into subordination, along with slave or working classes. All of society stratified. I'd suggest -- drawing on and extending Kropotkin's work & Engel's thesis -- that post-collapse womanhood will not see any need for feminism. We'll all be engaging in the mutual aid practices you so often eloquently advocate. Mutual respect and caring communities will once more be self-evidently necessary for survival. BTW, most "uncivilized" societies practice effective birth control based on safe herbs and lactation. Once women are again globally in control of reproduction, population will also cease to be a problem. It's patriarchal control of reproduction that produces human population booms. As we are collapsing, however, and elites and individuals are struggling against losing perks, we can expect a violent deterioration in all human rights; I expect this to be (thankfully) short-lived. i see opposing that trend as an important collapsitarian role (however much it bucks countervailing trends).

vera said...

Thank you, Harry, for yet another way to dismiss us and our concerns. Appalling.

Dr Doom, any species that does not take the females' concerns seriously, will perish.

It would be of some comfort if Dmitry found our concerns more important than those of the liver flukes.


Dr. Doom said...

vera, i think even the liver flukes are doing a great job of taking care of female's concerns.

it's interesting to watch a lion pride handle the apparently necessary machisimo of the dominant male. the females are quite busy with hunting and taking care of the cubs. the dominant male is actually isolated and largely ignored, but he thinks he's "in charge and running things". he's bascially a bully to the other lions. once in a great while, he may get to act as though he's defending the pride, although he's usually backed up by the females. life is unfair that way.

Remonster said...

Hi Vera,

I didn't know about Liver Flukes and/or what purpose they serve. Fortunately there is the google machine for that. I hope you don't mind, but my next band will be called The Liver Flukes. I just need a graphic artist for the T'Shirts to bring my vision to bare.

This is an interesting Blog.

kleymo said...

I am "the body that goes flying" in one of Gail's pictures. Yes, a violent attack by a "mad Russian."

Dmitri brought up the point of women's attitudes towards feminism in Russia. They want nothing to do with it. They do expect some help at home though.

I work with people from upwards of 40 different cultures every day. If we do not respect one another's differences, that is another way we will be doomed. No requirement that we like one another, of course.

vera said...

Dr Doom said: "i think even the liver flukes are doing a great job of taking care of female's concerns."

Exactly. So how come humans are doing such a piss poor job of it?

William Yeates said...

Here is one fucking bad ass women.
Her name is Carmen Amaya, she is one of the Roma Dimitri rights about in his book.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GP3Gho5qe4Y&list=RD02yvPk087JDcw&feature=endscreen&NR=1


William Yeates said...

After reading the discussions on this blog here about the issue of feminism, progressiveness, and what not i am reminded of the wisdom or ignorance of Dimitris Roma classmate

-I said a few thing about the wonderful things to be found in books-

"Do you realize that non of it is real"

vera said...

Hello again, gentlemen.

It seems like a bit of a confusion’s erupted. We are not dealing with the future, but rather the present. We have a group of women and men, and the women -- as I understand it -- wished in Artemas, and still wish here in this blog, to be heard on our terms.

The reaction, among your ranks, has been to:
* dismiss our POV as distraction and waste; as an irrelevant ism; as “politicization"
* move on to biological imperatives; to the rights of animals
* liken our POV to choices over “church attire"
* and name calling

Would any of you care to comment on this -- from my POV rather peculiar -- situation?

skinnermichael said...

Hi Dmitry, were any of the talks videod? If they were will they put put on Youtube, Vimeo or something like that? Or will others process their talks into blog post on their own blog?

Lance Michael Foster said...

Vera, and all,

I think people are talking past each other, as often happens, especially in stressful times. And once positions begin to harden, nothing to do but take a breath and step back for a little while.

I would never say anyone's POV is a distraction and a waste of time, but as an indigenous person, that's what we are raised with, more real democracy and factions based on social groups than strict hierarchy. It takes a lot of time to hear everyone, so I guess I could see from some points of view that could be "a waste of time."

Dmitry has an interesting duality unlike some folks, in that he is a trained engineer, which means he is logical and focuses on steps to find a solution, yet he has his experience in the collapse in the old U.S.S.R. which means he knows how chaos is part of any collapse. You might need to fix a car through steps 1-2-3 but you can't just requisition the parts and pay with a credit card in a collapse, you have to negotiate social realities...drink and eat a little, make a relationship, find a way around reluctance/resistance, deal with hostility/distrust, trade a little, and then maybe you will be able to find those parts and get the help you need to fix the car.

In collapse of any society, change in social organization is a vital factor. It isn't talked that much about, a few comments and asides here and there, but nobody focuses on it as much as they focus on energy resources and technology. I'm an anthropologist as well as a Native American so I may have a different POV.

There is a concept in traditional societies called "division of labor." While explorers and missionaries saw Native American women on the Plains often as "drudges" tasked with taking care of children, working hides and butchering meat, growing crops, cooking, getting firewood, etc. while the men raced on horses, went to war, and sat around and were waited on by the women, they only heard the man's POV.

The women owned the homes and all the household goods, in most tribes. The men usually only owned their own horses for hunting and war (women owned their own horses too). If a woman wanted to divorce a man, she just set his stuff outside the door and he had to swallow his pride and move on. In many societies, it may have been the men making decisions in council, but it was the women who picked the men who made the decisions, like the Clan Mothers among the Iroquois. And if he didn't vote the way the women thought he should, he was out.

Native women are very powerful. Most women in traditional societies may live the "roles of men and women" but they have immense power within the kinship structures...and kinship is the basis of society in most of the world, ...except ours, where kinship has been ripped apart by the industrial society that needed to divide families in order to fill work quotas in different locations (not just the old factories and mines...but families now who are divided through military service, job opportunities elsewhere, and so on).

We were always told one's wealth is in the number of one's relatives. He has a lot of relatives, he is a wealthy man. Rich men had lots of horses, wealthy men had lots of kin. It will be that way again in our lifetimes. Look at poor families, whether inner city black folks, or on Indian reservations, or in rural white communities. In most cases, the most powerful people are the matriarchs. I think it will be that way again in our lifetimes.

People are stressed, confused, trying to figure this all out. We have to give each other a little room to breathe. Not jump on each other right away. There's not a lot of people thinking about these things yet. We need everyone's thinking about all this, and what it means to each of us.

Kevin Frost said...

GB Shaw revisited: 'We're all animals these days'.