Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Communities that Abide (Preamble)

[Update: there are a lot of comments, some interesting, but it seems like a lot of commenters think that I am advocating becoming like the communities I described or holding them up as models. No-no-no! I simply pointed out that they are uniquely successful in terms of their longevity and outcomes, and described the commonalities that make them successful. Please draw your own conclusions. You can run off and join them or damn them all to hell. But please leave me out of it.]

One of my two talks at The Age of Limits 2013 was on Communities that Abide. It was a review of best practices, based on the experience of historical communities that are stable or growing, comprise multiple generations, manage to hold on to their young people, and have a distinctive way of life that is in many cases more sustainable and resilient than that of the surrounding population.
In many cases they also have far better outcomes, in terms of much lower rates of crime, depression, substance abuse, spousal/child abuse, murder/suicide and so on. Interestingly, while there are numerous profound differences between them, there are also vast areas of similarity. These similarities may turn out to comprise a set of cultural universals exhibited by all or most communities that stand the test of time. While I am too early in my research to reach such a sweeping conclusion, the possibility has me intrigued. I will be exploring this subject in detail over the following weeks. But first I must take out some garbage.

The talk went well while I powered through my (pared down) stack of index cards on the subject—pared down from the three-hour seminar I taught at the North House Folk School in Minnesota a few weeks back, which also went well. But at the conference, after I started taking questions, there erupted a bit of a shitstorm. One woman in the audience asked me why all the communities I brought up are patriarchal (they are not), and couldn't I find an example that was a matriarchy. I dug deep, drew a complete and total blank, and answered: “Because there are none.” After that, feminist rhetoric was flying fast and furious for a while. I tried to extricate myself by saying that on such matters I follow the women I am close to, who are Russian. Russian women have participated in a 70-year experiment in gender egalitarianism, and concluded that it was a failure. Modern Russian women have no use for American old style “radical feminism.” That made things even worse. One agent provocateur (Gail) decided to raise the temperature some more by asking me what I thought of Pussy Riot. I answered that they are idiots. (They desecrated a place of public worship for the sake of a futile political gesture, and are now rotting in jail instead of bringing up their children.) This made several women physically jump to their feet. Eventually one woman pointed out that, after all, I was just presenting information from my research, not taking any sort of ideological stance, but she went on looking upset anyway. After the talk ended, a bunch of women were skulking around hissing at me. The follow-up was characterized by Orren, the organizer, as a "circular firing squad." He came up to me after the talk ended and congratulated me on still having both my legs, having walked into a minefield. Later he wrote to me:
A worthy subject would be the degree to which [such] corrosive tactics... have destroyed progressive groups and communities over the years. I call it the technology of victimhood and it is used by many groups and individuals to politicize their agendas. I have seen it over and over, and folks I know who actually organize real humans (as opposed to histrionic chattering on the pixel box) have shared similar experiences... 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 to afflict progressive groups. All part of the puzzle.
Orren contributed many other thoughts, which will take me time to process. I will pick up these themes in subsequent posts.

Later, that same Gail came up with a blog post which contains a number of ad hominem attacks riddled with *cough* inaccuracies. Here is a partial list of them:
  • Four Quarters Board of Directors is dominated by women and LGBT. To imply that these people are dominated by a man is to practice the darkest of misogyny.
  • Carolyn Baker's work around emotional processing is highly praised in event questionnaires. Expressing one's personal ambivalence to this work is valid, ad hominem snark is not.
  • My presentation is grossly mischaracterized and used as the launching point for the meat of the post which contains much intentional, hurtful ridicule of people not backed by any understanding of their ideas.
  • The photograph of me leaving the group portrait in haste was not because I was eager to flee but because Orren could not figure out how to turn on my fancy digital camera. It was very funny moment, which is why everyone is laughing. Gail misuses it for a bit of Stalinesque agitprop.
  • Gail insinuates that Albert Bates is an environmentalist hypocrite because he flies a lot. Albert does travel a lot but goes to great personal effort to physically mitigate carbon from his travel footprint, and this is obvious from even a cursory glance at his website. Overall, he is very much carbon-negative, while Gail goes on aimless drives through the countryside in her gigantic, gas-guzzling Toyota Landcruiser to look at dead leaves.
  • “Orlov's homebrew vodka” does not exist. Someone who works at the distillery was handing out samples. It is a bit of anti-Russian bigotry: “Well, you know the Russians and their vodka!” (Throw in a mouth full of gold teeth, a big fur hat and a bear on a chain.)
Her blog's comments section is a sort of Land of the Lost: people who inhabit the comments sections of unmoderated blogs, and who are perpetually miffed that no half-decent blog will post their comments.

But why all this noise? Should we take it as a “demand to be heard” by some women (who apparently see themselves as a separate political constituency from the men)? If so, they don't seem to have asked correctly. But it could be something else entirely. Here is some more hard-won wisdom from Orren:
Communities are often seen as threats, by many actors, for many reasons. Socially radical communities are perceived as threatening simply because their ideas can shatter an individual's existing paradigms. Knowing that a community is all about defining the boundary between the internal and the external, compromising a community is about manipulating that boundary. To speak in terms of the well understood techniques of state action against activist communities, one can pierce the boundary by inserting actors intended to disrupt the internal workings of the community. An easier means is to disrupt the ability of the community to interact with the external by framing the community in such a way as to prevent the free flow of energy/resources through its boundary; in this case, by alienating people who might otherwise be supportive.

The classic means of attacking a community's external relations is through the use of a social taboo or sacred cow that it is alleged to have violated. As Goebbels pointed out, the trick is to frame the attack in such a way as to use a social assumption that cannot or will not be examined, to isolate the community from external social commerce. Better yet if the attack can employ words and labels whose meanings also cannot or will not be examined. Finally, Goebbels' central insight: appeal to the intellectual prejudice of your audience, relying upon the fact that people will prefer to believe the mistruth that plays to their baseline assumptions. The famous Big Lie.
This is why every successful community I've looked at knows how to exclude (shun, expel) people. Every successful community jealously safeguards its separateness from the surrounding society. This is critical to their survival and for achieving much better outcomes for their members than the surrounding society. In my understanding, these practices must also extend to the family, the extended family being a microcosm of community. In particular, I believe that women must be given the option of being sheltered from the surrounding sick society, so that they may stay healthy and give birth to and raise healthy children. It is less critical to shelter men, although having them serve in the military or other organizations specializing in brutality and murder is certainly not a good idea, and even too much involvement with the corporate realm is often quite damaging to the human spirit. This is probably why almost all the successful communities I have looked at are pacifist and refuse to be proletarianized, rejecting the concept of wage labor. As far as the labels of “patriarchy” and “matriarchy” are concerned, the winning label for me is, of course, anarchy—a well-organized, copacetic one. And, sure enough, most of the successful communities I have looked at are, in fact, anarchic in the structure of their self-governance. But most important is their separatism. Their value systems are their own—not yours. Do you wish to “improve” these communities, bringing them more in line with your own value system? Well, there is a word for that sort of activity: persecution.

The women who took offense and spoke up after my talk zeroed in on some specific areas, indicating that the communities I chose as examples of success are in fact intolerable by their standards. Some of these communities do not offer birth control to women, and/or resort to corporal punishment to discipline children, and/or do not give women equal rights, and so on. It's a good thing I didn't include any communities that practice polygamy or infanticide, or I would have probably caused a riot (there probably are some polygamous communities that I would consider successful; not sure about infanticide). I did include one group (the Roma) who practice arranged marriage. All of these deviations from the current American politically correct norm are problematic for those who allow themselves to regard others through the lens of their own value system (a common failing). But is that even a valid approach? My approach is to study these communities as if they were a different (sub-)species of hominid. After all, none of you will ever be allowed to interbreed with any of them. Do lions practice polygamy? Yes. Do males kill cubs sired by other males. Yes they do. Does this make them worth emulating? Probably not, but they are still worthy of study, because they are what evolution wrought, and were it not for poaching and habitat destruction (a.k.a. persecution), they'd probably still be a success story. Similarly with human communities that achieve significantly better results than the rest: you may not like them, but then who do you think you are anyway?

I must admit that I haven't thought about the subject of the future of American feminism before this flared up, being happy enough just ignoring it. It's not my culture and I've always assumed that it's none of my business. But perhaps I should have given it a bit of thought. Before I married a Russian woman, I had some American girlfriends who had been radicalized by their women's studies classes and had certain hot button issues that consistently made them blow their cool. When these issues came up, they triggered a psychotic break: in her imagination, I was suddenly transformed from a somewhat ambivalent boyfriend trying to keep the “relationship” together to a patriarchal proto-rapist oppressing not just her but an entire made-up political class (women). I do not want to neglect the interests of American women among my readers. But there is another group whose interests I do not wish to neglect: a sizable chunk of my readership consists of American men who either left the country or married foreign women, in no small part to escape from the ravages caused by the toxic state of gender relations within the US. One tried going the other way, marrying an American woman, then divorcing and promptly moving back to Russia, with new-found respect for the Motherland. I doubt that any of these people are particularly thrilled to see me take up this topic. So, in reading this, I hope you appreciate just what a brave person I am for walking in this particular valley of the shadow of death.

There is a big unintended consequence that results from treating women (or men) as a (fake) political class: it cuts across the real class lines, to the great disadvantage of the lower classes. America's class war against its lower classes is a permanent, full-spectrum, total war, and it is by this point quite close to total victory. Among its foot-soldiers there are numerous higher-class, educated women ensconced in various official positions who, while supposedly championing the rights of women and children, end up oppressing lower-class, uneducated men. To do so, they rely on the services of America's oversize criminal-industrial complex, which imprisons a larger share of the population than Stalin did during the height of his purges, with the majority of the inmates male, non-white, uneducated and poor. Add to this the fact that in the US, as women joined the “workforce” (a term full of inane puffery), family incomes stagnated (women's wages have been subtracted from the men's) while family costs went up (because domestic services such as child care and food preparation now had to be paid for). The results of all this are plain to see: the US leads the world in the percentage of children brought up fatherless, many of them on public assistance that is becoming precarious. Eventually “men's liberation” will come and all these inmates will be freed—once the system runs out of money and can no longer spend the $60-80k or so a year it costs to keep someone in jail. Since jail is a deeply dehumanizing experience, the role these freed inmates will play in society upon release is unlikely to be positive. This seems to be the unintended but hardly unexpected consequence of politicizing gender: all fall down.

To be able to criticize, one must first rise above that which you wish to criticize. As I outlined at the beginning of my talk, part of the rationale for looking into communities that work is that America, regarded as a community writ large, does not work. Of all the developed nations, it has highest rates of spousal abuse, child fatalities from parental and other abuse and violence, highest divorce rate, highest teen pregnancy rate, highest rate of STD inflection among teenage girls, highest rates of depression among women, children who have to be medicated into submission to force them to cram for meaningless standardized tests... the list is very long. It is a case study in societal failure. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3) Before you criticize others, you should first reflect on what your own people are like, and, if they are that bad, then perhaps you should just zip it.

One potential comeback is along the following lines: Of course we have the right to criticize; we are not like those other trashy/dark-skinned Americans! We are white, upper-middle-class, Ivy League-educated, we send our children to private schools and our outcomes are as perfect as our pearly-white teeth! (The infamous Gail shared that she has a daughter who owns five horses and rides them every day and a son-in-law who keeps a 50-foot yacht on the Hudson. She lives surrounded by a private 2000-acre estate owned by one of the wealthiest families in America. Sorry to have to bring this up, but I think it's highly relevant. For 99% of you, you need to know that Gail is not “your people.”) Sure, the 1%ers are a successful community of sorts, but will they abide, given the sour mood of the people and all the guns and ammo they've stockpiled? More importantly, their main community-building principles seem to be “pay to join” and “pay as you go,” both of which would take too much money—which they won't give to us—so it seems like a waste of time to listen to them tell us how wonderful they are and how bad everyone else is.

But the reason I wish to look at communities that abide is not to criticize or to attempt to improve American society at large. That would be futile. My goal is to give individuals, families and small groups of people (of modest means) viable options for the future that they otherwise wouldn't know existed—options which they will be able to exercise separately from what remains of American society. And the nature of these options will be dictated in large measure by the nature of the conditions that will prevail in as little as a couple of decades. Let us put the question in the context of the Age of Limits conference. The chart below should be familiar by now to all who attended. It is a plot based on Meadows et al. Limits to Growth Report baseline scenario. 

The original “Limits to Growth Report” (1972 Meadows et al) did not include a time line for the global growth scenarios it examined. With the addition of statistical data for the following 40 years it is now possible “to fit to the curve” and make rough predictions based on observed resource production and consumption patterns, overlaid upon continued population growth.
Look at the deaths AND BIRTHS curves zooming up into the stratosphere starting in around 2050: births have to rise to make up for much lower life expectancy, even as population dwindles. 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-specific role. It should be given plenty of attention, recognition and support. But it seems exceedingly likely to me (and this is just an opinion) that strident feminist rhetoric will go the way of building safety codes, zoning regulations, occupational safety laws, child labor laws, the regulated workweek and all the other inflated standards and unachievable mandates of industrial society. It will be a thorough regression to baseline, which will be hard on people who are used to the idea of endless progress (or, once it fails, instant Apocalypse). Many of them will no doubt insist on making a stand for their hard-won social victories, and this, in turn, will make them a poor choice as crew to take along on this journey.

I have no ideological bone to pick here. I am just interpreting a computer-generated chart based on a mathematical model that is 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. Of course, communities that don't wish to abide can ignore all this, at their own peril. It's an equal-opportunity planet as far as near-term extinction is concerned.

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 leave it for now, and leave it up to you to fill the comment section with whatever substances you wish to fill it with. Get it out of your system, and then we'll move on to the subject at hand: Communities that Abide.


HeyZeus said...

Dmitry.. what you describe is what I call the masculinization of feminism in America. Instead of actually bringing a new perspective to looking at things (the female gaze?), this sterilized, rational program pays lip service to "feminism" much as green architecture whores the ideas of environmentalism. A better example to look into is someone like Eve Ensler who uses the feminist perspective to shed light on the unimaginable violence of our civilization.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this frank, interesting (and challenging) post.

Your talk was in effect hijacked by a small group with an agenda of their own, picking up on a small thing you said to make their own point. Such interest groups like to air their grievances whatever the situation is; wherever there is an audience, a microphone or a camera, they will do what they can to bring attention to their cause, no matter how far removed from the original subject being discussed. Charities are sometimes the worst offenders, as they will happily take offense in the media to a small side-comment or joke that someone made in a public setting, blowing it out of proportion so that they can advertise their own cause (desperate for another fifteen minutes of fame).

It's a sneaky ploy to be heard, but in doing so they also completely demolish any chance for rational debate and intelligent discussion to take place.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Hey for any one interested I made a list highlighting some of the fantastic Roma musicians Dimirti wrote about in his new book. My bias is towards Flamenco so those are the only Roma musicians that i know.

Ramon Montoya

Melchor de marchena

Manolo Caracol

Manolo de Huelva



Carmen Amaya

Cameron de Isla

VyseLegendaire said...

Its regrettable that so much of your time and energy, and by extension your readers' has had to be diverted to fighting off the obnoxio of the feminazi movement. Their's is a kind of barbarism that doesn't even deserve a rebuttal in my view, but you've still done a fair job of it. I would have simply ignored them and continued on with the much more pressing issues at hand, giving them the time of day is a form of reward in a sense.
Of course the feudal lord caste like Gail will always exist and thrive in particular because of their cut-throat and insane ideology that allows them to perceive themselves as the victims while actually living the high life as the result of the extreme brutality and sociopathy of their forebears. They are not 'us' and thats why they are not pre-occupied with the struggles of our lot.

Einherjar said...

Gender "equality" can have many meanings. From what I saw during my brief stay in Scandinavia, they have managed to raise the status of women without much of the attendant problems America has faced. Dmitry, I salute you for stepping into this most dangerous of breaches.

From what I can tell, you are saying that the "war between the sexes" is a false war used to divide the genders in America and that the best way to deal with such things as marital rape and the like would be to settle the matter right then, using an anarchic, direct democracy method? It is my understanding that in old pagan Scandinavia, when a woman wanted a divorce, she dumped all of her husband's things outside and then went back to living with her family, so as to have more backup when negotiating potential blood feuds.

inohuri said...

"This is why every successful community I've looked at knows how to exclude (shun, expel) people."

So how are negative self interested people like Gail excluded so this group can function?

Pan inclusion is all warm and fuzzy until you try to get something done.

Rita Narayanan said...

Hello from India:you guys are busy looking at the "progressive humane ethos" of the first world that would seem too high maintenance when oil is in the luxury realm.

I'm looking at great leaders that we have had in India and thinking "what were they thinking". We have been brought up on a steady diet of ideals that often never came free in the first world.

The values that were brought in were both physically and socially foreign to a conservative, poor country.

I always admired the old leadership in the West...people who built the infrastructure that few societies will ever have.

Am a woman but agree with Dmitry about the inextricable link of liberal ideas with material growth.

Bev said...

I read Gail's piece, and found that she shared your feelings about the woo stuff, finds you quite likeable, showed a rather funny picture of you leaving a group picture (to illustrate how you weren't buying in to the woo stuff, and even out of context could hardly be construed as critical). So I don't know why you were taking offense, but I wasn't there, so what do I know?

Whether you can rationalize it or not, I hope you can understand that many members of the gender who would be controlled by another gender, may find such control to be unwanted, unpleasant, and in many cases, the source of much suffering. Whether it "works" or not (I'm not going there) or whether you find feminists to be likeable or not, isn't relevant. When you propose a system with rigid roles for people based on some characteristic, you will find that the ones assigned to the subjugated group will likely raise some objections. To be told that Russian women have given up on equality (except for Pussy Riot, but they don't count, because they are not raising their children) doesn't help.

I'm not a professional offense-taker, nor do I hate men (I don't like most people, regardless of gender), but this "circular firing squad" was most predictable and not noteworthy given your talk.

Looking forward to reading your book when it arrives.

Sixbears said...

Now I don't feel so bad about missing the event. My time and energy went towards things that actually improved the survival chances of my extended family.

If ideas cannot be discussed in a free and open manner, there's little chance of learning anything new.

I am sick and tired of the green posturing of the wealthy. Things like flying to South America to stay in an "eco village" drives me nuts.

Thomas F. Robinson said...

Perhaps the irony here is that in a post-peak oil deindustrialized world these radical feminists are not a "community that will abide". It is only with the help of the billions of unseen slaves unleashed by the burning of oil that these feminists have been able to demasculinize American society (even to the point where in some quarters it's now fashionable to wear a shiny pink "power" tie). Once oil dwindles the Radical Feminist Empress will be seen not only to have no clothes, but to be emaciated and starving as well.
Strong work, Dmitri, my Man!

Rita Narayanan said...

The Caste System often gets a simplistic bad rap from people who live in a world of first class public toilets and abundant libraries and museums.

we have had a largely leftist and Gandhian ethos in this (India)country....many of these leaders have had industrialists/businessman funding their "egalitarian" beliefs. They often had the kind of clout that Maharajahs never had.

our old Brahmin thinkers knew that if you did not socially protect the intellectual/ruling-warrior castes, the culture would be reduced to the barbarism of vulgar materialism & short sighted utility.

Thanks for the lovely post :)

Carolyn Baker said...

Thank you for your clarification Dmitry. What is now abundantly clear to me after the conference is that there is so much gender wounding and fear of gender injustice post-collapse that it constitutes a huge elephant in the room that quietly hijacks a lot of discussion about other topics. Some people were so influenced by it during my workshop that they missed the overarching point of the story I told and began turning it into a gender topic. This lets me know that next year, the planners must find some way to deal directly with the gender wounding/healing issue. Although I have an entire section on women in collapse in my book Navigating The Coming Chaos, I would very much like to take the conversation much deeper because whether we like it or not, it's going there anyway.

Unknown said...

This was an extraordinarily interesting post, illustrating how much work we all have to do on the triage that circumstances will impose upon us – not just of material comforts but of relationships and ideals.
As the father of a young woman I consider myself to be a feminist, in that I would like her to have every possible advantage and prerogative in life and to be in no way disadvantaged by her gender. The most fundamental issue for women has to be freedom from being physically brutalized by men, simply because they have evolved as typically bigger, stronger, and more aggressive than women.
In the times that are coming I would like for my daughter to have a mate who is respectful of her personhood and treats her fully as an equal, just as I would like for her to be able to continue to enjoy listening to Bach cantatas and eating Belgian chocolates, but the male attributes upon which her survival may depend will likely be those that enabled a man to survive in pre-industrial, perhaps even Neolithic times.
I would not relish standing in Dmitry’s position last week at the center of the feminist circular firing squad. We will triage or perish – both as individuals and as societies – and it is far too late to pretend otherwise.

yarnsalad said...

Dmitry I'm sorry you had to deal with that. I agree with the person above that a small group came to forward their own agenda regardless of what the original talking point was. As an educated woman, I can't help but agree with your point of "the toxic state of gender relations within the US" there is an awful lot of misinformation out there and everyone would do well to be a little more circumspect before pointing fingers. Bravo to you for handling it so well.

You know what they say - stick your neck out & someone will try to cut your head off...

I too am looking forward to the arrival of your book!

k-dog said...

You said:

"Her blog's comments section is a sort of Land of the Lost: people who inhabit the comments sections of unmoderated blogs, and who are perpetually miffed that no half-decent blog will post their comments."

I'll disagree. I read her comments and it appears she is moderating them just fine.

It looks like any anti-Orlov comment is sure to be approved.

Initially and for quite a while I had the naive belief that unmoderated blog comments promoted free speech and a free exchange of ideas. Unfortunately I've seen that unmoderated blogs do the opposite, they attract the agent provocateur and can conceal organised efforts to dilute distract and dissemble by overwhelming genuine individuals.

Significantly I found one observation of note on her blog and I repeat it here.

"people attuned to peak oil come from across the political spectrum. Some of them are very conservative and not the least concerned about social justice."

I'm sure most readers are more interested in the substance of your presentation than the controversy it produced at the conference falling in the concerned about social justice camp as most of us do. Perhaps it could be good meat for a blog post, I like meat.

Yet, some are most interested in the controversy no doubt.


vera said...

Dmitry, I am saddened. This is an unworthy diatribe, IMO. I just reread Gail's description of Carolyn Baker's presentation, and I see no ad hominem attacks there against Ms. Baker. I see a LOT of ad hominem attacks against Gail in this write-up.

As for Russian (and former satellites') so called emancipation of women, it was engineered from the top by the male-dominated Party. No wonder it backfired. It's like arguing that agricultural cooperatives don't work because Soviet-style agricultural collectivization was so resented and so damaging.

I am really disappointed in this response of yours, Dmitry. I will leave it at that. I have no wish to engage in this war you are fanning, nor to engage with the people who will come to gloat in the comments over it, as one commenter already has with his "feminazi" remarks.

Lance Michael Foster, thank you from my heart for your sane and healing response to my query in the last set of comments. Blessings. I hope we meet again.

forrest said...

It's quite common for movements seeking change to be hijacked, diverted, broken up by contentious sorts. When my wife & I were trying to organize something a few years ago, we got a guy who wouldn't take 'yes' for an answer -- might have been a nut but my strong suspicious was that he was a plant and that "stir up fight" was more than his personal preference in entertainment. (We also got our phone tapped & our house buzz/hovered by police helicopters, whee!)

This phenomenon does not discredit such efforts; it just makes their goals take longer and happen in misfunctional ways.

In the case of basic feminism -- that people including women get latitude in personal life-choices, don't get brutalized, etc -- the USian feminist movement has gotten diverted some (though not as badly as our racial-equality efforts) but remains a good idea. A societal habit of doing things by rigid institutional means may be the chief obstacle, because "means of ensuring" are easily subverted, discredited, evaded and (as you pointed out) turned to instruments of oppression.

Child-rearing: ensuring that somebody gets responsibility and support for connecting children, at a very early age, with the world and the human race -- needs to be a high priority in any society that hopes to last. Gabor Mate's book on ADD does not say that this responsibility has to fall exclusively to women; what is essential is that parents be shielded from chronic stress when a kid's brain is developing the skills of attentiveness, coping with emotion, getting along with people to mutual benefit rather than mutual wounds. (Indigenous peoples generally did this well, despite the usual risks & tragedies of a dangerous world, by taking responsibility for each other's children as needed.) Admittedly the actual production of children will disproportionately impact women -- but high birth rate (with high death rate) may not be the best strategy for hard times. It could turn out to be "Take particularly good care with the people you have."

I'd guess the big question is: Can we have high group solidarity (a true essential) without members excessively bullying one another? Anecdotal: asking a Chinese friend (from a large traditional household) how his household had stayed together in a harmonious way, being told that to a large extent everyone gave each other slack.

RPC said...

To diverge from the feminist issue...my reply to "One potential comeback is along the following lines: Of course we have the right to criticize; we are not like those other trashy/dark-skinned Americans!" is that the only person better to inform you of the evils of e.g. alcohol than a reformed drunk is an honest unreformed drunk. The real comeback is more along the lines of "Of course we have the right to criticize: we know just where we are and where we're going and we want to warn you not to follow us."

Unknown said...


You ran smack into the consequence of 50 years of American male emasculation.

I applaud your candor.

But, look between your legs. There are cojones there. Use them.

Tell the bitch, where to get off!

Tell it like it is, that with few exceptions(mostly New Guinea, I think) matriarchial societies don't survive because it takes cojones to lead a social group, and women don't have cojones.

Then, tell them that you don't care if you are wrong, because having cojones, you want those cojones to have their full expression, which requires that your cojones dominate!


The hell with being politically correct!


Andy Brown said...

Boy, most men don't like much being criticized by other men. They like even less to be criticized by a woman. But let men be criticized by a few women together and it's gender-politics-opacalypse. I admit to not knowing the details here, and I won't bother to learn them because it all has a too-familiar smell.

wiseman said...


You wrote

Do lions practice polygamy? Yes. Do males kill cubs sired by other males. Yes they do. Does this make them worth emulating? Probably not, but they are still worthy of study, because they are what evolution wrought, and were it not for poaching and habitat destruction (a.k.a. persecution), they'd probably still be a success story.

If you are willing to dispassionately study these 'communities' and ascribe evolution as the reason for their current state might I ask why not do the same for the industrial civilization which you so 'passionately' detest. After all it's as much a product of evolution as those successful communities.

Wouldn't it be futile to argue how great the dinosaurs were based on the premise that if the asteroid hadn't hit Earth they would be ruling over the mammals.

Glenn said...

The capitalist system is unstable, the nuclear power industry is unstable, the oil based economy is unstable, and the world in overpopulation is unstable.

The cure for these instabilities? Why naturally, all these problems will magically go away when society institutes Absolute Diversity (ha ha).

I recommend for consideration reading, for perspective, a book by “Walter Ben Michaels, The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality.”

Of course, for those with limited time and money budgets, I recommend skipping this book altogether and buying Dmitry's new book, so as not to be diverted overly long from the real issues confronting the world.

Wolfgang Brinck said...

Looking forward to your insights on what makes communities work. I am seeing a little of it in my own small community of self-employed craftsmen who share a space. One of us, a metal sculptor holds the lease on the building. The rest of us sub-let. We are independent agents. We hold no meetings, we have no real rules other than to pay the rent once a month. As far as I can tell, we share no politics, religion or other ideologies. Neither are we all of the same social class. That seems to range across the spectrum as well. We share no taste in music. At any given time, our audio space will be shared by the sound of a machinery and three separate boom boxes blaring out different genres of music. And yet, by dint of proximity we need to cooperate and sometimes choose to cooperate. We show up when we have work, often all days of the week and often, not at all when we don't have work. My immediate neighbor who appears to have a good deal of money is building a power boat. Another of my shop mates cut the molds for the boat on his NC router. Yesterday, he mixed too much epoxy and needed more clamps than he had, so I put my entire stock of bar clamps at his disposal. First thing in the morning my shipment of wood had arrived. I had expected it a day later and so was not there to meet the truck. Another of my neighbors, a welder fired up the forklift and unloaded it for me. Later, my neighbor to whom I had lent the clamps helped me stack my newly arrived wood. Meanwhile, my neighbor who unloaded my wood for me needed some help doing some fiberglass repairs on the engine cover of his boat. So I dug around my scrap pile to find him some fiberglass cloth that I wasn't using. Today I will help him with the resin. When he runs out of beer, he is welcome to my refrigerator and when I run out, I am welcome to his.
And so it goes. The community works because it provides individual autonomy and offers cooperation when necessary. We have no shared vision. We have no shared ideology. We have no agenda. What we do have is shared respect for each others' competence in our respective crafts. We also share the freedom of being self employed and not having a predictable income. By and large, these conditions make ideology irrelevant.

mobiaxis said...

Wow, sorry I missed that one. The very idea of 'feminism' came about during the peak of the dominant society and will fade right along with that society. Just like many other pleasant sounding ideas, we will eventually abandon it due to it's utter lack of utility and basic mismatch with actual human social interaction.

Has this Gail woman never read your work or heard you speak? I would not wish to get into a public spat with a quick-witted and sarcastic Russian.

BTW-received my copy and started reading Five Stages of Collapse. I though it would be simply an updated version of Reinventing Collapse, but am pleased that it contains almost all new material and expands nicely upon the original Stages of Collapse essay. Enjoying it immensely.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Dmitry, I was listening to your communities that abide talk again last night, I wish I'd had the opportunity to hear all three hours of the workshop.

Ever since Eddie Bernays hijacked the suffrage movement in 1929, with the "Torches of Freedom" campaign to promote Lucky Strikes, feminism been a victim of manipulation. I'm sympathetic to the victims of that manipulation, even if they are ignorant of how that subtl;e, male-dominated manipulation affects them.

One problem I see is that society is less resilient, with no household economy to speak of, little home gardening, food production, canning or preserving. Everything that our grandparents would have called "woman's work" has been outsourced, dry cleaning, food growing, food preparation, even cleaning our houses is outsourced. It is "service industry class" work now.

If you see women as being equal when they can are allowed to stand next to fellow workers, cleaning chickens on an assembly line factory farm, then the project looks successful.

Whereas I look at my beautiful wife and I'm glad she loves to prepare and cook the food we grow in the garden, and she looks forward to knowing the chicken she is going to cook personally.

You mentioned that communities that abide tend to be ideologically consistent. Perhaps there is a place for intentional communities that are formed along feminist lines, accepting only people who believe in a feminist ideology and practice a matriarchal social structure?

They have the experience of victimization, and the drawing together around a common experience, and they have their own ideology, one that is separate and distinct from the surrounding community.

As a fan of Dissensus, as John Michael Greer puts it, I think every assistance should be given to people who want to form intentional communities with strong feminist principles at their core. I suspect if will develop along past models, with gender reversal of roles as it's distinctive feature.

Anonymous said...

Unknown asked,"So how are negative self interested people like Gail excluded so this group can function?"

That's a question that may raise its head next year.

Another question is how to deal with elements in a community that become radicalized after they are integrated into the community; that could be religious conversion, politicization of roles, or even environmentalism taken to extreme direct action that threatens to bring the attention of the authorities down on a community.

Since the example communities that abide are mainly pacifistic, how do they defend against ideas that disrupt the common good?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the report Dmitry.

Maybe industrialism has just plain ruined some people? Crippled them mentally and physically?

The lesson = very confused people with toxic strawmen haunting their brains become toxic personalities that will just distract everyone.

I hope you guys spent at least 50% of your time talking about food!

God I love food...

rpauli said...

Wow Dmitry, you really fell into this one. But you brought it up and now you need to give more space to the issue, both in your own cognition and by offering blog space to discuss the issue.

You're poking the hornet's nest with a stick.

Anonymous said...

Let me walk a tightrope here: I agree with Dmitry's observations, without getting defensive, and I am one of those independent, empowered women from a higher-than-average economic background, never married or had children, not gay. His observations are correct, and it is what it is.

I follow Dmitry's work and I'm confident I could have a pleasant discussion with Dmitry without any ill-will, and I certainly don't think he would have any ill-will towards me. Dmitry has never indicated in his writings or interviews that he has any judgements against anyone. Live and let live.

Since Dmitry brought up the subject, I'd like to further it by pointing out that the so called "empowerment" of American women has truly risen and fallen with our past economic boom and current on-going collapse. When I was a college freshman in 1983, the economy ahead of us was expanding along with cash and credit (and yes I realize there were cyclical recessions within the expansion). There were more managerial/executive jobs, and women held many of those positions, especially the lower/mid-level management/executive jobs. They had their own secretaries. They wore suits. I also had a few suits in college. Do you remember department stores at the time? They sold a large selection of ladies suits, career separates, career dresses. After all, Baby Boomers were swinging into full career, and although women were not exactly "equal," they were certainly getting a piece of the pie. Contrast that to now: the job market has contracted, is going to continue to contract, and those management/executive positions have been squeezed out. Fewer lawyers are working (many women went to law school), and the mid-to-high level "fluffy" jobs women held like Public Relations don't even exist, not the way they used to. And look at how working women dress now: they are more likely to wear "social" dresses to work rather than career dresses and suits. At my local department store, the only women who buy suits these days are lawyers (to be worn in the courtroom only--they dress casually at the office) or Asians, because a suit in an attractive color/style is part of their "social uniform" at community events, church, dinners, etc...

As long as my family money holds up, I can hold on to a higher level of independence and "empowerment." But the women who have relied on a good-paying job for this independence and empowerment are going to have it much tougher, and it will change the social/cultural landscape in many ways.

Rhisiart Gwilym said...

Respect, Dmitri! Don't let it distract you from the urgent work. Upcoming reality -- as precis-ed by that famous LTG graph -- is about to straighten out the madder feminist ideas, and indeed all our madder ideas, nursed and nurtured within the global Pampered Twenty Percent. Leave that harsh education and winnowing process to reality. Please focus on what you do best; and with such wit and insight.

Can't wait to get my copy of 'Five Stages...' Any day now, I hope.

Anonymous said...

Dmitry, I do appreciate your courage for marching thorugh this minefield. A few observations for what they are worth.

One, I do not understand how anyone can take your research and views as prescriptive, at least not to the level of specifying gender roles like some prophet, god or lawgiver. So far as I understand it, you are examining and talking about what has worked; it doesn't mean that it is what we would want for ourselves much less what has to be; it doesn't mean we have to replicate exactly that. I assume we're not all going to say, well, that's it then, I guess I am going to become Amish. This doesn't mean that some other social arrangement based on what seems to be the key factors (which I look forward to your discussion of), will not also work. Specifically, it doesn't mean that women necessarily have to be consigned to FIXED roles that leave them no freedom of choice to pursue their talents and inclinations, or that they are "subjugated," to use the word of one poster, by governmental authority or societal expectations and norms to only certain positions in the society.

(Having said that, it is important to realize that the extreme division of labor of current society and corresponding scale of "opportunities" are also going to disappear, so EVERYONE will have far fewer roles to choose from. At some point, NO ONE is going to be a CEO of a Fortune 100 company.)

Second, insofar as a person believes your assessment that we are going to go from a monolithic, (so-called) society, to multiple societies, and that post-collapse, the ones that will be most important are small scale, possibly initially being only an extended family or a small group of families, then it would seem the task is to link up with the right-thinking people right now. There is no way to generally prescribe that all or most such groups post-collapse are going to have equal rights for all members, because there won't be a central authority to impose it upon disparate groups! this is why the "rights" talk is not helpful. "Equality of rights" depends on a governmental authority to police and enforce it.
Like "property rights", it is a governmental scheme.

The arguments and heat unleashed by your remarks seem to spring from the unresolved conflicts and wounds of our CURRENT society, matched with the fear that such gains as have been attained could be lost in the blink of an eye under the demands - or pretext of demands - of survival when the current society and government collapses. In other words, how do you prevent a reactionary retrograde to a bygone social structure that is assumed to work better (a "Pat Buchanan" type response, if you will) but which actually may be destructive by consigning one-half of the members to necessary but limited roles (no female engineers!). I don't know the answer to that.

Lastly, I greatly appreciated your remark that the sexual divide is one of the most effective divide and conquer strategies that TPTB have going. FWIW, here is Catherine Austin Fitts view of this aspect of the matter, at 28:20 - 31:00 of the following video:

Unknown said...

in my neck of the woods, it is the Mennonite, and the even more secretive Amish, who impress me as being truly prepared to weather the end of industrialism.

Butch said...

There were loads of "durable communities"-- and they were hunter-gatherers. No monogamy, no property, kids in common, food in common: in a world of plenty, where social status has to do with social relationships and not access to stuff, egalitarianism was the norm,

The future, as Orlov notes and various Clint Eastwood characters have said, is gonna be fuckin' ugly, and, yes, to a large extent, once washing machines, TVs and fridges vanish, the gender-segregated world will return. Kids need supervision; pregnant women can't hunt or fight, and childcare is going to be a full-time job when things get ugly.

Patrick said...

This exchange and the previous ones—among people who, I presume, are all still reasonably well-fed, live securely in heated, electrified homes, and have access to convenient motorized transportation—makes clear to me that even in groups who really should know better, the transition to self-sustaining communities will become so fraught with tensions, competing interests, old resentments, and just plain ugliness to probably make it unworkable for most. Even in a period of unprecedented overall economic growth, rising living standards, personal comfort, and opportunities, there remained tension & antagonism between whites & non-whites, secular & non-secular, rich & poor, urban & rural, men & women. Now imagine it when everyone everywhere becomes insecure, fearful, and hungry. (Probably the biggest object of scorn will the LAZY, who can, of course, come in any size, color, and gender!)

Robo said...


As is your habit, you fire your opinions with both barrels. There should be no surprise when you hear some screaming as the pellets hit home.

A Russian born during the Soviet era, you were taught to endure. Expectations were very limited. Here in the USA, Americans raised during the peak of US power were taught that we were a country of winners, destined to live on Easy Street forever, each one of us a beacon of freedom and possibility for the world.

Of course, that isn't how it has ever really worked. In modern American society, the controlling corporate mechanism seeks to divide, conquer and profit. Driven by marketing angst, envy and fear, cohesive traditional communities and families are systematically fragmented and atomized into more easily manipulated and profitable individual components, known nowadays by the demeaning term of 'consumers'.

Advertised variously as the American Dream, Getting Ahead, Keeping Up With The Joneses; the Ladder of Success, or Striking It Rich ... the big prize is almost always out of reach. A small number of highly visible one percent winners and celebrities serve to lure the other ninety nine percent into continually striving and competing for the payoff. An occasional random jackpot keeps the gamblers playing at the slot machines, but the house always wins and the game has gone on for a long time.

Since most of us have never gotten any big prizes, we try to content ourselves with little ones, small daily victories that make us feel like winners even if we're not.

So, in most every interaction between Americans, large or small, for whatever purpose ... sporting match, religious service, coffee break, political discussion, dinner engagement, business meeting, blog posting or Age of Limits lecture ... the game goes on ... every encounter a potential contest where a score can be kept and a victor declared. Hopefully there will at least be some applause, if not a token prize.

Now, as the economy unravels, stress levels rise, disappointment mounts and the grasping for attainable little victories gets more and more intense. Most of our cultural games will be ending soon and we don't want to let go.

Over the past century, despite constant resistance from the male dominated corporate power structure, American women have advanced in social position and economic power. When the power structure collapses, will the hard-won status of women dissolve along with everything else? That is the fear that drove the violent reaction of the several women to your Age Of Limits comment. The fear of losing.

Even though you have spent much of your time in the US, you have lived some of your life where the rest of us are all going, so you know there are ways of surviving. That gives you confidence, certainty and credibility. Most Americans have never been there before and are very frightened by the prospect. Be as patient with them as you can.

Looking forward to reading your new book, scary as it probably is.

Lee Rust

Skip Breakfast said...

Yes there's something very familiar about this. And not too palatable. I see imminent apocalypse as far too handy reason to jettison some hard-won "advances" in our debauched modernized society. Of course progressive ideals are a luxury of contemporary excess. To reject them wholesale is naive and foolish. Antibiotics will be a long-lost luxury too but I won't advocate burning the medical textbooks from the past 100 years.

Of course we've heard the impossible and stifling rants of some disturbed feminists. I was mugged by a black guy once too. Look, if you're advocating handing all men an axe and saying survival trumps all ideas hatched by progress, then I humbly reject you entirely. Rather we will get the axe by default, not intelligent design. Our challenge is to survive with some humanity intact. I doubt we'll manage it but I'm not throwing out all ideas in my own abiding community.

Watch your back folks. Man and womankind is gonna get ugly.

beetleswamp said...

My mom calls the strategy "Topping from the Bottom". Using victim identity as leverage to control a situation. It's usually used by people who have no interest in leading themselves, as they don't have an overall vision or anyone's best interest in mind but their own. A lot of American women subscribe to these kind of tactics, and it's one reason I was more than happy to marry a foreigner (of course the fact that she is the love of my life was the main reason).

The way you deal with snipers is to get them out of their hole in the open where their agenda is exposed. If that doesn't work then have somebody standing by who can get close enough with a hand grenade.

I don't know an example of matriarchal society, but in the Tongan Faka'apa'apa system the eldest female in the family is given the highest respect and can call in favors from any of her younger siblings at any time, which they must answer. It's also a complex society that practices extreme hierarchy in which nobody is on the same level.

mm said...

The standard story of the feminist movement that reached a crescendo in the 1970s is that by challenging men for the same job, women were asserting their equality. But women had to enter the workforce whether they wanted to or not to maintain a standard of living which was deteriorating as a result of massive inflation that entered the cost structure through the currency collapsing after Nixon closed the gold window in 1971.

But dominate narratives do not enter the consciousness of the masses through the mainstream media without being pre-approved by the banks and their minions. Bernays and Co. took the independence theme from their 1920s cigarette campaign playbook that featured débutantes lighting up as a (phallic) symbol of their emancipation from men, and repurposed it to create a smokescreen to hide a catastrophic mismanagement of a currency, among other things. They fed the flames and pitted women against men right at the time when the two sexes needed to work together to ask what the hell was going on. Kinda like now.

RanDomino said...

Just because some "radical feminists" are nuts does not mean that 'traditional' gender roles are in any way acceptable or even natural. Some of you commenters should be ashamed.

I noticed that Gail advocated the "Deep Green Resistance" organization of Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith. This makes a lot of sense as there has recently been a pretty clean break between them and Anarchists over their adoption of blatantly anti-transgender "RadFem" ideology (although it was in fact the last straw in a series of events and insults). Our observation of them is that they mostly just have a persecution complex.

Deep Green Resistance also has a hierarchical 'lead from the back' structure which puts idealistic young people at danger of long prison terms they may not be prepared for and whose main purpose appears to be getting speaking gigs and book sales for Jensen and Keith.

JimK said...

The politics of the future, what we manage to scrap together one way or another, however we manage to get by for a century or two until the next phase of operations... is not likely to be the fulfillment of very many dreams.

This whole mess strikes me as very analogous to the technology disappointment. Many of us, whether from the fusion power camp or the permaculture camp or whatever other alternative, we'd like to think that the technology of say 50 years from now will be something that makes some sense, something that an intelligent caring person might have designed. But it is almost sure to be a kind of junkyard melange that barely gets us by on the good days and causes a lot of damage on the bad days. Life without effective antibiotics is not going to be fun.

k-dog said...

"I read her comments and it appears she is moderating them just fine."

I was being facetious. Reading my own comment I realize that isn't very clear. I don't want to be mistaken.


beetleswamp said...

I read her blog and it's obvious she just wants to the the center of attention.

Anonymous said...

It seems everybody has a word or a description of what happened to you.

To hear me tell it...

You got trolled, brother.

Trolls are intentionally irrational in order to either victimize or be victimized (sometimes both).

This is a good example...

"In answer to a question about how LGBT minorities were treated in, say, Amish culture, he averred there would be no way to know since they are so private and secretive - but when asked about physical abuse, he responded that they wouldn't be able to conceal 'a gunshot wound' from outside authorities, as if all beatings have to be that extreme to fall into the category of abuse."

First, we can tell she didn't (or refused to) understand your first answer about how the Amish are secretive.

In stead she pressed on asking almost the exact same question but with different words.

She would have kept doing this until you got frustrated enough to say something that she could use to emotionally charge the entire room.

It apparently didn't take long.

If she had understood what you said the first time she would realize that all manner of abuse could be hidden by the secretive Amish.

The only abuse that they wouldn't be able to hide are the extremely obvious things like gun-shot wounds. Even then, I wonder.

You made it clear that the only abuse we could observe to draw any conclusions from are the instances they can't hide which doesn't help when trying to draw sound conclusions.

That, she failed to understand. I would argue that she failed to understand it on purpose but couldn't prove it in a court of law.

Instead of listening to the opposite sex and trying to understand what was actually said, Gail jumped to a completely irrational conclusion about your definition of abuse and how sexist it must be.

She also failed, probably intentionally, to understand that you were describing communities that were more anarchistic. Hierarchies both male dominated, and female dominated, evolved to perform a task and then disappeared when they were no longer necessary (most of the time).

The males in the communities may have been sexist but that doesn't make them patriarchies.

The only thing I fear more than an all powerful patriarchy is an all powerful matriarchy. The reasons for that mainly stem from the type of behavior I'm describing above.

There was an error upon submission. If this duplicates please accept my apology. :)

DeVaul said...

Wow. I guess I do not understand. What was a woman who owns "estates" doing at a conference out in the woods on sustainable living? Why was there a Board of Directors? What corporation is GLBT? What need is there for anything to do with corporations? None of that makes any sense to me.

Perhaps this duchess could donate her land to help start a community that lives off the land with little connection to industrial society.

If she could donate her land to the Deaf, I would gladly set up a community there that would have a great chance of excluding just about everybody (hearing people) who refuse to learn or use ASL.

It is not a technical language, but then, living off of the land is not very "technical". It tends to be graphic and straightforward, unless it has been corrupted by new "leaders" from DC, who insert countless English letters and words into the language until it becomes incomprehensible gibberish.

I finished your book. The Ik people are quite sad, but even more sad are the similarities between them and the so-called American Way of Life. As someone above pointed out, in a society of rugged (not) individuals and special interest groups with axes to grind, building communities post collapse will probably fail in most areas of America.

Albert Bates said...

My carbon footprint has been the focus of much personal effort for more than 30 years. See, e.g.: http://peaksurfer.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-personal-forest.html for my most recent update.

Anonymous said...


The impression I got is that Four Quarters has a board of directors as it's method of governance, who re very egalitarian and supportive of minority causes, including GLBT ones. Yet it's described in Gail's blog as being run by a patriarchal ruler, Orren.

My wife describes Orren as chivalrous, whereas Gail saw the same behavior --being present at the same conversations --as chauvinist.

That difference is a great reminder that we each perceive things differently, filtered by our own experiences and histories.

Communities of the past built themselves by taking what they saw as the best, and rejecting the worst, of the societies they were immersed. They are partially a product of the culture that gave birth to them.

No culture in the past has ever had "feminist" resources and examples to call upon when structuring an escape from the prevalent madness, is is it any wonder why none of the examples were that way?

Who knows, we may see the first true "matriarchal societies" form in our lifetimes as a response to the resource crisis. We may be very surprised by the types of societies that make it through the difficult times ahead.

rcg1950 said...

D. Orlov said: "My approach is to study these communities as if they were a different (sub-)species of hominid. After all, none of you will ever be allowed to interbreed with any of them. Do lions practice polygamy? Yes. Do males kill cubs sired by other males. Yes they do. Does this make them worth emulating? Probably not, but they are still worthy of study, because they are what evolution wrought, and were it not for poaching and habitat destruction (a.k.a. persecution), they'd probably still be a success story. Similarly with human communities that achieve significantly better results than the rest: you may not like them, but then who do you think you are anyway?"

"We patronize the animals for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animals shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. The are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other Nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time."

Henry Beston, "Written on a wall at the National Zoo, Washington, D.C.

Along with techno-progressivism in Western culture there is a noxious and shallow moral progressivism as well to which good hearted liberals and progressives seem to fall prey and which often makes them scolds of alien cultures of which they know next to nothing. (sometimes these 'good hearted' people will even ally themselves with those in power with not such nice motives in support of such horrors as 'humanitarian interventions.') Cultures cannot be judged by ideological abstractions. Life is always concrete and specific and rooted in particular temporal, spacial and historical circumstances which defy easy and simplistic slogans as to their rightness or goodness or correctness. If there is an equation for a universal morality it's expression would surely be determined by a myriad of unique coefficients and constants that would create a wonderful and frightening diversity of cultures (as indeed has been the case, despite the recent monoculturization of the planet which, like all monocultures will not last long). Perhaps in a million years, if our descendents are lucky, it will result in many different 'rational' species and help lift the loneliness of H. sapiens a bit.

Unknown said...

Dear Dimitry,
Pauline (or Pavlina, being Greek, practically comrades) here. I sat next to you at breakfast and listened to your intriguing plan to sail away from apocalypse on a boat with your wife and infant. I loved that! You seemed such a brave and clever man!
So I was surprised when I heard what was going on here in the blogosphere. Say it ain't so Dimitry. Say you aren't insulting my daughters (and yours!) and our dear mother Earth! (I’ve had to drastically shorten this essay for your blog, due to length restrictions, you can see it in it’s entirety here http://peakoil.com/generalideas/orlov-communities-that-abide-preamble/comment-page-1#comment-46688 )
Your presentation on small communities honored the original communist organization of humans that lasted thousands of years successfully yet u forgot to mention the critical aspect of those communist societies, the key that made them communist & successful was that they were matrilineal & feminine centered. Many current day matrilineal societies & cultures live in gender equality. Despite the name of the link below "where women rule" these cultures share responsibility between the sexes. Only love rules there. :)
I say share RESPONSIBILITIES, not power. Power is what small minded men worry about & try to hold onto with punitive laws, wars, violence, yelling, punching, nasty blogs, etc. RESPONSIBILITIES are what adults take care of together. Responsibilities include caring for: our children, the food system, the water system, shelter, & all the creatures we share our Mother Earth with.

My field of study is Anthropology and Sociology which is the terrain in which you lumbered into ungracefully since it is not your field of study. "sigh" I'm sure you'd laugh at *me* if I gave a talk on engineering, of which I know hardly anything about, but if I googled stuff maybe I could pass myself off as a pseudo expert... Maybe not. I would fail as fantastically as you did. No offense. If you read the full length of this, you'll understand. I mean you no harm. I come in peace. Truly! I know you are calling us women feminazis. tisk tisk. now be nice. No need to disrespect us gals. Give us the benefit of the doubt. We've been burned, stoned, staked, shot, mutilated, etc by men for centuries. We're a little upset as you can imagine.

I’d really hoped to see more emotional progress in this community of collapsers, being that we know we’re doomed. I’m deeply saddened to see the same old baloney that brought the world to where it is today.
Backbiting snarkiness, nastyness, disrespect!
It's Disheartening.
As long as people insist on NOT looking into themselves and analyzing their own defects and hurts,
as long as we belittle & dismiss each other,
as long as we cut ourselves off from feeling the hurt of others (men & women),
as long as we are unwilling to heal the male/female wound,
as long we refuse to forgive faults & weaknesses,
as long as we let FEAR direct our thoughts and actions,
we will continue to see Mountain Top Removal, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Civil Wars, oceans dying, & our entire planet driven to extinction.

Dimitry, What you are doing here is beneath you.
I met a better man at breakfast that morning.

When you & other men vilify women & my daughters who try to stand up for their human rights, you speak against the very Mother Earth you stand on.
This is a Truth.
Realize that truth & you will find your way home to your heart. Words are powerful. Let us use them with wisdom & compassion. I challenge anyone reading this to do the same, man or woman. Our time to embrace each other with love and forgiveness is running out. Don't waste it on foolishness.
The time to heal is now. Seize the day!

The Abyss beckons.

With much love

Luciddreams said...


Not sure where to start here...but I'm working on one of those communities you're talking about. The type that pays attention to what nature has to say about what works and what doesn't. It's called the foxstead, and it's a place that will exist for post-petroleum humans that find themselves in need of sustainability. As in, they can grow, and facilitate, people eating food...from nature.

At any rate, I'm an American, as is my wife. She's very unusual having just gave birth to our second son, vaginally, with no epidural or anesthetizing agents. His name is Harper Tribann (first and middle). He held his own head up 20 minutes after exiting his mother's womb. He's strong...we are American, but we are not. We consider ourselves post petroleum human tribe members...with respect to Mike Ruppert. He's the one that gave me the heads up on fox magic.

Thanks for all that you do Dimitri. It's good to know their are comrades out there that speak intelligently about collapse issues.

If any of your readers want to know about the foxstead is, they can get all of the particulars by going here:


That's a thread on the Doomstead Diner...the best kept secret on the internet where Doom is concerned. I'm LD, and I regularly contribute to the site via my blog Epiphany Now


Terry T said...

The way I see it, feminism was a necessary response to a post wwII industrial society that produced a whole middle and upper middle class of "organization men" (think William Whyte, who also did the great film short, "the social life of small urban spaces") who all abided to their respective functional roles in a manufacturing based society.

But the emerging sharper divisions of labor resulted in a sharper division of power. The advent of middle management and the middle class created a empowered (and dare I say, "entitled") class of men of no particularly distinctive talent or ability (think "Mad Men") who constituted a huge good-old-boy network of white male power. It's no coincidence in my mind that the Feminist movement roughly coincided with the civil rights movement. The new management class appeared to individuals "outside" that sphere to be a big country club and not a meritocracy. And a very well paid one, at that.

Bureaucratic and and corporate bungling of the late 60's and 70's (lampooned in film and TV, like "Get Smart") cemented the idea that it wasn't merit that ensured one's admission to the club.

While male descendants of white immigrant men were able to make inroads in this system based on their merits, women as a whole were physically and socially separated from the new locus of power by being stuck in a home doing so-called "women's work" that was being mechanized into being both more trivial and socially isolating.

The exact counterpart to this are my ancestral villages in Romania (I'm 3rd generation American). I learned about life in a Transylvanian village just north of Sibiu in the foothills of the Carpathians from my grandmother who would be 115 years old.

Outside of the local priest, there was remarkable egalitarianism since the division of labor had nothing really to do with power, and certainly not socially isolating. Apparently my great grandmother was the local arbiter of justice and medicine woman. This role could bounce from male to female over generations based on the merit of the individuals alive at the time. Results are what mattered as it was a matter of life and death for the family and the village.

So let's see. On one hand we have planting, harvesting, care of the water buffalo (who pulled the plows and carts), milling, making of soap and fabrics from scratch from local wool and flax, bearing children, plowing fields, cutting wood, shearing sheep, raising children, preparing food all while dealing with real threats from tangible things like weathering harsh winters, bears, wolves, potential crop failure, floods, disease epidemics, infant mortality, women's death during childbirth, proper food preservation so that winter doesn't outlast the food supply, and the occasional marauding gypsies.

Everyone's work was important. None of it was trivial. Meaningful work has a way of ironing out conflict between the sexes. I have a suspicion that men didn't want to do "women's work" any more than women wanted to do "men's work." But I'm sure they did it when necessity called. And sure as hell, no one wanted to hear a member of a larger landowning family bitching about about their lot in life.

I also have a suspicion that post-collapse societies in Kunstler's world made by hand will equally erase the the sanctimoniousness of both radical feminists and the current crop of "angry white males" who have resented the inroads of women and people of color into their little country club of good-old-boys.

I will miss neither.

simon.dc3 said...

Dmitry, you could've handled that exchange a lot better.
Given your understanding of how Putin's regime uses that church for legitimacy/power + vice-versa, it seems you missed a perfect opportunity to point out to those there your view on staying out of TPTB's way since self-implosion is guaranteed by those seeking continual growth in a bounded world. You could've used Pussy Riot's actions as a perfect example of how not to fight the system. Then you could've segwayed perfectly into the delusions permeating contemporary feminism much the same as those believing tech will make all things beautiful and clean any day now.

Given your capacity as a docent you were fulfilling at that meet, you certainly squandered a perfect teaching moment by uncothness and insensitivity and unfortunately tuned out a few you could've easily steered right.

Maybe it was the chilly weather, I hope it was. All things are perfectly handled from a warm and fuzzy handled couch after all.

Other than that, very much enjoying "Five Stages of Collapse", thanks for prompt delivery.

To all those who can't wait for feminism and women's rights to go the way of the dodo: woe to us, our mothers, our sisters, our daughters to go through this bottleneck with people like you.

Amy said...

I will say he has a point about American feminism, but I will also say that this brand of feminism has solutions to a lot of gender issues in the world. For people who had a problem with Orlov's article, I would suggest reading this one:


It definitely shows the problems of second wave feminism that never evolved to fit the needs of the 21st century (even though we're supposed to be in a 3rd wave of feminism) She also explains how different work hours would help both sexes raise their children better. I personally believe raising children should be left out of the battle of the sexes. . .someone needs to raise them well. Parents should find some sort of comprise, but don't make a big deal out bringing up children. There's no way around it, you have to push yourself and do it well!

I would say a big issue at the conference was his comment on Pussy Riot. . .these women were protesting the connection between a corrupt government and the church, they weren't protesting religion in and of itself. Also, when discussing the particular women of Pussy Riot, it should be known that they are not ones to tell to stay home and raise their children! They're more likely to say they are setting examples for their children by being in jail. I would also say that this is a part of radical Russian feminism (and that of other soviet bloc countries).

Lastly, I will have to comment that American women have to deal with a special brand of capitalist chauvinism that not many other people have to deal with. Try walking in the shoes of a middle class American woman for at least a decade and then tell me you wouldn't want to bite off the head of someone who even makes a slightly chauvinist remark. It’s a complicated society where all ideologies are skewed, not just feminism.

Dmitry Orlov said...


First of all, where did you get the idea that I propose emulating the communities are described or holding them up as models. What I did was describe the common traits of ALL the major contemporary communities that abide in the US (and Israel). What to do with that information is left out completely. I am not a politician or an activist or an organizer.

Congratulations on your being an Anthropologist. But anthropology, like all social sciences, is only useful to a point. It stops being useful as soon as you are forced to stop doing science and become, if you will, a study subject. Anthropologists don't like to have the tables turned on them. Some psychologists are a little better at playing patients; perhaps you can take courage from them.

In your original comment you bring up your 24-year-old daughter. But is she even capable of the radical act of unconditional, unquestioning surrender that would be required of her if she were to join any of the communities I had described? If she is a big fan of Pussy Riot, then, in effect, she has just shunned herself from every community I described in my talk, since that's not behavior that any of these communities would tolerate. And if that's the case, then why are we wasting time on this?

Maybe I should just give up on the whole thing. What am I doing explaining communities that abide to people who won't—people who like fools like Pussy Riot and are just waiting for their own chance to jump into some insane political meat-grinder, to be processed into dog food? Preaching to the doomed is such a thankless chore. I have enough other projects to keep me busy—ones that don't involve any politics.

What motivated me to look at these communities is my fascination with the fact that they are separatist and therefore remain relatively unscathed by the ravages of the surrounding culture. But separatist concerns require separatist discussions, in which only some can take part. It seems impossible to remain unscathed by the surrounding culture while discussing this subject in public. So perhaps I should just give up.

Anonymous said...

I've just spent the last year and a half of my life unemployed, living on British unemployment benefit, and I've got to say that I have found myself agreeing with you more and more over this period of 'lowering my burn rate' and learning to not crave all of the materialistic trappings.

Anonymous said...


You condemn the use of "ad hominen snark" yet this post is riddled with it.

You seem to be trying to present yourself as reasonable and rational, relying on your "research" - yet you admit fully in the post above that your views have been formed by your own personal experiences of relationships with women in your life.

You dismiss women as a "made up" political class; are not all political classes "made up"? That is, conceptual entities which are defined by measures of wealth and power that are applied to specific groups?

I see it over and over (and experience it myself) when women express their views in public forums: men sideline it with aggressive labels - "hijacked" "agenda" "militant" "troublemakers." This reaction reflects fear and self-indulgence far more than reason and moderation. I would ask the men who do so to please look in a mirror and ask yourself if women do not see the same thing in you when you dismiss their views so consistently and aggressively. Why do you assume so mindlessly that *you* set the agenda, to which women must abide?

My own view is that any man who feels he must brush aside a woman's perspective rather than listening to her and learning from her is a man still trapped in an adolescent relationship with the world. There are more than enough blokes on platforms spouting their views to audiences and expecting unquestioning deference, and the state of our so-called civilisation is bearing the fruits of that now.

Dmitry Orlov said...

Dear Dmitri,

I'm writing to you via email as I have trouble using the cluborlov site comments arrangement.

I thought your post 'Communities that Abide' on 4th June 2013, was excellent. (I am a woman now 48 living in England) and I've always found feminism to be quite toxic, and I was surprised at the reaction of those women who gave you a hard time; they are still living an unreality and obviously haven't taken on board the full implications of the Peak Oil dilema. Quite what they are doing in the Peak Oil movement (such as it is) I don't know - they and their types seem to infect everything.

I hope this does not put you off speaking your mind, as its such a unique mind and we need to hear it.

The truth of the matter is more important to cling to than the warped value systems of others.

All the very best to you,


Unknown said...

All human arrangements and cultural preferences are strictly transient and in-permanent. Just like humans themselves
they are constantly replaced and new combinations are tried, some kept but most discarded. If your 'best way' results
in a society where humans stop reproducing then by definition you are loosing no matter how fair or otherwise 'great'
your system looks to you. Within a few generations you will be gone. You will be one more of the countless tribes that
have come and gone just by insisting on a cultural quirk that had no survival energy.

An intelligent feminist would recognize this fact and adapt their ideology accordingly. Running on a platform of
empowerment by repelling men and maximizing their own power may have a few unintended negative consequences in the long run.
Equally making men into touchy feely pussies has serious consequences in the short and medium term. Let's just remember
what the basic role of men traditionally has been. That is to protect that family and maintain the balance with the nearby
tribes. Are you sure these pussies are up for the job?

Matriarchical societies are certainly possible. There may even be a few very successful onces. But these are only
possible within a framework of successful competition with more traditional societies.

Always remember that nature does not favor fairness or gender justice. It does not care about your feelings, it does
not care about you or even your species. Make sure you survive first and focus on gender issues later.

Dmitry Orlov said...

Harry asked an excellent question:

"Since the example communities that abide are mainly pacifistic, how do they defend against ideas that disrupt the common good?"

The way that seems to operate is via a central ideology, that is unquestioned, so the only questions that may arise are ones of interpretation, and although these can be disruptive, they are solidly within the same overall context.

People tend to adhere to the central ideology in order to avoid self-contradiction and accompanying loss of face. So, for instance, if you have just loudly recited in unison "Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem, Creatorem coeli et terrae..." at the start of the meeting, you are not likely to then propose calling God a "she." (Again, before feminists jump down my throat, I am just pointing out how it works in principle, not advocating anything in particular.)

So perhaps a generally acceptable "Credo..." of some sort, to be recited at the start of the meeting, might go a long way in terms of avoiding becoming mired in side-issues and self-contradiction.

Rhisiart Gwilym said...

Hang in there Dmitri. Haven't seen a single convincing comment yet that says you are wrong to put the preamble the way you have. And it's clear that there are women as well as men who back you. Just shrug off the self-indulging trouble-makers -- with whom reality is going to deal brusquely in short order over the next decade or two -- and keep sluggin' bro. Your work emphatically is not in vain. Regards, RhG

PS: I suppose you have contingency plans to get out of USAmerica entirely, if it proves necessary. My sister-in-law has just quit her third and final attempt to patch things up with her mad husband, and has now returned to Britain permanently, with her one child, who also very much wants to be here too. Considering what's so clearly coming to USAmerica very soon now, I can't tell you how relieved I am that she's here, and that Patrick's happy about it too. The situation here in Britain is pretty dire also, but we-all have roots -- still live -- in Cymru and Eire, and in one of those places are chances should be better.

crespi effect said...

How about Ann Lee,the Shaker Mother and Mother Meera, god on earth mother.Two communities that had/have some staying power (not much reproduction however).

"Russian women have participated in a 70-year experiment in gender egalitarianism, and concluded that it was a failure. Modern Russian women have no use for American old style “radical feminism.”

This is kind of a huge "off the cuff" remark pouring gas on the red hot coals. Could you provide books/studies on this interesting topic.

Kevin Frost said...

We have these feminists on the one hand and the Jungle Jim sociobiologists on the other. This is not a good place to be.

Dimity: you know who Morris Berman is. Have you read his stuff, I mean, just say 45 minutes or so? Just enough to get the idea that the guy absolutely despises America and the people who inhabit the place. 315 million dolts. 315 million heads stuck up their asses. I’m not exaggerating, not even a little bit. I think the guy’s a bit unfair, and possibly expresses some ethnic malaise of his own, but Berman’s a scholar and well able to back up his assertions with a lifetime of reading the leading literature on the subject, both classical and modern. He’s no dummy. If you were to consult Berman I know exactly what he’d say: you’re wasting your time. Get out of the place. Go somewhere where people still retain a semblance of the old cultures. You might consider learning Spanish. You should be giving talks in Latin America where the ground is also shifting and opening up possibilities that weren’t open before.

I see you such as I do, over the internet, which surely has it’s limitations. But still, I do put some value on what people write and it’s this I’m concerned to address. I see you as an engineer with a strong interest in communities conceived as adaptations to a changing natural environment. Your thinking is close to Kropotkin. I’d go further than that. All the way. I’m sorry for the flattery. Flattery is actually toxic and good for nobody. But he lives through you. Yes. That is so. This being so, is it suitable that such a thinker should get stuck in America? No. It’s not. You are on the scent, the trail, of something that appears to be universal. I think so to. This is worth doing. By pursuing this path you could enlighten yourself and help lots of people.

Maybe I’m a bit superstitious, like Greer. You watch for signs that come up in the environment and try to read them. When you get the signs that tell you to ‘shove off’ - then do it. See what I mean? The world is always trying to help you. I’m quite serious.

Like everybody else I’m coming from my own vantage point. I won’t burden people with the details but regarding all of what we’re talking about, I make two major distinctions. I distinguish society from community and recommend this as food for thought. As well, I distinguish enlightenment from modernity. Modernity is the secularisation of Christianity. There’s no hope here. None. It’s actually worse than that. Enlightenment is something else. I think the only two places in this world where enlightenment has a chance are Latin America and East Asia, both for different and yet ultimately connected reasons. If the nether reaches of Kropokins insights have possibilities in this world it’s in these places and not America. You should plant your seeds in suitable soil. Otherwise you could end up babysitting the ideologically disturbed, loaded up with an endless backlog of grief counciling. I’m not knocking this, not at all, but you should focus your efforts on what you are able to do, follow your star as my mother would say.

In any case I wish you well and hope that you’ll continue to explore the prospects and possibilities of communal life in these difficult times to come. Thank you, and all, for your patience. Kevin Frost

Ceworthe said...

The bottom line as I see it is whether a person will have the skills and capability to do hard work that will benefit themselves and others in a post collapse world. Gail doesn't seem to be able to even care for herself (bringing no warm clothing to a very cold place) and instead relies on the generosity and common sense of others. When hard times come, do you think that many people are going to spend time and energy on someone who isn't contributing in terms of physical work, either by doing the work itself or giving their practical knowledge of said physical work to others? This is what it comes down to. Anyone who thinks we will all be sitting around discussing feminism while we starve to death should in the words of Samuel Jackson "wake the "f" up imho. And to be clear I am a lifelong liberal and at 58, a woman who is quite familiar with the various waves of feminism in the US

Luddene said...

During the 1980’s I lived in Minneapolis. It had a vibrant feminist community. At one point I attended an event featuring Mary Daly who described herself as a radical lesbian feminist. She said all the things you would expect a radical lesbian feminist to say. I had heard it all before so it didn’t surprise me and I didn’t disagree with most of it. During the Q&A a timid woman ask how to go about leaving her brutish husband. Daly blew her off as being an idiot. I was so disturbed at Daly vehemence and vulgarity towards this woman that I never attended another feminist event.

In the ensuing 25 or so years, I have come to understand that all campaigns for “rights” – I’m not sure what else to call this thing – are religious in nature. If one really studies John Calvin’s theology the link is obvious. Historically, I would include other movements: conservation, ecology, feminism, environmentalism, gay rights, anti-nukes, climate change, and on-and-on. This is not limited to the left-wing; the right-wing’s economic theories also qualify. I suspect, but am not sure, that certain aspects of psychology also lean in this religious direction (Baker, et al). Alas, it may be in our nature to incorporate any aspect of life into religion. Dr. Dean Hamer postulates this very notion in his book The God Gene.

All that said, whenever one’s religious beliefs are challenged hackles are raised. I can see how women identifying themselves as radical feminists – religious to the extreme – would rise up against anyone questioning the ability of matriarchal communities to exist and thrive. Unfortunately, most of us fail to see how ugly we are when we lash out at those who defy our articles of faith.

As a further note, Erik Knutzen, who also attended the conference had other interesting things to say, particularly regarding Carolyn Baker. You can find him at rootsimple.com.

Unknown said...

Dearest Dimitry,
"First of all, where did you get the idea that I propose emulating the communities are described or holding them up as models."

If that was not your intent, why mention them?

"I am not a politician or an activist or an organizer."

Of course not. You're just hanging out writing books and challenging people to think your way for the fun of it. No activism or organizing here, move along.

"Anthropologists don't like to have the tables turned on them."
Anthropologists don't have "tables turned on them," they are observers of human conditions. It is people who are being observed that seem to have a bigger problem with that. I see you...

"In your original comment you bring up your 24-year-old daughter. But is she even capable of the radical act of unconditional, unquestioning surrender that would be required of her if she were to join any of the communities I had described? If she is a big fan of Pussy Riot, then, in effect, she has just shunned herself from every community I described in my talk, since that's not behavior that any of these communities would tolerate. And if that's the case, then why are we wasting time on this?"

Would you want your daughter to unconditionally bow to a culture that would subjugate and humiliate her? I think not. Neither would I. I will fight to the death to keep her free in body and mind. You should too. You remember that line "They came for the socialists, but I wasn't a socialist, they came for the jews, but I wasnt a jew?" Etc....

"Maybe I should just give up on the whole thing."

Never give up seeking truth. The journey can be painful, but learning to LISTEN is the first big step to understanding. And you are a good and decent man so there's plenty of hope you'll get there. Just LISTEN a little more rather than look for praise from lesser people. ;) I think you have a lot to offer us. I'd like to see more of that rather than what I'm seeing on these misogynistic posts here.

"What motivated me to look at these communities is my fascination with the fact that they are separatist and therefore remain relatively unscathed by the ravages of the surrounding culture. But separatist concerns require separatist discussions, in which only some can take part. It seems impossible to remain unscathed by the surrounding culture while discussing this subject in public. So perhaps I should just give up."

Separatism Schmepatism. No one is unscathed by Empire. Guy showed us that. Throughout history it was these separatist groups that were rounded up and murdered en masse. Or did you forget that? Again, do not despair in your search for understanding. Try to listen more and pontificate less. You may not have all the answers you think you do. You might be wrong sometimes. And I say that with all love and respect for you. Truly. You are at least trying to do the right thing and that is a hell of a lot more than most people are doing.

We can all ask more questions. Listen more. Observe more! Be ready to be corrected. I know these are hard things to ask of ourselves, but I guarantee we will have a richer, happier discussion on these pages and we will all benefit from it.

With love

jml said...

I am an American woman born in 1968 and I applaud your comments that point to the vanity and absurdity of American feminism. My generation was particularly brainwashed and what is so sad is that most females cannot see how this thinking has hurt them and their lives. My mother -a stay at home mom - had it a lot better than me, but my generation was taught the opposite so we would be coerced into the workforce which has been detrimental to our children, our marriages and ourselves.

Unknown said...

Dimitry, I would like to point out some falacies that are going uncorrected here by you.

First: I'm hearing a great deal of smearing of Gail who is a lovely person, a very quiet and gentle soul with deep concerns about Climate catastrophe and dying trees. Someone said she didn't care enough for herself to even bring warm clothing?
It dropped to 34 degrees in a 6 hour period and stayed in the low 40's. Everyone froze. Orren was a gentleman and brought out his overcoats for many of us to use to keep warm. It was a funny sight, the lot of us, men and women, in his tweeds and wools. My close friend Cameron, a petite lass, (one of the women who spoke up) walked around in a black wool overcoat that hung to the ground. She was adorable!

The women who questioned you Dimitry at your presentation did not identify as "radical feminists".
They were women who made an observation that was to you unexpected and undesired.
Of course they/we were soon to be labeled radical feminists and even feminazis.
Let me understand this: If someone asks a question or points out a detail you dislike or are unfamiliar with, then it is okay to call them names? Dismiss them? Allow others to join in on the smear game?

Be the better man I met at breakfast. I know you are.

vera said...

As long as people here continue with the overly aggressive approach that Dmitry opened up with, an approach inviting others to pile on here with more abuse directed at Gail or other women, it's pointless to discuss the actual issues. And yes, Dmitry, I think you should give up -- give up this way of behaving in the world, and turn over a new leaf. Your own family will benefit, not to mention your future audiences.

Harry, I checked whether Gail called Orren a chauvinist. She did not. The only somewhat negative thing I saw was about his chain smoking. More lying bullies, anyone? It's amazing to see what crawled out of the woodwork when Dmitry opened the trap door.

Dan L. said...

To do so, they rely on the services of America's oversize criminal-industrial complex, which imprisons a larger share of the population than Stalin did during the height of his purges, with the majority of the inmates male, non-white, uneducated and poor.


Could you just clarify for me whether this is an assertion that "The War on Drugs" is a direct result of the feminist movement or feminism itself? That's how it reads but it's such an absurd contention that I'm having trouble parsing it.

-Dan L.

Glenn in Maine said...

Hi Dmitry, this is an intriguing study, and the notion of separateness is fascinating. One reason the original Puritan New England colonists thrived was their complete intolerance of outsiders (Catholics, Quakers etc). I’m curious as to your thoughts on how that Yankee heritage may still serve us here in New England, or have two centuries of American cultural imperialism watered down our core shared values? Many thanks

ASbjf said...

Thank you for your writings, Dmitri.

I don't know how you stand it.

onething said...

I guess I have been on the fence about feminism my whole life. American woman, born 1958, I was meant to embrace it, especially since I was a tomboy...it seems to me that there is indeed a kind of wounding in our culture, that goes very deep. It comes down to a lack of respect. It bothered me when I was young to be given religious books to read that were written as if women didn't exist. I didn't know if it applied to me or not. Sticking with the religious angle, Eve is often blamed for bringing sin into the world, and denigration and subjugation of women was justified because of the sin of Eve, and yet Jesus was called the "second Adam" and it is taught in the west that Jesus had to die on the cross to be a sufficient substitute for Adam, who was also without sin - but if the fall is the fault of Woman, then why was not a perfect woman sacrificed to save humanity?

I grew up desecrating the sacred space of every church I went into by my little girl presence...I never told anyone until many years later of my practice, but I guess it made me mad that my physical presence was unfit for the holy area that my brothers could go into.

Those were Russian Orthodox churches, but in the west we had the Inquisition, in which mostly women and even girls were tortured to death. Since I believe in something like the collective subconscious, and reincarnation, I think that the Inquisition left terrible scars on the psyche of the west. Imagine the children watching their mothers burn?

And yet 2nd wave feminism wanted to take the tack of saying that if women are not respected, then by golly we will be men, and we will deny that we are anything other than men. Other than means less than, by definition. And right there, they agreed with patriarchy that to be a woman is to be inferior.

You say, Dmitry, that Russian women have experimented with gender equality, but did they go back to work when their infants were 6 weeks old as my coworkers do?

How are they supposed to breastfeed? What kind of equality is that, for one gender to use the strength of their body for reproduction, and care for an infant with sleep interruptions, and then work 40 hours just like their husband? This situation make me as mad wife beating does the feminazis.

Man, did we ever take a wrong turn. We made things twice the mess they were before. Now there's no family, no neighborhood, no health, no good food...and life is in the fast lane.

Of course we shouldn't switch to matriarchy, but what we should switch to is respect for women as leaders and elders when appropriate, when they are older and freer and wiser, and some kind of spiritual role.

The idea that men and women must occupy exactly the same sphere is idiotic, if for no other reason than it is inefficient!

And now we have feminists continually trying to pound the square peg into the round hole rather than working on how to enhance ourselves as women.

Do they have so little confidence in our worth?

Dmitry Orlov said...

Orren made available the video of the Q&A of my talk, during which the provocations and the hissing occur.

onething -

You are absolutely right. There need to be three realms: men's, women's, and the two together. All three are essential for survival. Vive la différence!

Einherjar said...

I have looked over the various posts and I would like to add that Gail's posts tend to be full of subtle and not so subtle passive aggressive attacks. If some readers cannot see them for what they are, so be it.

Dmitry, your ideas are not those of the mainstream and I would hate to see a few trolls derail ClubOrlov. Please continue to engage in dialogue with them or just ignore them, but either way, keep writing. I finished your book early this morning before crashing out and will have a lot to think about as I drive people around in my taxi.

As some of the other commenters have said above, threads of social power and discourse exist now that have not been present during previous empirical collapses to my knowledge, such as Feminism and LGBTQ rights. I expect they will cause some interesting swerves. The communities of hackers/builders who are fervently working on creating blueprints for easy to snap together sustainable home design and so on, are also amazing to watch. Here in the pacific northwest, some communities are already weaving gift economies, permaculture and other attributes into self-sustaining micro-cultures.

Andy Brown said...

Recently there've been similar gender political dust-ups among other iconoclast groups - atheists and science fiction writers, for example. I think it is particularly hard for an iconoclast (that is, someone who has seen through the mainstream BS, and thought deeply through to the other side) to be told, "Yes you've seen through the mainstream BS when it comes to X and that is well and good, but when it comes to gender you are spouting mainstream BS, and in that realm you have not seen through it or thought deeply enough on it." It does not go over well. Women are not immune, either. When White, middle-class feminists (iconoclasts) were told by women of color and LGBT that they were clotted with mainstream prejudices themselves, many of them reacted with the kind of dismissiveness and defensiveness that I see in many male iconoclasts.

Now Dmity and others may ask, so what? We're talking about what is going to survive a collapse, not about creating a feminist eutopia. But I think we should acknowledge that just because we've seen through the BS in one realm, doesn't guarantee that we aren't among the deluded, lazy-thinkers in other realms. I think that's one thing feminists have to say, and it's worth hearing. That's my two cents on this.

Alice Quirky said...

I'm confused! Is the Gail mentioned in this blogpost the same as Gail Tverberg, one of the presenters?

Dmitry Orlov said...

Andy -

I think you are onto something. Assuming to be able to read the future with regard to something as tangled as gender relations is unsafe for everyone. Surviving the various stages of collapse is hard; surviving them with all the progressive trappings of industrialized society intact is, as Quentin Tarantino would put it, "fucking hard." I would venture a guess, though: with regard to women's and LGBT issues, surviving communities will be all over the map—some good, some bad, some horrific. And I would venture another guess: social progressives who think that they can impose their values on the rest will get their asses kicked. And, reading that Limits to Growth chart (which nobody mentions; why is that?) it is safe to say with regard to all surviving groups that their women will have their hands full caring for infants and children, cooking and cleaning. That alone sets an upper limit on how much of the modern liberated lifestyle can be sustained moving forward. I haven't heard a peep out of anyone on that score; again, why is that? Cat got your tongue? Can't read charts? It's a bit disappointing, you know...

Dmitry Orlov said...

Alice -

No, NOT Gail Tveberg. Same first name, different everything else.

Andy Brown said...

I think there is a stereotype that feminists are somehow against child-rearing. They certainly are against being treated as chattel or being considered as breeding stock for anxious men. But I've never heard that in practice they reproduce less than non-feminists. In any case, the shrinking family can't be laid at the door of feminists - it's pretty clearly an economic and class issue. All that's to say I don't assume that large families and female control over their wombs are mutually exclusive - only that women have to be on board with it. As they often have been even in societies where male's didn't exert unilateral control. I think some of the rhetoric being thrown around assumes that women (feminists) are too stupid or dogmatic to adjust to a future which demands adjustments in roles, even ones that will be more gendered than they have been. I think they might find that a little rude and dismissive. I think it's an impoverished view of what empowered women are capable of myself.

sidd said...

Dimitri...why wastse time going to this type of whatever this is...these are not going to be the survivors of anything..hippydippys talking about gender, come on really? this weekend my group practiced running and attacking roadblocks, and advanced camo-gardening.

Albert Bates said...

This relates to my comment shown in the video clip. I said that Utah was the first to grant suffrage to women. I was corrected by another audience member who said it was Wyoming.

The fuller story: Yes, Wyoming (1869) beat Utah (1870) and some historians believe that the push for womens votes in these states was sanctioned by Washington to stamp out polygamy. Then the women in Utah overwhelmingly endorsed polygamy with their votes, so Washington had to step in and in 1887 the U.S. Congress disenfranchised Utah women.

By the end of the 19th century, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming had re-enfranchised women after efforts by the suffrage associations at the state level. It was not until 1920 that the US followed suit with passage of the 19th amendment. The US was the 33rd country, coming after nearly all of the Soviet republics.

The Mormon women were way ahead of everyone else, which was my point.

Anonymous said...

Too much heat and not enough precision, IMO. Part of the confusion seems to be that, in talking about the anabaptist and other groups, listeners assumed you were recommending them as "lifestyles" we should imitate. It seems many people missed the fact that you examined and discussed these communities to ABSTRACT from them the underlying GENERAL features that made them successful, such as separatism and an ideology, so that we would have an idea of what the key characteristics a successful community has had, historically at least. NONE of the abstracted principles you discussed said anything about gender roles, so far as I can see. But it seems people assumed you were recommending imiation of these exact forms of communities!

The other thing that I think leads to too much confusion is a failure to be specific about what women's rights people are concerned to carry forward in a post-collapse community. Talking summarily about "equal rights," just mixes thoughts up too much with the battles in the current society. As a start, I would think the following comprise the specific items that we would want to concern ourselves with:

1. "Reproductive freedom," i.e., the right of abortion, without social stigma.

2. No arranged marriages, no requirement TO marry.

3. No prescribed or prohibited social roles, women can be blacksmiths, doctors, engineers, whatever, based on talents and inclination.

4. Equal right to speak in the community meetings where communal decisions are made.

5. No taboos or stigma /openness to lesbian relationships or "alternative lifestyles." (The men might want the corresponding recognition.)

I would not add "equal pay for equal work," since I don't believe that the proletarian /wage slave model will apply.

True, you won't get all of those things if you move in with the Amish. However, as far as I understood your presentation, I don't see how the general characteristics of communities that abide that you discuss prohibit the possiblity of a community that embodies the above 5characteristics. It would be up to like minded people to establish such a community however, since there is not going to be a central authority to impose it from without.

Gardengate said...

My husband and I have been trying to build a small micro community (4-8 people) for 10+ years. Because we grow so much of our own food on 5 acres without using fossil fuels (using manual labor and hand tools), we have found the biggest factor why it won't work is most people are physically lazy, out of shape and refuse to do the work necessary to survive.

These are points that we need to rally around in order to build foundation for any of this to happen. We all have the choice of which community to subscribe to and this shouldn't even be an issue until we can commit to working.

We are big supporters of Guy McPherson who visited our homestead last year and the core things we should be focusing on in the face of NTE. We've become a debating society rather than a doing one.

You can read about us and our struggles in building community here:

Ceworthe said...

What you might do in the future if this topic of why didn't you include matriarchies, feminism, etc. is to say, I couldn't find any examples. You are free to do your own research to find one. And you are free to do the work of creating your own group espousing your belief system and see how it goes in a future collapse. Like JMG's idea that dissensus provides a wide variety of directions, options and result (even examples of what doesn't work) and some things will undoubtedly work.

Dr. Doom said...

I'll comment upon the LTG chart. I think it is the rosy scenario. The deaths curve may be correct, but the births curve will not be nearly as high. Therefore, the residual population curve is too high going forward to 2100. I think the main reason for this is the way the effects of pollution were modeled. The LTG team overlooked or downplayed greenhouse gas warming effects upon the climate. Climate change will (and is beginning to) wreak havoc upon industrial and other human civilization. The main impact will be upon food production.

Perhaps what's wrong with the LTG model is actually too low a death rate, and the projected birth rate is OK. But the net result will be a bottleneck and die off, with lower human population going forward, perhaps even zero, as in extinction, if the climate goes extreme, either too warm or too cold. The LTG team did a great job overall, real pioneering work, but they were overly optimistic about the pollution effects.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dmitry,

Your mention of Caesarean sections got me thinking about how the most appropriate function for modern gender equality activism (or feminism) in the post industrial era might be to advocate for the highest possible quality obstetrics care. Given, as you argue, that a major part of the women’s role in the world is to have babies because they are the only ones who can; it will be necessary to minimise the physiological pressure of pregnancy and child birth whilst maximising the survival rates of the babies. This will not only have the effect of efficiency but it will also somewhat free the women up from the slavery of their reproductive role, preventing them being subjugated like they have been in the past and like you seem to be suggesting they inevitably will be again. My comment is that it doesn’t take any fossil fuel powered systems to achieve this; it just takes some of the knowledge that has been acquired in modern times like the germ theory of disease which Ignaz Semmelweis applied to prevent new born babies dying in their masses of puerperal fever in 1847. Furthermore I imagine Caesarean sections will carry on being available a long way down the arch of the long descent being that they were being performed with the mother surviving as long ago as the 1580s.

I haven’t read any of the other comments btw.

Lance M. Foster said...

I think we are talking about what will happen under such conditions, more than what should happen. Whatever a person's idea of "right" or "wrong" or "could" or "should" might be.

Let's leave the question of gender out of it for a moment.

No one will argue with the fact that the conditions of collapse will be hard on the sick, the infirm and the aged. It's not that people don't love their grandma and grandpa, or that they won't do everything in their power to help them survive.

But medications will not be available for so many conditions that we take for granted: heart conditions, diabetes, etc. Some of the lifestyle illnesses will disappear as our junk food diet disappears and people have to do sustained hard labor again. But some people, the aged and the really sick, will die soon and in great numbers.

The aged are stores of cultural knowledge and wisdom in traditional societies. However the cultural knowledge of our industrial society will have limited usefulness. And far too few of our aged have focused on learning the ageless wisdom and stories that carried our species through in tough times. So the aged will not be buzzing around in their little carts and living independently anymore either, and an elder without family will have a very difficult time staying alive. Shoot ANYone without family will have a difficult time staying alive (however one wants to construe/construct family, the basic requirements are cohesiveness in the face of danger and death, and the ability to perpetuate one's family into the future, which to most minds means having kids).

So, for me, folks here saying that women will have to devote much of their time caring for the children and babies, and cooking, keeping the social fabric repaired and intact, is just the reality in a collapsed society, because men cannot bear children or feed them breast milk. That's not to say women won't also fight physically, as the ancient warrior societies like the Celts had women warriors alongside the men. That's not to say there won't be gay or gender-different people who have roles as well too, as the berdache did in American Indian societies.

Look to the past to better see the future. The human condition for the past 100,000 years, the mobile band with sufficient fighting males and fertile competent mothers, that's the bottom line in nature, when the rest is pared away.

Unknown said...

While the Amish may indeed occasionally beat their children, it isn't the whole story. (In the video clip, a woman asked Dmitri how the Amish managed to have such well behaved children.)

What's happening is that the Amish kids are eating nutrient dense food and they aren't hyped on the chemicals and sugar that the English kids are (the Amish refer to the rest of as "English"). I've been shopping at farmers' markets for years and volunteering for a raw milk/pastured meat club supplied by a group of Amish farmers who follow the type of farming advocated by the Weston A. Price Foundation. I don't have kids, but can say that a few months after people join the club, they uniformly report that not only are their children no longer getting sick, but that they are MUCH more calm. (I noticed the difference myself in the kids and began asking, with no prompting.)

Actual food makes a big difference.

g downs said...

Feminism is a historical phase. Read your Spengler, people. Every civilization has its feminist phase. This one, too, shall pass.

That aside, do you really think that you can change a quarter million years of human evolution in 50 years? Patriarchy is normal, matriarchy is aberrant.

Last point: "Progress" (social and every other kind) is nonsense. It's the true American religion. (Read John Michael Greer) And why wouldn't it be, we've seen nothing else for our entire history. How is that possible? Oil.

Put simply, when the oil goes away, "progress" goes away. Women will go back to the kitchen, minorities will go back to the ghetto, and gays will go back in the closet.

Sorry, but that's the way it will go.