This interview was recorded last night (US) and aired some hours later in Australia. Audio is available for download here
. The host, Philip Adams, was well primed for the occasion and asked thoughtful questions. A good, short introduction to the subject. Although Philips did suggest opening one's veins at the end, he also suggested opening a bottle of wine as an alternative. I am in favor of the latter.
Postcards from the Recession: California's Inland Empire
By Susan Straight
At night, I can hear the soft thumps as the rats land on my roof. They launch themselves from the branches of the apricot tree because they want to get inside my attic, into a house with heat.
The house next door, and the one next to that, have been empty since October. Their yards have gone feral, with hundreds of dandelion heads glistening gray in the night.
The rats are cold and hungry. The skunks have a den somewhere next door, where the metal shed was dismantled. Opossums, raccoons and lizards have colonized the abandoned yards on my block in Riverside. And it's spooky, at night, to see so much darkness, to hear skittering, to keep an eye out for homeless people trying to break in and sleep, to listen for the sounds of desperate humans and animals. …
Here in the Inland Empire, we joke that our people are canaries but we don't die. ...
I heard your interview last night while I was tucked up in bed with the radio under my pillow.
My hard to get to sleep routine was made even harder due to the discussion and the picture you painted. I also found it quietly but disturbingly reassuring because it resonated so deeply with the romantic character I was in my youth and I have been waiting for this implosion for over 30 years, although the "I told you so factor" is going to have less effect amongst my friends.
Do you lean towards a Spenglerian interpretation of history?
A thinker that I find more relevant than Spengler in the light of the situation is Karl Polanyi. His book _The Great Transformation_ opened my eyes to a lot of things years and years ago... and now, rereading it, I understand it a lot better.
Much of what we are discussing here is no less than retaking the commons that was taken from folks a long time ago. For Polanyi, that was a pivotal moment and I agree with him.
We may differ on how to do it, but I think the notion or retaking the commons is on a lot of people's minds.
Of course, if you retake the commons, there goes property (certain kinds of property) and there goes accumulation -- together with much of the value of wealth accumulation. I am talking the value for survival.
All of a sudden, a different economic calculus emerges.
In any case, it is a fascinating read that can't possibly hurt anyone.
I forgot to add, that for Polanyi, an "economy" is not the same as a "market" nor does it require a market, and that the situation we live in, namely, that social life is determined by the market, is in a sense anomalous historically.
The importance of this cannot be stressed enough as the markets are being destroyed. But the economy needn't be. Nor social life. It will be a different kind of life, of course.
In a sense, when the hippies used to talk about "unplugging oneself", they were on to something close to this.
I found your interview with Phillip Adams very interesting.
The whole concept of people coping with abrupt changes to their way of lives, due to collective economic reasons is quite startling. To many of us the reality of this type of change has been out of our experience and so many of us live in a state of denial - sort of "she'll be right mate, things will come good!"
Those who have been bought up on a diet of apocalyptic notions, since the days of "The Great Late Planet Earth" have been half expecting this sort of thing, but I feel the reality is landing harder than the eschatology.
For the last 6 months I have been painting a series of art works, entitled "The NASA series". There will 30 works in total. I am loosely using the idea of NASA as a metaphor for western culture, typified by the USA.
My personal feelings - not based on economic credentials - is that a massive change is occurring, socially, philosophically, theologically and economically to western culture with a subsequent realignment of wealth and power.
I am of that generation that saw the space race and moon walk and all the media and propaganda of the American way. To me as an artist NASA is a Microcosm of the broader system: a system that has lost favour and lost it's way and is about to burst.
When visiting the USA for the first time in 2003, I had a very real sense of this burgeoning despair - mostly gleaned from my random chats with the locals and my wanderings through various towns and cities.
Anyway, all the best with your blog - I might take your advice and join a local bartering collective.
A sure sign that the collapse is happening and will in fact inevitably happen is that nobody is talking about dismantling the empire. The gossip media is wasting everybody's time with questions like "What would it take to win in Afghanistan?". LOL.
Every day that passes, I am beginning to see the Orlov side-by-side comparison between both empires as less of a metaphor and more of a realistic comparison...
This is the kind of stuff that in the old days caused revolutions. How and why have populations become so overtaken by cowardice? Is it because they have more material comfort to lose?
This question is vital in order to formulate alternatives. I fear that as long as a glimmer of hope of "recovery" (going back to what was) is out there, however false, very little will be done to prepare. Hey, the market went up 5%! It must be getting better!
What a sad spectacle, really.
Yes, I heard your interview with Philip Adams, Dimitri, and for me parts of that interview had serious resonances with Cormac McCarthy's novel The Road and Jim Crace's novel The Pesthouse. As a onetime reader of a great deal of adolescent literature I note that not only have the adult novelists caught up with the approaching apocalypse but so, too, have the commentators. Now we just have to wait for the politicians.
Dmitry, g'day from Australia. I caught your interview (and found my way here) via ABC podcast this morning. Very thought-provoking (where "thought-provoking" means "terrifying"). I'll have a look for your book at the local bookstores; if not, via Amazon.
What an excellent interview. I hope the US mainstream media catches wind of the change that's coming and invite you and other like-minded people to discuss some serious things.
The problem is that when you remove all the underlying assumptions, for example, that the present regime of abundance is a divine right, people get disoriented. I have observed such reactions while talking to people. It's hard to think of a different regime.
Many don't know that the Soviet Union collapsed --they heard about it, but most think it was because Reagan put the screws on them--, they don't know that Russia collapsed _and_ there was a revolution, they don't know about any of the many collapses that happened other than the Great Depression. So there is no sense of solidarity with such a scenario. In their hearts, many people believe they are somehow immune. This is part of the belief that God has give a special blessing to America.
So Dmitry, thanks for spreading the word and doing it with such level-headedness and conviction. That is what's necessary. I fear that hysteria may take over instead of reason. There is no reason for the US to suffer hunger, for example. This is survivable by being cold-blooded, not by shooting around like an angry blind man with a pistol.
The main stream media in the US is still using gov't. released figures (that are inaccurate) and spouting off helpful hints on finding work ("remember to sit up straight during interviews" chirps the *journalist*).
Those of us here that are preparing are viewed as nutjobs or terrorist wanna-bes...although that view is changing a bit.
Stories about storing food and having a vegetable garden in suburbia are starting to be seen, albeit slowly.
Locally, I have noticed that the Master Gardener classes are filled within 48 hours of being announced. Firearms, for hunting and self defense are flying off the shelves.
Shopping at thrift stores and consignment shops has become the "new chic". Clothes are referred to as *vintage*, not *used*.
Maybe it is because I live in the oil region of Texas, which has a history of "boom or bust" economics, but everyone I know here is preparing, in one way or another, for the worsening economic times.
Our economy here is still rattling along nicely. Still plenty of jobs to be had, if one is willing to work hard.
But the consensus is that the situation will worsen and everyone better be ready.
I think it is fascinating how those of us aware that the collapse/change is inevitable and needed are able to prepare and see a bright future ahead.
The only draw back we can see is how long the government and other groups will try to enforce the status quo- making change very hard- while it would be easy and only doable (on a large scale) when it will be much harder.
How can we share this enough to create a united vision?
Can we package a sound bite that grasps it, or a 1 minute "elevator speech". Not only do we need to make it easy to share- but we need to share our vision with complete confidence that the best can and will happen-
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