The book is going to press next Monday and, having edited it and proofread it and fact-checked it relentlessly for weeks now, I am in no mood to churn out another weekly essay. There are 30 thousand of you out there! Can't some of you write something interesting yourselves, for once? Just this once? Thank you!
Quite frankly, I am starting to think maybe we are going to just have a slow collapse. If what they are doing in Cypress right now doesn't inspire the average Italian or Spaniard to pull their money out of their bank accounts, I'm not sure what will. Not just because of the tax, either; a three-day bank holiday can be quite crippling if you don't have a cash reserve.
Although the cypress depositor tax is too dramatic, it will be rescinded. Humans are well equipped to deal with such direct threats. Besides that inflation works better when it comes down to stealing money.
Collapse will continue at it's own slow pace. Only people who wake up from a long coma after say 10-15 years will realize what a great SNAFU this has been.
Sure, check out my post on Compassionate Systems.
Or, perhaps more important, read The Bacon Life
On Nazis and Communists (about the book "They Thought They were Free").
I read the first three chapters at the library, and found the book illuminating. If people are simple, and what is different is viewed as evolutionary, then people are likely to go along with it. That includes the Jews talked about in the book, by the way.
It is of interest to me as a comparison with personal experience with Communists in the ex-Soviet Union. My friend and his family in Moscow had an uncompromising policy of no collaboration/close contact with them. I did not hang out with ex-Communists much when I was there because they seemed conventional and boring. This experience dove-tails with the "Germans" book, where the Nazis too were boring, conventional people going with the flow, getting on with their lives. The monsters were at a high level. The every day people just acted monstrous and did not even know it.
Another way of looking at the Communists I dealt with - the preceding 2 generations had done all the stuff we could describe as an abject horror that far exceeded what the NAZIs did (in numbers, I mean). Those two generations had lived out their lives in quiet respectability and were in the process of dieing of old age when I was there. A few, such as the dean of my department at St. Petersburg State University, were still in positions of responsibility (he had denounced 6 or so professors in 1952 who had subsequently been shot). He was about to retire when I was there. Who was going to denounce him? He had been a fixture of normalcy for decades.
The same would have been for the NAZIs if they had won the war, I am sure. Different groups eliminated in the fullest sense of the term, but otherwise...
On catabolic collapse:
The sensor on our $1400 cappuccino machine went recently. I had to resort to the stove top cappuccino machine for a week. Catabolic collapse in action!
Sure, the stove top machine got the job done; and yeah, the froth was just as good, but it was much more time consuming to make a darn cappuccino. I guess there was more satisfaction in having put all that effort in; still...
Just preordered your book. Missing your post this week. Then again I'm teaching myself how to fix mopeds, so probably shouldn't have my greasy hands all over the keyboard anyway.
Dmitri, totally love your book (s). Ready to get the next one. Thanks so much for all your super witty tolerance of the world as it is NOW. Whenever I want a reality check I come to you, your blog, your sense of humor. Thanks so much for all you do. We're all trying to figure it out, but your perspective is immensely useful. All blessings,
"Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose" is a line in one of my favorite songs. The one blog of yours I really enjoyed the most had to do with prayer. In religious history, only when a person surrenders to God is he or she empowered to really do something. To me, surrendering to God is a metaphor for realizing the reality of the predicament we are in. The religious metaphor of giving all your wealth to the poor means realizing all the wealth in the world is worthless in face of the greatest of all crises, namely one's own personal death. However, in the miracle of seeing things as they really are and our own powerlessness, we become far more powerful than we ever have been before. We realize we have "Nothing left to lose" which gives us the great power of at least trying something different.
Thanks to your blog and books, John Michael Greer, James Kunstler, Jay Hanson, the Meadows and Randers, and many others, I have come to see that where we are going is not what I thought we were going. I am still trying to get over the shock that the world's defacto god of progress is truly a false god. Maybe with the help of the true God, I can mend my ways and stop destroying the earth and help figure out how myself and my family can survive this mess.
Another of my favorite song lines is "One man's hands can't.... But if two and two make a million, then we shall see that day come round".
I ordered your book a few weeks back. I very much look forward to reading it.
Japans participation in the TPP (Trans Pacific partnership) negotiation
Japan’s government has decided to participate in the TPP negotiations a proposed free trade agreement.
To become a member of this free trade area Japan may have to sacrifice much of its agriculture that is still protected by tariffs.
I think this would be a stupid a perhaps suicidal move.
(By the way, I live in Japan and have for 20 years.)
To answer my own question, NO they are not.
Why? Because Japan needs to work to save any and all of it’s remaining agriculture and farming knowledge as a life boat or safety net.
In my English classes I get looks of total incomprehension when I say. “Japan needs to save it’s agriculture at all costs because what will we do for food when the ships stop coming?” This is not a language problem it’s a world view or belief problem. Kind of like the stories we all tell ourselves regarding global warming etc.
Now, Japan imports 60% of its food and has a population of 126 million people. The last time Japan was totally self-sufficient in the Edo period a couple of hundred years ago it had a population of about 35 million really tough people. The population is slowly dropping (Something most people regard as bad but I think is really good.) but will take a very long time to get back to 35 million. Unless, of course, the ships stop coming.
If you need your Orlov fix I did an interview with Dmitry -Thanks Again Sir!- on my radio show last week. The podcast is now available here:
Always amazes me someone is going to spend hundreds of dollars for a fragile electronic device to make coffee,one of life's essentials.
Propane stove,kettle,french press is how I do it.
Lolz Dimitry, the laugh I got from your post was enough.
Ordered two copies of the book and looking forward to it.
Re: Cyprus, while the expropriation of deposits will lead to God knows what, at one level this is a very good thing, because it teaches two important lessons:
One, when people deposit funds in a bank, or receive a credit of funds from their employer, legally speaking, they have loaned their funds to the bank, and what they have is an unsecured promise from the bank to pay them back. There is a risk that the bank won't be able to do that, and the Cyprus event shows that TPTB are willing to override the so-called deposit insurance guaranties of their governments. I.e., property rights and so-called rule of law means nothing to them, except whe applied against others to game the system in their favor.
The bank is not a bailee or warehouseman holding piles of dollars for them on a shelf somewhere with their names on them.
Second, people need to stop thinking of digital credits in digtial space as "wealth," and realize that only real tangible things held in their actual possession is wealth, at least in the physical sense of the word, apart from such things as health, family and relationships.
I view Cyprus as a good step in the right direction. Left to their own devices, the world's TBTF sociopaths will eventually educate us all.
First Drit, now Cypress. Argh!
We still have some time left to work at alternative methods for everyday practises. At Pyrolysium for instance we are working to realise a sustainable method for cremation guided by these considerations:
Humanity has long travelled along an unsustainable path and is now confronted with a scarcity of fossil fuels, rising global temperatures due to a higher CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, an economic model in tatters and an exponentially rising population.
Pyrolysium helps to solve problems in all these areas. It does not lay claim to land that we need to grow food. It limits the use of scarce fossil fuels by requiring less material to burn and lower temperatures to burn it at, reducing the formation of carbon dioxide. It turns human remains into biochar, a process which also greatly reduces the amount of carbon dioxide produced. The biochar can be used for the planting of a commemorative tree or buried as a long term carbon sink.
Pyrolysium is a low-tech, viable alternative to current standard burial and cremation practices and to expensive modern high-tech alternatives, which are based on the assumption of endless resources and which depend on sophisticated practices and steady supply lines. Pyrolysium tries to make the whole process so simple that in principal no controls and no electricity are needed.
Pyrolysium.org will be a forum for collaboration in an “open source” kind of way to improve, develop and divulge this idea, and to make sure that it is not patented so that it is available to the whole human race as a tool to be used on the down-slope towards a sustainable future.
Enjoying that snowy winter, Dmitri? Down here in Virginia Beach we have had maybe a single dusting all year. Thanks to the jet stream for staying north.
Meanwhile, as a lapsed Catholic I didn't expect this, but I have been moved this week by the simplicity and humility of Pope Francis. Gotta love those Jesuits! And on the other side of the Atlantic, CPAC gave us more of that great Sarah Palin/Ted Cruz hostility/sarcasm. The gap between the tone of the Papal Mass and the CPAC mess was stunningly wide. I think going forward we will need a lot more of the Jesuit compassion and a lot less of the anger. I look forward to your book! -John D.
"Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose" is a line in one of my favorite songs.
Mine is "these are the good old days". It helps me to focus on now instead of too much of the future, which we have no gaurantee of, one way or the other.
If we sit around in dread of what may not come to pass we have wasted what we could have had for that which is not, or may not be.
Time with grand children, or if you are especially fortunate great grand children, sharing with them memories or showing them skills from the good old days, may be enough for our own memories to survive us.
Well, sorry to see you not up to posting, Dmitry. I always look forward to your views and insight. I wonder if maybe you've got the 'burn-out' bug... maybe because living in sight of these complex topics all the time can be a drain on the brain. Sometimes it feels good to get a break and stick your hands in the dirt (gardening)or going fishing or something close to other living things.
It's spring, and things are heating up all over the Middle East/EU, Asian and Africa right now (not weatherwise). I saw a whole 15 seconds of (mainstream media) news coverage on what is happening in Cyprus. This appears to be a rather scary thing to watch, knowing what all has happened in Argentina (thru Ferfal ferfal.blogspot.com/ www.themodernsurvivalist.com/). Oh I know they aren't Argentina, but when the rule of law goes, then what do you have?
And here, when we have our top officials saying outright that they can't prosecute the fraud of the big banks because they are too big, but then do nothing at all about that, then what is happening to OUR rule of law? Can we count on it? For how long, or what might be the catalyst?
Yes, Cyprus officials are back-peddling now, and the Finance Minister is resigning, but this crisis still isn't over. Or else why would the UK be sending over a million $ to pay the military (in case the ATM's run out of money)?
Has anyone else ever noted so much going on at once -in geopolitical terms?
Financially it seems to be getting more "Orwellian", and this Cyprus thing leaves me feeling much more insecure even here, since I have seen how the rule of law is changing in regards to how our own Gov't views the banks (untouchable where it really counts).
I have been trying to share these things with my 24 y.o twins as they make their first big life-decisions, while not scaring them into hopeless despair. I'm moving my 80+ y.o parents in with us at the end of the month, and they can't handle the truth, but at the same time they've seen our struggles to keep our home, even thru a failed Ch.13, which means we'll be moving(with them) at some point.
So much to keep track of and try to prepare for and to mitigate. I see Greece, and I think that's our future too. I am uncertain as to how fast or slow it will come down, but I think if for any reason that shipping or food transport stops - riots for sure, Marshall law... ugly.
Unknown, if you like that sort of thing, see Robert Jensen's All My Bones Shake. He says the same thing. Basically, God=unknown.
I'd like comments on the idea that anarchy is a process. More on anarchy generally, but specifically how we can view decentralization as an achievable goal and not some utopian vision of social organization (I think, begrudgingly, that Kunstler is right in arguing we can't get rid of hierarchy). How can we convince the lefties that our problems are collectively greater than noble but narrow pursuit of some egalitarian ideal? How can we connect the dots between our dangerously short-sighted lifestyle is partly (or wholly) to blame for exploitation? What are your thoughts on an idea I call Mutually Assured Liberation, in which anthroparchy is the root of all other -parchies in the self-other dualism? The peak oil/collapse community doesn't spend enough time on social issues and social justice practitioners spend too much time ignoring ecological limits. So I opine. Thanks.
@vera, yeah, well, you better hope this thing doesn't go nukular...
Congrats on the book Dmitri! Hope you have some relaxing or restorative activities planned in the near future.
I think the Cyprus debacle signals the start of a new phase of catabolic collapse- where those in control need to do less to hide their machinations from the regular folks. And the regular folks get to have the pleasure of paying for their own subjugation. When the same thing happens here, I imagine there will be a 'fee' taken from Roth IRAs and 401k accounts, which individuals will be unable to counteract, since they can't access the money directly anyway, unlike a savings account.
So if you can't put your hands on it, you can't be sure it's really yours, is the takeaway lesson.
Back here in St. Paul, we're still freezing our buns off and I'm starting seeds indoors to ward off the winter blues. It's good for the soul, even if it is a bit too early.
I've posted about it (with photos even!) at:
Everybody Knows--- Leonard Cohen song by Concrete Blonde:
Offer an ebook and I'll buy it. Love your blog, hate your book printed on dead trees and snail-mailed. May the wind always be at your back.
You drit farmers need to learn the difference between cypress and Cyprus. And a cypriot is not related to an apricot. Good day!
Breedlove, I thank you for the reference to "All My Bones Shake" by Robert Jensen. I will get the book. I hardly think of God as unknown or unknowable, which is kind of my point. I think of God as more of a symbol of a state of being aware of what is going around us. The better my awareness, the better I comprehend reality and the better I know what the right thing to do is. It's like if I was blind but now I see. Now that I see better, I have less trouble navigating my life.
MessianicDruid, I like and appreciate what you say. I don't have grandchildren, yet, but I am not sure I want them, yet, if I believe the world is dying and they have a high likelihood of a suffocating death in a world gone wrong. I am not a futurist per say, as I believe that what we do now largely determines the future. I don't believe in social activism. I believe more in the "Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon" where if enough monkeys start washing the grit from their vegetables, all the monkeys will start doing it. I get tired of social activists that think other people must make radical changes but refuse to be inconvenienced themselves. I feel all change has to begin with me or an individual. One of the changes I am making is learning how to enjoy life and see the miracles of everyday living, but without wasteful consumerism and destroying our sacred environment.
Anyway, Breedlove and MessianicDruid, thanks for noticing my comment and enriching my life. I wonder, sometimes, just how many lives we touch just by writing a few words in a comment section on the internet.
Where is the USA collapsing or sinking?
Close to New Orleans and the oil infrastrucure port
Jindal meets with Bayou Corne residents, promises to fight Texas Brine for fair buyouts
In 1980, a Texaco oil rig was drilling for petroleum at Lake Peigneur, a Louisiana lake
Close to infamous Nuclear Acccident at Three Mile Island.
SEE IT: Bankrupt Harrisburg, Pa., can't fix the 41 sinkholes plaguing its streets (PHOTOS)
Dozens of sinkholes have opened up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's capital city.
Florida, near Tampa is filled with sinkholes. Man killed and home swallowed up
by collapse of sand on top of karst.
High Pressure Natural Gas Pipeline Explosion
Why do pipelines catch fire and explode?
1.)old and not replaced
2.)aging infrasstructure and materials get more brittle over time
3.)collapse of earth, sand supports due to earth movement
4.)lack of proper engineering that relieves stress from weak joints
in the pipeline
Add your USA location here and a map will be published. Wall Street,
NYC, NY, USA and massive sinkhole of financial derivatives and debt acceleration
John D., if it blows, I am hiding my jewlery, and stashing my cats at the vetenarian. Cheers!
Here's a good read, on Dark Ecology: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/7277/
I walk the streets of Manila.
The chance of being opportuned by the Rug Rat Mafia is always lurking at every turn.
A skinny 5 year old with his hand out tugs at my pant leg and my heartstrings.
A bit of an annoyance, the pity I feel.
A mixture of sadness for his lot in life and the unfair advantage of others.
The annoyance is not the Peso coin, but the reminder of my unearned wealth.
My fate to be born into a different world, a different circumstance.
I dare not reach out because I could drown in the unfulfilled needs of his equals.
He does not understand why I walk on and not share.
We are both hurt.
From my SF novel, "Midpoint", being edited for publication this year, I hope.
I will be applying for PhD programs hoping to study dark ecology. It's the impetus of my earlier post recommending AMBS. Unknown, concieving of god as the unknown doesn't preclude other conceptualizations. It simply requires we accept that we can't know/control everything. A very useful frame for communicating the central premise of collapse dialogue: technology won't save us, and we are facing almost 100 years of unintended consequences (fossil fuel dependency, imperial economic dynamics, pollution/GHGs).
As for the signs of collapse, thanks for posting. I suppose it makes my point clearer. How do we break the stranglehold of denial that prevents the mental process of connecting obvious dots to theory? As for going it alone, it isn't preferable. Having a community is essential for survival. Some advocate to stop trying to persuade and instead connect with those already awake. Which I guess if we emerged from cyberspace we could do with the folks here. Kropotkin and many other present great evidence that cooperation is the true means for survival, and indeed, the prevailing narrative of competition wedded to the capitalist system is why we can't do what we need to do. That is, to borrow from the Archdruid, collapse now and avoid the rush.
I live in my own personal Apocalypse. I was raised in large part by my
grandparents who still lived a lot like they had been conditioned to in the
Great Depression. I was the first male in my family to graduate high school and
the first person period to attend and graduate college. I have always pretty
much been poor, except for the period of 1997-2006, when I had gainful
employment that ranged from 30K annually at the beginning of my career in
historic preservation until I ended at 60K in 2006, when I had to resign due to
declining health (the doctor said it was that or die, after a couple of
hospitalizations).My wife can't work at all, life broke
her and she is a recluse now, so I take care of us both. Since 2006, I've been
lucky if I have made 14K a year to support two people. I of course had to put paying back school loans on hold since
that's under poverty level for two people. Then last year I had some
kidney problems and no health insurance, which put me another few thousand in
the hole, so now the lawyers are after me, threatening to garnish my measly
wages. In addition to learning what my grandparents went through, and living
poor myself, I have lived in a third world country, and that's the situation we
are headed for, at least at first.
Dmitry's posts on Russia have taught me a lot.
I went to Nigeria in 1996 just before graduation through a health project
sponsorship (I was studying disease prevention) and I lived there for almost 5
months in a society that had pretty much collapsed and existed under a dictator.
There were murders, and kidnappings, and corruptions, rolling blackouts, bad
water, and all kinds of stuff like that. Yet I also met lots of good folks who
struggled in a situation most people here in the U.S. would have committed
suicide to avoid: nightly robberies by gangs of thugs, working 3-4 jobs, getting
their 4-5 year old kids out selling packages of stale biscuits
(cookies/crackers) outside rough nightclubs. And they smiled more than the faces
I saw when I came back to the U.S. Endurance and the human spirit. The well-off
(bankers, businessmen, lawyers, judges, politicians) lived in barbed wire
compounds with poor men hired holding bats as security guards.
Our decline isn't going to be a nice slow decline like easing into a swimming
pool is a little too chilly. We are going to trip and fall in head first. And
then we will either learn to swim or we will drown. The few here who are either
the very wealthy or those who serve and cater to them as maids, security, etc.,
they will do just fine, for a long time to come. The rest of us without the
do-re-mi will have a skill/service (plumber, mechanic) people will pay for, or
will have to bond together tightly to survive at all. There will be cell phones
and computer stuff here, just as there are in third world countries, for a while
yet. There will be also chances for small entrepreneurs, whether legitimate
(roadside food, taxis/rides) or in "gray areas" (crime), or even a revival of
the midwife, the herbalist, the cunningfolk telling fortunes and working juju.
The timeline for this initial stage? I will be very surprised if it isn't like
that for most of us within 7-10 years. I'm already there.
"Dark Ecology" was excellent.
You may enjoy knowing I just bought your book in Kindle version. It's a great read. We are as ready or unready for collapse as anyone can be. At least we live in the country, know how to garden, know which neighbour has which skill and are on speaking terms. The main problem is a lack of young people.
Please get/keep this straight people -- 'Cyprus' is a little island in the Mediterranean Sea; 'cypress' is a tree.
So many of us are disaffected, but the problem is that we have no resources to purchase land and implements. And our prospects are grim as far as securing said resources. We're everywhere, but we're waiting quietly. Of course we are a minority, but only as a particular demographic representing the whole.
Catastrophic global warming is here and the 'last ditch' effort of the 'elites' is to try an arcane geoenginering project of dumping Barium, Aluminum, and Strontium into the stratosphere to try to cool off the planet:
Dmitry- you're an engineer; what's wrong with this picture? How will this fail?
You don't need to put the pressure on yourself to blog every week. Personally I appreciate it if people blog when they have something interesting to say, rather than writing something just for the sake of writing it. In the UK most people get at least 4 to 6 weeks holiday a year, so I don't see why you shouldn't be able to have a break from blogging :-)
I don't know if anyone is interested in what goes on in the UK, but we are also failing on the infrastructure. We are allowing power plants to be shutdown and consistently fail to replace them, whether with renewables or conventional power stations. Gas imports are another area for concern that has been brushed under the carpet. The talk of blackouts is becoming more of a reality, especially when we have such a long cold winter. You can read more on my blog http://rationthefuture.blogspot.co.uk/
I think there are a lot of 'cup half empty' people who comment here. Please don't despair. We are really very flexible adaptable creatures. Look at Lance Michael Fosters post regarding Nigeria. People still find a way to survive and find happiness in the little things. My grandmother had 7 brothers and sisters, and their family lived in a 2 bedroom house. For Christmas they would get a satsuma and a few walnuts and they were grateful. Many of you will have similar stories in your families. The point is that much of what we have in our lives we can live without.
@Repent, was on a forum where a dairy guy in NY state said his farm had 1000+x the normal amt. of aluminum in the soil. Not sure what that means but it doesn't sound all that great. Aluminum is pretty reactive, a chemical cheap date… if I remember my high school chemistry.
@Judy, you are right about having a lot of room for adjustment at least here in the "developed" world.
My husband's Sicilian grandmother, if a piece of bread fell on the floor, would pick it up and KISS it. People have indeed known hard times and will know them again; I just don't think anyone is prepared for the speed and the scale of it.
As Nicole Foss pointed out, as we've ascended each energy/societal-complexity rung, we've kicked out the rung beneath us. So there's no going back to horses and carriages, for example. It takes three years before a horse can even be ridden. People raising horses today find it uneconomical and are getting rid of them, even though one might be worth the earth to the right person in five or ten years.
The disconnect of the money economy from the real economy disallows most of the sensible adjustments and retooling we'd need to undertake. Consider mandatory insurance, zoning, food distribution and refrigeration, how we treat garbage and sewage, the busing of school children… These are huge costs in our struggling community and I'm just scratching the surface, here. Authorities will lock us into many more years of guaranteed wasted resources that could be better used improvisationally NOW if we were allowed to think creatively.
But no, we have to have float a bond for the new million-dollar sewage-treatment plant (instead of outlawing poisonous chemicals and switching everyone to humanure systems). We have to have the new "enterprise magnet" and white elephant retail development on the farmland by the Interstate ("Build it and they will come!" say delusional boosters.) We have to endure 10% property-tax hikes because of the rising costs of indifferent and abusive schooling ("Think of the children!!", the educators whine). You get the picture!
Maybe in the UK more folks have your stiff upper lip. Keep Calm and Carry On… ;-) But here in the US most are still quite delusional as to what the future has in store. There's no ground given to the idea that it won't be more of the same—Business As Usual—except with a greater number of squabbles over industrial wind power installations.
Lidia 17 wrote "Maybe in the UK more folks have your stiff upper lip. Keep Calm and Carry On… ;-)"
Lidia, you are absolutely right, it really plays a big part in the UK culture. It is good and bad though. Bad because it is virtually impossible to have this kind of conversation in the UK. Nobody wants to hear these 'panic' scenarios, people will change the subject and blank you. It also means that generally people aren't prepared. They may have a torch or candles incase of blackout and a blanket and bottle of water in the back of the car, but no one goes as far as stockpiling anything or having an emergency plan. Preparedness just doesn't exist here.
The good thing about the stiff upper lip is that we will form an orderly queue for supplies even if our lives depend on it!
Also we have some traditions, that probably look a bit weird to the outsider, but mean that we have more of our rungs in place. For instance horses are quite a popular thing, with the wealthy especially. Cities were mostly built on a river or at a port, where there are water supplies and transport potential. By US standards streets are narrow, houses are close together and everywhere has a pavement(sidewalk)so walking is an option.
If you picture our ladder it has more of the rungs attached but it is narrower and there are more people on it!
Thanks Lance for your story.
The Stick Man in a Sandpaper World. A short story.
"Ouch!" ...( WTF ?) ... "ouch-ooch-eech-auch...OW! DAMMIT..ouch-ooch-eech-auch..."
@Tom G: the island is being given a drastic trimming... <:)
Here is something on Fukushima - Why did the lights go out - or - what was the problem with the electrical system, and why isn't anybody doing anything about it?
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