Off the keyboard of John Michael Greer
Published on the Archdruid Report on May 15, 2013
Discuss this article at the Favorite Dishes Table inside the Diner
Fantasies of imminent human extinction are one comforting if futile response to this ugly predicament. If you want a justification for living as though there’s no tomorrow, insisting that in fact, there’s no tomorrow is certainly one option. If I’m right, the pleasures of believing in near-term human extinction are likely to appeal to a very large and well-heeled audience in the years immediately ahead, and those of my readers interested in cashing in on the next 2012-style bonanza should probably take note.
Off the keyboards of Clipney & RE
Published on Reverse Engineering June 2009
Discuss this article at the Rewilding Table inside the Diner
Note from RE: This article is a re-edit from posts made in June 2009 on Reverse Engineering. I am including substantial new material however based on the ever evolving collapse scenario and ongoing discussions inside the Diner.
There is endless ongoing debate inside the Diner, as well as in the Blogosphere as a whole as to what the best methodology is to adapt to a world where energy is in increasingly short supply and jobs and money to buy the products of industrialization are ever more difficult to come by.
The most popular proposed Solution you come by is Relocalization and developing an extension on what I would call the Amish Economy, a kind of 18th Century model of small Family Farms, but even this model is surprisingly Energy Dependent in many ways. Although the Amish foreswear use of many labor saving Machines driven by the thermodynamic energy of Oil, they still do use many Metal farm implements that take a whole lot of energy to mine, refine and manufacture. There are also issues with how agricultural process, even done on the Amish level tends to reduce biodiversity and overall deplete the land of its productive capacity.
So there also is a somewhat less popular paradigm which floats around of taking a jump further back than the 18th century, WAY BACK in fact to around 10,000 years before that to live the Pre-Agricultural Paleolithic lifestyle of the Hunter-Gatherer. Proponents of this idea fall under the general rubric of “Rewilders”
I personally see the value in BOTH ideas, though neither one is likely to be able to support the current 7B Human Souls walking the Earth at the moment.
The discussions of these varying philosophies and ideas is not totally new in the collapse blogosphere, although it does appear to me discussion is picking up steam now as more people become aware of the great depth of the problems we have before us. Before I continue on with my current thoughts on the topic, I would like to review an exchange I had back in 2009 with a commenter named Clipney on the pages of Reverse Engineering.
“…civilization as a whole was a scam from the beginning, and the only logical path for humanity to take is to utterly abandon it and return to a hunter/gatherer lifestyle.”
This blogger has an intelligent essay on why any civilization run by a government has and will never work, as institutions of power always end up corrupt. (Hey, we already knew that, thanks to our Benevolent and All-Knowing Dictator-For-Life!)
“When we then examine the positives of tribal living, it becomes clear that as far as quality of life, there really is no comparison at all. For instance, cutting out “work”, which I find to be an utterly horrid concept, would make my life exponentially better. To this people will often respond with claims that tribal people did work, and some will even claim they worked harder than us, which is a nonsensical statement. The “work” that pre-civilized people did was solely related to providing for basic survival needs; no one was making a profit off of them. Picture a tribe whose main source of food is fish. Their “work” then consists of: fishing. That is it. The women would be responsible for making whatever clothing was needed, which in warmer climates, where people generally lived, was minimal, and sometimes people simply went nude (the profound psychological and spiritual implications of nudity among tribal people will be examined in depth in the near future). Possibly people would stitch together tents, or build huts of some type (if they didn’t live in caves), but this was not something that had to be done very often. I would imagine all of these activities were rather enjoyable, and as such they can be in no way compared to the wage slavery of modern man. Another example to cite is the buffalo hunters of the American plains. The buffalo were an abundant food source, and very easy to kill. These people lived bountiful lives.”
(Ah, the utopian vision in the post-technological world…)
We can all start the ball rolling by joining up with R.E.’s tribe in the Matsu Valley in this Peak Oil era. Once he solves the problem of those sub-zero temps all winter, hubby and I are outta here and on the Alcan north!
Very Toasty Summer this year on the Last Great Frontier GW may resolve the problems of excessive Cold up here.
Not sure how familiar you are with my Tribalist analysis of the PPO world, I did write about it in numerous threads with Ludi. It has its limitations, numerically speaking.
Its my general thesis that a Tribe can number only approximately 10,000 Human Souls in size before you need to create one of the larger Goobermint Structures we define sometimes as Feudalism, Communism, Socialism, Plutocracy, Republic, Democracy, Fascism etc. I came to that number based on a typical Max Lifespan of pre-Oil medicine of around 60 years, with typical reproduction time coming at the age of around 16-20. Based on a Bell curve in lifespan, I figured in a population of 10,000, you would have approximately 100 Elders repsonsible for the Governance tasks of the Tribe. Resolving disputes, divying up food resource from hunting and/or farming, etc. Why would such 100 folks be better than Congress as Administrators? Because they are DIRECTLY CONNECTED by BLOOD to those beneath them in the Tribal Pyriamid. The Active Hunters and Farmers are their Children, all related in some way. The Youth of the tribe are their Grandchildren. They have a direct biological imperative to make sure those people SURVIVE.
For the Matanuska-Susitna River Valley, we currently number around 60,000 Human Souls. Too big a number for a Single Tribe. I expect for a while in the Downspin we will have some sort of Socialist or Fascist State, and there will also be die off of some percentage, particularly among the Old and Infirm, including RE who expects to give himself up to the Bear so that some of the younger members of the Collective can live. I would hoep for no more than a 20% die off as necessary, but say at 50% that would leave 30,000 up here after one generation. I believe there would be further degeneration and devolution of that state, and a Break Up of the One to the Many, into perhaps 3 Sustainable Tribes which might Trade with each other. Perhaps one Tribe along the Coast of Fishermen, another Tribe of Farmers in the Mat-Su Valley, a 3rd Tribe of Hunter-Gatherers who work into the Mountains as far as Denali and perhaps even to the border of the Yukon Territory. Nomadic Group there, as opposed to the settled Tribes of Fishermen and Farmers.
Unlike most places on earth at the moment, our total numbers are not so great that we cannot shrink down over a generation or two with some semblance of equity and normality. Certainly over the next 20 years there is more than enough Coal and NG and even Oil still coming off the North Slope to ease the transition some.
Eventually, in the Absence of Thermonuclear War, my hope would be that Alaska shrinks down to maybe a total of 60,000 people, not by Death mostly, I’d expect most of Anchorage population to simply abandon Alaska as too hard a place to make your life in the PPO world. I’d hope that the friends I know up here in the Mat Valley would form up as a Tribe, and if I can I’ll try to organize such a thing when the Big Show comes to this Theatre. I’m in a position to do so, I currently am director an organization serving aroun 1000 families in the Mat-Su Valley. If I can help get us started, I will do everything in my power to do so before I give myself up to the Bear. That is my IRL MISSION, as it is my MISSION in Cyberspace to Inform and to try to help as many people as I can here by passing along what I see and understand to be true. You can believe me or not, that is your choice, I just call em as I see em here, to try to be of some service.
Save as Many as You Can.
Finishing here with the projected outcome of Global Cooking and Sea Level Rise
” The only problem with solving those sub-zero temperatures, is that a whole lot of Alaska is resting on perma-frost. When that warms up, you better know how to swim.”
More like be good at walking through MUD up to your hips. You will be swimming only if the sea level rises ond overtops the permafrost. However, permafrost Flat areas of Alaska are not much populated to begin with, and PPO any population remaining up here will mostly live in the Mountain Valleys. Generally pretty fertile places as most valley are, since they have tons of minerals washed down on them by melting Glaciers. Alaska’s Valley’s just are among the LAST ones to be exposed after the last Glaciation.
You guys make a LOT of hay about sub-zero temps. If you dress right, 30 Below is NOT so bad. You Hole Up in your Igloo (or more likely in the future you Squat on somebody’s Vacation McMansion) for the winter, you sleep a lot and screw a lot. Even without a fire burning, if you have more than about 4 people in a small space, insulated by snow bricks, the inside Temp runs around 35-40 degrees, its NOT uncomfortable really with a Fur coat on. Four people burning at 98.6 degrees in a small space heats it up just fine. Anyhow, there is just PLENTY of Coal you can chip right off the exposed seams in Healy, so I really cannot forsee Alaskans freezing to death unless they are Homeless and shut out of the economic system in some way.
Far as my “Mr. Know-It-All” Persona goes, I want to be CLEAR that I do NOT “Know-it-ALL”!!!!! I just know a whole lot MORE about MANY things than just about everybody I ever met. LOL. I run into plenty of stuff other folks know MORE about than I do, that is why I like talking to guys like ShortOnOil. You run into a real EXPERT in some field, you learn stuff. I am a GENERALIST. I know many things about many subjects, and so I can often make a Big Picture analysis others do not see if they are specialists. Do you remember “Encylopedia Brown”? That is RE. I summarize the world into neat 10 paragraph posts on many topics. LOL. However, if you want a deeper understanding of any given topic, there are other people who know WAY more than I do. My gift is to tie it all together and make it understandable, at least I try to anyhow.
What you should be able to glean out of all of this, besides the fact EVERYBODY KNOWS I am an insufferable Egotist (and they have known this since at least as far back as 2009) is that among the many Solutions to our current Energy and Monetary predicament is that at least a small subset of people look at a Paleolithic lifestyle in the future for Homo Sapiens as a REAL possibility.
Inside the Diner, there is often FURIOUS debate about how to negotiate a Transition off the Oil Jones and whether the Downhill Slide will be one of Gradual Boiling Frog style Slow Catabolic Collapse, or a more Rapid Fast Crash. Depending on how you view this problem, it changes how you might plan for negotiating the Collapse Scenario you see as Most Likely.
As my writing from 2009 indicates, I do see a long term future for Homo Sapiens as living a Paleolithic lifestyle. I am also in the camp of “Fast Crash” Doomers, I don’t think it will be very long before we are living without Electricity and Happy Motoring. However, I am not in such a Fast Camp as to believe most people will be living a Paleolithic lifestyle inside a generation, particularly not inside MY Generation.
What seems more likely is transition to more local forms of food production and return to an Agricultural lifestyle along the Amish Model, at least for a while. It is doubtful that said lifestyle will support the current 7B people living on the planet, particularly those living in arid regions who currently are Food Importers. It is also hard to see how the current population distribution with most people parked in Big Cities can be effectively relocated out to the rural areas where food can be produced in quantity enough to feed said population. So there will likely be Civil War in due time as the Revolution in lifestyle gets underway.
Looking at the problem just as it affects the remaining years of my lifespan (no more than 20 I suspect), the best solution appears to me to prepare for the local solution, together with a large enough group of people to maintain control over a patch of productive land. Some Diners feel this can be done with groups as small as 20-30, others go with Dunbar’s Number of around 150, I tend to think a bit larger than that and go with numbers in the 500-1000 range.
The issue with this is who knows such a large group of people, especially of people who see the oncoming problems and look to prepare for them similarly by changing their lifestyle NOW? Nobody really does IRL, but across the internet there are Doomers by the thousands. So the question for me has become, “Is it possible to form an Internet Phyle* of people with similar enough goals and ethics through the medium of the Internet and then leverage that into an IRL community all brought together on a single patch of land, sufficient in size to sustainably Feed and Clothe and Shelter all of them with minimum inputs from the outside world, and likely extended periods with NO INPUTS during Wartime?”
It’s a fairly lofty goal to accomplish, but it’s not one I think is beyond reach either. Here on the Diner, we have begun the process of assembling such a group in Cyberspace under the rubric of the Sustaining Universal Needs or SUN Project. You will be reading more about that in the weeks and months to come here on the Diner, and in more detail on the SUN Project’s own website which is under development. For Doomers interested in developing a solid working plan for transitioning off the Oil Economy and toward a Low per capita Energy consumption society, I highly recommend joining with us in Discussions here on the Diner as we refine the model.
Finally, on the Paleolithic Rewilding model, I don’t see anything wrong with learning the means and methods of this lifestyle, nor even going out and actually LIVING it either, although to do so you will have to go VERY far out into the Bush and even there at least in the FSoA you will have to avoid the “authorities” of Park Rangers, Fish & Wildlife hunting and fishing regulations etc. Removing yourself from civilization as we know it to this level is an extraordinarily difficult thing to do. I don’t see this as necessary to do inside this generation, though if things slide downhill REALLY fast I could be proven wrong on that one. LOL. In any event, I am not suited to that lifestyle anymore, you gotta be pretty young and in good health to live that way. For the Medium Term of Collapse as I believe it will play out in my lifetime, I feel the best way to Prep Up is together with a pretty large group of friends, find a good fairly defensible location not too close to the major Cities, park yourselves and set about the task of making the land you live on productive enough to support yourselves.
An EZ thing to accomplish? No, but nothing worthwhile ever comes EZ either.
*Phyle- Phyles are a concept developed by Neal Stephenson in his novel The Diamond Age.
Society in The Diamond Age is dominated by a number of phyles, also sometimes called tribes. Phyles are groups of people often distinguished by shared values, similar ethnic heritage, a common religion, or other cultural similarities. In the extremely globalized future depicted in the novel, these cultural divisions have largely supplanted the system of nation-states that divides the world today. Cities in The Diamond Age appear divided into sovereign enclaves affiliated or belonging to different phyles within a single metropolis. Most phyles depicted in the novel have a global scope of sovereignty, and maintain segregated enclaves in or near many cities throughout the world.
Off the keyboard of Gail Tverberg
Published on Our Finite World on April 11, 2013
Discuss this article at the Energy Table inside the Diner
We in the United States, the Euro-zone, and Japan are already past peak oil demand. Oil demand has to do with how much oil we can afford. Many of the developed nations are not able to outbid the developing nations when it comes to the world’s limited oil supply. A chart of oil consumption shows that oil consumption peaked for the combination of the United States, EU-27, and Japan in 2005 (Figure 1).
We can see an even more pronounced version of this pattern if we look at the oil consumption of the five countries known as the PIIGS in Europe: Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain. All of these countries have had serious declines in oil consumption in recent years, as high oil prices have impeded their economies.
Oil consumption for the PIIGS in total hit its highest level in 2004, before the decline began. Peak oil consumption by country varied a bit: Portugal, 2002; Italy, declining since 1995; Ireland, peak in 2007; Spain, peak in 2007; Greece, peak in 2006.
Peak demand is very much related to jobs. Peak oil demand occurs when a country is not competitive in the world market-place, and because of this, loses industry and jobs. One reason this happens is because the country’s energy cost structure is not competitive in the world market-place. With the run-up in oil prices starting about 2003, oil is by far the most expensive of the traditional energy sources we have available today. Countries that use a large percentage of oil in their energy mix can be expected to have a hard time competing, because of oil’s higher cost.
Anything else that is done which raises costs for businesses will also have an impact. This would include “carbon taxes,” if competitors do not have them, and if there is no tariff on imported goods to reflect carbon inputs.
High-cost renewables can also have an adverse impact, regardless of whether the cost is borne by businesses, consumers or the government.
- If the cost is borne by businesses, those businesses must raise their prices to keep the same profit margins, and because of this become less competitive.
- If the cost is borne by consumers, those consumers will cut back on discretionary expenditures, in order to balance their budgets. This is likely to mean a cutback in demand for discretionary goods by local consumers.
- If the government bears the cost, it still must pass the cost back to businesses or consumers, and thus reduce competitiveness because of higher tax costs.
This importance of competitiveness holds, no matter how worthy a given approach is. If costs were “externalized” before, and are now borne by the local system, it makes the local system less competitive. For example, putting in proper pollution controls will make local industry less competitive, if the competition is Chinese industry, acting without such controls.
One issue in competitiveness is wage levels. Wages in turn are related to standards of living. In a global economy, countries with higher wage levels for workers, and higher benefit levels for workers (such as health insurance and pensions) will be at a competitive disadvantage. Countries that use coal as their prime source of energy will be at an advantage, because workers’ wages will tend to “go farther” in heating their homes and buying electricity.
Countries that are warm in the winter will be at a competitive advantage, because homes don’t have to be built as sturdily, and don’t have to be heated in winter. Workers can commute by bicycle even in the coldest weather.
Energy usage (all types combined, not just oil) is far higher in cold countries than it is in warm wet countries. Countries that extract oil also tend to be high users of energy.
The difference in per capita energy usage among the various countries is truly astounding. For example, Bangladesh’s per capita energy consumption is slightly less than 2% of US energy consumption. This difference in energy consumption means that salaries can be much lower, and thus products made in Bangladesh can be much cheaper, than those made in the United States. This is part of our competitiveness problem, even apart from the energy mix problem mentioned earlier.
In my view, globalization brought on many of our current problems. Perhaps globalization could not be avoided, but we should have foreseen the problems. We could have put tariffs in place to make a more level playing field. See my post, Twelve Reasons Why Globalization is a Huge Problem.
Inadequate world oil supply isn’t exactly the problem. The issue is far more that the price of oil extraction is rising. The price of oil extraction is rising for a variety of reasons, an important one being that we extracted the easy to extract oil first, and what is left is more expensive to extract. Another issue is that oil exporters now have large populations that need to be kept fed and clothed, so they don’t revolt. This is a separate issue, that raises costs, even above the direct cost of extraction. There is no reason to believe that these costs will level off or fall, no matter how much oil the US produces using high-priced methods, such as fracking.
When oil prices rise, wages don’t rise at the same time. In fact, in the US there is evidence that wages stagnate when oil prices are high, partly because fewer are employed, and partly because the wages of those employed flatten.
The countries that are most affected by rising oil prices are the countries that use oil to the greatest extent in their mix of energy products. In Figure 3, that would be the PIIGS. The rest of the US, EU-27, and Japan would be next in line.
When oil prices rise, consumers need to balance their budgets. The price of oil products and food rises, so they cut back on discretionary items. Their smaller purchases of discretionary goods and services means that workers in discretionary sectors get laid off.
Businesses find that the price of oil used in manufacturing and shipping their products has risen. If they raise the sales price of the goods to reflect their higher costs, it means that fewer people can afford their products. This too, leads to cutbacks in sales, and layoffs of workers. Sometimes businesses decide to outsource production to a cheaper country, or use more automation, as a way of mitigating the cost increases that higher oil prices add, but automation or outsourcing also tends to reduce US wages.
The net effect of all of these changes is that there are fewer workers with jobs in the countries with high oil usage. This reduces the demand for oil in the high oil usage countries, both from business owners making goods and from the consumers who might use gasoline to drive their cars. This price mechanism is part of what leads to the oil consumption shift we see in Figure 1.
We are dealing with is close to a zero-sum game, when it comes to oil supply. The amount of oil that is extracted from the ground is almost constant (very slightly increasing for the world in total). If prices stayed at the low level they were in the past (say $20 barrel), there would not be enough to go around. Instead, higher prices redistribute oil to countries that can use it manufacture goods at low overall cost. Workers in factories making these goods are then able to afford to buy goods that use oil, such as a motor scooter.
Citigroup recently released a report titled, “Global Oil Demand Growth, – the End is Nigh.” Its subtitle says,
The substitution of natural gas for oil combined with increasing fuel economy means oil demand is approaching a tipping point.
This is out-and-out baloney, for a number of reasons:
1. There are way too many of “them” compared to the number of “us,” for energy efficiency to make even a dent in our problem.
2. When we look at past oil consumption, changes in vehicle energy efficiency did not make a big difference.
3. Substituting natural gas for oil still leaves cost levels for the US, Europe, and Japan very high, compared to those for the rest of the world, where little energy is used.
4. There are really separate markets in many parts of the globe. Our market is collapsing because of high price. Perhaps increased efficiency and natural gas substitution will help low-cost producers until they reach a different limit of some sort.
Let’s look at these issues separately.
There are way too many of “them” relative to us, for energy efficiency to even make a dent in our problem.
If we look at world population, this is what we see:
Using a ruler, we could probably make fairly reasonable projections of future population for each of these groups.
If we look at per capita oil consumption for the two groups separately, there is a huge disparity:
Per capita oil consumption for the EU, US, and Japan group peaked in 1973–a very long time ago. In recent years, it has been drifting down fairly rapidly, just to keep up with a slight per capita rise in oil consumption of the Rest of the World. Even with recent changes, per capita oil consumption of the EU, US and Japan group is more than 4.5 times that of the rest of the world.
If cars were made more efficient, more people could afford them. The market for cars is unbelievably huge, compared to today’s market, if costs could be brought down. Furthermore, gasoline accounts for less than half of US oil consumption. Even if efficiency were improved to allow cars to use half as much fuel, it would save a little less than one-fourth of current oil consumption. How far would this oil go in satisfying the needs of 6 billion other people–and growing every year?
When we look at past oil consumption, changes in vehicle energy efficiency did not make a big difference.
If we look at per capita oil consumption in the US, split between gasoline and other oil products, we see that the big drop in oil consumption came from the drop in other oil products–that is the commercial and industrial part of US oil consumption.
The amount of fuel used for gasoline has stayed in the 10 to 12 barrels a year per capita band, since 1970, in spite of huge improvements in vehicle efficiency.
I recently wrote a post called Why is US Oil Consumption Lower? Better Gasoline Mileage? In it, I looked at the decrease in US oil consumption between 2005 and 2012. I concluded that the majority of the decrease in consumption was due to a drop in commercial use. Only 7% was due to an improvement in miles per gallon for gasoline powered vehicles.
Substituting natural gas for oil still leaves the US (as well as Europe and Japan) very high priced, compared to the rest of the world, that doesn’t use much energy.
Living in the US, Europe or Japan, it is hard to get an idea of the cost structure of the rest of the world. We are so far above the cost structure of the rest of the world that substituting natural gas for oil would do little to fix the situation.
We can also debate how much substitution of natural gas will actually do, and in what timeframe. In the US, natural gas is temporarily very cheap. But it costs more to extract shale gas than the market currently pays, in many areas. Also, a recently University of Texas study showed that Barnett Shale was past peak production, if prices do not rise.
There are really separate markets in many parts of the globe. Our market is collapsing because of high price. Perhaps increased efficiency and natural gas substitution will help low-cost producers, until they reach a different limit of some sort.
When a country is not competitive, it is not just oil consumption that drops, but consumption of other energy products as well. If we look at the per capita energy consumption of the US, EU-27, and Japan combined, we see that non-oil energy consumption per capita reached its peak in 2004, and is now declining (Figure 10, below). If consumers are too poor to buy oil products, they are also too poor to buy products made with other types of energy.
The Rest of the World followed a very different pattern of energy consumption. Non-oil consumption soared, on a per capita basis. Oil consumption also increased on a per capita basis.
More detailed data shows that the big increase in non-oil consumption was a huge rise in coal consumption, after China was admitted to the World Trade Organization in December 2001.
How does peak oil demand work out in the end?
I would argue that lack of competitiveness in world markets is a limit that the US, EU-27 and Japan are hitting right now, but at slightly different rates. EU-27 now seems to be ahead in the race to the bottom, partly because its combined currency. I wrote a post in March 2012 called Why High Oil Prices Are Now Affecting Europe More Than the US, explaining the situation.
It seems to me, though, that a big piece of the problem with lack of competitiveness gets transferred to the governments of the affected countries. This happens because collection of tax revenue lags, because not enough people are working, and those who are working are earning lower wages. At the same time increased payouts are needed to stimulate the economy, and to provide benefits to the many without jobs.
Governments increase their debt to meet the revenue shortfall. They reduce interest rates to record-low levels, to stimulate the economy. They also use Quantitative Easing, or “printing money” to try to lower long-term interest rates, and to try to make their exports more competitive. Unfortunately, these actions do not solve the basic structural problem of high and rising world oil prices, and the fact that these rising prices make their economies increasingly less competitive in the world marketplace.
One possible way I see of the current situation working out is that the total energy consumption (including all types of energy products, not just oil) of the EU, US and Japan will continue to fall, as high-priced oil continues to erode our competitive position in the world marketplace.
The slope of the decline is based on the type of decline experienced by the Former Soviet Union, in the years immediately following its collapse. This pattern might reflect a combination of different patterns for different countries. Greece and Spain, for example might continue to fall quite quickly. The US might lag the EU in the speed at which problems take place. The likely path seems downward, because any action taken to fix the government gap between income and expense can be expected to have a recessionary impact, and thus have an adverse impact on energy consumption.
The Rest of the World is now growing rapidly, but at some point they will start reaching limits. One of these limits will be lack of an export market. Another will be lack of spare parts, because businesses in the US, Europe and Japan are failing for financial reasons. Some of these limits will relate to pollution and lack of fresh water. The effect of these limits will also be to raise costs. For example, a shortage of water can be worked around through desalination, but this raises costs. Lack of spare parts can be worked around by building a new plant to make the spare part. Pollution problems can be mitigated by pollution controls, but these add costs. These higher costs, when passed on to consumers will also lead to a cutback in demand for discretionary goods, and the same kinds of problems experienced in oil exporting nations. Thus, these countries will also have “Peak Demand” problems, because of rising prices, related to limits they are reaching.
I don’t know exactly how soon the Rest of the World will hit limits, but given the interconnectedness of the world system, it would seem to be within the next few years. Figure 13 shows one estimate of how this may occur.
Here again, individual countries may do better than others. Countries with little connectedness to the world system (for example, countries in central Africa) may have fewer problems than others. Of course, their energy consumption (of the type measured by the EIA or BP) is very low now. They may use cow dung and fallen branches for fuel, but these are not counted in international data.
Figure 14, below, shows the sum of the amounts from Figures 12 and 13. Thus, it gives one estimate of future world energy consumption based on Peak Demand considerations.
If there is a silver lining to all of this, it is that world CO2 emissions are likely to start falling quite rapidly, because of Peak Oil Demand. World CO2 emissions could quite possibly drop below 20% of current levels before 2050. In the scenario I show, energy consumption drops faster than forecasts such as those put out by the Energy Watch Group. Such forecasts do not take into account financial considerations, so are likely overstated.
The downside of Peak Oil Demand is that the world we live in will be very much changed. Population levels will likely drop, indirectly because of serious recession, job loss, and cutbacks in government benefits. The financial system will need to be completely revised, because debt financing will make sense much less often than today. In fact, in a shrinking world economy, money can no longer act as a store of value. There no doubt will be some people who survive and prosper, but their lives will likely be very different from what they are today.
Off the keyboard of RE
Published on the Doomstead Diner on April 2013
Discuss this article at the Frosbite Falls Daily Rant inside the Diner
As the Collapse marches its way around the world and both Sovereigns and Banks are “discovered” to be completely Insolvent and BROKE, the BIGGEST of Newzpeak inventions is the idea of “Recapitalization”. This sounds Technical and Capitalist enough that most J6Ps buy it without a PEEP, even when their own Deposit Money is stolen for the purpose of “Recapitalizing” a Bank which has just gone BK and lost everybody’s money!
If I go BK, does anybody Recapitalize ME? WTF do people accept the idea FAILING Banks who JUST lost EVERYBODY’s Money should be “Recapitalized”, with the SAME jackasses running the show who just lost everything?
What a fucking RACKET! Anytime you Go Broke in the Casino, you just “Recapitalize” and go out gambling AGAIN! You just gotta be close enough to the Nodes of Power at the Top of this Game to ALWAYS get “Recapitalized”, even when the whole SYSTEM goes Kaput!
Then there is the Nonsense of Splitting Failed Banks into a “Good Bank” with performing Assets and a “Bad Bank” with all the garbage. Who will Buy Stock in the “Bad Bank”? The Bad Bank is just a Newzpeak Euphimism for TAXPAYER LIABILITY. Da Goobermint gets the Bad Bank, the Illuminati get the Good Bank! There’s a Fair Deal for you! Privatize the Profits, Socialize the Losses in a NUTSHELL!
Next is the Dumbass idea of “Nationalizing” Failing Banks. WTF do I want to Nationalize a LOSER company? Put the whole NATION on the Hook for the bad debt of said Bank, that’s a GREAT IDEA! Why not just let the LOSER Bank go to the Great Beyond and start a NEW Bank on a National Level?
Why NOT is because of course everyone bought into the system, and if you let those Bad Banks go Belly Up, lotsa folks won’t get their Pension Checks. Hell, they won’t even get back their Savings or Checking Account Money nowadays!
Money is a SYSTEM people become dependent on, just like say having a Smart Phone. When I was a kid, you had a Phone at your house, that is how people could talk to you from far away, but you did have to be HOME to receive the call. “Answering Machines”, the precursor of Voicemail didn’t exist at the time. Those Cassette Driven Recorders didn’t emerge until I was well into my teens. Nowadays though, you simply can’t EXIST and be a part of the Techno-Economy without a Smart Phone, to not only keep you Hooked in to communication with your Workplace (why didn’t you pick up? we NEEDED you to come in and fix the Server Crash!), but of course also to Tweet to all the WORLD your latest 1 sentence declaration on Monetary Collapse! Even fucking Bill Gross of PIMPCO Tweets idiocy!
Somehow though,before Voicemail, before Answering Machines, before even the Fucking TELEPHONE was invented, society managed to function OK, to one extent or another. In my parents time when they were kids, though the Telephone had been invented, almost nobody even had a phone in their domicile. How did they “Call in Sick” to work in those days? Answer, they didn’t of course. Workplace made do, so-and-so isn’t here today. If SaS does this too often, he gets fired. Now though, you gotta answer the phone, concoct a REASON (my dog is having a mid-life crisis!) and show up next day with a note & diagnosis from the Canine Social Worker to explain yourself and your Dog’s emotional angst. LOL.
Dependent most of us are in the Industrial Economy on our Automobiles, and Cheap Fuel to push them down the Road to get us to Walmart to buy Everything at Low, Low Prices Every Day and to get to the Workplace or to get the Kids to Skule…etc. That is a tough dependency to BREAK, but NOTHING compared to breaking the dependency on the Monetary System. Removing yourself from this inside Industrialized Nations is for all intents & purposes quite impossible for most people, there isn’t any real Wilderness left to escape to and do Jeremiah Johnson. OK, up here in Alaska you can still sorta do it if you stay on the move all the time, but soon as you drop down a Cabin anywhere the Rangers will drop in on you. You certainly can’t start a COMMUNITY out in the Bush without Goobermint dropping in to regulate your lives. A LAW up here is if you have kids, your Domicile has to have Hot Water and Toilets. You can’t keep your kids if you live in TeePees and use the Great Outdoors as a Toilet like every other mammal does. Child Protective Services will drop in and take the kids and drop them into the Foster Care system. Which is a pretty good Racket also if you DO live in a McMansion with Hot Water, you get around $700/mo from the state for every kid you take in this way. The state does NOT however pay the Original/Biological Parents 700 Bananas/mo to maintain the kid. How fucking STUPID is this system?
The coming REALITY of course is that the State is FRESH OUT of Bananas. Amongst the FIRST Casualties of Banana Shortage will be the Pension Funds of J6P, first the Corporate Ones from BK companies, then the Municipal and State ones, finally the large Goobermint ones like Social Security. All these funds are already being raided to keep the failing banking system propped up with creative accounting tricks.
Sadly of course, JUST raiding Pension Funds isn’t sufficient to prop up a system which in Euotrashland is leveraged probably 100:1, and here is probably 50:1, though nobody KNOWS really because so much of the leveraging is in the Shadow Banking System of Derivatives. No, now they ALSO gotta “Haircut” the Depositors, who don’t REALLY own their Money as soon as they Deposit it in a Bank. Once deposited, the Bank is free to Legally Gamble it however they like, Pledge it as Collateral 10 times over in Rehypothections schemes, and it just ONE of those bets goes South and they get a Margin Call, you can say Bye-Bye to your Money.
So, due to insufficient Pension Funds and Deposits to STEAL here to make good on all the various BAD BETS of Filthy Rich Pigmen Banksters, after everything is STOLEN, what is asked for NEXT? RECAPITALIZATION!
Let me explain this concept to you in PLAIN ENGLISH. Somebody else can translate it into Kraut for our Kraut readers. The Chinese Readers are SOL since we have no Han Diners I am aware of at the moment, and the Chinese are TOAST anyhow. LOL.
The folks who Own the World run this system of Ownership through the TBTF Banks they Own. If the Bank goes Belly Up, they lose everything, money and Ownership, it all gets thrown into a big Bankruptcy Pool to be divied up and sold off to whoever still has some money, which really is about nobody.
What “recapitalizing” a Bank really is takes theoretical Future Tax Revenue from the Taxpayer and GIVES it to the Uber Rich, the VERY SAME PEOPLE who just LOST EVERYTHING to begin with! As I said at the beginning of this Rant, WHAT A RACKET! You can’t EVER go Broke, every time you lose your bets in a big CRASH of the monetary system you are running, you get J6P to “recapitalize” you because you so expertly handled his life savings last time.
In reality however, “Capital” is not Debt nor is it the Fiat Money representing that Debt nor is it even Piles of Gold stored in Basement Safes of Sovereigns, Illuminati or Small Time Zero Hedge Piglets either. Capital is the Resources of the Earth, Energy stores in particular in the form of Fossil Fuels through the Industrial Era. Through the process of the War Machine and the Legal System regulating Property Ownership, a small Cabal of People gained control over most of the important Resources of the Earth, Land to begin with, Energy stores in the form of Coal & Oil through the Industrial Era. Here in the FSoA, around the time Da Fed was chartered in 1913, this Cabal was probably around 150 Industrialists and Banksters, probably somewhat larger now though the ones who got in earliest on the Ponzi remain the most powerful ones here. In the FSoA,you can identify the Rockefellers, Astors, Vanderbilts, Morgans et al, the “Robber Barrons” of the 1800s as the main players. Part of a still larger Ponzi which goes back to the Collapse of the Roman Empire, same general Monetary System has been perpetuated throughout the millenia, though it took a Big Hit during the Dark Ages. Did not disappear though, it was mainly perpetuated under the auspices of the Holy Roman Catholic Church through the Dark Ages. This crowd mainly identified by the Rothschilds, Kuhns and Warburgs on the Banking end, and the Plantaganets, Hapsburghs et al on the Political End in Eurotrashland.
Why is it every time there is a Massive Monetary Crash (and this is not the first one by any means, they occur regularly every 80 years or so), the SAME people get “Recapitalized” by J6P to remain in what appears to be Perpetual Control over the Resources of the Earth, and the Political Systems which Goobern the life of J6P? The reason was probably best stated by Henry Ford, who went BK around 5 times on his way to becoming one of the world’s most “Wealthy” men:
It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.
You see, probably 99% of people have ZERO understanding of how the Monetary Sytem works at ALL. They simply TRUST in it, and they don’t have smarts enough to separate and devise their own. In fact you DO have to be VERY SMART and CRAFTY to set up a Monetary system which will last any length of time at all, and even then you have to have Political Control over vast resources of the Earth to do it. Such has been the case for most of History, going right back as far as the Tower of Babel. Those IN CONTROL recruit and sift out people who can run such a system, Ben Bernanke and Mario Draghi are examples of that. “The Smartest Guys in the Room”. J6P can’t field anyone who holds a Candle to these guys, they ARE really smart, even if they are working from some really flawed basic principals.
So when a given iteration of the Monetary System fails, you get a buncha Wars as was the case in Eurotrashland from the collapse of the Roman Empire circa say 350AD or so, or WORLD WARS as was the case around 1900 to Present Day. WWII never ended, its just been pursued at a somewhat lower level regionally since Armistice was signed between the major powers of the Industrial Era.
Why do we get stuck with a NEW iteration of the same Bad Old System every time so far? Because when the Monetary System collapses, the SAME people are in control of the Military Apparatus. J6P has no control over that, he just ends up as Cannon Fodder fighting the battles as new alighnments and geopolitical and economic structures are refabricated. This leads MANY people to believe this will be the case in perpetuity, it is a Popular Meme amongst many Diners even. I have Ranted at length on numerous occassions why this is not so, but I STILL don’t have too many BELIEVERS on this subject. It’s hard to get people to understand Money to begin with, still harder to explain a Paradigm Shift of this nature.
You see, all reconstructions of this type of Monetary System depend on a SURPLUS of Capital,aka NATURAL RESOURCES. Mathematically speaking, you simply cannot reconstruct such a system in the absence of such resource, THAT is the Capital! It’s not the money, it’s not even the Gold. It is what those things REPRESENT, and when it is GONE, both represent nothing at all.
Are resources COMPLETELY gone? Of course they are not, but relative to current population size, they are in serious DEFICIT. You cannot get any REAL GROWTH out of this, no way no how, so you cannot pay any Interest. Thus you get ZIRP. Under ZIRP, Pensions, Equity Investment, everything FAILS. ZIRP is a KLUDGE to keep the system rolling another day, but it fails to bring return on investement, regardless of money printing to prop up markets. That is mainly just a redistribution of wealth mechanism, taking money from the Poor to Prop up investments of the Rich. All going south though, just the poor get hit first here this way.
The structure is bound to implode mathematically speaking, it doesn’t have basic energy support to keep it running. It CANNOT be rebooted in the absence of copious energy, or a massive population die off of Homo Sapiens. The latter is a likely outcome, but such a massive die off would deconstuct Global Power Structure, so you still don’t arrive at equilibrium this way. You’ll just get a lot of flux in the system as it re-equilibrates. I don’t think too many of the Pundits understand the equilibation dynamics, I am quite sure John Michael Greer doesn’t, nor Jimmy Kuntser. Dmitry Orlov to an extent. Steve from Virginia sorta gets it, but he traps himself in the 1700 Paradigm most of the time.
Anyhow, Recapitalization of Banks is COMPLETE garbage, and needs to be Politically Repudiated, which it will be. Unfortunate OUTCOME of that is most of the systems we take for granted will collapse, and and EXTRAORDINARY number of people will DIE. So it goes. You can’t make an Omellette without Breaking a Few Eggs.
Off the keyboard of Lucid Dreams
Published on Epiphany Now May12, 2012
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The Post Petroleum Human Tribe is continuing to evolve. We are unplugged and wired in without wires. We drop down the memory hole and immerse our minds in remembrance. So that we don’t forget where we came from.
The American Hologram is a real program being projected within the Matrix. There are other programs, but this one is dominant in the industrialized senseless suburban consumer consumption wasteland artifact of 20th century chemical monkey man.
We’re coalescing for the future of the Post Petroleum Nation at a little place called the Foxstead. We’ll be hiding in plain site. When you look at us we’ll be directly ahead, in the woods, visible in your blind spot. Don’t bother looking to hard because we have vanished in our 21st century anonymity. We are legion and you can’t even see us. Hiding in plain site. Waiting for you to blink to make our next move. And you thought you would always remain in control of the masses.
Also, let me just say, in this afterward that’s happening in the forward spot, that I made my way back to “Where the Wasteland Ends” and it expanded my mindscape greatly.
The last bout of books that I have acquired and began perusing have come to me through two sources, Morris Berman and John Michael Greer. The book I’m currently reading is titled “Where the Wasteland Ends”and is authored by Theodore Roszak. It was first published in 1972. I’m 30 pages in and I’m already beginning to lose interest and for different reasons than one might expect. In fact, I’ve never even experienced a lose of interest such as this and it’s what I can only term as a type of exhaustion. It’s an intellectual and emotional exhaustion that protrudes from a dawning realization that the world is suffering from a legendary case of denial. As I read these books that were published years before I was born (in this case 8 years before I was born), and as I look around at the world today to see the furtherance of our march into the wasteland, I can only throw my arms up in despair and then drop my hands into the soil. I put them into animal shit and dead and dying biomass. I mix it all together with the steam rising behind me from the hot compost pile. I mix this all into red dirt in an effort to make cultivated plant seeds a nurturing place to grow. This brings me peace and hope, and the need for these necessary books is fading. I know what needs to be done and why things are the way they are. There is simply no reason for me to read about it any longer, it’s just depressing.
Off the keyboard of George Mobus
Published on Question Everything in February 2013
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February 10, 2013
Survival of the Fittest
A number of commentators have, over the last few years, expressed a belief that humans will most likely go extinct at their own hands. Or at very least they will revert to primitive behaviors (usually characterized as brutish) coming through a bottleneck by going back to caveman mentalities and actions. These sentiments are certainly understandable from the standpoint that this is the only experience our kind has known as we climbed up from savagery to become domesticated and “civilized.” But this thinking misses some important aspects of the evolution of more intelligent species. In the face of an almost certain collapse of civilization and the prospects of a bottleneck event we might easily think this will propel us backward. But this ignores what has actually happened in previous extinction/bottleneck events. I’ve been interested in the question of why birds and mammals did so much better during and after the extinction event, 65 million years ago, in terms of survival (as compared with the dinosaurs). Both groups enjoyed a rapid adaptive radiation of species subsequently to give rise to the age of mammals and birds as the dominant mega fauna. Something is going on here that is counter-intuitive. It is a key to claiming that a new bottleneck event for humans might not result in the outcomes so many have expressed as logical. I expect something more promising and I’ll tell you why.
The dinosaurs, except for birds, a sub-clade of saurischian dinosaurs, did not survive on Earth. How is it that mammals and many birds did? Of course millions of species and thousands of genera lower in the phylogenetic tree survived as well even though millions more went extinct. The basic rule of evolution is that the fittest organisms (species) will differentially survive and procreate, thus out competing the less fit. But fitness is in reference to the conditions of the environment and econiche of the species. The Earth’s hydro and atmospheres have always been in flux. The continents have always been shifting. The local ecologies have always been changing, sometimes rapidly, more often slowly. The more rapid changes are the ones that stress species and provide the major differentiating forces that do the selecting. And then some species are more able to operate under the changed conditions and compete against rivals for the niches available more successfully. Homo sapiens was just such a species, for example out competing the Neanderthals until as recently as 13,000 years before the present, when the latter appear to have died out.
The End-Cretaceous Event appears to have been a fairly abrupt one by geological and climatological standards. The prevailing current hypothesis holds that the event was triggered by an asteroid of sufficient mass slamming into the Yucatan around 65 mybp. Recent evidence adds strength to this hypothesis. The cataclysm had global effect, what we would call a nuclear winter-like phenomenon that so severely altered Earth’s climate that the food sources for the dinosaurs died back dramatically and hence the dinosaurs were no longer fit. Selection did the rest.
There are, actually, still many missing pieces of this puzzle. The universality of dinosaurian extinction, except for the bird clade, would seem to require more explanation than this asteroid impact scenario can convincingly supply. There are competing or at least supplemental hypotheses. Many species of mammals and birds also went extinct. But no dinosaurs other than birds survived. Several hypotheses have been advanced to explain this phenomenon as well. Among them have been the general average sizes of birds and mammals (at the time there were no mammalian megafauna to speak of since all of the large animal econiches were occupied by dinosaurs), which were much smaller than the average dinosaur and that size difference plus metabolic energetics (e.g. body temperature maintenance) gave smaller birds and mammals an advantage (somehow). Other hypotheses involve the fact that most mammals, at the time, were burrowers so might have been protected from the harsher aspects of the climate changes.
Two Major Evolutionary Inventions
All of these hypotheses may work as explanations for mechanisms that helped provide some kinds of fitness to some species. And all of them may help explain a little piece of the phenomena. But there is another possibility that would be more universal for the bird clade and mammals that hinges on two completely new attributes for both groups. One of those explanations hinges on the increased capabilities of brains to process complex models of the environment, a competency shown by both birds and mammals but currently believed to not be the case for non-avian dinosaurs. The other is a more subtle competency that is just now gaining a greater understanding in the theory of evolution and that is the recognition of evolvability as a factor in the resilience of a species in the face of environmental stresses. I have mentioned this phenomenon in other posts.
The first factor involves an animals’s behavior to be based more on learned relations with the environment than on instincts. We are still learning about the learning and conceptualizing capacity of birds (see: bird intelligence) but it now appears that many types have much higher cognitive abilities than we had assumed. The mammalian brain is evolved to rely on learning and memory as a major factor in shaping behavior. The cerebral cortex is greatly expanded over what we find in modern reptiles. From studies of dinosaurian brain cases (endocasts) it appears that some dinosaurs may have been evolving more cortex which would suggest they were becoming more intelligent than the general reptiles. But the avian line had already evolved a much larger cortex by the time of the End-Cretaceous event. Aside from flight and generally smaller sizes, what demarks the avian sub-clade is their ability to learn and remember.
The earliest mammals were already showing this expansion of cortex and learning ability. They were likely quite adaptive having to contend with the dominant dinosaurian clade kept them on their toes, so to speak. The key to resilience in both birds and mammals depended on their ability to learn and adapt to changing conditions within broader limits than the dinosaurs and all other genera.
Learning and adaptation, however, were not sufficient to deal with the kinds of radical changes that must have come with the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K-Pg, formerly called the K-T for Cretaceous-Tertiary) event. Increased cortical processing power was an initial step in the right direction but too many biological constraints would prevent specific animals from changing their behaviors too much. For example most birds and mammals have a limited range of foods that they can take advantage of. Nevertheless many species show an ability to eat a wider range of foods as compared, for example with fish or reptiles.
But another much less appreciated or understood aspect of evolution has been at work for a long time to help living systems become much more resilient than they would have been under a strictly neo-Darwinian scheme, i.e. random mutation of protein coding genes and natural selection. Evolvability is a property of a species to generate variations that are, in a sense, potentially pre-adaptive. That is, they can increase the rate of mutations, especially in selective genes, that increases the possibilities of advantageous results. This math works best for large population sizes or populations that are growing rapidly. There have to be many more individuals being conceived so that the increased mutation rate doesn’t swamp the fitness of the species. This is because, as most people know, mutations are more often deleterious than helpful. There has to be an ability to “waste” individuals that end up with destructive mutations.
On the other hand, the promotion of mutations in selective genes may not actually produce a preponderance of harmful mutations. There are classes of proteins, the targets of genetic codes, that are able to take on many alternate sequences of amino acids without overly changing their basic functions. Indeed some new sequences may bestow completely new functions for the proteins without necessarily diminishing their potency in their primary functions. It seems that there are a large number of genes that are accompanied by DNA segments that “promote” mutations in those genes, perhaps by some kind of epigenetic mechanism. Those DNA segments may be triggered into action by environmental stressors that work through second and tertiary messengers to alter an epigenetic factor such as methylation of that segment. This is all still speculative in terms of exact mechanics, but the logic is beginning to look solid.
Evolvability increases the likelihood of finding a viable genotype/phenotype representative (or actually a small subpopulation of them) quickly in a search of variation space. It is a quick turning on of a higher mutation rate but with a higher probability of producing adaptive variants. Clearly, such a mechanism would be advantageous to the possessors in times of high stress. It turns out that many clear bottleneck events, where the number of individuals is drastically reduced during a radical environmental change, may be explained by the possession of higher evolvability by the species involved.
Evolvability has been evolving. It was actually recognized in a primitive form in bacteria that could adapt to restrictions on nutrients that they had evolved to require in their environments. Deprived of a key nutrient that they could not normally manufacture, but where the precursor components were available, evolved into a population that gained the ability to synthesize the needed nutrient. Not much work had been done on exploring this phenomenon in multicellular organisms as it was barely understood in simple bacteria. But recent developments in understanding the nature of the genetic expression control network of DNA that was previously thought to be “junk” have revived an interest in this. Finding the epigenetic mechanisms along with small RNA molecules that modulate various stages of gene expression, from transcription to interfering with protein construction at the ribosomes (even acting as enzymes — ribozymes — to control proteins directly) in development (see: Evolutionary Development) as well as in response to stresses has opened up some new possibilities. It has given us some attractive ways to explain many curious phenomena in evolution, such as punctuated equilibria. The key is to recognize that mutations do not just affect protein-coding genes but can affect the DNA in the control network as well. Mutations in, for example, a gene expression regulator (see especially: functions of non-coding DNA) could cause a radical but non-lethal change in morphology, the “hopeful monsters” theory of sudden changes in species.
We now have a pretty clear picture of evolution of these control networks even though we haven’t yet worked out the details of control. The human genome project really opened everyone’s eyes. The question was how could the most complex and intelligent being on the planet have fewer coding genes than animals and plants lower on the phylogenetic tree (only between 20 and 25k protein coding segments)? The answer is that it isn’t the number of different proteins that are in the phenotype, but rather the way in which those building blocks and enzymes are used in different tissues, the timing of when they are expressed during development and so on. In other words what makes animals more complex is variations in the control of gene expression. For example my own hypothesis regarding the development of larger Brodmann area 10 patches in human brain evolution, leading to sapience (or presapience) involves some subtle changes in when and for how long certain genes that lead to bigger BA10 as well as possibly changing the cytology of the patch resulted from probably few mutations in the DNA involved in controlling the expression of important genes in brain development.
Now evolvability has more opportunity than just promoting key genes to mutate. It can work by promoting mutations in the control circuitry as well, leading to many more possibilities in generated variation. It turns out that birds and mammals enjoyed an explosion of the use of control circuits in DNA meaning that they might have had this greater advantage compared with the dinosaurs. We can’t know what sort of control networks in DNA the dinosaurs sported. But if there is a relation between the extent to which control networks generate greater evolvability in birds and mammals as compared with dinosaurs and the degree to which the brains of the former two groups had exceeded the latter, then we might have a possible answer to why the former survived and the latter didn’t. Birds and mammals were actually poised to deal with the cataclysm of the K-Pg event both in terms of greater behavioral adaptability and evolutionary adaptability. The latter did not require the millions of years we ordinarily associate with evolution. Higher evolvability and resulting saltation would have rapidly produced variants that were more fit. Furthermore, as conditions settled down from the worst just after the event, these mechanisms could explain rapid evolution to fill the developing econiches in adaptive radiation.
And that brings me to considerations for humanity’s future going into a likely bottleneck event of our own making. As the understanding of EvoDevo and the human genome deepens it seems the evidence points ever more strongly toward the idea that we are a super-evolvable species! We have actually seen rapid evolutionary developments in the human species over the past 20- to 100 thousand years of our existence. I’ve written elsewhere about these so will not dwell on it. The bottom line is that the future of humans may not be as bleak as the more common beliefs would have it.
First consider that the natural variation in our populations for traits such as intelligence and sapience is already pretty high. Humans have been under mental stress since the invention of agriculture, which means what evolvability we have has already been at work for at least 10k years. There are some in our very midst who are pre-adapted for the kind of radical changes we expect to see before long. And they haven’t been sitting idle waiting for the worst to hit. There are many people who seem to me to have higher than average sapience who are already considering what they have to do to survive and thrive even in the nightmare scenarios we’ve come to expect. Also, it is not likely that they are going to expose their plans so you may never hear of them!
I fully expect that a race of highly sapient individuals will go into and emerge from the bottleneck and provide the seed for a new species (or even more than one!) of eusapients someday. Earth isn’t over. Nor is sentient life on this planet. Life evolved for more than 3½ billion years and as it did, it learned a few handy tricks from a wide variety of past cataclysms. Evolvability has improved over that time. I feel pretty comfortable with letting nature takes its course in the future. It isn’t over for the planet and it isn’t over for the naked ape.
February 07, 2013
Over the last month I have received over a dozen e-mails from readers who have noticed an up tick in the number of articles and editorials appearing in the main stream media about the possibility of a truly apocalyptic end to global civilization. The sentiment of the e-mails is something like: if the MSM is running these stories/editorials is it possible that it is because even they are starting to see that things really are getting dangerous? I too have noticed what seems to be more articles that at least address the possibility that our consumptive growing society might have sown the seeds of its own destruction. Even the rah-rah Tom Friedman has warned that there may be trouble afoot in the climate arena (but of course he holds onto his techno-cornucopian vision that “E-Tech” will save us if only we get cracking on investment in research.
Even the recent spate of oil and natural gas cornucopian views that flooded the papers and air waves a few months ago are starting to give way to articles and talking heads questioning that perspective. They are even asking some of the right questions, like, if there is this flood of oil from shale coming on the market, why does the price of oil remain stubbornly above $90 per barrel and fluctuates up from there? I have even seen a few articles pointing out that shale gas and tight oil wells have a very early and steep decline rate compared with other wells suggesting that the total volume of fuels being extracted will not come near the estimates made earlier. This is indeed a remarkable sign. Not because it gives us hope that maybe the public will wake up if the media start putting these stories out there, but because, as one reader put it, “…maybe it is because its gotten so bad that they can no longer ignore it.” Another reader, voicing a similar sentiment, went on to ask,“When they get it doesn’t it mean that it is already too late?”
Almost all of the readers asked the same question. “Does this mean the end is near?” If the MSM gets it sufficiently to start putting out the stories, doesn’t that mean its so bad that there really is nothing we can do?
My reply is simple. Yes, but… The “end” should not be thought of as an abrupt event, like falling of the “fiscal cliff” was portrayed. The end just means we’ve passed the peak (of oil, income growth, you name it) and we’re starting down the decline slope. No one really knows how steep that slope is. Indeed we can’t rule out coming to a real cliff if climate change forces us into a new attractor basin (like in catastrophe theory). But from my perspective we have long ago passed the peak of progress and development and the end has already started. It is just that it is now really getting noticeable (e.g. Hurricane Sandy’s effects opened a lot of eyes). Hardly anybody noticed the beginning of the end of technological, high powered civilization. I didn’t.
During the decade when I think the overall peak occurred I was getting enamored with microcomputers and real-time control as well as deepening my understanding of systems science and evolution theory. I was captivated by the progress of science and our understanding of how things worked. So it didn’t occur to me that there were signs I was missing. As a younger man, as an undergraduate in biology, I had paid attention to Rachel Carson and Paul Erhlich as well as some other “doomsday” writers. And I could see the logic of exponential growth coming to an end with consequences. That is why, later, when I got a chance to work in the solar energy field I jumped in with both feet guilty of believing that it would be a techno-fix for the energy problem. I got distracted, however, by the exciting times with the birth of microcomputers and later the availability of personal computers. It was truly a candy store for me. The earlier sense of potential disaster waned. Careers and family supplanted my fears. Besides, Ronald Reagan said it was morning in America! Those were heady days. But that is exactly the kind of phenomenon you will see at the peak. By definition the peak is the top!
And then the signs did start to become clear. Population numbers were still climbing exponentially and the shock of realizing how we had gone from a couple of billion people to four billion in such a short time started me thinking again. I started paying attention again in the mid 90′s and started connecting a lot of dots. Since that time I have paid not so much attention to events as to trends and rates of change, the dynamics of the world. How fast is water becoming a problem? How fast are soils degrading? How fast are we putting CO2 into the atmosphere? How fast are we depleting our fossil fuels? And, of course, what are the consequences of adding (subtracting) that next increment of degradation? Then there was the economy. It was not behaving as economists said it should. Globalization was turning on Americans viciously. Bubbles were forming and bursting at increasing rates. When 2009 rolled around I couldn’t say I had predicted the Great Recession, because I really didn’t know much about sub prime mortgages and other weirdo financial instruments that had fooled us all with smoke and mirrors, but it didn’t take long to recognize the basic underlying forces that actually burst our giant financial bubble. I had studied peak oil and energy return on investment. I already had a pretty clear idea that energy was the real currency of the economy and that money was just a surrogate token representing real work – or should have been. Understanding the financial implosion as the result of declining EROI and the peak of conventional oil production was quite easy. Yet almost no economists and certainly no politicians (or most citizens for that matter) can even imagine what that means. They are still trying to explain the phenomena using already discredited economic models.
And then I looked back in time to see if I could detect the onset of the precedent conditions. And it was clear that from the late 1970s on, we were starting down the slope of civilization decline. We are now at the stage where we are noticing the acceleration.
I’m not really making a prediction here, but it seems to me likely that 2013 will turn out to be the year more people notice it and important people start to admit we have a problem. Obama has already indicated, in his second inaugural address, that he wants to tackle climate change. Well great. Nice to have the company in recognizing the problem. But once he starts getting a real education in the dynamics of the situation he will inevitably realize that it is too late to stop climate change and it is even too late to do anything meaningful in the way of a national response to adaptation. Horse out of the barn already, Mr. President. But nice sentiments. Now, may I suggest you take a really hard look at energy too? At some point he will finally realize that all of the standard thoughts about having our kind of civilization are for naught. Can’t be done.
The future belongs to small, adaptive communities that can either adopt a settled permaculture, or take to nomadic lifestyles, possibly going back to hunter-gather regimes. In any event the key idea is adaptability. Resilience and learning from experience. Ultimately the wise will inherent the earth.
Off the keyboard of RE
Published originally on The Burning Platform on Novemeber 17, 2010
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My father rode a camel, I drive a car, my son flys a jet plane, his son will
ride a camel. -Old Saudi Saying
A recent thread here brought up Richard Duncan’s Olduvai Theory, which basically states that with decreasing per capita energy availability, we are eventually destined to return to the Stone Age in terms of our technology, with a fairly precipitous decline which began sometime in the late 1970s, and should put us back in the 1930s era by 2030 or so. Whenever I bring up this possibility, I get the same Kneejerk Rections, that the possibility that Homo Sapiens is destined to be using Stone Knives and dressed in Bearskins is Science Fiction on a par with ET landing in Elliot’s Garage and Phoning Home. I’d like to try to examine the ideas for how valid they might or might not be, along with what the actual timeline might be for a technological retracement
First off, as far as my own knowledge of this theory, I only found out about it quite some time after I joined the Peak Oil message board writing my own take on how our civilization would be affected by the disappearance of easily accessible fossil fuels. My general conclusion was (and for the most part still remains) that we will eventually drop back down to about a 1750s era level of technology, utilizing Sail Power for shipping and animal and human labor for over land transportation and food production. However, I can see some justification for the hypothesis that over a really long term of a millennia or more that we could end up going all the way back to a Neolithic paradigm. This assuming of course we don’t end up going completely extinct either through natural causes like a Supervolcano, or through a Man Made self-extinction through Nuclear War and/or poisoning the planet through further ecological disasters like the Deepwater Horizon in the GOM.
What would the justification be for this? Well, if you assume steadily increasing population here for as long as there is some sort of fossil fuels to access, more people will continue to use up more resources ever faster, even while per capita usage drops. This is reflected in the idea that China with 1.3B people will put as many cars out on the road as we did for the last 50 years, so even if we conserved the fuel would get burned up anyhow. Then we go through the Coal and NG reserves, until in the end the only fuel left to burn is that which grows each year fed by Solar Energy. A Pay as you Go paradigm from that point forward.
Duncan is assuming a few things here which may or may not be true. First one would be that we don’t at least partially replace the lost fossil fuel energy source with Nuke and Renewables. Second and even more important is that he is assuming a pretty steady population increase to keep the fossil fuels consumption up, and thus drop us off the fairly steep curve he draws downward to 2030 or so.
While its not a very pleasant scenario to contemplate, if through War, Pestilence or Famine sometime between now and 2030 we cut World Population in Half, per Capita we could roughly double energy usage with the remaining resource, or raise it 50% while halving the decline rate. If at the same time we make a concerted effort at developing alternative energy resource, we could extend it out further than that. Over a fairly long period of time, the population might shrink down to 1/10th what it is now, or even 1/100th. As long as that shrinkage is not also accompanied by ever increasing energy usage by the smaller population, in theory you REALLY could extend out the timeline of a such a technological society, although no matter how long and with how small a population you work with, eventually you would reach the point where fossil fuels were completely unavailable to use. However, with such a long timeline and such a reduced population, you might be able to Pay as You Go turning Sedge Grass into liquid fuel using enzymatic processes, or some variant of this with Algae or some other rapidly growing organism. Making these assumptions, which are not all that unrealistic, Duncan’s Olduvai Theory doesn’t play out that well.
GIFSoupHowever, that decline of Population commensurate with maintaining current infrastructure and production levels falls apart when you consider the real results of what the competition for the remaining resource will be, which is ever increasing War. For as long as it is possible to get enough Oil to run a Mechanized Army, societies will build such a War Machine, with the specific purpose of taking control of the Oil fields necessary to run that machine. The FIGHT for the remaining Oil is what will use it up faster, along with destroying the infrastructure used to pump up what oil remains and then refine it. This brings about a crash in population and technology that is FASTER than our possible ability to replace it with alternative energy resource. Under this scenario, Duncan’s Olduvai Theory is more justifiable.
Fossil Fuels aren’t the ONLY thing necessary to stay above the Stone Age though, long before we accessed the thermodynamic energy of Oil to run the civilization of Homo Industrialis, we jumped up from Stone Tools to using Metal ones. To smelt and refine those metals though, entire Forests were burned down, along with also Coal being used, but in this projected future there wouldn’t be any Coal left to burn, so in terms of burning stuff to create the heat necessary to create all those metal tools, you would need another heat source. This of course could be provided by Nuke Energy, but again you have to remember that the Fight for the Oil resource probably would ALSO end up destroying any Nuke Reactors. Even if they all were not destroyed, just maintaining them and keeping them operational takes Oil, and they only have around a 50 year lifespan anyhow before they need to be decommissioned or all their internal parts replaced due to constant exposure to high energy radiation.
Taking all this into consideration, Duncan’s Olduvai Theory seems to me to be possible over a pretty long timeline, but its NOT a return to the Stone Age in a Century. In under a Century, at the very least you still have plenty of already mined up and refined metals to work with to create tools and build or rebuild with. In under that timeline, you still have a good deal of Coal left to run Forges with and reuse all that metal. Metal by itself forgetting the advantages we get from more complex machines was a HUGE step up the ladder from the Stone Age. Metal Knives, Farm Implements, Tools like Crosscut Saws hell just NAILS to bang together a housing structure or boat made of wood is a big advantage over just using a Stone Hand Axe to roughly hew out some wood and put it together with mortice and tenet joints and lashings. As big a Doomer as I am, I don’t see any scenario likely in even half a millennia where we wouldn’t have NAILS to use. If you backtrack in time 500 years to 1500 or so, they certainly were not living in the Stone Age. So if Duncan’s Olduvai Theory is correct, its going to take a pretty long time to Reverse Engineer our way back there, probably pretty close to the 5000 years or so it took to work our way OUT of the Neolithic lifestyle to begin with.
Most people aren’t too concerned about what the long term fate of Homo Sapiens is here, really they are about 60% concerned with how things are going to play out in their own lifetime, and the other 40% in what will happen to their Kids. If they have Grandkids already born, they have somewhat less concern over their own lives (mostly over already), and transfer that concern to the Grandkids, for something like maybe 30% your own life, 30% your kids lives and 40% your grandkids or something like that. So the max timeline anyone really cares to consider here usually is the next 50-100 years. What might that look like here under the most plausible scenario I can conjure up?
Well first off like MANY other Doomers on the net, I see a major War for Resources (Oil, Water and arable Land mainly) coming down the pipe here. It probably will have both a Civil (local) component as well as a Global component. Whenever the Global portion of this does really take off, I doubt it would take more than 5 years for all the good Military Hardware to be at the bottom of Davey Jones Locker and most of the Oil production infrastructure to be irretrievably destroyed. I don’t forsee Global Thermonuclear War of the Wargames Scenario with the WOPRs pitching out 100s of MIRVs and sending us into a Nuclear Winter. Rather I see Tactical Nukes being used on the battlefield, Dirty Bombs being used in some cases for Terrorism purposes, and certainly from all sides involved the effort to diminish the war making capability of the other side by destroying their Oil infrastructure of Refineries. The outcome of this is so Devastating and Incalculable that by itself its usually the point at which most folks stop considering how it will all play out. The Big Shitties all starved of Oil to run the water pumping stations and sewage treatment plants turns ALL of them into a virtual Mirror Image of what is going on in Port Au Prince in Haiti right now. No fancy Flu Virus concocted in an Illuminati Lab necessary, good old fashioned CHOLERA will bloom in all these Cesspools waiting to happen.
Once the Conduits begin to fail in earnest resulting from Global destruction of the Conduits, Local Populations everywhere will be left on their own to first off try to Protect and Defend their locales from an OCEAN of Refugees (aka Zombies), which has these areas mostly become Feudalized mini-states run by Warlords. Next, they will have to make themselves Sustainable in just what they produce within their borders. This will be a major challenge for most of these neighborhoods. Without any Oil Product to run any of the machines, without the ability to pump water up from aquifers to irrigate the land, without high energy fertilizers to increase yields, without pesticides to keep crop losses minimal, and at least at the beginning without a whole lotta Draft Animals to help do the physical work necessary, they will be producing a whole heck of a lot less off their local landscape than they do now, even if it IS good land for growing. Cross your fingers for each of these areas they have a local Permaculture Expert who will instruct them on how to get fabulous yields organically with Heirloom Seeds which will Breed True and conserve and save the seeds to grow another generation of crops the following season.
In effect here, due to extreme dislocation which results from WAR causing a very rapid removal of the Oil resource from the current population dependent on it, I just do not think it will take very long at ALL for a ST Matthews Island Deer depopulation to take place in many places. It’s a cascade failure of systems. 5-10 years from the time the Technological War of Mechanized Armies really gets going in the Resource War before it consumes the Resources necessary to feed such an army, 10-50 years after that for the remaining local populations to decrease in size themselves to a level sustainable on their local resources. In 50-100 years, you will have a MUCH reduced population size, but you STILL will not be Stone Age. There will still be TONS of copper wire to Scavenge, tons of Steel and even still mega Tons of coal available to mine up and use in your forges. The resultant Technological level at this time is nowhere near so low as Stone Age. Its 1750 all over again, the main difference being that what went down before did a seriously good job with depleting many good Ag areas of nutrients now washed out to sea and a fairly well poisoned Fisherie in most of the good fishing grounds along with much coral reef destruction that will prevent the fisherie from rapidly returning to its former levels of fecundity. All these factors will make scraping a living out of the ground a lot harder than it was on the way up the ladder, which leads to a still further undershoot of the Homo Sapiens population possible on the planet even on a pay as you go paradigm.
If you ran this one Logarithmically, factor down 10 fold in the initial loss resulting from Conduit Failure in the Big Shitties from the Techno War; factor down another 10 fold resulting from the inability of the surviving population to produce as much food from their local area as before TSHTF; and factor down another 10 fold from overall depletion and destruction of environmental resources that produce food, you get a 1000:1 population reduction over a timespan of about a Century. So an Initial Population prior to the Die Off of Homo Industrialis starts out TODAY at around 6.3B, in about a Century it drops down to 6.3M. This is MASSIVE Undershoot, because even in around 1500 there were 500M people living on Earth. So this might be an overestimate either in how fast the die off takes place or what percentage loss there is in any phase. Still, barring a miracle here, I can’t see how we will not drop down to a max of 1B people over the next century, so for most of your current progeny, best case scenario is they got a 50-50 shot at making it through the next 50 years. You can console yourself though with the knowledge that if they do in fact survive, they most probably will not be living in Duncan’s Neo-Stone Age, but rather on a Techno level something closer to 1750’s era technology.
We still have a few questions to answer though. Even if you assume all the above as plausible, does even a destruction of the current population on the planet down to 6M Human Souls, or even a FURTHER destruction below that down to just 10, 000 Human Souls as happened after the Toba Bottleneck mean that Homo Sapiens will NEVER be so technologically advanced as he is today? Hell no, in 75,000 years Homo Sapiens might well develop sustainable Pay as you Go methods of harvesting energy, just it is wholly unlikely we would ever again have such an enormous footprint on the planet in terms of numbers. I also do not think that even had we been the most careful stewards possible of our Energy Resources that we would ever get off the Planet to go populating the Stars in Interstellar Spacecraft. Sending some Rockets around the Solar System was about as much as we could manage, and the other planets aren’t suited for life as we know it. Creating and building spacecraft that could negotiate interstellar distances and having the energy resource necessary for such travel is about as far beyond our abilities as it is for an Ant to build and fly a Drone Aircraft to bomb Afghani Ants. We aren’t destined to populate the Stars, our corporeal existence is fixed to this Planet, and always will be for as long as Homo Sapiens avoids an Extinction event on the planet. If you accept that to be true, then why AT ALL is it necessary to aspire to ever higher levels of technological advancement in the first place?
This is REALLY where I diverge from Richard Duncan. The subtext of his argument is that our foolishness with wasting the one time gift we got of the Fossil Fuel resource “condemns” Humanity to a “primitive” life with Stone Age technology. As I perceive it, life was a whole lot BETTER when people lived with Stone Age technology than they do now. Yes I realize how parochial such a viewpoint is, since I don’t live that way and likely never would be able to the way I was brought up in the Age of Oil. Still, knowing what we know NOW, did acquiring Agriculture and then Metal Working and then Industrialization REALLY make life BETTER? Its OUTCOME was a thoroughly Polluted Ecosystem, huge unsustainable Big Shitties, endless Wars for Resources and Control, a horiffically stratified society of Haves and Have Nots which in the end can only succeed in consuming itself with its own GREED. How can anyone see this as a good result?
You do not need I-phones or Computers or Plasma TVs to lead an introspective life examining existence. Galileo and Copernicus and Newton were at least as good mathematicians as any Hedge Fund Manager today sitting at his Bloomberg Terminal. You do not need Space Ships to Explore the Universe. 1000 years ago with Stone Age Technology, Polynesian Navigators without a GPS and without even a magnetic compass used their observations of the Heavens and the rhythm of the Sea to successfully Navigate between Hawaii and the Society Islands. Thousands of years ago, great writers observed the Human Condition and told the Stories later written down to be collective Human Wisdom in the Bible. All of their lives were RICH in thought and exploration. There are NO LIMITS to the Human Mind, and in fact it is the dependence on the crutch of technology that most limits us today, and which looks to be the Achilles Heel of our Civilization. We have been CONSUMED by an obsession with the physical world, money over spirit. True GROWTH of the Human Mind is LIMITLESS in the world of the Spirit. Perhaps when all this is said and done with, whomsoever is left standing will grasp this, and a greater and better form of Homo Sapiens will emerge in the long distant future. Hopefully BEFORE Yellowstone throws 5000 cu km of Ejecta into the atmosphere and wipes the spark of sentience we have off the face of the Earth forever more.
Of course getting from here to there is going to be a BITCH, and it’s the short term stuff most folks are concerned with not the eventual fate of sentience on Earth. So we ground ourselves mostly in the day to day spin down of our economic system. Will it end in a new Stone Age? Unlikely in the near term. Will it result in a whole lot of Dead People. Quite a bit more likely. Meantime I will just try to avoid being one of those dead people too soon.
See You on the Other Side.
Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia
Published on Economic Undertow on February 2, 2013
Surreality is when the top story in the New York Times is about King Cakes but the idea is to not scare the horses. Informing the readership in plain English of our ongoing unraveling might provoke uncertainty … then panic … leading to questions about why we endure so many stupid managers everywhere in the world. At the very least, the stock market — which is now near all-time highs — might decline. People might then in theory put off buying a new car or a bigger house or not take on bigger loans. Best to roll out the pastries and downplay the Israeli air strike in Syria and the widening war there or the bank nationalization in Netherlands (Washington Post):
Dutch state nationalizes bank and insurer SNS Reaal NV, injects 2 billion euros in capital (Associated Press)
AMSTERDAM — The Netherlands nationalized its fourth-largest bank on Friday, injecting €2 billion ($2.7 billion) to recapitalize SNS Reaal NV and head off any chance of a messy collapse that would threaten the country’s already fragile economy and financial system.
The total cost to the Dutch government will be at least €3.7 billion, Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem told a press conference. That’s almost certainly enough to ensure that the Netherlands’ budget deficit in 2013 will be higher than the 3 percent allowed under EU rules, unless the Dutch Cabinet — which has already taken a series of unpopular tax hikes and spending cuts — comes up with further austerity measures.
“This isn’t what we wanted,” Dijsselbloem said. But he added that, without the nationalization, SNS “would have gone irrevocably bankrupt,” with potentially dire consequences.
Ah yes, dire consequences: secured (large) lenders to the bank would have lost some money. Much better for the ordinary citizens of Netherlands to take the billions in losses. The citizens haven’t even earned the money yet, they will never know what it is they have lost! Here is the latest innovative technology in action: the finance cost-morphing time machine. The establishment endlessly promises a high-tech utopia tomorrow. What it actually delivers is invisible public bankruptcy: money that is not earned tomorrow because it was diverted to a tycoon … yesterday.
High-tech time machine in operation, Pableaux Johnson (NYTimes)
Depositors and senior creditors (of SNS) won’t lose any money in the nationalization, the Finance Ministry said.
The closest the Dutch get to actual restructuring …
SNS shareholders will be wiped out, along with some junior creditors, including the state itself. SNS owed the government €800 million, including interest, left over from a 2008 bailout. Other junior creditors will lose around €1 billion, the ministry said. The three biggest Dutch banks, ING Groep NV, ABN Amro, and Rabobank will contribute a combined €1 billion to help save SNS — they are required to do so as under the same law by which the state guarantees their retail deposits. The nationalization shows the damage the crisis has wrought on the oversize Dutch financial sector and means that three of the five biggest banks in the country have now come under state control since the start of the crisis: ABN Amro was merged with the former Fortis and both were nationalized back in 2008. In addition, ING received several bailouts which have still not been fully repaid. Only Rabobank, a banking cooperative, has not yet needed state aid.
Big-bank shutdowns are historical indicators of greater finance system failures-to-come. This dynamic has been in force as recently as 2007 with the collapse of el cheap-o mortgage origination firms and two of Bear-Stearns’ hedge funds. The entire mortgage industry, shadow-banking and then Bear-Stearns itself all fell into the pit shortly thereafter. During the entire period there was a soaring stock market and soothing bromides from the establishment …
Attention must be paid to stumbling banks while the happy talk about ‘growth’ and ‘recovery’ is ignored.
The propping up of key-men works for modest periods only. Cures or resolutions must be put in the place of the props … since 1980 or so nothing has been done other than to entrench the status quo, expand credit and inflate serial asset price ‘bubbles’. Finance has not evolved, it has become an unchanging dead weight, a gigantic millstone around the corpse of modernity … ossified finance has become the final manifestation of ‘progress’. To support banks and the industrial welfare queens there are cheap loans offered by central banks, the laundering of assets, bailouts of businesses belonging to ‘special friends’ (owners) of corrupt government officials. All of this is accompanied by loud public proclamations of better times that are sure to come, tomorrow.
It is always tomorrow … when the positive outcomes are certain to emerge! As a fair exchange businessmen will poison the atmosphere and the ocean so that progress can take place. Meanwhile the key-men multiply like rabbits while the props diminish or crack under the strain.
There are banks and bank-like entities faltering in China, in Spain, as well as Italy, where the Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA is underwater due to self-dealing and looks ripe for failure. All of these situations have the potential to upend the economic applecart. Of course, there are the parallel political scandals in all of these countries including China. One must not overlook the Greek and Cyprus problems … or the foreign exchange ‘war’ that is underway between the US, the eurozone, China, Japan and Korea.
The term ‘Dutch’ can be replaced with the name of just about any country …
‘France is totally bankrupt’: French jobs minister Michel Sapin embarrasses Francois Hollande with shocking statement on state of the country’s economy …
Spain is shocked … shocked! The economy of France is a Ponzi scheme where the funds/capital of other countries is taken in exchange for empty promises … gambling and fashion have bankrupted the country, there is nothing left for France but to become Greece.
Figure 1: Charts of car sales here and there from the New York Times: sales nose-dive in Europe. Sales are dependent upon the constant addition of credit-plus central bank moral hazard … as these offer diminished returns there is nothing to support sales
Industrial production figures exclude construction, and reflect the change in each month from the average of 2006 figures. Car sales figures exclude light trucks, and are based on sales volumes in the United States and on registrations of new cars in Europe and Japan. They reflect the total for each 12-month period compared with the 2006 total. (Sources: Bloomberg, Haver Analytics, Ward’s Automotive, European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association)
Autos and other capital-extinguishing goods are collateral for our money, they are the tangible ‘products’ for- and by which we devour our pitiful remnants of real capital … We can continue to destroy capital only if we lie to ourselves about its nature. Currently, we insist that capital is money instead of resources. This is false: money is loans and nothing more. When capital is loans, there are insignificant consequences to its destruction. Old loans are easily replaced with new ones. Only when capital is something that must be dug out of the ground with great effort … does its fleeting existence within our state of affairs become an economic embarrassment … then an indictment.
Meanwhile, finance is losing its ability to paint capital destruction as ‘productive-appearing’ and to thereby prop it up. Here is the greatest key-man failure! The more effort expended to keep the current regime of capital destruction ‘growing’ the faster the costs accumulate … capital is extinguished with one hand while greater claims against the same capital are made with the other.
Figure 2: What sort of un-balanced sheet is this? Here are diminished returns made graphic … the declining productivity of US debt, as $300+ billion borrowed dollars ‘buys’ a $5 billion dollar decline in GDP (by Zero Hedge). This decline can be ignored as long as … the stock market keeps rising! (click on the image to see it in its entirety)
Meanwhile, from the ‘Let The Eat King Cake’ department … in China, (Patrick Chovanek):
What Causes Revolutions? A surprising number of people in China have been writing and talking about “revolution”. First came word, in November, that China’s new leaders have been advising their colleagues to read Alexis de Tocqueville’s classic book on the French Revolution, L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution (The Old Regime and the Revolution), which subsequently has shot to the top of China’s best seller lists. Just this past week, Chinese scholar Zhao Dinxing, a sociology professor at the University of Chicago, felt the need to publish an article (in Chinese) laying out the reasons China won’t have a revolution (you can read an English summary here). Minxin Pei, on the other hand, thinks it will.
This is like the German high command during the Barbarossa winter of 1941 re-reading Armand De Caulaincourt’s classic account of Napoleon’s doomed 1812 Russian campaign. Sentries that have frozen to death tend to focus the mind: so do the endless rounds of Chinese outrages and miscalculations. Doubts about China’s enterprise are growing … in China, where such doubts matter most.
What would a China revolution look like? Pundits offer a political story about the Communist Party but the problems are economic: the failure of Chinese business ‘success’. Any revolution would certainly take some form of public rejection of automobiles … otherwise there would be no real revolution at all. Such a radical change is unlikely at the moment … The Chinese love their cars … the passage of time and the ongoing bankruptcy of China will do the heavy lifting. The Revolution will come after China becomes Greece.
What must be watched are the banks which are saddled with US$ trillions of bad loans, mostly for ‘capital investment’ which in this case means redundant factories, showy-but-useless public infrastructure and property developments. None of these things can or do pay for themselves, they require endless rounds of new loans … the result being pyramiding debts. Amazingly, it has taken the Chinese only 20 years to reach the profound level of insolvency that has taken the West 400 years to achieve. It is hard to see the Chinese expanding their particular form of capital investment Ponzi scheme … and the accompanying smog … for another 20 years.
The Chinese are not the only folks struggling with air quality: the smog is worse in India … for many of the same reasons as China. The smog is also bad in Athens … Greeks are putting heating oil into their cars and heating their houses with stolen wood.
Figure 3: The chart looks like the Yen has weakened in lockstep with both the Euro and the Dollar. But when you look at the scale, you see that the Yen has lost 22% against the Euro, while it has only given up 13% versus the dollar. From this you might conclude that the logical next step is for the USDYEN to “catch up” to to what has happened with the EURYEN. This thinking takes you in the direction of USDYEN 100. But … the FX markets don’t work like that. If USDYEN moved to 100 while the EURYEN remained “stable” around 122, then the EURUSD rate HAS to fall to 1.22 (-9%).
Sorry, that’s not in the cards.
Depreciation from ¥80 to the dollar to ¥100 means a ‘Great Leap Upward’ in Japanese fuel prices because the country has no native sources of petroleum or other fuels. Japan beggars itself instead of its neighbors: whatever the country hopes to earn by exports is offset by the increased cost of the fuel it must import. At the same time, dollar-fuel prices are increasing because of ‘growth’ propaganda, moral hazard for petroleum ‘investors’ as well as threats of war in petroleum producing regions. With depreciation and higher producer costs the Japanese driver can look forward to paying a deflationary 30% or greater premium for fuel compared to the rest of the world. Certainly, here is conservation by other means!
The foregoing omits systemic risk to Japanese banking and finance which cannot be easily measured. The smallest error can have shattering consequences. For example, the Bank of Japan central bank can be perceived by the marketplace to be making unsecured loans … that is, loans in excess of collateral that it takes on as security. If this is so, the central bank is instantly insolvent … as are other Japanese banks and for the same reason: bad loans and excess leverage! Keep in mind, the only reason why a central bank would think of offering unsecured loans is if the country’s commercial banks are insolvent and unable to lend. The outcome is no effective lender of last resort to guarantee bank liabilities: a run occurs as depositors hustle to remove funds from a defunct system. In this light the recent months’ acquisitions of overseas companies by Japanese businesses is ominous.
There is also the issue whether Middle Eastern suppliers will accept a strongly depreciated yen or if they will demand another form or payment (dollars). The Japanese are playing with fire, looking for an easy, conventional approach that cannot possibly work as intended. Whatever the country attempts there are unintended consequences … which often cannot be discerned until after the attempts are made and it is too late to change course.
What the establishment in Japan fails to understand is the effort to accelerate consumption — either within the country or by trading partners — offers sharply diminished returns. This is because irretrievable capital is consumed instead of rapidly multiplying ‘money’. Because of consumption over the course of decades real capital has become more costly relative to the amounts that can be lent against the consumption process. When returns become negative … the country in question instantly enjoys a Greek-like national bankruptcy.
The bankruptcy is permanent, by the way … the only way for a Greece to become prosperous again is for another country to become more bankrupt than Greece is now.
This net-negative process may indeed be underway in Japan as what it exports must be imported first then subjected to entropy-creating industrial-commercial processes. Every process exacts a thermodynamic levy or ‘tax’, certainly export goods cost Japan more in energy losses than what Japan imports.
A country can make water flow uphill by pushing costs onto unwitting trading partners by way of foreign exchange and leverage against that partner’s account. Japan’s trade surplus — which has subsidized Japan for decades — is nothing more than faulty bookkeeping and overseas loans. Japan has pushed its energy costs onto its customers: the attempt at depreciation is an effort to restart the pushing process.
Meanwhile, all the other consuming countries in the world desire to depreciate their own currencies as well! More of Japan’s customers are broke, they cannot afford to subsidize Japan’s waste any more … or their own.
Certainly, there must be intelligent, perceptive analysts in France, America, China and Japan … however the power of habit and wishful thinking is very strong and the current lesson of Greece being played out on the public stage in real time … is ignored.
While countries beggar their trading partners, many of the same countries are bent on outright theft. War intensifies in the Middle East, in Africa, it stirs off the coast of revolutionary China … every place there is oil or oil consumption that can be ‘exported’ to countries such as the United States. The outcome is increased war premium (Bloomberg):
|Crude Oil (WTI)||USD/bbl.||97.97||+0.48||+0.49%||Mar 13||11:45:10|
|Crude Oil (Brent)||USD/bbl.||116.96||+1.42||+1.23%||Mar 13||11:45:16|
|RBOB Gasoline||USd/gal.||302.58||+2.21||+0.73%||Mar 13||17:15:00|
King cake is a New Orleans tradition served on Fat Tuesday before Mardi Gras. King cake by Sara, who clearly knows how to bake a good one! Any recipe will do as long as it includes sugar. A small plastic doll stuck into the cake after removal from the oven. Note: there are no such things as ‘clashing colors’ in New Orleans …
The survivors of the current state of affairs are those small businesses that do not require credit and can obtain organic returns. As for the others, let them eat king cake.
Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia
Published on Economic Undertow on January 14, 2013
How Hwee Young, EPA-Al Jazeera, what the end of the World looks like: midday pollution in Beijing … the Chinese accept this as an integral component of ‘progress’.
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner
On Sunday, the monitoring center released data showing particulate matter measuring less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM 2.5), had reached more than 600 micrograms per square meter at some monitoring stations in Beijing and was as high as 900 on Saturday. According to the World Health Organisation, the recommended daily level for PM 2.5 is 20, and the high levels in Beijing has been identified as a major cause of asthma and respiratory diseases.Air quality in Beijing showed airborne particles with a diameter small enough to deeply penetrate the lungs at a reading of 456 micrograms per cubic meter, the warning center said.The quality is considered good when the figure stands at less than 100, but a reading shown on the website of the US embassy in the city was above 800.
Beijing only measures up to a maximum value of 500, with the US embassy tweeting that their own readings were “beyond index” (“Crazy bad!”).
Beijing is located within the Chinese rust belt. The districts surrounding the city are filled with coal-burning heavy industries … Citizens are placated by the infinitesimal likelihood that they themselves might become tycoons. To tend the tiny flame of possibility the citizens endure every abuse. A number the Chinese need to keep in mind is 12,000 … Londoners who perished as a result of a similar coal-driven smog event that occurred in the UK from December 4th onward, in 1952 (pdf alert).
No telling how bad Chinese pollution will become as managers frantically aim to increase output and boost precious GDP. As usual, nothing will be done until there are dogs gnawing corpses in the streets …
No telling the effect of more Chinese pollution on the world’s climate … the prospect of more pollution is not something to look forward to. It is likely the Chinese will endure more extreme weather … more GDP … more pollution … more floods and blizzards … more dogs, in a vicious cycle.
The Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice (PHP) and the Committee on Population (CPOP) has issued a lengthy report on the comparative fatality rates for different countries broken down by cause. Wolf Richter has filtered the report so as to bring forth information. From ‘Part One’ of his analysis:
How Americans Stack Up In Dying From Violence, War, Suicide, And Accidents … the first thing I did was check out the category “deaths from intentional injuries” and its three subcategories, “self-inflicted injuries,” “war,” and “violence.” Grisly statistics, all of them.As expected, the US has the most violence among the 17 “peer” countries in the study with 6.5 deaths per 100,000. Almost three times the rate of Finland, the next most violent country in the group with 2.2 deaths per 100,000 people, and over 15 times the rate of Japan with 0.43 deaths per 100,000 people. The third most violent country, Canada (1.6), is practically a bastion of safety for those Americans who make it across the border.The apparently permanent element of US foreign policy, “war,” killed 0.44 Americans per 100,000 in 2008. It killed a lot fewer people in the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and France, and none in the remaining peer countries.
Deaths from self-inflicted injuries are an immense cultural tragedy in Japan—and its literature is replete with it. But the Japanese rate of 19.8 suicides per 100,000 people is not that much worse than that of the Finns (17.7). Americans are in the middle of the pack (10.3). The least suicidal are the Italians (4.5).
Combine the deaths from all intentional injuries—violence, war, and suicide—and the leader of the pack is … drumroll … Japan! With 20.2 deaths per 100,000 it is a hair deadlier than Finland (19.9), somewhat deadlier than the US in third place (17.3), but 3.6 times deadlier than the country of the Mafia, Italy, where people are least likely to die of intentional injuries (5.6).
Humans are violent, machines make violence more efficient while denaturing it at the same time. Denature means altering fundamental characteristics, ordinarily to render unpalatable. Industry denatures violence into an anodyne ‘process’ that runs quietly in the background, outside of control. By this process violence becomes unremarkable, ordinary. Industry and its fetishes alter the style or ‘fashion’ of violence, giving it respectability then promoting its usefulness.
Managers strive to increase efficiencies … to inform company narratives so as to gain- or maintain credit flows … there are unintended consequences. Non-natural death can be considered a form of industrial pollution … Alternatively: accidents, disease, war and other forms of violence are all waste products of the industrial system. Violence-waste is a component of an efficiency-limiting negative feedback loop, a kind of cost. Waste increases along with efficiencies until the system modifies itself or is overwhelmed.
The managers demand others absorb the waste … or ‘adjust themselves’ to it. This is what happened after Chernobyl, is happening post-Fukushima, is happening now in Beijing, what has taken place after millions of car crashes and fatalities … what will happen after Newtown. The costs are agonizing … but not yet high enough to cause the system to modify itself or blow up.
Finance is subject to the same dynamic. Corruption and theft are the waste products of debt-money and finance speculation. The waste is denatured … in order to permit greater efficiencies and ‘finance innovation’. For the system to behave otherwise … to corral corrupt managers and reform the system … is more threatening than breakdown.
In this way, all of our human problems are larger or smaller versions of the same problem. As with fractals, our waste-cost dilemma scales. What this means is contriving strategies to cope with problems at one level would also produce workable strategies at other levels at the same time. This is something to think about when analysts insist that ‘this or that problem cannot be solved’ (except to give bankers more of the citizens’ money). Our problems aren’t irremediable predicaments. Rather, solutions are unpleasant to business tycoons who would be required to sacrifice for others than themselves.
Even if you’re white, insured, educated, or in upper-income groups and live a healthy lifestyle, you’re still getting the short end of the stick … Americans under fifty are paying the price. We don’t know exactly why. Even the panel of experts that authored the massive report, U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health, admits that it can’t entirely pinpoint the reasons. But we do know how Americans under fifty, particularly males, are paying the price: with their lives.The US health disadvantage, as the report calls it, is more prevalent among “socioeconomically disadvantaged groups.” But even if you’re “white, insured, college-educated, or in upper-income groups” and live a healthy lifestyle, you’re less likely to make it to 50 than your counterparts in the other 16 wealthy “peer” countries of the study …The report, based on mortality studies for the years through 2008, carves out three categories, “Deaths from Noncommunicable Diseases,” “Deaths from Communicable, Maternal, Perinatal, Nutritional Conditions,” and “Deaths from Injuries.”
“Deaths from Communicable, Maternal, Perinatal, Nutritional Conditions” is divided into dozens of categories and subcategories, and every country has its own nightmare. In Portugal for example, 7.4 people per 100,000 die of HIV/AIDS, more than double the rate of the country next in line, the US (3.4), and 246 times the rate of Japan (0.03).
“Something fundamental is going wrong,” lamented Dr. Steven Woolf, who chaired the panel. “This is not the product of a particular administration or political party. Something at the core is causing the U.S. to slip behind these other high-income countries. And it’s getting worse.”
The panel tried to nail down the culprits: a health-care system that leaves millions of people uninsured, the highest rate of poverty, education, eating habits, socioeconomic and behavioral differences, cities built for cars not pedestrians…. But it determined that these reasons cannot adequately explain the differences—because even wealthy, educated, insured whites with healthy lifestyles are getting the short end of the stick.
Numbers lie, so do reporting agencies, particularly if the numbers make bureaucrats look bad. Malnutrition will not appear in statistics from Greece, Spain and Portugal. The 1,000,000+ radiation deaths over the next 20 years are not going to show up in Japanese databases … If spent fuel pool in Fukushima Daiichi reactor number four collapses a large part of the country will receive lethal doses of radiation … any deaths that result will not be tallied. Keep in mind there are only 128 million Japanese so there is an upper limit to the body count.
Americans die like rats because we live like rats: the infernal car business has turned what was once a nice country into an ironic, Beelzebub-ish hell hole. To live in the US of A is to camp out in a cardboard McBox under a freeway overpass. To cope, a large segment of the population continually self-medicates: peeps abuse prescription drugs, over-consume alcohol, refine/manufacture street drugs like crack, crank, PCP and meth, import cocaine and heroin. Shifting to pot puts the medicant into prison. All this is ‘Life-enhancing’ … right?
Add to this is ordinary stress … the constant fear-mongering which has become the thump-and-drag of US advertising- and political business, the effects of pollution and radiation, the toxic chemicals in food and water, pharmaceutical misdeeds and medical incompetence … the breakdown of families and supportive communities … isolation and withdrawal into ‘self’ and entertainments. Humans are not adapted to this, modernity is ‘too new’ … there hasn’t been enough time for evolutionary process to work nor is there likely to be.
The Council report does not list ‘death by ignorance and greed’ … the two categories are all-inclusive.Our incredible consumer economy with all its various cogs … drives people insane. We’ve gained a lot of worthless diversions that have big costs that are shoved off onto those least able to bear them. Consumption is layered over with a fetishist obsession with images associated with militarism … not militarism itself. We’re cowards addicted to death porn.
We aren’t in the hands of evil men … we are the evil men and we cum all over ourselves in our ‘righteousness’ and ‘progress’.
The unraveling is underway, the proposed solutions are cosmetic, (Center for American Progress):
Preventing Gun Violence in Our Nation Neera Tanden, Winnie Stachelberg, Arkadi Gerney, and Danielle BaussanAfter last month’s senseless shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut—in which 20 children and 6 adults were shot and killed—we need to immediately address the gaps in our current law that enable mass shootings, as well as the everyday shootings that on average claim the lives of 33 Americans each day.In this issue brief we recommend 13 legislative proposals and executive actions to prevent gun violence in our nation. These actions are targeted in the following three key areas:
– Better background checks
– Taking military-grade weapons off the streets and out of criminals’ hands
– Better data, better coordination, and better enforcement …
It’s most likely that the ‘modernized date (gathering) systems’ … would be used to snoop on Occupy Wall Street- and anti-nuclear activists, persecute organic farmers, harass and infiltrate climate groups … that is what ‘modernize’ means in the 21st century. Controlling firearm violence will be difficult and costly. There are no easy ‘user pays’ solutions. Keep in mind, firearm manufacturing is Big Business. The imperative is to sell products, it is the same for all industries at all levels. Selling firearms is a cycle: the first round of sales justifies successive sales of ‘better quality’ materiel so that the buyers can maintain a (illusory) qualitative advantage. This requires additional rounds of sales. The enterprise is self-perpetuating as long as it can be fed money. For example, sales of military goods are a way to direct funds sent to oil producers back to the United States.
Military sales are another ‘nothing for something’ trade. If the material is not used it is useless in a practical sense. If it is used it is likely damaged or destroyed and must be replaced.
The way to sell firearms is to sell fear first. The way to ‘un-sell’ firearms is to stifle the fear and make firearms unfashionable:
– End the war on drugs and de-fund crime organizations thereby. Prosecute high-level criminals such as Jon Corzine. The issue is lawlessness and the perceived (real) breakdown in the social order. Lawlessness starts at the top. Prominent figures in and out of government and business need to be held to account!
– Treat gun violence as a public health issue. Expand the concept to include all forms of mental illness and suicide prevention. If the current healthcare infrastructure cannot manage the task (it can’t (it is hopelessly corrupt) a parallel provider system needs to be installed …even if it is hated ‘single payer’.
If the government or lobbyists aren’t willing to extend themselves in this way they should simply shut up.
– Increase employment by creating non-industrial jobs … ! A 21st century Civilian Conservation Corps would cost little, employ many and money spent would flow into the economy rather than to banks’ reserve accounts or to offshore tax havens. Employment would reduce poverty and the incentive to commit crimes. Conservation is capital husbandry, an exotic concept that needs to be revisited in a period of runaway insolvency.
– Improve veteran mental health services including in-service care. How the govt treats its veterans is a national disgrace. Lurking in the background are the endless, pointless wars-for-profit. There is a connection between the wars and turmoil across the country: one is the cause of the other.
– Close Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and shift investigative services to FBI. End the ‘terror war’. Paranoia feeds violence, we are consumed by it.
– Crack down on private armies of all kinds: contractors, paramilitaries, ‘patriot’ and other neo-nazi & similar hate groups.
– Hold firearm manufacturers liable for damages.
– Further down the road, with less fear and more confidence steps can be taken such as to nationalize the entire defense industry complex and repeal the 2d Amendment … the same way the US repealed the 18th Amendment. By doing so the baleful consequences of these industries’ influence would be reduced.
Figure 1: How little time in one chart (click on for big), Brent crude amalgamated futures contracts (from TFC Charts). The top line represents the high price of crude oil beyond which the economy contracts. The bottom line represents the price required by the so-called ‘producer’ to bring each barrel of crude oil to the marketplace. This price relentlessly increases because crude oil becomes more difficult to extract with each day … and every 90 million barrels removed then wasted.
By the end of the year the price that triggers deflation will decline to less than $120 per barrel while the price that drillers will need to stay in business will exceed $100 per barrel. The endgame is when the price of crude cannot be met by wasting the fuel or borrowing against the wasting process. We’re almost there …
Off the keyboard of Jason Heppenstall
Published on 22 Billion Energy Slaves on January 8, 2013
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|Houses in Germany with solar roofs. Image from here.|
|A warehouse roof in Germany|
Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia
Published on Economic Undertow on December 15, 2012
Unknown Photographer, Jacob Farrand house on Woodward Avenue between Sloat and Trinity streets in Detroit (1881). Burton Historical Collection @ University of Michigan Library.
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People say California is a good model for the rest of the country, it is “The Place Where The Future Happens First!”
Detroit is a much better model than California: it is the place where the future happened a long time ago. Persons seeking that ‘Mad Max’ dystopia — where law and order is very much a sometimes thing, where the house next door is a burnout and the neighbors down the street are dope-addled zombies — need look no further than the ex-Motor City.
How it got this bad in Detroit has become a point of national discussion. Violent crime settled into the city’s bones decades ago, but recently, as the numbers of police officers have plummeted and police response times have remained distressingly high, citizens have taken to dealing with things themselves. In this city of about 700,000 people, the number of cops has steadily fallen, from about 5,000 a decade ago to fewer than 3,000 today. Detroit homicides — the second-highest per capita in the country last year, according to the FBI — rose by 10 percent in 2011 to 344 people.
…Average police response time for priority calls in the city, according to the latest data available, is 24 minutes. In comparable cities across the country, it is well under 10 minutes.The number of justifiable homicides, in which residents use deadly force in self-defense, jumped from 19 in 2010 to 34 last year — a 79 percent rise — according to newly released city data.
The city with the highest murder rate in the US is New Orleans, another post-future model. More information about world homicide rates can be found in the UN Global Study on Homicide in 2011. Places with highest homicide rates are third-world hell-holes such as Venezuela, Jamaica, Honduras and El Salvador, districts of northern Mexico adjacent to the US border and south-central Africa. These futures are a step or two down the ladder from Detroit into the energy abyss.
A consistent theme in this letter has been the connections between items that may seem to be far removed from each other but are actually linked at the very core. If you push on one end you get a reaction in what would seem to be the most unlikely spots. Today we explore the connection between the fiscal deficit and energy policy. Everyone in Washington is starting to “get religion” about wanting to fix the deficit, with serious thinkers on all sides acknowledging that there must be reform and a path to a balanced budget. Burgeoning healthcare and Social Security costs are rightly pointed to as the problem, and entitlement reform will soon be front and center. But the fiscal (government) deficit in the US cannot go away unless we also deal with the trade deficit. As we will see, it is a simple accounting issue, and one based on 400 years of accepted accounting principles. And dealing with the trade deficit in the US means working with our energy policy.The trade imbalances among the partners in the eurozone are at the heart of the problems there as well. And while we will get back to Europe in a few weeks (remember when we seemed to be focused on Europe and Greece for months on end?), today we will explore the trade problem from a US perspective. Happily, this problem, while serious, does have a workable solution. And it might even happen in spite of government policy, though if a proactive energy policy were developed, it could ignite a true economic renaissance.
Mauldin carries on telling readers how friendly tycoons are going to save us all with huge reservoirs of crude oil:
I have been wanting to explore the implications of the shale oil revolution. Old oil fields are wearing out, as peak oil advocates point out. Where can we find the huge and cheap-to-exploit oil fields to replace them? Hasn’t all the easy oil already been found?
Because language is infinitely malleable, words can mean or imply anything the utterer wishes them to mean. Hasn’t all the easy oil already been found? What is ‘easy oil’? What does ‘easy’ mean: “Easy for me, hard for you?” Mauldin does not use the word affordable, nor does he mention costs. Over the course of five-thousand two hundred words the consumption side of the energy equation is never discussed … this is surprising/misleading because our crisis is the direct product of consumption. Decades of industrialized, highly-efficient guzzling of the cheapest, easiest fuels have bankrupted us! Because of our incredible ‘success’ we must now deploy unorthodox extraction techniques that might indeed be ‘easy’ but are unaffordably costly. Can anyone see anything wrong with that?
If cheap and easy have bankrupted us … what will expensive and difficult do?
Mauldin invests many words on the US trade imbalance, noting:
Not Everyone Can Run a Surplus … we are spending more for energy even as we use less of it, and that drives up our trade deficit. Let’s see why this matters. As long-time readers know, I have often written about how you cannot balance private and government deficits without a positive trade balance. Let me quickly review.It is the desire of every country to somehow grow its way out of the current mess. And indeed that is the time-honored way for a country to heal itself.
No country has ever ‘grown’ itself out of debt or a debt crisis. Debts have been repudiated or restructured. Countries have abused foreign exchange, waged war and conquered or have been destroyed. Governments have bankrupted creditors or sent them to the gibbet. They have stalled for time until able to take on orders-of-magnitude greater debts from new- or the same creditors … thereby refinancing existing obligations.
In a global economy all the creditors have been tapped. There is no new source of credit except Bankers from Mars.
The increase of debt masquerades as growth. The US appears to grow which allows more debt to be taken on to create the appearance of still more growth which in turn enables additional debt. Right now the Establishment lies about growth in order to take on more debt. This scam of ‘growth-to debt-to growth-to debt’ is all there is to industrial prosperity … along with fuel-wasting garbage that breaks down and is thrown out in a few years. Unlike real output of goods and services which is constrained by thermodynamics, debt has no limits as long as the increases can be supported with good ‘progress’ stories.
Frakking and ‘shale oil’ are part of the narrative that serves to generate loans for energy tycoons. ‘Energy Independence’ is the empty abstraction that is offered as the narrative’s objective. Business customers and ordinary citizens are required to repay the debts … and their children and grandchildren.
But let’s look at an equation that shows why that might not be possible this time. We have here another case of people wanting to believe six impossible things before breakfast.
Good grief … the narrative is complete with Mauldin ‘folksy-isms’.
Let’s divide a country’s economy into three sectors: private, government, and exports. If you play with the variables a little bit, you find that you get the following equation. Keep in mind that this is an accounting identity, not a theory. If it is wrong, then five centuries of double-entry bookkeeping must also be wrong. Domestic Private Sector Financial Balance + Governmental Fiscal Balance – the Current Account Balance (or Trade Deficit/Surplus) = 0.
This is correct but not particularly relevant. America’s current account is not a problem. America creates its own dollars as needed, the oil sheiks recycle their imported US dollars back into the US economy. The imbalance that really matters is at home, at the end of Americans’ driveways:
These machines are not farm tractors or delivery vehicles, they are not used for work, they are luxuries, a drug, a form of crack cocaine. What they earn is zero, their cost must be met with debt, the cost of the fuel they consume is also met with debt, so is the cost of the infrastructure that these machines require. If the individual users are unable to obtain the needed credit then the economy as a whole- and the state must obtain it in the individual’s place. Otherwise, the consumption components of the string economy are deprived of funds. This credit starving process is underway, even as the cost of debt has become unmanageable. While frakking costs are extraordinary, the consumption side debts are galactic! Realistically, nobody/nothing can hope to repay them.
The consumption side is a money-loser. Sez Mauldin: “Play with the variables a little bit, you find that you get the following equation. Keep in mind that this is an accounting identity, not a theory. If it is wrong, then five centuries of double-entry bookkeeping must also be wrong:”
The Cost of Fuel + The Cost of Credit Needed to Pay for Both Fuel and Fuel Use/Waste Infrastructure – Returns on the Use of the Fuel = 0
Right now, returns are juiced with credit otherwise the process would have failed a long time ago. The means to set a price is also the means to meet that price. If a price is bid by access to credit, the consumers must have access to the same credit to meet that price. In model cities such as Detroit where the consumption side started losing purchasing power in 1929 the consequences of rationed credit are obvious: welcome to the death spiral, where costs race ability to meet them into the basement!
The banality of future world: the Woodward Avenue location in 2009. The towers at the rear of the photo are abandoned as are other structures in the area.
The best way to look at the peak oil dilemma is to ignore physical production — which has little to do with anything — and to consider the City of Detroit as the model customer for all of John Mauldin’s newly frakked crude oil. The shattered city filled desperately impoverished people is somehow supposed to afford more costly fuel when it can barely afford what it has now.
Energy products can be obtained but only if someone’s grandmother is gunned down inside her house by a gang of dope-crazed teenaged hoodlums. The reason for the hoodlums has been the success of industries in pauperizing the city. Either consumers must become richer or costs of fuel-plus-credit must decline. Since the trend — as seen in the model city — is for consumers to become impoverished the outcome is for costs to be unmet and the production/credit side to be de-funded …
When customers cannot afford fuel it remains in the ground. Right now, Detroit — that model for America’s future in today’s present — cannot afford cops. It cannot afford firefighters, it cannot afford basic services. It has been bankrupted by the short-term success of its own consumption tycoons … hard to see how it can pay for high cost petroleum!
“We got to have a little Old West up here in Detroit. That’s what it’s gonna take,” Detroit resident Julia Brown told The Daily. The last time Brown, 73, called the Detroit police, they didn’t show up until the next day. So she applied for a permit to carry a handgun and says she’s prepared to use it against the young thugs who have taken over her neighborhood, burglarizing entire blocks, opening fire at will and terrorizing the elderly with impunity.“I don’t intend to be one of their victims,” said Brown, who has lived in Detroit since the late 1950s. “I’m planning on taking one out.”
The Detroit model of house-bursting brigands is scalable: for the country to afford energy products Congress must rob grandmothers in their own houses by absconding with their retirements.
Fuel Costs + Credit Costs – Returns on Fuel Use = 0.
The implications of this little formula are profound. As with current accounts, the sum of costs and real ability to pay are always zero. As returns on fuel use are negligible, fuel and credit costs must decline … and they are. Underway right now is the desperate, last stand pillaging of what remains of the world’s wealth to obtain fuel and credit, every bit wealth is up for grabs. The real cost of fuel and credit must fall to what the fuel and credit users can afford. Looking at Detroit, the affordable amount is very small indeed.
The question is whether there will be any fuel available and the affordable price? Time will tell.
The Dynamics of a Dysfunctional Relationship.
Much has been written about personal relationships that are destructive. Because such relationships often revolve around family life, with relatively few individuals involved, the dynamics at play are fairly obvious once one looks at such interactions objectively.
Currently the majority of families in western society are patriarchal in nature. When such patriarchal families become destructive it is often the patriarch that becomes the abuser. There are a number of known solutions to surviving and growing out of such destructive relationships.
Each and every human being is a member of the human race (family). Because the number of individuals involved in the ‘human’ family is in the billions the dynamics of interaction at work are far more difficult to comprehend. It is obvious because of the quality of life of many humans that the overall human family is also dysfunctional in nature.
I suggest that although the numbers involved in the human race are much larger than in individual human families, the dynamics that define the relationships between individuals are identical in both instances, except for in scope.
Abuses heaped on single individuals within families are identical to those heaped on whole races, societies, nations, regions, and groups within the human race.
If the dynamics are identical at both both scopes, individual family and human race, are the solutions also identical, except for in scope? I believe so.
With this hope I will explore the nature of the known problems and solutions applying to individual dysfunctional families and then extrapolate these ideas and apply them to the human race as a whole. Perhaps this exercise will shed some light on how we as races, societies, nations, regions, groups, and individuals can protect our selves within the dynamics that motivate the human race.
A dysfunctional family is a family in which conflict, misbehavior, and often child neglect or abuse on the part of individual parents occur continually and regularly, leading other members to accommodate such actions. Children sometimes grow up in such families with the understanding that such an arrangement is normal. Dysfunctional families are primarily a result of co-dependent adults, and may also be affected by addictions, such as substance abuse (alcohol, drugs, etc.), or sometimes an untreated mental illness. Dysfunctional parents may emulate or are sometimes over-correcting from their own dysfunctional parents. In some cases, a “child-like” parent will allow the dominant parent to abuse their children.
Dysfunctional family members have common features and behavior patterns as a result of their experiences within the family structure. This tends to reinforce the dysfunctional behavior, either through enabling or perpetuation. The family unit can be affected by a variety of factors.
These features occur in most dysfunctional families:
Lack of empathy, understanding, and sensitivity towards certain family members, while expressing extreme empathy towards one or more members (or even pets) who have real or perceived “special needs”. In other words, one family member continuously receives far more than he or she deserves, while another is marginalized.
Denial (refusal to acknowledge abusive behavior, possibly believing that the situation is normal or even beneficial; also known as the “elephant in the room.”)
Inadequate or missing boundaries for self (e.g., tolerating inappropriate treatment from others, failing to express what is acceptable and unacceptable treatment, tolerance of physical, emotional or sexual abuse.)
Disrespect of others’ boundaries (e.g. physical contact that other person dislikes; breaking important promises without just cause; purposefully violating a boundary another person has expressed)
Extremes in conflict (either too much fighting or insufficient peaceful arguing between family members)
Unequal or unfair treatment of one or more family members due to their birth order, gender, age, family role (mother, etc.), abilities, race, caste, etc. (may include frequent appeasement of one member at the expense of others, or an uneven enforcement of rules)
Tongue in Cheek …
Abusive Father Can’t Wait To See The Art He’s Inspiring His Kids To Create
CODY, WY—Describing the years of psychological torment he has inflicted upon his two children James, 14, and Amber, 9, local tax attorney Ted Sheehan told reporters Thursday he couldn’t wait to see what kind of art his abuse would inspire them to create when they grow up.
The 37-year-old father said he could only imagine how his son and daughter’s unstable upbringing might manifest itself in future writings, paintings, or music, given the way he routinely ridicules their achievements, yells at their mother in drunken fits of rage, and threatens the family with physical violence.
“My constant petty bullying alone ought to be worth a couple novels or screenplays—maybe even a solo museum exhibit,” said Sheehan, noting that even when his children do get a break from his verbal abuse, they still suffer from total emotional abandonment. “We’re not talking here about your ordinary, everyday withholding of approval, either. Most of the time, I’m actively undermining and belittling them. Definitely stuff that could be channeled into unique art emblematic of the isolated, tortured nature of human existence.”
“After 18 years of life in that kind of menacing environment, you could easily be looking at the next Jackson Pollock and Sylvia Plath,” he added. (continued…)
An abusive personality is a character flaw often based in insecurity.
Beware Insecure Men
By: Pamela Mooman http://www.life123.com/relationships/communication/understanding-men/beware-insecure-men.shtml
Insecure men can wreak havoc in any relationship; recognizing signs of insecurity and then being strong enough to deal with the situation can save wasted years and many tears in the long run.
Insecurity can manifest itself in many ways, but a couple of personality types are the most common and recognizable.
Openly Insecure Men
This type of personality can drain patience and strength from others, especially a girlfriend or life partner. Here are some traits that openly insecure men may exhibit:
Constantly clamoring for praise and reassurance
An inability to make decisions
Inappropriate social behavior and conversation
Overly polite to the point of annoyance due to fear of offending
Poor posture to the point of actually walking bent over
Occasional violent outbursts that are inappropriate in relation to triggers
Heavy drinking, alcoholism, or drug addiction
This personality type can overwhelm and batter another, causing intense psychic pain and sometimes physical pain, as well. Despite the strong-arm tactics, however, this personality type is often born from an intense sense of insecurity. The narcissism, where the man is focused only on his pleasure and desires, develops to hide that insecurity. Here are some traits that narcissists may exhibit:
Verbally insulting and abusive
Physically and/or sexually abusive
An inability to see or validate another’s point of view
Affections that run hot and cold, depending on the narcissist’s mood and needs
Dealing with Insecure Men
Unfortunately, no one can change and grow unless they desire to themselves. Here are some tactics to try to deal with insecure men:
Talk openly with the man; point out habits that are annoying, troublesome, or painful, and then give him a chance to speak openly about his feelings, if he is willing.
If one-on-one communication is not possible, see if he is willing to try couples counseling.
If he is not, ask him if he will consider individual counseling or therapy.
Sometimes there is nothing to do but walk away from undeniable insecurity or narcissism. Whether it means simply breaking up, or it means a divorce and all of the complications that can bring, be aware that the insecure man must first want to grow for himself and let go of painful habits and old beliefs that no longer serve him.
This is where strength comes in for life partners or those dating insecure men. The trial comes whether the man is willing to help himself in order to save his relationship, or if he is not, then having to make the decision to turn away from his harmful behavior.
A sense of power over others is as addictive as any substance that allows one to escape physical reality. Substance ‘abuse’ is often the result of finding one’s reality unacceptable. Power ‘abuse’ is often the result of finding one’s self unacceptable. The adulation, forced or otherwise, of others reassures the power addict of their own worth. Like other drugs ‘power’ is addictive and constant use requires ever larger doses to attain the same level of high.
Power really does corrupt as scientists claim it’s as addictive as cocaine
By Daily Mail Reporter
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2136547/Power-really-does-corrupt-scientists-claim-addictive-cocaine.html#ixzz2CbtA83c3
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More than a hundred years after noted historian Baron John Acton coined the phrase ‘power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ scientists claim the saying is biologically true.
The feeling of power has been found to have a similar effect on the brain to cocaine by increasing the levels of testosterone and its by-product 3-androstanediol in both men and women.
This in turn leads to raised levels of dopamine, the brain’s reward system called the nucleus accumbens, which can be very addictive.
The Cycle of Addiction
The life cycle of addiction begins with a problem, discomfort or some form of emotional or physical pain a person is experiencing. They find this very difficult to deal with.
We start off with an individual who, like most people in our society, is basically good. This person encounters a problem or discomfort that they do not know how to resolve or cannot confront. This could include problems such as difficulty “fitting in” as a child or teenager, anxiety due to peer pressure or work expectations, identity problems or divorce as an adult. It can also include physical discomfort, such as an injury or chronic pain.
The person experiencing the discomfort has a real problem. He feels his present situation is unendurable, yet sees no good solution to the problem. Everyone has experienced this in life to a greater or lesser degree. The difference between an addict and the non-addict is that the addict chooses drugs or alcohol as a solution to the unwanted problem or discomfort.
This person tries drugs or alcohol. The drugs APPEAR to solve his problem. He feels better. Because he now SEEMS better able to deal with life, the drugs become valuable to him. The person looks on drugs or alcohol as a cure for unwanted feelings. The painkilling effects of drugs or alcohol become a solution to their discomfort.
Inadvertently the drug or alcohol now becomes valuable because it helped them feel better. This release is the main reason a person uses drugs or drinks a second or third time. It is just a matter of time before he becomes fully addicted and loses the ability to control his drug use.
Drug addiction, then, results from excessive or continued use of physiologically habit-forming drugs in an attempt to resolve the underlying symptoms of discomfort or unhappiness.
The Addiction Progresses.
Analogous to an adolescent child in his first love affair, the use of drugs or alcohol becomes obsessive. The addicted person is trapped. Whatever problem he was initially trying to solve by using drugs or alcohol fades from memory. At this point, all he can think about is getting and using drugs. He loses the ability to control his usage and disregards the horrible consequences of his actions.
Alcohol And Drug Tolerance
In addition to the mental stress created by his unethical behavior, the addict’s body has also adapted to the presence of the drugs. He will experience an overwhelming obsession with getting and using his drugs, and will do anything to avoid the pain of withdrawing from them. This is when the newly-created addict begins to experience drug cravings.
He now seeks drugs both for the reward of the “pleasure” they give him, and also to avoid the mental and physical horrors of withdrawal. Ironically, the addict’s ability to get “high” from the alcohol or drug gradually decreases as his body adapts to the presence of foreign chemicals. He must take more and more, not just to get an effect but often just to function at all.
At this point, the addict is stuck in a vicious dwindling spiral. The drugs he abuses have changed him both physically and mentally. He has crossed an invisible and intangible line. He is now a drug addict or alcoholic.
How to assess an abusive relationship.
Are you attracted to abusive men? Here are the top 10 signs of an abusive man.
Abusive men are often survivors of abuse themselves. Signs of an abusive man can range from emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse. Frequently an emotionally abusive man is also a verbally abusive man or a combination of all abuse types. A sign of an abusive man can usually be found after a few dates if you pay attention, ask a lot of questions and do some investigating into his past.
Abusive relationships are characterized by control games, violence, jealousy and withholding sex and emotional contact. An emotionally abusive man is harder to pin-point and a skilled, abusive man can easily make you think you aren’t good enough or that everything is your fault. It is just as difficult to recover from emotional abuse as it is from physical abuse. Emotional abuse causes low self-esteem and depression. An abusive man may tell you he loves you or that he will change, so you won’t leave. However, the more times you take him back, the more control he will gain. Empty promises become the norm. Make sure you pay attention to his actions and not merely his words. As the old saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.”
Abusive relationships are never abusive in the beginning. If they were, women would dump the abusive men immediately in search of a good man.According to the American Psychological Association Force on Violence and Family, over 4 million American women experience a serious assault by a partner each year! Who can forget when heavy-weight champ Mike Tyson was convicted of raping Desiree Washington and sentenced to six years in prison. Tyson served three years before being released on parole. Thereafter, he married Robin Givens but they divorced on Valentine’s Day only a year later because Givens claimed Tyson abused her. Abusive behavior touches all ranges of society.
We have broken down the top 10 signs of an abusive man. If your partner exhibits one or more of these signs, it may be time to reevaluate your relationship and seek help or get out.
1. Jealousy & Possessiveness
– Becomes jealous over your family, friends, co-workers. Tries to isolate you. Views his woman and children as his property instead of as unique individuals. Accuses you of cheating or flirting with other men without cause. Always asks where you’ve been and with whom in an accusatory manner.
– He is overly demanding of your time and must be the center of your attention. He controls finances, the car, and the activities you partake in. Becomes angry if woman begins showing signs of independence or strength.
3. Superiority – He is always right, has to win or be in charge. He always justifies his actions so he can be “right” by blaming you or others. A verbally abusive man will talk down to you or call you names in order to make himself feel better. The goal of an abusive man is to make you feel weak so they can feel powerful. Abusers are frequently insecure and this power makes them feel better about themselves.
– Tells you you’re crazy or stupid so the blame is turned on you. Tries to make you think that it’s your fault he is abusive. Says he can’t help being abusive so you feel sorry for him and you keep trying to “help” him. Tells others you are unstable.
5. Mood Swings – His mood switches from aggressive and abusive to apologetic and loving after the abuse has occurred.
6. Actions don’t match words
– He breaks promises, says he loves you and then abuses you.
7. Punishes you
– An emotionally abusive man may withhold sex, emotional intimacy, or plays the “silent game” as punishment when he doesn’t get his way. He verbally abuses you by frequently criticizing you.
8. Unwilling to seek help – An abusive man doesn’t think there is anything wrong with him so why should he seek help? Does not acknowledge his faults or blames it on his childhood or outside circumstances.
9. Disrespects women
– Shows no respect towards his mother, sisters, or any women in his life. Thinks women are stupid and worthless.
10. Has a history of abusing women and/or animals or was abused himself
– Batterers repeat their patterns and seek out women who are submissive and can be controlled. Abusive behavior can be a generational dysfunction and abused men have a great chance of becoming abusers. Men who abuse animals are much more likely to abuse women also.
If you continue to stay in an abusive relationship because you think he will change and start treating you well, think again. An abusive man does not change without long-term therapy. Group counseling sessions are particularly helpful in helping abusive men recognize their abusive patterns.
Type A personality types seem to be more prone to abusive behavior due to their aggressive nature. Drugs and alcohol can create or further escalate an abusive relationship. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are excellent programs for an addict. The abuser’s partner should also seek help for their codependent behavior at Codependents Anonymous. If the abusive man is not willing to seek help, then you must take action by protecting yourself and any children involved by leaving. By staying in an abusive relationship you are condoning it. If you are scared you won’t be able to survive because of finances, pick up the phone book and start calling shelters. Try calling family, friends and associates and ask them if they can help or know of ways to help.
Once you leave, the abuser may cry and beg for forgiveness but don’t go back until you have spoken to his counselor and he has completed long-term therapy successfully. Be prepared for the abuse to increase after you leave because the abuser has lost control. The Bureau of Justice Statistics states that on the average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day so please be careful. If you partner is not willing to seek help for his abusive behavior, your only option is to leave.
Abuse Expert, Stephany Alexander, B.A., Author, Women’s Speaker
Credentials: Stephany Alexander is the founder of www.WomanSavers.com, one of the most popular women’s sites on the net (top 5%) receiving millions of hits per month.
The overwhelming consensus of those knowledgeable about abusive relationships is that the only option to stop the abuse within such relationships is to leave them. There is minimal chance that an abusive partner will change. Here’s some thoughts to help assess the possibility of change allowing you to stay in such a relationship.
Help for abused and battered women: Making the decision to leave
As you face the decision to either end the abusive relationship or try to save it, keep the following things in mind:
If you’re hoping your abusive partner will change… The abuse will probably happen again. Abusers have deep emotional and psychological problems. While change is not impossible, it isn’t quick or easy. And change can only happen once your abuser takes full responsibility for his behavior, seeks professional treatment, and stops blaming you, his unhappy childhood, stress, work, his drinking, or his temper.
If you believe you can help your abuser… It’s only natural that you want to help your partner. You may think you’re the only one who understands him or that it’s your responsibility to fix his problems. But the truth is that by staying and accepting repeated abuse, you’re reinforcing and enabling the abusive behavior. Instead of helping your abuser, you’re perpetuating the problem.
If your partner has promised to stop the abuse… When facing consequences, abusers often plead for another chance, beg for forgiveness, and promise to change. They may even mean what they say in the moment, but their true goal is to stay in control and keep you from leaving. But most of the time, they quickly return to their abusive behavior once they’ve been forgiven and they’re no longer worried that you’ll leave.
If your partner is in counseling or a program for batterers… Even if your partner is in counseling, there is no guarantee that he’ll change. Many abusers who go through counseling continue to be violent, abusive, and controlling. If your partner has stopped minimizing the problem or making excuses, that’s a good sign. But you still need to make your decision based on who he is now, not the man you hope he will become.
If you’re worried about what will happen if you leave… You may be afraid of what your abusive partner will do, where you’ll go, or how you’ll support yourself or your children. But don’t let fear of the unknown keep you in a dangerous, unhealthy situation.
Signs that your abuser is NOT changing:
* He minimizes the abuse or denies how serious it really was.
* He continues to blame others for his behavior.
* He claims that you’re the one who is abusive.
* He pressures you to go to couple’s counseling.
* He tells you that you owe him another chance.
* You have to push him to stay in treatment.
* He says that he can’t change unless you stay with him and support him.
* He tries to get sympathy from you, your children, or your family and friends.
* He expects something from you in exchange for getting help.
* He pressures you to make decisions about the relationship.
APPLYING THE ABOVE IDEAS TO THE LARGER FOCUS OF THE HUMAN RACE
Our leaders, be they social, political, commercial, or hidden behind the curtain, are the equivalent of the powerful partner in our common societal relationship. We the masses are the preyed upon partner. Using the analysis above, are there signs the leadership class is mostly abusive in nature? My answer to this question is, “yes, overwhelmingly so”.
How can this be? These people seem so sure of themselves and live lives of luxury and freedom(?) beyond our dreams. Why would they be abusive towards others?
With the access to information that the internet made possible it has become obvious a very small group of families in the leadership class have over many generations managed to consolidate the vast majority of worldly power and wealth to themselves. They have managed to do this by forcibly indoctrinating their young to carry on their legacy. If the founders of this legacy where abusive to their kin then their abusive traits would be forwarded through each subsequent generation.
Imagine the pressure on you from your parents and peers if you were the heir to a legacy created by those obsessed with wealth and power. The societal pressures we the masses feel are nothing compared to the pressures the children of the elite of our society feel. They may have untold wealth and luxury but they live in a meat grinder where they do as they are told or are destroyed.
Personally there isn’t enough money in the world for me to desire to be in their shoes.
With the multi-generational abuse they have been subjected to and the undeniable power and wealth they have collected, the chances of the leadership class changing their own ways are remote if not nil.
The vast majority of humans are still in denial that they are in an abusive relationship with their leaders.
The truth movement on the internet has gotten to the point of realizing they are being abused by their leaders.
The truth movement is still mostly in denial that the only viable option to surviving such a relationship is to leave it.
The truth movement is kidding itself that change within the relationship is possible.
Part of the truth movement is convinced it can overpower the abusive partner. This might be possible but what does meeting violence with violence (whether verbal or physical) accomplish? Do you then only become the dominant partner in an abusive relationship? Is that any better than being the victim?
Escaping this relationship.
The societal infrastructure and economy we live within is the home we cohabit with our abusive partner which they control. As long as we remain within it we remain under their thumb. As long as we cooperate with them in maintaining this home we enable our continued abuse.
For most of us stepping outside this home appears to be an insurmountable problem and our abusive partner keeps reinforcing that idea at every opportunity.
The hard truth is that regardless of how difficult this step is, it is the only direction to survival without abuse. The situation is do or die regardless of the cost involved. We either continue to put up with abuse or we do what is necessary to remove ourselves from the abusive situation.
There is a lengthy bit of documentation, which there is not room to include here, that demonstrates clearly that abuse based on addiction continuously escalates and becomes more destructive in nature. It takes more and more of a substance to reach the same high because our body builds a tolerance to an often used substance.
The abuse we are currently seeing from our leaders is the result of their addiction to power and is not set in scope. It will continue to escalate and become worse over time. Most uncontrolled addicts continuously escalate their addiction until it finally kills them. They will generally take those that enabled them down with them.
Escaping ‘their’ house is not just a physical process, it is also spiritual in nature (combined and balanced emotional and logical realization).
After we accept that we are in an unsolvable abusive relationship the next step is to prepare to step out of it.
After we are prepared we make the step of leaving keeping in mind the information from above.
Once you leave, the abuser may cry and beg for forgiveness but don’t go back until you have spoken to his counselor and he has completed long-term therapy successfully. Be prepared for the abuse to increase after you leave because the abuser has lost control. The Bureau of Justice Statistics states that on the average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day so please be careful. If you partner is not willing to seek help for his abusive behavior, your only option is to leave.
Speaking from personal experience…. The problem of finding an alternative lifestyle appears more formidable than it actually is. With determination and perseverance it is still possible to find happiness and survivability outside of the abuser’s house. Looking back after a period you will shake your head in wonder at how limited the reality you used to live in was.
A really important point to consider – Our common human house is much more complex than the average family. You are not the only abused person in the greater relationship. There are billions being abused just like you are. The abuser is dependent on the combined efforts of all those they abuse to keep them in their position of power. As abused individuals we can do little to help each other and escaping our self will not greatly inconvenience the abuser. However until we help ourselves we cannot help others and each and everyone of us that says enough is enough and steps out of abuse is another chink in the armor of the abuser. Eventually as more people escape abuse it will become easier for them to effectively help those still caught in the clutches of abuse.
Forgiveness – is often mentioned as an essential component of becoming well once again after surviving abuse. A great thought I came across today on the internet. “You are not forgiving their actions, you are forgiving their debt.” This allows you to move on in your life without being held back by your past experiences.
Off the keyboard of RE
Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner
Living inside the FSofA, or in fact inside any of the other major Industrialized Nations, you get a really skewed view of the World as it is, and what might be possible moving forward into the Future. In my last Feature article Doomer Science Fiction Late Night Double Feature Picture Show, I discussed a few of the common Futurist categories you run into as you surf around the Doom-o-Sphere.
Although Pundits with more Doomy Outlooks are becoming ever more common all the time, in general MOST people who don’t follow the progress of Industrial Civilization Collapse don’t know it is collapsing at all. Most people who live in 1st World countries fully expect Industrialized lifestyles to continue onward, and all we really are suffering through here is an Economic Glitch which could be resolved with Better Politicians and Better Economic Policies. Different viewpoints exist on what those Better Politicians would do and which Economic Policies are actually BETTER, but few people who do not follow the Doom-o-Sphere consider the problems we have to be systemic and insoluble.
Similarly and perhaps to an even greater extent, 3rd Worlders don’t grasp yet that the life of Happy Motoring that existed for the 1st Worlders is not going to come to their locale anymore, and they still aspire to and covet the “Progress” achieved in the Industrialized nations.
This cognitive dissonance really hit home to me reading an article on India Newzhound Joe posted up on Joe’s Newz Channel inside the Diner. As most of you are aware I think, India recently had the largest Mass Blackouts of an Electrical Grid anywhere on the Planet since Industrialization began, with well over 300M people affected by the Blackouts. The Indian Grid is slip shod to begin with here, and even what they currently have is none too reliable, but still it is coveted out in the hinterlands as something people NEED to improve their lives and have better Opportunities in the world.
Fact is, at least 1/3rd of all Indian households still have ZERO electricity, and another 1/3rd that have some probably get it “illegally” by Pirating it off feeder power lines in varous Slums and Shanty towns surrounding the Big Shities of India. If you walk on foot just a few miles outside of Dharmsala up into the Mountains, you leave the Tarmac and the Power Grid behind, and “travel back in time” to the Pre-Industrial world where many Indians still live:
Early last summer I went trekking in the Himalayas high above Dharamsala. I had just finished a book and wanted to get away from the heat of the plains and clear my head in the clean air and crystal silence of the mountains.
Within a day, I had walked beyond the last metalled road. Along with the tarmac, I left both the telephones and the electricity grid far behind me. Soon I was heading into an apparently premodern world: up in the hill villages, the harvest was being cut by hand with sickles and bound in sheaves, stacked one by one into stooks. Oxen ploughed the narrow terraces with wooden ploughs. In the villages, stone houses with wooden fretwork balconies like those in Mughal miniatures tumbled down steep mountainsides, slate roofs alternating with roof terraces where the women were drying apricots and stacking kindling for the winter. You could almost taste the woody resin-scent of the deodars and the warm peach-brandy aroma of the drying fruit. One of the goatherds who wandered past our camp the second evening said he was on his way to consult the local oracle, a shaman who channelled a Pahari deity and was celebrated for the accuracy of his prophecies. It was trekking as time travel: I seemed to have walked up into a Jack-and-the-Beanstalk world about as far as I could imagine from the noise and pollution of New Delhi.
It was therefore something of a surprise the following morning to be woken by the sound of passing schoolchildren. Looking out of the tent, I saw a party of 20 immaculately dressed children with beautifully laundered uniforms – white trousers and white shirts for the boys and white salvars for the girls – heading down the hill on their way to the new private school that had, they said, just opened up in the valley below. Not one of their parents had had any education and the older generation in the village was entirely illiterate, but this school would teach them until fifth grade. After their 13th birthdays, they said, they hoped to continue their schooling up to the age of 18 in the senior schools of Dharamsala.
Here these people are, living a pre-Industrial lifestyle many Doomers would consider Idyllic with Local Food Production, Oxen ploughs farming the land and all, but these people who live that way now ASPIRE to the “better life” for their children and dress them up in well Laundered School Uniforms to get the Education they never got so they can, in theory of course, become a Succesful Participant in the Industrial Paradigm as an Engineer or Scientist, whatever.
These people are likely COMPLETELY unaware that most well educated Indian Doctors seek to GTFO of India where they make about what a Mickey D’s Burger Flipper makes in the Land of Good & Plenty here, many Ph.D. scientists have LESS chance of getting a Job in their field of expertiese as Ruskie Ph.D.s do, which is lower still than Chinees Ph.D.s and lower still than FSofA Ph.D.s.
The really sad thing about this article though is that the Writer, Wiliam Dalrymple does not grasp the problem either. From his POV, the Indian State has Failed to Provide the BASIC SERVICES these poor folks NEED .
None of the basic services that the villagers needed – roads, sanitation, education, health, electricity or telephones – had been provided by the state, yet the villagers had found a way around most of their problems. Despite the government inaction, they were determined to educate their kids and inch forward. They were not going to allow themselves to be left behind.
Note all the assumptions made in this paragraph. First that these Villagers NEED these Basic Services, and beyond that they are even “Basic” at all! Paved Roads are “Basic”? Only Carz need Paved Roads, and these folks can’t afford Carz anyhow. Even more pathetic though is the idea that getting any of this allows them to “Inch Forward”. The only way they Inch forward into this is by taking on DEBT, and eventually they would find themselves in exactly the same place the Greeks are in right now, unable to pay the debt with a lot of Industrial Infrastructure they can no longer support. Once the Ubermeisters cut off your access to Debt Money to keep on building out the system, it collapses on itself. They only issue the debt for so long as they can use it to suck you dry of everything you actually DO own, the resources of your particular patch of land. Once you hand over the Deed to the Property to them, you perpetually pay Rent to live on your OWN land!
Like just about everyone, your typical pre-Industrial agrarian pushing a plow or wading through Rice Paddies aspires to a “better” life than that. If you haven’t been immersed inside the corrupt and nasty world Industrialization has created, from the OUTSIDE LOOKING IN, it seems just GREAT!
Russell 1913 Tractor
Picture yourself a dirt poor farmer out there on the Great Plains in say 1913 or so when the Federal Reserve Bank Act was pushed through CONgress on Christmas Eve, yourself pushing a plow behind your Oxen when the first Russell Tractor shows up on display in town. To be followed directly thereafter by a Demonstration of its abilities by the Russell Salesman. He Challenges you to a Plowing Race on your fields, and CRUSHES your best team of Oxen in no time. Or picture yourself a Lumberjack with an Axe and a Big Blue Ox named Babe, up against the Chainsaw of Black & Decker or WTF was making them back in Paul Bunyan’s time. Big and strong as Paul was, big as his Blue Ox Babe was, they just could not COMPETE with the scrawny Bankster with the CHAINSAW and the RAILROAD. You GOTTA HAVE that equipment! You will be LEFT BEHIND if you don’t get it! SIGN OFF your Farm as Collateral on the Dotted Line now for your LOAN to buy this marvelous technology!
This fact of life as Industrialization revved itself up into High Gear in the early 20th Century is the main reason I have argued so vehemently against Steve from Virginia of Economic Undertow’s “Fashion” hypothesis for why the culture and civilization went down the Industrialization Highway. These weren’t Fashion Choices being made, they were competitive survival choices which became necessary to continue operating successfully as a Farmer or Lumberack or Textile maker or anything else that was mechanized and powered by the thermodynamic energy of fossil fuels.
The Tall Tale of Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox Babe clearly was written as a parable to SELL the Industrial Paradigm to the youngest minds in this Disney Animation of the story, and even though all the Lumberjacks are out there Rooting for Paul to Win the Contest with the Chainsaw and Railroad, in the end Paul & Babe go the way of the Dinosaur and head up to the Last Great Frontier of Alaska. In the end also, the Railroad and the Chainsaw came to Alaska too. I know this to be true, since I LIVE in Alaska.
On the Great Plains of the Midwest as WWI came to a close, all those Factories built to construct the first Tanks and Armored Vehicles were turned to building Tractors, and the Credit flowed out fast and furious to Farmers to buy these magnificent machines. If you didn’t buy one, you couldn’t compete with all the food produced by your neighbor, and as prices dropped on the food being produced you no longer could make a living without one. So you signed the Note with the Bankster selling the Tractor putting your Farm up as Collateral.
Sadly of course, as time went by through the Roaring Twenties and every Farmer got a Tractor, the price you could get for your produce continued to drop, until you no longer could afford to pay the loan on your Tractor. In comes the Repo Man from the Bank to Foreclose on your Farm, and now you are a dispossessed Okie on the road to to the Grapes of Wrath in California.
The folks who loaned you the money to buy the Tractor never had the money at all, it was conjured into existence the minute you signed for the loan. As a poor Okie with just your Farm as collateral, you could not get endless loans to rollover your debt, but the Banksters could and so they consolidated all these Farms into the the large scale Industrial Farms we have today, complete with Goobermint Subsidies to run them and push everyone else outta biz.
This scenario repeated itself over and over again in every Industry known to man, beginning first with the Mining industry itself which quickly turned Mining into one of the worst and lowest paid jobs a person could do; then to Weaving and Clothing manufacture which the Luddites tried to fight; then to Farming and so forth and so on down the line.
As long as the Cheap Oil came a-bubblin out of the ground and the SAME people who controlled the creation of Credit/Money also “owned” or really STOLE the rights to this Oil, they were completely in control and in the Catbird Seat as far as choosing the Direction of the Civilization is concerned. Regardless of “Democracy”, J6P never had any choice in this, really no Candidate EVER from any party even the Communists for the most part came out AGAINST PROGRESS and AGAINST GROWTH, at least not here in the Land of Good & Plenty anyhow. Eventually you got your Mao’s and Pol Pot Ag Commie Anti-Industrialists over in Asia, but such a movement never gained any traction inside the FSofA. All groups such as the Amish and your Back to the Land Hippies of the Whole Earth Catalogue era were thoroughly marginalized here, and the stories you got also of Mass Genocide by people like Mao and Pol Pot served to reinforce the idea that moving against the tide of Industrialization was a BAD IDEA and would lead to the Death of Millions.
The historical narrative of Pol Pot as Genocidal Dictator Extraordinaire is a very powerful meme held here in the FSofA as Truth, but recently Israel Shamir revisted the Short “Reign of Terror” of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, and returned a quite different perspective on this period in Cambodia under his rule:
Now, in the monsoon season, Cambodia is verdant, cool and relaxed. The rice paddies on the low hill slopes are flooded, forests that hide old temples are almost impassable, rough seas deter swimmers. It’s a pleasant time to re-visit this modest country: Cambodia is not crowded, and Cambodians are not greedy, but rather peaceful and relaxed. They fish for shrimp, calamari and sea brim. They grow rice, unspoiled by herbicides, manually planted, cultivated and gathered. They produce enough for themselves and for export, too — definitely no paradise, but the country soldiers on.
Socialism is being dismantled fast: Chinese-owned factories keep churning tee-shirts for the European and American market employing tens of thousands of young Cambodian girls earning $80 per month. They are being sacked at the first sign of unionising. Nouveau-riches live in palaces; there are plenty of Lexus cars, and an occasional Rolls-Royce. Huge black and red, hard and precious tree trunks are constantly ferried to the harbour for timber export, destroying forests but enriching traders. There are many new French restaurateurs in the capital; NGO reps earn in one minute the equivalent of a worker’s monthly salary.
Not much remains from the turbulent period when the Cambodians tried to radically change the order of things in the course of their unique traditionalist conservative peasant revolution under communist banner. That was the glorious time of Jean Luc Godard and his La Chinoise, of the Cultural Revolution in China sending party bonzes for re-education to remote farms, of Khmer Rouge marching on the corrupt capital. Socialist movement reached a bifurcation point: whether to advance to more socialism Mao-style, or retreat to less socialism the Moscow way. The Khmer Rouge experiment lasted only three years, from 1975 to 1978.
Surprisingly, Cambodians have no bad memories of that period. This is quite an amazing discovery for an infrequent visitor. I did not come to reconstruct “the truth”, whatever it is, but rather to find out what is the collective memory of the Cambodians, how do they perceive the events of the late 20th century, what narrative has been filtered down by time gone by. The omnipotent narrative-making machinery of the West has embedded in our conscience the image of bloody Khmer Rouge commies cannibalising their own people over the Killing Fields and ruled over by a nightmarish Pol Pot, anybody’s notion of ruthless despot.
A much quoted American professor, RJ Rummel, wrote that “out of a 1970 population of probably near 7,100,000 …almost 3,300,000 men, women, and children were murdered …most of these… were murdered by the communist Khmer Rouge”. Every second person was killed, according to his estimate.
However, Cambodia’s population was not halved but more than doubled since 1970, despite alleged multiple genocides. Apparently, the genocidaires were inept, or their achievements have been greatly exaggerated.
The Pol Pot the Cambodians remember was not a tyrant, but a great patriot and nationalist, a lover of native culture and native way of life. He was brought up in royal palace circles; his aunt was a concubine of the previous king. He studied in Paris, but instead of making money and a career, he returned home, and spent a few years dwelling with forest tribes to learn from the peasants. He felt compassion for the ordinary village people who were ripped off on a daily basis by the city folk, the comprador parasites. He built an army to defend the countryside from these power-wielding robbers. Pol Pot, a monkish man of simple needs, did not seek wealth, fame or power for himself. He had one great ambition: to terminate the failing colonial capitalism in Cambodia, return to village tradition, and from there, to build a new country from scratch.
His vision was very different from the Soviet one. The Soviets built their industry by bleeding the peasantry; Pol Pot wanted to rebuild the village first, and only afterwards build industry to meet the villagers’ needs. He held city dwellers in contempt; they did nothing useful, in his view. Many of them were connected with loan sharks, a distinct feature of post-colonial Cambodia; others assisted the foreign companies in robbing people off their wealth. Being a strong nationalist, Pol Pot was suspicious of the Vietnamese and Chinese minorities. But what he hated most was acquisitiveness, greed, the desire to own things. St Francis and Leo Tolstoy would have understood him.
The Cambodians I spoke to pooh-poohed the dreadful stories of Communist Holocaust as a western invention. They reminded me of what went on: their brief history of troubles began in 1970, when the Americans chased away their legitimate ruler, Prince Sihanouk, and replaced him with their proxy military dictator Lon Nol. Lon Nol’s middle name was Corruption, and his followers stole everything they could, transferred their ill-gotten gains abroad then moved to the US. On top of this came US bombing raids. The peasants ran to the forest guerrillas of Khmer Rouge, which was led by a few Sorbonne graduates, and eventually succeeded in kicking out Lon Nol and his American supporters.
In 1975, Pol Pot took over the country, devastated by a US bombing campaign of Dresden ferocity, and saved it, they say. Indeed, the US planes (do you remember Ride of the Valkyries in the Apocalypse is Now?) dropped more bombs on this poor country than they had on the Nazi Germany, and spread their mines all over the rest of it. If the Cambodians are pressed to name their great destroyer (and they are not keen about burrowing back into the past), it is Professor Henry Kissinger they name, not Comrade Pol Pot.
Pol Pot and his friends inherited a devastated country. The villages had been depopulated; millions of refugees gathered in the capital to escape American bombs and American mines. Destitute and hungry, they had to be fed. But because of the bombing campaign, nobody planted rice in 1974. Pol Pot commanded everybody away from the city and to the rice paddies, to plant rice. This was a harsh, but a necessary step, and in a year Cambodia had plenty of rice, enough to feed all and even to sell some surplus to buy necessary commodities.
New Cambodia (or Kampuchea, as it was called) under Pol Pot and his comrades was a nightmare for the privileged, for the wealthy and for their retainers; but poor people had enough food and were taught to read and write. As for the mass killings, these are just horror stories, averred my Cambodian interlocutors. Surely the victorious peasants shot marauders and spies, but many more died of American-planted mines and during the subsequent Vietnamese takeover, they said.
In order to listen to the other side, I travelled to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, the memorial where the alleged victims were killed and buried. This is a place some 30 km away from Phnom Penh, a neat green park with a small museum, much visited by tourists, the Cambodian Yad va-Shem. A plaque says that the Khmer Rouge guards would bring some 20 to thirty detainees twice or thrice a month, and kill many of them. For three years, it would amount less than two thousand dead, but another plaque said indeed that they dug up about eight thousand bodies. However, another plaque said there was over a million killed. Noam Chomsky assessed that the death toll in Cambodia may have been inflated “by a factor of a thousand.”
There are no photos of the killings; instead, the humble museum holds a couple of naïve paintings showing a big, strong man killing a small, weak one, in a rather traditional style. Other plaques read: “Here the murderous tools were kept, but nothing remains now” and similar inscriptions. To me, this recalled other CIA-sponsored stories of Red atrocities, be it Stalin’s Terror or the Ukrainian Holodomor. The people now in charge of the US, Europe and Russia want to present every alternative to their rule as inept or bloody or both. They especially hate incorruptible leaders, be it Robespierre or Lenin, Stalin or Mao – and Pol Pot. They prefer leaders keen on graft, and eventually install them. The Americans have an additional good reason: Pol Pot killings serve to hide their own atrocities, the millions of Indochinese they napalmed and strafed.
Cambodians do say that many more people were killed by the invading Vietnamese in 1978; while the Vietnamese prefer to shift the guilt to the Khmer Rouge. But the present government does not encourage this or any other digging into the past, and for good reason: practically all important officials above a certain age were members of the Khmer Rouge, and often leading members. Beside, almost all of them collaborated with the Vietnamese. The present PM, Hun Sen, was a Khmer Rouge commander, and later supported the Vietnamese occupation. When the Vietnamese went home, he remained in power.
Prince Sihanouk, who was exiled by the Americans, also supported the Khmer Rouge. He returned home to his neat royal palace and to its adjacent silver temple with Emerald Buddha after departure of the Vietnamese. Unbelievably, he is still alive, though he transferred the crown to his son, a monk who had to leave monastery and assume the throne. So the royal family is not keen on digging up the past, either. Nobody wants to discuss it openly; the official story of Khmer Rouge alleged atrocities is entrenched in Western conscience, though attempts to try the perpetrators bore scant results.
Looking back, it appears that the Khmer Rouge of Pol Pot failed in their foreign policy rather than in their internal one. It is fine that they canceled money, dynamited banks and sent bankers to plant rice. It is fine that they dried up the great blood-sucking leech, the big-city compradors and money-lenders. Their failure was that they did not calculate their position vis-à-vis Vietnam, and tried to push beyond their own weight. Vietnam was very powerful – it had just defeated the US – and would brook no nonsense from their junior brothers in Phnom Penh. The Vietnamese planned to create an Indochinese Federation including Laos and Cambodia under their own leadership. They invaded and overthrew the stubborn Khmer Rouge who were too keen on their independence. They also supported the black legend of genocide to justify their own bloody intervention.
We talk too much about evils committed under futurist regimes, and too little about the evils of the greedy rulers. It is not often we remember Bengal famine, Hiroshima holocaust, Vietnam tragedy, or even Sabra and Shatila. Introduction of capitalism in Russia killed more people than introduction of socialism, but who knows that?
Now we may cautiously reassess the brave attempts to reach for socialism in various countries. They were done under harsh, adverse conditions, under threat of intervention, facing hostile propaganda. But let us remember: if socialism failed, so did capitalism. If communism was accompanied by loss of life, so was and is capitalism. But with capitalism, we have no future worth living, while socialism still offers hope to us and our children.
It is at this point about impossible to separate the Truth from Fiction and Propaganda with respect to Mao and Pol Pot. No doubt many died under their Diktats, but how many it really was and exactly how all this death was meted out is pretty hard to determine now. You also of course get no real Numbers on exactly how many Deaths Industrialization has been responsible for either. However, when you look at what is going on in MENA right NOW, and make a few fairly secure projections about the future, you can be pretty sure that Industrialization is going to lead to the Deaths of ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE more people than Mao and Pol Pot put together. I mean really, Fuk-U-Shima BY ITSELF is likely to kill more people than both of those guys, given its location right next to Tokyo. The responsible Genocidal Maniacs are nice Family Men Apparatchiks of the Industrial Corporate State, Faceless and Nameless Salarymen for the most part, but in their Greed and Stupidity they condemn more people to DEATH than Mao or Pol Pot ever did.
To return to where I began in this article with the pre-Industrial Indian peasants looking to “better” the lives of their children by sending them to schools and getting hold of Cell Phones since nobody is wiring them for land line phones in their Huts and Hovels, in one of the GREAT IRONIES of this Civilization Collapse you have this group of people running one way; while over here inside Industrialization Central you have a whole OTHER group of people running in precisely the REVERSE direction. Labelled in my Doomer Science Fiction article under the Amish Fusion Utopians and Transition Townies groups, these are Industrial Lifestyle people now seeking to emulate the kind of Lifestyle impoverished Indians in the Foothills of the Himalayas currently live, but seek to EXIT.
There is a certain tendency if you are aware of what is occurring here to want to run over to India and WAKE UP these farmers and tell them they don’t NEED electricity and Tractors to replace their Oxen, they should be glad they actually still HAVE the Oxen, which will continue to work just fine the next time the Grid collapses in India, which probably won’t be in the very far distant future. Sadly, you are even LESS likely to be able to convince them of this fact of life than you can convince MOST J6Ps here in the FSofA that Happy Motoring is going the way of the Dinosaur.
The end result of this insanity is neither group is going to be happy with the outcome of Civilization Collapse, and both groups are likely to be set against each other at various levels of Warfare, both Civil and International. What most folks who I label as Brave New Worlders don’t seem to grasp or just do not accept as valid is that once the per caita energy falls below Critical Mass and its organizing Monetary System collapses, the kind of One World Order Techno-Fascist State we have now also will collapse, making the Projected Future of Chip Implanted Techno Slaves a highly unlikely outcome overall. Inside the 1st World countries though UNTIL this collapse works its way past the Ringfencing, most certainly you will see ever more loss of Freedom and Gestapo Tactics undetaken to retain control. How long this period lasts is anybody’s guess, but it is hard for me to imagine it can last more than another 20 years or so based on the current depletion rates of high EROEI Oil, even assuming high levels of Demand Destruction. This also igonores the fairly substantial likelihood of full on Global Resource Wars, which may incorporate Thermonuclear Weapons.
Overall as I have projected in many posts and articles since I began Blogging the Collapse in 2007, in aggregate at about all Fractal Levels of our Civilization, what we are immersed in here is a One-to-the-Many breakup which inevitably will result in many smaller Political Units forming up, and how they form up and work to one extent or another is still very much an Open Question just about everywhere. You can be pretty certain SOME kind of structure will step in to replace failing Global Systems in your neighborhood, you just cannot be too sure what it will be or how well it will work. However, the very fact these Units will be smaller and more Local means that as an Individual within a Community, once this fracturing really gets Rolling in your neighborhood, you may have more ability to be an Agent for Change then you do now under the Global Oligarchy.
More likely than a descent into complete Mad Max in all places or Chip-Implanted Brave New World Techno-Slavery is fracturing into smaller Political Units run under varying forms of neo-Feudalism and Warlordism, along with some Tribal and Communal organizations. Rather than a single large scale Ruthless Dictator like an Uncle Joe Stalin or a Pol Pot are many smaller ones. Such personalities are selected for in such a time, because either Actively or Passively, many very difficult choices which end with many deaths end up having to be made. On the positive side though, because the political units are smaller there is a better chance that the Individual can have some effect first on who ends up promoted to such a position of Power, and second on how that Power might be wielded.
In this respect, it is important NOT to “Give Up“, and begin to make the Contacts and at least think about alternative Structures that you might play a significant part in creating inside your comunity. Diner Admin William Hunter Duncan provides a good EXAMPLE to others in his Off the Grid in Minneapolis Blog with the Gardens he grows food for himself. Rather than trying to HIDE that he is doing this to protect himself from Starving Zombies seeking food, he is Cutting the Path and Leading the Way f or others. Hopefully, MORE people will show up at WHDs door and ask him to TEACH them how to do what he does, rather than STEAL from him what he has. As the Chinese Proverb says:
Beyond the Food Production, developing Mutual Protection Schemes for your Community are important. Most people aren’t yet aware of the level of Full Doom we are heading into, but on the other hand I think most people DO know their local communities are becoming less “safe” all the time and require protection schemes the Local Gestapo are not providing, and in fact often working directly against. At this point I think it is becoming more likely you can bring together neighbors for Neighborhood Watch Groups to increase your security.
Finally, if you ARE aware of the level to which this spin down can go, it is still possible to prepare yourself for a Final Bugout. This may not up your survival chances by much or for a very long time, but again, who wants to be the FIRST to go here? If you Value Life, you hang on best as you can, long as you can. If you know what is coming down the pipe here, if you are physically and psychologically PREPARED, you have a far better chance of making it through the Zero Point than those who remain to this day quite CLUELESS about it.
For this reason, I maintain the Doomstead Diner Blog & Forum, and will continue to write on these issues until the Internet Goes Dark. Together, the Diners are stronger than they are Individually and although many of the ideas we discuss have been beaten to death on the 1st generation of Doom Blogs like Peak Oil and LATOC, the message still has not been delivered to many. You can’t Save Everybody, but you CAN…wait for it…
Save As Many As You Can
Off the keyboard of RE
Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner
Although Seccesionary Movements still appear to be a bit far off into the future here in the FSofA, this aspect of the Collapse has already hit over in Eurotrashland, most notably right now in Spain where the Catalans are making a lot of noise about splitting off from the Castillian control of Spain to form their own “new” country. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the UK Telegraph has been covering the talk of Catalonia Secession in quite some detail lately:
It is the latest move in a fast-escalating clash between Catalan nationalists and Spanish nationalists, the latter backed by King Juan Carlos and the Spanish military.
Jose-Manuel Garcia-Margallo, the foreign minister, threw down the gauntlet, calling Catalan secession “illegal and lethal”. He warned that Spain would use its veto to stop the region of Catalonia becoming an EU member “indefinitely”.
The constitutional crisis has eclipsed the parallel drama of a Spanish bail-out request from the European Stability Mechanism. It is no longer clear whether premier Mariano Rajoy can deliver on any austerity deal with Brussels.
Catalan leader Artur Mas held high-stakes talks with Mr Rajoy in Madrid on Thursday, armed with a mandate from the Catalan parliament and with charged emotions left from an unprecedented protest by 1.5m people in Barcelona 10 days ago.
He demanded an independent treasury for the rich Catalan region, with control over its own tax base akin to the model already enjoyed by Basques. The 9m Catalans have an economy the size of Austria’s.
This isn’t the only place in Europe where talk of a breakup of a country into component parts is being discussed though. There is now talk of Secession in Scotland, one of the main constituents of the “United Kingdom”, which includes Great Britain, Wales and Ireland as well as Scotland. From Bill Jamieson on The Scotsman:
Many big questions remain unanswered ahead of the signing of an accord on the referendum, writes Bill Jamieson
What is the objective of independence? As David Cameron and Alex Salmond are set to sign an accord on the referendum at St Andrew’s House next week – a formal signing ceremony that the First Minister wishes to take place in front of the world’s press and television cameras – it may be useful for the SNP annual conference next week to clarify the benefits it believes will flow from a Scottish secession from the Union.
In few other countries has the aspiration for independence been so closely focused on the economic pros and cons of self-government. Many supporters may feel this is second-order detail. But there is a sizeable proportion of Scottish voters who are not yet decided and for whom economic considerations will be critical to their decision.
Argument has already been engaged on projections of North Sea oil revenues, public spending, borrowing and tax. Important as these are now set to become, debate here is in danger of missing a key pillar of the SNP case. This is that independence cannot be judged on the basis of linear statistical projections of income and expenditure alone. For independence will, of itself, help release our entrepreneurial energies: it will bring about a cultural change, releasing our animal spirits. It will, in short, be transformative of our economic performance.
Besides these internal Secessions in the making of course is the big one we all have been hearing about for quite ome time, the breakup of the Eurozone itself, administered out of the European Parliament in Brussels. It reamins unclear who will be the first to leave the EZ, Greece or one of the other PIIGS countries who are failing miserably under the “Euro Straight Jacket” as Nigel Farage refers to it, or the more “successful” Northern European countries like Germany and Finland who are getting a bit tired of Bailing Out their impoverished cousins to the South.
What does seem certain of course is that the European Union is well into Collapse phase now, and is unlikely to survive in current form much more than another year or two, if that.
Preceeding both of these breakups by quite a bit also, we have the collapse of the Soviet Union after the fall of the Berlin Wall into its many component Nation-States like Russia, Ukraine, Belarus etc.
Essentially, this represents a One-to-the-Many fracturing of Goobermint Structures which have been consolidating since Agriculture began around 10,000 years ago. it is an absolute REVERSAL of a trend that has been in place for a very long time, though it accelerated tremendously with the onset of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century.
What does this new trend MEAN for the nature of our societies as we move forward here further into a low energy footprint society?
Going back to my earliest writings on the Peak Oil Forum, one of the first epiphanies I had after witnessing the Collapse of Bear Stearns was that the Banking System which functions as the “Glue” holding this society together was on the road to a One-to-Many fracture. Not only Banks would be affected, but the Nation-States themselves, which really are just Big Banks themselves. At one time they were Bigger Banks than the TBTF Banks currently running Global Economic systems, but in the years since the Industrial Revolution these large Banking Houses have become Supra-National entities, larger than the Nation-States.
Since the collapse appears to progress upward from the smallest and weakest Financial Entities to the Largest ones, it seems likely that the progress here will see collapse of the various Nation-States before the TBTF banks, but they then also will fracture in One-to-the-Many devolution.
Where this really comes into play is in the Future Picture many people hold as true, a Brave New World/1984 picture of One World Goobermint, with a Fascist Boot Stamping on the Face of Humanity FOREVER.
The picture Rod Serling paints in Obsolete is one we are ALREADY immersed in, it is not a projected FUTURE anymore. However, just as we have now Past Peak Oil, in all likelihood we are reaching the Peak of Globalism and the massive and overarching Nation States and Transnational Corporations that have turned the world into a simalcrum (thank you Charles Hugh Smith ) of the Brave New World/1984 paradigm.
The One World Order isn’t becoming MORE likely now, it is rapidly becoming LESS likely as an ultimate outcome here. All evidence points to an ONGOING and ACCELLERATING collapse of the main Conduits used for Global Control, centered around the collapsing Energy Supply used to power these things and the collapsing Monetary System used to organize it all up.
This is not simply borne out by the observation of the system decay, there is plenty of good THEORY as well from the world of Biological and Ecological systems to refer to as well, pioneered mainly by C.S “Buzz” Holling & Lance Gunderson in their work identifying 4 Phases in the Collapse and Reconstruction of Ecosystems.
- a four-phase adaptive cycle. Holling and Gunderson (2002:32) suggest that most, although not all, such systems follow a four-phase cycle of (1) “exploitation” (r); (2) “conservation” (K); (3) “release” (Ω) or “creative destruction,” a term derived from Schumpeter (1943); and (4) “reorganization” (α). The first two stem from standard ecological theory, in which an ecosystem’s r phase is dominated by colonizing species tolerant of environmental variation and the K phase, by species adapted to modulate such variation. However, Holling and Gunderson (2002) say that “ …two additional functions are needed.” The corresponding phases, especially Ω, are typically much briefer: in a forest, Ω might be a fire or insect outbreak that frees nutrients from biomass, whereas the α phase involves soil processes limiting nutrient loss. The adaptive cycle involves changes in three main variables: resilience; potential in the form of accumulated resources in biomass or in physical, human, and social capital; and connectedness, meaning the tightness of coupling among the controlling variables that determine the system’s ability to modulate external variability. In the r phase, potential and connectedness are low but resilience is high; in K, resilience decreases while the other values increase. Eventually, some internal or external event triggers the Ω phase, in which potential crashes; finally, in α, resilience and potential grow, connectedness falls, unpredictability peaks, and new system entrants can establish themselves. Holling and Gunderson (2002) stress that the adaptive cycle is a metaphor that can be used to generate specific hypotheses; exact interpretations of resilience, potential, and connectedness are system dependent.
The beauty of the Holling-Gunderson model of Panarchy is that it applies across the board to just about all ecosystems, from Trees and Forests to Insects to Mammalian life forms. It also has direct applications in Economics as well. Much of the work done on this stuff was done back in the 1970s, but some of it goes back as far as the 1940s.
In a direct parallel to this work, you have the “4th Turning” Generational theory of Strauss & Howe, which identifies 4 major Eras that modern Homo Sapiens passes through on roughly and 80 year cycle. Each of these eras has a direct parallel in the cycles desribed by Holling & Gunderson.
What is fundamentally different between these models is the Timeline issue, the Holling/Gunderson model is a time independent model which can work on many different timescales, where as the Strauss & Howe model is fixated on the 80 year timeline of modern history.
If all you beleive is at work here is the Fourth Turning concepts, then given 10-20 years or so we should work through the collapse phase and begin the rebuilding for another Generation Cycle.
What really seems to be at work though is a much longer cycle for Homo Sapiens, that goes back roughly 10,000 years to the beginnings of Agriculture. We worked through the Exploitation and Conservation phases of this, with one final Blowout Free for All exploitaiton of Fossil fuels to drive Industrialization in the final era of this. We no longer have sufficient resources to exploit for a rebuild phase, and the vast expansion of Human Biomass that it enabled has also depleted the Ag resource base we used to get to the point we could exploit the fossil fuels resources.
As it appears to me, we are not just on the cusp of a Fourth Turning, but a Release Phase in the Holling/Gunderson model that will undermine all the structures built to organize Civilization since the beginnings of Agriculture.
In the near term, the most obvious collapse is coming inside the Monetary System, which developed in tandem with Agriculture. I first became aware of this watching the collapse of Bear Stearns back in 2007, followed rather quickly by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. It was at this time I realized that the Monetary System was undergoing a Cascade Failure event, and that in succession it would take down ever larger Banks and Financial Organizations, including of course Nation-States, which until just recently were the Biggest Banks of all. They have since been superceded in this role by a few Supra-National TBTF Banking institutions however.
So it was not a big jump for me in 2008 to predict that it would lead to the collapse of Nation States and a One-to-Many breakup, which we have been witnessing for a while in MENA, now also apparent in Spain and the United Kingdom. In fact this began quite a bit earlier with the collapse of the Soviet Union, but since the USSR was not in direct linkage to the Capitalist system run through the BIS, it’s collapse did not directly begin the Cascade Failure effect we see in evidence now.
The monetary system we use developed in the Exploitaition phase of growth described by Holling & Gunderson, and through the Conservation phase has only been maintained through numerical legerdermain, which only works for a while. So though the general population and Civilization experienced near constant growth, only briefly plateauing during the Middle Ages, the associated monetary system has suffered repeated failures during this period, in fact on just about precisely the timeline of Strauss & Howe’s 4th Turnings. In fact I made the case to Jim Quinn (a big fan of Strauss & Howe’s theories) while I was blogging with him on the Burning Platform that the 4 Turnings were merely the outcome of the average lifespan of a monetary system with an average interest rate in the 2-3% range. Jim never bought that idea completely, but it was one of the few we didn’t completely go ballistic on each other on. LOL.
As we look at the outcomes already extant here of the progress of the Monetary System collapse, it is clear that it is working its way inward from Peripheral Economies to the Core Economies. Also clear is that some of the TBTF Banks are actually BIGGER than Nation-States now and may last longer than the N-S they are chartered in, though legally it is hard to imagine how that can occur.
If you consider that it has taken about 4 years from the collapse of Bear Stearns to make it to collapsing the Spanish N-S and presenting the real possibility of Catalan Secession, on a linear scale another 4 years before we have similar effects here in the FSofA is reasonable, though it could go a good deal faster than that since Cascades can turn into Avalanches at certain Tipping Points. Such a tipping point in the case of the Monetary System would be the complete collapse of a Major Currency, in this case the Euro. The Dollar is likely to get a BRIEF bounce from a Euro collapse, but the instability that would create would be so vast it is likely the Dollar itself collapses shortly thereafter.
Money as it exists today is an artifact of the Growth phase of Civilization, and cannot function without that growth. When you also consider that Money is the “Glue” that holds this Civilization together, it is difficult to conclude otherwise that when the Monetary system collapse, the Civilization we know goes with it. “Money Makes the World Go-Round” the saying goes, and so when the money STOPS working, the World as We Know It STOPS going round also. TEOTWAWKI.
Making prognostications about how we will proceed in the aftermath of such a collapse are exercises in extreme speculation, since such a collapse has never been recorded in Human History. The Collapse of the Tower of Babel in the Mesopotamian Era and the Collapse of the Roman Empire offer only a glimpse into what might occur here, and of course the outcome of those collapses was none too good either. If you take some passages in Revelation as being representative of how the collapse went down in Babylon, you get none too pretty a picture from that:
King James Version (KJV)
18 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.
2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.
7 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
9 And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,
10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:
12 The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,
13 And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.
14 And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.
15 The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,
16 And saying, Alas, alas that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!
17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,
18 And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!
19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
20 Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
21 And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.
22 And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;
23 And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.
This of course does not bode well for the Gold & Silver Bugs out there, since apparently the PMs held no more value than any of the other Goods being traded in the marketplace of Babylon, along with the Souls of Men.
Despite that though, in the aftermath of this collapse, the type of Ag society it represented did re-emerge and grow again with the expansion of the Roman Empire until its collapse, and then in the aftermath of that re-emerged in a Feudal Society, eventually culminating in Capitalism and Industrialization, courtesy of the discoveries in Science and Mathematics made during the Enlightenment.
In neither the case of Babylon or Rome had the population of Homo Sapiens grown to 7 Billion Human Souls. In neither case had Nuclear Weapons or Nuclear Power Plants with vast quantities of poisonous Spent Fuel ponds been created. In neither case was the Planet experiencing dramatic Climate and Geotectonic shifting altering the very environment we all live under in ways which cannot be absolutely predicted, but which certainly show trend lines that are none to good no matter how you measure them or what you believe the underlying causes to be. All of these factors conspire to make the impending collapse far WORSE than those experienced by Babylon and Rome.
When you observe all these factors in synergy, it becomes quite difficult to offer much HOPE for Humanity, or even for most living organisms above the level of the Tardigrades, and some like Guy McPherson make the case that this is an Extinction Level Event on the order of the Permian Extinction 252 Million Years Ago. This may be so, but even if true will not occur Overnight here.
The questions of how to deal with such a massive upheaval on the Indidvidual level are the questions we seek to deal with here in the Doomstead Diner. If it truly does turn into an ELE, in the end we all will go to the Great Beyond, but who wants to be the FIRST to DIE? if you value Life for yourself and your children, you seek to find a way to SURVIVE the great conflagrations to come. Are there ANY foolproof solutions to this problem? None yet have turned up at the Diner Tables, but some Solutions presented are better than others and becoming aware of issues that Transcend physical survival into the the world of Psychological and Spiritual preparation also serve as endless fodder for the Diners to chew on.
The Doomstead Diner is not an easy place to take a meal, ever, but on these pages you will find a level of Truth you can find nowhere else on the Net. At least no place to my knowledge anyhow. Join us here as we prepare ourselves for the Final Countdown.
Off the Keyboard of Steve from Virginia
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner
Nicole Foss — Stoneleigh — recently published an article about the recent electric blackout in India where hundreds of millions lost power. The article is very comprehensive and well worth the time to read it. As informative as the article are some of the photographs;
A slum is a favela is a shanty-town. Here is a typical slum in India/anywhere in the world (unknown photographer). The canal in the foreground is both sewer and source of drinking/washing water. Life in this slum is brutish, nasty and short. How can it be otherwise?
Slums are a product of modernity just the same as automobiles and jet airplanes. They are economically segregated areas, places where society’s losers are swept. Modernity washes its hands of the slum-dwellers then moves onto other business … the creation of more slum dwellers. Slums are the end product of social Darwinism, the necessary ‘yin’ to business success ‘yang’.
More success = more slums. Failure of the process also = more slums. Modernity asserts that it eliminates poverty. Slums stand as evidence that modernity creates poverty. More modernity = more poverty.
Anywhere from 800 million to 2 billion of the world’s citizens live in shanty-towns, many within/surrounding sprawling modern mega-cities. A few older slums are stable, their inhabitants are transforming these places into functional urban neighborhoods with land title, utility services and permanent structures. Most slums are temporary pop-up collections of plastic trash and worn packaging materials, that only last until the landowner, flood or other disaster wipes them away.
Creating neighborhoods is something humans have done for thousands of years, are generally good at it. Third-world slums are city building on a human scale: they are non-automobile habitats. In this sense they represent both humanity’s past and future.
Slums appear where there are people desperate for housing, where a piece of land can be occupied at little- or no cost. Often these are industrial spoil dumps or city garbage pits, border-area refugee camps, abandoned- or contested development sites. Some slums are a single building or collection of older, obsolete structures.
Ad-hoc landlords divide the space into shack-sized lots or ‘rooms’ that are rented for pennies per day to the poorest of the poor. Because slums are ‘unofficial’ there are generally no services other than the odd street light and perhaps a water tap. One tap may be the only source of clean water for five thousand- or more people. Many slums have no clean water supply at all and require trips by residents to distant wells or periodic visits by (expensive) water trucks. There are scarce- or no toilets or sewers, few rules, no police or government authority, no medical care. There are improvised micro-economies of interrelated small businesses many of which are tinkers’ trades. Like the slum itself, its economy is both anti- and postmodern. Interface with ‘regular’ finance and industry takes place at the margins of the slum.
Because slums are not automobile habitats they can be confused by some with traditional city developments that emerged before the auto-industrial period. The ‘traditional city’ has high density human dwellings and small businesses with all areas accessible on foot. This kind of development are also refined: inhabitants are prosperous, there are excellent services available.
Mallorca street (Nathan Lewis) This is an economically segregated area but cannot be considered a slum. It shares many of the physical characteristics of one: narrow streets, buildings up against the street, the absence of a central ‘plan’ or developer. Narrow streets allow more living space in a given area. At one time this village might have have been a slum, if this is so these beginnings were left behind once original shacks were replaced with permanent structures and the owners given property rights.
Stewart Brand believes slums have something to offer: they are ‘efficient’:
How Slums Can Save The Planet
In 1983, architect Peter Calthorpe gave up on San Francisco, where he had tried and failed to organise neighbourhood communities, and moved to a houseboat in Sausalito, a town on the San Francisco Bay. He ended up on South 40 Dock, where I also live, part of a community of 400 houseboats and a place with the densest housing in California. Without trying, it was an intense, proud community, in which no one locked their doors. Calthorpe looked for the element of design magic that made it work, and concluded it was the dock itself and the density. Everyone who lived in the houseboats on South 40 Dock passed each other on foot daily, trundling to and from the parking lot on shore. All the residents knew each other’s faces and voices and cats. It was a community, Calthorpe decided, because it was walkable.
Building on that insight, Calthorpe became one of the founders of the new urbanism, along with Andrés Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and others. In 1985 he introduced the concept of walkability in “Redefining Cities,” an article in the Whole Earth Review, an American counterculture magazine that focused on technology, community building and the environment. Since then, new urbanism has become the dominant force in city planning, promoting high density, mixed use, walkability, mass transit, eclectic design and regionalism. It drew one of its main ideas from the houseboat community.
How precious: Calthorpe “introduced the concept of walkability in “Redefining Cities.” What did people do before marketing? People have been walking in cities for as long as cities have existed. People live in slums because they cannot afford to live elsewhere, not because they are walkable. Persons with sufficient incomes exit their slums without hesitation. There is no upside to living in squalor, no matter how much the concept is ‘redefined’.
Every year millions are swept out of the countryside by agricultural colonialism and expansion of industrial agriculture. There are insufficient opportunities in rural communities to employ displaced agricultural workers. A lure of the cities is industrial jobs in- and outside of urban sweatshops: labor migrates toward income as it has since the dawn of mankind, it also goes where it must.
There are plenty more ideas to be discovered in the squatter cities of the developing world, the conurbations made up of people who do not legally occupy the land they live on—more commonly known as slums. One billion people live in these cities and, according to the UN, this number will double in the next 25 years. There are thousands of them and their mainly young populations test out new ideas unfettered by law or tradition. Alleyways in squatter cities, for example, are a dense interplay of retail and services—one-chair barbershops and three-seat bars interspersed with the clothes racks and fruit tables. One proposal is to use these as a model for shopping areas. “Allow the informal sector to take over downtown areas after 6pm,” suggests Jaime Lerner, the former mayor of Curitiba, Brazil. “That will inject life into the city.”
The informal sector in slums is drug dealing, robbery and kidnapping, punctuated with battles fought with automatic weapons between gangsters and the police.
The reversal of opinion about fast-growing cities (slums), previously considered bad news, began with The Challenge of Slums, a 2003 UN-Habitat report. The book’s optimism derived from its groundbreaking fieldwork: 37 case studies in slums worldwide. Instead of just compiling numbers and filtering them through theory, researchers hung out in the slums and talked to people. They came back with an unexpected observation: “Cities are so much more successful in promoting new forms of income generation, and it is so much cheaper to provide services in urban areas, that some experts have actually suggested that the only realistic poverty reduction strategy is to get as many people as possible to move to the city.”
The magic of squatter cities is that they are improved steadily and gradually by their residents. To a planner’s eye, these cities look chaotic. I trained as a biologist and to my eye, they look organic. Squatter cities are also unexpectedly green. They have maximum density—1m people per square mile in some areas of Mumbai—and have minimum energy and material use. People get around by foot, bicycle, rickshaw, or the universal shared taxi.
Not everything is efficient in the slums, though. In the Brazilian favelas where electricity is stolen and therefore free, people leave their lights on all day. But in most slums recycling is literally a way of life. The Dharavi slum in Mumbai has 400 recycling units and 30,000 ragpickers. Six thousand tons of rubbish are sorted every day. In 2007, the Economist reported that in Vietnam and Mozambique, “Waves of gleaners sift the sweepings of Hanoi’s streets, just as Mozambiquan children pick over the rubbish of Maputo’s main tip. Every city in Asia and Latin America has an industry based on gathering up old cardboard boxes.”
Slums carry with them the constant risk of displacement, generally slum dwellers have no property rights. It is difficult for those with small means to divert some of them toward improving places they have little or no interest in.
Life in the slums is anchored in modernity, consumer demand is taken wherever it can be found:
Life In The World’s Slums
In Bangkok’s slums, most homes have a colour television—the average number is 1.6 per household. Almost all have fridges, and two-thirds have a CD player, washing machine and a mobile phone. Half of them have a home telephone, video player and motorcycle. (From research for UN report The Challenge of Slums.)
Residents of Rio’s favelas are more likely to have computers and microwaves than the city’s middle classes (Janice Perlman, author of The Myth of Marginality.)
In the slums of Medellín, Colombia, people raise pigs on the third-floor roofs and grow vegetables in used bleach bottles hung from windowsills. (Ethan Zuckerman, Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School.)
The 4bn people at the base of the economic pyramid—all those with [annual] incomes below $3,000 in local purchasing power—live in relative poverty. Their incomes… are less than $3.35 a day in Brazil, $2.11 in China, $1.89 in Ghana, and $1.56 in India. Yet they have substantial purchasing power… [and] constitute a $5 trillion global consumer market.
Population growth gallops ahead of the ability of development to deliver anything more than cheap, energy gobbling consumer goods. These give the illusion of ‘progress’ while inflation suggests that the poor are earning more money when in real terms they aren’t.
It’s hard to compare life in a medieval European village or a yacht harbor in the San Francisco Bay area with living in a shanty town in Bangkok, Mumbai or elsewhere in this world:
I unintentionally found myself living (flat broke at 34 years old) in a slum off Jalan Wahid Hasyim in downtown Jakarta in ’94 for two months. It was the most disgusting, scary, dark, bleak, psycho, messed up two months a person could have. I’m talking about swarms of dengue-infected mosquitoes from dusk till dawn, cockroaches slapping off the walls like flying moccasins nightly, bloated ticks on the walls, intense heat and 100% humidity always, an auto body shop that started banging hammers on car panels at 6am 7 days a week, a mosque on each side of our house, complete with blown-out speakers calling locals to prayer 5 times daily, a disco behind us thumping on till 7am every morning, rats, dogs, cats all of them wild, mangy, diseased, flea-and-tick-bitten, puking and hunger-crazed, regular power failures, single-mom hookers lurking, screaming, pot banging food vendors day and night, storm-triggered floods of black, stinking filth, the toxic stench of burning plastic and vegetation always. And that was just down the alley I lived on.
Walk out into the streets and it was thousands on thousands of cars, trucks, motorbikes, buses and two-stroke Indian-made Bajai taxis all jammed up, barely moving, all churning out black and blue smoke. Fold in rotting, burning garbage piled randomly with no hope of ever being collected, missing sidewalk covers over canals filled with what looked like black snot and choked with a billion plastic bags, coconuts, palm fronds, trees and Christ knows what else, plus disfigured, heartbreakingly filthy beggars here and there, the sick and aged homeless selling their trifles to make ends meet, corruption from the parking mafia on up to the president… and this wasn’t the city’s worst slum. Though I went there too and saw people bathing babies and brushing teeth in rivers you wouldn’t dare throw a lit match into.
Sorry, Mr. Brand. This is the most insane, out-of-touch pile of white-guilt-assuaging crap I’ve come across in decades. You have no idea what you are talking about, sir. Stay aboard your yacht in Marin where you’ll be safe in your delusions. I’ve also spent time on a yacht in your marina, and can tell you that that life couldn’t be any further removed from the reality of slum living, unless you moved it to the moon.
People in the slums hate their lives (no matter how much they may smile at you as you pass by in your Indiana Jones hat and cargo pants full of candies for their kids), and for thousands of sound reasons. There is nothing happy or applicable to be pulled out of slums other than the knowledge that they are cesspools of tragedy, misguided dreams, unimaginable filth and evil.
In slums there are no regular sources of power. Instead, there are jury-rig connections to the grid from street lighting cables along with small generators. The generators are dependent upon a steady supply of diesel fuel or gasoline, the connections rely on periodic blackouts:
A rigger makes a new connection to a street light circuit (unknown photographer): jury-rigged connections are found in every slum around the world. Making unofficial connections is a dance with fiery death unless the power is off during a blackout. There is little information about how many are killed making unsanctioned connections to energized circuits. In most poor nations there are periodic blackouts during which time do-it-yourselfers and hired riggers climb poles and attach lines.
A rigger connects a house to live wires in the Rocinha slum in Rio. (Fred Alves, Washington Post)
Unknown photographer: the wires bring lighting, refrigerators and air conditioners: at the end of every single wire there is a television set. The desire is for all to buy and buy: the fantastic world will be the slum-dwellers’ tomorrow as long as they endure the unendurable today …
Support for the business lords’ agenda springs from the underclass’ misery and human desire for ‘improvement’. The television puts form to the multitudes’ fantasies …
Photo by Kevin Frayer (AP): a man walks past temporary high-tension power supply cables in New Delhi. It is unfair to characterize the entire country of India as a gigantic slum but the photograph is indicative. The drainage canal is both sewer and water supply for those in the surrounding neighborhood. Note the garbage dump to the left sloping into the canal. The infrastructure of India and in similarly situated parts of the world cannot support the growing human mass that depends upon it.
The lack of clean water for drinking and cleaning as well as proper waste sanitation are gigantic health problems. Large slums housing thousands often have latrines that are nothing more than open pits with boards over them. New pits are dug when the originals are filled. When the rains come the pits overflow with human waste which floods into the housing.
Slums are considered to be green due to density however the hundreds of millions who live in them are without waste-water treatment. This pollution ultimately winds up in the ocean, beaches in Rio have been closed by sewage floods from the city’s notorious favelas. Along with sewage is millions of tons of indestructible plastic waste.
The concept of slum is expandable, some forms are purposefully created and are not to be confused with anything else.
Unknown photographer: the dystopian nightmare without end, humans as lobotomized rats running in a sewer … a canal sluicing with a torrent of mechanized waste, every occupant a slave to auto manufacturers and the petroleum industry.
Jericho Turnpike in Long Island, NY (Scouting New York)
Sleepwalking Into the Future
James Howard Kunstler
Years from now, the denizens of Long Island may shake their heads in wonder and nausea as they attempt to repair the mighty mess that was made here during the 20th century. My term for this mess is the national automobile slum. I think it’s more precise than the usual generic term suburban sprawl. A slum, after all, is clearly understood to be a place that offers a very low quality of life. And the mess is everywhere. Every corner of our nation is now afflicted. The on-ramps of Hempstead aren’t any more spiritually rewarding than the ones in Beverly Hills. We’ve become a United Parking Lot of America.
We have utterly relinquished the everyday world of our nation to the automobile. I don’t think it is possible to overstate the damage that this has done to us collectively as a civilization and as individual souls. The national automobile slum is a place where the past has been obliterated and the future has been foreclosed. Since past represents our memories and the future our hope, life in a car slum is life with no memory and no hope. How many of us can gaze out over a typical highway strip like the Jericho Turnpike and imagine a hopeful future for it or for the people who will have to live with it?
Slums are variation on the theme of dehumanization. Humans are reduced to being cogs in gigantic machines or waste products. Individuals in the waste category sometimes lift themselves up by becoming drug kingpins, informal ‘mayors’, celebrities or shills for Ponzi schemes. The rest are trapped, the slums swallow them.
What is underway is the slum-ification of the entire world. The great machines cannot provide middle-class lives to all because the necessary materials are absent. If the slum-dweller cannot regularize the status of his ‘house lot’ if he cannot afford the materials to craft a permanent structure that does not leak whenever it rains, there are no others who will gain these things for him.
An abandoned, unfinished skyscraper in downtown Beijing (Glen Downs): where did all that money go? The industrial ‘solution’ is always more development but this shifts costs around, it doesn’t eliminate them. Every slum that is developed out of existence in China pops up in Africa or South America. With more humans there are more slums, eventually the new developments become slums as well.
When the fossil fuel becomes unobtainable the great auto slums of America and its wannabes will become the real things or places of ruin and abandonment.
Consider all of our precious infrastructure without the means to keep it maintained. Here are your shining cities on the hill: the slums beckon, the default future for what remains of the human race in a world that is stripped of all accessible resources.
Off the Keyboard of RE
Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner
Along with most of the rest of the Financial Bloggers out there, I make it a daily practice to scan the articles being posted on Zero Hedge. the Tyler Durdens have a plethora of contacts in the World of Wall Street, so they are often the Blog that Breaks Big Newz first.
I no longer read the commentary there, and to be honest most of the time don’t even read the articles either, because mostly they fall into the category of Helicopter Ben/Super Mario Draghi bashing or Gold Bitchez! articles. You pretty much know the spin that will come off the pages of any Tyler Durden article.
In the case of a recent article, Tyler quoted from Diapason’s Sean Corrigan and the whole excerpt was on the Home Page of Zero Hedge to read under the title of The Circular Logic And Prayer Tactics Of Draghi Queens, Sinomaniacs, And Other Orwellians
“Companies in the steel sector should be prepared for a long-term depression,” Zhang Changfu, secretary-general of the CISA, told media earlier.
Strange then, that the official data for July suggest that Chinese steel outout hit a new, all-time high of 61.7M tonnes during the month, the YoY increase making up no less than 99% of the entire global increment over the year. Why on earth would this be?
Chalk it up to moral hazard – specifically, the same zombifying belief shared by the whole motley crew of Sinomaniacs, Draghi queens, and QEasers everywhere; that bad news equals good; that, in true Orwellian fashion, ‘Weakness Is Strength’ – that any shortfall in voluntary demand will elicit a large enough crank of the printing press handle that the glut will soon be removed from the market and so obviate the need to undertake any painful restructuring, or to quit the business and release scarce resources for use by those with a genuinely viable business plan.
Back in metal-bashing business, Wang Lei, the head of a Shandong ore trading company, bemoaned the current adversity, telling Caixin:
“If you had iron ore [last year], you could hold it for a couple months and then sell it and earn $20 to $30 per ton easily. We bought ore for about $135 per ton, but no one will take it, even if we try to sell it at a loss.”
Wang and his friends apprear to have drawn a deangerous lesson from the events of 2008-9 though. As he told the magazine, Wang remembers watching the value of his company’s inventories decline rapidly in 2008 until the price bottomed at US$60 per ton the following year.
When the ore prices fell, he reminisced, he and his fellow trades were not pessimistic because they correctly assumed that the Chinese government would step in with an economic stimulus to offset the crisis and so revive demand. Sure enough, as the boom progressed, prices soared, reaching close to $200 a tonne in 2010, a level they revisited some 18 months ago, before policy began to tighten and the long slide to sub-$100 began.
So, once bailed out, always bailed out seems to be the guiding inference. Meantime, close your eyes and pray.
Why do I find this particular snippet interesting? The reason is that embedded in this is how the whole Industrial paradigm got funded in the first place, and why the same old tricks aren’t working now.
The whole Industrial Revolution got funded by a few people who hold the power to issue essentially Infinite Credit. Ever wonder where Henry Ford got the money to build his first Model T plants with his novel Production Line method? Henry had gone BANKRUPT not once, but at least TWICE before he got Ford Motor Company off the ground making Affordable Carz. Some websites put his Bankruptcies as high as 5 before getting Rolling.
In 1893, Henry Ford was the chief engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company. Within nine years, Ford had built his first automobile, named the Quadricycle, and started the Detroit Automobile Company. A gifted engineer, Ford focused heavily on the mechanics of his auto, and completely ignored the idea of marketing his invention. Ford’s first product failed to capture the public’s attention, and Ford was forced to leave his company and file bankruptcy. One year later, Ford started the Ford Motor Company and designed a car that broke the land-speed record. In 1908, Ford released the Model-T to an eagerly awaiting public, and changed the face of American industry.
Filed Bankruptcy when his first automotive company failed. His second automotive company failed also. In June 1903, at the age of 40, he created a third company, the Ford Motor Company, with a cash investment of $28,000.00
He also apparently was nearly outta cash AGAIN before he started selling some Model Ts. One suspects though had he gone BK again, he would have drummed up some more money AGAIN from “Investors”.
WTF was investing in this guy and why, after failing before? Notice who Hank worked for as Chief Engineer? The Edison Illuminating Company. Basically the same folks who backed Edison were backing Henry Ford. Who backed Edison?
Edison General Electric
Edison’s businesses in Schenectady grew quickly. He moved his underground tube company to Schenectady. But Edison’s businesses were struggling financially. His decision to stick to direct current hindered the success of his electrical and lighting companies. Electric lighting was still expensive, affordable only by the wealthy. Despite widespread interest, it was not available to the average person.
In 1889, Edison’s chief financial backer, J.P. Morgan, had concerns about the operation of Edison’s businesses. He worked with some of Edison’s financial associates, including Samuel Insull, and created the Edison General Electric Company, a merger of Edison’s lighting and electric companies, which included the Edison Electric Light Company, Edison Lamp Works, and Edison Machine Works.
Unsurprisingly, J.P. Morgan was the primary backer, but all the Big Money names of the era were involved, the Vanderbilts, Astors, and of course the Rockefellers as well. these are the folks who had the Open Tap to Unlimited Credit, which really was coming from over in Europe at the time.
Notice also that just like Henry Ford, Edison’s Electric Bizness ALSO had financial problems early on, yet he never went completely Outta Biz either. Electricity remained available only for the Wealthy, it was not an every J6P sorta thing in those days powering Refrigerators and Plasma TVs.
Our Industrialist friends however were enamored of the Progress involved here, and with the spigot of Unlimited Credit available to them, BY GOLLY they were gonna MAKE IT WORK!
How to make it work though? If J6P doesn’t have the MONEY to buy the Expensive Electricity, you can’t sell it to him. So you first gotta make the Electricity CHEAP enough to buy, and that takes CHEAP ENERGY. Fortunately for said Industrialists of the era, they HAD a source of Cheap Energy, the Oil coming a bubblin’ up from Jed Clampett’s farm, which Standard Oil’s John D. Rockefeller handed Jed enough money to move to Beverly Hills while he pumped Jed’s old farm dry for its Oil.
Still though, even pricing out this Oil dirt cheap, unless J6P had money to buy it with he wasn’t going to be buying the Thomas’ Electricity OR Hank’s Carz! So now you gotta get Money to the Customers, but of course you don’t GIVE it away, you LOAN it out. Who do you loan this money to, and where do you get it from?
First and foremost, you loan the money to Goobermints to build roads and build an electric grid. You create the money on a Balance Sheet the moment Da Goobermint signs up to Build these Improvements for J6P. The Money begins to Trickle out to J6P as he gets employed building the new roads and wiring up all the McMansions for Electric Lights.
You also loan out the money to other Brainy Entrepreneurs who come up with novel ways to use the Electricity, like Wireless Radios and TVs; and also novel ways to use the Carz, like Fast Food Drive Ins and Shopping Malls. Everybody LOVES this stuff! They are also Happy because there are new Jobs in the Industrial Economy and if they are smart guys like Henry Ford they can get an Engineering Degree and hop on the High Paid Gravy Train also!
Reminder here, Henry Ford is ALSO the guy who said this with respect to our Monetary system:
It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning. Henry Ford
Interesting of course that someone who was the most direct benficiary of this corrupt system of Cronyism would make such a statement. Essentially Hank had a line of virtually unlimited credit, and by virtue of the Limited Liability Corporation the losses taken on his first two Bankruptcies were not borne by Investors like JP Morgan, who did the old Pump and Dump with the stock and were out from under the loss well before his first companies tanked. Your more average dummy financial speculator of the time took the losses, and of course with them came the various Financial Panics of the era.
The KEY to getting this all matched up and Rolling Along was to marry the Cheap Energy to a Centrally Controlled money distribution system, and this of course was the genesis of the Federal Reserve Bank, which most everyone knows now isn’t Federal or goverment at all, but rather a Privately Owned consortium by the TBTF Banks, the same ones JP Morgan, John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Mellon founded, all with direct connections to European Banks run by the Rothschilds and Warburgs.
Thus began the real ramping up of the Debt of the Industrial Revolution, and speculative Money flew out the door, unfortunately a whole lot faster than the whole system could absorb all the new production and faster than jobs could be created for people to them have money to buy the products. That whole specualtive bubble came crashing down a little over 16 years after the founding of the Federal Reserve with the Great Depression.
Again here, the Bath is not taken by the Industrialists who made the Loans and undewrote the Stock issues in the first place for these Boondoggles, the bath is taken by Goobermints that put up Power systems they could not pay for, which then got repoed and Privatized. Edison Electric was NEVER a money making Bizness, it always got subsidized in some way on the backs of the Taxpayers to keep it running. Since the Taxpayers never could really afford it, Goobermints kept on taking on more and more debt to keep the system running. They have been rolling over and refinancing this debt for over a Century now.
The story of the Automobile is not a whole lot different than that, although in this case rather than many local municipalities putting up small Electric Grids they could not pay for, in the aftermath of WWII the Eisenhower Interstate Project was undertaken, the single Largest Public Works Project ever undertaken inthe History of Mankind. Bigger than the Colossus of Rhodes, bigger than the Pyramids of Egypt, Bigger than even the Great Wall(s) of China built over Centuries of time. Where do you suppose the Money for that came from? Taxes? No Sirree Bob, the Interstate was Financed on Debt through a new Goobermint Special Purpose Vehicle, the Highway Trust Fund.
The United States Highway Trust Fund is a transportation fund which receives money from a federal fuel tax of 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon of diesel fuel and related excise taxes. It currently has three accounts, the Highway Account which funds road construction, a smaller ‘Mass Transit Account’ which supports mass transit and also a ‘Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund’. It was established 1956 to finance the United States Interstate Highway System and certain other roads. The Mass Transit Fund was created in 1982. The federal tax on motor fuels yielded $28.2 billion in 2006. In 2008 the fund required an additional $8 billion from general taxation due to reduced receipts from fuel tax in order to meet its obligations.
So here, on the expectations of the Revenue it would generate from Gas and Diesel burning in taxes over these new Roads, billions of new dollars are created out of thin air to establish this “Trust Fund”, which sorta remained solvent up until 2008, when reduced Tax income and rising maintenance costs finally crossed over and the Fund could not service its own debt.
Who did the Interstate Highway REALLY benefit? The Industrial Monopolists who built the Carz and owned the Oil production and refining facilities of course. The more people you got to consume the Oil faster, the Richer you got, and boy did they EVER get Rich! J6P of course is completely clueless about how this all got financed up, as Henry Ford said if he actually DID have a clue there would have been a Revolution quite some time back here.
The Debt Financing of Industrialization was not of course just limited to the Electric Grid and the Interstate Highways, just about as big a Boondoggle was undertaken to finance the Biggest War Machine ever built, which I refer to as the BAM or Big Ass Military. Billions upon Billions of Dollars of Debt Money created to finance corporations like General Electric, Lockheed and McDonnell-Douglas to build ever more powerful and expensive War machines of all sorts. Concurrent with that expenditure was the expense of Large Public Works Projects like the NASA Space Program, which did a lot of the basic research into Rocket & Jet engines that power Supersonic Fighter Jets and Electronics systems that run the Fly-by-Wire systems necessary to control such aircraft. Still more debt money went into the Super Conducting Super Colliders in the effort to develop the Holy Grail of the industrialist, unlimited Cheap Energy from Fusion Power. With Fusion, the Jetson’s Futre was ASSURED, and they gambled very BIG MONEY on that idea. Those SCSCs don’t come cheap. Sadly of course, 40 years after reading my first articles about the Promise of Fusion Power on the Pages of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics we aren’t really any closer to it now than we were then.
Industrialists have always held out the Jetsons future for general consumption as Inevitable Progress. It’s everywhere in Pop Culture and Media, from Star Trek and Star Wars right back to the early Scifi of Jules Verne. Probably 90% of people inside the Industrial World really do believe this stuff is inevitable and we are just going through a temporary Economic Glitch here. The Mars Landings, the “Discovery” of new Exo-Planets, all the Science Newz you read every day is designed to reinforce that belief in the inevitability of Progress and the Techno-Future.
Industrialists close to the Credit Spigot like Richard Branson even try to Live Out these dreams, with their own Private Spaceships, financed of course on Debt on the idea they will get tons of people involved in Space Tourism on Virgin Milky Way Spaceships. or they will be Mining Asteroids for Mineral or Jupiter for Methane or other such Pie in the Sky nonsense.
What all these folks remain Willfully Blind to is the fact that not only do we not have sufficient Energy to Conquer the Final Frontier, we really do not even have enough just to maintain all the systems build over the last century on gobs of debt money. The Debt is coming due, and it can’t be Rolled Over anymore because the Growth has STOPPED, regardless of what massaged GDP statistics say. Money creation right from the Get–Go in the time of John D. Rockefeller has been tied to Energy production, and as long as Energy production (or rather extraction is the better term) kept increasing, the Debt Money kept on flowing outward. Long as you had the Inside Track on any new technology, you could always invest and Pump & Dump it for a profit. This of course was what the whole Dot Com Bubble was all about, and you see the last gasp of this type of action with the Facepalm and PoopOn IPOs.
Really though, those in charge of Credit Creation now are less concerned with Investing in any New Biznesses than they are in trying to figure out where and how to sequester their money in “safe” inestments like USTs and Gold, either of which are very productive enterprises which create any Jobs of course. The same priniciples of vast expansion of Debt which came in the runnup to and aftermath of WWII can’t work this time, because the cheap energy that Debt was issued to buy does not exist anymore. All the cheap stuff has been converted to CO2 molecules floating around willy nilly in the atmosphere doing nobody any good at all, and quite possibly doing a lot of harm as well. Only EXPENSIVE energy remains, and a world of increasingly impoverished people cannot afford it, and they aren’t “credit worthy” either.
Few in the Industrialized world want to see the Gravy Train end here, certainly not the Elite running the show so they keep trying the same old straategies that worked before, but they aren’t WORKING. Well, at least not to fix the general problem they aren’t working; they are working pretty good to transfer the last of the reamining wealth into their grubby little hands though. For the most part though, that wealth is ephemeral, and there really are not any “safe havens” to sequester this stuff anymore. In the Bye and Bye, it will all collapse, possibly quite suddenly given how fast HFT programs run these days.
Industrialization was the equvalent of a Harvard Keg Party, run pretty much by the same Harvard Frat Boys that ran the Keg Parties themselves in Hahvahd Yahd. The problem here is they are Outta Beer to sell at a price 90% of the population can afford to buy, and you just cannot scale down this type of infrastructure too much before it all collapses. Even if you are a Pigman with enough Bonus Money to buy a Lamborghini, its not gonna last too long driving on pothole ridden streets. Hell, they don;t last long on well paved streets! LOL.
Until the population as a whole grasps how they were taken for a ride here though, and as long as this population itself continues to hold onto the dreams of a techno future that will never come, those in control of the credit creation Biz will continue pulling rabbits out of the hat here to keep it going one week, one day, one hour longer, until at last it can go no more.
Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You.
Off the Keyboard of RE
Discuss this article at the Geological & Cosmological Events Table inside the Diner
I had a terrific discussion of Geotectonic Ocean Heat Transfer Theory with Gail Tverberg of Our Finite World in the Commentary of her recent article Reaching financial limits–What kinds of solutions are available?
It remains very important to consider the possibility/likelihood that the Global Climate Change we see occurring may not be Anthropogenic in origin. Many of the Policy Decisions and Economic decisions being made now are based on the idea that Cliimate Change is Anthropogenic, and that by pursuing Strategies like Carbon Tax Credits we might be able to alter the Climactic System enough to prevent further damage to the Ocean and Atmospheric systems currently being affected.
If it is true that the Earth is undergoing a Geological Phase Shift that is producing the effects, then it really does not pay to try and stop that, we won’t be able to do it. Rather what we have to do is figure out means by which to live in a World vastly changed in Climate from what it is now. This could include such adaptations as shifting the locations where most people live to areas which might be more survivable, growing more food through Hydroponics in areas being DRENCHED with extensive Rainfall and moving food Production AWAY from areas experiencing Extreme Drought and perhaps even developing more Underground living arrangements to Ride Out the Storms, so to speak, until hopefully the situation reverts again once this cycle is done with. If it does not revert,there really is not much to do about it, we are TOAST when the Phytoplankton Collapse.
Anyhow, below follows my discussion with Gail which clarifies many of these issues. I suggest you read this and the original Geotectonic Ocean Heat Transfer Theory article here on the Diner before drawing the conclusion that Climate Change is necessarily Anthropogenic in Origin.
Off the Keyboard of RE
The original Underpinnings of the Drive to Industrialization: An Anthropological Perspective has led to a fascinating debate with Steve from Virginia of Economic Undertow and the Commentariat of his Blog in the Glory Days thread.
I am updating here on the progress of this debate, which is occurring mostly on Economic Undertow. Readers can Join this debate on either EU or inside the Diner.
July 31, 2012 at 3:58 pm
Power, like most concepts, is a relative term. The reach of the power you talk about, RE, doesn’t extend very far. Its scope is the surface of this planet, and even within that scope, it is limited. The ‘will to power’ that you refer to is indeed a form of fashion. The particular form of self-aggrandizement and forced acquiescence is an extension of the old god myths which are anchored in dominion, territory, fear, and death. Most of this is rooted in the debate that humans are only physical bodies. The religious hedge their bets with various cosmologies rooted in pre- and post-life narratives. It turns out that most people like to exist, even as they suffer! Religions, cosmologies, myths, are ordering narratives. They are fashions, belief systems, psychological constructs. Pounding the table about the ‘actual reality’ of the will to power merely lends credence (credit-money in the realm of fashion, or the collective cultural narrative) to the prevailing gestalt. The drones and bombers do make the narrative any more or less ‘real’. We are not arguing about the fact that warlords are killing people. The argument is about the narrative.
The ‘power’ narrative as presently framed is destructive and results in systemic failure. Using a gun is an admission of weakness. The art of war is to not fight. It is unclear whether humanity will shed the fear/death/survival/conquest/reproduction/consumption/pleasure/guilt/punishment narrative complex and construct a new ‘dream’ language. Each of us can stay aboard the death cult of modernity or get off the ride and…
Reverse Engineer says:
August 1, 2012 at 2:02 am
“Each of us can stay aboard the death cult of modernity or get off the ride”-Sandor I’m all for getting off the “death cult of modernity”, but at least according to Steve, heading out into the bush to scrounge out a living with the remaining Inuit is “Obsolete”. Apparently the only meme that works for Steve is some kind of pastoral idealization of the 18-19th Century in a Monet Painting, when people wore really well made clothes. I do grasp your idea of “Fashion” as a “Narrative”, but to me Fashion is very shallow and changes capriciously all the time. The Pursuit of Power goes very deep into mammalian behaviors, even more generalized than just primate behavior. The toys we use these days are simply a manifestation of our inventiveness over the millenia, all the behaviors are the same though. I don’t call that “Fashion”. The Big Ass Military doesn’t build those toys because it is “Fashionable” to do so. It builds them because with those toys a few people can control vast swaths of the earth’s resources and vast populations of slaves as well. That is not “Fashion. That is the Will to Power in ACTION. RE
Phlogiston Água de Beber says:
July 31, 2012 at 11:25 pm
I’ve gone over the arguments and I cannot find any of them very convincing. The gun may have been a non-fashion source of power in Mao’s early days. Today they are accessories. Were that not so, most every firefight would not have be terminated by an airstrike. As it happens the world’s militaries are very fashion conscious and so the competition to field the most ridicules looking rifles. And about the Apache helicopter. It was hardly a random choice to name it Apache instead of say Marmalade. The pilots would doubtless be a lot less likely to think of themselves as the second coming of Cochise. The Massive fuel-air bomb called MOAB (Mother Of All Bombs) is delivered to the target on an unarmed cargo plane named Hercules, not Hortense. In spite of all the pandering to fashion, or maybe because of it, what is noteworthy is how ineffective are these modern military organizations. Maybe it takes more than thinking you are Cochise? Sandor says open-endedly that ” Each of us can stay aboard the death cult of modernity or get off the ride and…”, which reads like truth. While each of us can get off, not anywhere near all of us can and it does appear that most would not get off if they could. Even death cults have their attractions. James Joyce Steve has wonderful thoughts about a revised philosophy for the death cult. But, as it seems apparent that he still has his soul, he might as well be scratching it into desert sand. While searching for a way to square all these egg-shaped arguments, I discovered that Morris Berman has been channeling the mind of that Great Red, White and Blue Blooded American er Treacherous Commie Czechoslovakian, Madeleine Albright. To wit, there is too much restraint with regard to the death cult’s activities. MB’s obviously implanted thought is that having all this ordinance is a massive waste of money if we don’t use them. He suggests issuing an AK-47 with plenty of ammo to every man, woman, child and infant. Furthermore he says we should nuke any place where they may be up to no good. He suggests starting with Toronto and Paris. Not a bad start, but since all nukes will eventually go bad if not used, Doesn’t it just make sense that no city be left standing anywhere on planet earth? That enormous investment will not have gone to waste. Most of the world’s problems will have been solved. Should there happen to be any survivors, they can party like it’s 1999. All day and all night. The lack of lighting will be no problem if they disrobe. I think that The James Joyce of Economics should not let Morris get too far out of ahead of him on this important matter. There are reputations at stake here.
More ACTION over Economic Undertow with Round 3 between Yours Truly and Elvis now complete.
First the Uppercut and Right Cross from Elvis:
steve from virginia says:
August 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm
RE, don’t take my word for it, head out into that bush and scrounge out a living and report back as to how it goes! A quick look around the Internet shows Inuits and others living in houses, driving pickup trucks, shopping in grocery stores, watching televisions. They hire themselves out to energy contractors as laborers or porters or as tour guides for visitors.
Clearly you haven’t seen enough animal shows on television. Animals are interested in sex and adapt themselves to be more attractive. The tail-feathers on a Peacock (Peak Cock?) are ‘useless’ except to the Peacock who makes no mind of them. He (it’s always a ‘he’) simply makes use of them when the need arises. Likewise, we make no mind of our own useless tail feathers … this is our problem. Ours are ruthlessly capital destructive. It is our goods that are bad for us, not our ‘bads’.
Leaving out nuclear weapons, of course … but these are also ‘useless’ more tail feathers that exist for frivolous (fashionable) purposes. All of our problems are human problems, please don’t blame other life forms for them. Our ‘big assed military’ is a hopeless, repeated failure on its own terms: Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, Vietnam! If this is an example of ‘power principle’ at work it is a poor one. All the other big assed militaries have also failed, they succeed only on fashion’s terms, acting as fetishes within non-military contexts where their ‘productivity’ is never measured. Where have ‘small assed militaries failed? Egypt, Syria, Libya, Yemen … military failed in Indonesia, failing in Mexico, failing in the Philippines.
Followed by the Left Jab, Body Shots and Roundhouse of RE:
Quote from: Steve from Virginia
“RE, don’t take my word for it, head out into that bush and scrounge out a living and report back as to how it goes! A quick look around the Internet shows Inuits and others living in houses, driving pickup trucks, shopping in grocery stores, watching televisions. They hire themselves out to energy contractors as laborers or porters or as tour guides for visitors.”-Steve
Steve, I LIVE in Alaska. YOU live in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Trust me, I don’t take your word for anything related to how people live up here. When was the last time you visited Kotzebue or Bethel? You could at least try reading from Wiki:Quote from: Wikipedia
“The Bush is a term Alaskans use to describe portions of their state that are not connected to the North America road network. A majority of Alaska’s native populations live in the Bush, where they make their living in similar fashion to their ancestors. Places in the Bush include Bethel, Dillingham, King Salmon, Nome, Barrow, Katmai National Park, Kodiak Island, Kotzebue, and Unalaska-Dutch Harbor. Most parts of Alaska that are off the road system can only be reached by small airplane. Travel from place to place is typically accomplished by snowmobile, snow machine, boat, or dog sled.”
Very little goes into or out of these places Stuff like Milk flown in is outrageously expensive. Most of the food is acquired in fishing and hunting for subsistence. They have”modern” housing as a result of the leases the tribes sold to the Oil Companies. This gave Native Corporations MONEY to fly in manufatured Housing, which is generally some cheap ass shit. They are not wired to any Grid, the electricity comes from Diesel generators. Their lives are right now a fairly rotten mix of the old ways and modernity. The money they have comes mainly in the form of Dole, they don’t have any “industries” to export stuff to earn Cash. They have terriic Alcoholism problems. On a Food and Shelter level though, they are pretty darn safe. Once the planes stop flying in, they still got plenty-o-fish. They are not that far removed from people who livedby the REAL old ways, in fact numerous are stil breathing.Guys who fished from seal-skin Kayaks instead of the aluminum fishing boats they use now. Once they lose their electricity and access to alcohol and car antifreeze to drink and no longer are bombarded by television images of the Industrial Lifestyle, they’ll probably suffer some die off, but generally speaking they can revertto the old ways pretty quickly. No Zombies will arrive in those places, you just can’t GET there from here without planes, there are no roads in or out of them. Its a tough trip to get there even with Snow Machines. Mushers only go there for races like the Iditarod. NATO will not be dropping Death From Above on them either. Insofar as the Big Ass Military being a “failure”, I suppose you never read any of Smedley Butler’s stuff? The BAM is in the Process of Failing,but it hasn’t FAILED completely yet. The main job these days is to so disrupt the local Goobermints of places like Libya so that Big Oil can STEAL what is left of their Oil. They haven’t FAILED yet in Saudi Arabia, where the main job is to keep the House of Saud in Power so they can keep pumping Ghanwar until it is dry also. The BAM and its Local Affiliate here in the FSofA of the GESTAPO hasn’t FAILED yet either. They did a mighty nice Cleanup Job in Zucchini Square in NY Shity and in Oakland sweeping OWS Riff Raff off the streets. These folks STILL got plenty of POWER left in them, and it ain’t FASHION that drives its use. It’s Greed and the Will to Power driving it. The collective “We” cannot do jack shit about this while the BAM is just Failing,until it has FAILED completely we simply do not run the show. The people who do run the show have a vested interest in keeping it running for as long as they possibly can, and you can be damn sure they will stop at NOTHING to maintain their power. If that means poisoning the world with Nukes, they will do that. If it means rounding up vast numbers of poor folks and herding them into Boxcarson on the Amtrak Rail Network with a One Way Ticket to the Human Waste Reprocessing Facility in San Antonio, they will do that also. They will even do it to JamesJoyce style Economists living in the Virginia Suburbs of Washington DC. One group of people they will NOT be herding into Boxcars still lives way out there in the Bush,with a few paltry baubles from the Age of Oil, but still mostly by the Old Ways. They will not be going into Boxcars on the Railroad, because there still ARE no Railroads that make it to where they live. When TSHTF, those people will either make it through the Zero Point or not, but either way even if they ALL walk into the Great Beyond, they will walk there FREE. I’ll take that exit before I take the Boxcar ride any day. Anyhow, I give them a better than 50-50 shot here, whereas I give anyone living in the suburbs of Washington DC less than 1 in 10 ofmaking it through this maelstrom. Obsolete my ASS. What is obsolete is the Industrial lifestyle, and also over the longer term the Ag lifestyle also. Fashion my ASS also. Its the Will to Power that led to this, not FASHION. RE
Still no Hits Below the Belt! Marquis de Queensbury Rules!
Off the Keyboard of RE
In the Waste Based Society series Part I & Part II, I detailed many of the reasons why it behooves those in control of the resources of the earth to pursue such practices as Planned Obsolescence and R&D as a means to create ever more dependence on Control Conduits themselves ever more dependent on Energy Extraction from Earth resources. For the most part, this Energy comes from NON-RENEWABLE Fossil Fuel sources, becoming ever more expensive to extract from the Earth. If indeed we were able to develop RENEWABLE sources of energy to continue the paradigm, then also Industrialized Society might be a sustainable model. Diner A.G. Gelbert often makes the case that such Renewable Sources of Energy are within grasp, and he also contributed to the Waste Based Society series in Part III. I do not agree with him, but he makes a good case for this idea.
However, what neither of us really covered in that series is what DRIVES the Industrialization Paradigm to BEGIN with. Steve from Virginia who publishes Economic Undertow, one of our Cross Posting Bloggers on the Diner often posits that the choice to live the Industrialized Life is a FASHION choice.
From Steve’s Debt-o-Nomics Part III:
– The productive sector isn’t productive, this is so generally by design. Production answers the dictates of fashion and nothing else. The production enterprises are supported by borrowing. Finance provides enterprise profits, to ‘entrepreneurs’ who are shills. Finance provides essential initial capital without which enterprises cannot be born. Finance provides required enterprise cash flow when it is not natively available. Fashionable enterprises which have no hope of gaining a productive return are supported entirely by borrowing over extended period. Given fashion demand — for supersonic jet fighters, for instance — tens of trillions in any currency can be borrowed without end.
Bombarded as we are by all the Propaganda to buy Automobiles, GINSU Knives and Salad Shooters, every last person in the Industrialized World buys this paradigm because it is Fashionable to do so. Certainly true is it IS much more Fashionable to live this way than to live as a Kalahari Bushman feeding off Grubs, Lizards and Roots in the Kalahari Desert. Crap, the KBs don’t even have Wireless Internet or I-phones! Talk about being Out of Fashion! A KB is like a Beatnik showing up at Andy Warhol’s Factory or a Hippie showing up at Phillips Exeter, Andover or Choate! You just do not FIT IN with the crowd there Dude! Get With the Program!
However, is it REALLY true there as in we are immersed in this Industrial Civilization as simply a FASHION choice? Not at all. In reality, Industrialization is the outgrowth of the Will to Power as a Sentient Species evolves, first just attempting to SURVIVE in a Hostile World where many other species view you as FOOD.
In the beginning, without TOOLS, incipient Homo Sapiens was little more than a modern Chimpanzee. As such, said Great Ape was quite vulnerable to other Predators running around the Savannah once we dropped down out of the Trees to try to make a go of it out there on the Plains, where lots of FOOD for us was available. We are talking Africa of course here, with a wonderful variety of Predators running around. Lions and Tigers with Big Teeth and Big Claws of course. Cheetahs that can run a whole lot faster than the typical small child can run. Pack Animals like Hyenas that will Gang Up on you. Very tough environment overall for a two legged creature with no Claws and no Big Teeth to make a go of it. Not too big either, and for a lot of time there was Mega Fauna around MUCH bigger and stronger than we ever have been. Bears 12 feet tall, that sort of thing.
Given our apparent Weakness relative to the other Predators out there, you would figure that we couldn’t make it. Except we did, for two reasons mainly. Our Hands with their Opposable Thumbs, and our VERY BIG Brains relative to all the rest of those other predators. Smart suckers who figured out how to use TOOLS to lever up an ADVANTAGE over all the rest of them. Just some Rocks and Sticks at first, but always Improving on these Weapons. Spears came along, then Atlatls, then Bow and Arrow. Death at a DISTANCE, something no other Animal in the whole Kingdom can accomplish. For a Lion to make a Kill of a Wildebeest for example, it has to actually JUMP it and sink in the Claws and the Teeth. Wildebeests are not without their own defense here, that got some nice Horns to GORE with, and they can KICK mighty hard with legs strong enough to run that kind of weight around the Savannah. Lion makes Mistake ONE in his attack, he is likely to be STOMPED in a big hurry. A swift Kick to the Ribs cracking a half a dozen of them and puncturing a lung, Lion is TOAST. So it is a relatively Even-Steven Battle between the Wildebeests and the Lions, and a Balance is achieved in the ecosystem, though it varies from year to year in cycles between Predator and Prey. Lions being no complete dummies of course try to prey on either old or young or sick or injured Wildebeests rather than the tough suckers in their reproductive Prime years, but Wildebeests gather together to PROTECT AND DEFEND their weak ones. they are at the Center of the Herd, the tough guys run the Perimeter. Only if a Lion manages to catch a weak one outside this perimeter does he make the EZ Kill. Otherwise, if he is Hungry he HAS to take on a Tough Guy. A relatively even battle most of the time in that situation.
No such danger in preying on a Wildebeest for Homo Sapiens armed with an Atlatl and Spear though. From 20 yards away, HS can easy hurl a spear with an Atlatl so hard and fast even equipped with a roughly hewn Stone Point on it the spear will penetrate toughest Hide and go clear through the unfortunate Wildebeest before it ever knew it was even coming. Not only that, Brainy Homo Sapiens figures out how to Enlist the Assistance of a whole other Species, the Canines. They become Good Buddies, and work together. The Dogs run down the Wildebeests chasing them right into a fucking Ambush, traps laid to break their legs as they run, whatever. HS is now SUPREME KILLER out there, no other higher level Animal can stand up to his tools, his dogs and his SMARTS. Eventually he also enlists the aid of Horses, which allow him to run down all but the very fastest and nimble of other creatures as well.
Once this level is achieved, HS now begins to expand over the whole Globe with the Hunter Gatherer paradigm, knocking down just about all the slow and lumbering Mega Fauna as they go. Quickly enough by Geologic Standards, HS comes to completely dominate the entire Planet as an HG, actually migrating all the way from origins in Africa right down to the tip of South America by around 15,000 BC or so, after recovering from the Toba Supervolcanic Eruption which likely knocked down Human Population to around 10,000 Human Souls or 1000 Breeding Pairs approximately 75,000 years ago.
It is at this point that the Weapons once used just for Hunting purposes against other species become turned on each other. Why?
Essentially because the H-G paradigm takes a LOT of territory to support a relatively small number of HS, but HS was now reproducing faster than this amount of territory could support, so each group or Tribe of HS is now in COMPETITION with each other for territory. So now the Tribes of HS begin to use their weapons on EACH OTHER, in the attempt to gain or retain their territory. We are now Full UP as can be on Planet Earth for H-G style living, which began to decline probably around 10,000BC or so except for a few areas we were real late in making it to, like the Big Island of Hawaii, the very last pristine environment of good size H-Gs found and colonized around 1000AD.
Despite the fact a form of Warfare has now begun between tribes of Homo Sapiens, it’s mostly a pretty Level Playing Field, all armed with similar Weapons and similar Numbers. We essentially maintain a fairly steady-state in the environment through this period as well, and our numbers Level Out to just what the environment will support in terms of our numbers on a sustainable level.
This all CHANGES again on one Fateful Day when some Homo Sapiens somewhere probably in the Fertile Crescent around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers grasps that many of the veggie foods he eats grow well in his Latrine and Garbage Dumps. He realizes the SEEDS grow well in these well Fertilized locations. AGRICULTURE IS BORN!
This REVOLUTION completely changes the balance in nature for Homo Sapiens, both with respect to the rest of the animal kingdom as well as with respect to other HS stilll living the H-G life. Ag allows for a group of HS to reproduce even FASTER, remain sedentary on a given plot of land and then develop out of the excess population a Class of Warriors, aka an ARMY. The job of the Army is to protect the area already taken for Ag, and also to rid the surrounding neighborhood of H-Gs so that land also can be converted to Ag. Even without better Weapons, the Ag CIVILIZATIONS now developing start to overwhelm the H-Gs just by virtue of greater Numbers. Then it gets still WORSE for the H-Gs. Why?
Reason, now that the Ags have lots of people and no need for all of them to be involved in food collection, they have time to mess around with their Big Brains and they develop METALLURGY! Their new Bronze Pointed Weapons are better than the Stone Age weapons of the remaining H-Gs. Same Metal stuff also makes Ag more productive as well. Now the Ags are basically STEAMROLLING over the H-Gs just in the Bronze Age, but it gets still WORSE when the Iron Age hits.
But of course, the Ag Civililizations themselves start running up against each other here, now fielding some Big Ass Militaries to go up against each other in Full On Warfare we have become all too familiar with over the last few millenia. Again though, for the most part they all are armed with similar weaponry and something of a Balance is achieved with respect to each other, but we are now out of balance with Nature as a whole because Ag is pushing out of existence many other species and also soaking up resource faster than it gets replenished. Desertification begins in some of the areas earliest transformed to the Ag paradigm, the Middle East in particular there. We also run up against another Limiting Factor to further Exponential Growth at this time, the “Beasts of the Earth” in the form of PESTILENCE, or disease vectors.
8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
By around the 1300s, because of increasing population density as well as the practice of keeping so many Domesticated Animals in such close proximity with so many Homo Sapiens, a whole HOST of diseases begin to appear knocking down vast SWATHS of population every time one of these PLAGUES crop up. At this time, the HS population more or less stabilizes again at around 500M Human Souls walking the Earth at any given time, JUST prior to the NEXT REVOLUTION, application of Thermodynamics to Metallurgy which results in FIREARMS. AKA, Guns and Cannon. This preceeds the full on Industrial Revolution by a couple of centuries, but Tips the Balance of competition between the Ag societies towards the ones that made use of this Weaponry FIRST, the Europeans who made the Scientific Discoveries. Together with Sail and Navigation technology this set of discoveries now allows this Civilization to begin overwhelming all the other Ag Societies. The understanding of Thermodynamics leads then to the Steam Engine, from there to the Internal Combustion Engine, and thereafter it is another Total ROUT as the Europeans proceed to waltz all over the world in the colonial era from about 1750 through to 1900 or so.
The process results in Mechanized Warfare which really got underway with WWI, though you can see its beginnings in the War of Southern Secession (aka the Civil War) here in the FSofA . Finally after WWII, the powerful Industrialists are pretty much in control of the entire World, and they have built a HUGE Industrial Plant to build the Weapons of War, but now that they are in control of everything, unless they can put these Factories to other uses, they are malinvestment that will not pay off anymore. To make them continue to pay off, the Bomb Plants are turned into Fertilizer Plants, the Tank Factories are turned into Sports Car factories. The Green Revolution and the Mall Culture is BORN! Here in the FSofA, biggest WINNER after WWII, credit flows out fast and furious as Levittowns are built for the Victorious GIs to come Home and Breed Up the Boomer Generation. Over in Eurotrashland, the Losing Krauts are handed the Marshall Plan to allow them to rebuild what was destroyed of their Industrial Infrastructure, with the SAME folks who owned them before the War STILL in control of them! Together, the Anglo-American Illuminati and the Teutonic Illuminati join forces to turn the world into the Konsumer Paradise of Strip Malls and Ring Roads and Suburban Subdivisions all run on the OIL they now control worldwide, making themselves RICHER THAN GOD, far more wealthy and powerful than any Pharaoh or Chinese Emperor ever was, and really we do not even know who most of them ARE at all.
Industrialization did not arrive because it was FASHIONABLE, nor does it hang around because of that either. It evolved from the Will to Power, a gradual accretion of knowledge over many millenia which first allowed Homo Sapiens just to survive and prosper in a Hostile World where other Predators were Out to Get Him, and then allowed one group of H-S to dominate and squash out of existence other groups.
Where does the EVIL crop up in all this stuff? Tough question to answer, but IMHO it comes once one group becomes vastly more powerful than another group. At this point the Playing Field is no longer LEVEL, and one group can exercise POWER over another group willy-nilly without Consequence to themselves, at least on this side of the Great Divide anyhow. Once nasty consequence to your actions is removed, Evil begins to grow inside the Individual and inside the Society Unchecked. Today, for the top .01%, there are NO nasty consequences to THEM for their actions, only nasty consequences for EVERYBODY ELSE. So they have essentially become completely CONSUMED by Evil at this point.
I still hold out the HOPE that Homo Sapiens can make it through this trial, where Evil has now become so dominant a force in society. If we are to do that, there must be CONSEQUENCES for Acts of Evil. It is up to the GOOD people of the Earth to step up to the Plate now and administer the consequences, or suffer the results of leaving Evil to run amok unchecked in our society.
A recent thread inside the Diner brought up a very old problem many of us, including myself, have to deal with on just about a daily basis. The problem is one of HYPOCRISY. Bloggers and Commenters alike, most of us who have access to the internet LIVE inside Industrial Cultures, and while we decry the consequences of Carz or Iphones, we still “Live the Life”.
Just about a year ago on TBP while I was writing on that Blog as a Guest Author, I got taken to task for MY Hypocrisy. Following below is my response to being tagged as a Hypcocrite who enojoys the Benefits of the Age of Oil and living inside the FSofA, while at the same time decrying it all as usustainable and immoral. I am no less the Hypocrite today I was when I wrote this post last year. The parameters haven’t changed that much…YET.
However, you do not need to be a Weatherman to know which way the Wind Blows.
Punblished originally on TBP in March of 2011
My sometimes Friend and sometimes Enemy here on TBP StuckInNJ has an Ace in the Hole he periodically likes to pull on me, the Hypocrisy Card. Stuck is also a pretty funny guy and a good writer, and recently in one of LLPOH’s threads I was Trolling to make a nuisance of myself he wrote a pretty hilarious critique of the Hypocrisy he sees in my writing when you juxtapose it against my real life actions as a participant in the Industrial/Capitalist economy. This came about after I sarcastically recommended to Jmarz that he go back and read every goddamn post I ever wrote because he is “confused” by how I can be such a vehement enemy of Capitalism while at the same time being a beneficiary of this system. I replied to Jmarz that he probably MISSED the CRITICAL PARAGRAPH I wrote somewhere in the 10s of thousands of words I drop down here on a weekly basis that would tie it all together for him. At the rate I write, its not entirely impossible that I have already dropped a HALF MILLION words on these pages. I have no idea really though. In any event, looking for such a paragraph would be an exercise in utter & complete futility. LOL.
Of course there really IS no single paragraph in there that could do this, in reality you have to understand many different things I have written here over the last couple of years, going back to TBP1 and Raging Debate. Even more, you would have to be familiar with everything I wrote on the Peak Oil board during my time there. However, Stuck BRILLIANTLY took this as a jumping off point to write this paragraph for me as a Parody of my stuff:
“The one thing you all fail to realize is that I don’t believe half the shit I write. I mean for Chrissakes I was Pigman Semi-truck owner! And now I teach dumb fucking Alaskan Eskimoo kids … for MONEY! Are you fucking kidding me? I have a stash of money for a BugOut machine, gold buried near my cabin, guns, seeds, and case of blowup dolls. Guess what? That takes ….. MONEY!! I blow smoke up your asses day and night and you turd-fuckers fall for it everytime. Looks like my Ivy League education paid off. And yeah, that cost a shitload of money too. See you all in the Great Beyond …. and I’ll have a shitload of loot there too –RE!”
What makes this paragraph so funny is that so much of it is TRUE! LOL. The best parodies always have a layer of truth that underlies the parody, and this one most certainly does. I was an independent contractor with my Freightliner, I did make decent money doing that. I did go to an Ivy League school and spent a decent amount of money to do that also, though not nearly what it costs these days. When I attended Columbia, my Tuition was around $3500. Imagine that. Total costs including Books and Dorm and Food was less than $10K/year.
Nowadays, I DO have a Stash of Cash I saved up by virtue of being a penurious sort of fellow for the last 20 years, and I even have some GOLD as well I panned up over the last few years since moving up here. I have my Bugout Machine, which I purchased for $5K on the used market. I rent a lovely Cabin on the Last Great Frontier and have a nice middle class salary coming in running a Private Education paradigm with a friend of mine, essentially sieving a living off the children of Big Oil and the FSofA Military. LOL.
Since I sure live a whole lot better than the poor folks getting bombed back to the stone age in MENA, just how is it that I can go ahead and “bite the hand that feeds me” and lambaste the whole fucking Capitalist system as being utterly immoral and beneath my contempt as a way to organize up human society?
Rather than writing a whole PARAGRAPH on it, back in the thread where Stuck wrote his parody, I dropped down a single SENTENCE to tie it all together for the Confused among you. Its not original, but it explains this very well:
It doesn’t take a Weatherman to know which way the Wind Blows.
Imagine yourself for moment as a young boy in a Native American community overrun by the Manifest Destiny of the FSofA. You get dropped into a School run by the Missionaries. You don’t really like this, but this is what happened to your community and your father sent you to the school. You want to RUN AWAY, but you cannot. You are trapped in this paradigm by powers much greater than yourself.
Turns out you are a pretty smart little Native Boy and you rocket your way through the system and get sent to an Ivy League College. You become a Doctor, you are held up as an EXAMPLE of success, but you watch as your people are decimated by the culture that overran them. YOU succeeded, but most others of your community did not succeed.
That is not MY story, not exactly anyhow. It’s the story of Charles Eastman, a Lakota who became a Doctor in the years of the Robber Barons and the Railroads. He was absorbed into the culture that became dominant, and he succeeded in it because he was a pretty smart little Indian. But he became VERY unhappy seeing the results of the conquest of his community, and for what remained of his life he did what he could to help them. You can watch a movie made of his life if you like, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”.
I have been immersed in the Capitalist Nightmare from birth. I am the Son of a Bankster. Circumstances of Divorce in my family life took me out of the Class for my formative years through my teens. That was the time of the Cultural Rebellion in the late 60s and early 70s. I identified with the disenfranchised because of that. But of course, I still was a smart little Indian. Smart enough to still get educated in the Ivy League, on scholarships and by working as a research assistant in developing Radioimmunoassays. I still had contacts from the Bankster world from Dad the Pigman, so on Graduation I was able to use my math gifts to go to work on Wall Street and make Big Bucks. But of course, I was a Fish Out of Water, and the whole thing just made me sick. So I quit on one cool September day, stopped playing numbers games in my head and went to WORK, for most of the next decade in various roles in Hospitals, Clinical Chemistry, Respiratory Therapy, Radiation Safety etc. Union Work mostly. For most of you, this is probably what makes you think I am”Crazier than a Junkyard Dog” as Muckabout puts it. What kind of psycho quits a 6 figure job barely out of his teens because he finds it morally repulsive? Only somebody who is thoroughly off the scale as an iconoclast would do such a thing. That is who I am, who I have been for these 30 years since.
Anyhow, I am not going to review every choice I made here along the way, most of them were not conscious choices anyhow. I most certainly HAVE benefited from my position in society, where I was born and when I was born and to whom I was born. But all along the way, ever so gradually I felt the Wind Blowing, and the direction it is blowing is NOT toward a continuation of the Industrial/Capitalist paradigm. It will not perpetuate itself, it is not sustainable.
So here I am today, and most certainly I still depend on Money, and I still make Money. Hopefully I will continue to do so as long as money still works to buy anything. I still consume Oil and drive a 1989 Mazda MPV also to get to work most of the time. This is the culture, and it will be what it will be until it is NOT. For me to try to reject it would be plain stupid, you cannot reject the dominant culture of your society. This is what the Whole Earth Catalogue, back to the Land Hippies of the 60s tried to do, and they failed at it miserably. Not even the few remaining Communes like The Farm in TN succeeded as independent self sustaining communities, really they became a Tourist Destination.
At this stage of my life, particularly considering Health issues I have, there is no WAY I can take myself out into the Yukon Territory and try to escape all this stuff. I do know however which way the Wind Blows, even though I am not a Weatherman. The Model here of industrial society is on its Deathbed. So I take the pennies I have saved here and I attempt to secure myself as best I can. I am NOT a rich man, though of course compared to the impoverished even here in the FSofA I still do pretty well, and compared to Egyptians living on $2/day, I am George Fucking Soros.
Is it truly ACCURATE then when Stuck writes the Parody of RE, a HYPOCRITE who lives well under the Capitalist Sytem but reviles it at the same time? No, it is not accurate, although it certainly is funny and certainly serves to undermine what I m trying to communicate as well. I am TRAPPED, as all of you are also TRAPPED. You have to live within your society as it is constructed, until such time as it falls apart. So if you were a Hebrew Slave in Ancient Egypt, you lived and accepted your circumstance as a Slave until that society fell apart, with the Plagues and all the rest that hit upon them. Only THEN do you go running off with Moses into the Desert seeking Freedom.
If you SEE IT COMING though, you can PREPARE yourself for when the society falls apart. I try to pass on some of the ways I am preparing for this, because I GUARANTEE IT, it is Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You.
You don’t have to be a Weatherman to KNOW which way the Wind Blows.