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CYA

Thu, Dec 9, 2010

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I was enjoying lunch with a former student and long-time friend yesterday after walking across campus on a gloriously sunny day in the American Southwest. I mentioned to my friend the resurgence of “fashion” among young women — women without pants, I call them. You’ve probably seen one of these fashion princesses, wearing a skin-tight pair of sheer, black tights topped by a tee shirt. But my friend hadn’t noticed, even though she has a teen-aged daughter.

How timely, then, when the hostess walked by, sans pants. And, better yet, she dropped her pen right in front of us. As she bent down to pick up the pen, she literally covered her ass with her left hand while picking up the pen with her right hand.

At least modesty isn’t completely dead. But I have to admit that, even with her relatively small butt, her hand didn’t quite do the trick.

I’m not saying I don’t appreciate the born-again fashion scene, last popular a decade or so ago. In fact, the CYA hostess reminds me to mention, as if I haven’t done so enough already, that it’s time to start covering our own asses.

On the front of economic meltdown, the Pentagon is ratcheting up its plans to deal with civil unrest. In itself, this is not news. What’s new is that the Pentagon is not hiding it. The news broke on CNBC, which is hardly a fringe player in the realm of the blogosphere.

The government is not your friend. They are not here to protect you and yours. In fact, a quick look at the latest climate-change projections, along with the associated inaction, suggests the government is working pretty hard to kill us all.

Decent human communities offer a solution for each of us, albeit partial ones. These communities are necessary, but likely not sufficient, to fend off the ongoing evils of imperialism. It’s time to deepen the bonds within our tribes. It’s time to fend for ourselves, and prepare to fend off the government.

The prescient words of Edward Abbey come to mind: “A patriot must be ready to defend his country against his government.”

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88 Responses to “CYA”

  1. Privileged Says:

    People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

    V

    P.S. You can’t cut a deal with Mother Nature.

  2. dermotmoconnor Says:

    I’m deeply pessimistic about the project of creating communities in the U.S.

    This isn’t to say that it’s impossible, but meaningful communities take time to form; they don’t happen over months or even years – at least not ones with deep root structure.

    The basis for this point of view is a childhood in Ireland, growing up in a small town (pop 10,000), in the 1970s and 1980s. Most of that childhood was spent living in a working class housing estate (the lowest end of the socio-economic spectrum), during times that were pretty hard – harder than those experienced by most Americans, even today.

    It was an experience that was, in likelihood, alien to the modern ear:

    * Neighbours knew one another; we knew the names of every family (and their individuals) not just on our street, but on the ones adjacent. In case you think this was a result of the small town setting, think again. In interviews with older Dublin residents, a similar pattern existed even in Central Dublin…families knew everyone in their areas.

    * Neighbours visited one another regularly, and shared gossip, news, and time. To the point where it was almost a nuisance. Nothing happened in that place without someone knowing about it.

    * A knock on the door. “Mammy wants to know can you lend us 1/2 LB of sugar until Friday?” This was done, and it was paid back on payday/dole-day.

    * Crime? Are you joking? Who could steal anything, with so many eyes? Besides, nothing was worth stealing!

    * Two members of my immediate family experienced what, in retrospect, were Nervous Breakdowns, or close to it. There was no treatment, no meds. What got them through was family, friends, & neighbours, in that order. This may operate in some parts of the U.S. still, but not in the parts I’ve seen.

    * A social life centered around pubs. This has a shadow aspect, but the weekend rituals of drinking allowed people to see other overlapping groups, like the Mother of all Venn diagrams. People could keep tabs on what was happening outside their own affinity group.

    * Dmitri Orlov wrote that the people least equipped to handle collapse are middle aged men; from personal observation, this is 100% correct. Women have a mental plasticity that men do not. So, Matriarchal family structures will be more resilient.

    * Another factor that helped to prevent starvation (and a general uprising) was a social safety net: welfare & national health care. These were far from generous, but they helped to keep a person alive. Absent those, things would have unraveled very quickly. Does America have an equivalent?

    So much for memories. What I’ve seen in the U.S., even when encountering people in meetings about Peak Oil (Screenings about the power of community in Cuba, or suchlike) is this:

    A group of atomised strangers assemble, passively watch a documentary, for 2 or 3 hours share the illusion of “togetherness”, mingle for 1/2 an hour or an hour, then they all get in their cars and drive away to their iso-cubes, never to meet again.

    After doing a few of those for a couple of years, it soon became apparent that this was an exercise in futility. The illusory aspect might not even be visible to the participants – as they have no actual memories of the Real Thing…and of course, no idea of what would be required to re-create such a delicate social ecosystem.

    You might as well ask them to clone a dinosaur.

  3. Sue Says:

    All I want for Christmas….

  4. Renee Says:

    @Privileged
    I want to believe your statement, but this makes me very afraid http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/releases/pr_1291648380371.shtm.
    We should learn in a hurry how to form communities lest this campaign to divide and conquer takes root. Their are plans to expand it, and of course, there is hardly a mention of it in most of the mainstream media.

  5. Renee Says:

    “There” are plans . . . one of my own pet peeves.

  6. Jb Says:

    Here’s an interview yesterday with John Williams of Shadowstats on a similar note:

    http://watch.bnn.ca/squeezeplay/december-2010/squeezeplay-december-8-2010/#clip386602

  7. Kevin Moore Says:

    Guy. I was wondering what you could possibly write after writing ‘We’re toast’. I suppose ‘Get out of the toaster before complete incineration takes place’ is as good as anything, even though there seems to be nowhere to run.

    Privileged. ‘People should not be afraid of their governments’.

    I disagree. Throughout the world and for most of recorded history governments have at various times directly attacked the citizenry and/or allowed mayhem to prevail. For decades most governments have implemented policies that stymied progress towards sustainable living; many have implemented policies to directly undermine sustainable living and strong communities. And practically everything governments do diminishes the prospects for survival of future generations ….. including their own progeny’s, of course. If that is not the epitome of evil, I don’t know what is. Governments are now primarily facilitators of the agendas of corporations.

    But the scary part is that as matters get worse, governments are more or less certain to implement counter-productive responses that will be enforced by ‘security forces’ which become ever more brutal in their attacks on the citizens …. the Pol Pot regime perhaps being the worst recent example; no one stood a chance if they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    ‘Governments should be afraid of their people.’ Intellectually I agree, but the definining characteristics of those in government seem to be arrogance and contempt for the people they govern (mislead).

    On the matter of fashion, prior to reading the blog I happened to be thinking about clothing. Five hundred years ago every community was largely self-sufficient in the production of clothing and footwear, mostly from locally obtained raw materials. Now, in most instances, those raw materials (wool, animmal skins, flaxes, maybe cotton and silk) are longer available. And most of the skills and equipment are gone. The implications are obvious.

    ‘It’s time to deepen the bonds within our tribes’. A great concept Guy, but unfortunately, around here there are no tribes to strenthen bond within (other than the remanants of the first settlers tribes). The only real commonality is that most of us speak roughly the same language.

    I have been speculating how long the lack of rainfall will continue. Sadly, it seems it will take something like a severe drought that devastates the land to shake the general populace out of their compalcency/denial. The earthquake in Christchurch didn’t do it: that was just an opportunity for reconstruction (=GDP growth). The mine disaster didn’t do it: that was just a slight setback on the looting of the planet. Having the major earner of foreign currency largely wiped out might.

    The waiting is interminable.

    dermotmoconnor. I too have memories of neighbourhood ….perhaps not quite as strong as yours but I grew up in a place that had endured 4 years of bombing followed by a decade food rationing. I agree; there is no way to establish a community amongst people who have no concept of community because they have never experienced it.

  8. Andy Brown Says:

    Much as I like to wallow in the dire here, I think people’s capacity for community will reassert itself pretty quickly given half a chance. If I had to guess, I’d say that our current strange atomization is the result of a pretty sustained campaign to break us up and make us customer/consumers (and more docile subjects) rather than community members or citizens.

    I suppose, just as Guy hopes that industrial society collapses hard enough to neuter its destructiveness, we could hope that the imperial state disintegrates terminally enough to enable communities to form.

  9. Victor Says:

    “The government is not your friend” Very true, Guy. It has always been that way in civilisation and as long as there remains a civilisation, it always will be so. One of Jensen’s premises upon which he bases his endgame analysis is that (and I quote):

    “Civilisation is based upon a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.”

    And further: “The property of those higher on the hierarchy is more valuable than than the lives of those below. It is acceptable for those above to increase the amount of property they control – in everyday language, to make money – by destroying or taking the lives of those below. This is called ‘production’. If those below damage the property of those above, those above may kill or otherwise destroy the lives of those below. This is called ‘justice’

    I would agree with his premises. I believe the nature of government is to protect the property holder against threats (locally, nationally, internationally) and to assist the property holder to increase wealth. The government at all levels, the military, the intelligence services and the police are there to benefit the privileged. It is our duty and privilege to offer our lives and those of our family, often literally, in the service of the wealthy. It is the duty of Nature with respect to civilisatin to endlessly supply the wealthy with resources for ‘production’, even at the cost of the environment, biodiversity and succeeding generations of those lower on the hierarchy.

    As for communities, it is true that that is what is most needed at this time. It is also true to say that they do not exist at this time, except perhaps within the indigenous communities of the world. Most of modern civilisation can be considered as simply isolated automatons bred for the purpose of mass production and mass consumption, to be valued little more than cattle of the field for their respective purposes, and then discarded without thought at the end of life or when used up.

    The remarkable thing is that we the people accept that wholly, for as we long ago became disconnected to Nature, we by necessity became connected to civilisation – the empires of the elite.

    In the end, however, also as Jensen premises, “industrial civilisation is not and can never be sustainable”. When it collapses, we will be re-introduced to Nature, albeit rather harshly. Some might even survive. Those, if they do survive, will then find each other and become communities again. And because the cheap and accessible resources for civilisation, especially fossil fuels and metal ores, will have been long since depleted and unavailable, there will never be another civilisation – only communities.

    Currently, it is doubtful that many, if any at all, among we the isolated producer/consumer automatons among the wealthy nations of the world, will know the first thing about forming true communities. But some of us will, if we be fortunate, learn. But that learning process will likely only be made possible during or after collapse, when we absolutely HAVE to abandon our pc’s, our iPods and our televisions, and step outside to meet with and talk to our neighbours to begin the process of surviving. It is only then that each of us as individuals will be faced with each his own character. Will we be community builders, or will our darker natures prevail? I suggest we will see much of both.

  10. Privileged Says:

    @ Kevin

    My point is that people are afraid of their government and this is unfortunate. Government is no longer for the people but rather for corporations. I agree with your points on what government has become and the road block it has created for sustainability.

    Walking away is easy yet so difficult.

  11. sue day Says:

    One of the ways the society we live in has been most effective is to reduce or in many cases completely destroy our ability to get along amicably with each other. Difference of ideologies and opinion are frowned upon or downright condemned. You see it in every sphere of life – including this blog. So when the SHTF I think we are going to have to learn a whole lot of skills we never needed before. Will we manage it in time? Frankly I doubt it, but if we can then maybe there is hope for our spieces after all. As Guy often so eloquently points out time is something we do not have. But coping with difference and learning to respect people who believe and behave differently to ourselves will be key in strengthening ties with the communtiy around us.

  12. Victor Says:

    Sue

    I would tend to agree with you to a large degree. As William Catton is prone to say, modern civilisation brings with it deep specialisation and high complexity. This paired with the innate tendency to deceive, creates isolation and distrust and a profound sense of loss of control over our lives and our society. Such feelings give rise to massive polarisation and intolerance for the views of others based upon our own insecurities and feelings of impotence. This is not cyclic in nature, and will not improve until the cause is removed – industrial civilisation.

  13. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    Here in Arkansas, communities still seem to exist – at least in the rural areas. I live in a semi-suburban rural area – most of us have between 5 and 40 acres. I know the names of all my nearby neighbors and have met most of them. During times of crisis we all seem to come together just fine – at least in the short term. Two years ago we had a horrific ice storm. Roads were blocked with downed trees and electric power was off for nine days. During that period I talked and worked with all my neighbors. We all checked on one another to be sure everyone was safe. We all pitched in and cleared the roads since we knew that the county wouldn’t be there for quite a while. Of course, that involved using tractors and chainsaws – I’m not sure what would happen if we had no diesel. The amazing part is that no one seems to care that my partner and I are the same sex. I don’t know how this sense of community will change when the “collapse” comes, if at all. But for now, based on what I’m reading here, I’m grateful for the sense of community we have, even if it’s only minimal and only during crisis.

  14. Jean Says:

    “…only during crisis.”

    That means “the rest of our lifetimes”.

  15. Frank Mezek Says:

    Please forgive my repitition.

    Amanda Knox was not an unusual exception.

    Wedding photographers frequently are asked to photograph the wedding couple in pornographic poses.

    Human nature never changes–decadence,depravity,death is the sequence
    for the end of all civilizations.

    ProfEmGuy,did you say you counted 22 dead civilizations.

    Double D

  16. Victor Says:

    Dr. House

    In 2007 we had relative bad flooding in our area. In our neighbourhood we were under about a metre of water in the back garden (the front street-side was ok) and the electricity was cut off for about a week. Dreadful! But during this period, I noticed one thing that stood out above all – suddenly the entire street started coming out of doors and talking with each other, offering assistance where possible, and actually getting to know each other. I thought it quite remarkable, and most enjoyable.

    But then another most remarkable thing happened. Once the electricity came back on and PCs and televisions were operable again, we all disappeared back into our houses as if nothing had ever happened.

    What a remarkable world we live in!

    V

  17. Frank Mezek Says:

    ProfEmGuy:

    Women Without Pants is called “going commando”.

    Britney Spears,Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan all go out at night,and
    spread their legs so the Paparazzi get the best shot.

    These then are the role models for young women today.

    Decadence-Depravity-Death.

    Double D

  18. Frank Mezek Says:

    To be clear,Spears,Hilton,and Lohan don’t disappoint.They spread their
    legs for the public while in commando mode.

    Double D

  19. Stan Moore Says:

    Guy –

    Why no photos of the “fashion princesses”? :)

    Would Lady Gaga be considered as one? In this age of hyper-abbreviation due to texting, etc., why is Lady Gaga not known at LaGa?

    And from the freewheeling late 1960′s, with free love and social experimentation, I would like to share one of my favorite all-time songs by the Australian band “The Seekers” on YouTube. How in the world did that girl get away with extreme modesty? She sang like a red-winged blackbird.

  20. Stan Moore Says:

    Another modest, beautiful young female songbird of the late 1960′s was Canadian Joni Mitchell, seen here singing “Chelsea Morning” on the Dick Cavett TV show with Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane also on the show (and performing wonderfully in their psychodelic style).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aP9OywTfPLY&playnext=1&list=PL45132381608922F6&index=15

  21. Stan Moore Says:

    And check out Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane on the same episode of the Dick Cavett Show, with Joni Mitchell listening to the fashionista, but modestly-dressed Grace Slick, who somehow did not see the need to display her underwear to the mass audience in the style of Lada Gaga in 2010:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3T8JqG5bcc

  22. Stan Moore Says:

    On the other hand, we had the sexually riske’ and “cheeky” performance of male fashionistas Monte Python at the memorial concert to honor George Harrison (called amazingly enough “Concert for George”) in 2002:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8AvuKO6Mg0

  23. sue day Says:

    Talking about community I have noticed a strange thing when I am camping. In order to get my kids some much needed survival skills I dress it up as “camping”. Yay! Thats fun isnt it they think, they dont realise why I am doing it. When I take them by myself we usually take a tent etc and the neccesities. There is allways a great feeling of community on a camp site with people sitting outside and chatting together. BUT my husband will not camp so when we go “camping” with him we go in our all singing all dancing twin axel luxury caravan. Now here’s the strange thing. That sense of community virtually disappears within the caravan site. It is usually the same site that I go tenting in (I like to call it loitering within tent:)but the feel is completely different. It seems that as soon as people have got something solid between them and their fellow man ie caravan door the desire for community evaporates. There must be a psychological reason for this but I don’t know what it is. Perhaps it is that sense of being “safe” behind your own four walls that makes people think they don’t need it other.

  24. Victor Says:

    Caravans usually have conveniences built-in that tents don’t – maybe stove, toilet, even TV….so there we go….home away from home….isolation…

  25. Kathy Says:

    Been away from the computer for a few days. Catching up here. Noted the first comment by Privileged. You will note the words are followed by V. This is a quote by V from the movie V is for Vendatta. While in reality it is true that we should be afraid of our government the movie is a delight if you like to see movies where “the people” win. V is a man damaged by his government who wears a Guy Fawkes mask. You can view the clip at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EORflS7uEIc along with a very pertinent quote by JFK at the end of the clip.

    Guy Fawkes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes was a guy who was part of a plot to blow up parliament inspiring the famous poem
    Remember, remember the fifth of November,
    The gunpowder treason and plot
    I know of no reason
    Why the gunpowder treason
    Should ever be fought

  26. Kathy Says:

    I think David Brin’s book Postman is probably a pretty accurate description of how communities form after an apocalyptic event, which is likely to be somewhat different in our case (unless of course the nukes fly). Still it matches more with Dmitry Orlov’s view that you can’t make communities form. They appear when they are needed. It is possible depending on how things unfold that our hand pump drilled well may be a focus for community. Years and years ago when there was a drought and people’s wells went dry the community converged here at Jack’s grandfather’s well which had water all through the drought. When the nearby lake went in all the hand dug wells went dry. His was one of the last ones to go dry. We have a drilled well with electric pump but had another drilled to accommodate a hand pump.

    As Victor notes, when the electricity is off for a while community forms, when it goes back on it dies. Communities will form on their own.

  27. Guy Montag Says:

    Personally, I’ve always liked this Ed Abbyism as well (paraphrased):

    “I’m an optimist. I believe civilization will collapse soon”.

    Of course, 15 years after reading Abbey, that optimism is not very comforting now that I’m married with a 6 and 9 years old. I’d prefer not to live out some version of the film “The Road”.

    I’ve always gotten some cold comfort from reading the poet Robinson Jeffers (a favorite of Ed Abbey, Robert Frost, and Joseph Campbell).

  28. the virgin terry Says:

    i think kathy’s human powered well water pump is a good idea. perversely, i almost certainly won’t seriously consider doing it myself, for a variety of reasons, primarily alienation and indifference.

    i don’t think i’ve ever surreally been part of a close ‘community’. i suspect my alienation precludes any such future possibility, much to my regret. i suspect u’re right, kathy, re. necessity being the mother of community. unfortunately, it will also be the mother of violence, and many other bad things. it’s hard to say how collapse will go for a particular person or place, but since the common scientific assumption includes rapid population decline, it strongly suggests that for most people and places at some point, it will be deadly. of course, this surreality is at/near? the heart of discussion on this blog.

    fiddle, fiddle, fiddle. burn, burn, burn. burn, baby, burn!

    interesting anecdote, guy. thanks for sharing. people pay money for less thrilling commercial exhibitionism at strip clubs (i’ve done it!).

    your remark ‘At least modesty isn’t completely dead.’ seems to have opened the door to a few dogmatically puritanical criticisms of exhibitionism, to my chagrin. it mystifies and deeply discourages to witness how omnipresent dp is, for it turns up in every group i’ve ever known, including nudists. kneejerk negativity in response to titillation. dogmatic condemnation of ‘depravity’ in the form of casual flirtatious public exhibitionism.

    i’m very thankful to not live under a theocratic regime like the taliban, where the slightest hint of public exhibitionism may result in a death sentence for the ‘depraved’ perpetrator.

    whatever the reason for nearly omnipotent dogmatic puritanism among civilized peoples, i find it repulsive. i’d love to live in a culture of sexual liberation, as appears to exist or have existed among at least some ‘primitive savages’ before civilization stretched it’s filthy colonial tentacles around the whole freaking inhabitable planet. perversely perhaps, the prospect of sexual/spiritual liberation makes me look forward to civilization’s death even more than the prospect of avoiding extinction. evolve, or die, evolution here including dropping all dogma like perverse puritanism. for gaia’s sake, let it rest! do some of u surreally hate sex so much u have to snipe at it always? what is it about erotophobia, besides it’s establishment stamp of approval, that appeals to some of u?

    free speech isn’t free at all when it results in persecution. it’s not even very satisfying to engage in, considering the difficulty and anxiety involved. surreal, isn’t it, how we still strive to engage in it now and then?

    fiddle, fiddle, fiddle. burn, baby, burn.

  29. Robert Atack Says:

    I think people ‘get along’ ok in short term emergencies, because they face repercussions (public outing, the law) as they know things will come good again soon, so they don’t go beating up the neighbor and steeling his food, it is a kind of pretend thing, because if it was down to the last peace of bread, cup of water, or as they discovered when opening the doors of the gas chambers – last gasp of air, it is very much everyone for themselves.
    Look what happened in the Warsaw ghetto there was still a class system, while ‘they’ had cash, the ‘rich’ still walked over dying children.
    I spoke to a UN/peace keeping soldier, who was in Dili just after all the shit had settled, he said he was amazed at all the dead children he saw.
    Once people work out the cavalry are not coming, they will start to focus on their own families, then themselves, if there is no law and order them might will be right.
    People will not let their child starve if they know there is food next door/tent/caravan.
    As we are seeing in London at the moment (an ‘I told you so’ moment for the 12 awake people) the idiot masses think ‘someone’ has a magic checkbook, if ‘money’ was made available everything would be fine … and “f@%k it we pay our taxes you bastards better get it right … we are all entitled to XYZ” … watch what happens when the same bunch of idiots times everyone else, starts thinking the same ‘someone’ is going to deliver food to them.
    What is the population of London ? They will be looking back at last night (Thu 9/12) as the good old days. One good thing they will stop using horses … they well be eaten.
    I think The Road was wishful thinking.

  30. Robert Atack Says:

    If there is no law and order then might will be right … not them )

  31. cleitophon Says:

    1984 here we come!

    WAR IS PEACE
    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

    In the words of Charlie Brown: “Good grief!”

  32. Kathy Says:

    Robert, I agree – the Road may well be optimistic and I really doubt that any community formed around our well will last long. But perhaps for a bit we will have the joy of that bit of foresight. We put it in in the early years of learning about peak oil. We are looking at the high liklihood of a drastic population decline in a few decades with no central authority functioning.

    Looking to the past to see how people dealt with such situations, in the Decameron Boccacio notes that during the plague “One citizen avoided another, everybody neglected their neighbors and rarely or never visited their parents and relatives unless from a distance; the ordeal had so withered the hearts of men and women that brother abandoned brother, and the uncle abandoned his nephew and the sister her brother and many times, wives abandoned their husbands, and, what is even more incredible and cruel, mothers and fathers abandoned their children and would refuse to visit them.” Jews were blamed and persecuted as well and I believe in at least one instance locked into a church and burned alive.

    Groups that make it through the bottlenecks will likely line up behind a strong man. I don’t think strong men can make it alone without a group but I don’t think a group will make it without fighting in some way to defend themselves. I don’t want to refuse food to anyone or kill anyone and thus am glad I am old and will probably die in the early stages. I think people who want strongly to survive through the bottleneck need to think long and hard about what they are willing to do, what they might have to do to get through and decide how much a few more years is worth to them.

    “At Auschwitz, Treblinka, Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno and Sobibor the Nazis established the Sonderkommando, groups of Jewish male prisoners picked for their youth and relative good health whose job was to dispose of corpses from the gas chambers or crematoria. Some did the work to delay their own deaths; some thought they could protect friends and family, and some acted out of mere greed for extra food and money these men sometimes received. The men were forced into this position, with the only alternative being death in the gas chambers or being shot on the spot by an SS guard.”

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Sonderkommando.html

    An excellent movie based on a true story that deals in multiple ways with this choice is The Grey Zone http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0252480/ The question asked over and over in a variety of situations is “what am I willing to do for a few months, days, hours more of life”. While we have movies I highly recommend it as a way to pose to yourself this ethical question before it is forced on you.

    No one ever does anything more than delay their own death. Doctor’s don’t save people, they extend their lives. People don’t survive, they survive longer. I am not saying that people shouldn’t kill others to extend their lives, that is for each person to decide. I am saying they shouldn’t be so naive as to think that in the coming hard times they might not be faced with that choice. They very likely will be faced with that choice multiple times.

    So enjoy what today has to offer. Any tomorrow might not come and a multitude of tomorrows looks increasingly unlikely

  33. Victor Says:

    Wherever you go, as government services collapse (military, police, fire, social services, etc.), the resulting code of behaviour will follow the “Might is Right” principle – it cannot be otherwise in such a world.

    Certainly I believe that there will be much violence and bloodshed during those times. There will rise to the surface many very bad people and many desperate, but otherwise good people, who will do great harm for any number of reasons.

    But I also believe that there will rise good local leaders who will see the dangers posed by Collapse and will organise the people around them accordingly. These leaders will of necessity have to be very strong and authoritarian and will likely for some time to come have to abandon the principles of “freedom” in favour of instant and uncompromising conflict resolution to protect the newly formed community.

    This is one reason I am concerned more about the development of small community security principles and organisation strategies than I am about the need for food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. There are lots of people looking at those issues, but few are looking at what would be needed to set up and protect the new community against roving gangs of desperate people and criminals.

    We all seem to instantly accept that the chaos and darkness addressed by The Road will arise and overcome what is left of humanity. Indeed, I am almost shocked at how readily we accept such doom, even to the point that there is almost no dialogue on how we might prevent that from occurring.

    We will need strong leadership, organisation, security strategies, community rules, etc. planned and developed well in advance. These are things that can be developed now and reserved for the time of their need. These are things that we could now develop and publish across the Internet for consultation and improvement. They could be submitted to various organisations and communities already in existence with the understanding that they will be activated as the need arises. When the Collapse arrives, we will then know how to organise immediately. Those with strong leadership skills can step forward with solutions, people can be organised, desperation channelled positively towards specific goals and principles.

    Hopefully, this won’t sound to “pie-in-the-sky” to folks. I really believe that if local communities, or leadership-capable people situated locally, don’t have a plan ready to implement, I fear the worst.

  34. Stan Moore Says:

    It is encouraging to me to see some pushback by the Wikileaks crowd, including “Anonymous” against Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, etc. When the feces hit the blower big time the powers that be will try to clamp down on the masses by any means necessary. Already they are trying to gain control of the internet through fees and regulation, and in an emergency they will shut down the internet entirely.

    However it is not as easy as it seems because so much commerce of all kinds runs through the internet now, and they only way they could shut down the internet would be to harm their own financial interests. So they use their leverage and threats and fear to try to force internet business not to coopearate with the Wikileaks of the world. And there is room for pushback within the “system” right now.

    If the internet gets shut down entirely it would be like the shutting off of consumer credit entirely – it will be a sign that the end is immienent because they system will not be able to survive the loss of either in the current business environment.

    That is why the powers that be still tolerate radicalism and anarchy and a little bit of truth slipping through. They want to milk their engineered economy for their own self-benefit for as long as they can. Finally they will hunker down with their Blackwater mercenaries and their stashes of survival goods and the finaly collapse will proceed.

    The day is coming when one basic tool of survival will be a firearm and if you cannot bring yourself to kill to survive you may not. Things are going to get that serious and sooner than we would like to think.

  35. Michael Irving Says:

    Victor,

    I cannot resolve the apparent conflict between two ideas you have presented in response to Guy’s post.

    In the first you quote and then agree with Jensen: “Civilisation is based upon a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.”

    Then later you note that you believe in and are working toward the establishment of “good leaders” who are “very strong and authoritarian and will likely for some time to come have to abandon the principles of “freedom” in favor of instant and uncompromising conflict resolution to protect the newly formed community.

    I am having trouble getting my head around the idea that you find civilization’s hierarchy problematic in that the top layers are willing and able to evoke a different set of laws to govern the rightness of their actions while at the same time it seems your are working to establish just such a hierarchy to stabilize communities after a collapse. I think it is admirable that you can pick out the “good leaders” and that you are confident that when they offer “uncompromising conflict resolution” it will be good. Generally, in my limited view of history at any rate, in most situations where a strong man comes to the top of a hierarchy and begins administering uncompromising conflict resolution it has worked out badly for all of the lower levels of the hierarchy (re: your quote from Jensen).

    Michael Irving

  36. Victor Says:

    Hi Michael,

    Many apologies for the misunderstanding. Let me be a bit clearer, if I may. Firstly, in the context of my Jensen quote, I never said that I was against hierarchy (indeed, for it either). It just is. And in the context of what Jensen wrote, that is the way the hierarchical structure of ‘civilisation’ works. I was saying that I agreed with the ‘how it currently works’ aspect of it.

    There is nothing innately wrong with a hierarchical structure. It can be a very useful tool under many circumstances. In other circumstances, it is not so efficient. It all depends upon how it is implemented, for what reason, and who is at each level.

    Further, I am certainly not saying that all strong men are ‘good’ leaders, or even that all ‘good’ leaders are..well…’good’. I am only saying that any community formed will have to have good (effective, strong) leadership. Weak leaders will soon be deposed under those circumstances, or the community might die out because of it. It could even be that the leadership will be provided by a small core team of ‘elders’, if you will. In any case, there will exist a profound need for strong leadership to build a community and protect it from the surrounding chaos.

    I am saying, however, that 1) good (strong, effective) leadership will be a requirement for the survival of the nascent community, and 2) that strong leadership might be either well-intentioned or malevolent in nature – I think we will see much of both.

    Lastly, only communities that establish a sustainable lifestyle will survive. That lets out the cannibals… ;-)

  37. Victor Says:

    Michael,

    Again apologies. I left out part of your concerns and issues you raised. I said that I believe that it would be necessary for these leaders to be strong and authoritarian (most likely), not that “I believe in and working toward the establishment of good leaders”. I’m afraid you put words in my mouth there.

    Also, I never claimed to be able to “pick out the “good leaders” and that you are confident that when they offer “uncompromising conflict resolution” it will be good”.

    And again, “good” in the sense that I write above is within the context of “strong, effective”, not “benign”. Strong and effective leadership can be benign or malevolent, I think, don’t you?

  38. Kevin Moore Says:

    Terry. Some excellent points about puritanism. Yes ‘fiddle, fiddle, fiddle. burn, baby, burn’. ‘Burn baby burn’ was the title of my first major attempt to get these crucial issues debated publicly (10 years ago). Burning faster than ever now. Yet most people are still not at all concerned about climate -just the weather. The ‘idiot’ corporate press were recenty celebrating the unprecendented warm, sunny weather here -noting increased demand for air conditioning and outdoor furniture etc. as being good for the retail sector.

    Kathy. And the German guards were just ‘doing their duty’ (many having a more or less continuous party, purloining a portion of the confiscated goods and money). Meanwhile, inmates of death camps watched American bombers pass overhead, under instructions not to drop their bombs, thereby leaving the gas chambers and railway tracks intact -other targets being deemed of higher priority.

    Victor. ‘Lastly, only communities that establish a sustainable lifestyle will survive. That lets out the cannibals…’ That may not be the case. If the history I have read is corect, there have been numerous instances of sustainable cannibalistic societies, particularly in the Pacific. As long as it was someone from another island or another tribe, ‘it was okay’.

    At the moment I know of only one sommunity in NZ that has been specifically set up along ‘sustanable, eco-village’ lines …. and it is in completely the wrong place, not far from central Auckland and well within what I consider is likely to become the ‘starvation zone’. All very interesting and surreal.

    The more I think about it, the more I believe only a hunter-gatherer lifestyle has the potential of long term sustainability. As previously discussed, that does imply a bottleneck that eliminates around 99% over coming decades.

  39. Resa Says:

    I should be doing other things, but today is a gloriously pitty day … although not as pitty as two days ago when La Nina let loose with sheets of water. At least at this moment I can distinguish droplets.

    @ The Virgin Terry – You wrote: “i’d love to live in a culture of sexual liberation, as appears to exist or have existed among at least some ‘primitive savages’ before civilization stretched it’s filthy colonial tentacles around the whole freaking inhabitable planet.”

    I had to chuckle when I read the above because I’m currently going through some old letters and papers of an uncle who was among the first to make contact with one of the last societies of Stone Age people. This was in 1959. He was one of eight who worked an area of 25,000 square miles with an indigenous population of around 75,000 living mainly in groups of 100 to several thousand individuals. They were true hunter-gatherers (no agriculture). Once they exhausted an area, they moved the village. They fought with spears and stone axes, were largely naked and had no written language. My uncle was the first to translate into English one of their sub-dialects. They practiced head-hunting, cannibalism, polygamy, homosexuality, and black magic.

    As for sexual liberation: “When a boy reaches the age of puberty, he must go to the bachelor house and must eat, live, and sleep in this house until he is married. A bachelor house has many doors to it and by each door burns a fire. When a boy first enters the house he is assigned a certain fire where he must always report. Each fire has a man in charge of it who keeps the fire going and keeps track of the boys assigned to that fire, and if at night the boy is not present then a search is started in the village until he is found.”

    “In order for a young man to marry, he must have a sister or cousin who can be given in return as a wife to a brother or cousin of his wife. Those unfortunate enough not to have such a marriageable sister or cousin are simply forced to be bachelors for life.”

    I would suggest choosing your post-apocalyptic community wisely if sexual liberty is a freedom you highly value.

    @ Kevin and Victor – Yes, there have been instances of cannibalistic sustainable societies.

  40. Kathy Says:

    Kevin, as you note in the case of the German Prison camps there were many guilty parties to what was going on. But that misses my point. The Grey Zone deals with choices the prisoners have to make within the confines of the camp where by and large no one can choose to live, only to live longer or not. There is a plot to blow up the ovens by some of the Sonderkomando and some who are being worked to death rather than gassed to death. In one group that the Sonderkomando take to the “showers” a young girl survives. This is so stunning and wonderful that some want to shelter her and keep her alive while others fear that it will hurt their plans to blow up the ovens which might extend more lives in the end. Meanwhile one of the Sonderkomando’s tries to kill himself (he had that day put his wife’s body into one of the ovens) and some try to revive him while others feel he should have the right to die. There are woven in other plots about how moral choices are made when you know you have between say 4 months and 1 day to live. These are choices that are not being forced on the German guards or the Americans who choose what to bomb and what not to bomb. It is not a movie badmouthing the Sonderkomando but a sensitive journey into moral choices in an situation where life is not a choice, the choice is die now or die very soon and the question is asked in a variety of ways with no judgment on the choices people make, just a presentation of those choices and what is chosen in each case.

    It is based on a book by Miklós Nyiszli – per wiki “(June 17, 1901 in Szilágysomlyó, Hungary, now: Şimleu Silvaniei, Romania – May 5, 1956) was a Jewish prisoner/doctor at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Nyiszli, along with his wife and young daughter, were transported to Auschwitz in June 1944. On arrival, Nyiszli volunteered himself as a doctor and was sent to work at number 12 barracks where he operated on and tried to help the ill with only the most basic medical supplies and tools. He was under the supervision of Josef Mengele, an SS officer and physician. Mengele decided after observing Nyiszli’s skills to move him to a specially built autopsy and operating theatre. The room had been built inside Crematorium 2 (Crematorium 1 being in Auschwitz Town camp), and Nyiszli, along with members of the 12th Sonderkommando, were housed there.”

  41. the virgin terry Says:

    at the risk of alienating some with self indulgence, i wish to delve further into this topic of perverse puritanism. while it may have little to do with collapse, at least directly, it has much to do with how much i wish to continue living.

    here’s a couple angles:

    some of u are likely familiar with a relatively recent book (and now a movie) titled WHAT’S WRONG WITH KANSAS? (kansas is a mostly rural, agricultural state located in the geographic center of the u.s.) it asks the question: why do ‘working class’ (relatively poor) americans in certain places support a political party (republicans) that clearly doesn’t represent their interests economically? the rather obvious answer has to do with what americans refer to as ‘social’ issues, things like gay rights, abortion rights, etc.. for it turns out that many americans are staunch ‘social conservatives’, advocates of ‘traditional family values’. what this boils down to, imo, is that they’re a bunch of dogmatic puritanical bigots intolerant of basic human rights. it doesn’t take much investigation to further reveal that there’s a very strong correlation between these people and ‘traditional’ religious faiths like mainstream christianity, although again, imo, american culture is so dominated by dogmatic puritanical influences that these views spill over a great deal into the non-religious as well. this phenomenon accounts for how a stupid tool of wealthy elitism like george w. bush (and future sarah palin?) can do well enough in a national election as to win (with a little cheating help). people with ‘high moral values’ only like to vote for one of their own kind.

    a slightly different angle looks specifically at christianity and the bible directly. as this link

    helps show, the christian bible in many places is virulently opposed to human rights. indeed, it’s central tenet seems to be the idea of ‘original sin’, that human nature is inherently ‘sinful’. thus ‘god’ in his divine wisdom condemns us all, and this condemnation comes with severe penalties. first death. but mere death isn’t nearly enough to satisfy this stern god of judgement. oh no! we wicked humans can’t be let off so easy, for death leads to eternal punishment in hell (george carlin nails down this sadism well in the little snippet of his found in part 1 of ZEITGEIST movie).

    i find it incredibly surreal how any decent person can embrace and defend this monstrous christian ‘faith’. indeed, ‘traditional’ christianity is, imo, little more than spiritual terrorism, especially as taught to impressionable young children, for it’s central message is “believe in your own inherent depravity and ‘repent’, or burn in hell for all eternity”.

    so u see, it is only with great ambivalence that i go on living, even now while living remains easy in terms of acquiring food and other basic necessities. i just can’t stand ‘social conservatives’ and their whole mentality of condemnation/restriction/punishment of basic human nature, as manifested in thousands of little ways all the time, like comments linking public exhibitionism or sexuality of any type not approved by the ‘moral’ powers that be to ‘depravity/decadence’. if humans can’t live free of such horrible nonsensical condemnation, perhaps we’re better off dead. at least that’s how i feel.

  42. Kathy Says:

    Terry, If you haven’t read it, do check out Mark Twain’s Letters from Earth. http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/twainlfe.htm Basically Twain repeats what is in the video and more but with humor (well Christians likely don’t find it humorous) but at one point he says in letter X “The first time the Deity came down to earth, he brought life and death; when he came the second time, he brought hell. Life was not a valuable gift, but death was. Life was a fever-dream made up of joys embittered by sorrows, pleasure poisoned by pain, a dream that was a nightmare-confusion of spasmodic and fleeting delights, ecstasies, exultations, happinesses, interspersed with long-drawn miseries, griefs, perils, horrors, disappointments, defeats, humiliations, and despairs — the heaviest curse devisable by divine ingenuity; but death was sweet, death was gentle, death was kind; death healed the bruised spirit and the broken heart, and gave them rest and forgetfulness; death was man’s best friend; when man could endure life no longer, death came and set him free. In time, the Deity perceived that death was a mistake; a mistake, in that it was insufficient; insufficient, for the reason that while it was an admirable agent for the inflicting of misery upon the survivor, it allowed the dead person himself to escape from all further persecution in the blessed refuge of the grave. This was not satisfactory. A way must be conceived to pursue the dead beyond the tomb. The Deity pondered this matter during four thousand years unsuccessfully, but as soon as he came down to earth and became a Christian his mind cleared and he knew what to do. He invented hell, and proclaimed it. Now here is a curious thing. It is believed by everybody that while he was in heaven he was stern, hard, resentful, jealous, and cruel; but that when he came down to earth and assumed the name Jesus Christ, he became the opposite of what he was before: that is to say, he became sweet, and gentle, merciful, forgiving, and all harshness disappeared from his nature and a deep and yearning love for his poor human children took its place. Whereas it was as Jesus Christ that he devised hell and proclaimed it!” or check out some of Edward Current’s videos – this is one of my favorites. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqJpZOljjG8

    I think this actually has a lot to do with collapse. How do hierarchal societies keep the poor working sots in line. In western countries by threats of hell and for the religions that believe in reincarnation the promise that if you behave in this life your next one might be better. I have yet to decide whether eternity in hell is worse than an eternity of reincarnations. And of course we see a resurgence of right wing religious nutcakes. One group that has protested at gay servicemen’s funerals was going to protest at Elizabeth’s Edward’s funeral http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20025205-503544.html I hear hints that the Klan may rise again where I live – fine Christian men in robes…

    From the plague years “On Saturday – that was St. Valentine’s Day-they burnt the Jews on a wooden platform in their cemetery. There were about two thousand people of them. Those who wanted to baptize themselves were spared. [Some say that about a thousand accepted baptism.] Many small children were taken out of the fire and baptized against the will of their fathers and mothers. And everything that was owed to the Jews was cancelled, and the Jews had to surrender all pledges and notes that they had taken for debts. The council, however, took the cash that the Jews possessed and divided it among the working-men proportionately. The money was indeed the thing that killed the Jews. If they had been poor and if the feudal lords had not been in debt to them, they would not have been burnt. After this wealth was divided among the artisans some gave their share to the Cathedral or to the Church on the advice of their confessors.”

    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/jewish/1348-jewsblackdeath.html

    While I feel nothing but disdain for those who did the burning, Why would the parents object to their children being baptized and saved from the flames. What does religion do to people that they would consign their children to flames rather than let them convert?

    I cannot feel positive about how all this will play out no matter how many times people tell me to. I’ve read too much history. And besides all the negative aspects we might envision in our future are already someone’s present. Perhaps the nukes would be a mercy. OTOH today was a lovely day :)

  43. the virgin terry Says:

    “Life was a fever-dream made up of joys embittered by sorrows, pleasure poisoned by pain, a dream that was a nightmare-confusion of spasmodic and fleeting delights, ecstasies, exultations, happinesses, interspersed with long-drawn miseries, griefs, perils, horrors, disappointments, defeats, humiliations, and despairs — the heaviest curse devisable by divine ingenuity;”

    wow! what a poetic description of human life as i’ve known it, mostly. i gather the same applies to u too, kathy? i hope not. i’m sure many would disagree, but i’m also sure i’m not alone in feeling this way. at best, life’s a mixed blessing. at worst, it’s that supreme quote above. even then, it’s still a mixed blessing, but one heavily weighted on the word ‘mixed’. thanks, k. your contributions to this blog are among my favorites. high praise, for what it’s worth.

    partly in contrition for being a pig consumer, especially in the past, i now keep a cold house in winter, dressing and bundling like an eskimo/inuit to stay warm. then u post shit like that utube link, and i laugh so hard and long that i begin to overheat and sweat (hard laughter is like vigorous exercise in raising body heat). thanks a lot, k! u’re a font of knowledge and wisdom, and a fine writer too, imo.

    the quote From the plague years is soberingly provocative, as is your question about parents so attached to their faith that they’re willing to sacrifice their children to it. and i most regretfully share your trepidation about the future. mother nature doesn’t love us, human nature is horribly flawed, jesus christ a mythological monster deity for the masses. doesn’t get much more surreal. collapse/extinction? is just the icing on the cake. at least we have each other, for now.

  44. Michael Irving Says:

    Victor,

    I’m afraid I do not concur with your suggestion that I put words in your mouth. I may, however, not have a correct understanding of your intent. I based my idea of your intent, that you “ believe in and are working toward the establishment of good leaders,” on the following comment:

    “We will need strong leadership, organisation, security strategies, community rules, etc. planned and developed well in advance. These are things that can be developed now and reserved for the time of their need. These are things that we could now develop and publish across the Internet for consultation and improvement. They could be submitted to various organisations and communities already in existence with the understanding that they will be activated as the need arises. When the Collapse arrives, we will then know how to organise immediately. Those with strong leadership skills can step forward with solutions, people can be organised, desperation channeled positively towards specific goals and principles.”

    Your wording—“we could now develop”, “we will then know”—led me to think that you were advocating putting in place a set of guiding principles and strategies for guiding nascent communities after Collapse. Among them, and prominent in your discussion, was the establishment of strong leadership, and thus strong leaders. Based on that, I thought you believed it.

    Going even a step farther, it sounds like the last sentence in the above quote advocates control of the population, which returns me to the strong man=tyrant question I was raising originally. How will setting up local strong men to control the population (“channeled positively towards specific goals and principles”) differ from what the elites now controlling governments are doing? It seems to just be setting us up for another round of the same. Other than kicking the can down the road how does that help?

    Are there no examples of communities in our entire history that did not rely on a powerful elite? Were there no Eastern philosophies, indigenous tribes, or matriarchal societies that had a workable system for living together? Must it always be the strong man?

    Michael Irving

  45. Kevin Moore Says:

    Kathy. I understood your point. I was just adding to it. Yes, most arrivials were selected for immediate extermination or a slower death via slave labour camps with inadequate nutrition, but a tiny proportion did have daily opportunities to extend or terminate their lives. The best place was what was refered to as Canada (a land of plenty), where arrivals’ belongs were sorted and secret pockest containing items of food and money were opened. It was all very methodical and industrial.

    The BBC ‘Final solution’ series featured interviews with some survivors; a twin who was subjected to ghastly medical expoeriments by Mengele and somehow got through it all via ‘the will to live’.

    The instinct to try to live for one more day, for one more hour, for one more minute even, is clearly a successful biological strategy we have all inherited, based on the fact that previous bottlnecks did eventually open out into times of improved opportunity; plagues passed, wars ended, floods subsided etc. Under certain circumstances suicide becomes the prefered option; even suicide must be linked to a biological success strategy of some kind -perhaps kin survival, as we have discussed previously.

    You are a treasurehouse of information and intriguing links.

    ‘Perhaps the nukes would be a mercy.’ That’s a good reason for believing there will be no all out nuclear war … over far too quickly and nowhere near enough suffering involved.

    Terry. I concur with much of what you say. Much religion is simply social control imposed via irrational dogma and absurd rituals. Don’t forget that religious infanticide continues to this day: some religious groups forbid particular medical procedures and would rather see their child die than have, for instance, a blood transfusion, and ‘go to hell’ as a result. And China now suffers a severe sex imbalance as a consequence of gilrs being deliberately aborted or abandoned at birth.

    As I was recently discussing with Robert, we suffer from baseline shift in all aspects of our lives. What youngsters see today is their normal, even though it is quite different from what their parents experienced as normal. Less widlife, more concrete and asphalt, more fast food all establish the new baseline ….. suggesting it will be the ‘oldies’ (and perhaps the very young) who will cope best when TSHTF.

  46. Victor Says:

    Michael,
    One thing you need to learn from me. I am always the observer, very rarely the initiator. I observe life and humanity and ecology, putting them together, trying to make sense of what I see happening and projecting that into the future. You rarely see me write “If we did this….”, or “should do….”, or “could do….”. I leave such things to others with more ability and vision. This was an exception to that, I fear. I actually made a suggestion. Obviously in a clumsy manner. In the particular quote you offered that confused you, I now see where I made my mistake by including the words “strong leadership” in the list of things that could be prepared in advance. Not true at all. You were right to identify that as a problem. Strong leadership will not be chosen in advance of Collapse. It will, if it is to be at all, rise up as a result of Collapse. True leaders have a way of making themselves known at the right time. Whether they provide benevolent or malevolent leadership is another matter.

    But I do believe the other items on the list could be theoretically worked out in advance, though I am enough of an observer to realise that they won’t be.

    As for the point about elite-driven societies you bring up, let me only make this observation. There have been many societies that have flourished in history. An example of just one such is in North America – the Iroquois Nation. The Mohawk Tribe was one of the Iroquois Confederation. Darren Bonaparte, a Mohawk, writes:

    “The basic social unit of the Mohawk and all other Iroquoian peoples is the matrilineal clan. In colonial times, the Mohawk located their villages along the river according to the clans, with the Turtles in the east, the Bears in the middle, and the Wolves to the west. Each clan generally had one or more villages, depending on the size of the community at any given time. A clan village didn’t imply that only people of one clan lived there, since women chose husbands from other clans. In the words of Lafitau:

    … it is said that only the men among the Indians are really free and that the women are only their slaves. Nothing is more real, however, than the women’s superiority. It is they who really maintain the tribe, the nobility of blood, the genealogical tree, the order of generations and conservation of the families. In them resides all the real authority: the lands, fields and all their harvest belong to them; they are the soul of the councils, the arbiters of peace and war; they hold the taxes and the public treasure; it is to them that the slaves are entrusted; they arrange the marriages; the children are under their authority; and the order of succession is founded on their blood. The men, on the contrary, are entirely isolated and limited to themselves. Their children are strangers to them. Everything perishes with them. A woman alone gives continuity to the household, but, if there are only men in the lodge, however many there may be, whatever number of children they may have, their family dies out with them. And, although the chiefs are chosen among them, they are purely honorary. The Council of Elders which transacts all the business does not work for itself. It seems that they serve only to represent and aid the women in the matters in which decorum does not permit the latter to appear or act. (Lafitau 1974:69)

    The earliest Europeans struggled with the idea that the wisened chiefs who greeted them in councils were only spokesmen for the women, the real power in Iroquois country. Such notions were alien to them, since their own women had very few rights and were treated like property. ”

    As you can see, such societies did indeed exist, the matriarchal society being one of the stronger ones. I am not aware of any European societies that were not elite-driven, however – though there might be others here who could provide light on that.

    I think you will find that virtually all peoples who lived under tribal structures were mostly non-elite-driven – though that might not be entirely accurate. Certainly any peoples who formed what we might term as “empires” were elite-driven – the Mayan, the Aztec, etc., at least as I would understand it.

    Indeed the world is literally full of examples of societies that were formed on the basis of “sharing” rather than “possessing”. Unfortunately, these folks were overrun by the “possessors”.

    One thing that has come out of this exchange between you and I is the satisfaction that you actually read and try to make sense of what people are saying. You might not agree with me on points, but you are truly making an effort to understand – and for that I am most appreciative and honoured.

  47. Victor Says:

    Michael,
    One thing you need to learn from me. I am always the observer, very rarely the initiator. I observe life and humanity and ecology, putting them together, trying to make sense of what I see happening and projecting that into the future. You rarely see me write “If we did this….”, or “should do….”, or “could do….”. I leave such things to others with more ability and vision. This was an exception to that, I fear. I actually made a suggestion. Obviously in a clumsy manner. In the particular quote you offered that confused you, I now see where I made my mistake by including the words “strong leadership” in the list of things that could be prepared in advance. Not true at all. You were right to identify that as a problem. Strong leadership will not be chosen in advance of Collapse. It will, if it is to be at all, rise up as a result of Collapse. True leaders have a way of making themselves known at the right time. Whether they provide benevolent or malevolent leadership is another matter.

    But I do believe the other items on the list could be theoretically worked out in advance. It would be good if we had well-thought out strategies and solutions for them and pressed for agreement when that comes about, though I am enough of an observer to realise that they won’t be.

    As for the point about elite-driven societies you bring up, let me only make this observation. There have been many such societies that have flourished in history. An example of just one such is in North America – the Iroquois Nation. The Mohawk Tribe was one of the Iroquois Confederation. Darren Bonaparte, a Mohawk, writes:

    “The basic social unit of the Mohawk and all other Iroquoian peoples is the matrilineal clan. In colonial times, the Mohawk located their villages along the river according to the clans, with the Turtles in the east, the Bears in the middle, and the Wolves to the west. Each clan generally had one or more villages, depending on the size of the community at any given time. A clan village didn’t imply that only people of one clan lived there, since women chose husbands from other clans. In the words of Lafitau:

    … it is said that only the men among the Indians are really free and that the women are only their slaves. Nothing is more real, however, than the women’s superiority. It is they who really maintain the tribe, the nobility of blood, the genealogical tree, the order of generations and conservation of the families. In them resides all the real authority: the lands, fields and all their harvest belong to them; they are the soul of the councils, the arbiters of peace and war; they hold the taxes and the public treasure; it is to them that the slaves are entrusted; they arrange the marriages; the children are under their authority; and the order of succession is founded on their blood. The men, on the contrary, are entirely isolated and limited to themselves. Their children are strangers to them. Everything perishes with them. A woman alone gives continuity to the household, but, if there are only men in the lodge, however many there may be, whatever number of children they may have, their family dies out with them. And, although the chiefs are chosen among them, they are purely honorary. The Council of Elders which transacts all the business does not work for itself. It seems that they serve only to represent and aid the women in the matters in which decorum does not permit the latter to appear or act. (Lafitau 1974:69)

    The earliest Europeans struggled with the idea that the wisened chiefs who greeted them in councils were only spokesmen for the women, the real power in Iroquois country. Such notions were alien to them, since their own women had very few rights and were treated like property. ”

    As you can see, such societies did indeed exist, the matriarchal society being one of the stronger ones. I am not aware of any European societies that were not elite-driven, however – though there might be others here who could provide light on that.

    I think you will find that virtually all peoples who lived under tribal structures were mostly non-elite-driven – though that might not be entirely accurate. Certainly any peoples who formed what are more properly termed “empires” were elite-driven – the Mayan, the Aztec, etc., at least as I would understand it.

    Indeed the world is literally full of examples of societies that were formed on the basis of “sharing” rather than “possessing”. Unfortunately, these folks were overrun by the “possessors”.

    One thing that has come out of this exchange between you and I is the satisfaction that you actually read and try to make sense of what people are saying. You might not agree with me on points, but you are truly making an effort to understand – and for that I am most appreciative and honoured.

  48. Victor Says:

    Apologies for the double post….stopped the first post to clean up some language….

  49. Victor Says:

    Kathy, you are truly amazing….how on earth do you find all this stuff?…. ;-) And you present it in such a positive and constructive manner. I like that.

  50. Kathy Says:

    Michael you wrote “Are there no examples of communities in our entire history that did not rely on a powerful elite? Were there no Eastern philosophies, indigenous tribes, or matriarchal societies that had a workable system for living together?” I would separate hunter-gatherers from “civilizations” first. I don’t know the answer for hunter-gatherers but I suspect that by and large they relied less on a powerful elite and more on the tribe as a unit. I would think this would be more true the less verdant their surroundings (ie those who live in deserts or other harsh environs). The Northwest Indians settled in a land very rich in resources with some technologies already developed and seem to have had a more hierarchal life style. While they had potlatches to give away or burn goods this seems to be more a power ploy than sharing. After all they had to accumulate first. And I have read that they kept slaves. http://www.mce.k12tn.net/indians/reports3/northwest_coastal.htm

    Often the Buddhists from Tibet are held up as a great religion that was non-hierarchical. Michael Parenti pretty much destroys that view in “Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth” http://www.michaelparenti.org/Tibet.html Seems they were more like the middle ages complete with torture, extraction of wealth from the poor and use of young boy initiates to satisfy the sex urges of older monks.

    I think civilization inevitably moves in this direction.

  51. Kathy Says:

    Victor – how do I find all this stuff. Well after giving up on meditation which my overactive mind could never embrace I found Google the great god of the internet.

  52. Victor Says:

    Kathy,

    Indeed. As we move from the tribal model to the “civilisation” model, we tend to see this transition more and more. The tribal model may or not involve some form of hierarchy. Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with hierarchical structures. It is actually specialisation that really tends towards such corruptions of society. As a society becomes more complex via specialisation, this opens the door to all kinds of social problems – elitism, secrecy, empire-building, inequality, poor distribution of wealth, etc.

    The tribal model works best in the hunter/gatherer/subsistence farming mode where a relatively small community of people share responsibility for growing/gathering/hunting food, keeping the common living facilities, bringing up children, protecting the tribal territory, etc. Little specialisation there, and everyone knows what everyone else is doing (or should be doing). This of course doesn’t mean that an alpha male can’t take prominence, but many tribes have a structure that minimises that risk.

    Religious organisations as we know them take a very good set of spiritual principles and create a hierarchical organisation out of them and become one more “specialisation” among many others in a “civilised” society. Such specialised organisations are extremely open to corruption and misuse and perversion of the principles upon which they were founded originally, basically taking on a life of their own. Other than religion, you have political parties, the professions, unions, military, plumbers, electricians, and many others…. ;-)

    Where democracy is concerned, I believe that only the tribal model can handle it. The larger the organisation the less likely democracy will succeed, due again to the pitfalls that plague “civilisation”. To my knowledge there exist no democracies within industrial civilisation, nor in any previous civilisation.

  53. Michael Irving Says:

    Victor,

    One thing you should learn about me is that I am devious, in my own small way. I phrased my question in a leading way to see if you were locked into the idea of the strong man as the only way forward into a post-Collapse future or if you were just trying it out for size. I was trying to direct you into looking for an alternative and I was thinking of the Iroquois when I posed the challenge. I know of other groups as well, although my knowledge is weak at best. I was hoping you, and others at NBL might have other examples to share.

    I am very concerned that mankind’s natural tendency is to fill a vacuum with a power struggle, as history shows us, rather than a considered choice about the best way forward. It struck me, on reading your post, that developing up a system to help future communities set up a form of governance that puts us right back where we are now would be a false step.

    Your clarification, backing away from the strongman power structure and embracing the idea of putting systems in place to cushion the bump at the bottom, is a good one. As for governance, however, I think we need to be very thoughtful before we offer a template for action. Collapse will require us to face challenges. Some of those challenges can be foreseen, some will blindside us. Some of the most difficult we will have to deal with will be from what we call human nature. Too often in the past we have called on the worst part of our human nature and have traveled the road to destruction (22 civilizations?). If we are tendering plans for moving forward we need to incorporate and celebrate the best parts of human nature.

    Of course many will question what such a community, built on the better parts of our human nature, would do in the face of the zombies. Many would suggest that such a community would be an easy mark for a strongman and his cohorts. I think your example of the Iroquois puts the lie to that. During colonial times they were surely a force to be reckoned with.

    Michael Irving

  54. Kathy Says:

    Overpopulation humor http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbsPv7h29H4&feature=related

    (How do I find these things – free form surfing.)

  55. Michael Irving Says:

    Kathy,

    Hmmmm. Your take on the power structure within groups more or less parallels mine. I think I am searching for the exception that proves the rule. Victor notes that the Iroquois nation (?) had a non-traditional structure with power vested in the women and the men relegated to figurehead positions. Of course it would have been the men who fought the wars but Victor notes that it was generally the women who decided whether or not there would be a war. I’m sure there are other examples.

    In the midst of my preparation for the difficulties that are to come I’ve concentrated on personal/family/neighbors but always as stand alone units. For example, in the personal/family, how do I assure that we will have sufficient water for our garden if the grid (and electric pump) goes down? Or, as good neighbors do, I try to help out in any way I can with specific projects like raising a new house after a fire or clearing snow when someone’s busted up. However, this is some kind of benevolent anarchism rather than community, in the sense that Transitions seems to be talking about. My neighbors and I are not forming into any kind of structured unit. Further, most of my neighbors fall into two groups. The first is sitting pretty and living the American dream. For them the good times are perpetual and they party on, refusing to believe there is the possibility of hard times ahead. The second group is already living with collapse. Maybe they’ve lost their job or maybe they have a job but it just won’t pay all the bills anymore. Neither of these groups want anything to do with the idea of planning a community structured to make life easier after the Collapse they are told will never come.

    Still, it seems prudent to make a plan for community. Here on NBL there are several systems being discussed. Guy is working on personal preparation apparently in a setting that includes like-minded people. Our friend Jean is very much into the strongman mindset and is working to establish his own mini-army. Others, me for example, are focused close to home and have yet to find a way to even start building a local community. (An aside, perhaps I just don’t play well with other people.) Finally, a number of people commenting here are doing nothing at all, apparently satisfied with the idea that when industrial civilization dies, they will too; they’re ready to roll over.

    So, finally, restating my question to Victor, if only community will save us, how do we get that started without just returning to the failed model from the past?

    Michael Irving

  56. Guy McPherson Says:

    Michael, yours is an excellent question: “If only community will save us, how do we get that started without just returning to the failed model from the past?”

    I’ve commented on the topic here and, more recently, here, but I’m not sure either essay will help in any situation beyond this particular location. Ultimately, we can do only the best we can do. Will it be enough? Let’s hope so.

  57. Kathy Says:

    Michael, I really don’t think many will be able to form a community for the coming hard times until they come. As you note, many are hopeless and others are still living the good life and neither much motivated to form a community. Unfortunately when the motivation arrives there may be little time. I have long thought (well for the 9 years since I began blogging the apocalypse) that skills are the best preparation. No one can steal them from you – they need you to have your skills. Even if a strong man group “captures” you and enslaves you they need you alive for your skills. By the way, accepting slavery turned out to be a way to extend survival for many people in history. Being a good obedient slave usually meant a longer life and the chance to pass on your genes while being an escapee often meant an earlier death. Extended survival may not always be worth it IMHO.

    It might be better to look at your neighbors and think about who might stay put and who might go move in with relatives in other parts of the country. Of the “stay puts”, look to see what skills they have that might be useful. Just sort of tote that up and see what they might be able to accomplish together. When TSHTF you might forge a community just by recognizing someone’s worth and putting it to good use.

    If you haven’t read it I do recommend Postman by David Brin. I think it is a realistic view of how things might sort themselves out (at least as I remember it) – I think his apocalypse is post nuclear war.

    I am not enthused with the idea of long term survival post collapse for myself and climate change may make it impossible here. There are parts of the world in chaos right now and that includes the often violent raping of women, including old women and babies. I have never fired a gun and I doubt I could kill anyone. We do have a candidate for strong man, a young hunter who hunts on our property. Not mean, but skilled and should he come here with his family I know he would stand and defend. And if any of our kids and grandkids came that might save them from the fate I mentioned above. That might happen. But I am not planning on it.

    Another strategy is to hide really well and let the guys with guns use up their ammo. For that the skill of identifying wild foods would be most helpful.

    Well being a friend to your neighbors is a boon no matter what. You get the benefit of good feelings now and perhaps a community later. Keep the now important ’cause the nukes might fall and all plans might be toast.

    Dmitry says that people with good sense of humor did better post Soviet Collapse. Shoot, I might last longer than I want although I am not sure whether to call my humor “good” or “warped”. :)

  58. Resa Says:

    Michael:

    You wrote: “Are there no examples of communities in our entire history that did not rely on a powerful elite? Were there no Eastern philosophies, indigenous tribes, or matriarchal societies that had a workable system for living together? Must it always be the strong man?”

    First off, I have to say I was not looking for an answer to the above question when I went through my uncle’s papers. My interests lie in different areas so I was looking for different information. I do recall, however, the following (and if I had more time, I’d dig through the stuff more thoroughly).

    The hunter-gatherers my uncle interfaced with for five years (1959-1964)were indigenous people located in the tropical southeast Pacific. There were about 70,000 of them. The individuals in any specific village seldom travelled (by dugout, because the region was predominantly coastal lowland swamp) more than 20 miles from where they were born. People in adjoining villages were frequently seen as non-human and therefore head-huntable.

    The villages did have chiefs, although I’m not sure how much power they had. There are references to villages “preserving” a favored chief’s skull upon his death by burying him with his head and neck above mudline. The odor was reportedly nauseating, but in a tropical climate such things decompose quickly.

    What did surprise me, however, was how much influence the females had. They controlled “black magic” and could (reportedly) reduce a healthy male to death within days or weeks. Most males were careful not to cross a female even though it was the female’s duty to serve the males by gathering food and building huts.

    The women also controlled which infants survived at birth. Babies were born in the jungle (not in the village) and those born malformed or sickly (or unnecessary) were never brought back to the village. Usually only one of a set of twins was brought back. Of course, child mortality was extremely high (about 80%), so these women undoubtedly knew that a malformed or sickly child would never survive in the first place.

    Headhunting was one of the major ways a man could gain prestige. (Polygamy was another.) Although superstitions surrounding the spirits of the dead played an important role in headhunting, so too did a man’s wife (or wives). Social standing among females was determined by how many heads a wife wore at tribal feasts. Tribal feasts usually lasted 3-4 months. Apparently wives pressured their husbands to the point where husbands found it easier to risk their lives to gain another head than put up with further hounding. One of the first things missionaries did to limit headhunting was to get the women to quit asking for heads.

    So, although, these hunter-gatherer clans were undoubtedly patriarchal in structure, internally they appear to be matriarchal driven. Perhaps similar to the Iroquois, just a different continent.

    These tribes had no concept of money and no concept of work (in our traditional sense). They didn’t dwell on clothes because the climate was warm enough that clothing was unnecessary. By and large, there was little storage of food because of the environment. Their huts, constructed of branches and palm leaves (in trees) above the mudline, leaked profusely. They’d subsisted isolated in this manner for thousands of years.

    Not sure if the above answers any part of your question, but I thought I’d pass the info your way.

  59. Ed Says:

    Today our electricity went down for about 2 hours. It was unusual in that the Rural Electric office telephone was constantly busy. Our thoughts went to, is this the moment. OK, that might be drama. We are (we thought) more or much more prepared than most. This situation made us reasses our level of preparedness. It stinks. If the grid goes down tomorrow, we might survive, but it will be really ugly. So we re-double our efforts AGAIN.

    We are posting and reading alot at another website that isn’t necessarily about collapse. Its about people discussing ways of being sustainable, the things you can do on a 1/2 acre to survive, how to grow things, how to propagate, graft, compost. There are a couple of Native American Indians who post who’s views are fascinating.

    How many times can you talk about collapse and how it’s going to happen? It’s going to happen, get ready for it. Kathy’s “skills are the best preparation”, is so correct, so get busy.

    Alright rip me apart. I know that doesn’t happen here, but I think sometimes people spend way too much time talking about the intracacies of collapse.

    And one final note to Kathy. You gave up meditation for google? Or at least that is what I read or thought I read. I think you should reconsider your decision. Jen (my better half) says that she can tell very quickly when I haven’t meditated in the AM. Going on 6 years and I’m still horrible at it, but I have my moments.

    Best to all of you. You are as always a special treat!

    Ed

  60. Victor Says:

    Guy, I read your stuff referenced…excellent. You and your neighbours really have your act together on this. Only one thing I see missing which I believe will be absolutely vital when TSHTF. Someone needs to step forward before panic sets in and help people to focus on organising for survival. This is going to be critical, and is really the thing I am talking about. It is great to develop all these skills and have all these resources at hand (chickens, goats, gardens, tools, helpful neighbours, etc.), but it is going to be for naught when the rule of law breaks down and transport comes to a stop and people no longer have food on the shelves of their local supermarket.

    Somehow someone needs to develop a set of plans to organise a new community from the start. Put it into people’s minds to start focussing on the important needs that will surely come up – the needs to find food, water, shelter, heat, fuel, medicine, clothing, footwear, tools, etc. Give people goals and keep them from focusing on the horror happening around them.

    Among those things to plan for is also how to agree to and re-establish the rule of law in the community, conflict resolution and security. Establish rules on how to handle difficult situations – like new members of the community, resolving conflicts between individuals, doling out justice for crimes, and so many other things. Fore-thought should be given to how to organise the community to govern itself, and how it will defend its territory. And speaking of territory, will there be a need to forcibly take new territory which might provide a necessary piece of the survival pie, and the rules they must follow to do that.

    These things should be thought about in a deep way, and it would be good to think about them now before TSHTF and we are not faced with immediate disaster. If we don’t, then we are basically leaving all these decisions up to the first alpha male that rises to the occasion, and anything could happen then.

    We should have a plan worked out to recognise one or more trigger events that signal the coming end of things as we know them, and when to then start organising neighbours, most of whom will likely hide themselves in their houses for a time. That is, believe it or not, going to be one of the most difficult questions – when do we really recognise that the end is near?

    Then when we can get a few neighbours together, and be prepared to put before them some of these organising principles and decide as a group where to go from there, listing some of the above goals as our objectives. Out of that process, I would think people would be willing to work with each other to plan the next steps. And if a leader arises at that point, then fine – at least then there will be reasonable discussion and agreement reached on what to do about that – how best to leverage that leader’s talents.

    I don’t see much of this kind of discussion on most sites I have visited. people generally simply seem resigned to the idea that they will be overwhelmed with roaming gangs of desperate people and that’s it. No further discussion outside of frequent references to The Road…. ;-)

    As Kathy says, most people will not think about this stuff until it is already happening. We could help them out a bit by doing this bit of thinking beforehand and perhaps even spreading it across the Internet seeking added thoughts.

    Some of the questions to be answered straight away could be:
    1) What are valid tipping points for the Great Unravelling? A huge spike in oil prices? Petrol (gasoline) becoming unaffordable? Food disappearing from the shelves? Frequent brownouts or blackouts? Police, fire, social services being disbanded because they can no longer be afforded? This is a very difficult question to resolve – there are so many variables.
    2) What should be done first when it is confirmed that these tipping points have been reached?
    3) How do we then begin the process of organising people?
    4) How should decisions be made?
    5) What are the necessary components that need to be pulled together and how do we achieve that? (food, water, skills, etc.)
    6) And many more questions – there are huge numbers of things to think about.

    Hope this all is clearer than mud….

    Of course, I am knowledgeable enough about human nature to understand that based upon our history, we will not likely address the above issues until it is too late. In that case (business as usual) I have little faith in our ability to survive. The only remaining candidates for survival become the various indigenous peoples scattered around the world.

  61. Victor Says:

    One last thought before I turn in tonight. On the subject of cannibalism. I believe I am correct when I say that cannibalism has never been used as a primary source of food. Usually, it is a ceremonial thing – eat your enemy’s heart and you absorb his courage as a warrior – and all that macho stuff. But I don’t believe it was ever utilised like “Who are we having for dinner tonight?” Should that ever happen within a given locality, it is simply not sustainable, if you know what I mean… ;-)
    Good night all.

  62. Guy McPherson Says:

    Victor, I agree completely about the need to organize before panic sets in. But I’m at a loss how to go about it.

    On one hand, it makes perfect sense to take leadership and start getting the community together … the half-dozen people who would bother showing up, that is. As we all know, most people think economic collapse will not visit them. The people for whom economic collapse has already come dream of economic growth in the future, sure it will come.

    So, that leaves me with the tragedy of the commons. Our 2.7 acres clearly is insufficient to support the members of the community, broadly defined. It’s probably too small to support five people, over the long haul. Do I attract attention from the masses by pointing out the preparations we’ve made, so those masses can come begging for a handout when the lights go out? Clearly, this is a tough call. At this point, I’m trying to balance my response by (1) spreading the news about both sides of the fossil-fuel coin, including pointing out the preparations we’ve made (in general), and (2) trying not to attract undue attention to this particular property.

    Tough call, indeed. And a difficult balancing act.

  63. Kevin Moore Says:

    Victor. I don’t wish to knock you excellent contribution. However, the major issues pertaining to long term sustainability were raised more than 50 years ago. Mainstream media and governments have subjected us to to over half a century of propaganda and misinformation.

    ’2) What should be done first when it is confirmed that these tipping points have been reached?’

    Unfortunately we passed numerous tipping points several years ago … the peaking of US oil extraction (1971), the peaking of per capita energy (1979), the peaking of fish harvest (mid -90s), plus many others, and more recently the peaking of conventional oil extraction (2005-8)…. and the response from officialdom has always been to totally ignore all the tipping points, and the bulk of the populace have remained oblvious or, when aleted to the facts, in extreme denial.

    According to many psychologists, the more that evidence indicates a particular belief is wrong, the more strongly the believer holds on to the [false] belief. The latest failed climate change talks have elicited a plethora of claims that climate change is a myth or a government-inspired conspiracy to raise taxes.

    The proles continue to be fed pabulum, and that will undoubedly be the case after TSHTF.

    The following was published acrooss NZ on Saturday:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/lifestyle/mainlander/4448279/End-of-consumerism

    ‘End of consumerism
    The Press
    Last updated 10:21 11/12/2010

    photo: BILL EVANS
    HAPPIER TIMES: Peak Oil photograph at the Tank farm of fuel petrol tanks at Port Nelson with a rainbow in the back ground.

    It’s not the end of the world, just the end of consumerism. We are about to wave goodbye to the dream of endless economic growth – always, every year, more stuff. However, we have enough already. We really do.

    Dr Susan Krumdieck, an engineering professor at the University of Canterbury, addresses her audience with a smile. The message is radical, but she believes it will be good news once we have had time to get used to it.

    A change is about to be forced on society because energy consumption pretty much is the economy. And we are about to run short of the cheap energy which has been driving the past century of unchecked economic expansion…….’

    You will undoubtedly notice the typical journalistic crud style, such as ‘It’s not the end of the world’. There you have it, widespread starvation and collapse of complex systems is not the end of the world. Indeed, ‘it will be good news once we have had time to get used to it.’ Of course there was no mention in hte article of our extreme dependence on cheap oil for the bulk of the food supply.

    The item is not all bad. It does actually refer to EROEI, though the writer confuses money and energy, which is not surprising in an energy-illiterate society. And if he told the whole truth the article would never make it to print.

    Jame Lovelock summed it up extremely well several years ago. Not having the quote to hand, I paraphrase: “There is plenty to do, but it’s not what people want to do.”

    ’5) What are the necessary components that need to be pulled together and how do we achieve that? (food, water, skills, etc.)’

    We are progressing into completely uncharted territory and I suspect we will have to invent short term solutions and adapt on the run, just as people did 20,000 years ago.

    (Just a reminder that the weather in this region has been totally unprecendented for over 4 months -firstly unprecendented wet, and now unprecendented dry- and the old rules no longer apply. We had a day of light drizzle which penetrated a few milimetres, but have been back to no precipitation since).

    It is increasingly likely the best preparation for collapse will be basic survival skill. Gerald Celente emphasised that point when caught in the Chilean earthquake: talking later about the event, he said that having carefully planed his escape for the hotel, he and his colleague hid in bushes until a gang of looters had passed, then made a quick exit from the scene of devastation via the impromtu hiring of a car. Other guests at the hotel were still ‘waiting to be rescued’ 3 days later.

    ‘we will not likely address the above issues until it is too late”

    I’m with you all the way on that one. Just look at the shambolic Cancun ‘agreement to tackle climate change’ in which the major stakeholders agree to do nothing to interfere with BAU, even as 2010 looks certain to become the hottest year in recored history and the permafrost bubbles away like a cauldron.

  64. Victor Says:

    Guy/Kevin

    Many thanks for the encouraging words!… LOL

    I’m really trying to get my head around this. Although I feel that what I have described above in organising for the future has value, still I am left with your words in my head:

    [Kevin] “According to many psychologists, the more that evidence indicates a particular belief is wrong, the more strongly the believer holds on to the [false] belief. “, and

    [Guy] “the half-dozen people who would bother showing up, that is. As we all know, most people think economic collapse will not visit them. The people for whom economic collapse has already come dream of economic growth in the future, sure it will come.”

    Urban areas like mine are to be written off immediately as the urban psychology is such that when TSHTF panic and hoarding and looting will prevail almost immediately – it will be everyone for themselves, suddenly and quickly. And although most people can be reasonably civil even under stress, in the urban environment there are plenty who will cause trouble quickly, the kind of troubles that are infectious. I hold out no hope for cities and even towns over a few thousand and without already existing close ties to local farmers – and not much hope for them either as they too are supported by the global networks.

    Half of the human race is located in cities. When the transport and distribution of food breaks down, those cities will become mob areas and nearly all the population will die off from lack of food, medical services, perhaps water distribution (that will hit sooner or later), fires, disease, pestilence as government services fail. As city populations fail, so too will virtually all industry, as industry is fed by definition from urban areas. When industry fails, technology fails. When technology fails, the electrical grid fails. When the electrical grid fails, we are cast immediately into the Stone Age. And there is no return from that as the knowledge and skills necessary to re-build will have gone with the population, and the natural resources necessary for re-building will require huge amounts of energy to be extracted, processed and distributed.

    When this happens, then those in the rural areas will suffer as well, as they will be cut off from fuel, supplies, parts and perhaps even the ability to pump water, grow their food, and defend themselves against the elements. Even the farmer depends upon modern technology.

    None of this will likely happen overnight as we mere mortals perceive time, but might take one or two decades to run to completion, which is the blink of an eye in geological terms. And I believe it has now started.

    Nor is it likely to fall apart as cleanly and in the exact order as I have described above, rather in pieces here and there until a certain critical mass of destruction has been achieved, at which point the whole will fall very rapidly. It’s like a huge building whose supports are being cut bit by bit. Over time it starts to lean, then pieces begin breaking apart and falling, and finally a support is removed that causes the entirely structure to collapse.

    There is no exit from this. And there is no longer a means of avoiding it, as Kevin kindly pointed out, because the decisions to be made should have been made decades if not hundreds of years ago. We are, as they say, “swirling around the drain”.

    When people say that the end of growth is here, they really do not understand the impact of what they are saying. This is not something we will “adapt” to. It is fully equivalent to suddenly unplugging the life-support system from humanity. You simply do not “adapt” to that.

  65. Kathy Says:

    Community may or may not extend our lives. It may or may not create a situation where genes can be passed into a future generation. It cannot save our lives or those who carry our genes because we are mortal.

    For me at least that reality puts things in perspective. Live doing things that you love doing. Get closer to nature not only to find ways to live in a changed future but just because it feels right. Form good relations with your neighbors not to be able to live to 80 but to enjoy some neighborly harmony. Form a community if you will to live a life more like that which we evolved from, regardless of whether it makes you live longer than others that don’t.

    If our population on planet earth is going to shrink to 1/6 or less than the current population that only means that some people will live longer and some have their lives cut short. If you are one who lives longer some others have to have their lives cut short even if you have no direct part in that. To wish for a longer life for yourself is in fact to wish that perhaps as many as 5 other people than you are the ones who have shorter lives. If you are the one whose genes move into the next generation, some others fail to do so.

    Well I am fine with a shorter life – any bids for my unlived years?>

  66. Michael Irving Says:

    Kathy,

    Sorry for being so slow in response.

    I’d like to take you up on the “Postman” by Brin and extend that a little.

    I’ve thought about the book. There is a leading character living by his wits. Everyone else seems to be locked into a situation where there is a boss, some sub-bosses, and a bunch of underlings. The exception is the small town in eastern Oregon, Pineville (?) where community, as we generally discuss it, exists. In Pineville (?) a group of locals have stayed in place and the “law” seems to be agreed upon by the group and enforced by one of their members, a sheriff. Government is represented by the mayor, a woman, who holds power because of her good, thoughtful, decisions, not through the exercise of raw power. Everyone else seems to have settled into their roles based on their abilities and skills.

    The other communities are under the sway of strongmen of one sort or another, each maintaining their position via savagery (Nathan Holms supporters), lies (the computer that isn’t), or magic (hyper-techno-clone to the south). Oh, and there are the small towns of western Oregon where there is a local petty boss holding power via thuggery.

    I woke up this morning thinking about this stuff and it occurred to me that part of the problem with the idea that we need a strongman in order to forge a community is a problem with story telling. 99.999% of us have no more impact on history or the story of man than a stinkbug in the woodpile. History is told by recounting the exploits of the strongman; Genghis Khan, Caesar, Lincoln, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, etc. The rest of us are born, hang around for a while, and then die, with approximately zero effect on the story of man. That’s our fate and it’s no big deal. However, in terms of thinking about how to make a new world, we tend to use history as our reference. Unfortunately, the only stories we know are about the movers and shakers, not about the little people. Maybe that makes us prone to always thinking in terms of authority figures.

    Returning to “The Postman,” and projecting into our uncertain future, it seems likely that depopulation is a given. At that point, a small group of locals, working behind their wall and trying to work out a form of self-governance, becomes a much larger part of the human story. Those who make it through the bottleneck of Collapse (and don’t rule out nukes) will represent a much larger slice of mankind. Perhaps the story of the people of Pineville (?) becomes the new story. At any rate I think we need to try to think of alternatives.

    Michael Irving

  67. Jean Says:

    “Our friend Jean is very much into the strongman mindset and is working to establish his own mini-army”

    My friend, I’m trying to convince people to create a community, in wich “citizen”, “farmer” and “soldier” forcely have to be the same thing. It’s the only way to make it through the chaos. There are many precedents for this: swiss cantons, afrikaans, ancient roman republican peasants, etc. It’s the most solid and resistant type of community.

    PD–> Does anybody know how to make a young donkey obey? I’ve tried everything.

  68. Jean Says:

    “Others, me for example, are focused close to home and have yet to find a way to even start building a local community.”

    Me too: my first concern was finding a good place. Once I did this, I built my farm (2 long years…). And now, I’m trying to create the community, and that will be hard. DENIAL is too strong.

    Listen to me: if the people you can convince to create your community can not defend themselves, then you’re all dead. Find a veteran from the army (infantry, if possible) and instruct them: physical and psicological endurance are the key to survival. Find firearms, a lot of ammunition, a reloading machine. Follow the advertisements of the veteran: same caliber and same weapon for everybody. Standard equipment.

    The enemies to beat? Let’s see: bands of plunderers (brutal, but probably not very well organized), local landlords with private militias, the rests of police and military units. Hunger and blood. Believe me: civilized attitudes VANISH after 2 days with no food. Prepare to fight, and good luck.

  69. Michael Irving Says:

    Kathy,

    Oh, by the way, regarding the stories we tell, nobody wants to read through 350 pages about neo-peasants planting rice all day and then going home to sleep. We want stories about heroes.

    Michael Irving

  70. Jean Says:

    There are no heroes. They’re all dead.

  71. Victor Says:

    Michael,

    Of course the exception being Pearl Buck who wrote beautifully about the Chinese peasantry, the heroes of her books…. ;-)

    V

  72. Victor Says:

    And of course of you have Samuel Clemens as Kathy has mentioned who wrote about down-home folk in the South.

    These of course were the days when novels were about people and hadn’t yet degenerated into action tales of secret agents, bombs going off everywhere, and erotic tales as most American “literature” has devolved to.

    V

  73. Kathy Says:

    Michael, you remember more of The Postman than I do. You wrote “I woke up this morning thinking about this stuff and it occurred to me that part of the problem with the idea that we need a strongman in order to forge a community is a problem with story telling” Jean is starting with the strongman – whether or not he gets a community going before collapse I am quite sure a community will form around him. In other cases a strongman might take over a community without one or some other scenario. Strongman is a catchall term for the person or persons who lead in defense. I cannot see how any community can make it without some defense strategy, even if it is to hide until the other more trigger happy strongmen use up their ammo.

    As Jean notes empty stomaches change people. Another way to say it is “we are 9 meals away from anarchy” (that was the expression coined by Lord Cameron of Dillington, a farmer who was the first head of the Countryside Agency – the quango set up by Tony Blair in the days when he pretended to care about the countryside – to describe just how perilous Britain’s food supply actually is. )

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1024833/Nine-meals-anarchy–Britain-facing-real-food-crisis.html#ixzz181ZdIqFI

    Stories of heroes don’t fill stomachs.

    I don’t like my prognosis. I like your more hopeful way of thinking. But I don’t base my prognosis on what I want to see the world be like, I base it on what I know of the world and of humans.

    There were 11 scientists who starved during the siege of Leningrad rather than eat the seed in the seed bank they were protecting http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2010-08/russian-seed-bank-saved-during-wwii-fights-save-land-developers
    But they are dead. (and the seed bank is threatened now by developers so they may have died for naught).

    Not trying to extend my life, I have more options. Maybe I will act heroically and maintain peaceful actions while sheltering all I can. If so I will probably not extend my life much. But I don’t have as much living to loose. Since I am resigned to not tottering on until I am 90, I could try a bit of heroism. It would be a nice way to die – feeling good about your last actions in life. :) But those who want to make it through the bottleneck should think long and hard about defense and who they will take in and who they will turn away. Of course those who do and succeed will end up just as dead – just dead later.

  74. Kathy Says:

    Jean – re donkeys I don’t know personally anything about donkeys but this sounds good. There are some youtube vids on “training donkeys” I looked at a few. Sort of liked this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUJJ2qgyFd8

    Also this in an article on donkeys.

    Donkeys respond best to kindness and reward, they are very food motivated, but also enjoy physical attention. A well treated donkey is more likely to follow its owner without a halter on than most horses would when at pasture. In fact a well treated donkey is far more likely to notice its owners approach and be there at the gate waiting, than would most horses.

    Read more: http://scienceray.com/biology/are-donkeys-really-stubborn/#ixzz181ghrgws

    Food as you note is a motivator – but it can motivate positively just as the lack of it can motivate negatively. I suspect you have to build a lot of goodwill with your donkey before strong insistence will work. A peasant farmer would know how to work with a donkey. They have been looked down on for a long time but in fact have skills that will become more useful again. http://www.google.com/images?rlz=1C1RNNN_enUS359US380&q=donkey+cart&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wi&biw=1440&bih=787

  75. Kathy Says:

    Resa thanks for sharing about your Uncle’s experiences with hunter-gatherers. The head hunting (I presume male heads mostly) would fit with polygamy eh? Like with our chickens – we decapitate quite a few young roosters because the normal pattern for chickens is that one rooster services a group of hens.

    I have wondered whether hunter-gatherer tribes in areas with abundant food end up being more violent than those where food is scarce. Do you know anything about how easily these people fed themselves. My theory is that when the environs keep your numbers small and and keep you busy finding food, you have less violence. I don’t have enough information to know if that is correct. If so, perhaps we are in the process of creating a world in which we are less able to cause harm?

    Please share more if you have time. It does seem to dispel the idea that a matriarchal society would be less violent.

  76. Victor Says:

    “It does seem to dispel the idea that a matriarchal society would be less violent.”

    My wife says that more women have caused wars than stopped them…. ;-)

  77. Resa Says:

    Kathy:

    It didn’t matter whether the head came from a man, woman, or child because anybody outside the village was considered non-human (head-huntable). Revenge also played a role in village raids.

    There was abundant food, although not all of it was considered proper nutrition by our standards. I don’t recall seeing any references to starvation. I’d have to check the supply request lists, but off hand, I don’t remember seeing any requests for outside food for the native people themselves. I do recall requests for tobacco, fishhooks, used razor blades, and steel axes (they had stone ones) because these items could be used for barter, rewards, and bribes.

    There was lots of disease, which is why child mortality was so high. That and the croccidiles.

    Human bones were used to make daggers. In fact, this was one way to visually determine who may have killed recently. Those walking around with fresh bone daggers were reasonable candidates.

  78. Michael Irving Says:

    Jean,

    Re: Heroes.

    I think Nelson Mandela is still alive.

    Michael Irving

  79. Michael Irving Says:

    Kathy,

    Re: Strongman

    I could be wrong in this but I think, and I was using, the term strongman in a larger context than someone who just leads in defense. I think Stalin and Hitler fall under the heading strongman. I think that the strongman is defined by the size of the community he operates in, i.e. in a small village, Cosa Nostra, USSR. I was using the term in the way Victor seemed to be defining it: one who directs the activities of a community though the force of his will. Example: Wild Bill Hickok pretty much controlled the towns he worked in through intimidation and/or violence.

    Sorry for the short answer here and for being out of touch for the next several.

    Michael Irving

  80. Kathy Says:

    Resa, well one small theory shut down. Apparently they must have had plenty if with 80% child mortality and headhunting of all ages and sexes they were holding (I presume) a steady population. When the Ridley turtles run from their birth nests to the sea there is massive loss of life and then on to the sea for more. Whenever life produces excess something else intervenes, with humans we are so good at avoiding death by other means that in the end it is other humans who pare our numbers down to size.

    But H1N1 is starting up again in the UK http://www.recombinomics.com/News/12111001/H1N1_UK_Young_Fatal.html “The 10 people who have died were all adults under 65 and most, but not all, had some underlying health conditions, the Health Protection Agency said.” Maybe we won’t have to do our population reduction all on our own.

  81. Kathy Says:

    Michael, Nelson Mandela is alive. He will however be dead. Heroes die. Dictators die. Torturers die. The tortured die. And the rain falls on both the good and the evil.

    Sometimes it is hard to say what is good and what is evil. The good that extended the size of the middle class to a much larger spectrum of Americans has created a group of people doing their part to destroy the planet by driving and purchasing every thing they can get their hands on. The good that gave us better living through chemicals is poisoning the planet. The good that saved lives through medicine and the green revolution has given us overpopulation.

    My hero for the day is Evo Morales. Unfortunately he won’t save the day. I believe Bolivia is the only one that did not sign the current climate sellout in Cancun.
    “We came to Cancun to save nature, forests, planet Earth. We are not here to convert nature into a commodity. We have not come here to revitalize capitalism with carbon markets.”
    Full statement http://climateandcapitalism.com/?p=3607
    And he will be dead at some point (sooner rather than later if the US can manage his assassination). Perhaps he won’t live to see the planet die before he dies.

  82. Jean Says:

    “suspect you have to build a lot of goodwill with your donkey before strong insistence will work.”

    OK, I’ll try, but I will NOT shower with him, and nothing about whispering in his ear. This morning, before coming to the village to buy some stuff he woke me up by kicking the door, and did not stop until I gave him some carrots: HE WANTED HIS BREAKFAST (I had left him food before going to sleep, but it seems he wanted something fresh).

    When I come back, this afternoon, I’ll probably find him siting in my sofa, smoking one of my cigarettes, listerning to the radio and reading a sports magazine.

  83. Jean Says:

    “I think Nelson Mandela is still alive.”

    Nelson Mandela is not a hero.

    In spite of his 28 years in prison, he was the most unefficient president that South Africa ever had. The primary cause of unrest and disorders is the bad distribution of wealth: and that was the situation in South Africa when the ANC took the power. During the apartheid, the fascist and heavy hand of the government prevented the unrest. Mandela simply removed that iron hand, but he did nothing to redistribute the wealth of the country.

    Black men are still poor. Rich men are still white. Violence spreads in the townships. The government does not even have the physical ability to control it. That’s the beautiful result of Mandela’s government.

    Nowadays, South Africa is more fcked up than ever, thanks to men like him: very good to fight against an unfair regime, but awful in terms of administration and economic policies.

  84. Kathy Says:

    Jean, thanks for my laugh of the day. This donkey may need to know who is boss. :) Thank whatever non-corporal powers that be that chickens are easier to boss around. When I have a rooster that is giving me trouble I just hold him upside down for a few minutes. Not sure if it teaches a lesson but the moving of blood to the head does calm them down. On the other hand trying to heard chickens to go anywhere is an exercise in futility.

  85. Michael Irving Says:

    Jean,

    Sorry about my choice. I’m guessing I should have picked Simo Haya as an appropriate reference. But there you would be right, he’s dead. What about Carlos Hatcock?

    Michael Irving

  86. Michael Irving Says:

    Kathy,

    Yes, he’s in his mid 90’s. Just goes to show the importance of good health care and meditation during middle age.

    Michael Irving

  87. Kathy Says:

    Michael, Mandela is alive because TPTB in South Africa decided he was more dangerous as a murdered martyr. As far as getting to 90+ post incarceration I would think that genes played a part, but it could be cold showers :)
    “What is the secret to gaining membership in the 100th Birthday club? Sometimes its as simple as “cold showers”. That is at least in part to what centenarian Ed Rodnthaler owes his longevity. Ed says that when his brother returned from WWI in1918, he told his younger brother Ed, to follow every hot shower with an ice cold one, make the water as cold as you can stand it, and count to 100. Ed has been following his big brother’s advice ever since. He also lives clean and has always worked, and kept his body and mind active. Now as a centenarian he walks a half-mile every day, and still writes a weekly column for his local newspaper.”

    http://www.thecentenarian.co.uk/the-working-lives-of-centenarians.html

  88. Jean Says:

    IT WORKS!

    I punched the donkey with all my strenght in the middle of his eyes. I almost broke my hand, but it worths: now he knows who the master is.

    :-)