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Demise of the dollar

Tue, Feb 22, 2011

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The U.S. dollar continues its journey from Brobdingnagian to Lilliputian stature, and the latest trade report is a prelude to the dollar as microbe. The Prime Mover in this case is King Ben, who has the helicopter on track for a one-way trip to Zimbabwe with every American along for the ride. Death of the world’s reserve currency “is irreversible, and it will unleash a cyclone of chaos and confusion that will leave many literally suspended in disbelief as the entire false paradigm most of humanity has lived under for their entire existence is washed away forever.” It’s not just a bunch of bloggers and pundits announcing the dollar’s funeral, either: Even the International Monetary Fund is discussing abandoning the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency, which portends hyperinflation as surely as Benny and the Inkjets working overtime on the printing presses.

Already, the crushing of the consumer sector is under say even as the road to madness is paved with King Ben’s $100 bills. To his credit, Bernanke finally admitted that nearly every bank in the country almost failed shortly after the price of oil peaked in mid-2008. He failed to mention, however, that such an outcome surely would have terminated western civilization within a month. Imagine Bambi representing the industrial economy.

Meanwhile, Ben and the boys at the Federal Reserve Bank keep launching new ships in the never-ending fleet of Quantitative Easing. QE II was intercepted by Wall Street on its way to Main Street, so QE III is on the way, undoubtedly destined for the same fate. Like a high-speed, head-on collision, QE III will have quite an impact, but only on those immediately involved. The rest of us will be rubber-necking and wondering what happened as we drive by.

Coincident with the death of the U.S. dollar, the industrial economy is perched on the brink of catastrophic collapse. Or, as I’ve written before, the Great Recession never left us and collapse of the industrial economy is already under way. Most people have simply not realized it yet because they haven’t been told by the media or the completely impotent federal government. Many signs point to 2012 as the year the ongoing collapse of the industrial economy reaches its overdue end, although I’m not yet giving up on 2011. In short, it’s game over for the industrial economy, and soon.

If you prefers charts to texts, try this set for an abbreviated version of the story. In other words, the Keynesian experiment has nearly run its course, so it’s time to get serious about feeding yourself and your community in the near future.

If you think revolution is restricted to other countries, take a look at the gap between the haves and the have-nots around the world. Inequality is far worse in the U.S. than Egypt, Tunisia, or Yemen (in chart form, the story is here): The American picture is truly ugly. Ongoing events in Middle Eastern countries, driven by economic factors, are the canaries in the coal mine of global economic collapse, as intimated by Dmitry Orlov and further explained by noted trends forecaster Gerald Celente. And if you think we wouldn’t use force on our own, then you haven’t checked with the troopers in Wisconsin.

Even as Middle Eastern puppets for the U.S. are falling like dominoes, despite continued U.S. support, it becomes increasingly clear Obama will be the president who asks the last mercenary to turn out the lights on American Empire. Collapse is proceeding apace, and even Congressional Representative Ron Paul admits the federal government is in the process of complete failure.

Crude oil underlies the entire industrial mess and CNBC admits we need those dictators puppets to keep the oil flowing to the U.S. as the major domestic source of oil in the U.S. continues to falter and past-peak, free-falling Saudi Arabia clings by a thin thread (as recognized by Foreign Policy). When the kingdom falls, it could well take the U.S. dollar with it, and quickly. And contrary to statements from our politicians, “we’re not worried about the rivers of blood — we’re worried about the rivers of oil” coming out of the Middle East. As we’ve been since the 1970s.

If you think we can pay our way out of this predicament, it’s time to pony up. If you pay taxes, you and your family owe more than $1 million en route to saving our monetary system. Small wonder, then, that Tim Geithner foresees imminent default on U.S. debt. Before we get there, Timmy is blackmailing Congress, claiming that failure to raise the debt limit leads to default. But Timmy knows default is right around the corner, either way.

Jeff Rubin explains why oil-price shocks induce recession, and also why there is a lag between the shock and the economic pain. Rubin and an ever-larger choir are joined by Jim Rogers and financier and author Stephen Leeb in the expanding club forecasting oil priced at $150 per barrel in the near term (and Global Research has joined the party, too). That’s what happens when the giant oil fields run dry.

Lest you run out and buy oil futures, bear in mind the other potential outcome to this globalized world: China’s economic bubble could burst in short order. When it does, only one bubble remains: the human population bubble on Earth.

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109 Responses to “Demise of the dollar”

  1. John Stassek Says:

    Well, aside from that, how was your day?

  2. Privileged Says:

    I just started watching “Frontier House” on Netflix…god I wish I had me some 1883 livin’ skills @ the moment… minus the land stealing and entitlement of course.

  3. Jan Steinman Says:

    We differ in that I don’t think there will be a crash, but rather a series of crashes. So oil goes to $200 this time before it causes some other system to fail — then things crash and oil tanks at $50 this time, instead of $30, then the cheap oil fuel growth again until we hit the glass ceiling of availability again, only this time it might be at 80 million barrels/day, instead of 87, and it might hit $300, then crash back down to $65.

    Volatility is the wave of the future. It won’t be one crash, it will be crashing as a way of life.

  4. Privileged Says:

    I agree with Jan that the crash(s) will be like a rollercoaster ride of perceived ups as we continue down the stairwell. It would be better for the living planet if we just ripped it off like a band aid but it never seems to be that easy. Of course this could just be me in denial because I’ve waited way too long to get my ass in gear.

  5. Distant Observer Says:

    We are biological.

    “… only one bubble remains: the human population bubble on Earth.”

    When we think of energy we tend to think of automobiles and freedom to travel. What we really ought to think about is labor. Cheap, fossil fuel energy, so much of it squandered for cheap recreational thrills, enabled us to live well beyond the means of the planet and to overshoot our population. It enabled us to produce technological marvels that were only possible with plentiful, easily transported energy. But energy is labor and before liquid fossil fuels we had slaves, indentured labor, serfs, peasants, and the huddled masses of the industrial era.

    Already, as the cost of energy increases slavery rises from its fitful slumber with bloody chains dragging along. The human era without slavery came and went in the blink of an eye.

  6. Victor Says:

    Sobering article, Guy. No matter in what direction you look industrial civilisation (and humankind) is faced with major threats to its continued existence. This represents a perfect storm brewing over all that will peak in the coming years. The downside to that peak will likely be relatively quick and dirty.

    As Jan indicates, from an economic perspective at the beginning we will see a series of ups and downs as we traverse the undulating plateau of peak oil. We are in the middle of that now.

    But this undulating plateau cannot possible be sustained as true oil shortages hit. True shortages of more than 10% (and I’m being quite conservative here, I believe) will result in social chaos throughout the world, as so much of humanity and its industries depend upon an adequate supply of oil.

    Both population levels and major industries will be taken out during the “waves”. At a point, however, and closer than most might project, certain critical industries will be mortally wounded and major population areas severely impacted. It is at this point that we will see true collapse at its ugliest.

    Significant die-off will occur then, as will a complete breakdown of the technology infrastructure and the disintegration of government everywhere. It is at that point that we will make the transition to a limited period of adjustment to a localised economy dependent upon recycling whatever we can find to subsist – something of a picture like you see with Jim Kunstler’s book, World Made By Hand, thought I suspect a bit gloomier. But unlike Jim’s world, these folks, all over the world will be struggling to feed themselves and live from day to day. They will re-use whatever they can until it wears out. Then they will find other ways to make do.

    But it will at that point be a slow return to simplicity as complexity unravels.

    It is also here that climate change begins to take a heavy toll on the remaining people’s ability to survive. Several tipping points have already been unleashed. The genie can not be put back into the bottle. To find an area where there is climate stability, arable soil, fresh water and supportable flora and fauna will, I suspect, be difficult.

    What is a certainty, however, is that the human race will never again recover from this to a renewed technological, industrial society. That will be quite impossible.

  7. Kevin Moore Says:

    Nothing to disagreee with there, Guy.

    How about a race for the bottom? We’ve got a head start, since our dollar is worth only 75 cent US. :)

    D.O. Yes we are going to miss the 10-100 energy slaves we each have. With coming global food crisis we won’t be able to feed many human versions for long. I suppose that won’t deter sociopaths from trying the slavery option.

    I don’t think hunter gatherers were keen on slaves; no point really. So there’s our way out long term (if any get through the bottleneck).

  8. Jean Says:

    Money mechanichs is far too complex to know what’s the limit between growing and catastrophe (there’s no medium term). Last crack occurred at 149 $/barrel.

    I find quite disgusting calculating the “moment”. It could become a bizarre kind of mental sickness in this kind of circles. The process has already started, and it’s every day worse. GET READY.

    It’s all we need to know.

  9. Kathy Says:

    Kevin, I believe the North West Indians were considered hunter-gatherers and they had slaves BUT they had come to a new world full of fish and game with tools to harvest the bounty. This allowed them to stay put, accumulate wealth, burn wealth to establish status at potlatches, and capture and control slaves.

    The problem with slaves is that they have to be controlled – much harder for a tribe on the move and how would you use a slave to help hunt the antelope yet still control him so he couldn’t take off. More and more I think that the only thing that can keep humans from trouble is trouble in the form of a difficult environment to live in that does not allow for civilization to arise.

    As luck would have it we seem well on the way to creating such a difficult depleted environment, an environment in which we are saved from ourselves. The trick will be to get it just right, enough depletion that human numbers are pared but not to extinction. Well we will or we won’t. How is that for a profundity.

  10. Steven Earl Salmony Says:

    Do you think extolling the ‘virtue’ of greed mongering leads inevitably to a consumptive state of being among the greedy? Or is there no such thing as “too much” for the self-proclaimed masters of the universe among us?

  11. Librarian Says:

    I hope you’re right, Kathy. I hope we manage to extinguish the capacity for slavery.

    Because if we actually devolve back into keeping slaves, then thousands of years of intellectual labor and painful struggle and loss of life were ALL FOR NOTHING. I hope we all keep that firmly in mind.

    Socrates speaking truth to power in ancient Greece, ancient Athens’ conflict with ancient Persia over whether humans should be free or servants, the Magna Carta in England limiting the power of kings, the hopes of Washington and Jefferson to create an American country where we would not be ruled by the arbitrary laws of empires (even though their dreams are now corrupted into an American empire), Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman’s efforts to end slavery, the Pan-America movements in Latin America for freedom from colonialism, the antiwar movements in Japan to overturn Japan’s imperial bloodthirsty past, the French Revolution to overthrow the corrupt nobles (even though the Revolution itself got corrupt later), the French prison reforms inspired by Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables’ depiction of the oppressed classes, the peasant revolutions in China, the capoeira movement of Brazilian slaves revolting against the upper classes, the multiple Russian Revolutions against Russia’s 1,000 years of autocratic rule…

    …if we actually go back to slavery because of environmental stresses, then two milleniums of intellectual thought and struggle for a better world for our children and grandchildren, the dream of humanity since humanity first learned how to THINK, such as my entire collection of Great Books of the Western World I inherited from my grandfather from Heraclitus to Freud…

    …they will all have been for nothing.

    How’s that for perspective?

  12. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    I think that it’s quite possible that we will see a dramatic increase in slavery in the near-term. As collapse gathers steam, those who are accustomed to being in the seat of power and who still have wealth will use their position to solidify their standing and ensure their survival. They’ll do this by offering what they have in exchange for work; perhaps more of a serfdom than slavery – although it’s hard to see much difference. Here’s a way I see it happening in my neck of the woods. A large corporate farmer has 5,000 acres of land, as well as a few hundred head of cattle or swine. He also has lots of guns and ammo. The problem is he has no way of farming his land anymore as the cost of fuel has made it impossible. As those who are hungry come out from the cities, the landowner will “employ” them to use hoes, shovels, their hands, whatever, to get what seed their is into the ground and get crops growing. He won’t care how they get the job done, as long as they do it. He’ll house them in barns or other structures he may have and he’ll feed them by slaughtering some of the cows or pigs which are already starving due to lack of feed. He will “pay” them by letting them share in the bounty of the crops, such as it will be. In other words, he’ll pay them by letting them eat. Those who fail to grow a good crop will die of starvation or will be expelled from the land to make room for the multitude of other starving hordes. He will use these workers/slaves to defend the land, serve him in his home, and any other “work” he may need doing. It will be messy and many will fail, but some will surely be “successful”, at least in the short term.

    Here in the southern U.S. we’ve seen this before just after the end of the civil war. It was called sharecropping – basically pretty wrapping for slavery. The difference was that there was a government in place to offer protection to the worker – at least nominally. In the absence of a government, it will be no different than slavery.

    There will be many different manifestations of this, I suspect, depending on the part of the world and the circumstances of collapse at the moment.

  13. Victor Says:

    I would agree in large with Dr. House – with one exception. I believe that in the New World land ownership will fall to the strongest/smartest. A piece of paper showing you have ownership over some property means nothing when there no longer remains a definable rule of law backed by government. So ownership falls to those who can 1) possess and 2) hold property.

  14. Victor Says:

    Slaves are kept where it makes the most economic sense. Slaves were property that demanded maintenance. So slaves were a drain on resources; therefore, one needed to have an economic incentive to keeping them. Most societies, to my understanding of history, had rules and ethics concerning the possession of slaves – how they were to be treated, how they could gain freedom, how their families were to be treated, the term of servitude, etc.

    Even the hunter/gatherers had slaves, not generally slaves belonging to an individual, but communal slaves whose responsibility it was to perform communal services within the tribe. Hunting was left to the hunters who were honoured tribesmen. More likely, the slave was to do the more menial tasks of the tribe. But even then, as I recall, there were rules by which the slave could become a full member of the tribe through various acts, and indeed, some North American tribes sought this for their slaves as they considered an strong warrior/huntsman was of far more value than a slave.

  15. Victor Says:

    ‘Or is there no such thing as “too much” for the self-proclaimed masters of the universe among us?’

    Greed is a sickness. It eventually removes all rational action from a person in the drive for more riches. Lust for money. Lust for power. True illnesses for which there is no known cure, and which society must acknowledge and deal with, or suffer extreme consequences.

    Like illnesses such as paedophilia, one cannot hope for a cure or a control over such personalities. So the person exhibiting these traits must be removed from society at large and not allowed to operate freely.

  16. Jb Says:

    Guy, thanks for a terrific post. Any more links and the whole thing would be in blue font!

    The 86 year old King Abdullah has returned home to Saudi Arabia and announced a 10.7 Billion dollar bride, err I mean benefit, for the citizens.

    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/02/2011223105328424268.html

    One has to wonder: if the country with the largest oil reserves in the world can’t keep their youth employed, then western civilization has no future.

    For those of you who haven’t read J.H. Kunstler’s ‘World Made By Hand,’ the scenario The REAL Dr. House describes above is included in the book. For you skeptical boomers out there, my 66 year old father just finished reading my dog-eared copy and “loved it.”

  17. Kathy Says:

    Librarian, we have slavery still, it is just mostly off-shored where our liberal sensibilities are not bothered by it. I know as a librarian you would like to think that all our knowledge has had a positive effect on human behavior, and it is easy to think that living in a country that has abolished official slavery.

    But it hardly takes any searching at all to find out that in fact slaves are regularly used to provide cheap goodies for our life styles. The slave owners of the South at least looked their slaves in the eyes, saw their work. We live oblivious for the most part to the slavery and virtual slavery that props up our lifestyle.

    http://stopchildslavery.com/2008/12/04/child-slavery-coltan-and-the-congo/

    An estimated 2-million child-slaves work from sunrise to sunset to dig coltan by hand from the soil – and it is traded on the black market for US $400 a pound. – digitaljournal.com

    With my feed reader overflowing with thousands of articles to sift through about modern slavery, I’ve recently turned to Twitter to find the stories that are moving others to speak out. The quote above came from a post cited by Chris Hogg in his twitter stream.

    Slavery today, specifically child slavery, is being driven by the same motivation as it always has – profits. Coltan (Columbite-tantalite), it turns out, is ONLY in existence in the Eastern Congo and a small region of Tanzania. It doesn’t exist anywhere else. It is used in the production of capacitors.

    Every day hundreds of thousands of Congolese child-slaves are forced to crawl into underground mines on their hands and knees to dig for the essential raw material make electronic gadgets like cell phones, iPods, laptop computers, play stations, wireless systems, DVD players, blackberries and pagers possible.

  18. Jb Says:

    EDIT: ‘bribe’ not ‘bride.’

  19. Guy McPherson Says:

    Regarding slavery, I wrote this nearly two years ago: “To recap, then, the brief history of western civilization: We traded oppression by the state for oppression by the Church, thus cashing in imperialism for, well, imperialism with an imaginary reward. The subsequent rise of reason led to a convoluted mixture of oppression by the state and oppression by the Church that continues to this day. We call this mix ‘culture,’ and we usually don’t even pretend there is a separation between church and state. This cultural milieu, variously known as ‘reality’ or the ‘culture of make believe,’ depending on one’s perspective, has produced bonds that are far stronger than anything observed in the prior history of the West. After all, only two-thirds of Romans were enslaved.”

    http://guymcpherson.com/2009/06/a-tale-of-three-cities/

  20. Victor Says:

    ‘…if we actually go back to slavery because of environmental stresses, then two milleniums of intellectual thought and struggle for a better world for our children and grandchildren, the dream of humanity since humanity first learned how to THINK, such as my entire collection of Great Books of the Western World I inherited from my grandfather from Heraclitus to Freud…

    …they will all have been for nothing.’

    One of the hallmarks of civilisation is “knowledge”. When civilisation falls, so will knowledge. Digital knowledge will go first as the computers go. This will be followed by books and other written material in paper form – they will disintegrate in time. The only means to keeping some of that knowledge will be through time honoured processes – collective memory (myths, legends, story-telling), hand copying material from books onto parchment or other media.

    Within a couple of generations it will be a new world.

  21. Librarian Says:

    Victor, thank you very much, but that wasn’t actually my concern. I’m not so concerned about the knowledge ITSELF, really.

    My concern was, how do we make sure that people like Socrates and Martin Luther King Jr. and Charles Dickens, etc., did not simply “waste their lives” in trying, bit by bit, to give us a world where human beings do not constantly oppress each other?

    How do we make sure, for example, that people like Victor Hugo did not “waste his time” writing novels imploring the French to help the poor instead of treating them as though they had no dignity? If we actually reverse our course and we go back into being feudal serfs, then what steps taken towards human dignity Hugo proposed will also be reversed, and Hugo’s work will have been for nothing.

    How do we make sure, for example, that fifteen generations of Jews who were systematically oppressed by Christians since the year 0 B.C.E., like my own great-grandparents who fled Russian and Hungarian “pogroms” to come here, did not simply “throw their lives away” for a dream of a non-oppressive world that will never materialize?

    Or how do we make sure that the sacrifice of Copernicus, who was burned at the stake because he dared to point out actual scientific fact, was not a complete waste of a human life that dreamed of a world not ruled exclusively by the Church?

    This is my main concern, Victor, NOT the loss of knowledge itself. My main concern is that the millions of generations who sought solitude, who thought, who wrote, who suffered unimaginable tortures and died en masse in the service of human ideals and a future where people were not ruled by despots…how do we make sure that 2,000-3,000-year struggle was not a complete waste, if you’re right and we’ll be going back to slavery and lack of human rights?

  22. Victor Says:

    Librarian

    Apologies for the misunderstanding. Yours is a difficult question indeed. And of course there is no predictable answer. But I will say that perhaps there exists at least some hope in that it is likely different evolving out of a ‘slave society’ than it is evolving from a ‘free society’. Indeed, the world today is literally exploding with a desire for ‘freedom’ on the part of the global multitudes who are completely fed up with oppression in all its forms. This desire for freedom has become deeply engrained in peoples everywhere.

    In the past there was little hope for freedom as this was not the experience of civilised people. Now, however, there is not only the hope for freedom, there is the expectation of freedom. I don’t think people will easily give that up – even when things start unravelling. Most of us have our images of a tyrannical oppressor, depending upon our culture or the context within which we live. Few will willingly submit again to such oppression, I would think.

    I think most people will try to work together, form co-operative communities, plan for their security, and expect a certain level of freedom. You saw strong hints of this attitude in Egypt when the state police were pulled off the streets and people banded together to police their neighbourhoods and provide for common needs. I was quite impressed by that.

    People are not stupid. They just need the opportunity to make decisions for themselves, an opportunity rarely encountered in today’s highly managed civilisation.

  23. Michael Irving Says:

    Jean,

    Backtracking–Re: bacaudae

    Confusing times these. I understand your reference (thanks again to Wikipedia–what would I and other members of the lumpenproletariat do without it?) and it brings up a new set of ideas and questions. Transposing historical entities into modern threats, there are the Visigoths (the barbarians outside the walls, aka China?), the Roman Empire (modern industrialized, corporatized, sons-of-bitches), and now the bacaudae (probably our hungry neighbors). It is always helpful to me to name things and now you’ve helped me by providing a name. I agree that the “bacaudae” may be the biggest threat to our personal survival, going forward, because they are local and the Chinese and my own government’s operatives will have other things on their minds. Maybe they will be nuking us (Chinese) or establishing a new feudal system (USA! USA!). My neighbors, however, will be hungry and looking at my garden every day.

    It does raise an interesting question about allegiances. If you are fighting against the bacaudae aren’t you supporting Rome? If you are opposing the neighbors aren’t you supporting the bastards who are bringing us collapse?

    Michael Irving

  24. Randy C Says:

    Dr. House, Victor: the real challenge will be making to the next harvest, then the one after that. The current system is not set up for manual labor farming (I am but I am small and am an exception). The first really bad harvest followed by a bad winter in the northern hemisphere will mostly settle the issue. Land will go back to being “owned” by those who can use it, or it will be community land. Guns and ammo only get you so far. I keep them to impress upon those around me that attacking me for what I have is a bad idea. As to the hungry masses, they have neither the skills, knowledge or physical conditioning to do manual farm labor that their lives will depend on. They simply will not make it, and I can’t see them scratching out a living on the earth after they spent their lives sitting in an office building. I’m having enough trouble at age 49 doing the work and I have a team of horses, a truck, electricity and gasoline for my chainsaw.

  25. Kathy Says:

    Librarian you wrote [My concern was, how do we make sure that people like Socrates and Martin Luther King Jr. and Charles Dickens, etc., did not simply “waste their lives” in trying, bit by bit, to give us a world where human beings do not constantly oppress each other?]

    I keep trying to address this and you ignore it. We DO live in a world where human beings constantly oppress each other. It is not MLK and Dickens that improved things that we see so much as oil. Oil allowed us to have our slaves an ocean away. We could pretend that the world got better when in fact it did not, it just shifted where the visible oppression is.

    per wiki
    Illegal enslavement of agricultural labor persists in Florida in the United States. The Modern-Day Slavery Museum documents seven cases, involving over 1,000 people kept in slavery, of farm labor servitude successfully prosecuted in the US courts there in the past fifteen years. Singling out Florida may give a false impression, since, in the 1980s, cases involving agricultural slavery in the USA were prosecuted across the Southeast states.[141]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery#Current_situation

    Twenty-seven million slaves exist in the world today, more than at any time in human history.

    http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/15-worldwide-slavery/

    A look at the garbage dumps of Brazil might change you mind. Children grow up and die on the dumps living off the refuse of civilization.

    The Congo is a particularly nasty place to live – why – because it is full of minerals the first world wants. Children are kidnapped there (and in many other countries) at tender ages and given guns and forced to fight in armies often encouraged and even supported by the US and other countries (although not openly) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_use_of_children In fact if a country outside our borders has something we want, we usually get it no matter how many people we have to kill or torture to do so, while US liberals sit around and congratulate themselves that they have made a better world when all they have done is drawn the circle between us and them to include a few more people.

    If your library doesn’t hold the books that document the atrocities that happen in the name of the “free” world I will be glad to suggest a few titles.

  26. The Cosmist Says:

    My bottleneck-fearing “friends”, the only questions you need to ask yourselves as you face the future are these: are you in favor of more knowledge or less? Greater power or less? Wealth or poverty? Survival or death? In all cases, if you choose the first answer then civilization is your friend, but if you prefer the latter then good luck in your future peasant farming/hunting/gathering endeavors! You will almost certainly be more ignorant, less powerful, poorer and live a shorter life, but if all that is outweighed by a sense of moral righteousness then that is your choice and I respect it. Just don’t try to impose that absurd morality on the rest of us!

    Fundamentally what communities like this are about is making its members feel righteous about their poverty, their weakness and their lack of ambition. By turning these into your standards of success, you have performed a clever moral inversion worthy of the early Christians. If that is your religion I have nothing more to say to you, but shame on you Guy, who claims to be an atheist adherent of Nietzsche, and shame on all the scientists here who welcome a return to darkness, for subscribing to this wretched peasant philosophy!

  27. Librarian Says:

    The Cosmist, as someone who actually READS Nietzsche, I see where you’re coming from. It’s true that Nietzsche thought that Christian morality was merely a moral inversion.

    But Nietzsche didn’t approve of excessive concentration of wealth EITHER. He compared greed to an illness, “everything for me.”

    He may have accused the poor of being selfish and envious, but he ALSO accused the rich of being selfish and greedy.

    What Nietzsche admired were people who experienced a zest for life, who lived their lives with constant purpose and died at the right time, rather than either constantly clinging to life or constantly wishing life away. BOTH were anathema to Nietzsche.

    You are taking Nietzsche out of context in order to direct insults at us.

  28. Kevin Moore Says:

    Thanks all for the thoughts on slavery.

    It still seems to me that there is no advantage to hunter-gatherers in having slaves as such. The examples given were not true hunter-gatherers, but combined hunting and gathering with cropping, for which slaves would be useful.

    That does bring into question the value of Transition Town initiatives, Permaculture etc., since they are very much concerned with staying put and growing food.

    Only a transition to a completely different way of thinking can provide us with any way out of this trap, and there is no indication humans are capable of such a thing, since much human thought and action appears to be genetically programmed. In other words we are already slaves -slaves to our genes. Those who don’t see the light are slaves to their genes and are slaves of the empire.

    Librarian.

    Unless humanity does something very wise, very spectacular, and very soon, unstoppable geochemical forces will render this planet largely (or completely) uninhabitable and it will all have been for naught.

  29. Librarian Says:

    “Largely” uninhabitable still brings hope. “Completely” uninhabitable does not.

    If we end up in a scenario like something out of the Matrix trilogy where the entire human race is living in a single “Zion” colony, only without the oppression by machines, I admit that’s not a very encouraging scenario, but that would still be better than the human race going extinct and therefore wasting humanity’s 3,000-year struggle for a better world. A single colony of free humans, even if the rest of the world is uninhabitable, is still a vision of hope.

    That would be better than the potential ghost of Socrates looking at the death of humanity and saying, “Well if THIS was going to be what humanity did with the ideas I sacrificed my life for, then what the hell did I drink hemlock for? I might as well have taken the corrupt offer to leave Athens when I had the chance and lived my life in a fog like everyone else, if humanity was just going to kill itself anyway.”

    At least Victor has a better idea; current movements might cause a society that is free and doesn’t have slaves, but also doesn’t have our conveniences or our intellectual ideas.

  30. Kevin Moore Says:

    Librarian.

    ‘better than the human race going extinct and therefore wasting humanity’s 3,000-year struggle for a better world’

    By ‘struggle for better world’ I assume you mean a struggle against oppression and greed, a struggle for justice. In that context the struggle has been a complete failure: levels of greed, inequality and injustice are higher now than at any time in history. And of course, the Earth has never been in a worse environmental state than it is now.

    Didn’t Einstein say the different between genuis and stupidity is that genius has limits? I see a lot more stupidity than genius every day. In fact, I hardly see any genius. It all seeems to be stupidity.

    There are many who believe the best thing that can happen is for humanity to quickly become extinct because we are ‘a plague of greedy apes’, and ‘the last thing this planet needs is a plague of greedy apes’. I’m not sure where I stand on that one at the moment. I must still have some remnant of hope left in me for some reason.

  31. The Cosmist Says:

    Kevin there is a simple way to resolve the question of whether humanity would be better off extinct if you find this issue perplexing. Look in the mirror and ask yourself if you would be better off alive or dead. If the answer is “dead”, simply stop breathing, or, failing that, find a relatively painless way to commit suicide. This is preferable to the slow suicide of voluntary impoverishment and non-reproduction, since it relieves Gaia of the burden of your existence immediately.

    If the answer is “alive”, then you are part of the “problem”, so you can stop talking about a plague of greedy apes, the human virus, etc. and start trying to enjoy your brief time on this strange planet. As John von Neumann, one of the most brilliant humans who ever lived, said to Richard Feynman: “you don’t have to be responsible for the world that you’re in.”

    On the issue of growing “injustice”, “inequality” and “greed”, please note that regardless of whether this is true, these are concepts that only exist in your mind. Gaia, mother nature and the great cosmic void have zero interest in such human constructions.

  32. Kevin Moore Says:

    TC. What a pity you are so psychotoc you are completely disconnected reality and don’t even know what you write. For your informatiuon, here it is: ‘I have nothing more to say to you’.

    Your statement is my reply.

  33. Guy McPherson Says:

    If you don’t think the U.S. knows the industrial economy is nearly dead, think again. Our government is willing to ignite nuclear war to maintain American hegemony: “The most ominous point in this SVR report is ‘Pakistan’s ISI stating that top-secret CIA documents found in Davis’s possession point to his, and/or TF373, providing to al Qaeda terrorists ‘nuclear fissile material’ and ‘biological agents’, which they claim are to be used against the United States itself in order to ignite an all-out war in order to re-establish the West’s hegemony over a Global economy that is warned is just months away from collapse,’ the paper added.”

    I’ll emphasize the point I’ve been making for a long time: “Global economy … just months away from collapse”

    http://in.news.yahoo.com/cia-spy-davis-giving-nuclear-bomb-material-al-20110219-224833-452.html?submitter=nokilli

    Oh, never mind. I’m sure the feds will implement GenIV reactors and nanotechnology in time to save civilization.

  34. Gary Peters Says:

    Guy,

    A few years back Woody Allen said that “Mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”

    At this point I’m not sure which might be the better choice, though I have friends who assure me that there really are no problems. Presumably they get all their news from FOX and avoid reading anything.

    I’ve taught and wrote about population for more than four decades and have argued in favor of controlling our numbers and coming to grips with the tremendous toll we are taking on our planet. That I have failed to get this message across is supported by the fact that we have added more than three billion people during that time. People either ignore population questions entirely or argue that the issue is to personal to confront.

    Without the recent era of the discovery and exploitation of fossil fuels, our numbers would probably still be around one billion. Now we are closing in on 7 billion at the same time that we are nearing (if we have not already passed it) the point at which world oil extraction reaches its peak and begins a decline, the shape of which we don’t yet know.

    If the rest of the animal kingdom were given a vote, I’m sure they’d choose extinction for Homo sapiens because otherwise they are threatened with extinction.

  35. Privileged Says:

    “Oh, never mind. I’m sure the feds will implement GenIV reactors and nanotechnology in time to save civilization.” Classic.

  36. John Stassek Says:

    I think we’ve come full circle, back to the six or twelve pack of beer, and the folding chairs. Count me in.

    What’s coming is inevitable. None of us can change the big picture. None of us knows the details, but I think we all know it’s coming soon, and it won’t be pretty.

    Watch out for each other. Help any way you can. For as long as you can. Laugh every chance you get. Ditto with all the things you enjoy. And remember, we have a lot of time invested in this doom and gloom. Won’t it be great to see that it was not a wasted effort?

  37. Kevin Moore Says:

    John.

    ‘we have a lot of time invested in this doom and gloom.’

    I prefer to think of it as a lot of time and energy invested in telling the truth. ‘

    Ironically, the greatest degree of ‘doom and gloom’ will probably be experienced by those who refuse to accept the truth because ‘it’s too much like doom and gloom’.

  38. matt Says:

    strength in obscurity
    power in modesty

    ‘the dumb are cocksure, the intelligent have their doubts’

  39. Kathy Says:

    John, we may have to scare up a few more chairs for the party! Great attitude. I often think about the things I won’t have to do after the crash rather than the things I will have to do or will no longer have to do. One of the biggies is that I won’t have to shut my mouth and clam up about what is coming to people who have their hands over their ears.

    Thanks for my smile of the day.

  40. Kathy Says:

    Gary, thanks for the Woody Allen quote – my second smile of the day. Some days I would side with the rest of the animal and plant kingdom that human extinction might be best. Certainly most would thrive better without us. And given that the knowledge of our personal mortality gives us such angst (often followed by denial) perhaps we would be better off not existing. I have begun to note that when a child is born everyone exults over the new life and never mentions that their birth means one more death, the thing they fear so much themselves. Perhaps the big brain adaption, which worked so well for a while has transformed its environment so much that it can no longer be sustained – somewhat like the anaerobic bacteria that first lived on the surface of the planet and then were driven underground by their own pollution – oxygen.

  41. Victor Says:

    As the Middle Turmoil spreads, oil prices will only get worse:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12563063

    Brent crude: $120 and rising.

    It is only February and the airlines have raised their prices in response to oil four times already this year, compared to just three times all of 2010.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/24/business/24fare.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha25

    The importance of light, sweet crude v heavy, sour oil is important, and explains a lot why the present spike is occurring:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/24/business/energy-environment/24oil.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha25

    Hold on to your hats! 2011 is going to be a wild year….

  42. Robin Datta Says:

    Because if we actually devolve back into keeping slaves, then thousands of years of intellectual labor and painful struggle and loss of life were ALL FOR NOTHING. I hope we all keep that firmly in mind.

    That is the problem with the human livestock. The technology of slavery has been so refined that they do not even realize that they are slaves.

    Freedomain Radio: The Story of Your Enslavement

    With the regression of other aspects of technology, the technology of slavery may also regress – unless a critical mass of the human livestock has the requisite paradigm shift.

    As those who are hungry come out from the cities, the landowner will “employ” them to use hoes, shovels, their hands, whatever, to get what seed their is into the ground and get crops growing.

    ……. A manifestation of regression in the technology of slavery.

    I know as a librarian you would like to think that all our knowledge has had a positive effect on human behavior, and it is easy to think that living in a country that has abolished official slavery.

    Filtering and skewing “all our knowledge” can produce the results one wants. Nikita Sergeyevich Kruschev had said that he would convince Americans of the superiority and desirability of communism if only he could have control of the American media for a year.

    My concern was, how do we make sure that people like Socrates and Martin Luther King Jr. and Charles Dickens, etc., did not simply “waste their lives” in trying, bit by bit, to give us a world where human beings do not constantly oppress each other?

    “Bit by bit” does not cut the mustard: what is necessary is a paradigm shift in the human livestocks’ perception. There is no point in cutting out the cancer “bit by bit”.

    …how do we make sure that 2,000-3,000-year struggle was not a complete waste, if you’re right and we’ll be going back to slavery and lack of human rights?

    We will not be going back to slavery. At worst we would be regressing to an older technology of slavery.

    Most of us have our images of a tyrannical oppressor, depending upon our culture or the context within which we live. Few will willingly submit again to such oppression, I would think.

    It all depends on how subtle the next “tyrannical oppressor” happens to be. As long as they can get the human livestock to see the farmers as benevolent, they will have the human livestock defend the hierarchy by attacking those who see through the charade. In that way the new elites do not have to expose their fangs ad claws: they can keep their claim of moral rectitude in the initiation of violence well in the background.

    If you are fighting against the bacaudae aren’t you supporting Rome? If you are opposing the neighbors aren’t you supporting the bastards who are bringing us collapse?

    That is why one has to hew to the principle of the non-initiation of force: in that way one avoids wandering off from one’s own values. The bagaudae and Rome, the neighbors and the bastards, all operate on a rejection of the principle of non-initiation of force.

    Oil allowed us to have our slaves an ocean away.

    The success of the slave technology is such that we do not see the slaves when we look in the mirror. When, after his trial, O.J. Simpson stated that he wanted to find the killer, someone suggested that he should look in a mirror. But mirrors have been rendered ineffective by the human livestocks’ farmers.

    are you in favor of more knowledge or less? Greater power or less? Wealth or poverty? Survival or death? In all cases, if you choose the first answer then civilization is your friend,

    Glad to hear that. Regrettably, though. the civilization is in intensive care, and at least some of the attending physicians (the ones whose prognostications so far, have by and large, come to pass) have rather grave misgivings about the prognosis.

    all the scientists here who welcome a return to darkness,

    Actually it is one’s hope that someone will have a lamp to light when the grid goes down.

    this planet largely (or completely) uninhabitable and it will all have been for naught.

    It is to be remembered that in the time of the dinosaurs, the global temperatures were 10°C or more higher than today; the atmosphere contained three or four times today’s carbon dioxide. Whatever species survive an environmental bottleneck will, in an evolutionary radiation, produce life-forms adapted to the changed condititons After Man, even though the Tree of Life will undergo yet another pruning, as it has with each great extinction since the Burgess Shale. And yet, when we speak of the Tree of Life, we mostly refer to multicellular organisms: how much the “pruning” affected the unicellular life-forms is not discussed: the possibility of another radiation from unicellular life forms is rarely considered.

    but that would still be better than the human race going extinct and therefore wasting humanity’s 3,000-year struggle for a better world.

    The “better world” is from the perspective of humans, and therefore I prefer it. In the perspective of nucleic acid chemistry, Homo sapiens is but another variant in the emergent epiphenomena called life, and a rather recent one at that. The rejection of “Intelligent Design” is based on the apprehension of intelligence within the domains in which our intelligence operates. But in a system (such as a vast underground mycelial colony over several hundred square kilometers, for example) where the equivalent of a fleeting human “thought” might take millennia, there may be an aspect of intelligence beyond our ken.

    “you don’t have to be responsible for the world that you’re in

    We have no control over the initial conditions. And which behavioral traits and to what extent they are hard-wired in our genes and to what extent they may be subject to modification by the social milieu, could be a matter of debate.

  43. Librarian Says:

    Kathy, just be careful not to mention that in public or to anyone you’d like to have a good opinion about you, ha ha. Most people, when they hear that maybe it would be better if humans didn’t exist, tend to think anyone who says that must be a teenage “goth” who hangs out in malls and talks endlessly about how depressed he is.

    You may enjoy David Benatar’s philosophical work, “Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence” for better intellectual justification for your stance.

  44. Kathy Says:

    Librarian,
    No of course I don’t express my opinion in my limited contacts with the general public. I don’t care to mix much with the general public as they seem to be more concerned with their favorite TV show or buying marble counter tops than reality.

    Thanks for the book suggestion. As for a better intellectual justification, I am quite happy with my own intellectual thinking based on my own experiences (such as watching babies die in pain in Haiti)- although I have read many books of this sort. I of course don’t write a book on my whole intellectual journey in a comment on NBL so you cannot know my whole intellectual process, nor do I think I need to justify my thinking. Since I am not planning to do anything to help out the extinction of humans, since without thought they may do it themselves, justification of intellectual thought on the matter is irrelevant.

    In fact a species that inflicts this http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/2003/DU-Baby2003.htm on other humans creates the argument in and of itself.

    My spending many hours volunteering in nursing homes, and in homeless shelters as well as my time in Haiti I think it more useful for providing the material to question the value of the human species than any philosophical treatise.

  45. Steven Earl Salmony Says:

    We are not only seeing the demise of the dollar. We are also witnessing the violent supression of Democracy as well as the pernicious supression of Science.

    To look at what has been happening in the past 65 years, a time when pharoahs and tyrants were supported and democracy was neglected, all for short-term profits, and when scientific research of human population dynamics/human overpopulation was everywhere eschewed, all for sake of providing support to greedmongering self-proclaimed masters of the universe, is to have overseen the most profound failure of nerve, intellectual honesty, moral courage and corrective action in human history, I suppose.

    Both democracy and science have been vanquished by arrogance, avarice and authoritarianism in our time.

  46. Victor Says:

    ‘Both democracy and science have been vanquished by arrogance, avarice and authoritarianism in our time.’

    Democracy is a brilliant façade. There has never existed a democracy. Democracy is an extremely effective tool designed to control and manipulate the masses into thinking they have decision-making authority. Real power always rests with the elite in a civilised society.

    Science has always been a tool to advance knowledge and technology in the direction that the elite, who finance and support its progress, direct it. It was nearly always the elite who dabbled in science whilst the masses toiled. Or they supported brilliant scientists from the masses as they do today.

    Everything comes with a Return On Investment – everything.

  47. Victor Says:

    I wonder if The Cosmist and Eclipse Now are real?…. ;-)

    http://www.monbiot.com/2011/02/23/robot-wars/

    Sometimes I wonder if I am real.

  48. Kathy Says:

    Victor, you took the words right out of my mouth. Additionally science has had great success at creating new problems for science to solve. The problems get more difficult in each iteration and the solutions less and less cost effective until the point when it all collapses. Ah that point is now visible on the horizon. So we will be left with much bigger problems at the end of science than the beginning. We will end with oceans depleted, ground water depleted, and environment poisoned, climate disrupted all thanks to science solving problems. We will face collapse with hardier germs thanks to antibiotic resistance, hardier weeds thanks to roundup and hardier pests thanks to pesticides. Thank you science for solving us into humongous problems that have gotten so big that even science can’t solve them. ;)

    Re The Cosmist and EN – maybe not real, but certainly not realistic :)

  49. jaime lopez Says:

    I already talked about this website thrice:

    http://www.youstupidrelativist.com/08Ext/00SumExt.html

  50. Tom Says:

    Victor: as to “People are not stupid. They just need the opportunity to make decisions for themselves, an opportunity rarely encountered in today’s highly managed civilisation.”

    i think you greatly overestimate the intelligence (best described as sapience) of the masses, especially here in the U.S.

    The only thing we can be sure of is that a collapse (or series thereof) is coming and, like a tidal wave, will take a great many people with it. This “bottleneck” event (see Wm. Catton’s book by the same name) is due to our having never learned the lessons of cooperation and moderation, and those dealing with our built-in (as humans) defects of greed, selfishness, arrogance (or hubris) and especially because we weren’t stewards of the planet (but instead we’re a cancerous growth).

    So we’ve greatly overshot the carrying capacity of Earth, have mindlessly polluted everything (water, ground, air, and our own mentality), and are now reaping the rewards of being complete idiots (from the Industrial Revolution to the present day).

    We’ll go the way of the many species we forced into extinction (yep, now it’s our turn) and the planet will adjust after many thousands of years. Perhaps it will all regenerate someday. My hope is that this version of homo-sapiens somehow genetically remembers this collapse and its causes and corrects for them the next time around, if there is a next time.

  51. Steven Earl Salmony Says:

    Dear Victor,

    Science and Democracy are not human inventions. As for the major productions of the all-too-human world, as defined by the global political economy, the great religions and the military complexes, these are some (but not all) of the complicated parts of a colossal, distinctly human facade or artifice, I suppose.

    Thanks for commenting.

    Sincerely,

    Steve

  52. Jean Says:

    Michael Irving,

    “If you are fighting against the bacaudae aren’t you supporting Rome?”

    The modern Rome is doomed. Nothing to do with the empire. Fighting the bacaudae is just an imposition of the times. They will not be moral fighters: they just want to cut your throat and steal your harvest.

    “If you are opposing the neighbors aren’t you supporting the bastards who are bringing us collapse?”

    The neighbors you talk about are a part of the problem. Overconsumption is not just a responsability of governments or corporations: it-s a problem of most people. And about the bastards who are bringing us to the collapse… yes, they have a bigger part of responsability, but they-re not adapted to live in pre=industrial conditions: they will be the first who die.

  53. Kevin Moore Says:

    As I see it, science is the pursuit of knowlegde and formulatiuon of theories which explain observations (and make accurate predictions). Sciente is not at the heart of our predicament. Our predicament stems from a sector of humanity using knowledge for personal gain and control. And that predates formal science, arguably going back to proto-humans picking up stones and shaping them. We are almost bound to use knowledge for personal gain, since that is a biologically successful strategy. The real question seems to come down to ‘good knowledge’ versus ‘bad knowledge. And identifying certain knowledge as bad, not applying it. Gene therapy may be done with the best of intentions; what about GE of crops?

    In more recent times scientists have repeatedly warned aboout the dangers of overpopulation, over exploitation of resources, environemntal degradation, disturbance of the chemical balance of the atmosphere and oceans though excessive carbon dioxide emmissions etc., and have been wittingly ignored. (That goes right back to Arrhenius in the 1890s).

    I find myself frequently thinking that a sector of humanity -money-lenders, corporations, most politicians etc.- stand for and promote evil.

    Interestngly, the Genesis story does not highlight the danger of knowledge, but the danger of knowledge of good and evil. I still cannot figure that out, since we need to have knowledge of good and evil to identify evil and turn away from it.

  54. Kathy Says:

    Kevin, maybe this will help you figure out the Garden of Eden choice

    http://www.cartoonistgroup.com/store/add_strip.php?iid=5178

    :)

  55. Kevin Moore Says:

    Kathy.

    Great cartoon but how ironic that the commonly accepted misconception is that the forbidden tree was the tree of knowledge, rather than the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

    It seems that life is a misconception.

    (Where would I be without all the great contributions on this blog to ponder?)

  56. Kathy Says:

    If you look at science as the pursuit of knowledge then humans have been doing science for a long long time. The more formalized way we have of doing science tries to correct for some of the mistakes humans made previously in the pursuit of knowledge. All that is well and good, and certainly we will find humans who seek wealth and power behind the most egregious things that science has produced. However knowledgeable, well meaning scientists have often had narrow vision. How can you not feel positively about scientists who wanted to eradicate some of the most awful of human diseases. Yet look at the result – beyond resistant germs there is overpopulation and the failure to cull the human population for resistance. The big picture is too big for us humans to encompass so when we seek to use science to change things we cannot see down the road to what other things might be changed than the ones we want to change.

    Science as knowledge is a delight but we seldom take that gift and be happy with it. We humans want to DO something with that knowledge, sometimes something good but without full knowledge of the consequences. Sometimes something for personal gain even tho it is evil.

    I love knowing about all the life in the soil, much of it newly learned. But I suspect that hunter-gatherers and early agriculturalists “knew” the soil was alive without ever using a microscope much less testing for DNA.

    I love gardening and raising chickens, yet I agree with Jared Diamond that agriculture was the worst mistake humans ever made. I love to read articles and books about the latest scientific discoveries, but I think that the path to formalized science was made possible by agriculture (freeing more people from farming) and may then also be lumped into the category of the worst mistake the human species ever made. Perhaps the extensive knowledge that hunter-gatherers had about their world was knowledge enough for homo sapiens.

    No offense meant to the scientists in the group meant, just as no offense meant to those of us who garden or farm.

  57. Kathy Says:

    Kevin, yes people misread the Bible story in English … but some think that misreading is in fact more correct than the usual translation.
    Translation issues
    Gordon and Rendsburg[1] have suggested that the phrase “טוֹב וָרָע”, translated good and evil, is a merism, i.e. a figure of speech whereby a pair of opposites are used together to create the meaning all or everything (as in the English phrase, “they searched high and low”, meaning that they searched everywhere). They conjecture, therefore that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil means tree of all knowledge. This meaning can be brought out by the alternative translations tree of the knowledge of good and of evil (the word of not being expressed in the Hebrew) or tree of knowledge, both good and evil. The phrase occurs twice as applied to the tree, Genesis 2:9, Genesis 2:17. It also occurs twice as describing the knowledge gained Genesis 3:5 and Genesis 3:22 where it may be translated perhaps with knowledge, both good and evil.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_of_the_knowledge_of_good_and_evil

  58. Kevin Moore Says:

    Kathy.

    That does make sense.

    I have just debated whether those with reptilian brains (re: our discussion of a couple of weeks ago) know that they are doing wrong. Maybe for them right is wrong and wrong is right. Evidence strongly supports the hypothesis that psychotic sociopaths end up as leaders simply because they are prepared to lie and manipulate to get to the top.

    It often feels as though there are three distinct species of humans on this planet: the sociopaths at the top, the zombies who support them, and those who can see the whole chirade for what it is.

  59. Michael Irving Says:

    Jean,

    Thanks for the answer.

    I am in agreement with you, “The modern Rome is doomed.” I also agree with you that the “neighbors/bacaudae” will be the most immediate problem. Where I live, in the country far from town, only a small percentage of the locals even have a garden. They are physically living in the country but they are completely identified with all of the trappings of modern urban industrial civilization. The only preparation most of them have made is to buy guns and ammo. Presumably when things get bad they will be caught completely unprepared and will then, and only then, start looking for a source of supply. Guess where they will look first. There is a mind set by some “survivalists” that asserts that the proper approach to collapse is to take what they need by force.

    I’m afraid that there will be an abundant supply of thugs waiting, and even hoping, for the chance to enlist in a strong man’s mini army after a collapse of governmental restrictions. Groups of men running amok will be the order of the day.

    Michael Irving

  60. Kathy Says:

    Kevin I am not sure exactly what you are responding to. Are saying that it is the psychotic sociopaths that make science go astray?

    Or are you saying that the interpretation of the Genesis text doesn’t make sense? Does any interpretation of what the Bible might be saying make sense? It is certain that however these stories began they had additions and changes over time to suit the agenda of the PTB at those times.

  61. The Cosmist Says:

    Folks historical analogies are silly now that we’ve entered an epoch unlike any in history. The Neolithic, Rome and Easter Island are irrelevant; this is the Anthropocene — the first time in the history of this planet when the dominant species possessed tool-using intelligence and the scientific method, so you can throw away your history books!

    Try to visualize a post-agricultural, post-scarcity civilization, where humanity is no longer the simple primates you see all around you, but has modified itself at will via genetic and cybernetic tinkering. Imagine, for example, a photosynthetic prosthesis that allows you to feed directly on sunlight, or industrial technologies that can assemble atoms arbitrarily into desired materials. This is how you need to start thinking about the future; it’s a place limited only by natural law and your imagination. Note that there is no natural law requiring collapse or die-off; in fact the history of life on this planet suggests that we can expect just the opposite: a continued explosion of life and intelligence reaching outward into the Cosmos.

    The Anthropocene is going to be something truly weird, wonderful and unprecedented, and will probably mark the end of the line for legacy homo sapiens and the beginning of a spectacular flowering of post-human species. You can try to escape all this by fleeing into the wilderness, but in the Anthropocene there’s simply nowhere to hide from the products of human intelligence!

  62. Sarah Says:

    Guy, this essay so underscores the ephemeral quality of our societal foundations! Really gives me that feeling popularly referred to as Wile E. Coyote … left me uncomfortable as I once again have to face the details of our situation … and that is exactly why I read here – thank you.

    Thinking about the conversations above and the Garden of Eden, slavery and the knowledge we humans have expressed … Our earth has manifest us in all our glory and gore. The wisdom in the understanding that our earth is a garden that sustained us could be used to carry us past the need for weapons, slaves and fear. As we move into collapse maybe we could see that we have the power to live on this planet as our home, a place that gives us what we need. We could give our honor to the earth – not the person who accumulates land or weapons. (I do understand this could only be possible with way fewer humans than are here now)

    I’m remembering a description of hell … something about people with arms too short to reach their mouths and sitting at a banquet table of food and starving because they can’t get the food to their mouth … never even considering they could easily feed each other.

    We seem to be headed through a hellish time. Could it be that we will find that we have what we need to face this by realizing that all that is sustaining is so only when we share it with each other.

  63. Kevin Moore Says:

    Kathy.

    I meant the explanation you posted for knowledge of good and evil makes sense.

    I postulate that science never went astray. Psychotic sociopaths misdirected science or misused it.

    When chemists nitrated toluene they were carrying out research. Putting TNT into a brass case and firing at an enemy is a different matter. Early researchers who investigated the properties of radioactive materials had no idea an understanding of nuclear physics would lead to atomic bombs being dropped on civilians.

  64. Victor Says:

    Kevin,
    I’m not letting scientists off the hook so easily. There have been armies of scientists involved in scientific research aimed specifically at destruction and weaponry throughout history. Some research was done by those with an objective of turning innocent research to evil ends. Other research had the objective of producing evil from the beginning.

    Even in the field of science you have the bad guys and the good guys. Even the scientist is human and has human frailties. The quest for knowledge is not always a pure and holy vessel.

  65. Kevin Moore Says:

    Yes, but were they REAL scientists looking for fundamental truths or were they opportunists with capacity to understand science, perhaps technologists who applied basic scientific knowledge to weapons research? In a lot of cases a true research scientist discovered something or synthesised some new substance, and others went on to discover applications for it.

    I believe Von Braun (if that’s the correct spelling) spent a bit of time in prison before agreeing to work on the Nazi vengence weapons. But he was not a scientist in the sense that Galileo, Boyle, Hook, Newton, Farady etc. were.

    ‘Other research had the objective of producing evil from the beginning.’

    What do you have in mind?

  66. Kathy Says:

    Kevin, I know that sociopaths went astray with science. But haven’t good, well meaning people gone astray as well in their belief that we can defeat disease and feed the world. Were all who worked to conquer diseases sociopaths? Were all who worked on the green revolution sociopaths? Yet in tandem those efforts have led to overpopulation and all the awful consequences that are coming soon. I would maintain that we are not sapient enough to understand all the consequences of our discoveries and thus one could make the conclusion that the scientific method led us to knowledge of many many things, but not to the knowledge to know what will have good results in the end and what “good: actions will have bad results. To have that knowledge would require us to act on it in ways that non-sociopaths would find evil – ie. to discover antibiotics but then to hide that discovery because we would know in advance that it would create the greater evil of overpopulation. Thus science falls in the hands not only of sociopaths but also in the hands of the well meaning but short sighted.

  67. Kathy Says:

    Funny, even atheists like myself spend some time discussing the particular creation myth of our culture as if the words meant anything useful at all, and hardly ever look at the creation myths of other cultures. Our PTB have done well. We who reject the myths of the dominant religion sometimes still render more importance to these myths than they deserve.

    Here is one of the wiser myths
    “A number of Native American myths explain how death came into the world, usually to prevent the earth from becoming overcrowded. The Shoshone people say that long ago Wolf and Coyote got into an argument. Wolf said that people could be brought back to life after they died. Coyote argued that if people returned from death, there would soon be too many of them. Wolf agreed that Coyote was right, but then he arranged for Coyote’s son to be the first to die. Coyote asked Wolf to bring his son back to life. However, Wolf reminded Coyote that he had insisted on death, and so his son must remain dead.”

    http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Mi-Ni/Native-American-Mythology.html#ixzz1ExuIubYK

    Lots more meaning there IMHO than the Adam and Eve story. One can see death is necessary to keep population in line but death when personal feels quite different.

  68. Steven Earl Salmony Says:

    Without benefit of the power provided to humankind by the best available science, we will be found to be a not powerful enough force in a confrontation with the global predicament human beings have produced.

    In any case, I cannot see a way at all that the willful denial of extant science regarding the root cause(s) of the global predicament, which is presented to humanity by the human overpopulation of Earth, can be construed as either helpful or correct.

  69. Victor Says:

    ‘What do you have in mind?’

    Biological weaponry, chemical weaponry, fissionable weaponry, human behaviour modification, torture techniques, military weaponry, crowd control weaponry, agribusiness research to develop plants and chemicals known to harm the environment and endanger the food supply, the tobacco industry employed scientists to research the effects of tobacco on human health with the objective of amassing data to support their claims – the list goes on. And there were scientists involved in these efforts.

    Of course, you can say that these were not REAL scientists, but I don’t accept that argument. What is a REAL scientist? Only those with pure motives? I think not. If you are referring to those who engage in Pure Research as opposed to Applied Research, you might get an argument from one side or the other as to who is a REAL scientist. Those real scientists who worked on atomic research in the early part of the 20th century KNEW what the results of their research would be used for, and yet they made the wilful decision to continue that research for the “greater good of science”, as if science were an infallible ideology which should never be restrained, no matter the consequences.

    Biochemists and microbiologists who work on pathogenic agent research know what their work will be used for. Yet they make the wilful decision to cooperate in that effort. Yes, they leverage off the unbiased basic research of others, but all scientists do that – building on the work of science is not the sole domain of the technologist. New scientific work is always based upon prior work and progress.

    Those who work in the field of human behaviour sciences know exactly how their work will be used in a predatory capitalist system and a fascist security structure. Yet they make the wilful decision to do that work.

    Because these works contribute to overall scientific knowledge? Partly, I’m sure. They seriously want to advance the cause of knowledge and are painfully honest in that pursuit. But also because it means jobs, security, and possibly even publication – quite human goals, not scientific goals. And this could be said of most scientists today, I would venture. And is that bad? No, but it does make them human, and subject to the corruptive nature of ambition, and has contributed to unspeakable evil in the world today.

  70. Kathy Says:

    To further your points Victor I would also note that Hunter-Gatherers had all the knowledge they needed to do the basics, eat, drink water, have sex, and raise babies. They actually had quite extensive knowledge of their world but by and large did not contribute to the destruction of their world. When they did it was as far as I know because they had entered into parts of the world that had not adjusted yet to the human species. Given time for instance Australia adjusted to humans as humans wiped out some species and probably changed the climate a bit and then a new balance was obtained and for 60,000 years Aborigines lived life with the joy of sex and of babies. Then came homo scientificus who should have known about balance but could not seek it for whatever reasons. Balance appears to be not something we can figure out but something that happens. It is about to happen again and whether or not humans are in the new balance is unclear.

    As for humans being of different types, it is not clear that if we wiped out all the sociopaths and even all the mindless groups that the result would be a truly wise human because it is not clear if these are genetic traits or cultural traits. Whatever a return to informal knowledge in the hunter-gatherer lifestyle would go far to protecting the rest of the inhabitants of the planet. Thus I am counting on nature returning us to a culture we are safe to operate in, or wiping us out entirely.

  71. Steven Earl Salmony Says:

    Dear Kathy, Kevin and Victor,

    What would think about the possibility of a completely unanticipated transformation of human consciousness among large numbers of people that occurs unexpectedly and ubiquitously at a future moment in space-time?

    Sincerely,

    Steve

  72. Sarah Says:

    Robin, the Elizabeth Lindsey presentation is powerful!

  73. Robin Datta Says:

    Dr. Mobus, like Dr. Guy, is an academic in a scientific discipline, but unlike Dr. Guy (and myself) he has children to raise, and perhaps therefore is less of a rebel.

    Past the Point of No Return by George Mobus 2/13/11

  74. Steven Earl Salmony Says:

    Dear Robin,

    Thanks for drawing attention to the remarkably astute perspective of George Mobus. His work on sapience, among other topics, is second to none.

    With the hope for more wisdom in the world,

    Steve

  75. Kathy Says:

    Steve your question [What would think about the possibility of a completely unanticipated transformation of human consciousness among large numbers of people that occurs unexpectedly and ubiquitously at a future moment in space-time?]

    I think it the possibility is zero. We are products of evolution, not wishful thinking.

  76. Steven Earl Salmony Says:

    Dear Kathy,

    Zero possibility. You sound pretty sure of yourself.

    Do acknowledged differences between human and non-human creatures on Earth not provide us with enough evidence to consider the possibility that human beings are not as completely bound by DNA as non-human beings appear to be? Is the no leeway for Homo sapiens sapiens to at least resist evolutionary drift toward extinction?

    BTW, is the Homo hubristic idea for the name “Homo sapiens sapiens” justifiable? In light of your point of view, on what grounds is it justified?

    Thanks for your comment.

    Always,

    Steve

  77. Kathy Says:

    Steve, I don’t accept the idea that humans are less bonded to DNA than non-humans. Where would they have gotten that difference from? This sounds suspiciously like a soul from God sort of argument.

    Much human capacity is linked to specific brain parts. Damage some and various defects occur. Damage more and that which seems to be a person disappears. Damage even more and the body dies. The self seems to be embedded in the neurons which are cells with DNA.

    V.S. Ramachandran http://cbc.ucsd.edu/ramabio.html , Antonio Damasio http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Damasio and David Wegner http://www.amazon.com/Illusion-Conscious-Will-Bradford-Books/dp/0262232227 have all written extensively on this.

    Science has given us the means to extinct ourselves. But science has also helped us to know ourselves better and to know that those things once attributed to gods or magic have explanations. Had we more time I am quite sure science would more fully explain how humans evolved and how DNA programs the brain to have the illusion of “I”.

    Steve, I am always sure of myself until I change my mind. :) I haven’t noticed you not being sure of the belief that we can somehow solve the population crisis in time.

    But your question about some “unanticipated transformation of human consciousness among large numbers of people that occurs unexpectedly and ubiquitously at a future moment in space-time” sounds to me as fanciful and certainly unverifiable as my father’s belief in the Rapture directly into heaven coming before he dies (he is 94). I suspect that both beliefs are in fact about fear of death.

  78. Guy McPherson Says:

    Those of you believing we’re in for a (continued) slow decline, or a series of steps along the way to completion of the ongoing economic collapse, please check out the latest from Jan Lundberg: http://www.culturechange.org/cms/content/view/702/66/ …. As former partner of the Lundberg Survey, he’s a legitimate authority

  79. Kathy Says:

    Good article Guy, sobering. It is one thing to predict the near arrival of collapse. It is another to begin to see it unfolding. BTW I consider you an legitimate authority on the matter as well :)

    I am currently reading Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay, written in the mid 1800’s. The first section covers several financial bubbles of the 1700’s that threatened to bring down the governments of France and England. Then today I listened to a TechTicker talk on Yahoo finance about market optimism, as if it was something tangible. Once again, history is of no use in preventing humans from making the same mistakes over and over.

    So it goes at the end of the age of oil.

  80. Privileged Says:

    Thanks for the link Guy…timely for my workshop with Lance. Check out Robert Jensen’s latest.

    http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-02-24/consciousness-rising-world-fading

  81. Kevin Moore Says:

    Since Shell and BP effectively own most western governments, we could well see an attempt to deliver ‘freeedom and democracy’ to those nations that might fail to deliver the required quantity of oil via some kind of Nato coalition of the willing. Or maybe one compliant regime gets replaced by another compliant regime without any need for invasion.

    For what it’s worth, it has been suggested the revolutions have been deliberately staged by the Rothchilds etc. as a means of disrupting the growth of Islamic banking and to set the stage for greater western control of the region.

    I am at a loss to know what to believe, other than that geochemistry will eventually decide our fate.

  82. the virgin terry Says:

    kevin, surreality defies comprehension.

    guy, i’m looking forward to the lundberg article. i’m a fan from previous articles of his. i doubt i’ll reach the same conclusion as u (change my mind re. collapse being as sudden and complete as u claim), but we’ll see.

    “unanticipated transformation of human consciousness among large numbers of people that occurs unexpectedly and ubiquitously at a future moment in space-time” -steve

    i think u’re looking for a miracle, steve. i am too. i just wish miracles were more dependable. in other words, i think the appropriate level of hope here is nil. however, since that’s spiritual death, we must against all odds hold on to some.

    robin, thanks again for the exposure to freedomain video. i find the one on the golden rule of anarchy (non-aggression) particularly powerful. it’s work like this that inspires surreal hope.

  83. the virgin terry Says:

    ‘The stability of countries such as Egypt and other Arab states has been proven illusory. When the right geopolitical event in the Persian Gulf — perhaps connected to the Tunisian, Egyptian and Yemeni trends now in play — interrupts oil supplies by as much as 10% or more of global demand, the effect on the oil market may well be as if Hubbert’s peak oil bell curve became a cliff that we have already jumped off.’ -from the lunderg article.

    i agree with this catastrophic statement, but interpret it differently. ‘jumping off a cliff’ in this case doesn’t mean one freefalls all the way to the base. it means a dramatic traumatic freefall of indeterminate magnitude and destruction to some new, temporary equilibrium still far above the base. repeat for as often as necessary until the dumb fuckers in charge get a clue and figure out a more controlled descent, or the base is reached, whichever comes first.

    it defies uncommon sense imo to think otherwise. collapse has begun. it will get worse. at times it will be terrifying and deadly. but 7 billion people and a vast global network of resource pillage aren’t going away overnight, barring something like kathy’s anticipated nuclear conflagration. it took centuries to reach the heights it has. i think it will take at least decades (barring something like nuc war) to collapse all the way back to some lower base level (extinction?).

    btw, i suspect kevin’s suspicions of ‘western’ involvement in north african revolutions must be true at least somewhat. no doubt as this is written agents of empire are working to maintain as much as possible continuance of the status quo re. access to oil in the region.

  84. the virgin terry Says:

    re. privileged robert jensen article link, i disagree with the sympathetic ‘radical’ feminist perspective espoused. i think it’s male bashing nonsense. surreality is much more complicated. women hold tremendous power over men sexually in their mate selection choices/preferences. it’s very clear to me that male violence is strongly reinforced by female preference for ‘strong’ men prone to violence. ‘radical’ feminists can cry all day about male violence and oppression, but the day women prefer ‘weak’ non-violent men will be the day men have an incentive to change.

  85. Victor Says:

    ‘I am at a loss to know what to believe, other than that geochemistry will eventually decide our fate.’

    I can sympathise with that. We simply do not know enough to come to a firm conclusion on these issues. At times it appears that things are chaotic and the people in charge do not know what the hell they are doing. At other times, it appears that it all is being intelligently driven to some pre-determined point.

    We likely will never know.

  86. Victor Says:

    ‘i agree with this catastrophic statement, but interpret it differently. ‘jumping off a cliff’ in this case doesn’t mean one freefalls all the way to the base. it means a dramatic traumatic freefall of indeterminate magnitude and destruction to some new, temporary equilibrium still far above the base. repeat for as often as necessary until the dumb fuckers in charge get a clue and figure out a more controlled descent, or the base is reached, whichever comes first.’

    A lot depends on how one defines “cliff”, I should think.

  87. Victor Says:

    ‘What would think about the possibility of a completely unanticipated transformation of human consciousness among large numbers of people that occurs unexpectedly and ubiquitously at a future moment in space-time?’

    Steve

    I have no idea what you are talking about. Could you please explain?

  88. Victor Says:

    Excellent, though a bit long, history of one man’s effort to expose the gas fracking business and its impact upon fresh water aquifers.

    http://www.propublica.org/article/hydrofracked-one-mans-mystery-leads-to-a-backlash-against-natural-gas-drill/single

    This is a truly devious business that show how far we as a society will go to protect our energy sources at the expense of…well…everything…

  89. Kathy Says:

    VT I am not sure you can hear this but try. First a few disclaimers. In my life strong women provided more pain than strong men. I have never been a strong supporter of the feminist movement. I am married to a man no one would call violent. I would far rather die early in the crash than live one day with a violent man.

    Over and over on various peak oil discussions I have had this discussion with men who thumping their chests say the strong man will win out over the weak when it comes to the procreation race. That has been rather futile. Although you are not a chest thumping male, you who seem to agree the strong win all the women, so I will try again, probably with no better luck.

    One of the reasons that humans have flourished is that as a tribal species they could have more traits than one human could embody. Thus the healer, and the flint maker, while not the most violent or strong or brave, were valued members of tribes. By valuing traits other than strength, the tribe itself would be stronger. The man with keen eyesight or a gift for tracking would be as valuable to the tribe as the best hunter.

    In tribes of chimps or in flocks of chickens it has been noted that the underling males will often catch a bit of rump when two top males are fighting. This would be unlikely to happen if the females were not a least somewhat acquiescent.

    We have a banty (small size) rooster that is low man in the chicken yard in relation to other roosters, but when we have set eggs free range rather than from one of our breed pens, his unique characteristics often come through. In fact one time we put a hen in a breed pen and discarded for setting purposes the first 7 eggs she laid so we could be sure our breed pen roo was the father. Still one of the chicks was clearly out of this little banty who had bred a tough full size hen and his sperm had lasted out those days and won the race. You can’t always tell sperm health by the size of the rooster might make a catchy new saying.

    In the coming days for those who are trying to make it through the bottleneck, it might well be that the trait that is important is ability to hide and eat lightly, or it might be the sickle cell anemia trait that fends of malaria, or any kind of natural resistance to disease. Any human tribe that forms after the crash would be well advised to have a large mix of useful human traits and to pass on this mix of traits it would be likely that all would have a chance at procreation.

    Remember the Crusades – chastity belts were clamped on the wives of the departing brave and reckless volunteers to prevent their women from having sex with the men left at home. Now why do you suppose they did that?

    Neither male bashing or female bashing is useful. Treating each human as the unique human that they are is.

  90. Jean Says:

    Michael,

    Indeed, there will be many men ready to enlist private armies, and that’s another problem: warlords. I don’t want to be one of them. MERCENARIES ARE UNLOYAL. I’ve met some and they’re extremely violent and unpredictible.

    The point is creating a community, a mini-state with it’s own forces, nothing about professionals of violence. Sooner or later they will end up sinking peasants in servitude. Solution: train the peasants, give them training and manage to beat bacaudae and warlords (for sure, there will be many).

    Best regards.

  91. Kathy Says:

    Looks like Saudi Arabia can’t or is not willing to replace shut out missing Libyan oil and wants someone else to do it….

    LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Angola and Nigeria can’t immediately make up for missing shipments of Libyan oil, officials in the African countries said Friday.
    The news come after Saudi officials said Libya production shut down by unrest could be replaced by West African light crude.
    An official at the National Nigerian Petroleum Corporation said: “We have received expressions of interest” from European companies as substitute to Libyan crude. But asked if the company had any tankers to offer in response, he said “none.”
    The Nigerian official said the country has “very little” spare production capacity in case of long-term disruptions in Libya.
    Another official at Angolan oil company Sonangol also said it had no spare cargoes. “We just sold our last tanker,” he said.
    Both Angola and Nigeria are set to operate at reduced levels due to technical issues or maintenance in the coming months.

    Read more: http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2011/02/25/angola-nigeria-immediately-replace-libya-oil-sources/#ixzz1F4UGpCN0

  92. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    The idea of warlords, militias, tough guys, etc., depends entirely on how everything unfolds, doesn’t it. None of us knows for sure how bad things are going to get nor when. Very few humans alive today – at least in the industrialized world, which is most of it – knows hardly anything about surviving without the help of modern technology. So, I suspect that right after governments start to fail there will be many, varied, attempts by “strongmen” (or perhaps strongwomen) to establish control. But in the long run their efforts likely will be as successful as governments’ attempts not to crash.

    A few months ago, I overheard a couple of old men “talking” while having their morning coffee. One somewhat simple sounding old fellow was lamenting how stupid the squirrels were. He had noticed that they buried their excess nuts in the winter and then forgot where they were in the spring and were digging everywhere looking for them.

    Immediately, my thought was, “who’s the stupid one here?” I would love to see that old fuck trying to survive naked and alone in the woods with predators all around, with no ready food source, no housing, no medicare, no coffee shop. He wouldn’t last a day. Stupid, indeed!

    So as we get closer to the bottom, I suspect the overwhelming majority are going to find themselves naked and alone in the woods with predators all around and no food, housing, etc. – figuratively, if not literally. No amount of bravado or chest thumping or guns and ammo is going to help. When there isn’t food nor water, there just isn’t food nor water. The strong succumb almost as soon as the weak. And the weak may have conserved their little remaining energy storing supplies, like the “stupid” squirrel.

    Have a great day everyone!

  93. Kathy Says:

    According to this piece in the Seattle Times, Americans used 8.93 million barrels of gasoline a day in 2003. A barrel holds 42 gallons, so that’s roughly 375 million gallons per day. – http://ask.yahoo.com/20040507.html
    In the last week gasoline has risen 12 cents per gallon – thus if my calcs are correct we in the US now have to spend $45 million a day more on gasoline and not on other stuff than a week ago. And prices are 50 cents more per gallon than a year ago.

  94. Jean Says:

    “So as we get closer to the bottom, I suspect the overwhelming majority are going to find themselves naked and alone in the woods with predators all around and no food, housing, etc. – figuratively, if not literally. No amount of bravado or chest thumping or guns and ammo is going to help. When there isn’t food nor water, there just isn’t food nor water. The strong succumb almost as soon as the weak. And the weak may have conserved their little remaining energy storing supplies, like the “stupid” squirrel.”

    Not me.

  95. Jean Says:

    Not my children.

  96. Jean Says:

    Not my community.

  97. Jean Says:

    Not my wife and children.


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