Bring on the doomers

As I’ve pointed out before, I’m proud to be a doomer. I’ve never minded the negative connotation and rapid dismissal by mainstream folks. But it turns out there’s more to doomerism than I knew nearly a year ago. Kathy McMahon has developed a clever classification system for doomers. I’m easily classified as the ecosophic action-oriented variety.


Small banks failing like dominoes on a cattle car? Okay. GDP growth dead, except for federal spending? Hello, stimulus. Unemployment out of control and getting worse? Outstanding. Things falling apart in the industrial economy? Sign me up. Americans working harder for less pay? Well, of course. Pay raises going down with the imperial ship? Duh. Foreclosures about to get really serious? No surprise there. Home values and income being destroyed on Main Street even as the financial companies rake in exorbitant profits and hand out phenomenal bonuses? You betcha. Consumer credit drying up like a jellyfish in the desert? Why not? Stock market bubble, created by the Fed, about to pop? Yes, please. The bubble in higher education about to pop, too? Hurry, hurry. And the mother of all bubbles, the bailout bubble, about to implode? Hallelujah. Oh, and Chris Martenson reveals who bought last week’s Treasurys: the Fed (secretly, of course). More printing money, behind closed doors. Whoo hoo. Dmitry Orlov interviewed on the radio? It’s about time. Hyperinflation on the way, as Fed faces its Zimbabwe moment? It can’t come soon enough for me. I could go on (and on). But you get the idea.
How about you? Are you a doomer? If so, what kind?
As I’ve written and said countless times, completion of the ongoing collapse offers the only legitimate opportunity for non-human species and non-industrial cultures to survive the onslaught of industrialization. The oppression at the hand of corporatism continues unabated, and has extended to all arenas of the human experience, including land-grabs by industrial powers at the expense the poor. If you’re anthropocentric, it’s worse than that. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the industrial economy poses a threat not merely to national security, but also to the persistence of our species on the planet.
Which makes me wonder: When will even a small percentage of industrial humans join the doomer movement? Will the day come only after our species is reduced to a couple small groups of hungry individuals in polar regions, struggling to survive? Will we ever recognize the perils of human population growth? Or will give up the planet as easily as we traded our republic for fascism, without so much as a muffled protest?
More importantly, is that what we want? Is hell on Earth our goal for our hapless descendants?
The twin sides of our fossil-fuel addiction — energy decline and global climate change — are the most important topics we can address as a species. The national conversation ignores or marginalizes these critical topics. On the rare occasion they inadvertently come up, we act like a roomful of eight-year-olds with plates full of peas and mashed potatoes, pushing the main course around without actually ingesting it, wishing for the distraction of dessert.
“I know the real reason Paula Abdul is leaving American Idol.”
Problem solved.

Comments 19

  • I don’t think of myself as a doomer, pragmatist maybe.
    We’re all terminal. All any of us can do is what we can, while we can, and hope that our best intentions/actions matter.
    I spent most of my day either on the phone trying to get paid, or trying to find a polite whistle on something disagreeable. People out there are very seriously ready to snap. Maybe it’s the heat, but my guess is it’s the economy.

  • Guy –
    There must be something hardwired into the psyche of the average human that allows them to resign themselves to their fate. You see it in places like Uganda and Rwanda, and everywhere genocides occur. The masses get slaughtered and do not resist and I guess that individually people hope they will be the one(s) to survive and resume life after the tough period is over.
    There is always a small percentage who take up arms and try to resist and struggle.
    There is always a smaller percentage who try to understand and analyze and even prevent the inevitable.
    But the inevitable always occurs, and fundamentally revolves around competition for resources at some level. Societies that are willing and able to live sustainably for long periods of time would seem to have an advantage, but they tend to become prey for those who amass power unsustainably and are willing to excercise power for its own sake for shorter periods of time.
    The cycles of history are regular and predictable. What is new now is that our species has finally colonized the entire planet and there is no more room for population growth and our detrivorous ways have actually enabled us to temporarily exceed our planet’s carrying capacity.
    Doomers see this and warn about it and offer solutions for the survival of some, but the typical citizen resigns himself/herself to fate and hopes for the best. “What? Me? Worry?” might be the most sensible posture for the masses.
    The 1960’s-era folk music season had a band called “Seals and Crofts” with hits like “Summer Breeze” and others. I always liked their song “Wayland the Rabbit” which describes finding a dead little rabbit named Wayland frozen on the winter landscape and mourning his passing. But the song finds “mercy in disguise” in the freezing to death of the little rabbit because the owl would not have been so kind.
    There must be a survival mechanism at play in finding relative comfort in the manner of death while accepting death itself as inevitable. Only the vain and ambitious think they can cheat death and doom!

  • Wayland the Rabbit
    (Lyrics by James Seals; music by James Seals and Dash Crofts, 1975)
    Oh my Wayland, there’s deer in the forests and rivers are flowing just for you.
    Oh my father, look down through the mountains and valleys, the grain’s in the silo.
    All for you.
    One fine morning, as Dad was walking, just to see what he could see.
    He spied, a little white rabbit. He was frozen as solid as he could be.
    And Dad cried, as he knelt down beside him. He asked God, “How could you be so cruel?”
    And his heart broke, for the little white rabbit. “But you see that the owl
    Would never have been so gentle,
    And God is so kind.”
    I love Wayland ’cause he’s strong. And I love him ’cause he’s weak.
    And the rabbit is running within him.
    Oh my Wayland, the children are waiting and berries are ripe down below the hill.
    Oh, my father, the shadows of nighttime can’t touch you.
    Immortal go quickly, be thankful the water is cool.
    Drink your fill.
    Today as I walked ‘long beside him, I said, “Dad why do you look so sad?”
    He turned as he stood by the doorway, he said, “Things are not like they used to be.”
    I smiled, as if I could teach him. I said “Dad, it’s mercy in disguise.
    Once you told of a little white rabbit,
    and you said that the owl would never have been so gentle, and God is so kind.”
    And I love you ’cause you’re strong. And I love you ’cause you’re weak.
    And the rabbit is running within me.

  • “Things are not like they used to be.”
    Indeed.

  • Below is another song from Seals and Crofts called “Advance Guards”, which I always liked. And it makes me see a commonality that I feel with Professor Guy. We both (and others like us) THINK ABOUT THINGS. We cannot help ourselves. We cannot shut down our minds and just relax (for the most part). We think about our past, our future, our reality, our prospects, and then those of everyone else we happen to think of. And ultimately, we are driven to communicate all of those thoughts (or many of them, at least) because they seem so important to us. If we were wise old sages, we would probably not feel the urgency to tell all we know…
    But I am glad that Jim Seals and Dash Crofts sang about their “Advance Guards”:
    lyrics by James Seals; music by James Seals & Dash Crofts, 1971)
    From the albums SUMMER BREEZE (1972), SUDAN VILLAGE (1976) and
    LIFT UP YOUR VOICES AND SING, VOL. 3 (1997).
    I used to look out from my window and see the tall grass in the wind.
    Standing there just like advance guards waiting for the battle to begin.
    My mother used to be much younger. She’d sing me soft, sweet lullabies.
    I saw my fortress in the mountains each time I looked into her eyes.
    But now she’s gone,
    Take me there, take me there, I don’t care where we go.
    Take me I just want to know what I used to know.
    Take me there, take me there, I don’t care where we go.
    Take me there, take me I just want to go.
    My father’s hair has turned to grey now. I never stopped to ask him why.
    And all the things that he onced treasured, I see them slowly drifting by.
    And now I look out from my mountain and see the soldiers in the field.
    It won’t be long now ’til they have me. This time advance guards are for real.
    Come on, come on and
    Take me there, take me there, I don’t care where we go.
    Take me I just want to know what I used to know.
    Take me there, take me there, I don’t care where we go.
    Take me there, take me I just want to go.

  • Ever feel like that lone student standing in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square?

  • Guy, Stan, Charlene, et al,
    You sound cranky and impatient this week, Guy. Again. ( Me too )
    Trouble is, actually, the Peasants are dumb – afraid to speak out against The Mas’sahs. Like Stan says.
    Been readin’ at Carolyn Baker’s SACRED DEMISE. Three chapters and one long Introduction into it – like it. Girl’s got some traction with her thoughts – methinks.
    Has everyone read Bill Catton’s piece -“The Problem of Denial” ? I think Carolyn has it featured at her site this week. Catton puts it right on the bear’s nose. How many people do we all know – who simply cannot believe the the building’s on fire, and about to blow? The upsurge of folks in the mega-churches, and elsewhere, who need to get their Happy-shit fixes every week? Exactly. Joe and Earlene Sixpack, and Alfred and Elaine Chardonnay, alike. Perfectly willing to get a snootful of Greenshoot Good News, right up till the axe severs their necks.
    Cranky this week – again.
    Dan

  • Yes, Treecraft, I’m cranky. Actually, I passed cranky and impatient a few exits back. Now I’m outraged. And my outrage builds every day the industrial economy survives to kill more people and other animals.
    I realize the long-overdue death of the industrial economy almost certainly spells the death of my wife and most members of my family and, soon enough, me. Which seems a small price to pay.

  • “Things are not like they used to be.”
    But then, they never were. 🙂
    Or to quote some sage whose name I’ve forgotten, on a related note, “The older I get, the better I used to be.”

  • Big Brother James:
    Naw–like a good Burgundy,you get better with age.
    Frank

  • Most people are not in a position to do much other than accept and try to get along. I guess that isn’t as sexy as a revolution, but most people simply aren’t.
    Somewhere in the mix, there are good people among the rats. Given the crap-shoot that is daily living the good will suffer right along with the bad. The thing that makes me calm about the entire situation is that 1) in the end, things work out the way they were intended 2) there will always be some amount of good present–no matter how small it may be.
    I could rip my hair out worrying over things I cannot hope to control, or I can look to the future ready to do what is necessary whether the weather is fair or foul.
    Since I like having hair on my head, I think you know what option I’ve chosen.

  • the media subverts reason (x 10 in the US)
    2 bit punditry-
    China’s corporate profits are down 30%,
    their share market is up 80% – what the?
    Their economists believe the market is overvalued by
    50-100%. They have officially created a bubble.
    When it bursts domestic spending will
    plummet, Chinese will probably seek to
    redeem their US bonds and plough the money into
    domestic infrastructure projects to stimulate the local
    economy.
    (I have not read the above links – excuse the repetition)
    The fed buying its own bonds is no surprise
    this was alluded to several posts ago.
    The problem is of course that the bond/treasure note
    is only worth what some one else is willing to pay
    for it. Purchasing it yourself inflates the value
    of the currency. Perhaps the fed is shit scared of
    inflation, ie the fear of the rising cost of imports
    if the currency continues to devalue/slide.
    Personally I think this fear is over stated, let the
    currency slide, the purchasing of imported goods
    is typically discretionary. Buying you own bonds
    is much much worse, this is akin to printing money.
    Anyway, Obama is being accused of being a socialist,
    because essentially he does not want to see people
    left bankrupt through medical expenses or worse
    dying because they have insufficient funds. The nature
    of your media and how you are held hostage by
    such ideological nonsense is bewildering to the
    casual observer over here. Your military budget
    is equal to the combined military budgets
    of the rest of the world. Clearly you have
    the money to reform the healthcare system.
    Whats going own?
    ‘But a Gallup poll published on Wednesday found opinions on health care had not significantly shifted over the past three weeks, with 49 per cent saying they disapproved of his desire to introduce health-care reform and 43 per cent approving.’ the guardian
    seriously what gives?

  • Matt, you said it yourself:
    1)”Buying your own bonds is much much worse, this is akin to printing money.” Right. That’s what the U.S. Federal Gov is doing – printing money with nothing to back it. We are so deep in debt we’ll never see daylight again, and to cover it we’re going deeper.
    2)”Clearly you have the money to reform the healthcare system.” Clearly we DON’T, as shown by (1).
    And whether we have the money to do it or not, the question in the minds of the American people is, is this plan a good one, or are we going from the frying pan into the fire?

  • I’ve just finished reading Richard Heinberg’s ‘Powerdown’ which I highly recommend but it doesn’t make for happy reading. As he published in 2004 it’s interesting to see how events have evolved to match (mostly) his predictions. The US administration is clearly mired in the’Last Man Standing’ scenario, although with this healthcare debacle there I don’t rate Obama’s chances much for a long and happy future. Living here in New Zealand, we feel mainly very lucky, but our new National (aka neo-con)Government and general populous blindly follow every (daft) European and American fad, like a little cousin desperately trying to be like the big boys going on ahead, which is deeply disturbing.
    Well Guy, watching the unravelling of the global industrial/consumerist fiasco,I’m proud to be a ‘doomer’ too, but with school age children we still have maintain some vestige of optimism for the future.

  • the following may be slightly off-topic, but a new essay by Greg Palast shows how Obama facilitates his bamboozlement of the masses with sweetness instead of Cheney-esque scowls. The setting is “health care reform” and Palast looks at the numbers. Amazingly, Obama supporters continue to take succor in the symbolism of the color of his skin rather than in the actual workings of his administration:
    see: http://www.dissidentvoice.org/2009/08/obama-on-drugs-98-cheney
    Stan Moore

  • Wendy, if your comment is aimed at me, the answer is a resounding, “Yes.” I felt like I was standing in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square every day for about 10 years until I retired. Now that I’m no threat to the empire or the university, I no longer feel so alone.
    Too bad it took so long for me to make it into the real news. I could have used this prestige earlier. Thanks to Frank Mezek for sending me the link.

  • I’m so proud of my part in bringing Prof Em Guy the international acclaim and fame that he so richly deserves.
    Bask in his reflected glory ye lesser minions !!!
    Frank

  • Vortex Forming Now
    It takes just a few seconds to flush a toilet and watch the vortex form from gravity (weight of the water), then enhanced as a siphon is formed by the engineering of the interior passageways of the fixture, and then the whole contents of the bowl is evacuated down the sewer system.
    It takes longer for a nation or a society to form a vortex, but it can and does happen, and I see it happening now.
    When the State of California cannot keep its employees working every day of the month for its inability to pay them, a vortex is being formed. The same is true of the City of Chicago, which closed its facilities yesterday and left its employees off involuntarily without pay.
    All those employees are typical Americans, in debt up to their ears and with scanty savings or “wiggle room” in case their income stream falters. Millions of formerly productive citizens are already out of work and not contributing to the economy by blind consumption. The hardware stores and the malls and the electronics stores and the auto sales lots and the malls are largely empty as consumption is curtailed. The vortex continues to form.
    The lack of consumption builds on the vortex formed by gravity. People by the millions are on the edge of job loss, homelessness, despair. Fear is increasing throughout the society even as the president tries to reassure all that we are just about to “turn the corner” and return to normal.
    But it is too late to say that. The trip lever on the toilet tank has already been depressed and the gravity of economic negativity is unstoppable now. The vortex is forming, but it takes a while to increase its power to the point of evacuating the bowl. But the process is underway. The New Millenium is fast shaping up to be far different than most people expected. The year 2000 seems like a distant memory already and the engineering of disaster, including the “War on Terror” is all part of a scheme to advantage some and disadvantage others.
    Soon it will feel like “each man/woman for himself/herself” and survival itself will be at stake for the masses.
    Flush…

  • Back to the bond market,
    I am still trying to get my
    head around your Fed purchasing
    its own debt. I am still cant work out
    how this works, anyone? Now, if they cant sell
    it on the bond market, obviously the
    coupon rate is too low or the risk
    that the bond cannot be redeemed is too great.
    Or perhaps there is only so much ‘money’ to
    go around. That is the global pot of money
    is drying up.
    Perhaps to fund the recovery and actually sell
    bonds on the open market, the bond yield
    will need to rise to attract investment this will
    affect the cash rate and therefore interest charges on mortgages.
    Just what you guys need – interest rates to rise.
    The problem is of course too much leverage can create
    its own feedback loop into oblivion – ’vortex’.
    (Nothing wrong with toilets at least they produce something!:) )
    The fact that the Fed is having trouble trying
    to sell its own debt should in theory undermine
    future investment in the bond market. What are the
    bonds really worth? What is true value of the currency?
    Put simply, at the end of the day the US is living beyond its means.
    Too much borrowing, too much reliance on the bond market.
    (this is easy to do given the US dollar is the worlds reserve currency.)
    Your standard of living will require some serious readjustment.
    You simply don’t produce enough stuff of any value (exports),
    that can fund your lifestyle. The de valuing of the currency would
    be a boon to exporters.
    Bit off topic-
    There is a cultural theme going on – the right wing media are looking for
    scapegoats , somewhat typically theatrical and conspiratorial in nature – ie ‘the president is a socialist’!; bankers (goldman sachs – jewish! shock horror!) are tentacle wielding blood sucking leviathans; etc the shrill of paranoia is no greater than what is witnessed on Michael Ruppert’s website. I am reminded of what Reagan said many years ago, to roughly paraphrase ‘the role of government is to get out of the way’ to much applause. The legacy of which is a massive amount of governmental under regulation, and as a consequence corporations having too much power and control over the political process. Bankers are not blood sucking leviathans, they are simply there to make money for their stock holders. Without some form of competent regulatory authority they will perform this task very well or extremely poorly.
    And from JHK on Monday –
    ‘All we can do now is give cars away, or give US citizens free money to buy them — which we are obviously already doing with “Cash for Clunkers” — which is additionally hilarious in the same nation that is deeply paranoid about the government giving anybody free health care. What a nation of morons we have become.’
    Nice one Jim.