Where do we go from here?

Some doors are closed. We will no longer observe long-term growth of the industrial economy. In fact, any growth reported by the government or media is suspect at this point, and probably a result of the age-old fudging-the-numbers trick. We have entered the age of contraction. The days of access to the inexpensive fossil fuels that fueled American Empire are waning.

But if the government would get out of the way or, better yet, serve as an inspiration and provide resources, we could shape our society to deal effectively with economic contraction. We could focus on the delivery of water, the production of food, and maintenance of public health with a substantially re-localized, and significantly more durable, set of living arrangements. The alternative we are currently pursuing — a last-ditch attempt to maintain the impossible dream of endless suburbia followed by a rapid trip to the post-industrial Stone Age — is an unmitigated apocalypse in slow motion. I feel as if I’m watching a cheesy 1970s disaster film, waiting for the director to yell, “Cut!” so we can all go back to our pre-HFCS cheese doodles and soda pop.

Assuming we all jump on board the contraction train, we have several options at our disposable. I’m a fan of one of them, and I’ll present an alternative likely to be more appealing to most readers. These two routes are simply points along a continuum from (1) the omnicidal, destined-for-disaster business as usual and (2) its attendant massive die-off of humans as we enter the Stone Age without advance planning.

Route number one is such a durable outcome we did it for two million years. That’s essentially the entire human experience. We had easy lives, characterized by a few hours of work each week to supply our hunted-and-gathered food. We spent a lot of time communing with the natural world, and creating art that reflected our time with nature. We were a bit too spiritual for my own personal tastes, but that spirituality was rooted in ignorance. Now that we know better than to believe in spirits, the next trip to the Stone Age can be characterized by rational thought, free inquiry, intelligent discussions, and strong communities rooted in place.

Our lives will be short, relatively speaking, but they will be far from the Hobbesian wage-slavery in which we’re currently mired. All aboard the peace train, everybody.

The next stop is agricultural anarchy, in the spirit of Monticello. I know Thomas Jefferson’s model was built on the backs of slaves, and I know about the horrors of patriarchy. But again, we know better this time. The local, organic production of food will once again form the center of commerce, and also our lives. The animals we respect and nurture will provide power. We will honor soil as the life-giving entity it is.

If we pursue the latter route, we’ll need to abandon the cities en masse. We’ll need to develop a crash course in country living. If you think it can’t be done, you haven’t been reading this blog. Believe me: If I can develop the attitude and skills I’ve developed within a year, after spending an entire life as an imperialist educator, just about anybody else can, too. Surely people with fewer than my 49 years can do this, and without the physical pain that results from heaping large doses of physical abuse onto a long-neglected body. Had I known how long I was going to be using these old bones, I’d have taken better care of them, back when I was younger.

There you go, then: Two possibilities for a future with infinite possibilities. Neither involves long-distance travel, but the recent luxury of overseas, overnight is a big part of the problem. Ditto for the summer driving vacation and the long-distance commute to “live” in soulless suburbia.

Yes, we’ll need to work out myriad details. The transition will not be easy. But it will not be lethal to a majority of people in industrialized countries, either. Many other advantages come to mind, in addition to the ones I pointed out a few months ago. For example, we might not have to prepare for civil war, and we won’t be all atwitter about which bubbles are about to burst.

That’s my two cents, undoubtedly overpriced. And you?


This post was inspired by a comment from vera.

Comments 23

  • I am not able to follow the discussions here lately and do not have internet service at home currently.

    But I saw a poem that I would like to recommend, by the late Charles Bukowski. It tells the story in a pretty graphic way, in my opinion, about where the genius of our society lies.

    The poem is called “The Genius of the Crowd”:

    BTW, I have lost my previous email address and a working one will follow:

    The Genius Of The Crowd

    Charles Bukowski

    there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
    human being to supply any given army on any given day

    and the best at murder are those who preach against it
    and the best at hate are those who preach love
    and the best at war finally are those who preach peace

    those who preach god, need god
    those who preach peace do not have peace
    those who preach peace do not have love

    beware the preachers
    beware the knowers
    beware those who are always reading books
    beware those who either detest poverty
    or are proud of it
    beware those quick to praise
    for they need praise in return
    beware those who are quick to censor
    they are afraid of what they do not know
    beware those who seek constant crowds for
    they are nothing alone
    beware the average man the average woman
    beware their love, their love is average
    seeks average

    but there is genius in their hatred
    there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
    to kill anybody
    not wanting solitude
    not understanding solitude
    they will attempt to destroy anything
    that differs from their own
    not being able to create art
    they will not understand art
    they will consider their failure as creators
    only as a failure of the world
    not being able to love fully
    they will believe your love incomplete
    and then they will hate you
    and their hatred will be perfect

    like a shining diamond
    like a knife
    like a mountain
    like a tiger
    like hemlock

    their finest art

    Stan Moore

  • Another Bukowski poem that is a bit more gloomy (I found a DVD at the public library on the strange life of Bukowski and his great art. And some of his poems are actually upbeat and even inspirational, including ones read on the DVD by people like Bono and Tom Waits. But a gloomy look at what lies ahead is in the poem “Dinosauria, We”, and it surely does resonate with me, and especially the lines about expensive health care and unafforable legal representation for the poor:

    Dinosauria, We” by Charles Bukowski

    Born like this
    Into this
    As the chalk faces smile
    As Mrs. Death laughs
    As the ele­va­tors break
    As polit­i­cal land­scapes dis­solve
    As the super­mar­ket bag boy holds a col­lege degree
    As the oily fish spit out their oily prey
    As the sun is masked
    We are
    Born like this
    Into this
    Into these care­fully mad wars
    Into the sight of bro­ken fac­tory win­dows of empti­ness
    Into bars where peo­ple no longer speak to each other
    Into fist fights that end as shoot­ings and knif­ings
    Born into this
    Into hos­pi­tals which are so expen­sive that it’s cheaper to die
    Into lawyers who charge so much it’s cheaper to plead guilty
    Into a coun­try where the jails are full and the mad­houses closed
    Into a place where the masses ele­vate fools into rich heroes
    Born into this
    Walk­ing and liv­ing through this
    Dying because of this
    Muted because of this
    Because of this
    Fooled by this
    Used by this
    Pissed on by this
    Made crazy and sick by this
    Made vio­lent
    Made inhu­man
    By this
    The heart is black­ened
    The fin­gers reach for the throat
    The gun
    The knife
    The bomb
    The fin­gers reach toward an unre­spon­sive god
    The fin­gers reach for the bot­tle
    The pill
    The pow­der
    We are born into this sor­row­ful dead­li­ness
    We are born into a gov­ern­ment 60 years in debt
    That soon will be unable to even pay the inter­est on that debt
    And the banks will burn
    Money will be use­less
    There will be open and unpun­ished mur­der in the streets
    It will be guns and rov­ing mobs
    Land will be use­less
    Food will become a dimin­ish­ing return
    Nuclear power will be taken over by the many
    Explo­sions will con­tin­u­ally shake the earth
    Radi­ated robot men will stalk each other
    The rich and the cho­sen will watch from space plat­forms
    Dante’s Inferno will be made to look like a children’s play­ground
    The sun will not be seen and it will always be night
    Trees will die
    All veg­e­ta­tion will die
    Radi­ated men will eat the flesh of radi­ated men
    The sea will be poi­soned
    The lakes and rivers will van­ish
    Rain will be the new gold
    The rot­ting bod­ies of men and ani­mals will stink in the dark wind
    The last few sur­vivors will be over­taken by new and hideous dis­eases
    And the space plat­forms will be destroyed by attri­tion
    The peter­ing out of sup­plies
    The nat­ural effect of gen­eral decay
    And there will be the most beau­ti­ful silence never heard
    Born out of that.
    The sun still hid­den there
    Await­ing the next chapter.

  • Now that we know better than to believe in spirits, the next trip to the Stone Age can be characterized by rational thought, free inquiry, intelligent discussions, and strong communities rooted in place.

    Believe me: If I can develop the attitude and skills I’ve developed within a year, after spending an entire life as an imperialist educator, just about anybody else can, too. Surely people with fewer than my 49 years can do this, and without the physical pain that results from heaping large doses of physical abuse onto a long-neglected body.


    I believe that you found the spirit within yourself, instead of a perception of something external. (~harmony/resonance)

    Sadhana (~spiritual work) is the realization of life.

    You have disarmed, with the tranquility of the spirit. (Perhaps your own proverbial buddhist.)

    You have an awareness of others, rather than simply your desires.

    You know that you cannot know everything.

    We, or at least I, must accept being rooted in ignorance. Only then can I hope for better, and benefit from striving to reach that objective.

  • Ah, Bukowski, thanks for posting those, I knew there was something wrong in all this reading/writing going on, those poems remind me. It’s hard to actually create things of substance, easier to not do it, and spin around and around, endlessly, until we fade and vanish.

  • Guy,

    Leaving aside the civil war link, which freaked me a little, I have a couple of cents to add too.

    Our population is way beyond sustainable levels for your first scenario. Attempting to return to Eden could only be accomplished if our current global population level is reduced by about 95%, probably more, everywhere, tomorrow. And those left would have to have a long personal history of primitive survival skills. And the disappeared (raptured?) 95% would have to leave without destroying the planet on their way out. And the natural world would have to be restored miraculously at the same time, to provide a sustaining framework. None of that is going to happen.

    So you’ve left us with some form of agricultural anarchy, and I personally think that is a goal to work for, both in our personal lives, and in trying to influence the-powers-that-be that a transition plan is necessary.

    There are other alternatives; most of them involve the serfs and the overlords. I know, we all think we will be in the overlord class. Besides, we deserve it. After all, each of us, in the US at least, has 200 fossil fuel slaves working for us right now. It just seems right that we should continue to be the top dog.

    The divine-right-of-kings aside, let me refer to an article titled “Creating a Sustainable Society, Four Questions We Should Ask,” by Bryan Welch, Publisher, Mother Earth News, February/March 2010. Bryan’s four questions are: (1) Is it fair? (2) Is it repeatable? (3) Is it beautiful? (4) Does it create abundance?

    Fairness: The serfs and overlords model does not fit.

    Repeatable: Are there general ideals, not specific tactics, which can be applied globally.

    Beautiful: If our lives are short, brutal, struggles just to stay alive, what’s the point?

    Abundance: Without a buffer of abundance none or our creative advances would have been developed. These advances include modern medicine and solar panels as well as art and literature, and are the result of at least a few people having the time and resources to sit around and think about things. Here I’d like to put in a big thank you to the serfs that made it all possible.

    I think Guy’s agricultural anarchy could provide a framework that would allow those four questions to be addressed in a positive fashion. I’m reminded that Helen and Scott Nearing lived well for more than 50 years on a similar model. During that period Scott had time to write numerous books while giving lectures and nurturing the budding back-to-the-land-movement. Their model included 4 hours each day devoted to “bread labor” (producing the necessities of life, including food), but also 4 hours for civic involvement, and another 4 hours for professional pursuits. Is this model hard? Sure. Is it short and brutal? I think not. After all, Scott lived to be 100.

    Michael Irving

  • Thank you, Guy, for this thread! :) I tried to get Greer on it, all he said he thought we’d have to learn to live on 15% of what we had now. Whatever that means…

    I tend to think that both these visions will happen… in some areas, the nomads and tribals will be back… but for the rest, ag anarchy makes most sense. Since subsistence ag accompanied by some foraging is the most effective way to eke out a living, this is the path I aim for. I hope people don’t abandon cities en masse. That would be disastrous for the countryside. Better for the townies to adapt in place as much as they can, and do nothing to ruin the countryside so the outlying farmers can still provide for them, to some extent. They’ll have to learn to grow food where they are.

    I appreciate teetering’s post… I am starting to suffer from what I just named the Doomertainment Syndrome… too much writing, too little doing. I just pointed that out to the Dark Mountain Project people and they did not appreciate it all that much. Good stuff they are doing… but no matter how fiercely we write each morning, it makes no diff for Gaia unless we get off our duff in the afternoon and do stuff.

    So the vision is pretty clear, actually. The next question is… what can we add-on? What of this crazy run we’ve had is suitable for modifying the ancient pathways so that they become more interesting and congenial, utilizing the best of what we have learned while in civ, and how can we make sure that the evil-civ bug is extinguished?

    As for “trying to influence the-powers-that-be that a transition plan is necessary” — surely you jest, Michael? They already *have* a transition plan in place: plunder what you can while you still can. Just like all the other powers in earlier civs did.

  • The “correction” in the population to match the pre-industrial carrying capacity might substantially affect the scenarios.

  • Michael Irving, thanks for the summary of Welch’s article, including the context

    vera, Greer and I have been around a time or two, and he doesn’t appreciate my views … and I think the long descent is a fantasy that encourages a lack of action (which is why it’s such a popular view) … and I’ve been encouraging action for years on this blog (starting, for example, with the third post, back in August 2007) and for decades in the classroom before that

    Robin Datta, no doubt about the correction and its impacts on options for transition … I’m still a fan of action, even into an ever-darkening world

  • Here is what piqued my interest:

    We spent a lot of time communing with the natural world, and creating art that reflected our time with nature. We were a bit too spiritual for my own personal tastes, but that spirituality was rooted in ignorance. Now that we know better than to believe in spirits, the next trip to the Stone Age can be characterized by rational thought, free inquiry, intelligent discussions, and strong communities rooted in place.

    Depending on whom you read and believe, the power of rational thought is one of the primary engines of change that have brought about our current civilization, which some call instrumental reality for our ability to act upon the natural world in increasingly destructive ways fated to ensure our own eventual demise. Rationalism is also the bane of spirituality, whether religious or not, which is why despite the many who profess faith the larger culture is so spiritually adrift. While a few of us may know better than to believe in some false idols, rationalism is so imperfect that we habitually replace one idol with another. They all founder on inspection, yet we cling to them nonetheless. Hope and optimism in the face of overwhelming loss (actual or anticipated) are among the current idols being promulgated by our new president as brand name. I’m perfectly okay with taking a stand, springing into action, and seeking to redress injustice, but I’ll be honest enough about it to admit that I’m acting out of principled denial of what obviously awaits no matter what I do.

  • Poems by Murray Hobbs
    These have been on my site for about 5 years.

    I can still remember the time before the crash
    when we all drove around in cars and I had lots of cash
    and anything I wanted, I’d just go out and buy
    I’d even drive a mile or two – just to buy a pie

    but then the oil wars started and everything collapsed
    the supermarket shelves were stripped before a month elapsed
    and people all turned really grim and gained a hungry look
    we’d steal from anyone at all we’d kill for things to cook

    and everywhere disease and grief and bodies left to rot
    while gangs of grim and brutal men would kill and steal and plot
    and people filled the cities and countless numbers died
    and everything was so so bad not even mothers cried

    our house was one of many then, a normal family home
    but it was stripped and burnt for fuel when we had left to roam
    and I remember mum and dad, my little sister too
    but they were killed and eaten back sometime in ‘22

    and now I know I’m dying, I’ve left no living heirs
    nobody is alive to know there’s not a soul who cares
    there’s only me so damned hungry I’m gnawing at the trees
    there’s no-one left to kill and eat oh God please help me please

    and as I stagger on and on through burnt and plundered homes
    I see the the signs of rage and ruin and countless human bones
    I hear the starving pack of dogs that follow close behind
    and I am now so close to death I hardly even mind

    I fall and screaming dogs begin to rip and shred my life
    my mind drifts back to days of oil and to my kids and wife
    oh life was so so simple then and life was so so good
    but all we had we wasted, we never understood

    Fill up your attic with brand new shoes
    a pair a week until the oil-crash news
    pick sizes and styles that will sell and last
    because when there’s no cars shoes wear out fast

    Don’t tell a soul (I intend no pun)
    you can’t defend against a grim mans gun
    pack some for you – you’ll need some too
    and maybe some tacks and maybe some glue

    and all the things that strugglers need
    some axes and shovels and long-life seeds
    and fishing tackle and guns and bows
    and books on things that nobody knows

    and needles and thread and lots of wool
    and keep it up ’til your attic is full
    tell no-one at all not even your kin
    just store it and wait for the fun to begin

    and maybe those shoes will be worth more than gold
    and worth more than diamonds whenever they’re sold
    and with care and with skill your attic will be
    a bank for your future, just try it and see

    Well all my life I’ve waited and waited patiently
    for an honest politician or two or three maybe
    someone to spur my faith in men and women who might lead
    some bright and honest leader not consumed by power and greed

    I’ve waited nearly 50 years and watched you all go by
    from left and right and center I’ve seen you have a try
    I’ve heard you all, your ways and means, I’ve even followed polls
    I’ve sometimes even had a vote and joined electoral rolls

    but mostly I’ve grown sick and tired of waiting for my vote
    there’s never seemed to be a point and so this poem I wrote
    it’s written to you leaders, you lot who seek to lead
    who take our hard earned money and let the country bleed

    you think you have a mandate to choose the way we go
    you even think you have the right to judge what we should know
    you all assume you’re smarter and know the ins and outs
    the ropes of legislation – cause we’re all dumb-ass louts

    and so with little more at all than just ideals and whim
    we’re very soon committed – and all must sink or swim
    you’re led around by snout and ear by lobbyists with cash
    and wined and dined like royalty and dressed to cut a dash

    you stand in pomp and circumstance delivering address
    while all your social policy becomes a stinking mess
    I’ve met so many leaders and members prom-in-ent
    and listened to them speak their case, considered their intent

    but not a one, not ever, has piqued my confidence
    nor even ever made me think that they are ought but dense
    how many of you have a clue as much as even me?
    I know that I am better schooled than you will ever be

    and yet you think to lead us, to be our heart and soul
    but none of you have any clue what should be now our goal
    the peak in productivity of oil and gas has come
    and very soon a world of shit is what it will become

    I used to think the Greens maybe would lead us through the mess
    but no, Jeanette Fitzsimmons even seems to not care less
    for other things important are playing on her mind
    and winning seats in parliament is all her work you’ll find

    and that’s the crux, the problem of our democracy
    it’s geared to periods too short or so it seems to me
    before you’ve had a chance to forge some hope that we might win
    again the time as come to vote and change the shit we’re in

    but that is all you ever do you leaders at the top
    and I forever wonder when this mess will ever stop
    I watch my kids and grandkids grow and all the time I think
    that maybe they will perish soon in all your mess and stink

    I beg you now to stand up tall and start to make a change
    to fight for true democracy that seems to you so strange
    democracy is not at all a case of win and rule
    democracy means citizens – a massive voting pool

    where every single law you make is argued by us all
    not argued just between you dolts then forced upon us all
    come greens and Limbaugh lovers come independents too
    come lefties too I beg you there’s much for you to do

    start looking out beyond just now and educate us all
    and seek to make this country one where we can all stand tall
    try looking now at Sweden where they all know what comes
    and guide us with a loving heart and please stop being bums

    the future will be horrible we educated know
    and now we want our leaders too to know the way to go
    try speaking out more bravely, try speaking out at all
    try giving up your party goals and save us from the fall

    for Olduvai is coming (go google that and read)
    the peak of oil will cause a crash so bad that we will need
    a nation geared to live it through a people bold and brave
    and so my good and noble readers here I end my rave

  • This one is a little embarrassing, And somewhat out of date, as I’ve given up ;)

    Our hero sought to save us all
    but we refused to hear
    he worked and slaved to teach us
    with rising dread and fear

    “you must perceive” he cried and cried
    but all we did was jeer:
    “there’s plenty left” was our reply
    our leaders gave a sneer:

    “extremist people just like you
    don’t understand the game
    it’s market forces we obey
    and shifting votes and blame”

    “just understand the price will rise
    and magic will ensue
    the market it will save us
    not idiots like you”

    and so our hero hung his head
    and wrung his hands with pain
    his heart was torn with fear and dread
    at all our children’s pain

    for he looked ever onward
    towards the coming fall
    with grim anticipation
    with what could kill us all

    and though he thought to give it up
    his calling and his quest
    he summoned up his mighty will
    and dug deep for his best

    and so the years unfolded
    and soon the Peak had come
    but we all smiled and laughed aloud
    ’cause we knew what he’d done

    he’d saved us from our ignorance
    he’d fought our lazy ways
    he’d banged our heads with words of truth
    cause he’s the one who stays

    we thank you dearly Robert
    we understand it now
    we know that we are worthless yobs
    but you love us anyhow

    Murray Hobbs

  • OK, I think I’ve come up with another solution to the problems you’re discussing here. Remember the fellow at the end of the film “12 Monkeys” who unleashed a devastating virus that depopulated the planet? As a professional biologist, how feasible do you consider such an effort? Could some of our very clever molecular biologists really engineer a virus that could make depopulation on that scale a reality? I’m realizing that the NWO conspiracies are starting to make a lot of sense, that as an alternative to uncontrolled die-off a controlled culling may be the best we can hope for at this point. It certainly seems preferable to the nightmare of global thermonuclear war. So I have to wonder, is someone pursuing this project in some secret laboratory at the behest of ultra-elite depopulationists? And if not, why not?

  • Yeah, Greer does not appreciate my views either. He seems to have no interest in interacting with people who provide critical input into his theorizing with the intent of better understanding all around.

    There seems to be at present a real imbalance: there are the folks who think long descent, and are mostly content to yak. Then there are the panic-mongers, the sky is falling now. Some of them are busy stashing food away, some think it’s all pointless, we have been destroying everything since the upper paleolithic, g’bye. I myself fall somewhere in the middle, thinking we don’t quite know what Gaia has in store for us, but the signs don’t look good, and hoping to do something useful before I wink out.

    You seem to be, along with Sharon Astyk, one of the few who have embarked on huge changes to live differently. I aspire to be one of your numbers, soon.

    Have you given more thought to what is worth preserving? Is there a database somewhere where people are collecting ways to save in simplified form what we have come to find useful in civ? I myself would prefer not to have to live without iodine or peroxide. I actually find the agrarian vision quite inspiring; there is no reason to go back to the day when large numbers of women died in childbirth and other such drawbacks. I have not heard anyone to really articulate such a vision in detail, but I suspect that subsistence ag + useful add-ons learned in civ and modified, could create something outstanding. Once we figure out how to deal with the zombies. :D

  • We’ll have to eat the Zombies. It’s them or us.

    I recently finished a Paul Shepard jag, which I cannot recommend enough. Apropos, too. AFA what to do, and how to get there…hmm. Good ideas, Guy. Yes; agrarian communal is an attainable and desirable step back from where we are now, and if instead of large-scale (giant wind farms and attendant infrastructure, nucular) energy-generating grid componants we opt for a million small ones, then we could have the internets too. Maybe.

    We’d better. We’re leaving books behind.

    Shepard would suggest we leave wide and long wild zones too, particularly in the areas that have proven to be incubators for diversity. Not as we do now, not as commodities; we run roads through them for RVs, and that must cease. We’ll need things to eat, and I don’t want just breeds to eat. Nor to learn from: we learned what we needed to know from other species in those elder days. Breeds are too damned stupid, we only learn domesticity from them, herd behavior. Sod that.

    Zombie cookbooks. That’s what I’ll write next.

  • Vera,

    “Better the townies adapt in place….” Surely you jest, Vera.

    My point regarding influencing the-powers-that-be was in the same vein as Guy’s comment, “if government would…serve as an inspiration and provide resources…” Instead of just hoping the townies don’t abandon the cities and head for the country, it might be better to try convincing the town council and mayor of your community that some preparation is in order to help the townies adapt in place. The-powers-that-be are not just the heads of international corporations or their shills in Federal or State government. Influencing your local PUD might be more important to your future than anything the President or the banksters do.

    Michael Irving

  • Good point, Michael. I guess I figure it’s up to the townies. (Aha — the Transition Town thing is a stealth campaign by Vile E. Agrarian to keep them where they are! Nice move. :D ;) )

  • Vera,
    Thanks and never underestimate the low, sneaky, underhanded agenda of V.E.A.

    Michael Irving

  • Hi Guy,

    No poem here. A quote from Virginia Satir, though – The most basic instinct of humnan beings is not survival, it is the experience of the familiar.

    I agree with you, and have been in this debate for a long time now, with myself and various others.

    Science “won,” over indigenous peoples and their technologies. There’s a reason for that. We need to uncover and understand that reason.

    Then, we need to use that “science” to achieve a different end.

    Similarly, we need to get rid of prejudices we have about the human race. We still hold onto a lot of falsehoods about humanity. For instance, that we are somehow different from other life (in structure, behavior, or tendency). Or that we are “humane” in some way, and not prone to kill things (whatever they may be – ourselves, others, other animals, other life).

    The key, I think, is the quote above. First, we have to do this within the familiar. We have to create options that connect people back to nature within their already-existing structure. “Victory Gardens” is a great example of something like this.

    Finally, we have to DO this. We cannot rely on government, others, non-profits, or anyone else. The people who are concerned need to come together and make things happen through action. Similar to Mohammad uniting the tribes of the Arabian peninsula.

    Just my take on it…

  • Josh Leeger,

    Whatever Guy’s take is on your comments, you’ve certainly got my brain working. Your ideas sent me off in six directions at once. Let me share one of them with you.

    I think we are different from other life. I think you put that point on it when you noted that “science” won. Getting back to first principles, we changed from being just like other life when we began building technologies we could use to enhance our ability to survive. Fire, tools, language, social structures, agriculture, were all technologies that improved our chances to live longer and produce more offspring than we would have had we continued to be just like the other animals. The “science” you are referring to is just the latest step on a 3 million year-old path. The story of indigenous people conquered by modern technology is simply a retelling of a very old story in which the new replaces the old. We are different from other animals in that our brains are set up to allow us to pile one technology on top of another. We can change the rules as we go along. While I understand that some other animals use tools I think you’ll grant that the matter of degree is important.

    So, I’m disagreeing with you about our similarity with other life. Of course we are the same in most respects. However, there are some things about people that are different and it is those very things that are causing our problems. We seem to be hard-wired to keep tinkering with things, looking for improvements. Unfortunately we never had an ultimate plan. We’ve just kept moving along the path of better technology until now, suddenly, we’ve come to a wall. A zebra might just turn and go a different direction, but we’re different and our particular hard-wiring is making it hard for us to back up, to return to a simpler technology.

    Michael Irving

  • Josh Leeger,

    I’m still thinking about what you said. I think you are completely right in your conclusion. We cannot expect the cavalry to come riding to the rescue. They are the problem, not the solution.

    Michael Irving

  • We are great apes, still, and as such respond to stimuli as apes do. We also learn from others (animal, plant, planetary), and that set us on our unusual path, to the point where we are dependent on our knowledge and extensions to survive. It may take more than simply re-acquainting ourselves with nature viv-a-vis Victory Gardens and such; we’ll still want to eliminate pests, get perfect crops every year in spite of weather differences, and keep it all for ourselves (no critter poaching). As Micheal says, we’ll continue to see variables as problems to solve, and not the way of things.

    Here at home I’ve been ‘managing’ a return to half-wild; letting things go as they will in areas, planting food flora among the wild stuff, and providing for as many things as this plot will allow. Multiflora rose is an invasive species that also provides winter food, shelter and nesting spots for birds and insects, and shelter for the NE bunny which is dying off due to competition and lack of habitat . For one instance. So I let it live, mostly.
    Given the climate flux we’ve entered, I’m considering most anything “native” if it thrives here and interacts with others. And I’m thinking we’ll have to learn to live within the natural community, not just dominate it. Hell, we should anyway, even if we weren’t about to make the planet uninhabitable.
    Which means also becoming post-religion.
    Lots of work to do for a species that can’t see itself for what it really is.

  • When I lived out east, Vertalio, I was chagrined and delighted when the woodchuck moved in and ate my beans. And whatever else tasted good. Watched one woodchuck become many. Got a havaheart trap. Did not have the heart to use it. Watched the cycle unfold over the 8 years I was there… from no woodchuck to no woodchuck as the predators moved in and took care of the “problem”. It taught me that gardens are for sharing. :)

    What do you mean by becoming post-religion?

  • Good woodchuck story. Same with chipmunks, stray cats, squirrels; once the fishers returned here things changed for the better.
    I hate it when anything eats the beans, though. They’re a heavy, wide italian heirloom, delicious, no strings, good even when a bit overripe, 15′ vines…yah.

    Post-religion? I mean: seeing the world as it is. There’s no need to explain where we came from, really, nor where we’re going. It’s all right here, as we once knew but forgot as we left the wild wandering world and settled down. Divorced our neighboring Others, the animals and plants. Began to fight them, conquer their homes, began to regard the world as a giant pie to carve up and eat.
    Regarded Dominion as our right.
    Religion keeps us separate, and of course organized…you might say subdued.

    Speaking of Religion; Happy Groundhog’s Day! It’s only groundhog’s day, I hear, because the PA Germans who settled there found no bears, which were the original subjects back home. It’s a reincarnation myth. The bear, a powerful thing, appears dead. No breath. No heartbeat. It wakes, midwinter, and emerges for a moment from it’s den. If it sees it’s shadow; it hasn’t died yet, and must return. If no shadow, it’s dead and can proceed to rebirth.