Empire of lies

Benny and the Inkjets are tossing the money around, but it didn’t pump up the industrial economy the last time and QE2 will be no better, even if the next version is expectedly gihugic. He’s destroying the dollar in the process of printing fiat currency, but he cannot keep up with the ongoing economic contraction. Fiat currency is rapidly turning into compost. Call it Screwflation Nation, for short, and it’s an approach that might lead to a new American Revolution, one that has been criticized even by Peter Orszag, Obama’s former economic adviser. Even McDonald’s is raising prices, for the first time in two decades. And, although government statistics indicate prices are declining, the numbers based on things we actually buy suggest otherwise.

This essay will not go down the rabbit hole of inflation vs. deflation, preferring instead to use the simple, technically incorrect, but well-understood route of equating increasing prices with inflation. The academic ground of inflation vs. deflation has been worked to death with little understanding. If you want to pursue that topic, I encourage you to check in with Mish Shedlock, Nicole Foss, John Embry, Peter Schiff, and Gonzalo Lira (Lira believes hyperinflation has already been triggered). Rather than chase the tail of terminology, I’ll simply assume that when average folks can no longer afford food and water, economic collapse has occurred. At that point, we needn’t worry about the terms of the debate.

The U.S. industrial economy still faces strong headwinds from the four horsemen of the economic apocalypse: energy, employment, credit, and housing. Ultimately, the U.S. gets to choose from few remaining options. They all spell the end of American Empire: default or hyperinflation seem likely, along with extreme deflation. And although we’re already there, these 23 latter-day doomsayers figured out we’ll be in an economic depression next year.

The oil crunch has arrived, despite OPEC’s lies, and the oil squeeze is running the show. Oil prices are headed up on the perception of global economic growth, according to JP Morgan and a report prepared for the New Zealand Parliament. Even the International Energy Agency questions whether reserves will fill the gap between supply and demand. They’ve never been so circumspect. Similarly, the United States Geological Survey has infused reality into its estimates by reducing Alaska’s reserves by 90%. Meanwhile, the U.S. military — charged with making sure U.S. consumers have enough crude oil to keep the Hummers running — is feeling the squeeze.

Never mind that we’re still in an economic depression, according to unemployment numbers and other metrics of macroeconomic reality. The United States, and indeed the OECD, is no longer driving the world’s economic bus. And, of course, the entire field of economics is a sham built on a foundation of incorrect assumptions, lies, and misinformation. To call economics the dismal science is to denigrate all legitimate sciences while smearing the word “dismal.”

Is France foreshadowing the rest of the developed world? Will protests in France make it across the pond? Personally, I doubt Americans can be bothered to turn off the television long enough to notice the lies in which they are immersed. But I’ve been wrong a few million times before.

The only question of economic significance at this point is which event puts the stake in the heart of the industrial economy. At this point, a single tremor, an inopportune echo, an unexpected shift in the winds, and the entire icy edifice will come down like an avalanche. Will the derivatives explode? They’re still out there, and the exposure of JP Morgan alone exceeds global GDP. Or maybe somebody will notice the actual U.S. government debt, which is beyond belief, much less payment. Perhaps the big bank death spiral will get it done. Maybe the ongoing, ever-growing foreclosure crisis will bring it all down. The natives are growing restless about that issue. Perhaps a Keynesian liquidity trap will do the trick — and, by the way, we’re already in that trap, and there’s no way out. Under this scenario, the monetary authority (in our case, the Fed) loses control because long-term interest rates are very low (we’re stuck at zero for the Fed’s foreseeable future, and even the Fed acknowledges they’ve lost control when — in an act of treason — they defer decisions on monetary policy to banks). Although Benny Bucks have levitated the stock markets so far, the impending collapse of those markets, as foretold by insider trading at a sell to buy ratio of 3177 to 1, might be sufficient to terminate the industrial economy. Most stock trades are done robotically, so don’t think stock prices have anything to do with the worth of a company or that the time-tested buy-and-hold strategy is a safe bet. In fact, regular people have already fled the stock markets because the markets no longer reflect economic reality (although, unlike conspiracy theorists such as Charles Hugh Smith, I don’t believe stock-market movements are engineered). There’s good news elsewhere, too: We’re blowing bubbles faster than an eight-year-old with a fresh pack of Hubba Bubba, as even historians can see, and the collapse of any of those bubbles could sink the imperial ship. Bonds, anyone? There’s a fiscal train wreck on the way in the bond market. Indeed, Ben Bernanke is acting like a possessed zombie intent on destroying the U.S. economy all by himself, through hyperinflation if necessary. Ben, you’re not alone: I’m here to help.

Non-economic phenomena could bring civilization to its knees, too. Most obviously, the ongoing environmental collapse, including profound rates of extinction, could take us with the rest of the living planet. But an overdue electromagnetic pulse from a solar flare — or a nuclear device — could terminate many of the world’s electronic infrastructure instantly. A sufficiently sophisticated Stuxnet-style cyber-attack could do some serious damage, too. On the other hand, civilization could simply starve itself to death.

If the end of American Empire is the silver lining, then continuation of the empire represents the blackest cloud in world history. If Americans would get off their collective lazy asses, they might start a civil war. That’s a big if, and I’m not willing to bet on it. Additional imperial news includes war crimes perpetrated by U.S. soldiers and the abject shaming of this country by our naked aggression throughout the world. And then covering up the whole stinking mess, just as the oligarch’s presidential administration continues to cover up the environmental effects of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. But those problems are about to take care of themselves in the undertow of economic collapse. And even the silver lining bears its own bad news: Peak oil spells peak human population.

Empires are not benevolent. This world has never had a larger, more effective empire than the current one. If you’re cheering for continuation of the age of industry in an overshot world, you’re cheering for more torture, more human suffering, and more human deaths. Needless to say, we’re on opposite sides of this issue.

And if you’re living that comfortable life in the city, regardless how much you recycle, bicycle to work, and tithe at the altar, you still haven’t figured out the immorality of imperial living. Cities are the nadir of civilization, and they have an increasingly short and burning fuse. Furthermore, nothing about our survival as a species matters if we keep adhering to an irredeemable set of living arrangements, even if your city has “walkable” neighborhoods. Who wants to live as if life has no merit?


This essay is permalinked at Running ‘Cause I Can’t Fly, Counter Currents, Island Breath, and Before It’s News.

Comments 44

  • Great essay, Guy. I still remember that you wrote about surpluses of leaving the empire soon, and this is one of them: if you become self sufficient (I’m working full speed), then you do not have to worry about the suicide method chosen by this mad civilization… (unless it’s a nuclear war or so). ;-)

  • hello Guy,

    Good post! I am really grateful to have discovered your blog and your frequent allusions to your grumpiness made me smile. I can relate. It took a long time, but finally I can look at the show with a measure of serenity, even hope. I guess that is what happened when one lives in the backwoods of a backwater province for a while, more engrossed by the impending birth of a calf than by what happens to the pension fund. Farming the old fashion way in a Northern climate teaches you the futility of cursing the coming winter. The vegetation will die, its time to butcher the spring lambs, the steers, to store the seeds and live of the energy of the sun harvested during the summer in hay and wood. Life shrinks to small circles around the woodstove and the barn, to seeds stored in the basement and in tree buds and in roots in the frozen soil. It looks bleak, but the task is to stock the fire and to keep hope alive that at the other end, there is Spring. Hope is this small seed that there is still a future for life more complex than bacteria. The Industrial Juggernaut might be stopped before destroying all future springs. That is how I see the demise of the American Empire. I reconciled myself with the human suffering that it will spell. You get use to witness suffering. You must be familiar with Aldo Leopold famous: ” One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds”. For too long suffering as been an unaccounted externality dumped on foreign people, dumped on Nature, unseen, unfelt by the privileged majority of developed countries. Its seems like some form of poetic justice that it is coming home. My country, Canada, is so entwined with the Empire that our fate should more or less be the same. With some tremendous amount of luck, maybe the best of civilization wont be swiped away with the worst: culture, morality…Yet, are Bach, Cervantes, Da Vinci, Ghandi enough to have justified our passage and continued presence on the planet? I dont know. We’re so self-centered. Alan Boone wrote about his dog, Strongheart:

    “He composes a poem by turning himself into a poem, from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail. The human writes poetry. The dog lives poetry. And who among us, in a Cosmos in which so much of reality has yet to be discovered, is qualified to say whether the human or the dog method of self-expression is nearer the ultimate reality.”

    What about the poetry of the wolf, the whale, the sea turtle? How much poetry did civilization squashed on its march to oblivion?

    In any case, we need that collective suffering to come back to our sense. We are insane. We overbred, we over consumed and we never listened to the ghosts of Christmas Past which speak in so many of our history books: the Roman Empire, the Easter Islands civilization, the Mayas…The Piper is asking his due. Lots of people will suffer, lots of people will starve when the agro-industrial food system will break down. Anyhow, that’s my educated guess with 20 years as agronomist. Those I love and myself might very well be in one of the pile of corpses hastily buried or burned. Today, tomorrow, the killing frost will wither all but the hardiest plants. Now is not the time for feeling sorry, angry, depressed for what and who cant be saved. Now is the time for those who can do something to stack the odds on the side of life, to expend the circle of their compassion to all species, not just Homo sapiens. It’s time to pick the last tomatoes, to winterize the barn, to dry next year seeds, to plant trees. By fate and by choice, I am the steward of elm trees, of a bat colony in the attic, of a flock of sheep, of an 8 weeks sheepdog puppy, of a brook where brown trouts live and spawn, of so many unbroken chains of wild and domesticated life. Its small, almost insignificant, like a seed, but its the only hope worth fighting for. And I saw too many times half frozen lambs coming back to life, scraggly transplants flourishing, burned forests greening to give up. Life wants to keep on going. There is much to do. Now is the time to fight. To quote of my favorite Terry Pratchett character, Death:
    “In order to have a change of fortune at the last minute you have to take your fortune to the last minute. We must do what we can.”

  • Two excellent economics-related interviews were presented on the Doug Henwood radio broadcast “Behind the News” yesterday. Investigative journalists shared some of their research on the economy, the distribution of wealth, class warfare by the elite against the rest of us, etc. Some of the facts uncovered are just startling and the two interviews are well worth taking the time to listen to.

    A few minutes are lost at the beginning of the broadcast in getting the first interviewee on air, due to Mr. Henwood broadcasting from an unfamiliar studio, but once the information started flowing, it was incredile.

    And it reinforces the viewpoint that we would be a wealthy nation with plenty for all if wages and wealth were equitably distributed through the economy, instead of flowing upwards to the few at the expense of the many. We do not need relentless growth in the economy, but we need relentless fairness.

    The interview from yesterday’s program can be heard at the following link:

    [audio src="http://aud1.kpfa.org/data/20101030-Sat1000.mp3" /]

    Stan Moore

  • Culture presents us with much that is real and also less that is illusory. From a psychological standpoint, because humans are shaped early and pervasively by cultural transmissions in our perception of reality, it is an evolutionary challenge for humankind to see the world as it is. Since the eighteenth century human beings in our culture have sought to find the actual causes of things, to figure out how things really work and to gain knowledge of what the world in which we live is truly like.

    Not only do we seek to establish what is real about the physical world, we also strive to gain knowledge of what is real about the self and society. Of course, to the social scientists falls the task of uncovering the misperceptions of individuals as well as of peoples within the world’s socio-cultural aggregates.

    I am a psychologist. When a psychologist thinks a patient is suffering from a mental illness, that is an evidence-based clinical judgment. However, general standards of normalcy are not clinical judgments, but matters of socio-cultural norms and conventions that are full of correctly perceived aspects of reality as well as some misperceptions of reality. Deeply disturbed mental patients distort reality drastically. By contrast, social organizations like nation-states as well as cultures appear not to misperceive reality so sharply, yet distortions of what peoples perceive do remain. A term of art in psychology is useful here, folie a deux. The term means that two people share an identical distortion of reality. This understanding leads to other terms, folie a deux cent million for a social order or folie a deux billion for a culture. These terms refer to a misperception of reality commonly held by many people of a social order or cultural matrix. One way to define the highest standard of what is “normal” for the individual and for people in cultures could be looked at in terms of what is free of illusion, what is in scientific fact real.

    People can and do choose to confuse ideological idiocy with science, contrived logic with reason, self-interested thinking with common sense. Science regarding the activities of the human population is often ignored when ignorance of the world as it is serves to support a social status quo or buttress religious dogma. I would like to submit to you that on occasions such as these, conscious or unconscious thinking in the service of a status quo leads to distortions and perversions of science.

    In these early years of Century XXI humanity could be confronted with formidable, human-driven global challenges, ones already dimly visible on the far horizon. It is inconceivable that the human community can respond ably to whatever challenges present themselves in the years just ahead if we choose not to so much as acknowledge, much less adequately address, that certain adamantly maintained cultural transmissions regarding global consumption, production and propagation activities of the human species now overspreading the Earth may have mesmerized many experts into thinking that the humankind is somehow not an integral part of the natural world and ultimately not subject to biophysical limits to growth that are ultimately imposed on living things by a planet with the size, finite make-up and frangible ecology of Earth.

    Leaders and followers alike in the family of humanity can do better and I trust we will choose soon enough necessary behavioral change rather than the maintenance of a morally disengaged and patently unsustainable socioeconomic status quo. Socioeconomic thought is feeble, fundamentally flawed, and often untrue. Such thinking has much to do with what is economically expedient, socially suitable, politically convenient, religiously tolerable and culturally prescribed. This woefully inadequate form of thought has little to do with intellectual honesty, moral courage and an appreciation of the practical requirements of biophysical reality. What is often called socioeconomic thinking is a kind of thinking that cannot lead the human community to meaningfully embrace sustainable lifestyles, to sensibly protect biodiversity and to recognize the necessity for preserving Earth and its environs.

  • Marie:

    You wrote: “And I saw too many times half frozen lambs coming back to life, scraggly transplants flourishing, burned forests greening to give up. Life wants to keep on going.”

    Bingo. And perhaps that’s the greatest reason why I don’t see any reason to pack it in. That and one helluva Great Adventure. (Okay, I’m kidding about the latter.)

    Sue Day:

    Regarding your posts to the previous essay …

    I’m puzzled as to why you think those who comment on other than The Great Collapse are either category A (survivalists prepped to their eyeballs) or category B (internet addicted losers wasting time).

    Kathy has a point. Why are you fretting about her? She’s mature enough to make her own decision, as I am mine.

    Your comments remind me of something I learned decades ago when I was studying for my MBA. One of my classes was tasked with conducting a survey of the residents living within the vicinity of a dam on a river about 60 miles away. In researching what questions we should include on our survey we came upon the findings of similar surveys done on other dam-sites.

    The findings differed depending upon the distance of the surveyed resident to the dam. Those well downstream weren’t much worried about a dam collapse. Some weren’t even aware a dam existed.

    Fear of a dam collapse increased the closer one lived to the dam. Those individuals within about a mile were the most terrified and the most vocal that one night while they slept a collapsed dam would sweep them and their precious loved ones away. Swoosh. Gone.

    But then ironically, that fear subsided until it was almost non-existent among those residents living immediately beneath the dam. The ones that would be swept up first. And there was a reason for that. Those who had been scared shit-less had already moved away. Those who remained had accepted their fate.

    You strike me as being stuck in the middle group. My sympathies. It’s not a fun place to be.

  • Guy, thanks so much for this essay today. With the corpocratic election season reaching its fevered apogee, the imperial propaganda machine is blaring all horns at full volume. Yours is a welcome voice of sanity in a society gone increasingly otherwise.

    Marie, your post compliments Guy’s themes beautifully. Best of luck in the coming Winter.

    I spent the day raking pine straw, arranging it in mounds in the areas of our little 1.5 acres where I am trying to restore the woodland after decades of lawnmowing. My neighbors rake, too, but pile their straw by the road for city pickup instead. All my efforts at sustainability and eco-stewardship sometimes seem so futile in the face of our society’s headlong descent to ecocide… but reading the posts here, I am reminded that I am not alone, and that affords some comfort.

  • Marie, thank you that was wonderful. We have both read your post several times. We live at the end of a dirt road, and at the end of the rural electric lines. Your words touched us.


  • Quite an impressive array of articles, Guy. Thanks for the hard work. You back at the goats yet?

  • Thanks, everybody, for the thoughtful and complimentary comments. Marie, your first-time comment is great — please keep ’em coming. I’m back to the goats, Don, and nearly finished with my partially subterranean straw-bale greenhouse. And for those of you who haven’t yet read any of Don’s writing, the free stuff is on his blog and his books are worth the price.

  • A great summary of the present state of affairs Guy. (It’s little different here).

    It is standard practice for governments to promote the illusion that all is well immediately before an election, to hold back the tide of bad news via delayed release of information, to direct short term money towards ensuring that failing institutions stay afloat a little longer. And, of course, there’s [the lie of] Christmas to keep the masses distracted and spending for the next 7 weeks or so.

    The January-February period should prove very interesting, as the distractions fade, the overspending bills start to arrive, snd work that is dependent on good weather grinds to a near standstill. (Following the election there, it took only a matter of weeks for Britain to do the U-turn from ‘recovery’ to ‘austerity’.)

  • Resa
    (chuckle) fair enough comment I suppose. : – )

  • Enough material, well organized and presented to convince anyone open to convincing by this essay and the rather profuse links. Regrettably though, those most in need of convincing will only believe when they personally feel the bite.

  • nice, informative, linked summary guy; several very good links. thanks for your work!

  • Guy, thanks for another well-written essay. I must admit that I’m still quite conflicted on this whole issue. Not the impending crisis and the changes it will bring, but rather my own feeling about the situation. I grew up instilled with respect for nature and the environment. My father raised me to see wildlife and their habitat as a gift that shouldn’t be squandered. But I also grew up in the age of the baby boomer – a time synonymous with excess consumption and “me first”ism.

    Today, I mourn the loss of each square foot of natural habitat. But I also mourn the coming loss of so much beauty that is the human species.

    I am a slave of the Empire. I have mortgages on my various properties (home, office, rental properties, etc.). So, I work to pay those. If I stop working, I loose what I have. If I loose what I have, then I can’t prepare for the coming crisis. But, I work so much to pay those mortgages that I can’t really prepare much anyway. It’s a vicious cycle. One that I will welcome readily being broken. For now, I work to get at least one property free and clear, to begin breaking the shackles of slavery.

  • After spending my first 20 years growing up in New England then a few more traveling and working throughout the western states, there have been dozens of times when my goose woulda been cooked had it not been saved by my fellow Americans. Americans of every region, color, ethnicity and class have gone out of their way to help a stranger. The American people are very generous, helpful, and friendly.

    There is a huge difference between everyday Americans and the shit heads in their gated communities protected by private security guards and sucking the lifeblood out of their poorer cousins, they are ‘The Ugly Amerikans’.

    Here in Canada the same holds true. The oil barons of Alberta are exactly as greedy as their counterparts in Texas. The stock market speculators of Toronto no less vile than those of New York or Tokyo or London or anywhere else. The super-rich, a very small minority, have somehow gained control over so many destinies and managed to keep our hands from around their scrawny necks up ’til now somehow.

    In high school Latin class a million years ago i learned that Julius Caesar said “Omnia Gaulia es divisa en tres partes”, though my Latin has fallen apart over time, the message is still crystal clear. Caesar knew he’d never be able to rule all of Gaul if it was united against him even if his legions could initially conquer it. But if he could keep them divided and fighting among themselves it would be easy. Today’s map of that part of Europe still accurately defines the ethnic boundaries that Caesar gladly helped maintain. That there is a Spain, a Portugal, a France and an ongoing Basque separatist war testifies to the clarity of Caesar’s political vision.

    Divide and Conquer. We or me? Allow one division and others soon follow. Be it by religion, race, class, language or geography once divided it’s a quick slide into ‘us or them’. The solution to the divisions, to the problem of being but not of The Empire, for me personally: stand strong, undivided, unconquered, live freely, one with all, one with the mud.

  • A terrific post chock full of links; thank you.

    Like many, I continue to agonize over our situation and make what modest preparations I can. The longer our illusion is maintained, the less motivation I have to participate in the BAU model.

    Taking a few leaves of fresh lettuce from my tiny garden last night for dinner was deeply satisfying.

  • The REAL Dr. House:

    A bit of advice
    given to a young Native American
    at the time of his initiation:

    “As you go the way of live,
    you will see a great chasm.


    It is not as wide as you think.”

    That’s not advice, just a quote. Our plan before I first read about Peak Oil on treehugger 6 years ago was to have a place in the Caribbean, one in Vermont and one in DC. And then we discovered Appalachia. Can’t say we haven’t looked back, but we are very happy.

    Guy, what are you planning on growing in your greenhouse, and what zone do you live in? We have a 4,000 square ft greenhouse, and we grow through the winter. January and the first half of February are tough, but once we hit the end of February and we get that 10 hours of light, anything that has lasted explodes. The only heat source is the sun and the concrete slab it all sits on.

    One crop that has worked incredibly well for us are micro greens. We grow about 12 pounds a week for restaurants. If you were just growing for yourself you could get by with one 4 ft flourescent light fixture. A south facing window would do just as well. We don’t use lights for our salad greens mix. We use 6 different plants in our micro mix, but you could easily get by on the two cheapest, radish and sunflowers. With those two you could get 1 to 2 pounds a week of very healthy greens. The sunflower medium goes to the chickens, and all the rest go to a compost pile in the greenhouse, which we use for alot of our potting needs.

    Best hopes,



  • pardon the diversion here; i wish to refer back to an archival entry in this blog.

    i just checked in on our old friend dan treecraft’s blog, referred to in a july 19 post by guy. dan has cancer, and may already be dead. his last blog entry was a little over a month ago. dan writes about facing and making preparations for death with grace and wit, and of course the rare intelligence which characterizes participants here, i might immodestly add. i’ve enjoyed reading his blog a great deal, have recently made a few modest contributions. i think it’s a shame so few others have done so, for this blog is quite unique, and instructive in an area of life often overlooked. i would also like dan to have the satisfaction, if still alive, of knowing that the considerable time and effort he’s poured into his blog has been appreciated by more than a couple of readers.

    his latest entry deals with the insane expense and wastefulness of present funeral/burial/cremation practices in places like the u.s. of a., where abundant fossil-fuel derived wealth has enabled human folly to grow to gargantuan proportions. these examples of gross unnecessary waste are just a few of many in our culture. this, along with the fact that wealth is currently so grossly unequally distributed, leads me to the conclusion that it will be quite a few years before ‘first world’ citizens are faced with truly dire circumstances resulting from resource depletion. as for ‘third worlders’, i’m afraid the feces from the fan is already fouling their lives. they’re the canaries in the coal mine.

    please, don’t forget or forsake dan. thanks.

  • An appropriate companion post:
    Peak Oil is History

  • Thanks for the reminder about Dan Treecraft’s blog, the virgin terry. Interested readers can catch up with Dan’s musings here.

  • Resa, Good analogy. I live close to the dam in the sense that I see the possible futures more darkly than others. I consider my assessment as pretty accurate, unlike slow descents envisioned by others. Although I don’t wish the possible futures I see on anyone including myself, many are already living such futures in say Iraq, Afghanistan, the Congo etc.

    There are worse things in the world for the children of the world than even starving. Many already inhabit those worse futures. Today there are 20,000 more people on the planet than yesterday. The possible pain increases daily. May the crash come soon….

  • kathy, i think it’s 200,000 more people every day! not that another zero tagged on to an already unimaginably large number will change one’s gut reaction, necessarily. when one takes into consideration that all these ‘abstract’ people are in fact blood, sweat, and tears, like us, one can’t come close to digesting the spiritual impact of this knowledge, combined with the intuitive mathematical knowledge of population blooms and busts, and that we’re entering the bust phase… surreal. horror of horrors, kathy, your logic’s impeccable. the higher population gets and the longer we strain to maintain current levels of unsustainable economic activity/’growth’, the greater the tragedy and suffering to come.

    thanks guy, for reposting dan’s link. thanks also for the moral support.

    ever given a thought to the ‘fact’ that ‘god’s’ mum was a virgin when she gave birth to sweet jesus, and that this is stressed in some christian sects, while jesus is also thought to have lived chastely, in order to avoid ‘sin’, but nobody ever refers to him as the virgin jesus? perhaps a sex/gender double standard? anyway, by calling myself the virgin terry, u see, i’m trying to compensate for this awful political incorrectness. and if a virgin woman can become a mother, a virgin man can become a father, as i have. however i’ll never be famous for it, for my child is the wrong gender to be a ‘son of god’.

  • Virgin Terry. Have you watched Zeitgeist (part 1)? According to the very convincing analysis presented, many Biblical references are actually atronomical or astrological. ‘Died on the Cross’ refers to the Sun reaching its lowest point on the horozon (in the general direction of Southern Cross) on 21st December, where it appears to ‘remain dead’ for three days before being ‘ressurecterd’ or ‘reborn’ -starting to rise at successively more northerly points on the horizon, and thereby returning life to the [northern hemisphere] earth.

    Virgin birth refers to the constellation Virgo, from memory a reference to sunrise at the equinnox. Similarly, the ages of the bull, goat, fish and waterbearer refered to the Earth’s precession (wobble) migrating through Zodiac signs over 2,600 year ‘ages’.

    ‘Son of God’ is thus ‘Sun of God’, to be worhipped on Sunday.

    Fundametalist Christians find the Zeitgeist analysis abhorrent, of course, just as they found Darwin’s analysis abhorrent when it was initially debated.

    Now might be a good time to remind everyone that our calendar system is is a fairly idiotic contrivance handed down to us by the Romans, with months 9,10,11 and 12 designated 7,8,9,10, after they decided to insert a couple of months and start the year two months earlier but failed to rename the later months. Needless to say, nothing in the modern calandar actually matches anything in the real world, and nor do modern dates for religious festivals tie in with tradtional reasons for such festivals -all of which would be about right for an ‘Empire of Lies’.

    All very thought provoking. Maybe it’s better than 99% of the populace ‘know nothing’ and ‘can’t think’.

    On the other hand, what a fine world it might be if we could get to the fundamental truth of everything and start again from scratch.

    In my dreams.

  • Terry, Yes I missed the extra 0. 200,000 but that is not the births, just the births minus the deaths.

    Interesting, I have never thought about the virgin title for Mary but not Jesus. Lots of gods were said to be born of virgins. Well I won’t go there but it is of interest as well that somewhere along the line virgin births of their gods began to be such a big deal. Actually, does it say anywhere in the scriptures that Jesus didn’t have sex?

    Kevin, perhaps the “truth” is only that which works. For hundreds of thousands of years humans didn’t know a bunch of scientific truths but did know which food was safe to eat (could most modern Americans identify mushrooms that are safe from those that are not – will some die from refusing to eat safe ones or eating unsafe ones). Modern science has greatly increased the rate at which we are eating up our planet and making it unlikeable to us. Is that knowledge a truth worth having? It worked for a while, in planetary times for a very very short while. So as you note there are fundamental truths, such as knowing that we depend on the natural world, that we have to regain if we are to continue as a species. Other truths that have to go, such as how to build a combustion engine. The myths we choose to believe in only are “truth” if they help us see our place in the natural world as an animal species that must live in balance or cease to exist.

  • yes, kevin, i’ve watched both zeitgeist movies. i made a reference to part I of the first movie in this blog a few entries ago. am looking forward to the 3rd zeitgeist movie, set to come out soon.

    kathy, modern science and technology, combined with modern religion which disconnects humanity from it’s proper place in nature: a lethal combination. like giving a young child a gun to play with. and over 200,000 people being added to world population EVERY DAY really helps put in perspective what’s going on, how rapid the increase is. the way up to the peak has been rather smooth. the way down certainly won’t be.

  • Terry, agreed. The way down will not only be less smooth than the way up but also far faster… I think the only question is how long we stay on the plateau. Each week then 1.4 million more likely to die untimely deaths. And the longer we stay on the plateau the steeper the cliff to the bottom. Totally agree about religion and modern science and technology.

  • Great election commentary from Dmitry Orlov full blog post at http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2010/11/survey-of-unlikely-voters.html

    “It is election season in the United States, and if you tune in to any of the local news programs/comedy shows you are likely to get an earful of commentary, opinion, conjecture and wild speculation on what the “likely voters” are likely to do. Allow me to save you the trouble: they are likely to go and vote. Who they are going to vote for doesn’t matter: without exception they are going to vote for an American politician: a lawyer or a businessman, someone belongs to one of a few available political categories, all of them misnomers designed to confuse the public. There are those who call themselves conservatives, and who are in fact not conservatives at all but free market liberals. There are those who call themselves libertarians, but who have somehow forgotten their anarchist-socialist roots and are in fact also free market liberals. Then there are the “liberals,” who are also free market liberals but aspire to being nice, whereas the rest of the free market liberals are nasty. But nobody here wants to be called a “liberal,” because in this topsy-turvy political universe it has become little more than a term of abuse. “

  • The fallacy that many of you suffer from is the idea that humanity needs to find its “proper place in nature”, “live in balance with the planet”, etc. The cockroach hasn’t changed in 200 million years — they’ve found their balance with nature, and I’m sure most of you will agree that their cultural achievements have been rather dismal. Living in harmony with our environment simply isn’t what we do. We’re the creator animals, the nature manipulators, the first known examples of nature becoming conscious of itself. Without our almost magical ability to adapt and shape the world to our wills we would have died out long ago. So on a very deep spiritual level I find the sentiment expressed here to be misguided and suicidal. Remember that an asteroid will some day obliterate us all, unless we continue pushing forward and manipulating our world in such a way that this biosphere can survive. “Doomerism” is ultimately the rejection of life, and should itself be rejected by all conscious, loving beings.

  • As Josef Stalin had remarked, “a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic” – “not that another zero tagged on to an already unimaginably large number will change one’s gut reaction”.

    “We’re ….. the first known examples of nature becoming conscious of itself.” Now if only we could also become conscious of ourselves – the objectless self, prior to the differentiation of knower, knowledge and known.

  • doomerism is in this case realism, simply understanding that our species is subject, just as any other species, to population bloom/overshoot while favorable conditions prevail, to be followed by a population crash when those conditions no longer prevail. the idea that we’re unique ‘nature manipulators’ ties in to the notion that we occupy a special niche in nature, and thus need not worry about such things.

    here’s a little added perspective to the population boom: that 200,000+ people being added every day? this rate of increase has been going on very steadily for the past 50 years. every day an additional 200,000+ people for the past 50 years. that’s a lot of days, nearly 20,000. that’s how u add 4 billion new people in less than one lifetime.

  • “here’s a little added perspective to the population boom: that 200,000+ people being added every day? this rate of increase has been going on very steadily for the past 50 years. every day an additional 200,000+ people for the past 50 years. that’s a lot of days, nearly 20,000. that’s how u add 4 billion new people in less than one lifetime.”

    Now I wonder how nature will get rid of those 4 billion (or more) in less than one lifetime.

    Yestarday, I had a mystic experience: lots of seagulls in the middle of the city, ataccking doves and stealing food from garbage containers. Teachers have forbidden kids to eat sandwiches in the patio, in public, bcz seagulls steal them. It was like Hitchcock’s film. The reason? We’ve destroyed the Mediterranean (probably the sickest sea in the world), and now they manage to survive.

    It’s obvious that most seagulls will die soon: they’re adapted to eat small fishes and so, not to survive stealing sandwiches. From the point of view of the nature, we’re not different.

  • “Traditional Eskimo don’t talk about nature, conservation, or environment, because they are nature, they are coterminus with the mind, the spirit, the being of it all. This is being a real person.”

    C L Martin The Way of the Human Being.


  • Jean, I think there is a good chance that nuclear war will ensue at some time in the near future. That should give us a good chance to be one step ahead of nature in self annihilation. Since us modern humans have been led to believe that we stand above nature, perhaps it is only fitting that we should try to be one step ahead of nature when it comes to self extinction.

    Sean, I don’t know what other’s mean about finding our place in nature or living in balance. I think we humans will live in balance when we are forced to. It is not something we will discover how to do, it will just be the only thing we can do once we have depleted our environment. At the pace we are going we will create a world that (without ancient stored energy) is so devoid of resources that all our brain power will be directed to daily survival. When the aborigines got to Australia it appears that that is exactly what happened, much was depleted and then they lived in some sort of balance for 60,000 years until a wave of humans came and found a way to deplete what was left. That is at any rate what I mean by living in balance. I don’t think we can choose it, only create an environment that is so difficult that we are forced into it. Of course we may deplete it so much that we extinct ourselves. That IMO is more likely.

    So what is our ability to know what we know good for? Looks like it may just turn out to be an evolutionary dead end. It allowed us to increase our numbers for a while, but in evolutionary terms being too good at reproduction ends up badly. We succeeded for a while in wiping out our predators large and small. And like rabbits run amok that turns out not to be such a good idea. Balance never holds, once upset things go in different directions and new balances are created that hold for a while…. The planet went on with creations and extinctions for quite some time without the self aware ape, no doubt it will again well unless a black hole has been created by CERN and is eating the earth from the inside as we type :)

  • Nicole Foss (aka Stoneleigh)is one person who puts together the bigger picture. The reason more people aren’t “doomists” is because they treat problems separately instead of as part of the whole fabric. That of course is easier because the more variables you include the harder it is to see where things might go. But the more variables you look and and see how they affect each other, the more collapse seems inevitable. However given the devastation we have been wreaking on the planet, early collapse seems to be the best we can hope for and thus less “doomy” than slow descent views (IMHO)

    Interview with Nicole at the link below

  • “Jean, I think there is a good chance that nuclear war will ensue at some time in the near future. That should give us a good chance to be one step ahead of nature in self annihilation. Since us modern humans have been led to believe that we stand above nature, perhaps it is only fitting that we should try to be one step ahead of nature when it comes to self extinction.”

    Dear Kathy:

    Nuclear war… mmm… We’re deeply inmature as species, but… SO MUCH????? I hope we’re not. :-(

  • Another reason most people are not ‘doomists’ is the kind of misinformation they are supplied with on a continuous basis, which reinforces the misconception that there are no problems, let alone that we are in a predicament. For instance, according to the UN development index, as reported by the BBC last night, there has been significant progress in alleviating poverty, and a general rise in the standard of living throughout the world over the past 20 years, with access to cell phones in southern Asia and Africa being cited as a particularly important measure of progress.

    Couple that with reports that vehicle manufacturers in the US are recovering, European airlines are reporting increasing passenger numbers, share markets are up and China is surging ahead, and it is easy to see why most people fail to recongnise we are on the cusp of the greatest discontinuity in all of history.

    The fact that the oceans are extraodinarily acidic and are arguably in the process of rapidly dying just does not rate a mention.

    The crash will be staggering when it finally comes, but it does increasingly look as though things will be held together for much longer than we thought possible, thereby reducing the size of the bottleneck a remnant of humanity will attempt to squeeze through at some time in the future.

  • On the other hand, the substantial shifts in currency rates, gold and silver prices, oil prices etc. in a matter of days could indicate something very big is happening right now.

  • Guy Thank you for this very interesting and informative Essay. You may need to write another one soon as the QE2 money flinging begins. Gold is heading up again as is oil while the dollar is going in the opposite direction. Personally I am keeping my eye out for a decoupleing of Gold and the greenback as Gold becomes more acccepted as a possible currency in its own right. If the dollar index falls below 68 I think things could get very sticky. Neithercorp have done a series of Essays on the subject of economic meltdown which may be of interest to your readers. Also a highly informative and in places highly entertaining comments section.

  • Jean, two nuclear Powers increasingly have their political positions filled by religious nutcakes. That would of course be the US and Israel. Those nutcakes are incredibly immature – and yes with visions of heaven or beliefs of the approval of Jehovah they well might start a nuclear war.

    Meanwhile as we start to slide or fall down the cliff on the other side of Peak Oil, there are the standard juvenile games of last man standing, if I go so do you etc. I find it hard to imagine NOT having a nuclear war. It might be survivable for some humans, but if humans set off all the remaining nukes in an orgasm of self destruction who knows. I don’t live in a big city so I wouldn’t go in a blessed flash of light, but live near enough to a big city that I well might have one of those deaths I referred to earlier that are worse than starving – slow death by radiation poisoning.

    What scenario allows for the peaceful decommissioning of all the nukes in the world? I haven’t been able to think of one but perhaps someone else can.

    Meanwhile I watch Sarah Palin making a possible play for President of the US. I suppose the decline in the character and mental ability of politicians is inevitable at the end of empire. Rome had some pretty bad ones but they weren’t elected. I constantly see people aligning themselves against their class interests because someone plays the religious or race card. Hey hey I’ll vote for someone who gives tax cuts to the rich while I am poor just because they agree with me on abortion.

    A deeply immature species – yes.

  • Hey anyone hear of the Brazilian Port sink hole event on 10/17/10
    Watch it here. Paradigm for the suddeness of collapse
    News story here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZVaNvEfoLQ if you understand portugese
    Otherwise it seems a dead story…interesting.

  • Found a news story about the above video at http://www.cargosystems.net/freightpubs/cs/index/landslide-destroys-manaus-port/20017822272.htm;jsessionid=93676FD5EBFF09455ABDF8AF619AE7C4.f11b1cefac76ad95c7627468fee9bde7e866d022
    Maintenance work seems to have had something to do with it but the article notes
    “The river is at its lowest level since records began in 1902, following the Amazon’s worst drought in decades. According to the government’s geological service, the Rio Negro was measured at a depth of 13.63 metres, down from a high of nearly 30 metres last year. ”
    Not sure if that contributed, but of course the drought is in itself a significant (really more significant) event.