We are all Tea Partiers now

Members of the Tea Party take a lot of heat, and justifiably so, for blatant hypocrisy. They want the government out of their lives, and they want to retain all the benefits of Empire.

Just like the rest of us.

Who doesn’t want the government out of his life? And yet, who wants to give up the safety nets of Empire? Who wants to terminate the oppression-abroad approach we employ, merely to generate self-reliant, resilient communities? Who wants to trade life in a cubicle for a life of hard work?

Do you know anybody who wants Big Brother looking over his shoulder? Do you know anybody who wants the Internal Revenue Service knocking on his door? Do you know anybody who wants to pay more taxes than he already does? Do you know anybody happily paying into Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid with full understanding these Ponzi schemes have nearly run their course? Do you know anybody who looks forward to life as a government serf?

With the exception of me, on the other hand, do you know anybody who will be happy when the fuel fails to show up at the filling station? Do you know anybody who will happily forgo water coming out the municipal taps? Do you know anybody who happily contributes to the federal government’s Ponzi schemes monetary policy, knowing he’ll never get his money back?

Consider one example from among hundreds. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are horrific by all accounts. We are the “reluctant” occupiers, forced to play cop in a world run amok. Or maybe we’re the ones running the world amok with our perpetual wars. Maybe if we cease playing Conquistador the world will be a more peaceful place. If so, we should cease occupying these and other countries. Most self-proclaimed liberals agree that we should withdraw our troops (instead of the current approach, which means claiming to withdraw them).

But if we withdraw, we won’t have access to enough oil and other “resources” to run the U.S. industrial economy. In fact, without an industrial economy based on war, unemployment would skyrocket. I’m betting most self-proclaimed liberals wouldn’t like that outcome any better than the ongoing occupation of foreign lands. We are all Tea Partiers now.

A line from Frederick Douglass comes to mind: “Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want rain without thunder and lightning.”


This essay is permalinked at Counter Currents, Running ‘Cause I Can’t Fly, and International Movement for a Just World

Comments 64

  • fix the education system by lowering taxes! – go figure

    Tea baggers = astro turf

    how come all the ‘grass roots’ movements have neocon agendas?

  • If it’s any consolation, Guy, we’re all in eh same boat (or very similar ones). And I belive one of two things will happen very soon. Either the economic bubble that constitutes much of the Chinese economy will burst and generate economic mayhem, or the resource wars that are being fought via currencies, precious metals and bond markets etc. will escalate into something much grimmer. It has to be one or the other.

    We have just experience ‘stolen elections’, by the way, with pro-corporate, pro-perpetual-growth-on-a-finite-planet candidates being installed throughout the country, just as required by the controllers.

    We’re pretty much out of options at this stage. Like you, just waiting for the guillotine to fall, not knowing whether it fall in the next three months, or whether we will have to endure another three years of the toxic culture.

    For anyone interested, my response the local situation is below:

    ‘we are in for 3 years of the same old same old’

    Not at all Peter. With the fiat currency system in collapse worldwide, the per capita energy supply declining since 1979, and now the absolute energy in decline (the latest analysis of natural gas supplies puts much of Europe falling off the cliff within three years), with one environmental catastrophe after another, and the collapse of the industrial food system on the cards at any time over the next ten years (but horrendous food price increases guaranteed as it staggers off the cliff), we most definitely will not get 3 years of the same old same old -other than the same old same old failure to address any of the issues of the times at either the central government level or the local government level. However, there will undoubtedly be the insane determination to press ahead with unsustainable growth via covering the last bits of agricultural land around the city with concrete and asphalt … thereby magnifying the catastrophe the next generation will have to deal with. (We are already in gross population overshoot in the district and heavily dependent on outside sources for most of the food consumed in the city, outside sources that are themselves dependent on a declining oil supply and falling water tables …. talk about interesting times!!).

    Most western nations, but particularly the Eurozone and the USA at this point of time. are in economic meltdown, as anyone with their eyes open knows, as their debt levels skyrocket and tax revenues decline. Everyone with any intelligence is now waiting for the Chinese bubble economy to burst, or for resource wars to escalate dramatically -it has to be one or the other.

    And, of course, the four greatest meltdowns of the Arctic region have occurred in the past four years, triggering ever faster global warming. But we won’t have to worry about the inundation generated by that for another decade or so. Undoubtedly the newly formed council will therefore encourage so-called development that will be under water in the not-too-distant future, so that somebody can make a fast buck now. And will call it ‘sustainable development’ -one of the greatest oxymorons ever coined. All this will be done under the guise of ‘reiteration of the district plan’.

    What we do know is that we have a tourism brochure as a community plan for the next next ten years -there is no mention of anything whatsoever pertaining to the future in any of the council ‘planning’ – so expect rate rises and austerity measures like never seen before, as it all melts down, both nationally and locally, and further wealth is transferred from the poorer sectors of the community to the ultra-rich, as per the covert fascist agenda (melding of corporate, government and military interests, as per Mussolini’s definition) now in place throughout the western world.

    Until the masses recognise events of 9/11 for what they really were, there really is no hope, I’m afraid. And even then, there probably is no hope: George Orwell’s prophetic novel ‘1984’, along with Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’, pretty much said it all long ago.

    The good news is that Taranaki will be one of the last regions to go under (due to its lowish population density and lack of ‘development’). The bad news is that delusions are likely reign supreme a bit longer here than elsewhere.

    If you have any doubts about anything I have written I can provide you with conclusive proof on all points.

    Kind regards


  • (using alternate email address now because my last couple of replies to Guy bounced)

    It was very interesting to watch Mike Huckabee interview Arianna Huffington on his Fox show yesterday. Huffington wrote a new book on Third World America, and she got a lot of things exactly right, though she does not connect the final dots of Peak Oil and Peak Everything.

    Huckabee wanted to blame government and debt for everything, but like other Republicans and Tea Party members he excludes military and war-oriented debt from his calculus and only rejects debt for social services. Until very recently (Obama Administration) we were already strangled in debt from our resource wars and heading down the hole towards self-extinction (read Chalmers Johnson).

    Moreover, Americans have become mentally sick with passion for consumption and lifestyle that they want everything without having to pay for it, meaning that they want wars of conquest paid for by our victims and they want mortgages they don’t qualify for with no downpayment and not even a reliable job! JH KUnstler commented on the whole securities/financial crisis this morning and pointed out that there should be no mystery in all of this and yet still the pundits on all the media seem flabbergasted as to why we are not already recovering into the past prosperity.

    I’m amazed at the latest symptom I have seen on television — all the shows on poker tournaments and winning “big” without really earning anything.

    This sickness will be fatal to our civilization. It cannot be otherwise. Reality is starting to bite hard, but we have built up so much exccess that we have to work through a bunch of fat to start getting to the bone. This is beginning to happen now and I am hearing more and more reports on the public radio of fifty-something workers who cannot find jobs for years on end and who are now living within the largess of friends and family. College graduates are in the same boat and the boat is headed for the larger population with every foreclosure, every shuttering of a restaurant or retail store, and every failure of a business, bank or public agency.

    The Tea Party people have a hazy view of the problem, but blame it on everyone but themselves and are pressing for the wrong solution. They should be pressing for a shutdown of wars of conquest and defunding the “War on Terror”. They should remove tax incentives for business to screw workers and should tax the wealthy until there are no more wealthy. They should stop admiring the rich and famous and start plucking them from their wealth and using the assets to fund public works projects that build infrastructure for the masses in the form of a strategic retreat from the past. Suburbia should begin to be abandoned and mass transit and comfortable housing arranged in defensible space. Urban gardening should be fully developed, making Houston more like Havana.

    People are going to start dying over this stuff pretty soon. The failure of finance will affect corporate agriculture and the food supply system, not to mention public health systems and eventually the electrical grid. If we contracted in a surrender from the worst of our excesses we could retreat to some modicum of safety.

    But we won’t as a society and thus we are doomed.

    And there is that word again.

    Nature Bats Last.

    Stan Moore

  • addendum to above:

    And Pacific Radio and the Left reveal their complicity in the ongoing fund drive. They urge people to support their LeftWing radio programs by borrowing if necessary so as to hear about the hypocricy of the Right. Borrowing money from your future to pay for the travel and retirement of Amy Goodman makes about as much sense as sending gift checks to Northrup Grumman to build more drones to take out Bin Laden.
    The whole system, Left to Right, needs to be starved to submission and replaced with something sustainable, honest and biased towards reality and not towards philosophy.

    Stan Moore

  • A sense of un-reality pervades. Those who see collapse coming cannot be heard by either those who tend right or those who tend left. Probably the easiest to convince is someone who dabbles in religious apocalypse. However their understanding of causes and likely outcomes would obviously not be the same as those of us who see it coming for economic and ecological reasons. There was a New Yorker Cartoon that captured the divide – I can’t find it on the web any more but here is synopsis

    Two placard wielders glaring at each other on a city street; titled “Turf War on 49th Street”:

    Placard 1: “The End is Near for Religious Reasons”
    Placard 2: “The End is Near for Ecological Reasons”

    For some humor in end times there are some more “end is near” cartoons at http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/e/end_is_near.asp

    I gave up being any sort of lefty activist when I realized that I wasn’t willing to live in a way that I thought was necessary to save the world from ecological disaster or to live on my fair share of the planet’s wealth. I didn’t feel I could preach what I wasn’t willing to do (and didn’t expect that anyone would listen anyway). Most who do preach leftist causes HAVE to believe that the world has more wealth than it does so they can justify their lifestyle while preaching to those a bit or a lot farther up in living standards.

    My own back of the envelope calculations for sharing the wealth is that each human now alive gets $8 a day, a big step up for 1/2 the world’s population, a unbelievable step down for most Americans. And yet that would only spread the wealth not reduce worldwide consumption.

    I live quite simply, but frankly I don’t want to give up what I do have and I don’t relish a crash. But if there is anything left to hope for it is that the extinction of species on this big beautiful planet will stop and in stopping perhaps save a remnant of humans to appreciate the planet and its denizens.

  • Kathy wrote:

    I live quite simply, but frankly I don’t want to give up what I do have and I don’t relish a crash. But if there is anything left to hope for it is that the extinction of species on this big beautiful planet will stop and in stopping perhaps save a remnant of humans to appreciate the planet and its denizens.

    We live in an information age, and there is so much spilled ink (or pixels these days) regarding our current predicament, much of it based on conjecture and mere opinion. The truly actionable part corresponds to what Guy has been saying for some time: make your preparations now. Most of the rest of us — and I’m utterly guilty of inaction — can diagnose and point fingers and wring hands, but it accomplishes very little. I’ll give props to Kathy for saying aloud what many of us think: we don’t want to give up anything. I will add that we will probably die in desperation for our lack of preparation, like so many other historical victims of famine and pestilence. I have strong suspicions that will happen no matter what. My objection is the magical hope that in the aftermath everything will be righted for the nonhuman part of the ecosphere. A more truthful prognosis is that it will wrecked for a long time to come because that’s what is now happening. The near lifeless Earth of Wall-E is far easier accomplished than its restoration through responsible stewardship.

  • Great Article Guy:-)

  • I don’t know if you can spend your life marinating in the consensus psychosis of the military-corporate state without absorbing its definitions of the world, its tropes, and its visions of the future.

    Assuming for the moment that you can, and that you take steps to get off the grid and build a self-sufficient doomstead, you can assume that your new circumstance will provide its own consensus psychosis, only with a smaller consensus. Smaller consensuses (consensi?) appear to require more rigid enforcement, which makes me shudder at any survivalist manifestos that even hint at tribalism.

    Inaction isn’t necessarily the worst alternative. Wrong action is, and we’re seeing that in the Tea Party right now. Let the Tea Party act on some of its tribal delusions, and you’ll see this country become a police state in short order. One of the jobs of a police state is to enforce consensus psychosis, no matter how decayed, no matter how much it grinds to pieces the people it’s supposed to cocoon, no matter how self-destructive it is in the long run (see the former East Germany).

    Another way to put this is that the death throes of a civilization cause extensive collateral damage. Preparation in the face of the coming financial and ecological breakdown is possible, but it’s also a good idea to have more than a passing acquaintance with Mr. Dumb Luck.

  • Brutus wrote ” My objection is the magical hope that in the aftermath everything will be righted for the nonhuman part of the ecosphere ”

    Well actually some days I think it would be best if the human species didn’t survive.

    I can’t prove this, but I suspect that our programs are so fine tuned to being hunter-gatherers that our species will feel more right in some way when forced back into that lifestyle. I know even hunter-gatherers have ruined ecosystems. But after that they were in some cases forced by the environment that they had depleted to find a balance with the rest of their environs. Perhaps we are creating a world safe for our kind, ie one that is so ruined that we have to put all our energies into just survival and have nothing left for “technology” or war.

    But if that is what it takes to keep us in check, maybe the world is better without us. But without us who is there to appreciate the world. On the other hand the rest of nature doesn’t care whether it is appreciated or not. So I remain ambivalent of whether to hope collapse saves our species or hope that it wipes it out…..

  • I say the Tea Party gang will really start to panic when they lose their ability to make small purchases on their credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, etc.) The mortgage crisis is festering into an eventual fall of consumer credit as those speculative investments no longer bring in any return at all and the system implodes. Someone might look up and wonder why Rand Paul felt that regulation of the marketplace was so bad, and good old Rand might get his curly-cew forelocks taken as a scalp in the old Shawnee way. All politicians will be despised and feared, whether they are left, right, donkey, elephant or orange pekoe.
    And most of them will deserve it, except for Dennis Kucinich and one or two others.

    Stan Moore

  • I have to disagree with some of the sentiments above.
    Last Friday I sailed in a ‘coutta’ boat around Port Philip Bay
    and then up the Yarra River past the shipping docks
    towards Melbounes CBD. I would give it all away (ie industrial
    civilisation) to have the same experience in an aboriginal bark canoe.

    Ah to see the same landscape unspoilt. To see now long extinct
    River Red Gums gracing the edge of the once numerous billabongs.

    The shipping docks of any city are brutal landscapes. We sailed passed
    huge container ships, with their plimsoll lines clearly visible. The rising AUD will do that to the economy. They come in loaded with cheap consumer goods and leave empty.

    I would give it all away in second, without hesitation.

    The 72 year old I sailed with (whom I had never met) sheepishly confessed to me he was not particularly optimistic about the future. These highly industrialized landscapes to tend highlight the brutality, the destructiveness and the linear wasteful nature of our consumer culture.

    Sailing can leave you invigorated and contemplative. The separation from the shore can deepen your realisations.

  • John, you wrote: ‘Let the Tea Party act on some of its tribal delusions, and you’ll see this country become a police state in short order.’

    Surely the US is already a police state. Some whould say it morphed into a police state around 1880, about the time most other western ‘democracies’ did. Jack London wrote about it in hte early 1900s. Prior to that most nations were military states headed by kings and queens, who used religion and taxation, plus vicious enforcement as necessary, to keep the general populace subservient.

    Okay, there is not overt fascism, as seen in Germany in the 30s and 40s, or the totalitarianism of North Korea, but sureely the prime fucntion of the ‘security forces’ is to maintian the heirarchical power structures that allow the finacial-military-industrial complex to operate. In other words they spend much of their time enforcing laws that destroy the future. How long would you last if you did something seriously threatening to the agenda of the empire? At WTO demonstrations they shoot to kill, just as they did during the Vietnam protests.

    The great irony I see is that those engaged in propping up the empire (which now encompasses much of the world) either actively -such as through military service, or drilling for oil- or passively -simply by purchasing stuff they do not need- are sabotaging their own futures and their own children’s futures. But try telling them that.

  • Kevin, I agree that you can put western democracies on the same spectrum that includes North Korea and East Germany and contemporary China, but what I called the consensus psychosis–maybe a gentler term would be consensus reality–isn’t yet threatened in the western democracies. When it does get threatened, by a currency collapse or a defeat in a war, then the gloves come off, the rule of law goes out the window, and your reality and mine become matters for investigation and correction.

    I’m being pretty abstract here, but my quite practical fear is that living off the grid will become criminalized simply because it’s sane. We could spend lots of time arguing the finer points of sanity, but I think we’d agree that a civilization based on debt-financed consumption, endless war, and resource destruction is batshit crazy.

    That said, that same civilization has allowed for pockets of sanity and free thought, one of which is this website.

    The problem I have with the Tea Party is that a good many of its members seem poised for mob violence without having given much thought to its consequences. Eric Hoffer did a pretty good job of dissecting those consequences on a personal level in The True Believer, which remains a good book in spite of its racialist digressions.

    If this country sees the breakdown of its current hierarchy, I have no doubt that the future will continue to be destroyed by whomever climbs to the temporarily vacated top of the pyramid. The players change, but the play goes on. For the moment, I value the protection of a halfway-intact constitution, however tattered and soiled it has become.

  • if one told the average person for a dollar with the promise that the peson would ultimately get back a quarter (or less), there would be no deal. But since the route by which they get the quarter back is so circuitious, the masses do not see the deal for what it is, nor do they make the connection between the quarter they demand and the dollar they forfeit.

    But charade of industrial civilization will be continued for as long as possible.

  • “Taranaki will be one of the last regions to go under (due to its lowish population density and lack of ‘development’)” Looking at Google Maps the distance from hte main island seems less than 20 miles, which could be easily traversed by boatloads of migrants.

    “Huffington wrote a new book on Third World America”.

    John Michael Greer had a post on the ArchDruid Report

    Becoming a Third World Country

    “JH KUnstler commented on the whole securities/financial crisis this morning”:

    Bank Shot

    “There was a New Yorker Cartoon that captured the divide – I can’t find it on the web any more”:

    Turf War on West 49th Street

    Speaking of the end, the old joke goes “Why is proctology such a professionally satisfying specialty?” – “Because the patients get well in the end”.

    “One of the jobs of a police state is to enforce consensus psychosis…….”

    In uncertain times. dissensus is perhaps more important:
    Dissensus and Organic Process

    “I value the protection of a halfway-intact constitution, however tattered and soiled it has become.”
    The constitition is like a dressing applied to a cancerous tumor, the state. On the dressing it is written “You are forbidden to grow”. The proper treatment is to cut the tumor out altogether.

    And both Dmitry Orlok and John Mcthael Greer believe that the uS of A is to be replaced by a number of smaller administrative units.

  • John: It is interesting to debate these points, even though we really don’t know how it will turn out ….. other than very different from naything we have now, and decidedly grimmer. (Just been reading about Haiti 9 months after the quake).

    You wrote: ‘consensus psychosis–maybe a gentler term would be consensus reality–isn’t yet threatened in the western democracies’. Definitely psychosis; I’m in favour of only using the word reality in conncetion with things real, otherwise we end up tied in knots!

    Actually there are indicatons things are close to breaking point in several so-called developed nations around the world -Iceland, Ireland, Greece obviously come to mind, and despite the rhetoric that cones from mainstream media, even Japan looks to be in very bad shape.

    ‘living off the grid will become criminalized simply because it’s sane.’
    That seems to be pretty much how it is in much of China at the moment, as villages where people live sustainably are bulldozed to make way for factories and tower blocks.

    But surely everyone, wherever they live on this planet (other than perhaps the ultra-rich and a few inventive people in isolated locations) will eventually end up ‘living off the grid’ because the grid, like everything connected with the western way of life, is unsustainable, being dependent on radily rapdily depleting fossil fuels. As I see it, the only question are; how quickly it will all collapse, and how messy will the transition be?

    Ten years ago it looked as though we’d be in deep trouble by 2010-2012. But now it seems likely we will have until 2013-14 before things start to get really grim throughout the ‘rich world’. Needless to say, the more energy that is put into fighting wars, the faster the ship goes down. As I understand it, the US military is the biggest single consumer of energy and resources on this planet. Unfortunately, humanity does not have a good record when it comes to avoiding war as a means of conflict resolution or resource distribution.

  • Dear Kevin Moore,

    Every time a friend like you has shown me a new example of what our finest ancestors could see that would be occurring in our time, I am reminded of the remarkable number of splendid people throughout our history who raised their voices loudly….. who tried to let us know. Of course, as these great human beings with feet of clay knew all too well, the powers that be, the self-proclaimed masters of the universe in our time would complete the work of the greedy kings who came before them… the little kings (named by Ozymandias) would set the stage for the final act, unless, of course, we choose a different way f i n a l l y – – – b e f o r e i t i s t o o l a t e.



    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001

  • This discussion brings to mind a line from H.L. Mencken: “The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it.”

  • Dear Guy McPherson,

    We are fiddlin’ while the Earth begins to burn, are we not?

    Your words remind me to mention a quote of Oliver Cromwell, which I would like to direct to the main actors in the Tea Parties: ” I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”



  • A song that Tea Party members will be increasingly familiar with — from the “old” Great Depression and increasingly applicable in the new
    Great Depression:

    Stan Moore

  • And another Depression song — (and in the US, including Arizona, word is that even the illegal immigrants have the blues now and are longing for home) …


    Stan Moore

  • I think it might be useful to think about the Chilean miners and their recent situation as a model for what could have happened in their underground lair, what did not happen, and what did.

    When the miners discovered that they were trapped underground and the world above did not know their plight immediately, they could have utterly panicked and set against each other, with immediately catastrophic consequences. Fortunately, they seemed to benefit from the wise leadership of the shift supervisor who calmed the miners, rallied their spirits and took practical steps to keep them alive while working on notifying the people above and eventually leading to rescue.

    Obama has done some of this, but not all of it. Obama has done a credible job of keeping people calm and not panicking. But he has done so without resorting to truths he knows but which he is deliberately withholding from the masses. And Obama, instead of equitably distributing resources to the masses, has deliberately staged a survival plan for the few at the expense of the many. He transferred wealth from the (already abused) mortgate holders to the finacial elite who engineered bubbles inside of bubbles inside of other bubbles with themselves guaranteed to benefit when the bubbles popped.

    And, as Michael Hudson pointed out on Counterpunch once again, the US Government and Fed have printed up trillions of dollars of paper wealth that were transferred once again to the elite to allow them to buy up real assets until a critical tipping point is reached at which the paper assets will be worthless, but the titles to the real assets will be firmly in the hands of the beneficiaries of this largess. This is the ultimate in corruption and is designed to guarantee survival of those few.

    Obama is the inverse of the shift supervisor, whose goal was the survival of those men who depended on him. Obama is out to leverage the dependency of his supporters into survival of the elite and of himself while deceiving the supporters into calmness when they should be in revolt.

    And Obama is very good at this form of deceit. This is his supreme talent, and only a few of us saw it in him from the very beginning.
    I saw it and said it while many were judging him on the color of his skin and making the utterly wrong analysis that Obama offered a bit of hope to the oppressed. Only in their dreams.

    A new book called “The Mendacity of Hope” seems to have figured this out, as I heard an interview of the author on public radio. The author identified Obama’s deceit, but predicts he will win re-election in the next presidential campaign — such is the power of self-delusion and the likelihood of self-extermination of the terminally blind.

    Stan Moore

  • below are some of the review of “The Mendacity of Hope” by Roger Hodge as copied from the Amazon website:


    Editorial Reviews
    “The Mendacity of Hope should help wake up all those Obama-voters who’ve been napping while the wars escalate, the recession deepens, and the environment goes straight to hell.” (Barbara Ehrenreich )

    “Hodge calls for revitalization of the founding tradition of civil virtue and republican values of liberty, a message that should be taken to heart if we are to reverse the drift towards an ugly future.” (Noam Chomsky )

    “Roger Hodge has written a desperately needed expose of how Barack Obama is not the messiah of liberalism but its designated gravedigger. . . . This is a blazing indictment of corporate collusion and a bracing injection of hard truths.” (Naomi Wolf )

    “An eloquently sober indictment of the corruption which impels the self-aggrandizement of our executive branch, much to the bane of our Constitution. A frightening book whose conclusions ought to haunt every American.” (William T. Vollmann )

    “Ready to wake up from the Obama dream yet? If so, this thrillingly scathing and relentlessly truthful cri de coeur is your strong cup of coffee. ” (Naomi Klein )
    Product Description
    A fearless and incisive manifesto that exposes the real causes of President Obama’s failure to enact liberal reform, by the former editor of Harper’s Magazine

    Americans find themselves in genuine confusion and dismay concerning the actions of President Obama’s administration, especially when it comes to the financial crisis and health care. Obama’s reform packages, passed with great fanfare, ignore the most significant perils facing the United States. In The Mendacity of Hope, Roger D. Hodge makes the provocative case that substantive reform was never even on the table. Behind the euphoria of Obama’s victory was in fact a business-as-usual corporate machine, a bloc of political investors, campaign contributors, and lobbyists expecting big returns on their investments. And what a return they have received: in one bailout after another, for the health insurance industry as well as for Wall Street, Obama made sure that the Democratic Party’s most powerful investors made out like bandits.

    None of Obama’s most important campaign promises—ending the Iraq war, abolishing torture, closing GuantÁnamo, changing Washington’s culture of corruption—has come to pass. Instead, he has escalated the conflict in Afghanistan, bailed out the bankers, and institutionalized the civil rights abuses of the Bush regime.

    Another president might have played the forces of corporate interest differently, but Hodge argues that the fantasy of American politics is that a different kind of president is possible without a fundamental reform of our political system. Americans bought into the delusion that one man could bring change to Washington, but instead of reform we’ve seen a continuation of George W. Bush’s assault on the Constitution. Obama’s presidency has demonstrated that mere hope is never enough, that change will come only when the American people take charge of their own politics. A brilliantly crafted call to arms, The Mendacity of Hope offers an essential analysis of the American political system and the powerful interests that control our government.

  • Guy, I trust you have read the last three posts to The Automatic Earth. Looks like it will be the mortgage fraud that finally brings the system to a halt. I’m going to Abington, VA to pickup my team of Suffolk Punch draft horses tomorrow, and I’m excited about getting them.

  • For those of you that don’t read The Automatic Earth, Ilargi is calling us all Zombies, which is worse then being Tea Partyers….Systemic crash is coming much sooner than most realize, and time to get ready is growing short. Welcome back to 1920.

  • If Obama had been like the shift foreman in Chile, within a week of his inauguration he would have had a “fireside chat” with the American people and the people of the world to set the framework for survival. He would have introduced the topic of Peak Oil and introduced books for further reading such as Richard Heinberg’s “The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrialized Society” and “The Long Emergency” by James Howard Kunstler.

    He would have introduced the 2000 policy paper by the Neoconservative Project for the New American Century that highlighted the pending geopolitics of energy and the need for a “new Pearl Harbor-like event” to catalyze public support for resource wars to strategically control Persian Gulf oil and strategic oil routes across western Asia. Obama would have initiated a real, honest investigation of 9/11/2001 and shown that the official accounts could not be true and that there is great evidence that it was an inside job to pave a new paradigm for permanent resource wars and American acceptance that wars against terrorism were defacto procedures to victimize other nations and use military force to quell their responses to our preemptive resource wars and wars of conquest.

    Obama would have pointed out that for years there has been class warfare in progress, primarily from the top down as the elite manipulate government, media, industry, commerce and the military to parcel out vast wealth to themselves and just enough wealth to enough others to make the system run. Obama would make clear that equity would be the foundation of democracy under his presidency and urge the public to demand equity and he would enact all sort of structural changes to disempower the elite and raise a real democracy in America.

    Obama would have allowed institutions considered “too big to fail” to fail and waved good riddence. He would have crushed the private insurance industries and the securities and finance industries and instituted national banks (after getting rid of the Fed) to loan money directly to business to the benefit of the taxpayer and the public treasury.

    And, of course, the first assassination attempt would have occurred during that first speech, but if he survived, he could have pretended that he had the chutzpah of Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro and gotten to work on behalf of the people.

    Alas, this was never part of the plan…

    Stan Moore

  • Stan: Surely the most pertinent aspect is that the vast majority of Americans, or Canadians, or Australians or people of any other western nation for that matter) would never think of looking beyond what is offered as news and commentary by the corporate media. The word zombie was refered to in an earlier post.

    Gold is close to $1400 now, having been rising at an accelerating rate, arguably symptomatic ever faster loss of faith in fiat currencies and/or currency wars. Interesting as that is, it’s the likely to be the price of corn that will ‘kill’ the greater part of the industrial food system.

    I believe the most common response to any alarm is to wait to see whether it is a malfunction or a practice. Only when an alarm is accompanied by physical evidence of flames/ a tsunami/ a falling building etc., or by someone actually telling them to move, do ordinary people respond. Without clear direction from ‘authority’, 20% formualte an escape plan while the other 80% rush about aimlessly or freeze up altogether.

  • Randy, your getting Suffolk Punch draft horses is exciting. I just looked up the breed on the web. What a handsome horse. Its not just that you are making yourself more self sufficient, you are also entering into a relationship with these animals. Many humans find much pleasure in relating to their animals, and I can only imagine that a horse/human team will be a joy – hard work for sure. But in the midst of preparing for crash it is good to remember that some kinds of work are a joy in themselves.

    I can’t say we “work” with our chickens, but we do strongly relate to them and they are a joy. Because we have crossed in some game blood into our barnyard mutt flock, some will be quite hardy when we aren’t able to pamper them anymore. But whatever comes down the line, whether or not they or we avoid untimely deaths, the pleasure of having them now is what matters most.

    Look forward to hearing more about your horses.

  • Perry Arnett appears to be the Matt Savinar of New Zealand. His Peak Oil website is at oilcrash.com

    Back in 2007 Perry made a prognostication that bears review:


    I think he was pretty astute in 2007 to see the mass printing of money to create illusory paper wealth. His timeline is scary now that we are getting pretty close to 2012 and the days of brownouts and blackouts are surely getting closer.

    Somehow I see a discrepency between the Peak Oil theory of collapse and the Obama/Republican/Democrat/Tea Party unified goal of perpetual growth. I think that collapse will itself grow until it sucks under our civilization into the dustbin of history. I think Arnett was correct in ihs prediction that e’er long Las Vegas, Nevada will retreat back into the desert. Maybe the sun-bleached carcass of entrepeneur Steve Wynn will one day welcome marauding American Bedouin to the remnants of the old Empire of Sin in the Sun.

    Not pretty, and I also believe that the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s EBird program will have as much relevance as Cornell’s “rediscovery” of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker a few years back. The Ivory-bill has as good a chance of re-emergence as the EBird program or the City of Las Vegas as we have known it.

    Stan Moore

  • Stan, Perry is following pretty closely Richard Duncan (Olduvai Theory) timeline. http://www.hubbertpeak.com/duncan/OlduvaiTheorySocialContract.pdf
    I think that it is pretty accurate, except that depression might keep the plateau going a bit longer than 2012. I also think that although the energy available in 2030 might be the same as in 1930, the world will look nothing like 1930. A world of rising fortunes and expectations (and population) is vastly different than a world of lost fortunes, declining population and no expectation that anything will go anywhere but down.

    Duncan thinks the collapse of industrial civilization will be possibly caused by the collapse of the electric grid. I expect that the two will interact, less oil and a declining economy will mean less infrastructure repair (the red sludge in Hungary is probably just a foretaste of all the infrastructure collapse we will experience). But the grid is something unique. Whenever it finally goes down for good it will mean that whatever oil and coal etc is left in the ground will be left. We no longer can even pump gasoline for our cars without electricity and we know long have the infrastructure that made stuff without electricity in place. Without it how will we replace it. Of course we could start now while we have it, but we won’t and pretty soon we won’t be able to.

    And then there are the nukes. Will the countries that have them dismantle them? Or will they play last man standing, hoping that someone is standing at the end? Or will they play last man standing refusing to let anyone stand if they don’t?

    So if we want to prepare for this uncertain future, it makes sense to do it in a way that brings joy now. Guy his goats, Randy his draft horses, us our chickens, and right now a tree frog chirping somewhere out in the woods. Meanwhile out to water what is left of the garden. Our part of Alabama is in severe drought, not to mention the long long heat wave we had this summer. Some say that AGW will make Alabama a desert too and this year has convinced me that that may well happen.

  • Stan: thanks for highlighting the Perry Arnett article.

    However, I must point out that http://www.oilcrash.com is not his website. It was set up around 8 years ago (one of the first) by Robert Atak, who put thousands of dollars of his own money and thousands of hours of personal energy into warning society of the effects of Peak Oil, so that society could prepare.

    Robert kindly linked numerous articles and letters I and others wrote on the topics of resource depletion and environmental collapse.

    Sadly, the Orcs have won. It made no difference whatsoever.

  • Kevin Moore, why do you put the date of final collapse in 2013/14? If the industrial economy is going to run on fumes somehow until then, my plans would change significantly. I’d be curious to know your reasoning.

  • Kathy,
    I quit my job and ended my career as an intelligence officer at the Department of Homeland Insecurity so that I could enjoy life on a small farm in SW Virginia. I knew that the system was flawed, but didn’t leave to survive collapse but to enjoy life. I realized last summer (2009) that I needed to really pull down operating expenses and increase sales if I was to survive. It was that process of research that led me to the Olduvai Theory and the realization that I needed to look to the past if I wanted to live with some comfort in the future. The horses are a part of that process of moving away from the industrial model to that which is self-sustaining. The reality is that most of us have no idea what being totally on our own will mean and it is going to be very difficult. In the mean time, I will enjoy life. It was a beautiful day to drive to Abington, VA to pick up the two mares and I am looking forward to learning how to work them. I am also glad I have a 60 year old with 40 years experience in draft horses to teach me how. In that I consider myself fortunate.

  • Kevin Moore, I’m with Jeremy. Let’s ignore the moral imperative of the way we live our lives — most people are perennially unconcerned about that issue — and focus on economic collapse. I’m having a difficult time seeing how the industrial economy will survive the collapse of its reserve currency (now approaching historic lows), the ongoing financial collapse, tranche warfare in CRE, the mortgage fraud scandal, the debt market’s stripping the U.S. of its triple-A rating, and the Ponzi scheme of QE 2. How do we get from this economic disaster to 2013?

  • Jeremy and Guy.

    Why 2013/20114? Because Sarah Palin will have been president for a year or so by then, and no system could endure much more than 18 months of Sarah Palin.

    Joking aside, I have been aware of resource constraints, the need for wise use of energy, and population overshoot since the 1970s, but first became fully aware of the effect Peak Oil would have on western society around the year 2000, after reading Campbell and Laherrere ‘The End of Cheap Oil’. In ‘Burn Baby Burn’ (which also highlighted the likelihood of a largely uninhabitable planet if CO2 emissions were not adddressed) I suggested the crunch time for western societies would be 2012-2015, largely on the basis of Campbell and Laherrere’s work.

    From 2004 to 2006 Matt Savinar and Matt Simmons, along with the ‘End of Suburbia’ team and a few others, were sounding the alarm for serious problems before 2010, largely in the basis of lack of knowledge of the extraction capabiliites of Saudi Arabia, while Chris Skrebowski seemed to happy stick with 2012-15.

    Whilst we can now recongnise much of the mayhem that has occured since 2007 is energy related, it has become apparent that ‘the powers that be’ have many tools for keeping the lid on the truth, for manipulating the markets, and for propping up [in the short term] that which is unsustainable in the even medium term, let alone the long term.

    One way of looking at it that we are in year 417 of a system with a life expectancy of 420 years + or- 3 years.

    When I was interviewed in 2007, I indicated three strategies in order of preference:

    a) an informed community that is preparing for the inevitable
    b) a barbed-wire-defended fortress
    c) run for the hills.

    In practice we now know that a) is not possible (since the powers that be do not want an informed community, and most people can’t be bothered anyway), and b) is more of a pipedream than a reality. That leaves c), which I am currently contemplating, but not acting upon.

    Surely, the key is to be prepared for anything and be surprised by nothing.

    I agree Guy; we have given it are all, as far as waking up the zombies is concerned, and have got almost nowhere. There really is no moral imperitive to do any more. The forces of Darwinian selection are going to start operating in the western world in the not-too-distant future, presumably commencing with the obese who are adicted to television and fast food…..(‘Fat men can’t hunt’). Only a few, by luck or wisdom, will get through the bottleneck.

    At this stage in the ganme it would seem wise for anyone under the age of 60 to devote the major part of one’s efforts to self-preservation, while using this forum to maintian one’s sanity in a world gone completely mad.

    Whether one believes anything in the Bible or not, what we are witnessing certainly corresponds with worship of mammon and narcisism taken to the extreme -some kind of ‘End Times’.

    As far as energy supplies go, there is still a large amount of fat to be trimmed in wesern economies, and I believe it would be possible to run the essential components of most economies on half the oil currently being squandered. The real issue is not the decling oil supply but the lack of political will to do anyting constructive. Some would say policies that will cause massive die-off are being deliberately implemented.(As far as the government of NZ is concerned, The Rugby World Cup 2011 is the number one priority, eclipsing everything else. A few years ago it was America’s Cup yachting). Others would say it’s all just am inevitable consequence of souless corporations being in control of most economies. We do know there will not be any managed descent: the time for that was in the Carter era.

    The word collapse is a little dangerous in that there are so many very different forms. We can think of an almost instantaneous collapse, such as the demolition job done on the World Trade Center buildings, or the collapse of a coral reef, which may take decades.

    All one can do is be prepared for a financial meltdown after the US November elections, and if it doesn’t happen look upon that as a great bonus which will allow a little more time for preparation or adjustment of one’s mental state.

    We can be certain that nothing will get any better within the paradigm of empire. But we need to look upon collapse/meltdown/descent as our friend and welcome it, since, as has been said so many times before, the longer the current system prevails, the worse it will be for everyone in the future.

    In the meantime, keep watching the commodity prices. They are agruably the best indicators of how quickly you money is being devalued.

  • I have not kept up with Jay Hanson, who founded the website dieoff.org and did a lot of work, not only on energy issues, but on human psychology and culture. Jay predicted nuclear war and probably extinction, but I think he has somewhat moderated his views. I joined one or two of his blogs but got kicked off because I had the audacity to challenge some of his ideas and he and his sycophants could not stand him being questioned.

    However, I think his basic analysis is sound and in recent months he has added to the Dieoff.org website some informative little animation films that tell different aspects of the story. There is a lot of very useful older stuff on the website, including early Duncan Olduvai Theory, stuff by Tainter and Catton and other thinkers who need to be kept firmly in mind.

    The cautionary tale that I would emphasize right now is that the mechanics of collapse and the details are of less importance than the point that collapse is imminent and unavoidable on the civilizational scale. It is a big world, and some will prosper while the masses contract into desperation. Some growth can occur in small areas and remember always that it is the sworn duty of politicians and media to deceive all the people all the time. If we are not deceived, it is not because they are not trying.

    And it is sad and pathetic to see so many good-hearted people utterly deceived by the Obama phenomenon. Bush pushed us towards disaster until he lost credibility and mojo, and now Obama is pushing us even further in the same direction, while being cheered on and gushingly admired by Bush haters who are as bamboozled by Obama as Kansas wheat farmers were by Bush and are now by the Tea Party. The elite have created these opposing political forces designed to misdirect the public into looking everywhere for solutions but to the truth, which they keep well-hidden for the sole purpose of self-interest of the few.

    Soon it will boil down to survival and an involuntary cull of the population will begin.

    One last point I would make is that the failure of our culture is being engineered from the top down. And incompetence at all levels of professionalism is profound. Sadly, the failure of the grid will tend to destroy forever a lot of recently accumulated human knowledge in the sciences and literature, etc. because the storage of data has shifted dramatically from print libraries to electronic data storage. Many of the science journals are now in e-files only, including ornithology and biological science, which I am interested in. I had a contact with the director of the Ornithological Council not long ago and she lamented the ability of the ornithological societies to stay afloat financially in these perilous times and she continues to ignore my cautions about the larger perils we face. When the grid does collapse (and it will), all those journals and all those electronic medical records of the public that industry has heavily promoted will be gone forever. And I won’t even be able to get into the local Safeway store to use my WIFI-enabled laptop computer because the doors are electric.

    And yet the world is still to busy and distracted to be saved and in a hurry to destroy itself.

    Go figure…

    Stan Moore

  • Randy, glad you stepped into a different world. We do enter difficult and uncertain times. I am glad you have someone to help you with the horses. So few in the developed world will have anyone at all to turn to for help as we have treated the knowledge of our grandparents as irrelevant and most of the grands who knew how to live off the land are gone now anyway.

    I don’t expect that we will last long after the grid goes down – we are 62 and 72 so it doesn’t matter as much to us as it does to younger folks. But I have enjoyed some of the small things that I learned as I realized life was going to get harder. For instance I have learned a number of native edible plants. Right now it just gives me pleasure to see the chickweed popping up in the garden. Such a delicate little seedling and delicate looking plant yet hardy enough to survive our freezes. Big smile on my face when I saw the first clump sprouting. Great eating for us and the chickens.

    At any rate if anyone is interested and can get it there is movie made in 1925 that shows people making it in incredible circumstances – it is called Grass A Nation’s Battle for Life. We got it on Netflix – might as well watch some flics while we can :) It is also available on the web although the quality is not as good http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2106710135490349055# The beginning is a bit slow but at about 14 mins they start their preps for their journey

    “The film is Merian C. Cooper, Ernest Schoedsack, and Marguerite Harrison’s documentation of their journey from Angora (modern-day Ankara, Turkey) to the Bakhtiari lands of western Iran, in what is now the western part of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province and the eastern part of Khuzestan. They then follow Haidar Khan as he leads 50,000 of his people and countless animals on a harrowing trek across the Karun River and over Zard Kuh, the highest peak in the Zagros Mountains. ” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grass_(1925_film)

    I think I remember the animals numbering about 200,000 – crossing the river is one of the stunning scenes – they use goat skins to make inflatable floats for the herders to use to get the animals herded across a rather wide and somewhat swiftly flowing river. Humans working together trusting the wisdom of their elders did pretty incredible things

  • It appears to me that people are beginning to get used to discussing the overpopulation of Earth, despite conspicuous resistance to discussions of this kind. For a moment imagine that human overpopulation of the living Earth is like a live human organism with lung cancer. Please note that although it is exceedingly difficult to talk about “the big C”, it is much more demanding to speak out about the cause of the lung cancer: smoking tobacco products. Similarly, despite the challenges we have to speaking out loudly and clearly about the skyrocketing increase of absolute global human population numbers during my lifetime, it is much more difficult say anything about what might be causing global human population growth. Of course that brings us to human population dynamics. This is the last of the last taboos, I believe. The denial of the science of human population dynamics appears to me as one of the most colossal failures of nerve in human history. The abandonment of intellectual honesty and moral courage is unconscionable.

    One day human population dynamics will become a topic of open discussion in many places, that is certain. When that time comes, I trust it is not too late to make a difference in the lives of our children, who are probably going to be unimaginably victimized not only by our arrogance and greed but also by our cowardice.

    After all, as Lester Brown reminds us now, civilization’s foundation is eroding. He and we pay careful attention to the human-induced symptoms of what ails us and report them everywhere; but when will we examine the possible causes of the ailment itself and report findings of what appears to be a non-recursive biological problem? If the human overpopulation of Earth is the problem, when is extant scientific evidence of human population dynamics to become the object of rigorous scrutiny, careful analysis and professional reports?

  • Kathy, I know what you mean about the drought. Here in south Mississippi, we’ve only had one good downpour in the past two months. That, combined with the unseasonably warm temperatures, has created a potential tinderbox in our neck of the Piney Woods. (And good luck with your chickens! We started our mini-flock of 4 Dominiques this year, and I hope to add 2-3 more pullets next Spring.)

    Stan Moore, your comments on Campephilis principalis make me sad, though I know them to be true. I’ve dreamed of seeing a live Ivory-bill since I started birdwatching as a kid. It is possible, however unlikely, that the species is hanging on somewhere, and the eventual result of the ongoing Collapse may give them the peace and space they need to rebuild their populations. It’s a fool’s hope, but we all suffer from that to some extent, yes?

    Steven Earl Salmony, I understand your point of view, but will not Collapse (as outlined by Guy and others here) necessarily solve the problem of overpopulation? Or do you see the overpopulation problem as an issue that will, if addressed first, solve the problems of Peak Oil and AGW and corporate fascism as a matter of course?

  • Randy we have 7 horses in our upper pasture now that belong to a farmer that lives down the road. There seems to be alot of draft in the mix. I’ve seen these horses standing in their pasture with 3 inches of snow on their backs. Hearty stock to say the least. This farmer knows things are going to get worse, which is why he keeps them around.
    I had another ahah moments yesterday when we received our shipment of camassia quamash. Popular name would be wild hyacinth. The Indians used to eat it like a potato, and you can also make bread out of it, dry it and store it for the winter. It propogates through the bulbs and by seeds. These bulbs are no bigger than a large marble. There used to be fields of these out west, but not anymore. It makes me wonder what the people who think they are going to be hunter/gatherers are going to do. What used to be there, is all gone. On our 34 acres there were some black walnuts, and white oak, an apple and a pear tree, and a couple of wild grape vines. We’ve planted Carpathian Walnuts, Chinese Chestnuts, nut pines, and hundreds of berry bushes, some more fruit trees, sorrel, ramps….. It can come back, but it takes time, so if you choose C you might want to get going. Martin Crawford said that he felt that he could feed up to 11 people per acre with a mature forest garden. The wonderful thing is that Mother Nature seems to want to reward you for doing what’s right. Our first year here there were around 15 barn swallows, 3 years later there are close to 60. We now have 3 Baltimore Oriole pairs when we used to have none.
    I really enjoy the post here. Mine may not be so deep, but we have had experiences that probably are worth sharing.



  • Steven: As I see it, the banking sector (which effectively controls western society) is dependent on continuous expansion to maintian its Ponzi scheme. The easiest way to generate expansion is to have more people buying more stuff. Similarly, the easiest way for a government to raise revenue is to have more[young] people paying taxes. The easiest way for a local authority to raise money is to encourage the sale of land for housing and commercial development [for an increasing population], and collect permit fees and rates etc. Population growth is demanded by the system, just as increasing resource consumption is. Opportunists take advantage of the situation for short term gain. So I don’t think it is a ‘failure of nerve’ at all. It is a matter of policy in combination with opportunism. As long as the system is operated the way it is by the people who currently operate it, the requirement for population growth will continue -and hence anyone who opposes population growth will be marginalised.

    Add to that the ‘selfish gene’ requirement of individuals to maximise the transference of genes to the next generation and it’s easy to see that only very poor economic prospects, or outright starvation, equate population decline. (Though populations so messed-up by industrialism they are incapable of breeding seems to be an increasing factor … falling sperm production and defered pregnancy etc.). Meanwhile, there seems to be the perception in poorer countries operating at a more Darwinian level that a large family is the best insurance against poor economic prospects.

    As Christopher noted, Peak Oil (along with water depletion, soil loss etc.) will solve the populaiton problem. Indeed, there is much evidence we are hitting the wall right now.

    I have been saying for a number of years that there are really only two issues: how do we feed ourselves when the industrial food system goes into decline, and how do we prevent runaway warming rendering the planet largely uninhabitable a few decdes from now? Guy has been saying much the same thing. Few people seem to get it. And no government agency is the least bit interested. So it’s definitely ‘straight off the cliff’ for most people, some time over the next decade, depending on location.

    There are some very fortunate people contributing to this discussion who have acces to relatively large areas of land and are well advanced with their preparations. Most people (myself included) do not have access to much land and do not have the financial resources to make substantial changes to circumstances.

    The failure at all levels to prepare for what is coming within the next ten years (and possibly as little as three) suggests it is too late to worry about it. Indeed, some commentators suggest the only thing of importance will be the capacity to adapt (almost on a daily basis) to whatever happens next, just as as our ancestors did. I recall Guy being philisophical about possibility of eventually having to abandon his ‘mud hut’ when the time comes, which suggest that, psychologically, he is extremely well prepared. On the other hand, as many commentators have noted, the average person living in a western nation is arguably the least adaptable, the least self-sufficient in all of human history.

    Apologies for typing errors -late night, bleary eyes, typing too quickly etc. Robert Atack, not Atak, is a local heroic truth-teller.

  • Kevin, I don’t know how much land you have access to, but Rob has done an incredible job with a pretty standard plot here in the USA. No idea where he gets the energy, but he just keeps ticking along.


    Best Hopes,


  • Hi Ed. Around 1000 square metres at 39 degrees south, much of it still in lawn (though I have been working on reducing the lawn area since I arrived), which means reasonably high productivity from November to May, and then very little productivity from June to October. I planted over 100 fruit trees 4 years ago: some have come into production, some are still maturing. I know that puts me a long way ahead of most people (and anyone living in big city or in an apartment block in a small city really stands no chance at all, it seems).

    This city (50,000) has a substantial potential for food production which is not being developed, or even planned for -the plan is for the very reverse; more concrete and asphalt. So my pocket of sanity is one a small number in a desert of insanity, which does not bode well for the coming bottleneck scenario.

    By the way, Ron Resneck, ex-US citizen who shifted to Nelson and welcomed the fall of the empire, died last week. His desire was to see the collapse. But maybe he was fortunate not to.

  • The process of transformation started for us long before it became evident that things were really on their way to coming unglued. Not because I am really smart and saw all this coming, I only sort of did and it was not very specific. Our first attempt at living simply off the land was back in 1985 when we were first married and living off from “love” not knowing what it really took to make a living. Many years and various lines of employment passed but I never forgot about how much I loved fresh food and clean air and dark night skies.

    In January 2001, I came to the realization that I hated what I was doing, commuting back and forth from Fredericksburg, VA to Washington D.C. to write assessments that no one really cared about. So I started to dream, started to read books like Noel Perin’s “First Person Rural,” and such and it was then I made the decision that I had had enough and wanted to go back and farm again. It took four years to find a property in Floyd County, VA, sell our home at the height of the real estate bubble and finish out my career on a watch detail at NCTC. That ended in November 2007, just three years ago.

    Last year, as I was digging into the meaning of sustainable agriculture, I ran across a piece on Counter-Currents called “The end of Electricity.” That was a concern I worked on while at DHS (Department of Homeland Stupidity) and remained an interest because, after all, things would really go down the drain without the stuff.

    As a result of this article, I dug deeper to find the Olduvai Theory, Peak Oil, the growing financial crisis and Nature Bats Last. All these things have helped us focus on the realities of what is coming.

    This in turn changed our business plan as we shifted to production of more basic food stuffs and away from the high end farmers market products. We also decided to add draft animals (something I have wanted to do for 25 years) and purchased a horse treadmill to do some of the mechanical work on the farm allowing for the replacement of electric motors that use a lot of power to get started.

    Here is the treadmill we purchased (the horse is not ours) at Ferrum, VA this fall:

    We are continuing to work towards a level of self-sufficiency that will keep us alive, but given what is coming, I am not really sure how things will go. We are isolated in the mountains, but there are plenty of people around here who don’t get it and won’t.

    There are days I hope this all comes unglued during our winter, with lots of snow and cold. Under such conditions, most will die quietly in their homes. I know that sounds callus, but there will be little that can be done once the time comes and I really don’t get into rioting and martial law. Snow, ice and cold is really a good way to shut a society down that is so dependent on motor vehicles.

  • Oh, and just in case you think we have it all down, we still need to add eggs, birds, pork and wheat. We did dent corn this summer, open pollinated, and harvested about 1,000 lbs of ear corn. We did a garden this summer (as we do most summers for a very long time) but will try seed saving this year (for the first time). We still buy electricity, but we are working on getting off LP (install wood cook stove in kitchen) wood boiler in basement for heat). The most recent addition, the draft horses are replacing the tractors, (one has already been sold, the other soon to be listed.)

    The best news is that our 23 year old son has decided that his career field (industrial design) is bankrupt and he is staying here after graduation next spring. That makes these two 48 year olds very happy.

  • Randy, great news about your son (for you and him). No luck for us, but our kids are older and have already gotten to much invested in the status quo to bear looking at the cracks and the certainty that it is crumbling.

    I presume you know about the Seed Savers Handbook for specifics on various seeds. I have saved the easy ones (beans, peas, etc) but haven’t tried my hand yet at those that take a bit more care such as tomatoes.

    We got a heat cook stove for our little house (800 sq ft) called a Sheepherder – copied after designs used by – you guessed it sheepherders. It is VERY simple and that is one of the reasons I got it – less parts to break. The company makes a Big Bear version. http://www.transoceanltd.com/appliances/stoves/bigbear.html I got ours without glass windows again so there would be less to break. The Sheepherder wood box is quite small so on cold nights it doesn’t hold all night and it takes frequent stoking. On the other hand I use mostly small trees that I cut by hand with a bow saw and I could just use down wood of large kindling size if necessary (even more stoking).

    I found Bahco bow saw blades to be much better than other blades and have put in a “lifetime” supply. I put a tad of vaseline on the blade after use so they don’t rust (supply of vaseline on hand too)-lard would work of course.

    I am impressed with your corn harvest!! Hope it goes well and despite the hard work that you enjoy doing it together as a family.

  • Kathy, I have a very nice Mealmaster wood cook stove sitting in the kitchen waiting for a flue and an HS Tarm hot water boiler in the basement waiting to be installed, just need to make the time.
    As to your 30/40 something kids, in time they will listen and will likely want to move back in with maw and paw soon enough.

  • at the risk of being a hypocritical mental masturbation artist, i have a philosophical question for some, maybe all of u, and that question is this:

    if it’s wrong to own people, is it right to own other species of animals?

    i’ve fallen behind in reading this blog, am thus replying to posts from a couple days ago discussing various aspects/benefits of animal ownership. of course, guy has goats too. i eat flesh from animal victims of industrial agriculture, so i’m a huge hypocrite, apparently shameless and idiotic to boot. i just want to point out rationally that all life’s related, and that other species with brains and highly developed nervous systems experience emotions, pleasures and pains, and an inherent desire to live free. they’re more like us than is generally understood/acknowledged.

    putting aside my hypocrisy for the moment if u can, it’s hard to argue that respect for life and compassion for others, if these are to be guiding principles, can’t logically be limited to just humans.

    i come from a sheltered, privileged (as a human in a relatively wealthy,’developed’ place, who’s lived ‘high off the hog’ as a dependent/beneficiary of industrialized civ.) perspective that’s unrealistic/naive, perhaps. but at least in theory, it seems possible to live as a vegan, conscientiously respecting/valuing all species to the extent that we don’t view them as property or as utterly worthless, don’t engage in violence towards them except in self defense, and don’t engage in exploitive relationships of domination. we could also consciously limit our own numbers with contraception so as to avoid the need for competition/war to allocate nature’s limited sustainable bounty. arguably, such a culture would be as near utopian as possible.

    of course, the chance of this coming to fruition probably ever is about the same as we have now of avoiding catastrophic economic collapse and die off of civilized people around the world. not good, to say the least. i just wanted to toss the idea around, and confront what i view as destructive anthropocentricism, suggesting this may be the rotten spiritual core of civilization, the culture of human exceptionalism and attempted domination of nature/the planet.

    collapse and die off brings up a dilemma i’ve rarely if ever seen addressed by anyone else: the morality of trying to wake people up when their current welfare/happiness is dependent on continued ignorance. i’m thinking particularly of parents/grandparents tasked with childrearing. even if it was/is possible to educate them of the horror likely to visit current children if they live into mid century and beyond (some of u would argue for a quicker timetable), it’s a moral conundrum to do so it seems to me, for it makes clear the folly of child-rearing at this point in history, and could severely negatively impact it as a result of injecting despair into situations which call for hope.

    since we’re facing/acknowledging a ‘doom and gloom’ scenario, i have a hypothetical question: assuming a relatively severe die-off will be visiting currently wealthy, ‘developed’ areas of the world as it does now sporadically in places of the poor ‘undeveloped’ world, when do u suppose, on a rough timeline, that will be? i tend to place it later, than most of u, judging by what i read on this blog, perhaps out of denial/hope it holds off at least until i’m in my 80’s, roughly corresponding to 30-40 years out.

    what horrible, ghoulish, nightmarish stuff to contemplate. tis indeed a surreal world, nightmarish. absurd. tragic.

    p.s. kevin moore, i thought your response to steven salmony was spot on. openness, truth, and critical thinking get short thrift under current establishment, which is why some of us see a potential silver lining in civilization’s collapse. however, again, i wonder if your timeline for severe global warming is too soon. i think it’ll take centuries, not decades. economic/ecological collapse and resource depletion are more immediate concerns with die-off implications. absurd distinctions perhaps.

    u brought up another interesting point re. wishing to live long enough to see collapse well under way, and how such a wish may turn to regret in the actual event of doing so.

    the virgin terry

  • Virin Terry, I hear entirely your point. OTOH if you accept the proposition that that which exists today is the progeny of that which reproduced successfully (how can you not) then domestic animals have done spectacularly well. Of course environment (physical and other creatures) can change everything and when humans decrease the “advantage” of being domestic will lessen or cease (depending on how far humans fall). In the CAFO’s life is pretty gruesome, but small holders usually treat their animals better.

    Our chickens are protected from dogs, foxes etc by a 4 ft electric netting fence (which won’t help once the grid comes down). Most of our chickens by now have some game blood in them due to our crossing back and forth. Most would have no problem flying out. They seldom do and are anxious to get back in. They have a life of relative ease and some of our hens have lived a decade or more. We are greeted eagerly each morning by them and the rat terrier that lives with them. Some of the hens have further tamed themselves and although they free range during the day on an acre some will fly up on my arm.

    I am not justifying this. We also steal their eggs and behead some (mostly young roos that we are not keeping – the hens stay in much better shape if they are not being mounted and clawed all the time). But there is a way of thinking that says “choosing” domestication has resulted in more offspring and therefore was at least a temporary evolutionary advantage for those who did. There are certainly more horses in the world than zebras. Zebra’s never allowed domestication but the forefathers of our horses did.

    As will all evolution when the environs changes what is advantageous changes. Some dogs, hogs, chickens and cats have already demonstrated they can go feral. Any that do successfully will be somewhat altered by their stint in domestication.

    In our bodies are many other species, some helpful and probably essential (e-coli in our gut) some neutral, some harmful. Are they slaves of us. Are we slaves of them. The bacteria in the guts of cows are certainly essential to digesting grass. Are they slaves of the cows, or the cows slaves of them.

    I just don’t think the “slave” question is useful. If you choose to have domestic animals, treat them well seems enough of a dictum. Kill them for food from time to time. Do it as painlessly as possible. We all become food of something in the end. That is the way life works whether we like or not.

    I suspect our belief that we have “morals” is in fact an aid in using other species that are “lower than us”. I eat eggs and chickens. So do hawks. We are equals in our need for food from other plant or animal species.

  • Randy, I am very interested in what you are doing and it seems that others are too. I was wondering if you have ever considered writing a blog yourself? I have been toying with the idea of breeding suffolk punches for some years.It would be very valuable to see exactly what you are doing to become more self sufficent and how these horses meet the challenges ahead of them.

  • Kathy thinks for the link on the stoves. It might be just what we are looking for. The pricing is certainly attractive. You live in a pretty warm climate, so the fact that our walls are R51 and we’ve bermed the north and west walls may still make it work. We are zone 5.

    Randy you may have already seen, A Farm For a Future. If you haven’t you may like it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xShCEKL-mQ8

    Best Hopes,


  • Randy send us some photos of your horses please we are jealous
    This is Jill having a play with some Clydesdale’s

    We had a lot of fun, and if nothing else learnt it was a big job (read $$$) getting all the gear etc.
    I think ‘we’ will skip the horse power period on the way down, most horses will be eaten in the heat of battle … and lots are being destroyed now due to the massive financial commitment owning one now inflicts.
    It costs about 25 – 40 a week to graze a horse in the Wellington area.
    This is a new page I’ve just had added to my site … it looks like the New Zealand Govt has woken up? http://oilcrash.com/articles/wake_up2.htm …but then that was last week)

  • I thought this was a super, Guy! And I love the quote at the end.

  • Ed, one neat feature is that I believe all their stoves now have a way to bring outside air into the fire box. They first added to those for mobile homes but I think they do it for all now. It has a damper so you can control how much air comes in, but this means the stove is not using the air in your house for combustion. We think it burns better and makes the house less drafty, although with your insulation that might not matter. I ran a vent pipe from the back of the stove through the floor and outside (our house is on pillars). You don’t have to use it as you can just leave the damper closed and not pipe in outside air, but we like it.

  • We did something similar, putting a pipe from under the wood heating stove through the slab and up inside the wall to daylight at about 3′ above grade by the door, with a total run of about 9 feet. I plugged most of the outside entrance up as too much cold air was coming in – it worked too well.

    Wasn’t there a problem in the northeast a while back with houses being so tightly built their indoor air quality was going downhill during winter burning season? Burning anything uses up oxygen in the air too, so it’s a good idea to have some way for air to enter when air is leaving as hot combustion gasses.

  • Fuel shortages, civilian unrest and chaos in french streets.


  • Jean what is happening in Europe may happen here soon. Signs of the end times :( Here is another sign:

    I just read this this morning on Washington’s blog “April Charney – a consumer lawyer with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid – and CNBC’s Dennis Kneale noted in February 2009 that courts have found that some mortgages have been sold again and again to different trusts, when they should have only been sold once.” https://www.bp.com/sectionbodycopy.do?categoryId=9034366&contentId=7063636

    Gives you some idea of how inflated the money economy is compared to the real physical economy. Break a barely inflated balloon, it seeps out. Break a highly inflated balloon and kaboom!

  • http://newsecuritybeat.blogspot.com/2010/08/uk-royal-society-call-for-submissions.html

    Please respond to “the call” from the Royal Society. Your voice is will be helpful.

  • “With the exception of me, on the other hand, do you know anybody who will be happy when the fuel fails to show up at the filling station?”

    Yep, me.

    We’ve been working on sustainability way before it became fashionable.

  • kathy, can u spell h-y-p-e-r-i-n-f-l-a-t-i-o-n? visit inflation.us.

    i’m sorry i didn’t reply to your earlier reply to me. your points were well taken.

  • Take a look at the situation in France:


    Every day worse. 2,500 gas stations are dry. Tomorrow this number could climb to 4,000. Situation is running out of control in Paris and Marseille. If this goes on a little bit more, Sarkozy will use the army.

    I think that body counting in Europe is about to begin…

  • Helen and Kathy thanks. Unfortunately when you build with 6 inch concrete walls, any poke throughs after the fact just won’t happen. We put up some new pictures on our blog of the house. Currently at 30K in total costs. It really doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Happy to send the plans to anyone that wants them, and share costs if you are looking to budget. The plans are by an architect, but not stamped because here in NY State anything under 1500 square ft doesn’t require one. Just comment at the blog, and we will forward them.


    Jean, are the problems “just” a result of the retirement age being raised to 62 as it is being portrayed here in the US or is there a whole lot more to it than that?

    Best hopes,


  • “Jean, are the problems “just” a result of the retirement age being raised to 62 as it is being portrayed here in the US or is there a whole lot more to it than that?”

    It’s much more than that. About a 35% of population is unemployed, and rising. The law of retirement age has just been the last drop. The last year there were fuel shortages in Polinesia and Guyanne, but this is the first time we see this in metropolitan France (incidentally, I’m spanish, not french, but France is my second country for many reasons). Today, there are more than 4,000 gas stations out of service…

    Fule shortages are due to the demonstrators blocking refineries, yes, but government has allowed that because oil supply is NOT enough: that way, they can say: “look at those evil leftists, who are leaving us without gas”. Gas stations would be dry one way or another. Sarkozy has authorized the use of national reserves of oil, but it’s only enough for 3 months… beyond that point, chaos is inevitable, I’m afraid.

    Keep an eye on Paris and Marseille. That’s what we’re going to see in the rest of the world, shortly.