What are we fighting for?

In my latest essay in this space I mentioned two phenomena worth fighting for: the living planet and freedom based in anarchy. I surrender. I no longer believe the struggle matters on either front.

I no longer think we’ll save the remaining shards of the living planet beyond another human generation. We’ll destroy every — or nearly every — species on Earth when the positive feedbacks associated with climate change come seriously into play (and I’ve not previously considered the increasingly dire prospects of methane release from Antarctica or the wildfire-induced release of carbon from Siberian peat bogs).

The climate-change data, models, and assessments keep coming at us, like waves crashing on a rocky, indifferent beach. The worst drought in 800 years in the western United States is met by levels of societal ignorance and political silence I’ve come to expect. I would be stunned if this valley — or any other area in the interior of a northern-hemisphere continent — will provide habitat for humans five years from now. And climate change is only part of the story.

My trademark optimism vanishes when I realize that, in addition to climate chaos, we’re on the verge of tacking on ionizing radiation from the world’s 444 nuclear power plants. Let’s ignore for now the radioactive waste we’ve left lying around without a plan or already dumped into the world’s oceans. When we choke on our own poison, we’ll be taking the whole ship down with us, spewing a global blanket of radiation in the wake of collapse. Can we kill every single species on Earth? Apparently we’re willing to give it a try, and I will not be surprised by our “success” at this omnicidal endeavor.

Onto anarchy. Few people understand what it is, and even fewer support it. As a product of cultural conditioning, the typical American confuses anarchy with terrorism. Considering the near-term exit of Homo sapiens from this planet, it seems a bit ridiculous of me to express concern about living outside the absurdity that has become mainstream.

Color me non-judgmental. Continue to fuck the planet and our future, and see if I give a damn. Actually, saying we fucked the future without offering so much as a kiss, as I wrote back in January, is an insult to four-letter words everywhere. Minor efforts to sound the alarm, including my own, fade to insignificance when compared to the juggernaut of global imperialism. These efforts have long been irrelevant; it’s my awakening that is new.

And color me sad, of course, at the societal path we’ve taken. Swept up in the pursuit of more instead of better, we’ve become the waves approaching the rocky shore.

We had an opportunity to return to our tribal roots, as others have done when civilizations collapsed. Consider, for example, the survivors from the Olmec, Chaco, and Mimbres cultures, all of whom chose tribalism when civilization failed. Tribalism worked for two million years in a diverse array of situations. It worked before and after civilizations arose in specific regions. For many decades, our version of civilization has been successful only for a few individuals of one species, yet we keep tinkering with the system long after it’s failed.

Despite considerable evidence to the contrary, we’ve come to believe industrial civilization is the only way to live. As we’ll soon discover, it’s the only way to die, at least at the level of our species.

Inspired by Kurt Vonnegut’s eponymous poem, I offer the following requiem for Earth.

If Earth could sing with a female voice.
Her strength would be evident, though her tone might waver.

Could she withhold judgment against one of her own,
through all we’ve done to her, and our brethren?

We lived in her bosom from which we were born
for two million years not forsaking our home.

Then we became something different from all we had known,
and in the gasp of a breath we destroyed it all.

Can you blame her for judging us, considering what we’ve done?
She gave us every chance to turn it around.

Now we’re all done and she’s endured our abuse,
including pillage, plunder, and rape without any excuse.

All she can sing in that mournful tone is sorrow for the power she unleashed,
through us and thus dispassionately onto herself, destroyed by one of her own.

She must ponder how our hubris overwhelmed our humility
in concluding about our recent selves: They didn’t like it here.


This essay is permalinked at Seemorerocks and Island Breath.

Comments 269

  • “Groups working with real ecosystems makes a lot more sense to me.”

    How do you define a “real ecosystem” ? In UK all ecosystems are unnatural, in the sense that they have been moulded by human activity. What’s more, they are all going to want to change, because of climate change. How can a group working with an ecosystem know what to do ? Even the best most experienced academic ecologists have very little idea what will happen.

  • Hahaha, I see that the savage battle between the advocates of fast collapse and the advocates of slow collapse rages on… too boring and ludicrous for me to get involved…


  • That’s interesting, MB. I think the pressure to conform in England was intense, had been for centuries. Any dissent was often fatal, and what a person was required to ‘believe’ kept changing, according to whoever was in power, Catholic, Protestant, whatever.
    So when there was a chance to escape, it’s not surprising people took it, and went to America hoping for freedom and a better life. All sorts of experiments, Quakers, Shakers, Amish, Mennonites, etc, etc.

    I’m re-reading a book, The Dreaded Comparisom : human and animal slavery, by Marjorie Spiegel. It’s filled with harrowing accounts of what people have done to other people and to animals…

  • Good on you. Shut the hell up then if you don’t care. For someone who doesn’t care, you sure seem to not care with a ferocious intensity. It’s time for you to get back to shouting “the sky is falling and everyone’s going to die.” If you don’t do it, who will? Go on now, don’t waste your last moments on earth arguing about things for which you don’t care. That makes little, or no, sense. You do seem to say you don’t care a lot. If you don’t care about anything, why are you here? Shouldn’t you be back at your blog having a conversation with yourself as you are wont to do?

    Hahahahaha. You silly fool. I care very deeply about what matters to me. As for the rest, it’s all worthless froth and garbage, why should I care about it ?

  • It’s time for you to get back to shouting “the sky is falling and everyone’s going to die.” If you don’t do it, who will? Go on now, don’t waste your last moments on earth arguing about things for which you don’t care.

    Well, the sky isn’t quite falling, but the ice is melting and the global ecology is collapsing.
    There’s nothing that I, as a single individual, can do about that.
    As for how I spend my remaining time on Earth, I certainly don’t need any advice from you or anyone else on that. I’m a free man, I do just as I please.

  • Ah, I’ve got you sussed at last, MB ! Now I understand, your’e competing with William McGonagall trying to win his title ‘Generally considered to be the worst poet ever to have written in the English language’ Well, keep trying, you’re getting there….

  • “This is true happiness: to have no ambition and to work like a horse as if you had every ambition. To live far from men, not to need them and yet to love them. To have the stars above, the land to your left and the sea to your right and to realize of a sudden that in your heart, life has accomplished its final miracle: it has become a fairy tale.”
    ― Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek

  • That describes me quite adequately, but the sea is to my left, on the other side of my mountain.

  • Rules. Everyone on this site including Guy and Morocco Bama regularly follows rules. In order to understand each other we follow spelling, definition and grammar rules of US English. I order to post we accept that a Name of some sort is required in the Name BOX and an e-mail is required int the Mail BOX and in order to post a comment we dutifully click on the SUBMIT COMMENT BOX. Every time we post a comment here we are SUBMITTING. Horrors

    While some words like anarchy are emotionally and politically charged so that they mean many different things to many people most words are fairly fixed or we couldn’t communicate at all. If someone used the word shitty to mean great and then told their wife dinner was shitty, well they would be in a pile of trouble eh? We live by so many rules that are so embedded and part of every day life that we don’t even realize how bounded by rules we are. Necessarily so. So the question is not rules, but which rules, who sets them, who enforces them etc.

  • Well said, Kathy C, I agree with that.

    In USA ‘to bomb’ as in a film or record release, means to fail, in UK, the opposite.

    Re the people working with ecosystems, above.

    Just read this on RC, regarding the difficulties for people growing crops when we can expect ever more frequent extreme weather events…

    “In the future, two or three different crops, one adapted to warm winters, another to brutal summers, might out-produce a single “regular” crop today. Plus, much of any decline could have been caused by farmers planting the wrong variety or species at the wrong time or nurtured in the wrong way precisely because they didn’t know 3-sigma events ain’t 3-sigma anymore.
    A 3-sigma event means it’s probably happened twice since the theoretical time of Jesus. Nobody plans for that.


  • Amongst the various anarchist assemblies that I’ve been involved with in my life, the consensus has generally been that people are expected to take responsibility for their own conduct, and to act responsibly. Inevitably, there are people who behave in ways that others feel are unacceptable.

    So what happens then ?

    There’s that famous rule that says ‘Your right to swing that (frying pan, machete, whatever ) ends an inch away from my head’.

    I think my personal boundary line is a lot further out than that.

  • Global thermonuclear war is the only cure, a radiation therapy to kill the cancerous growth that is agricultural civilization within the community of life called Gaia.

    Even so, come Lord Shiva.

  • A musical jam is anarchy in action. And anyone who thinks that a jam is possible with absolutely no rules has no idea what music is about. If one is simply about posturing, about throwing out a riff with zero regard for the other musicians, that person doesn’t care whether it sounds like crap. A serious musician does care. Rules are never written in stone. But some sort of common language is a requirement for any sort of communication, without which human society, and thus human life, are impossible.

  • Be careful what you wish for, Ivy Mike :-)
    I have to admit, I do sometimes feel that way…
    but one possible scenario is that, as stress and chaos increases, some kind of charismatic figure will appear offering order and discipline, who’ll gather a large following, and they’ll decide to eradicate all the ones they don’t like, Pol Pot style. That’s been one lesson from history… I expect to be on the eradication list, if I survive that long… but it probably isn’t an either/or, we may get that, combined with nuclear and biological armageddon… either way, it’s heaps of skulls, and a thin layer of plastic fragments in the geological record, in the distant future… Grim.

  • Good analogy, Jeff S. But the rules are very different in different genres, e.g. in jazz and bluegrass, people take turns to be in the limelight, whilst in Irish trad, that’s considered unacceptable, everybody stays at the same level, and serves the music, not the ego.

  • Michael,
    I have to smile, but ok, we can go through the whole thing. No, I do not have a group set up, yes, my existence has largely become an “armchair intellectual” exercise, but I have definitely not spent a lot of my life like this. We all get old, injured in many different ways, and die. People with social instincts will tend to push the younger generation forward with whatever resources they have left. And of course, they tend to try and push forward the culture they were born into and learned, maybe with some superficial changes. The difference with me is I’m pushing forward on a radically new culture, and simultaneously pushing on the old one to die faster.
    I don’t think I’m going to join a particular group. Limited space means that it would be better for someone younger and healthier than me to do that. I’m not going to come tentatively out of the mountains someday, and view bodies and bones everywhere with a sense of wonder. I’ll be one of those sets of bones. However, unlike the genetics behind the brain structure that was in most of those bones, my genetic pattern should be kept by those who survive. Humanity is constantly reproducing itself. Someone very much like myself could be born again and again and again, if people similar to me, survive.

    When you tell people things that go counter to their cultural training, go counter to anything they have learned, actually, and against instincts as well, the first reaction is denial. Nothing else is really possible for us, in such circumstances we don’t have neural pathways set up to agree. New information has to have the strength with our particular brain potentials, to break down old neural pathways and form new ones. That takes some time, it can take really strong experiences, and depending on the person and the information, the experience, it might not happen at all. They are very likely to die before their brains make any change in how they see reality.

    I’m no different, I’ve been in denial of things, and it took severe pain, sometimes going right to the edge of death to change my reactions. We very commonly know of this with regard to drug addiction, but it can happen with many other things as well.

    So, I feel it is for these reasons, I do not have a group set up. People hear me, hear how radical the changes are, and they are in denial. Curtis tells people the way to deal with me is to ignore me- he is merely expressing out loud what most actually do. It isn’t intelligent to ignore something or someone that you can’t argue with, but we do it all the time.
    But some, on seeing how death really is coming if they don’t change, may finally listen to me, take it seriously, and start this whole ball rolling.

    I’ve seen that it had to go this way for a long time. People in love with individual freedoms, in love with money,I am metaphorically punching them in the head. People who love annual crops, I’ve punched them in the stomach. My observations about reproduction are like a kick in the genitals. People are immediately in denial, on the defensive, these emotional attractions can be very strong. I’m not naive. Only something stronger, like the fear of death, is going to make a few change, stop denying and making excuses of various kinds. My way is the way of last resort.

    People look at what is going on in the world and still hope that somehow the economic situation isn’t going to collapse in horrific ways bringing even greater horrors with war, that new technology will be found to solve problems, and so on. Just a little more time, a little more… please… we have been having such pleasant dreams, no, we do not want to wake up… And here, we have some people who see the horrors but their emotional attractions are so strong they think they would rather die than change. That isn’t as common as faith in magic, but it ends up being no different. I have the end of many dreams, the end of many hopes.

    And yes, again and again yes, maybe the end of my hopes are also at hand. I might be wrong, maybe we do all die- but I go on with the best chance I see to live, until I can’t go on any further. I didn’t get this far by giving up at the first hint of pain and fatigue as my celiac disease problem grew slowly worse and worse, starting in early childhood, and it seemed like a hopeless situation. Nobody was talking about celiac in those days, it was thought to be an extremely rare condition, doctors didn’t think about it, I’d never heard of it and my parents didn’t go to doctors, they prayed. I early gave up depending on that, or depending on vague hopes of muddling through somehow without directly challenging my parent’s belief. Hoping I could do that hurt me really badly. It is very old advice, but you really cannot please everyone, and sometimes you either give up trying to please people you love, or die. I looked to things that appeared to have evidence for answers, and even though I saw no answer, and made mistakes about what was evidence at times, bringing even more pain, I kept going as long as I had the strength to do it. And did finally find the answer. All of that is not really an unusual response, of course, evolution selects powerful desires to live, not weak ones. You push through pain even when things look hopeless.

    If people do survive this, it will not be those who give up. You get knocked down, you get back up. You can get discouraged, tired, you rest, yes, but after you rest you try again. There is nothing new about this advice, it is very old, but it sticks around because it is true. We are going to find out who really is tough, who really is an idiot and who isn’t. Success in this culture doesn’t say a lot. With me, you start over at the bottom. *We* are *all* failures, all idiots to some degree. If we knew what was happening, we have failed to communicate. Trying doesn’t count. Results count. When people rip at others as being idiots, I laugh. What have you done that is so great, that we are all in this mess? I can try to excuse myself, see how that pattern is likely to go, people are going to be in denial and need to have the fear of death to change, but I might still fail to communicate. I’m still pushed by the fact that I haven’t been successful yet. I can’t crow about being smarter or better than anyone else here. I’ve not shown any such thing yet. And even if some people do decide that I’ve found something significant, I know that nobody can ever rest on their laurels for long. Life goes on, there are always new problems to solve. And I am quite sure that there are people on this list and many others I’ve run into, who have greater talents than I do in many different ways. If I get recognized, and these understandings start to work, that is nice, I’m no different from others, I want to be recognized, I want to be valued, but I know that for other problems, it will be someone else more likely to solve them. That is the power of cooperation, of putting diverse talents together. The chances are better that someone can solve a particular problem.

    I’ve been saying this for a long time, that we can be ruled by good thinking, not by specific people. And some might say, well, you say you are against anarchy, but this is the essence of anarchy. Yes, it could be seen that way. My problem with anarchy is that I’ve seen so much bitter argument between anarchists, and neither side getting down to anything like solid ground, in my view. And people who have self identified themselves as anarchists, have turned their backs on me. As have self identified people of every political stripe. I have never been much interested in identifying myself as any particular political type, and this has done nothing to help. I think have elements of many political views in what I’m talking about, but do not seem to fully fit anywhere. I just want a science based society.

  • Ah yes, MB told me to go back to my own blog and have a conversation with myself, hahaha, well, funnily enough, I am capable of being on several blogs and forums at the same time, but seeing as it was mentioned, I’ll blow my own trumpet, and quote my own website “Here are the rules of this site : There are no rules for this site.”


    Obviously, that’s not strictly accurate, because as Kathy C pointed out, we all follow rules all the time, at a taken for granted level, so the rules I was referring to are the kind where one person tells another person what they can or cannot do, usually with some sort of threat in the background.

    To an extent, I am in favour of those sort of rules, because you really cannot have any group of people together, without some agreed rules. I tend to think they should be agreed by the group, rather than imposed, and in effect they become culture-in-microcosm, the sort of thing that any family has, in its daily life. And on the larger scale, the culture should be harmoniously adjusted to suit the environment. That seems to be how it worked in simpler times for ethnic and tribal peoples.

    I think people do need a culture, to keep them on the rails, so to speak. We have such fantastic brains, and we can put almost anything into them, good, bad or indifferent.
    Shamans, some comedians, some artists, and the like, are strong enough to be outside all culture, and to navigate new paths, but for most people, they follow their early conditioning. So what the children are taught should be what they need to survive without trashing their environment, and to build a positive supportive community, with structure that can deal with all the human frailties and tendencies.

    Unfortunately, dominant culture these days is grossly, fatally, maladapted. Right. I’ll leave you all in peace. Thanks for the entertaining evening, bye for now, take good care of yourselves… :-)

  • ulvfugl, yes cultures have rules that often take the form of traditions. Reading Louis Sarno’s book about joining a Pygmy Tribe in Africa he talks of the hunt. Each hunter has his own net which he strings out. His wife mans the net and the men go scare up the antelope. When an antelope hits a nest the wife clubs the animal. Meat is portioned out in some form based on who clubbed the antelope and the various roles of the men. I doubt they think of it as a rule but it is what apparently they do automatically because that is how it has always been done. The agreement that this is how it should be keeps the clubbing to the antelopes and not to each other which works out best for everyone.

    Song from the Forest: My Life Among the Ba-Benjelle Pygmies

  • Footnote for Arthur N. “When people rip at others as being idiots, I laugh. What have you done that is so great, that we are all in this mess? “
    I laugh too, and if I told you what I had done, I think you would be very surprised and greatly impressed, but it’s my business, not something I’m willing to discuss on the internet.

  • Michael,
    For your last set of questions, I wrote an answer, and was informed by the program here that I’d already written it, or maybe significant parts of it, in the past. “Duplication detected” it informed me. I’m not at all surprised that I wrote a similar answer in the past, I know we have been over all this before, I sometimes get bored with it, sometimes feel people are being deliberately obtuse with their questions, or else their memories are really poor, but I’m quite surprised that an automatic duplication program search found what I wrote to be similar enough to be called a duplicate. I didn’t go combing through the past and do a copy and paste. I would rather not try and guess how I might write things differently to avoid this problem. So if you want an answer, it seems you need to comb through the past to where I wrote an answer to a similar question before. Might even have been you asking it. Seems curious that your question was not also seen as a duplicate.

  • Apparently I pressed “submit”, twice, so you can ignore the above post. Though what I say in it stands, as far as feeling like people are being obtuse or have terrible memories. We have been over this before.

  • Robin, and obviously you by your little strawman support here, although feigning to be radical in your approach, are really just Establishmentarians in disguise by virtue of the fact you want rules surrounding creativity to be static and highly regulated to preserve the status quo.

    Creativity cannot be regulated. It can be recognised and acknowledged. If the acknowledgement is sufficiently prevalent, it is generally referred to as creativity.  Even changing rules have to be recognised with a sufficient prevalence for the change to be considered a rule. Enforcement is the purview of rulers. Statists and authoritarians have a mind-set that makes them see dissenters as yet another set of would-be rulers.

    I suspect there is no proving that point with you, or Robin.

    The proof is in a wider consensus. If a change is accepted widely enough, its detractors will fade into insignificance and be ignored and forgotten: thus there is neither the need not the occasion to malign them if such a prospect is entertained.

    Yes, traditional Limericks are noted for a particular meter, just as traditional southern landowners were noted to have owned slaves. Traditions can, and do, change. They should change, and we should welcome those changes.

    And the “we” may, on occasion, do. And we must recognise and accept that there may be those whose psychological investment in their own work is deep enough to make them consider other’s accepted norms of poetry to be as detestable as the once-accepted norms of slave ownership. 

    Yeah, that’s all very well, except that a Non-Traditional Limerick is no longer a Limerick, is it. It’s something else.

    But if Monsanto et al. should move into that realm, anything goes. GMO corn and GMO salmon, why not GMO poetry? It will help feed culture to more people.

    to imply something’s inferior and not a challenge because it doesn’t follow the “accepted” rules, doesn’t necessarily follow, and that’s at the crux of it.

    The source of the perception of the implication is in a recognition, be it right or wrong.

    How about the selectmen looking over what people were wearing and reporting them for prosecution when they didn’t comply?

    It takes a statist/authoritarian mind to birth such an idea.

    For someone who doesn’t care, you sure seem to not care with a ferocious intensity.

    A rather ferocious comment, may it be ventured?

  • A late rebuttal, but some of us have a life away from the computer screen…

    Jeff S.

    Did I write that you didn’t work in the nuclear industry? Unless you offer some evidence a claim is all it is to me, just like what I said about myself and university maths is a claim to you. (Please don’t offer any evidence, because I don’t give a damn anyway).

    Did I use being top at some university maths subjects as evidence I understand climate modeling? No. I don’t even claim it makes me good at maths (though it is evidence I was once good at maths exams). I only used it to illustrate I am not an idiot. I won’t bother posting a definition of idiot for you.

    The idea that higher CO2 can actually be good is just one of the nonsense talking point which global warming denial try to throw around

    I said it would be good for life, by which I meant good in the long run. If you’ve read any of my posts on previous essays you should know this. I meant it in two ways. Firstly, as you supposed, I meant good for plant growth


    I was not impressed by the skeptical science link claiming high CO2 levels are bad for plants. If you bother to read it, doubtless you will not be impressed by my link either.

    Higher CO2 will be very bad for humans and most other complex life forms in the short term. Given this, my second line of reasoning is that since we are destroying all other life on the planet anything that’s bad for us is necessarily good for life. If the earth does turn into Venus then clearly I will have been mistaken.

    I am not a “troll”. Clearly neither is Arthur. If that is an example of a judgement call of a typical nuclear plant designer then we are in worse trouble than I thought.

  • Those of us who have been following the unfolding global crisis – the converging, interlocked “wicked problems” of energy, the environment, economics and social justice and their rather dire implications – have become intimately familiar with the progression through the Five Stages of Grief described by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.

    1. Denial — “This can’t be happening, there’s been some stupid mistake.”
    2. Anger — “This is simply not fair! Who is to blame for this?”
    3. Bargaining — “I’ll do anything for a chance at a few more years. Anything!”
    4. Depression — “I can’t do anything about it, so why bother with anything? What’s the point?”
    5. Acceptance — “Well, I can’t fight it, so I may as well prepare for it.”

    Often when we arrive at “Acceptance” we are so relieved just to be free of the pain of our grief that we stop looking to see if new possibilities may have been revealed.

    As I have worked within Stage 5 for the last few years, I’ve come to think that Kubler-Ross stopped one stage too soon. There is a stage beyond the simple acceptance of our situation, even beyond the clear recognition of What Is.

    There is a fundamental principle in deep inner work that the greatest gifts are always found in the darkest places. The acceptance of an inevitable ending, whatever it is, can clear our vision and allow us to see things that become the launch pad for new growth – for a kind of rebirth.

    The bigger the change, the greater its potential gift, if we can just look at it with new eyes:

    – We may find ways of moving beyond our old habits, expectations and judgments.
    – We may realize that our old ways of seeing the world held us back.
    – We may give ourselves permission to live authentically, as our true selves.

    As a reminder to keep looking, I invite you to add a sixth stage to the model:

    6. Finding the Gift – “Wow, look at the opportunities this change makes possible! I may not be able to go back, or even forward in the direction I wanted, but just look at all the other avuenues that have suddenly opened up!”

    The Six Stages Of Grief
    1. Denial
    2. Anger
    3. Bargaining
    4. Depression
    5. Acceptance
    6. Finding the Gift

    On a more personal note, when I “grokked the shitstorm” I looked long and hard at whether I should change my living situation. I ended up deciding that there was no way to tell what other situations would be more or less survivable given my current situation, resources, skills and age. I decided to sit tight and stay with the other passengers – I’m no worse off than anyone else, and people seem to appreciate guides as they begin to wake up. Most of my attention has been redirected inward now, so it doesn’t really matter where or how I live. I’ll start where I am, use what I have, and do what I can.

    It’s hard to learn how to express the joy and freedom that comes from this rather cataclysmic awareness without coming off as condescending, confrontational or filled with schadenfreude. It was very hard for me to learn how to give others the respect to walk their own path. I kept wanting to scream at the sleepers. Not helpful for anyone. The gift of non-attachment is one that keeps giving forever.

  • to imply something’s inferior and not a challenge because it doesn’t follow the “accepted” rules, doesn’t necessarily follow, and that’s at the crux of it.

    The source of the perception of the implication is in a recognition, be it right or wrong.

    – To clarify that a bit:
    When someone says “the sun rises in the east” the implication could be there that the sun moves, and the earth remains still. But that implication does not generally come into perception. This is because the possibility of the validity of such an implication is not accepted. For an implication to come into perception, the possibility of its validity is also accepted. 

  • Started watching a movie last night = The Whistleblower (being old we watch movies over 2 nights so we can get to bed early). If anyone is still considering having children as we face collapse please watch this first. While the rules that hold up civilization can be awful, the loss of rules in the collapse of civilization can be even more awful. The ride down to a different way of life if any survive is going to be hell. I am all for the end of civilization but I know the collapse will be so horrific there is hard to find a word for it. This movie is the portrayal of the true story of the sex abuse scandal involving the UN personnel in Bosnia. Given immunity, placed in a war zone, the UN personnel lost even their own internal controls. Being immune from prosecution many became rule-less and ruthless. But none of my words or those below can do justice to what happened to these young girls.

    Paul, you talk about finding the gift after acceptance. There was no gift for these girls however accepting they might be about the truth that they had become sex slaves. It is easy for all of us right now to throw around words and ideas. Reality may have something quite different in store for us. A hospice patient, provided with good care, medicines to ease pain, can approach death with acceptance and be gifted and be a gifts. What gifts are there for a teenager who has just been punished for ratting on the UN personnel and Bosnian traffickers by having a long large pipe jammed up her ass. Tonight I guess we find out if that killed her and gave her release from a short life that in a short time became living hell.

    Kathryn Bolkovac is an American former police investigator from Nebraska. She worked as a U.N. International Police Force monitor.

    Originally hired by the U.S. company DynCorp in the framework of a U.N.-related contract, she filed a lawsuit[1] in Great Britain against DynCorp for unfair dismissal due to a protected disclosure (whistleblowing), and on 2 August 2002 the tribunal unanimously found in her favor.[2] DynCorp had a $15 million contract to hire and train police officers for duty in Bosnia at the time she reported such officers were paying for prostitutes and participating in sex-trafficking.[3] Many of these were forced to resign under suspicion of illegal activity, but none have been prosecuted, as they also enjoy immunity from prosecution in Bosnia.[4][5]

    Bolkovac’s story was made into a film, The Whistleblower, released in 2011. Following a film screening of “The Whistleblower,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened a panel discussion on sexual exploitation and abuse in conflict and post-conflict situations [6]. The filmmaker and senior UN officials addressed issues raised in the film, including human trafficking and forced prostitution as well as the Organization’s effort to combat sexual exploitation of women and children.

    Bolkovac has also co-authored a 2011 book with Cari Lynn The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors And One Woman’s Fight For Justice.

  • Paul,

    Really, thanks for your updated Stages of Grief – I really like the “gift” phase idea. And I appreciate your honest and simple approach – you do not come across as “condescending, confrontational or filled with schadenfreude.”

    I find the “stages” grief have been, for me, more like a “loop.” Even the “denial” stage is revisited from time to time. But cycling through the depression-anger phases is hell.

    About “acceptance” – that is a hard one. “Acceptance” of what? For me I think it has been about NOT being able to accept the lack of our collective response. I too kept feeling like I want to “scream at the sleepers” – and more often than not, as you said, that approach was not very helpful. Maybe the opposite, more often than not.

    I think I’m now just starting to really accept that what will be, will be. And that fear, depression etc stuff is starting to “lift.”

  • Well, the response to my anecdotes about structure and rules in games and myths and fairytales has been overwhelming. No, really, it was no trouble at all.
    From what I can see, some of the regular posters are too busy slaming each other about who has a clearer picture than the other. Some informative posts in between too.
    What is there in it for anyone to slam each other?
    Seems like the fact that Guy has given a sign of giving up has had some ripples.
    Guy knows his struggle doesn’t matter to the planet. We rally to this flag/sandbox that just says all who can see some of what is coming, or wish to discuss the details, or disagree with said planet FUBAR also come.
    Lets pull it together ladies and gentlemen.

    ‘We’ don’t have to agree on all points, and only a fool would expect it.
    But please, lets not forget what makes this site truly great:

    Everyone is equal.
    Everyone has something to offer,
    Everyone has an (evolving) point of view,
    Eveyone has a stake in the survival of the Biosphere.

    Even agreement on that is probably too much to ask of for some. So what? How about we start celebrating that we can share, and keep doing ‘sharing’.

    Losing the sense of fighting for something dear to one’s heart is very upsetting. Giving is certainly a great outcome at the end of a grief cycle and IMO is the only real step beyond despair.

    I always feel that the symbol of Rocky Marciano, upon which the movie ‘Rocky’ was loosly based, of someone who may not win a fight, but keeps on getting back up, is how the heart would be if it were a fighter.
    So some have had a scuffle, now then , lets get back up and share some more.

    IMO the capacity to give may be what is worth fighting for.

  • There’s no proof in what you say, because there is no wider consensus, instead there is coerced adoption. Yeah, sure, it’s not at the point of gun…not directly, at least, but a strong argument can be made that the literal and figurative gun is there in an indirect way to ensure people comply with the “accepted consensus.”

    A prescribed curriculum has indeed to be met in formal education, But people are not under coercion to buy or read a particular book for their pleasure.

    Statists/authoritarians classify any consensus at variance with their preference as others’ attempts at coercive imposition, because that is the method of hierarchies: even when those statists/authoritarians are under no compulsion to abide by that consensus.
    The difference from hierarchies is that they are free not to abide by that consensus. 

    However, if the Corn Police, meaning you and your brethren here, had your druthers, any new variation that came along would be blasphemy. Immediately you would go to work impugning its quality and going so far as to say it’s not corn. 

    That is indeed the way of statists/authoritarians: they see in others their own unrecognised motives. New variations are perfectly free to exist. If a few persons do not adopt them, there is no reason to impugn them as would-be oligarchs. 

    The fact that any of you would argue against creativity and diversity so passionately shows your true colors

    It is not determined by argument, but by how many people recognise it. Not recognising it does not count as an argument unless that lack of recognition has the preponderance. 

    I never made the claim that I didn’t care

    The caring can come with so much emotional baggage as to  become irrational enough to provoke logical fallacies such as ad hominems.

  • The gift of non-attachment is one that keeps giving forever.
    It is another aspect of the real.

  • Paul Chefurka Says: “6. Finding the Gift”
    Very sorry, sir, I’m a big fan of seeking peace in inner space, but:

    When grieving, the way that we cope
    Has a limited, natural scope;
    Five Stages represent
    A natural event
    With no exhortation to hope.

    I guess that makes me a traditionalist, yet I thoroughly enjoy Morocco’s spectacular pyrotechnics! Anyway, I agree with OzMan: “Seems like the fact that Guy has given a sign of giving up has had some ripples.”

  • Weather girl goes rogue – you’ve got to see this one

  • Weak Indian Monsoon Dries Up Centrally-Planned Liquidity Expectations
    Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/04/2012
    Drought has devastated crops around the world this year. While most have focused on the extreme issues in the US, we noted two weeks ago that the Monsoon season was shaping up to add fuel to the fire of illiquidity. As the NY Times reports, there is simply not enough rain in India as the annual monsoon season is down 12%. “If this situation continues, I’ll lose everything” is how one soybean farmer highlighted his plight (and no government insurance or subsidies there).

    This is India’s fourth drought in 12 years – raising concerns at the country’s reliability monsoon rains as it source of fresh water (and sustainability) as “nothing can happen without rain.” India is more vulnerable to disruption from drought than the US. While agriculture accounts for just 15% of India’s economy, half of its 1.2 billion people work on farms, and many of its poorest citizens already cannot afford enough food after price increases of 10% or more in the last couple of years.

    UN Food Price Index rose the most in July in three years…
    rest at http://www.zerohedge.com/news/weak-indian-monsoon-dries-centrally-planned-liquidity-expectations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Oil crash com man: poignant.

  • Back from the holiday. Blanched and froze peas and beans. Went to the fall fair and rodeo. Spread compost on a new garden area.

    Yes, Guy, Chris Hedges always speaks clearly to me, too. What he said in that interview included some new information for me. Horrible developments I had no idea were going on. The wrestling scene reminded me of long-ago morality plays when Simon Legree ties Little Nell on the railroad tracks and the audience screams and weeps and cheers for the hero to save her. This is a modern day equivalent that I had no idea people were so invested in. Have we become such simpletons?

    I have not heard back from people to whom I sent Paul Beckwith’s Google doc. I even emailed Beckwith and he won’t answer me. I asked him what the connection was between no arctic ice and the jet stream. Then I ran across this new column by Gwynne Dyer.


    When Dyer spoke at this university a couple of years ago, I attended the reception before the speech. He was belting down some hard liquor and looked like hell. He spoke eloquently about Afghanistan that night, but I had asked him what was next for him. He said “climate change” and argued that it was the biggest story ever.

    Now he’s written this about arctic ice that answers the question I put to Paul Beckwith.

    I heard somewhere that there have been riots in Chicago.

    Charles Hugh Smith says that the status quo can be maintained for another decade:


    I certainly hope not.

    The fair and rodeo, in a town close by (but not the university town) gave me a bit of hope. The exhibition hall was filled with home canning, baking, sewing, knitting and flower arranging and quilts and a woman working a hand crank sock making machine. Canned bear grease was one of the categories on the entry forms but there were no examples this year (I have seen it in past years). Women were spinning and knitting for young people to see. The prize for the largest vegetable had ten entries. The best bale of hay, the best shock of wheat, home baked bread, biscuits, cookies, etc.

    Then there were the barns. The poultry barn was full of dozens of breeds of chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys (including wild), pigeons, and pheasants. There were Morans there. I want some! The sheep and goat barns were full and the 4H judging was goint on in two separate rings. Beef cattle, but no dairy cattle. Vendors and junk food like cotton candy and mini donuts. The local Seventh Day Adventists were cooking up “haystacks” which are a bit like vegan nachos.

    Pony chuck wagon racing thrilled the crowds. Saddle bronc and bareback bronc riding. Bull riding. A stupid clown in the ring telling sexist jokes. Ladies barrel racing. Pee wee barrel racing wherein the horse simply walks the 5 year old around the barrels calmly ignoring the flailing legs of the child.

    My favourite – the heavy horse pulls. Locals and one fancy outfit from Alberta. The most local team comes into town with mis-matched harness and uncombed tails. The man who owns this team still logs the hills around here that are too steep for Weyerhauser equipment. Until last year, his daughter ran her own team in the bush and also came to the competition. Now she’s married and moved away.

    There was a new entry this year, a local man with a very lightweight team who fought him every step of the way. They didn’t pull evenly and kept backing up and getting a foot over a trace. The other men helped him out and I saw them giving him some pointers. Everyone shook hands at the end.

    In the end the man from Alberta won. They pulled 8500 pounds. He had a huge team of Belgians that weighed over a ton apiece, with beautiful polished nickel silver studded harness. He is a great driver and the horses stood there like wound up springs until he said, “Git up” and they put their heads down to their knees, leaned into the collars and crawled forward in perfect unison, the doubletree never moving left or right. Inspiring.

    I learned to drive a team in Saskatchewan. I can drive two and I can drive four, but I can’t drive six – it takes too much upper body strength that I don’t have.

    People in this little town remember when the road to the bigger town consisted of two ruts cut into the side of the mountain. We’re talkin’ only a couple of decades ago, here. They know how to get along and they teach the young people all they can. Then the young people run off to Alberta to the “oil patch” to make their fortunes. They work 18 hours a day, seven days a week, and come home after two years – rich. None of them want it to end, but I think these folks will be able to last a while after it does.

    Classes start this week. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how I will teach, Kathy C, and I still haven’t come to any conclusions. I will make them watch “Inside Job” about the financial crisis. I will take them to an organic farm. I will take them on a water treatment plant tour. We’ll read about malaria, dengue fever, West Nile virus and guinea worm.

    People can (and do, regularly) survive and thrive at 50 degrees C. But 30 degrees C plus 90 percent humidity kills people even sitting around in the shade.

    Be careful, folks.

  • great weathergirl, kathy. how i’d love to see anything remotely like it on surreal life tv. fat chance!

    great poem, atack. too bad it’s so depressing and all too surreal.

  • Arthur,

    I would like to address some of your points:

    *I think it could be some time before safety/security would allow a return of nomads to the wetter (what are now more populated) potions of the country.

    *Tree crops are good especially the big nuts (walnut/hickory/acorns). I’m trying to get butternuts to grow here and filberts. None of them are natural and filberts don’t fruit very well this far north. Over the winter I will be revisiting pine-nuts. I know there are cultivars doing very well in Quebec. Of course the natives here used ponderosa pine nuts (usually by raiding red squirrel caches) but that is a lot of work for not much return. Douglas fir is even worse. Mostly here we would be working with berries (native) that would include huckleberries, serviceberries, and hawthorn. All three of these were used by local tribes by as fruit or as a major constituent of pemmican. To a lesser degree thimble berries, strawberries (tiny), and chokecherries (astringent).

    *Generally researching the original diet of native people in a given area will lead you down the right path. The same can be applied to medicines. Post collapse people will still get sick and still need to be tended. After a few years native curatives and folk remedies will be our only pharmaceutical source. Yarrow, mint, St. John’s wort, selfheal, etc., are commonly available. Native remedies are specific to a particular area (for example knowing that using the dried leaves of strawberries to combat diarrhea or that you could gargle it for sore throat could be important).

    *Not to be neglected are local roots (cattails, arrowroot, camas, spring beauty, desert-parsley, biscuit-root, various wild onions, etc.).

    *The seeds of various annuals and grasses including lambs quarter and pig-weeds (relative to and cooked like quinoa). Also, around here, native peoples used lichens and the cambium of various trees during hard times.

    The list goes on and on, I mean who would have considered thistles for cooked greens. And don’t overlook weeds from Europe and elsewhere (burdock, lambs quarter, dandelion, etc.) for roots, greens, or seeds.

    I would suggest (you probably have already) mining the internet, purchasing plant guides, finding a source of local ethnobotany.

    Oh, and in transition–guerrilla gardening and Jerusalem artichoke (few know what they are good for).

    Michael Irving.

  • the virgin terry

    I had no idea it came from the life or fight of Chuck Wepner. Thanks for clarifying. It was more the response to continual hammering, by getting up again I was illustrating, but its all good an the detail.

  • No surprise here
    “Europe is approaching a crisis as the region’s debt crisis and austerity measures increase the rates of depression, suicide and psychological problems – just as governments cut healthcare spending by up to 50 percent, according to campaigners, policy makers and health organizations.”

  • Fears Rising, Spaniards Pull Out Their Cash and Get Out of Spain
    In July, Spaniards withdrew a record 75 billion euros, or $94 billion, from their banks — an amount equal to 7 percent of the country’s overall economic output — as doubts grew about the durability of Spain’s financial system.
    full story at http://www.cnbc.com/id/48889555

  • We finished watching The Whistleblower tonight, the true story about the woman who exposed the trafficking of women in Bosnia, including the involvement of UN personnel. It is not an easy movie to watch. If you have children however you need to watch it so you know what kinds of things can happen when rules break down and chaos takes over – at least to be mentally prepared for what might happen and to be prepared to protect your children. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Whistleblower
    We don’t know exactly how things are going to collapse, but we sure as hell know what things happened when Slovinia, Bosnia, Iraq, Afganistan, Libya collapsed. We can logically assume that such things can happen in any country in collapse. Heck trafficking happens here already. The movie Trade gave some idea of how the Mexico to US trade of children, boys and girls both happens including the advertising on the internet – high prices to young virgins of course.

    Per wiki on sex trafficking “Trafficking is a lucrative industry. It has been identified as the fastest growing criminal industry in the world.[4] It is second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable illegal industry in the world.[5] In 2004, the total annual revenue for trafficking in persons were estimated to be between USD$5 billion and $9 billion.[6]

    In 2005, Patrick Belser of ILO estimated a global annual profit of $31.6 billion.[7] In 2008, the United Nations estimated nearly 2.5 million people from 127 different countries are being trafficked into 137 countries around the world.[8]”

    Anything that makes collapse go quicker means less suffering in the end.

  • Kathy, I really don’t think Kubler-Ross’ model in either the original or my extended version has anything to say to those girls. It speaks to a different process altogether – of working one’s way through grief when one has the twin luxuries of time and comprehension. They may not have been able to find any gift at all in their experiences. You however, may. If you do, I hope you don’t find fault or blame yourself for doing so.

    I suspect my position may feel pusillanimous to you, or maybe elitist, or insular, or otherwise contemptible. If so, those feelings are where your gift is probably hidden. I hope so.

  • Yorchichan: troll or not, whatever you are, you keep spinning the same old “CO2 increases will be great for plants” crap which is spewed by the global warming denial PR industry, funded heavily by the fossil fuels industry. A regime of higher CO2, due to higher temps, will also mean a lot more pests which will destroy plants and trees. This has been thoroughly studied.

    Interesting article from Bill McKibben, who still doesn’t go far enough, but he’s good at collecting facts, http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2012-09-04/summer-extremes-signifies-new-normal about how this summer (which started two days before the official end of winter) ushered in a new “normal.”

    And a couple of new articles about the deepening global economic crisis, from two very different perspectives, yet both see the crisis as worsening.

  • Sorry guys, I didn’t write that poem, but it has been on my site for about 7? years http://oilcrash.com/articles/poems.htm
    This is a fun one, from the same author


    So what are all these “flations”
    that people talk about?
    it’s plain that there’s at least two sides
    two sides that scream and shout

    “deflation” screams Mish Shedlock
    Puplava he says “no!
    Inflation is the way of things
    I’m rich so I should know”

    We’re common folk who walk the streets
    and spend our hard earned cash
    on things we need to live each day
    so we should not be rash

    Or take a risk on borrowing
    when all could turn to shit
    oh no we must be careful now
    we’re hording every bit

    So when we hear “inflation” yelled
    across the MSM
    we’re worried that our savings will
    be worthless in the end

    and when we hear “deflation”
    we scratch our heads and think
    the falling value of our house
    is headed for the sink

    don’t tell me it’s velocity
    or credit we can spend
    or talk of printing money
    that is worthless in the end

    the truth is that reality
    has crept up from behind
    while we were drunk on boundless oil
    that anyone could find

    as asset prices crash and burn
    and milk and bread costs rise
    the net effect is just the same
    for us it’s no surprise

    if anything cost all our cash
    it’s value will decline
    and anything we need to live
    will climb and climb and climb

    so take your stupid “flations”
    and shove them where it’s dark
    the simple truth is that we’re fucked
    it’s simple, true and stark

  • MB The Whistleblower is much more of that story than I ever read about in the news. And I am well aware that it is just a small part of a much larger evil that is perpetrated by the rulers, but also with complicity in many cases by the ruled as is true in this case. The man who sold the one girl whose life is followed most closely, is her uncle. Her mother’s sister stood by and said nothing.

    Regarding rules, you seem to just see them as something that limits you. You fail to see how rules protect you as well. Ah well I will not convince you, but when people start seeing your property and life as something that no rule protects for you, you will wish for more rules. Your rant about rules is always about what YOU can do, and in that you fail to see that without rules what others can do to you is not going to be pretty.

    Yet you yourself are bound by rules in your own brain and by rules that you self impose. I see you use the rules of spelling and grammar. I presume you find incest abhorrent. The problem is not rules, the problem is what rules, who imposes them, and of course when the rulers lose all feeling of being bound by rules (the UN people were given immunity) the evil of civilization is much compounded. If any survive to be hunter-gatherers again they will have rules as all h-g do, but they will be largely by consensus and largely related to the survival of the tribe.

  • Paul, I have held and fed starving babies in Haiti. I have given love and food, felt an AIDS baby cuddle to the warmth of my embrace. I held a baby still with translucent skin so a nurse could try to find any tiny vein to put a needle in to give fluids (for some reason that was the one thing I saw that I had to turn away from). I have helped bandage wounds that go straight to the bone in people who still have to do heavy work every day. I have learned much and felt love in return, but I will never call what I have learned a gift, for too much suffering went into showing me how awful and evil the world is for the poor of the world.

    If gift I have then perhaps it is of seeing the world more clearly than most. Such a gift may seem more than a curse for those who like to see the good in everything, but I would never trade the seeing for mental comfort. But it is not a gift, for a gift implies a giver. It is just who I am. To call the seeing a gift would be to trivialize the reality for those who have no escape.
    http://www.aztlan.net/du_deformed_iraqi_babies.htm no gifts here, just pain.

  • A personal true story. Back in the late 70’s my ex and I were working with an organization to help people in a rural county in the mountains of TN. He organized to bring in youth groups from outside the county to help repair houses. Some of them had blacks in them. We thought that would be OK but this county was deliberately all white. In the end we had 3 crosses burned on our front lawn, a van torched, and guns fired outside our house. The Klan wrote on the note – get out of the county or we will get you out the hard way. Local police refused to help. Our neighbor with tears in her eyes said, I can’t help you, if I do they will burn our house and barn. But we weren’t killed – why? Because we weren’t locals and they knew our families would have resource to law enforcement outside the county. We were protected by the rules of the land, but not by the rule enforcers of the county. When all law enforcement goes the way of that county all hell breaks loose. Even if all law enforcement serves the wealthy first and foremost, there is a certain level of social control that can be very welcome, I assure you. I had three foster children at the time (along with my own 2), local children. That also may have served
    for some measure of protection. A rule of a sort that most humans carry, to not hurt your own in the process of hurting outsiders. Without that unwritten rule how would hostage takers have any benefit from holding hostages? In the end we left, got the foster children into the custody of their father who was a better choice than the mother they had been taken from.

    I have a neighbor here whose father was once grand leader of the local Klan – he spent time in jail for other reasons. For now laws keep the Klan at bay. My neighbor thinks that Klan was good and wants it back. I’ve met the county sheriff. I hope he stays in power for quite a while for I trust his rule enforcing more than that of the Klan and would rather have his rules than the rules of the Klan.

  • Morocco Bama

    Could it be that ‘Civilisation’ is just larger populations than can be handled with rules for known individuals? Once the rules don’t apply to people you know,(ouside the watershed), then the greater possibility is that exploitation and corruption will come.

    I have no real idea of the total population of pre European Australian Aboriginals, however, they managed to inhabit the entire continent and remain far less than what we would call destructive of their bits of Biosphere. The populations were sparse by say Tokyo, or L.A. standards, but I’m informed that there were very strict and binding rules and laws for almost all of life’s events.

    An example is that when larger cultural gatherings were approaching and various clans were moving over ‘country’ of another group there were designated transit easements that were like travel paths. If at other times an elder found an unrelated individual or small gruop on their land, after enquiry to determine if they had permission to be there from another elder, if not immediate rough justice was dished out, most likely death. All lawful and according to the rules.

    I am positing that smaller human groups may well be able to self authorise a set of rules and laws when they apply to known kin. Those smaller groups have some wider relations with others adjacent, and rules operate for interactions between them.

    The issue here is what is it about the entity ‘Civilisation’, continually used here, but poorly unpacked and analysed, except for its destructive outcomes, that makes it turn on the Biosphere so unconsious of the long term consequences?

    In previous postings I have mentioned my own views on the way Money puts great power into an individuals hands, where in Hunter Gatherer situations that power was invariably immediately distributed roughly evenly, and never in an individuals hands.

    I have also gone to some lenght to put forward an, to some, armchair deconstruction of predominant psychological functions to demonstrate how some of those functions are subjective and empathetic, while others are (positing) objective and require no evaluative meaning.
    That is because I have been attempting to share views on what it is in the collective aparatus we call ‘Civilisation’ and by extension ‘Empire’, that predisposes the lack of care and concern for the Biosphere.
    Many here have put up their views and points on that, but we still need to clarify the central factors otherwise we will simply recreate such a mess again, and IMO we will better drop the shit if we ‘diagnose’ properly. Then we can better help others drop the shit too.

    Although I will frame this question with your views in mind it is also a general question to Guy and all:

    Civilisation. Why does it characterise itself in the present modality as a suicidal madness? What central characteristics determine this way of interacting with the Biosphere? I don’t mean effects – we are well up on all the effects. Kathy C has QC pole position an that!

    Also, I no longer feel it is meaningful to use the term Civilisation, in purely chaotic and destructive terms without getting to the heart of what it is that animates ‘it’. Bearing in mind that we are anthropomorphising a collective aparatus which is the effects of human action, and therefor, is essentilly a human concern.

    It’s about time we nailed the beast.

  • Morocco Bama

    Your last post interests me because you are IMO correctly nailing an absurdity of the FUBARed system. If you ever watched the TV show ‘The West Wing’, which I’m sad to say I did, I saw an episode in the first series where the dudes in the intelegensia department of their party ‘chose’ Jed Bartlet as a contender, and in the story he was a senior academic, and only agreed to go there to stop the other bastard from getting in. The salient piont here, of which I’m sure you are aware is that the front guy is only that, and from your insights just before, the names are probably the bits the insiders laugh and gaffaw about , while smokin cigars and getting high, just after banging some illegle, teen sex slave smuggled from an exotic location.
    Sick fucks in power would find it funny, and I would too excepting it all ends up as a painful smear on the live of the fucked over poor and powerless, faceless dead meat people that have been run over by that power.

    BTW we have a media custom here in Australia about not going after the family of Politicians. The reasoning is that the children in particular didn’t do anything, it was their polly father or mother, so direct attention to them. That sounds OK, but I have felt for some time it’s not OK because their actions effect my kids, and the kids of thousands of others. A basic inequality there, and I suppose even though I’ve written that just now, it does not then make the pollies kids responsible, just generally immune from the economic damage from FUBARed policies.

    In the vein of your last post, what about Dick Chaney, so S&M.
    Or Bill Cli(n)ton. How about Sarah Palin, or Don Rumsfeld, or Paul Wolferwits. But one of my favourites is The Whitehouse. Beat that!

    Just on the West wing. We had a stat some years ago that showed some Americans actually thought Jed Bartlet was thier presedent. That is farce!

  • A little snippet about a possible future if we last to 2030.

    Saudi Arabia may become oil importer by 2030: Citigroup


    Some excerpts:

    ‘Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, risks becoming an oil importer in the next 20 years, according to Citigroup Inc.

    Oil and its derivatives are used for about half of the kingdom’s electricity production, which at peak rates is growing at about 8 percent a year, the bank said today in a an e-mailed report. A quarter of the country’s fuel production is used domestically, more per capita than other industrialized nations, as the cost is subsidized, according to the note.

    “If Saudi Arabian oil consumption grows in line with peak power demand, the country could be a net oil importer by 2030,” Heidy Rehman, an analyst at the bank, wrote. The country already consumes all its natural-gas production and plans to develop nuclear power, which pose execution risk amid a lack of available experts, safety issues and cost overruns, Rehman said.

    Saudi Arabia, which depends on oil for 86 percent of its’ annual revenue, is accelerating exploration for gas and is planning to develop solar and nuclear power to preserve more of its valuable crude for export. The kingdom has refused to import gas, unlike neighboring producers such as Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates that also lack fuel for power generation.’

    Did I read… more nuclear reactors…?

    Guys… Guys? Have you heard of a place called Fukushima? Tunaheads!

  • Being no expert it is difficult to come to view on the Euro collapse, but here is an article that has some points to put forward.

    ’18 Reasons Europe Is Going To Suck The Life Out Of The Global Economy’


    A snippet:

    ‘Summer vacation is over and things are about to get very interesting in Europe (NYSEARCA:VGK).

    Most Americans don’t realize this, but much of Europe shuts down for the entire month of August. I wish we had something similar in the United States. But now millions of Europeans are returning from their extended family vacations and the fun is about to begin.

    During August economic conditions continued to degenerate in Europe, but I figured that it wouldn’t be until after August that the European debt crisis would take center stage once again. And as I wrote about last week, if there is going to be a financial panic, it typically happens in the fall.

    The stock market has seen quite a nice rally over the summer, and many investors are nervous that we could see a significant “correction” very soon.

    The month of September has been the absolute worst month for stock performance over the past 50 years, and it has also been the absolute worst month for stock performance over the past 100 years as well.’

    ‘If the European financial system implodes, the consequences could be even worse.


    Europe has a larger population than the United States does.

    Europe has a larger economy than the United States does.

    Europe has a much, much larger banking system than the United States does.

    If Europe experiences a financial collapse, the entire globe will feel the pain.

    And considering how weak the U.S. economy already is, it would not take much to push us over the edge.’

    Perhaps we go under now…

  • With thanks for the vigorous discussion, I’ve posted a guest essay. Courtesy of Pepper Givens, it’s here.

  • Kathy, we all walk our own paths through this life. I’m happy you’ve had the experiences you wanted – they have made you quite a story. I hope the rest of your life is equally gripping, with a suitable finale in the last chapter.

  • Morocco Bama

    Sounds interesting, but there is no need to posit an Egregore concept when we have the institution of Money that goes on from decad3e to decade, detailing power, wealth and relationships to the collective. Thanks for trying on my question.

  • Paul, you wrote “Kathy, we all walk our own paths through this life. I’m happy you’ve had the experiences you wanted – they have made you quite a story. I hope the rest of your life is equally gripping, with a suitable finale in the last chapter.”

    My dog you don’t get it. I didn’t want a story that included starving babies. I don’t find it gripping, I find it evil. The finale will no doubt include observing and enduring unimaginable suffering. You call that suitable????

    I begin to think that your last step, finding the gift, is in fact finding the gift of figuring out how to return to the first step, denial, with a new much finer sounding name.

    This big beautiful planet and all the creatures on it are going to burn up. One can accept that, but never never find any gift in it.

    There is one gift I will admit in acceptance – the gift that few find. That is the gift of knowing you are mortal. TPTB in the end game might lock us up in FEMA camps or cart us off to be tortured, but we are mortal and we do not have to endure anything forever. Many of my hospice patients I know treasured the knowledge that their pain would soon be over, but I never found one that thought there was any gift in the untimely nature of their death from cancer or any of the other nasty ways humans get to die. The death of all life means the death of suffering and that is the only good part about what the future brings, there is no other gift to be found in 100 species dying per day, the Amazon burning, the Gulf polluted with BP’s oil, Fukushima …. no gift except that when all life or at least all feeling life ends suffering dies.

  • Regarding ‘civilisation’, I think that the egregore is quite a useful concept. The fact that the Gnostics came up with it, is not particularly relevant, it’s just a pattern than someone with insight observed and recorded. I think it fits neatly onto say, political parties, corporations, religions and cults, NGOs, and similar collective herd movements, Apple, Google, Freemasons, Scientology, KKK, and so forth.

    I don’t think it’s particularly helpful re understanding civilisation, though. IMHO, the best insight comes from considering the first cities at Sumer, and the best account is by Fredy Perlman.

    As I understand it, there was the estuary of the Tigris and Euphrates, an immensely fertile area, and on the mudbanks of the delta the neolithic people found very easy living, lush vegetation, prolific wildlife, masses of easily exploited marine resources. So the people multiplied and settlements grew larger.

    I think the trigger lay in our innate nature. Not necessary for that to be some very striking powerful characteristic at all, perhaps just a slight tendency, say, like sibling rivalry. Some guy had a fight with his cousin when they were young and they disliked each other ever after, they each found themselves headman of large village groups, and rivalry developed, so they compete and try to gather more power and resources than the ‘other’.

    Next thing, you’ve got mud-brick cities, and a social hierarchy develops, initially amicably enough, but increasingly by enforced tradition, violence and coercion, priests, soldiers, tax collectors, traders, farmers, labourers, slaves.

    Organised labour is essential because the annual floods remodel the land and irrigation and transport channels have to be surveyed and redug, and increasing population density becomes ever more dependent upon planted and harvested crops, rather than hunting and gathering from the wild resources. Then comes expansion by conquest.

    Perhaps that’s all it took. Once that pattern is established and appears to have significant advantages, ( to an elite at least ) it becomes self-perpetuating, right down to the present day. Of course, in more recent times, capitalism, industrialism, science, etc, get bolted on, and then globalisation….

    That’s my take on it, fwiw.


  • Morocco Bama

    I would not have posted the question if I wanted to get my own homespun theoty back now would I?

    If you are baiting me then I suppose you feel I deserve it. I asked for someone elses understanding, nothing more or less.

    Regarding ‘rhetorical’, pot and kettle there buddy, pot and kettle.


    I am interested in the previous century to the settlment period you mention. Does Fredy Perlman have much to say about that?

  • Hi Ozman,

    As I understand it, throughout previous history of human beings, they were all hunter-gatherers, who moved around a lot, in fairly small groups.

    That’s been the picture in my mind, from what I’ve read. There’s a few question marks though, David Graeber said recently that in some areas, hunter-gatherers would gather together at certain seasons when living was easy, into very large groups, but then disperse again. So i suppose, it’s not such a big step for such a temporary ‘mini-city’ to become permanent, if the local resources were rich enough to permit that.

    Then there’s Gobekli Tepe, which is possibly the first ever architectural structure produced by hunter gatherers, just prior to the discovery/invention of cultivated crops and domestication of animals.

    Then there’s Catal Huyuk, quite large neolithic town, with combined crop growing and hunting and gathering ( I think ).

    Basic idea, significant move is from small transitory groups, by some intermediate stages, to large settled cities of 10’s of thousands, and then that’s ‘civilisation’,
    with all the structures that we still see today, a ‘king’ or ‘lugal’ at the top of a pyramid of control, involving religious priesthood, privileged elite, money and accounting and taxes, police and soldiers, organised labour force, and an underclass of thieves, prostitutes, beggars, etc, etc..

    All of that begins southern Mesopotamia, roughly 10,000 years ago, give or take, whilst the earlier hunter gatherer thing lasted hundreds of thousands of years.

    Of course, there are a few people on the fringe, with alternative theories, that there were much earlier cities, alien invasions, blablabla, etc, but I think what I’ve outlined is the standard scientific orthodoxy from solid evidence, so far.

    Gobekli Tepe is probably the most important key. If that could be better understood, we might get a clearer idea as to exactly why civilisation began.

  • ulvfugl
    Cool, Thanks.

  • Kathy, you and I seem to see the world from diametrically opposite points of view. Given that, there is probably little chance of effective communication between us, at least at this time. Best of luck with your journey, however you see it.

  • “The good Earth- we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy.”

    ~~~~~~Kurt Vonnegut~~~~~~~

  • We’re all screwed now, it would seem. Is a total financial collapse the only thing that will save us from global warming? Because it appears we are not going to save ourselves :(


  • Mike, I’m now convinced that global financial collapse is the only door out. It did cause a slight hitch in the upward spiral of CO2 emissions in 2008-2009. However even a complete collapse will only stop us where we are right now. Then we’ll be hot, hungry AND poor. But it’s the best bet for saving as much of the global ecosystem as might still be possible.

  • This is the 2nd year in a row where we are experiencing a balmy December in the North East with overnight lows 20 degrees above average. The weatherman on TV just smiles as if nothing was wrong like this is something that should be cheered. Didn’t think Global Warming would happen this fast. Always thought Guy was left of center on climate change but I am seeing a different story now. WTF