Living At The Height Of Civilization — Staring Into The Abyss

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on March 14, 2018


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Texas has switched back to Daylight Saving Time and I am once again driving to work in the dark. The stars were still out this morning when I left the house in the canyon and began my 28 mile commute to work, the first 20 miles or so I now achieve under eV power. It is now high spring in central Texas, and we have stopped using heat for the most part, but this morning the house was chilly with the clear morning temps of 39F.

I enjoy my coffee, which is fresh ground and liberally doctored with organic half and half. Delicious. My Chevy Volt has seat heaters, and they feel great in the crisp chill, especially on my back, which is still recovering from last Thursday's job of moving the stock tank. Some ibuprofen helps a lot. I remember my friend Artie, who has passed on now.  Artie was an ex-marathon runner who skied his last several years on two artificial hip replacements, with the help of that ubiquitous non-steroidal pain killer. He referred to it as I-Be-Ski-In.

I am at work now and sipping coffee between patients. Yesterday was a tough, busy day, but it looks like today will be easier. Still busy, because it's Spring Break here. I'm hungry, because I was so tired after work I ate a hamburger I picked up before I got home, and crawled into bed and slept until my wife got home around ten pm. I sat up in bed for an hour-and-a half and then passed out again until my normal time to rise, which is 5:45 am. When she came to bed, she brought the dogs, who were happy to lie quietly at our feet until I put them to bed and turned outtthe lights.

I have been blessed to live an easy life, full of abundance. I have a great family, with grown children who are getting along well in life. By all normal measures of success, I have it made,

But the world is definitely going to shit. The handwriting is on the wall for anyone with one eye and half a brain to see.  My country, which has long been blessed with the same kind of luck as me, is now in the death-throes of a dying empire. Led by a morally bankrupt blowhard who has hitched his wagon to the absolute worst of the low-grade fossil fuel barons of industry, every day the downward spiral speeds up.

The modest environmental protections of a generation ago, which never were strong, are being rolled back as completely as the courts will allow. The executive branch of government is now as firmly owned by the corporatocracy as is the legislative branch. The President, whose primary concern is winning the next election (while patting himself continuously on the back for winning the last one), has managed to run off the best of his sorry cabinet picks and bring the worst ones to positions of highest authority.

We have been a nation at war somewhere for many years now, if you can call illegitimate occupations of poor but strategically important nations war. Our wars are really just expensive occupations that drain the treasury of our once financially strong country. They make some greedy rich bastards a little richer, and the rest of us and our children and grandchildren yet unborn, a lot poorer.

At the moment, we are once again on the cusp of a coming World War, which I expect to be partially fought, at least, on American soil. This development will no doubt surprise the general public, which has not experienced such a disaster in modern times, and thinks of wars as unfortunate events, caused by foreign bad guys, that thankfully always happen far away in places they can't quite manage to even pinpoint on a map.

Under-educated but nevertheless highly opinionated, Americans spend a lot of time online these days spouting whatever kind of closely held beliefs they cling to in lieu of facts and reality. Clever politicians and media barons manipulate public opinion seemingly at will. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

The climate, affected by massive CO2 build-up from burning fossil fuels, is rapidly going rogue. The oceans are dying. 150 to 200  species of plant and animal  become extinct each and every day that rolls. We are not immune. Our time is coming. Ironically, the only possible salvation appears to be a systemic collapse of civilization that removes the offending pollution by sending us back to the days of horses and buggies, or maybe human powered pull-carts with wooden wheels. Due to the financialization and hollowing out of the real economy, this is also quite likely to happen some fine day very soon. Unfortunately, it will not stop the climate change on a short timeline. By the time the planet recovers,humans and most living things might well be history.

So….most days I dream of leaving my easy life behind. I fantasize about buying a big sailboat and living out my last days living onboard, Sailing to the islands I love, and then if and when the collapse does come, trying to find some out-of-the-way place far from wars and dying cities, to try to make a go of it in what will truly be a New World.

It's quite the dichotomy, this modern life. So many good things have come my way. So many bad things just over the horizon. And, of course, one can see that those two sides of the coin are completely related. So much of what I enjoy comes at the expense of some poor sod eking out a miserable existence in some shithole country that wasn't a shithole until the corporate barons who run the world turned it into one, in the pursuit of selling me stuff like nice cars with seat heaters, and good coffee.

Certain concerned scientists and poets have long known this was coming. I am blessed and cursed to live on the cusp of a great unraveling. I am literally living on the very brink. I weep for my children.


Nothing is more frustrating to me about the collapse blogosphere than the tendency for ordinary people to sort themselves into political groups based on their good intentions and belief systems.

I have read plenty of good writers who do get it…that collapse isn't avoidable by changing whatever form of government we have, or our enemies have, or our rivals have. Please try to get past that kind of simple-mindedness. I just ain't that simple folks.

The world is run by powerful people who control people, assets, and armies.

America is a failing Republic. It's run completely by rich oligarchs and the politicians they buy, usually before elections, but also after, as has been the case with Trump, who ran as a populist but immediately sold his soul to the highest bidders, post-election.

The Soviet Union  was a Communist state that failed spectacularly in 1989, and now it's controlled by a single despotic strong man, Vladimir Putin, who took over the primary state, Russia,  after the drunk Yeltsin failed to establish a democratic form of government. They still have a legislature and pretend to be a democratic communist/socialist state, but it's a sham. Putin's rivals and challengers end up in prison or have fatal accidents.

Although the systems of government are different, people in both countries are brought up to love their countries without question and the people of both countries, in these desperate times, crave a strong man to take control and solve all their problems.

Russians love Putin, who presides over a completely corrupt kleptocracy. They are mostly ignorant, clueless dumb fucks who are grateful to have heat during the bitter Russian winter, some basic foodstuffs, and  a little vodka to ease their pain.

Americans, increasingly left out of the advances of the digital age due to poor public school educations and the shiftlessness that comes with thinking the world owes them a living, have rallied behind Trump, who is a huckster and a liar who got elected in an election that surprised almost everyone, himself included. Now he is busy auctioning off favors to super-rich American kleptocrats, who call themselves capitalists. The younger generation of pampered digital early adapters dream of a benevolent socialist state that will give them a house and public transportation instead of just a cell phone and a job waiting tables. So….maybe in the US, if BAU persists a few more years, the poles might reverse. Especially if the trailer trash who love Trump all die off from shooting up fentanyl, and the hispanic fast breeders decide to start voting in elections.

It won't matter. Collapse is baked in.

Pick any other country and the story is the same.

Britain is going their own version of Trump populism. Failing.

Most of Europe is socialist. Failing, although they have a few bright spots left.

South Africa flipped from white dominated Right Wing to black dominated Marxist. Failing faster every day.

China was hard core communist, tried to initiate market reforms, turned into a new kind of oligarchy that even now is consolidating under a new strong man. Failing.

Wake up, you idiots. It isn't the form of government. It's declining resources, climate change, hugely wasteful programs of all kinds, and sinister 21st century war machines getting ready to run amok.

Image result for staring into the abyss

7 Responses to Living At The Height Of Civilization — Staring Into The Abyss

  • Ed says:

    Yes, we weep for our children.

  • Skip says:

    I'll be weeping for the children of all the other species out there.

    • Eddie says:

      Yeah, I'm not thrilled by the death of the planet either. But don't hate mankind for eating all the agar on the Petri dish. To assume that we're smarter than the average bacteria is being pretentious. I don't think humans need to feel deep shame for murdering nature. We are nature, as much as any other species. Your perspective, while understandable, fails to recognize that our roles as the observers and recorders of all this are important somehow. If there is meaning of any kind in the universe, we're the only species I know of that it capable of pondering it in the way you and I are doing. I hope through our failures that the universe somehow learns how to do it all better somewhere out there on another blue marble.

  • AJ says:

    Thanks Eddie,

    I have similar thoughts all the time and is one of the reasons I lurk here at the Diner. Living in a world where the sheeple see BAU going on forever is hard (even with its creature comforts). It is especially hard with the knowledge of where we are inevitably headded. No one, except here at the Diner and other similar forums even want to acknowledge that we have a problem; so the people here, like yourself, provide some solace. Solace is what I emotionally crave. To see where we have come from and to know the end of life on this planet is now a distinct possiblity is almost overwhelming to a sentient mind. To think that all the greatest achivements of civilization (science) are to be tossed away and the machine of the cosmos will go on without our sentient observation is almost too much to live with. But like you we do, until we are gone. Sad.

    Thanks again.


    • Eddie says:

      You are most welcome. I never intended for either of those rants to go public, but RE wanted to post them here. My main online presence is on the Diner Forum, which gives me a place to vent occassioanlly. Thanks for your well-considered comment.

  • mo flora says:

    Thanks, Eddie for allowing RE to talk you into posting these.

    That's a wonderful Nietzsche quote, but after looking at the photo I wonder if Abyss is the name of his mustache.

    I put off despair by planting trees, working with animals and making lots of wine.  I like to think that I am occasionally passing on some useful wisdom and skill to those who will follow here.  Of course, if total destruction and extinction occur, I'm just passing gas.

    I agree about the inevitability of collapse.  I see danger signs in nature every day.  I believe that posts such as yours and the series by Irvine Mills are valuable for the well thought out responses to the situation.  It helps to know that sane realists are out there. 

    I tend to think that  JM Greer and Mr Mills are correct about collapse in stages related to diminishing carrying capacity.  However, insane response to crisis on the part of the elite may indeed lead to a much more rapid and complete decline. It is also true that unforseen consequences are at play in the natural world that may let the air out of the balloon in a different manner than we expect. 

    That is why I plant trees.  Climate change is outstripping phyto-migration.  We are planting trees native to the mountains a thousand miles south of here.  However, we also plant trees very comfortable in much colder environments.  We do not know for sure what is coming.  

    When I was a kid woolly mammoths were uncovered in Siberia where they had died and been covered by snow and ice.  Several were in a standing position and had grass in their mouths. Things can change fast.  You just don't know what is coming.  Not for sure. We just know it's not going to be good.

    So, I give the chance of human extinction in the near term about 30%.  I think the chances of humanity going forward with far reduced numbers but with lives that have the possibility for some dignity and joy to be about 20%.  The other half is the dark age.  All against all.  Lives that are "nasty, brutish and short".

    Even if I felt there was only a 1% chance of human survival with some dignity, I would not feel justified in despair.  Who the hell am I to give up?  What would I tell the kids?  I'm far too old to see the other side of this crisis we all face – so what?  I feel obligated to do what I'm able to do for as long as I'm able to do it.  As RE says, "save as many as you can."

    Thanks again for posting these pieces.

    Sorry to drone on.  Now I must go feed the ox and dig tree holes.  As Mad Magazine used to say, Dig We Must.






    • Eddie says:

      Mo, this is belated but I wanted to thank you for your comment and for your service to the planet. Planting trees is what we should all be doing, en masse. In the face of collapse, it's an act of real heroism.

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