Collapse, you say? Part 1: Introduction

gc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Irv Mills

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Published on The Easiest Person to Fool on June 30, 2020

Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner

 

New Bamboo
2020

Most of the writing I have done for this blog assumes that my readers are at the very least open to thinking about the collapse of our civilization, and more likely that they have already accepted it as probable and are interested in discussing the details of how it might happen and how to cope with it. But it is pretty clear to me that the general public, even in the midst of a global pandemic, are not ready to entertain the idea that civilization could collapse. If I bring up the idea, the response is most likely to be, "Collapse, you say? Surely not."

There are a number of reasons for that attitude, the simplest being a cognitive bias against change—the feeling that tomorrow is likely to be pretty much like today. This is aided and abetted by a lot of propaganda about how great BAU (Business as Usual) really is and the progress it promises for the future. Indeed, we are told that there simply isn't any better way of running the world than neo-liberal capitalism, no real alternatives at all. We've been told this for so long (at least the 30 years or so since the USSR fell) and so forcefully that most of the world's population is experiencing an almost complete failure of imagination. And that is both a failure to imagine any better way of running things, and a failure to conceive what the consequences might be if we continue as we are.

Along with this, when the subject of collapse does come up, it is almost always discussed in terms of a hard and fast collapse—more of an apocalypse, really—which understandably stirs up such feelings of fear that people retreat into denial. But even minor suggestions of things like "degrowth" are not well received—we've been promised on-going progress, and any suggestion that a reduction in our consumption level, a little less comfort and convenience, might be in order, is met with consternation. You hear people saying that, if that's what's ahead of us, they'd rather be dead.

On the other hand, there are people like me who are convinced that the collapse of our civilization is either already happening or soon will be. Why do we think that?

It might be wise at this point to dig a little deeper into what I mean by "the collapse of our civilization". Well, one characteristic of all civilizations is that their individual members are not entirely self sufficient—they rely at least to some extent on the mechanisms of production and distribution built into their civilization for the necessities of life. What those necessities might be varies with who you ask. My list includes air, water, food, housing, health care, education and meaningful work, all provided in a context where people feel that they belong, where help is available when you need it and where you have a role to play in helping others when they need it. Of course, there are many approaches to how these necessities are to be acquired, and various ideas about what constitutes enough.

In our "industrial" society, since the invention of heat engines powered by fossil fuels, the production and distribution of what is needed has largely been mechanized. Our population is hardly self sufficient at all—only very rarely do we make anything we need with our own hands. And only a very few people, living in the remotest locations are independent of this system. We have filled up essentially the whole world, and converted it to our uses, so that a return to subsistence agriculture or hunting and gathering would not be possible for most of us even if we wanted it, and most of us don't.

When a civilization starts to collapse, its mechanisms of production and distribution begin to work less and less well. A decline in both population and complexity ensues. In our industrial society, where human and animal muscles have been largely replaced by machines powered by various forms of energy, there will also be a significant reduction in energy use and consumption of manufactured goods.

All this continues until the collapsing civilization either falls apart completely or overcomes its difficulties and recovers in a different form. In the past it often took hundreds of years for a civilization to collapse. My opinion is that our society started to collapse about 50 years ago and has a few decades, or at least years, left to go. But however long it may take to get to the end of the process, it is important to realize that, nowadays, collapse is going on around us all the time.

A scholarly expert on collapse might now offer some numerical measures to help us judge when a society has actually collapsed. I like to look at that a little differently, to turn it on its head, so to speak. I would say that if you, as an individual, are no longer being supplied with the necessities of life then for you collapse has already occurred, even though everything is going along quite normally for the people driving over the bridge that you are living under.

I seems to me that collapsing civilizations share some characteristics, and I can see those characteristics in events today:

  • One, collapse progresses slowly, so that if you're viewing it from inside and it hasn't hit you with any great force as yet, you may be hard pressed to recognize what is happening.
  • Two, collapse progresses uneven geographically—some places continue to do just fine while others fall apart disastrously. If you live in an area that is not yet affected, you may wonder what all the fuss is about, or at least think that while it's tough for those other folks, it can't happen to you.
  • Three, collapse progresses unsteadily in the chronological sense, with long periods where nothing much changes, separated by sudden steps downward. During those long quiet periods, you could be excused for thinking that everything is just fine because, at least on the surface, it is.
  • And four, collapse progresses unequally across social classes. The upper, ruling classes are in control (as much as anyone is) and have the wherewithal to direct resources to their own benefit, and away from the lower classes. And because they can get by just fine without knowing much at all about how things are going in the rest of society, they are often unaware that there is any sort of problem. Of course, when collapse finally does hit them, it is felt all the harder because they have never experienced hard times. For those at the bottom of the social ladder, collapse is just more of the same shit they've been putting up with all along.

Ideally, as an individual, family, or community in a collapsing civilization, you would like to be aware of what's coming, prepare for it and eventually succeed in adapting to it. But as you can see from the four points I've just listed, this is difficult because it's hard to tell what's going on until it's too late.

This started out as a simple, "one post topic", but now it looks like it is going to take about five posts to clearly get across why I think collapse is happening and to have a look at what options we have and where this process is likely to take us:

  • This post, in which I've introduced the subject.
  • Two, in which I'll look at the inputs and output of our civilization and what is wrong with the way they are being handled.
  • Three, in which I'll look inside our civilization at its fundamental, structural weaknesses.
  • Four, in which we'll look at how all this has been and continues to contribute to collapse.
  • And five, in which, we'll look at several possibilities for our future—what the rest of this collapse may look like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

https://image.freepik.com/free-icon/musical-notes-symbols_318-29778.jpg

Support the Diner
Search the Diner
Surveys & Podcasts

NEW SURVEY

Renewable Energy

VISIT AND FOLLOW US ON DINER SOUNDCLOUD

" As a daily reader of all of the doomsday blogs, e.g. the Diner, Nature Bats Last, Zerohedge, Scribbler, etc… I must say that I most look forward to your “off the microphone” rants. Your analysis, insights, and conclusions are always logical, well supported, and clearly articulated – a trifecta not frequently achieved."- Joe D
Archives
Global Diners

View Full Diner Stats

Global Population Stats

Enter a Country Name for full Population & Demographic Statistics

Lake Mead Watch

http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NA-BX686_LakeMe_G_20130816175615.jpg

loading

Inside the Diner

Seriously, ... did the Universe picked a good timing for this ?[embed=425,349]

Friday, August 7th 2020, 5:40 pm - Drastic warming due to climate change is causing widespread melting even in Canada's Far North.The Milne Ice Shelf on Nunavut's Ellesmere Island, said to be the last intact shelf in Canada, has collapsed, according t...

the start of the coronavirus pandemicBefore the coronavirus pandemic hit, Saurav Dutt smoked up to six cigarettes a day.The 38-year-old author from London first took up the habit as a way to unwind from college exams. But as the years went by he foun...

Narendra Modi’s dream of a ‘self-reliant India’ comes at a terrible price for its indigenous populationOver the past decade, Umeshwar Singh Amra has witnessed his homeland descend into a battleground. The war being waged in Hasdeo Arand, a rich...

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) - Fuel spilling from a Japanese bulk carrier that ran aground on a reef in Mauritius two weeks ago is creati...

Recent Facebook Posts

No recent Facebook posts to show

Diner Twitter feed

Knarf’s Knewz

Friday, August 7th 2020, 5:40 pm - Drastic warming [...]

the start of the coronavirus pandemicBefore the co [...]

Narendra Modi’s dream of a ‘self-reliant India’ co [...]

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) - Fuel spilling from a Japane [...]

Lebanese protesters hurl rocks towards security fo [...]

Diner Newz Feeds
  • Surly
  • Agelbert
  • Knarf
  • Golden Oxen
  • Frostbite Falls

Doomstead Diner Daily July 17The Diner Daily is av [...]

Doomstead Diner Daily July 16The Diner Daily is av [...]

The point being to wear down the "precariat [...]

Quote from: UnhingedBecauseLucid on March 18, 2019 [...]

CleanTechnicaSupport CleanTechnica’s work via dona [...]

QuoteThe FACT that the current incredibly STUPID e [...]

Friday, August 7th 2020, 5:40 pm - Drastic warming [...]

the start of the coronavirus pandemicBefore the co [...]

Narendra Modi’s dream of a ‘self-reliant India’ co [...]

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) - Fuel spilling from a Japane [...]

Lebanese protesters hurl rocks towards security fo [...]

Quote from: K-Dog on February 24, 2020, 06:23:52 P [...]

I wonder how much these coins have been debased? [...]

Precious tip of the day.....Buy silver NOW  She [...]

Scientists have unlocked the power of gold atoms b [...]

Quote from: azozeo on August 14, 2019, 10:41:33 AM [...]

I am OUT of Jury Service!  I got summoned to be a [...]

Quote from: Eddie on May 16, 2020, 10:30:30 AMQuot [...]

Quote from: RE on May 16, 2020, 08:20:06 AMQuote f [...]

Quote from: RE on May 16, 2020, 08:20:06 AMQuote f [...]

Alternate Perspectives
  • Two Ice Floes
  • Jumping Jack Flash
  • From Filmers to Farmers

The Flim-Flam Men by Cognitive Dissonance   I suspect if average Joe or Jane were asked to identify [...]

The Coming War With China Re-posted from CaitlinJohnstone.com   (Have you noticed that (suddenly) Ch [...]

Papers Please! By Cognitive Dissonance     For those who may not know, Mrs. Cog and I live in the mo [...]

Lies, Damn Lies and Coronavirus Statistics By Cognitive Dissonance     “Never believe anything in po [...]

The Decline and Fall of Civil Society Chapter One By Cognitive Dissonance     From my perspective at [...]

Event Update For 2020-08-06http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2020-08-05http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2020-08-04http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2020-08-03http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2020-08-02http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

In other words, treat COVID-19 like a dry-run for the upcoming "big one" [...]

However don't expect strikes and yellow vests to fix underlying problems [...]

So how many more times are we going to hear that this is our last chance to take action in order to [...]

This is definitely not a bona fide post [...]

Daily Doom Photo

man-watching-tv

Sustainability
  • Peak Surfer
  • SUN
  • Transition Voice

The Great Pause Week 20: Coronation Part I"With the number of Covid patients closing in on 20 million, epidemiologists hope the virus has [...]

"Your future is a story you were told, like Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy."Thirty years a [...]

The Great Pause Week 18: Midwinter Down Under"Our objectives are low-tech, anti-fragile, and human-centered. By using tools of permaculture [...]

The Great Pause Week 17: Toppling Mount Rushmore"We are being schooled in the deficiencies of human neurobiology."President Cobblepot and [...]

The Great Pause Week 16: Cash Bounties for Scalps"The word “redskin” has been coined to refer to these trophies."Paris, June 15, 1756. Anti [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

What extinction crisis? Believe it or not, there are still climate science deniers out there. And th [...]

My new book, Abolish Oil Now, will talk about why the climate movement has failed and what we can do [...]

A new climate protest movement out of the UK has taken Europe by storm and made governments sit down [...]

The success of Apollo 11 flipped the American public from skeptics to fans. The climate movement nee [...]

Today's movement to abolish fossil fuels can learn from two different paths that the British an [...]

Top Commentariats
  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

In reply to Harry McGibbs. I have heard anecdotal reports that the viral load of those without sympt [...]

In reply to Gail Tverberg. Gail, many poor people have solved this problem, from Scandinavia to (nat [...]

In reply to Harry McGibbs. "Researchers [in South Korea] found that the viral load of those wit [...]

In reply to Norman Pagett. @hkeithhenson, remember this: https://mmstudies.com/scholars/wp-content/u [...]

In reply to Kowalainen. > @hkeithhenson, I speculate that the selection process was well establis [...]

Nothing to see here. Move along! Lol. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/biden-vice-president-pick-dith [...]

Steve seeing as how this is reante's fourth in a row, lemme know if I'm posting up too muc [...]

Hey Steve what do you think if the idea that the 1K/mo digital UBI for US citizens 18 and older (plu [...]

Who was it who used to argue here years ago about how much fat could be cut from the system? Was it [...]

Independent to me means non-commercial. They may sell half or full beefs and five or ten ton of hay [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Simplifying the Final Countdown

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

Off the Keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Merry Doomy Christmas

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Collapse Fiction
Useful Links
Technical Journals

Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) burnt area products are widely used to assess [...]

This study was designed to identify trends in maximum, minimum, and average air temperatures in the [...]

Cultural sites are particularly important to Indigenous peoples, their identity, cosmology and socio [...]

Globally, subtropical circulation in the lower troposphere is characterized by anticyclones over the [...]

Follow on our http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/forum/