Civilization Collapse

Navigating 21st Century Hopelessness

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Published on The Doomstead Diner July 16, 2017

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Is our techno-industrial way of life fundamentally benevolent?  Is it advisable to continue perpetuating a civilization that is predicated by non-renewable fossil energy sources as well as unsustainable rates of renewable resource extraction?  Our civilization requires an ever growing GDP to be considered healthy.  This is a measure of production in terms of consumption.  Our literal benchmark for the health of our society is based on how much we can consume in a year as a nation.  The reason for this is to create monetary profit for the individuals of this society whom have shares in the corporations controlling this production.  The actual physical wealth of the world is subjugated to the tune of dollars and cents.  To make this pathway possible it requires a proletariat class willing to sell their lives for an hourly rate.  This hourly rate is the lowest possible rate so as to not reduce the profit that’s stolen from the resources of the Earth and the energies of its peoples.  This hourly rate is about making money and not about stewardship of any kind.  It does not have to be like this, but that is a delusory sentiment based on idealism. 

The road to ruin for our species began with agriculture.  Before agriculture emerged there was no need for money, and so it did not exist.  Agriculture allows for civilization which requires money to function.  With the creation of money we stratify into economic classes of people.  Once money is created life becomes about servicing this need for monetary acquisition.  Before money life is about engaging with nature to acquire food, fuel, fiber, medicine and shelter.  In aggregate these actions create a healthy human culture.  Agriculture allows for money and removes the limiting factors for our numbers.  Before agriculture the limiting factor is the amount of food that can be sustainably hunted and gathered.  The hunter/gatherer life is mostly nomadic as we follow the animals and plants through the seasons which define their lifecycles.  Our lives are imbued with rich somatic meaning as we engage with the body of nature.  We are from this Earth, and we inhabit it as a corporeal being made of the elements.  We evolved both physically and spiritually within the framework of our physical Earth.  Our health depends on engaging with nature to create life and its meaning.  The fall from paradise began with domestication which is nothing less than the taming of wild nature.  Domestication is tandem to agriculture and literally creates civilization.  What is being civilized if not the opposite of wild?  The two are anathema to one another. 

Agriculture means that we stop moving around.  It means that we domesticate ourselves as well as the wild beasts of nature.  It sets up the conditions that allows for a great competition between us and nature.  All of a sudden our culture becomes one of domination and control rather than harmony.  Being rooted in one place we begin building monuments to hubris.  We get bored and invent competition.  We stockpile food and create war and plague.  We set up the conditions for disease and famine and warfare (although nomadic people still do occasionally fight with opposing tribes).  We argue and debate and create inequality amongst our people.  Life becomes a struggle to create meaning and avoid boredom.  Eventually, as we move further and further from our natural origin, habitat, and culture the enchantment of being evaporates. We are left with a driving urge to consume to fill this void of meaning that emerges due to our domestication.  Time continues forward and our habits create technologies to service convenience.  We become lazy and our bodies grow fat with our sedentary nature which arises from our domesticated captivity.  No longer do we need our bodies for anything more than acquiring money.  We then want pleasure to fend off boredom and meaninglessness.  Life is no longer about dancing in the wild where we are from and where we return to.  Civilization is nothing more than something to do in the great illusion that we create for ourselves.  This is the way that it is.  The Matrix was born with the first surplus of cereal grain. 

Is there anything that can be done about this?  It seems to me that we are at the end of this failed experiment in hubris.  There is no harmony in domination and control and consumption.  There is only waste, disease, and poison by way of ecocide and genocide.  Our quest for the production of unlimited energy against the gradient of entropy has created cancer.    In the end we cannot dominate nature.  Aside from money the quest for domination  is the great fallacy of civilization.  We cannot think our way out of the limiting factors of ecology.  Our modern techno-industrial civilization will run out of the fossil blood that sustains it.  We will lose the capacity to safely maintain the nuclear power plants that liter the surface of the Earth.  They will spew out DNA damaging clouds of radioactivity as they have already begun doing.  The rain will become poisonous to life.  As we fight to continue this failing technotriumphalism we will continue increasing the CO2 in the atmosphere which will continue heating the human supporting biosphere.  Natural disasters will continue increasing in number and severity.  Our hubris has metastasized into a cancer that will shrink our settlements as the habitable regions atrophy.  Nothing is going to stop this process now.  All that remains is answering the question of what to do about this inevitability.  We have entered into the age of doom. 

There is no escaping this destiny that we have perpetuated.  The most unfortunate aspect about this hopelessness is that man cannot live without hope.  Hope makes life worth living.  Is hope itself a delusion?  What are we to hope for?  The nature of existence is a destiny with death.   The time we have between birth and death needs to be animated by meaning.  Meaning is derived from a harmony with all life.  Our civilization is marked by domination and control.  There is no harmony in control.  The great struggle is finally about the nature of life because life wants to live.  We must maintain ourselves within the boundary of our skin while we are here walking the Earth.  The overwhelming desire is to do this devoid of pain and misery.  The tragedy of man is to think that he can avoid his own nature by the creation of a technological utopia.  Life cannot be about domination and control, but that is what man forces it to be.  We are teetering in a suspended animation just before the moment of expiration.  We are flailing about in denial of this process of resolution.  Maturation as a species must culminate in an acceptance of suffering and death.  We must accept our temporary nature, stop struggling, and lie down in the great current of life.  We swim against this entropic process everyday as we participate in this civilization.  We collectively attempt to keep the center from flying apart under the pressures of our own technologically created centrifuge.  We struggle in vain against the pressures of physical dissolution.  We create illusions to fight against the natural process of becoming to fall apart. 

The first act was rife with physical struggle within the framework of existing in harmony with nature.  Hubris arose and we thought we could become gods using the power of physical manipulation.  We thought we could master the universe with our cleverness.  We are collectively a breaking wave, and nothing will stop the pull of gravity as we are recycled back into the void which we originally manifested from.    Idealism is nothing more than the ravings of a mental lunatic.  Idealism is a delusion that is born from the struggle to acquire more than we need.  Fighting against entropy is finally not worth it.  Yet this fight is what it means to inhabit a physical body. 

In the final analysis life must be about observing beauty.  Without beauty it is not worth living.  We have made a mess of this beautiful blue/green orb that’s floating about the universe.  We have partied our way to desolation.  Yet the Earth keeps spinning around in outer space in its dance with the sun that sustains us.  Every morning the sun reemerges to give us another day of life.  Our great challenge is to honor this life by creating beauty and not it’s opposite.  We have created a lot of ugliness.  Maybe the secret to this 21st century hopelessness is to learn how to make beauty out of malevolence.  Or maybe we should just stop struggling and accept the final act of misery which we have written for ourselves?  Or maybe we can simply embrace our collective ugliness with grace?  Without love and beauty this great struggle that is life is not worth it.  The greatest challenge that we face is learning to love and observe beauty even as love and beauty vanish under the oppression of our own collective delusions. 

The nature of a body is to act.  How are we to act?  We should act to minimize suffering for all sentient beings while honoring our bodily nature.  Every day is a new day to make the right decisions.   Yet every day requires a certain amount of money.  This is why my conclusion is that a lifestyle that requires no money is the only truly benevolent lifestyle.  That lifestyle is a fiction in this world we have created.  This world is quite literally hell on Earth.  Therefore we must learn to love and find whatever beauty we can while in hell.  We must not resist as we realize our ultimate destiny of assimilation with the machine we have created.  I’ve tried finding work arounds to the truth that life is suffering, but the only way to win is to let go, stop resisting, and accept the nature of this great delusion.  Manifestation is transience in action, and our resistance arises within that transience only to dissolve back into the void that is death.  All that is created within that resistance is more suffering.  Yet still we must act in the world, and how should we act when our actions only serve to create more suffering?  The heart of our civilization is the creation of suffering, and to participate only adds to this toll.  Not participating in this civilization can be our only spiritual redemption.  For the life of me, and my children, I cannot figure out how to not participate. 

Another Auld Lang Syne

Off the keyboard of RE

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 So here we are now, on the cusp of another Auld Lang Syne.  Pretty much every year since I started Blogging the Collapse in 2007, I have written some sort of paean to the New Year, and this one will be no different.  Sometimes I write Prognostications for the Future in such posts, other times I write Nostalgia for the Past.  I suspect this one will contain both also.

AsteroidImpactWe got through the big Mayan Date of 12/21/2012 without a Planet Killer sized Asteroid hitting, and without  Global thermonuclear Warfare also!  So I guess we are SAFE now?  Of course not, and pinning your prognostications on any given day is pretty much like picking out the right numers in the Lotto, your chances of being precisely correct here are quite small.

What we do see inexorably are incremental changes in the way we live, and the way our economic system functions, or does not function as the case may be.  So this leads many in the Collapse Blogosphere to conclude that our spin down will continue to eb incremental,  long term “Boiling Frog” or “Long Emergency” in Jimmy Kunstlers terminology.

At this point, after witnessing 4 years of various Kick the Can methodologies undertaken by the CBs to keep the system floating another day, Iexpect more of same in the coming year, but to ever less success all the time.  The “Fiscal Cliff” bullshit playing out over the next week looks likely to give a good Kidney Punch to the Markets, and all the liquidity in the world won’t get commercial banks loaning to credit exhausted customers.

The main CBs of Da Fed, the ECB, the PBoC and the BoJ are basically now in the Bizness of directly funding their respective Goobermints by buying their bonds, since nobody else will.  Thus, any outflow of currency to J6P basically has to come from Da Goobermint now, dribbled out in SNAP Cards and SSDI and other Transfer programs.  The number of people who can afford to Happy Motor around continues to shrink, with an ever widening gap between Haves and Have Nots here.

Juggernauts don’t stop on a dime of course, and this is a BIG Juggernaut.  It remains unlikely the Dollar fails first in the currency warfare, so I don’t think we will see HI this year again in the Dollar, much to the consternation of John Williams of Shadow Stats and Speedy Gonzalo Lira.

I do think some Goobermint over in Eurotrashland will topple this year, repudiate odious debt and try flying their own new currency.  The Spanish or Portuguese seem the most likely candidates, more than the Greeks who are just mired in Political Corruption on a vast scale and probably could not even figure out how to issue Drachma and make it work at all at this point.  Like Zimbabwe, they are a Failed State now and cannot administer their own currency without it turning instantly worthless right off the Printing Press.  Far as International Trade goes, getting Gas to run their cars and trucks and food staples they no longer grow enough of there for the population, the Greeks are basically dependent on the Kindness of Strangers, basically Krauts who historically are none too generous a people.  LOL.

Trying to predict the future here even on the short term though is pretty much a losing proposition, we’ve been teetering on the Precipice since 2008, and we could teeter a while longer here.  Here in the FSofA, I don’t see Mad Max likely this year or even next now, but I do see ever increasing social disruptions and a Tipping Point will come eventually.  We’ll get a Canary in the Coal Mine window on a lot of how it will play out here just by watching Europe and Japan.

In Japan, the Radiation Poisoning around Tokyo is even greater than in Fuk-U-shima itself, and already there are reports of increasing Thyroid Nodules and Cancers occuring.  I cannot imagine how any Nipponese with means to get out of Tokyo would not do so at this point.  The new Goobermint is talking about restarting their still functional Nukes, as I am sure J6P Salaryman is getting tired of Brownouts and says Fuck IT!  Nuke till we die!  Kamikaze!

For myself sitting here in my perch on the Last Great Frontier, I can only look back and wonder at the STUPIDITY of all of it now.

I remember back to going to school at Stuyvesant, taking the Number 7 Flushing Line every working morning at Rush Hour.  I was fortunate to be at the first stop on the line so could wait for an empty train most of the time and get a seat, but by the time the train left the station, it was already Standing Room Only with every “Strap” hung onto sometimes by more than one person, so you got the grubby cooties of whoever it was hanging on the same strap as you.  By the time we got to Junction Boulevard station, there weren’t even straps or poles left to hang onto, but no worries about Falling Down, since everyone was packed shoulder to shoulder inside the Tin Can like Sardines.

This is a way for Human Beings to LIVE?  Even if you have a “good job” in the Big Shitty with a decent paycheck that allows you to have a decent apartment in Queens, 3 hours a day every day of your work week you are a Human Sardine.

Not a whole lot better for the next tier up of peoples either, living in McMansions in Nassau and Suffolk counties commuting in their Carz on the Long Island Expressway either.  Traffic Jams, your own Flat tires running over a discarded Switchblade, an Accident at least every couple of years driving up you Insurance rates and forcing you onto the LIRR for a week while the car got fixed…etc.

For those at the Very Top though, in Penthouses on Park Avenue, gee it was all WONDERFUL.  Doorman greets you with a big smile when you arrive, makes sure none of the Hoi Polloi get thru the door of the building.  No Parking Issues, walk out the door of your building and the Limo is there to pick you up and take you down to Wall Street.

These of course are the people who were running the show through it all, going right back to the Robber Barons (and before that!), and they Invested their BORROWED money on building out the system for their own further Comfort and Enjoyment, hell with the fact that somewhere down the line it was polluting Love Canal or setting the Cuyahoga River on fire.  Later of course to be moved over to China where now the Rice Paddies in Guanzou Province are irrigated in Sewage.

Going way back to my early years in Brazil, I was always irritated by the vast discrepancy between the people living in the Favelas around Rio and those living inside the “Bubble” on Rua Joachim Nabuco where I lived.  Some folks living very well, others in desperate poverty.  Why?  Made no sense to me as a 7 year old, makes no sense to me today.

Along the way between then and now, I’ve been subject to the same Propaganda everyone else has, that everyone has Opportunity to Bootstrap themselves up and Poor people are Poor because they are Lazy & Stupid.  Which in fact many of them are, but so are many Rich people!  In fact I think Rich people are Lazier & Stupider on a statistical basis than Poor folks are!  As F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in the Great Gatsby, “The rich are different from you and I.  They have more money.”  LOL.

Anyhow, as I have discovered in the interim, the monetary system as it is constructed is a Control Conduit, a mechanism by which the powerful in society stay powerful and subjugate the weaker in the society.  Moving between the Castes here was briefly enabled in the FSofA as there was so much resource base to go out and Plunder after the First Nations people were decimated by the Smallpox and Guns, that it created just a ton of Nouveau Riche folks here, particularly in the post WWII era.

The Nature of the Monetary system though is to perpetually sieve wealth back to those who have the POWER to issue credit, and who will issue it to themselves endlessly.  They only issue the Credit out to J6P though as long as it behooves them to do so and betters their own lives.

In today’s world as we march forward into 2013, it no longer behooves the elite in society to issue more Credit to J6P, because the resources upon which said credit is based are rapidly diminishing in availability and EROEI.  So entire Nation-States like the Greeks and Spaniards are being Triaged off the credit bandwagon to buy the Oil that a very few people hold control over.  As they get triaged off, their Jobs disappear, and so do their Pensions.  It is happening over there across the Pond already, it will arrive at our shores also in the Bye & Bye.

This has not been a good way for Homo Sapiens to live and inhabit the Planet for a long time now, certainly anyone who was ever packed like a Sardine into a Tin Can subway Car should know that.  Anyone who ever sat in a two hour Traffic Jam with their car burning gas at Idle while moving about nowhere should know that.  Anybody who ever had a bullshit, go nowhere job (which almost all of them are for the Hoi Polloi) should know that.

Being real smart leveraged some folks out of this during the growth period, anybody who either could figure a way to get others working “for” him or could jump through the University Hoops to get into a Gate Kept profession could make some decent buckolas and become an FSofA member of the Upper Middle Class.  Doctors and Lawyers, Insurance Agents, Real Estate Developers and Costruction Contractors, any number of people did this in the Salad Years of Growth of this sort of economy.

It even was possible for some 2nd Generation people in the FSofA to leverage into the Elite of the Society,  Billionaires like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates jumped on the bubble of Computers and Information Technology as vast sums of credit were poured in this direction.  To this day, Wall Street makes Billionaires out of nerds like Suckerbug from Facepalm.  HUGE quantities of debt are issued, a few Banksters and “Entrepreneurs” get filthy rich, then over time it all colllapses because in fact it is not really producing anything at all, merely it is just another way to burn energy.

So now we cross the threshhold into 2013 in the early stages of the vast collapse of all the debt accumulated to drive Industrial and Technological civilization.  Nowhere in the Industrialized World does anybody want this to end really, other than a few real Doomers.  No Pensioner wants to accept that his Pension is Worthless.  Nobody working in any end of the automobile economy wants to accept that  people simply cannot afford to Happy Motor about anymore.  Nobody who wokrs even as a Starbucks Barrista in a Mall somewhere wants to accept that not enough peole will make it to the mall to buy their overpriced coffee so they can keep their jobs either.

Above all, nobody in the Industrialized world wants to accept Lights OUT.  For anybody born inside these cultures in the last 50 years, Electricity at the Flick of a Switch is a God Given RIGHT!  To give up Electricity is to give up the GHOST here, the end of the meme of ever improving Techology, the end of the Jetsons and Star Trek Dream.

The Japanese won’t give it up, even in the face of Nuclear Toxins in their environment, they wanna go ahead and restart their Nukes.  “If you are Going through Hell, keep Going” as Winston Churchill said.  The other side option is a collapse of their economy,  and with the 100M plus on those Islands, more will die faster without the electircity than will die from Radiation Poisoning.  Cannot STOP till you are DEAD!

So it goes here for the culture at large, but that does not mean as an Individual you cannot seek your way out of the mess.  Here on the Diner, we SEEK the ways out the individual can muster up here.  None are foolproof, none are perfect.  Any one of them though ups your chances of surviving the Zero Point by orders of magnitude.  Just UNDERSTANDING what is going on does that.

As we move forward here into 2013, I know it will get worse, perhaps much worse and quickly too.  At the same time, I know it is important to reach out to others, deliver the TRUTH, and hunker down to make it through the Zero Point.  When Toba went Ballistic, some people made it though that Bottleneck.  Some can do it again.  Diners.

RE

Panarchy & The One to The Many-The Final Countdown

Off the keyboard of RE

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

Although Seccesionary Movements still appear to be a bit far off into the future here in the FSofA, this aspect of the Collapse has already hit over in Eurotrashland, most notably right now in Spain where the Catalans are making a lot of noise about splitting off from the Castillian control of Spain to form their own “new” country.  Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the UK Telegraph has been covering the talk of Catalonia Secession in quite some detail lately:

It is the latest move in a fast-escalating clash between Catalan nationalists and Spanish nationalists, the latter backed by King Juan Carlos and the Spanish military.

Jose-Manuel Garcia-Margallo, the foreign minister, threw down the gauntlet, calling Catalan secession “illegal and lethal”. He warned that Spain would use its veto to stop the region of Catalonia becoming an EU member “indefinitely”.

The constitutional crisis has eclipsed the parallel drama of a Spanish bail-out request from the European Stability Mechanism. It is no longer clear whether premier Mariano Rajoy can deliver on any austerity deal with Brussels.

Catalan leader Artur Mas held high-stakes talks with Mr Rajoy in Madrid on Thursday, armed with a mandate from the Catalan parliament and with charged emotions left from an unprecedented protest by 1.5m people in Barcelona 10 days ago.

He demanded an independent treasury for the rich Catalan region, with control over its own tax base akin to the model already enjoyed by Basques. The 9m Catalans have an economy the size of Austria’s.

This isn’t the only place in Europe where talk of a breakup of a country into component parts is being discussed though.  There is now talk of Secession in Scotland, one of the main constituents of the “United Kingdom”, which includes Great Britain, Wales and Ireland as well as Scotland.  From Bill Jamieson on The Scotsman:

Many big questions remain unanswered ahead of the signing of an accord on the referendum, writes Bill Jamieson

 

What is the objective of independence? As David Cameron and Alex Salmond are set to sign an accord on the referendum at St Andrew’s House next week – a formal signing ceremony that the First Minister wishes to take place in front of the world’s press and television cameras – it may be useful for the SNP annual conference next week to clarify the benefits it believes will flow from a Scottish secession from the Union.

In few other countries has the aspiration for independence been so closely focused on the economic pros and cons of self-government. Many supporters may feel this is second-order detail. But there is a sizeable proportion of Scottish voters who are not yet decided and for whom economic considerations will be critical to their decision.

Argument has already been engaged on projections of North Sea oil revenues, public spending, borrowing and tax. Important as these are now set to become, debate here is in danger of missing a key pillar of the SNP case. This is that independence cannot be judged on the basis of linear statistical projections of income and expenditure alone. For independence will, of itself, help release our entrepreneurial energies: it will bring about a cultural change, releasing our animal spirits. It will, in short, be transformative of our economic performance.

Besides these internal Secessions in the making of course is the big one we all have been hearing about for quite ome time, the breakup of the Eurozone itself, administered out of the European Parliament in Brussels.  It reamins unclear who will be the first to leave the EZ, Greece or one of the other PIIGS countries who are failing miserably under the “Euro Straight Jacket” as Nigel Farage refers to it, or the more “successful” Northern European countries like Germany and Finland who are getting a bit tired of Bailing Out their impoverished cousins to the South.

What does seem certain of course is that the European Union is well into Collapse phase now, and is unlikely to survive in current form much more than another year or two, if that.

Preceeding both of these breakups by quite a bit also, we have the collapse of the Soviet Union after the fall of the Berlin Wall into its many component Nation-States like Russia, Ukraine, Belarus etc.

Essentially, this represents a One-to-the-Many fracturing of Goobermint Structures which have been consolidating since Agriculture began around 10,000 years ago.  it is an absolute REVERSAL of a trend that has been in place for a very long time, though it accelerated tremendously with the onset of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century.

What does this new trend MEAN for the nature of our societies as we move forward here further into a low energy footprint society?

Going back to my earliest writings on the Peak Oil Forum, one of the first epiphanies I had after witnessing the Collapse of Bear Stearns was that the Banking System which functions as the “Glue” holding this society together was on the road to a One-to-Many fracture.  Not only Banks would be affected, but the Nation-States themselves, which really are just Big Banks themselves.  At one time they were Bigger Banks than the TBTF Banks currently running Global Economic systems, but in the years since the Industrial Revolution these large Banking Houses have become Supra-National entities, larger than the Nation-States.

Since the collapse appears to progress upward from the smallest and weakest Financial Entities to the Largest ones, it seems likely that the progress here will see collapse of the various Nation-States before the TBTF banks, but they then also will fracture in One-to-the-Many devolution.

Where this really comes into play is in the Future Picture many people hold as true, a Brave New World/1984 picture of One World Goobermint, with a Fascist Boot Stamping on the Face of Humanity FOREVER.

The picture Rod Serling paints in Obsolete is one we are ALREADY immersed in, it is not a projected FUTURE anymore.  However, just as we have now Past Peak Oil, in all likelihood we are reaching the Peak of Globalism and the massive and overarching Nation States and Transnational Corporations that have turned the world into a simalcrum (thank you Charles Hugh Smith 🙂 ) of the Brave New World/1984 paradigm.

The One World Order isn’t becoming MORE likely now, it is rapidly becoming LESS likely as an ultimate outcome here.  All evidence points to an ONGOING and ACCELLERATING collapse of the main Conduits used for Global Control, centered around the collapsing Energy Supply used to power these things and the collapsing Monetary System used to organize it all up.

This is not simply borne out by the observation of the system decay, there is plenty of good THEORY as well from the world of Biological and Ecological systems to refer to as well, pioneered mainly by C.S “Buzz” Holling & Lance Gunderson in their work identifying 4 Phases in the Collapse and Reconstruction of Ecosystems.

  • a four-phase adaptive cycle. Holling and Gunderson (2002:32) suggest that most, although not all, such systems follow a four-phase cycle of (1) “exploitation” (r); (2) “conservation” (K); (3) “release” (Ω) or “creative destruction,” a term derived from Schumpeter (1943); and (4) “reorganization” (α). The first two stem from standard ecological theory, in which an ecosystem’s r phase is dominated by colonizing species tolerant of environmental variation and the K phase, by species adapted to modulate such variation. However, Holling and Gunderson (2002) say that “ …two additional functions are needed.” The corresponding phases, especially Ω, are typically much briefer: in a forest, Ω might be a fire or insect outbreak that frees nutrients from biomass, whereas the α phase involves soil processes limiting nutrient loss. The adaptive cycle involves changes in three main variables: resilience; potential in the form of accumulated resources in biomass or in physical, human, and social capital; and connectedness, meaning the tightness of coupling among the controlling variables that determine the system’s ability to modulate external variability. In the r phase, potential and connectedness are low but resilience is high; in K, resilience decreases while the other values increase. Eventually, some internal or external event triggers the Ω phase, in which potential crashes; finally, in α, resilience and potential grow, connectedness falls, unpredictability peaks, and new system entrants can establish themselves. Holling and Gunderson (2002) stress that the adaptive cycle is a metaphor that can be used to generate specific hypotheses; exact interpretations of resilience, potential, and connectedness are system dependent.

The beauty of the Holling-Gunderson model of Panarchy is that it applies across the board to just about all ecosystems, from Trees and Forests to Insects to Mammalian life forms.  It also has direct applications in Economics as well.  Much of the work done on this stuff was done back in the 1970s, but some of it goes back as far as the 1940s.

In a direct parallel to this work, you have the “4th Turning” Generational theory of Strauss & Howe, which identifies 4 major Eras that modern Homo Sapiens passes through on roughly and 80 year cycle.  Each of these eras has a direct parallel in the cycles desribed by Holling & Gunderson.

What is fundamentally different between these models is the Timeline issue, the Holling/Gunderson model is a time independent model which can work on many different timescales, where as the Strauss & Howe model is fixated on the 80 year timeline of modern history.

If all you beleive is at work here is the Fourth Turning concepts, then given 10-20 years or so we should work through the collapse phase and begin the rebuilding for another Generation Cycle.

What really seems to be at work though is a much longer cycle for Homo Sapiens, that goes back roughly 10,000 years to the beginnings of Agriculture.  We worked through the Exploitation and Conservation phases of this, with one final Blowout Free for All exploitaiton of Fossil fuels to drive Industrialization in the final era of this.  We no longer have sufficient resources to exploit for a rebuild phase, and the vast expansion of Human Biomass that it enabled has also depleted the Ag resource base we used to get to the point we could exploit the fossil fuels resources.

As it appears to me, we are not just on the cusp of a Fourth Turning, but a Release Phase in the Holling/Gunderson model that will undermine all the structures built to organize Civilization since the beginnings of Agriculture.

In the near term, the most obvious collapse is coming inside the Monetary System, which developed in tandem with Agriculture.  I first became aware of this watching the collapse of Bear Stearns back in 2007, followed rather quickly by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.  It was at this time I realized that the Monetary System was undergoing a Cascade Failure event, and that in succession it would take down ever larger Banks and Financial Organizations, including of course Nation-States, which until just recently were the Biggest Banks of all.  They have since been superceded in this role by a few Supra-National TBTF Banking institutions however.

So it was not a big jump for me in 2008 to predict that it would lead to the collapse of Nation States and a One-to-Many breakup,  which we have been witnessing for a while in MENA, now also apparent in Spain and the United Kingdom.  In fact this began quite a bit earlier with the collapse of the Soviet Union, but since the USSR was not in direct linkage to the Capitalist system run through the BIS, it’s collapse did not directly begin the Cascade Failure effect we see in evidence now.

The monetary system we use developed in the Exploitaition phase of growth described by Holling & Gunderson, and through the Conservation phase has only been maintained through numerical legerdermain, which only works for a while.  So though the general population and Civilization experienced near constant growth, only briefly plateauing during the Middle Ages, the associated monetary system has suffered repeated failures during this period, in fact on just about precisely the timeline of Strauss & Howe’s 4th Turnings.  In fact I made the case to Jim Quinn (a big fan of Strauss & Howe’s theories) while I was blogging with him on the Burning Platform that the 4 Turnings were merely the outcome of the average lifespan of a monetary system with an average interest rate in the 2-3% range.  Jim never bought that idea completely, but it was one of the few we didn’t completely go ballistic on each other on. LOL.

As we look at the outcomes already extant here of the progress of the Monetary System collapse, it is clear that it is working its way inward from Peripheral Economies to the Core Economies.  Also clear is that some of the TBTF Banks are actually BIGGER than Nation-States now and may last longer than the N-S they are chartered in, though legally it is hard to imagine how that can occur.

If you consider that it has taken about 4 years from the collapse of Bear Stearns to make it to collapsing the Spanish N-S and presenting the real possibility of Catalan Secession, on a linear scale another 4 years before we have similar effects here in the FSofA is reasonable, though it could go a good deal faster than that since Cascades can turn into Avalanches at certain Tipping Points.  Such a tipping point in the case of the Monetary System would be the complete collapse of a Major Currency, in this case the Euro.  The Dollar is likely to get a BRIEF bounce from a Euro collapse, but the instability that would create would be so vast it is likely the Dollar itself collapses shortly thereafter.

Money as it exists today is an artifact of the Growth phase of Civilization, and cannot function without that growth.  When you also consider that Money is the “Glue” that holds this Civilization together, it is difficult to conclude otherwise that when the Monetary system collapse, the Civilization we know goes with it.  “Money Makes the World Go-Round” the saying goes, and so when the money STOPS working, the World as We Know It STOPS going round also. TEOTWAWKI.

Making prognostications about how we will proceed in the aftermath of such a collapse are exercises in extreme speculation, since such a collapse has never been recorded in Human History.  The Collapse of the Tower of Babel in the Mesopotamian Era and the Collapse of the Roman Empire offer only a glimpse into what might occur here, and of course the outcome of those collapses was none too good either.  If you take some passages in Revelation as being representative of how the collapse went down in Babylon, you get none too pretty a picture from that:

Revelation 18

King James Version (KJV)

18 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.

7 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.

8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

9 And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,

10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.

11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:

12 The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,

13 And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.

14 And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.

15 The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,

16 And saying, Alas, alas that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!

17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,

18 And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!

19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.

20 Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

21 And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.

22 And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;

23 And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

This of course does not bode well for the Gold & Silver Bugs out there, since apparently the PMs held no more value than any of the other Goods being traded in the marketplace of Babylon, along with the Souls of Men.

Despite that though, in the aftermath of this collapse, the type of Ag society it represented did re-emerge and grow again with the expansion of the Roman Empire until its collapse, and then in the aftermath of that re-emerged in a Feudal Society, eventually culminating in Capitalism and Industrialization, courtesy of the discoveries in Science and Mathematics made during the Enlightenment.

In neither the case of Babylon or Rome had the population of Homo Sapiens grown to 7 Billion Human Souls.  In neither case had Nuclear Weapons or Nuclear Power Plants with vast quantities of poisonous Spent Fuel ponds been created.  In neither case was the Planet experiencing dramatic Climate and Geotectonic shifting altering the very environment we all live under in ways which cannot be absolutely predicted, but which certainly show trend lines that are none to good no matter how you measure them or what you believe the underlying causes to be.  All of these factors conspire to make the impending collapse far WORSE than those experienced by Babylon and Rome.

When you observe all these factors in synergy, it becomes quite difficult to offer much HOPE for Humanity, or even for most living organisms above the level of the Tardigrades, and some like Guy McPherson make the case that this is an Extinction Level Event on the order of the Permian Extinction 252 Million Years Ago.  This may be so, but even if true will not occur Overnight here.

The questions of how to deal with such a massive upheaval on the Indidvidual level are the questions we seek to deal with here in the Doomstead Diner.  If it truly does turn into an ELE, in the end we all will go to the Great Beyond, but who wants to be the FIRST to DIE?  if you value Life for yourself and your children, you seek to find a way to SURVIVE the great conflagrations to come.  Are there ANY foolproof solutions to this problem?  None yet have turned up at the Diner Tables, but some Solutions presented are better than others and becoming aware of issues that Transcend physical survival into the the world of Psychological and Spiritual preparation also serve as endless fodder for the Diners to chew on.

The Doomstead Diner is not an easy place to take a meal, ever, but on these pages you will find a level of Truth you can find nowhere else on the Net.  At least no place to my knowledge anyhow.  Join us here as we prepare ourselves for the Final Countdown.

RE

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